It’s a process. It’s not bad. it’s not good. It’s pretty much just indifferent. You’ve got to get from A to B and tick off little steps along the way to reach your end goal.
Our journey was also not a particular long journey which I appreciate it can be for a lot of people, straight or gay, so I do think of ourselves as very lucky but that’s not what you feel like when you’re going through it.
Regardless of if it works first time or not you’ve still got the same emotion the will it/won’t it running through your mind. The fantasising about being pregnant and having a baby and your future and how it will change or could change if it’s successful. There is a lot of uncertainty and doubt mirrored with excitement and hope but what I found so hard was it was out of my control. I could do very little to influence it and that was frustrating for a control freak like me.
Our first stop was the obligatory trip to our GP to have the initial chat where we felt like the main attraction at a Ripleys believe it or not as it turns out where we live there’s ‘not that many gays in the village’ and they’ve not come across it before so not quite sure what the process is. That’s what happens when you’re living in the home counties! Think hunter wellies, gillets and Barbour jackets along with dog walkers, cyclists and curtain twitchers in abundance and a double serving of good old british politeness in the queue at waitrose where one will purchases ones shopping!!
Turns out there is very little to be done just some blood tests and some fertility checks then we were given the go ahead to go to a fertility clinic and try IUI which is intrauterine insemination – basically just putting the sperm in from a donor during ovulation and hoping for the best!
Some of the blood tests were completely understandable if you’re going to carry a child. Checking for transmissible diseases on me is common sense. Checking for them on L seems a bit pointless (do you think I should explain how creating a baby works??? ). Anyway turns out that because straight folks both get tested then the gays should both be tested too in case we maybe feel left out or discriminated against?!? Who knows it’s probably just that a policy hasn’t been written on it yet so they just follow the usual one for straight folks.
That’s where our journey ends with the nhs and don’t get me wrong this isn’t a blog about what’s fair and isn’t about fertility treatment on the nhs for the gayers as like everything it’s a postcode lottery. For instance if I lived in Hounslow I could have insemination for free but I don’t so for us we knew we would have to pay for our treatment so we then went about choosing a fertility clinic and a donor.
Picking out a donor was fun. We took to the internet to see what was on offer. It was like browsing through Tinder or match.com….too tall, too ugly, nose is too big, has a weird job, bit of a strange one on the personality tests etc etc. It literally was an online catalogue and you also get to read a little letter from the donor as to why they want to donate which is really nice.
The lads at work had offered to ‘donate’ for free and there was even the suggestion that they will all donate into a cup and it could be like a lucky dip but I had to decline on ethical reasons of course!!!
In the end we individually ranked our top 5 choices and then compared them and it turned out we had the same donor as our number 1 choice….so that’s the one we went with…simple as that! We ordered in the sperm and it was put in the freezer at the clinic ready for insemination.
On our first holiday abroad the customs officer looked at our baby and said ‘Geez m’am you look like you got your baby out of a catalogue’ We looked at each other and smiled as we kind of did!
We chose a clinic which was a reasonable distance from our work and home since we were going to be spending a fair amount of time there and during treatment time you can be going as often as 3 times a week plus the hot chocolate was amazing which completely nailed it for me – and it was FREE! Well i thought it was until the wife-to-be pointed out that the few grand we had spent probably covered the hot chocolate, the tea, the coffee and the actual machine….fair point. It didn’t taste so good after she burst my bubble!
For about 4 or 5 months that felt like our second home with all of the appointments you have to attend. On the walls there are collages made up of all of the babies created at the unit and we used to sit there making up stories about them and pick out the ones we wouldn’t mind having (or indeed the ones we didn’t want!). We had nicknames for them too which amused us no end while sitting waiting for what can be quite tense appointments. Ugly baby was our favourite and we grew to love him along with baldy nut and toothless tommy. L used to have moments of panic when she would spot yet another set of twins and ask me again to explain how likely it was that ‘that’ could happen! I did keep reminding her twins do run in her family and I’m pretty sure she didn’t really listened in Biology lessons so it made for a good picture!
We had to attend a mandatory counselling session before we could start any treatment so you can imagine the WTF faces were being worn that day! I think they had to double check we would be fit to become parents or something. Imagine if there were parents out there who didn’t look after their kids or something?!
So completely our idea of hell on earth having to sit there while someone talks to you in that softly softly voice with wide eyes and their head to the side asking open ended questions forcing you to answer.
Our Counsellor is what you would picture. You know the type – must be a cat owner, organic type hemp clothing, beads – Yes there were beads in both bracelet and necklace form along with those drop earrings with mood stones in them which I’m sure would’ve started off the colour of happy and changed to angry or miserable after spending the hour with us. In the room there was the usual box of tissues and I may have imagined it but I’m sure there was a dream catcher in the corner with a pan pipe cd on a loop to set the mood!! We got the giggles as soon as we walked in. You know the uncontrollable kind when you can feel your shoulders going and the more you try and hide it the worse it gets. Even thinking about it now sets me off.
The first questions was ‘Have you discussed together having children?’ Like seriously are you for real? Have we really been asked that. I mean what sort of people just turn up and haven’t even had a discussion about one day having a baby or getting pregnant. Tell me there aren’t actually people who are like that. Maybe a bunny boiler with a very compliant partner or perhaps a couple who have heard about the free hot chocolate???
The utter gem of a moment was the ‘will you tell your children where they came from?’ question. Hmm let’s have a think about that one. Unless we’ve been blessed with the dopey looking baby from the pictures I’m pretty sure they will be able to work out that one out for themselves!!! At that point we actually did a double take with each other.
To give the Counsellor their credit they did give us some really good information about the donor conception network which we can use for guidance and advice as well as talking about donor siblings and even a cute little kids book we can use to tell our children in simpler terms about where they’ve come from so not a complete waste of time.
The staff at the clinic were all amazing. For them I know it’s just a job and another day at the office and here’s me on every visit being more worried about being well pruned – even the legs were shaved regularly! (I don’t know why we get so hung up on this sort of thing before you’re pregnant as after you’ve had children you couldn’t give a monkeys what/if any hair removal has taken place or who indeed is having a good old dig around your nether region.)
I’m also sure that they have good and bad days at work and no doubt some sort of corporate rubbish to deal with but for us those people are like heros. They helped to make our babies and I will be forever grateful. Nothing can compare with making a new life and we even have our very own guardian angel who was there when I was inseminated for both of our children so if there’s going to be a third let’s hope they’re working that day!
Its not a really big deal but making a baby for us was a bit different to a wild night of passion for some. It was clinical but really it was just a means to an end. Don’t get me wrong i would love that rush of adrenalin I think people would get when they realise they’ve missed a period and that it may mean they are pregnant but I will take racing home after being inseminated to get my legs in the air any day if it creates my little babies!