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Four: Who said Romance is dead - LGBTQ family options and rights

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

We had chosen the clinic, ordered the sperm and now had to simply wait for me to ovulate. It was such a romantic time (sense the deeply sarcastic tone). Who knew making babies could be so timetabled, so scientific and if we are going to be honest, completely undignified!

It became common place for me to pee on ovulation sticks in public toilets. In one such toilet the stick confirmed with a very smiley smile, that I was ovulating. One phone call and it was off to the clinic. It was finally happening. My first artificial insemination (AI) attempt. Underwear off, legs in stirrups and a very serious, white coated doctor used a syringe to inseminate the donor sperm whilst two nurses stood by and watched. I lay there with my legs in the air just in case any extra gravity would help the swimmers get to their destination. I am pretty sure it doesn’t make any difference but with my dignity long gone I really didn’t care.

We had to wait fourteen days to do a pregnancy test but on day thirteen my period started. It was always going to be a long shot but still a little disappointing. We then had to wait another two months before starting the process again. Pee on sticks, watch for the smiley ovulation face, call the clinic, try to have a laugh with the serious doctor but fail, wait and again a negative result. Time to move up the fertility ladder to Intrauterine insemination (IUI) with extra hormones thrown in to try increase the chances. Damn it was negative again. We would run out of sperm and money at this rate. It was time to get the big guns out and try In vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Until now I hadn’t related to the other women in the waiting room. I sympathised and wondered about their journeys to get to that clinic. How long had they been trying? How hard must it have been? What pressure was on those women to be able to have a baby themselves? No one really spoke and it felt like a reflective space to be quiet and calm. After another two month wait, further tests and more money spent I was starting to relate more to those women. Sitting in that quiet room I could almost hear the body clocks ticking or was that the blood pumping sound of fear that this might not work.

IVF was a surreal experience. I forget what it was like. I know I disconnected from the process and discombobulated seems a good way to describe my overall state. My wife listened to what they said, she injected me daily and told me when to meet her at the clinic. I like to think I took it all in my stride and was a pleasure to be around when the hormones kicked in. But the reality was, hour by hour, who knew how I would react. I might cry, hiss or just slump in exhaustion. My wife would smile, take the brunt of my moods and on we would go.

At the clinic I’m sure they spoke a new language that only the staff and my wife could understand. It didn’t matter though as those around me were kind and made the process as easy as possible. I was so grateful for their kindness as I felt I was losing ownership of my body to science. One conversation is embedded in my memory. I was asking one of the jolly consultants about the statistical chance of me getting pregnant. He replied with such a caring tone ‘it is either 100% successful or 0%, so let’s aim for 100%, shall we?’.

After lots of daily injections, scans and blood tests every other day, we (my follicles) were ready. Under a general anaesthetic, eggs were taken out, inseminated then left in a petri dish for five days to see which eggs would go to blastocyst. Time stopped during those five days. Each morning we woke and waited for the phone call to say how those little eggs were doing. Each day the number went down until we had the call on day five to say four strong healthy eggs were ready. This meant we had to decide, there and then, how many to put back in. No pressure then?

Following the longest two week wait, I peed on a stick and the blue line immediately came back positive. We were 100% successful, we were going to have a baby or maybe even twins!

Policies matter. Is there any support?

As you may have gathered, fertility treatment is time consuming. I was lucky to have a wonderful manager and an HR policy which allowed up to five days off for fertility treatment. The people pleaser in me didn’t want to disrupt work too much and I would try get to the clinic at eight for the scans. When that wasn’t possible my manager would make me clear my diary and just do what I needed to do. The day the eggs were put back in I went to work in the morning. Can I highly recommend that this is not a good idea! I spent that morning paralysed with fear in the office foyer, staring at my phone not knowing if any of the eggs had made it.

Fertility treatment is also financially and emotionally exhausting. If any employees are reading this, please make sure the mental health provisions and polices cover LGBTQ+ parenting. Not specifically fertility treatment but adoption, fostering and surrogacy maternity and paternity rights. Regardless of gender identity or sexuality, polices need to reflect the appropriate rights, family leave and pay.

Let’s get the conversation going. Please share your thoughts in comments below. The more we talk about LGBTQ+ parenting the more we will fill the gap

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I’m so happy for you. Congratulations on your pregnancy and for braving a tough and uncertain journey.


Thank you, that’s a lovely comment. it was nearly 12 years ago but feels like yesterday! ❤️

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