The path to parenthood is not always a straightforward one; as a same-sex couple, the journey can present even greater challenges. Be it through adoption or assisted reproductive technology, the time before baby makes for unique stories of strength.
In her interview with Dreaming of Baby, Annie shares the story of the path to parenthood she and her wife Katie experienced and has some special advice for couples embarking on the same journey.
Daniela: Good afternoon, Annie, and welcome to Dreaming of Baby. It’s a pleasure to welcome you here today and we look forward to speaking with you about your journey from dreaming of baby to parenthood. It would be great if you could introduce yourself to our readers.
Annie: Hi! My name is Annie, and I’m a 39-year-old Associate Professor at a public university. My wife’s Katie, and she’s a 30-year-old Lecturer at the same public university. We got married a little over two years ago, and began our journey towards parenthood shortly after that.
Daniela: Thank you for this introduction, Annie. When did you decide that you would love to start building your family?
Annie: This is something we had wanted prior to getting married, but we figured we should wait until we are married to begin doing so. A few weeks before we got married, the Supreme Court voted that the constitution should guarantee the same rights to same-sex couples, including marriage. Thanks to this ruling, not only is our marriage legally recognized, we can also both be the legal parents of our son. It would have been a lot more difficult for both of us to be the legal parents of our son had we not been married. So it is a good thing that we waited until after being married to start building our family.
Daniela: Did this ruling make it easier for you to take the decision to pursue parenthood?
Annie: This is something we would have pursued either way, but it did make it easier to accomplish it.
Daniela: I understand. Were there any other specific aspects that you took into consideration prior to starting your journey and which might also be helpful to others following the same path?
Annie: There are many aspects to consider when starting a family, especially for same-sex couples like us. The first consideration is probably how to go about having children: Would one of us bear the child? If so, who, and whose eggs would we use? And how would we find a sperm donor, and what sperm donor would we select? Even in the case of adoption, one has to decide whether to adopt privately or from the public system. It was important for me to live through the experience of being pregnant and having a baby, so this was the route we decided we would try.
Daniela: Thank you for sharing. Once you took this decision, what was your journey like, from dreaming of baby to eventually having your son?
Annie: This decision was the first in a long list of decisions that followed. We then had to do some research to decide what sperm bank we would select. There are many sperm banks in the US. We ultimately selected one that we thought was more ethical than many others and which limits the number of families for each sperm donor to 10. We felt it was important for our child to have the option of finding out more information about the sperm donor. Next, in addition to selecting a donor, we had to decide how to go about getting me pregnant. We began with the most economical option: Intra-Uterine Insemination, or IUI. This meant we were going to use my eggs. I was 37 when we began the IUIs. Unfortunately, none of them worked. I guess I was getting old enough that getting pregnant was not going to be that easy. The next best option was In-Vitro Fertilization, or IVF. It has a high success rate, but it is also very expensive. At the time, we couldn’t really afford doing that. So we did some more research and found a non-profit organization that gave financial support to couples who had difficulty having children. This organization is the Baby Quest Foundation (http://babyquestfoundation.org). Importantly, it is the only organization we found that provides financial support to same-sex couples. We applied for a grant from this organization and received it! We felt very lucky to have been selected as one of the recipients, and are extremely grateful for the support we received from them. Thanks to this grant, we were now going to be able to afford going through IVF. Since my wife is younger, we decided to use her eggs instead of mine. That way, we were both going to play a role in creating this baby, which made everything much better. And this is how our son, Theo, came to be.
“We felt it was important for our child to have the option of finding out more information about the sperm donor.”
Daniela: A beautiful journey, with its own challenges, but with a special blessing in the end! What was it like, informing your family and friends about your dream of parenthood?
Annie: On the one hand, we didn’t want to tell too many people that we were going through IVF because we didn’t know if it was going to be successful. On the other hand, going through IVF is a big enough deal that we had to tell those who were close to us, who were of course extremely supportive. Needless to say, we were ecstatic when we found out I was pregnant.
Daniela: In terms of choosing a clinic through which to undergo IVF, what determined your final choice?
Annie: We selected a clinic that was affiliated with the medical campus of the university where we work. This clinic had also been recommended by a friend who also went through IVF with her husband. This choice made sense for us.
Daniela: As a final question – and with the aim of assisting our readers in their own journeys – what advice that you would have wished that you’d been given, would you give to other couples on their journey to parenthood?
Annie: As we began this journey, we were afraid of how much everything would cost. Although we ultimately went through IVF, it took us some time to decide to follow that path. In retrospect, yes, it was expensive (even with the grant we received), but it was completely worth it. Knowing what we know now (that is, how much love we have for our son and how happy we have been since his arrival), we would pay so much more just to have him. So our advice would be, don’t let money dictate what you should do. Creating a life is priceless.
“Don’t let money dictate what you should do. Creating a life is priceless.”
Daniela: That is very beautiful and immensely helpful for couples who might still be at the initial stages of their journey. Thank you for your time today Annie, it was a pleasure speaking with you; in sharing your experience you are giving hope to many.
Annie: You’re welcome!