Monday, September 26, 2011

LMaF2: Donor Sperm

I am throwing my hat into the ring for the Love Makes a Family Blog Carnival. This week’s theme is donor sperm. I have written a lot about donor sperm over the years so I figure the best way to do this without beating too many dead horses is to give a recap of our story for anyone who is new to my blog (Hello! Welcome!) and include links to some of those past posts in case there’s any part of our donor dealings you’d like to know more about.

We started out with a KD, my partner’s brother. [more] We did 8 or 9 tries with him before two things happened: (1) We ran into an absurd logistical roadblock [more] and (2) our desire to Get Pregnant Now outweighed our desire to have the bio link to M’s family and we switched to an anonymous donor for two tries. [more] Our selection process that time was uncomplicated. We were using a small bank (Midwest) and the options were quite limited. We read through the bios on all of the available donors and picked the guy we most wanted to be friends with. Easy peasy. Those two BFNs bought us the time we needed to resolve the issues with KD and the peace of mind to know another donor wouldn’t be a “one hit wonder” and we switched back to KD. Our son was conceived using KD’s sperm on try #15, our first IVF. We were also lucky enough to end up with 5 snowbabies after that cycle.

Shortly before we began TTC #2, we learned that KD had taken it upon himself to get a vasectomy several months earlier. [more] I did not take this news well at all and it led to some very dark days months around our house. I felt like the anticipated FET was already scary enough because I was so desperate to avoid another fresh cycle, but now the stakes were raised exponentially. Those five snowbabies were our last chance to have the specific family I’d been dreaming of for so long. Our RE and embryologist were adamant that we thaw all five despite our repeated requests for them to offer us an alternative plan. It’s a good thing we followed their advice too, because only two of the embryos survived the thaw, and neither were in great shape. We transferred both this past January and had a chemical pregnancy.

There is no way for me to capture in words the amount of grief and anger I felt at that time. Even now, I have to consider it indirectly, the way you would look at a solar eclipse or one of those goofy Magic Eye pictures, to avoid the white-hot burn of the emotions. I was sad that I wasn’t pregnant, of course, but mostly, I was grief-stricken/angry/heartbroken/frustrated that we were at the mercy of donors at all; that their decisions and whims – whether or not to donate at all, whether or not to get a vasectomy, whether or not to come in for STD testing – could have such epic consequences for my little family, and there was nothing I could do to shield us from it. The climb out of that hole was a steep one and took time. [more] We eventually decided to move forward with anonymous donor sperm. [more] Right away, we found a new donor we were really excited about and I felt like the stars came back into alignment. [more] Then that donor turned out to be a flake (Bad genes, I’m sure!) and we had to go back to the drawing board. [more] The process of picking yet another donor was much harder. There was no clear winner like before; no “love at first sight” to soothe my superstition into trusting we were on the right path. Instead, there was an abundance of candidates, all of whom were… fine, but nobody that made my heart sing. I couldn’t figure out how to sort through them. [more] Eventually, time ran out and we had to make a choice. [more]  I continued to feel angsty about it for a while. As recently as a few weeks ago, I still didn’t feel settled on our decision. [more] But last week, we transferred two embryos that anonymous donor's sperm helped us to create. It wasn’t until we were sitting in the waiting room on transfer day, watching a UPS carrier haul in the unmistakable tall, rectangular box someone else hoped would be the answer to their prayers, that I turned to M and told her I’d completely forgotten the donor was ever part of our puzzle. Those embryos in a lab down the hall could not have felt any more ours, and the fact that I’d ever worried using an anonymous donor might take something away from that seemed completely absurd.

All of that said, I know I am still harboring some wounds from how our transition back to donor sperm played out. It’s not unlike having E at the end of a terrible labor. Was I happy to have the baby? Yes. More than I can ever say, yes, of course. But it didn’t stop me from grieving the parts of myself I lost along the way. Having him didn’t stop me from wishing I could have a baby and also feel strong and accomplished and in-control. There were important lessons learned along the way and, in time, I know I will come to feel grateful for them. I’m also hoping with every fiber of my being that, 9 months from now, I will be holding a tiny someone who will give the ultimate meaning to every twist, turn and bump along our road.

Next up in the carnival: An Offering of Love


Anonymous said...

New here - hi! I'm so sorry your journey has been rough. It's so true, though, that in the end, the donor fades into the background and you have your perfect little baby. Wishing you all kinds of luck in TTC #2. When will you test? So friggin' exciting!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! First time reader. Oh Midwest spermbank, what a nightmare THEY are! Are you in the Chicago area?

Sara said...

Wow. You have had a rough time of it. I'm glad to hear that you are feeling good about your embryos now, though, and I really hope that this cycle is a success for you.