Mandy & Morgan’s Story
Infertility is a word that holds so much power. I wish this would be a happy, peppy story about IVF for a lesbian couple and infertility. But, nothing is happy about these topics. This is my wife, Morgan, and I's story.
How Does IVF Work for Lesbians?
When we started this journey as a lesbian couple, we knew the obvious. We couldn't make a baby the "old-fashioned way," so we knew we'd face more challenges than straight couples.
Going into this process, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was never even a consideration for us. My wife would say, "There is no way we're doing IVF." So, after discussing what was best for us and our highest chance of this working, Morgan decided she would try to get pregnant.
After doing general research, we noticed that most lesbian couples try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). This is the insemination of sperm directly into a woman's uterus. Not as convoluted as IVF for LGBTQIA2S+ but a little more in-depth than Intracervical Insemination (ICI).
Two rounds of failed IUI and $6,000 later, we decided to try ICI. We did ten rounds of at-home insemination (four with a known donor and six with cryobank sperm). These medicated rounds would force her to ovulate, so we knew we were timing it right, paired with unmedicated rounds using ovulation tests and checking cervix positions.
After twelve rounds of different processes: medicated, unmedicated, shots, "turkey baster" methods, performed in a fertility clinic, and performed by a doctor, known donor, or cryobank sperm, we only had two rounds with positive tests. Those tests shortly turned negative.
"Why don't you just adopt?"
"Maybe you're not meant to be a mother."
"Just relax, then you'll get pregnant."
These comments tortured my wife. Through one of her life's most trying times, receiving comments like this was heartbreaking. She continued to rely on the words of those she was helping by sharing her journey.
Nothing prepares you for the mental torment of being told "there's nothing wrong on paper" but also not sustaining a pregnancy. No one prepares you for what a lonely journey it can be, even with a supportive partner.
The Cost of IVF
With over $15,000 spent in year one, we realized we had to turn to IVF. Morgan was given one of their worst diagnoses: Unexplained Infertility. So we picked ourselves up, saved up like crazy, and started this journey of IVF.
As Morgan's wife, watching her experience IVF was anything but pleasant. Those who say it's "so much fun" or "such a beautiful journey" are lying through their teeth.
First, it's costly, with most clinics ranging from $18,000-$30,000 per retrieval and transfer. Most insurances cover nothing. We have one of the best insurance plans by a corporate employer, and nothing was covered for us.
Second, I watched my wife poke herself with two to three shots a day before her egg retrieval, then continue with two a day, including an intramuscular shot that she had to continue throughout the remainder of IVF even when she didn't know if the transfer took.
Our IVF Journey
The process of IVF, from start to finish, was over three months of pain, anxiety, and waiting. A shot in the dark when we had no idea if it would even work.
On March 2nd, at 7:00 PM, two days after her transfer, we got that second pink line on a test. We were ecstatic, of course, but scared. Morgan's anxiety was at an all-time high. Everyone talks about how incredible pregnancy is, but no one talks about pregnancy after loss and what a lonely experience it can be.
Morgan is now 27 weeks pregnant with our son, who will arrive in November 2023, God-willing. Pregnancy has been rough on her, with some days being great but most filled with anxiety. She visits the doctor regularly to ensure she and the baby are okay, and elective ultrasounds because the OB appointments are over a month apart.
Still, the anxiety persists even with pregnancy self care. She struggles with thoughts like, "Is this feeling normal?", "Why am I cramping?”, “Is he okay?" But through it all, we are grateful for our little rainbow baby. When I ask Morgan how she feels, she always says, "It was all worth it to have him."
We hope our story informs those who are or know someone trying to conceive that this journey is not easy. Its purpose is not to make anyone sad or discourage them from trying ICI, IUI, or IVF. It is painful physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some people experience this pain quietly, struggling with the stigma that if you can't get pregnant, there's "something wrong with you."
Remember, check on your friends and family members going through this. And if you have infertility or experienced loss, know that you are NOT alone. You are valid for every emotion you have experienced. If you want to keep trying, keep trying. If you're ready to stop trying, that is valid too. You are a warrior, and you have our love.