Who’s your Daddy? *Guest post from K*

When we talk about having a baby with people there are two main questions people have. First, who’s going to carry it? (I’ll come back to that) and second, where will you get the sperm from? Well, my initial responses to these questions are ‘mind your own’, but then I know that it’s an unusual situation that I guess most people don’t have experience of so I can understand why people ask.

So, to sperm. When we first started investigating getting pregnant before H got all ill and stuff the clinic just told us to get it from the London Sperm Bank, so we didn’t really think there was any choice. We did briefly think about the options around male friends who might want to donate, but the ramifications of that on all the relationships involved were too big for us to consider that as a serious option for us. We didn’t want there to be a third parent involved with our child, so it was our decision from very early on that we’d only be considering using donor sperm. So we talked about what characteristics we wanted to look for. As H is going to be genetically involved in the process anyway, we decided to try and go for characteristics that were closer to me. Dark hair, blue eyes, obviously super intelligent and GSOH. Ok, maybe not that much, but the level of education did matter to me, so we initially chose a donor who had a PhD in some kind of sciences. It took a lot of trawling through the profiles but we got there in the end, were excited and put the order in in advance of any treatment.

That weekend we were staying at my parents, and they asked how baby plans were going. We were excited so we told them we’d chosen the sperm and told them about it. Big mistake. “Sounds like he’s got Aspergers to me” said my ever-thoughtful Mum. “You don’t want that do you?!” Oh god, we thought. Could she be right? Now to be honest, it doesn’t really matter if our donor had that but it made us re-think everything. When you have a kid ‘normally’ with someone you know that person, you know what character traits they have, you know their family histories. And you are having a child with them because you want part of them in that child you’re creating together. With H and I we want that too, but we can’t have it. So we’re choosing to have part of our child be someone we have basically no knowledge of beyond the fact that he has dark hair, blue eyes and O-Positive blood type. Is he musical? Nice? Kind? Or is he a mass murderer? We have no idea. Anyway, fate took it out of our hands. H got ill, we cancelled the sperms of Mr Science and that was that. Plus we learnt an important lesson – the identity of the sperm donor from now on would not be discussed outside of H and I – once we’d decided no one else is going to know or have an opinion!

While H was recuperating from her stay in L’Hotel D’Hospital, we watched a doc on the BBC about the number of women getting pregnant from Danish sperm. While we were watching I was thinking ‘blimey that sperm is cheap!’ (menfolk, your sperm is gold dust in the UK, if you need to earn a few bucks, go and donate!) and ‘god you can know EVERYTHING about these men’. So when it came time to start thinking about trying again I suggested we try CRYOS, the Danish sperm bank. Quickly we got lost in this whole new world. It was like online dating but skipping to the part where you’re just solely focussing on what kind of baby they would give you. And in this world you can know SO much about them – you know what they do for a living, who their parents are and whether their grandparents are alive or dead (what they died of if they’re not here anymore), you can see baby photos of them and even hear a voice recording of them telling you why they wanted to donate their sperm (“I want to give you a gift” yeah right, we know it’s about the money and that’s fine). Choosing sperm suddenly became this huge deal. Every evening H was trawling through the men – do you like this one? Look at his picture! Our baby would be so cute! And I started to feel weird. Hold on, I don’t want to know you’re thinking about what your baby with someone else might look like… I wanted our baby to be part of the two of us and now all of a sudden it felt like H was having a baby with someone else. I didn’t want us to be able to look at our baby and see this other person in it.

Feeling like this threw a bit of a spanner in the works. As usual when I get upset I just went quiet about things and didn’t respond when H asked me who I preferred – this donor or that donor. And she started thinking I just was going off the idea of babies all together. But I really wasn’t. I just felt weird about the whole thing, until I came clean and said can we choose one without pictures and stuff. Turns out too much knowledge is a bad thing too. So, take two and we finally decided on a donor, once again ordered and waited for the right time to come. Anyway, this proved ANOTHER false start (for reasons which H will explain later) and so we cancelled them again.

Finally, we went to our new clinic and we were  advised once again to go back to the London Sperm Bank. This time we knew what we were doing. We were pro’s. We plugged in the info we cared about: O-Postitive, brown hair, blue eyes and up came two options. Great we said, we chose between the two and that was it. Because after all, what is going to define our child is how we raise them, not what genes go into this medical procedure.

Hormonez

I’m now one week post IUI and what a crazy week it’s been. I’m using the progesterone suppositories to support the possible pregnancy and I’m finding the physical side of them fine but I have no idea if some of the craziness I’m experiencing is down to them or just PMT or perhaps side effects from the trigger shot I had to give myself the night before the IUI.

I’m generally not a spotty person at all. I even luckily missed all that during my teenage years and have had lovely clear skin since then. However, at the moment I have THE MOTHER of all spots on my face. Think painful everytime I smile, move or basically show any sort of emotion. You can see it for miles. I was having a cuppa in a cafe in Soho the other day and one of my sort of ex-boyfriends from around 10 years ago walks in as he’s seen us in the window and wants to say hi. Cue me wildly trying to hide said spot using any prop I can muster from hand, to mug…even my phone. CRINGE.

I also had a complete melt down after seeing a play this week which was quite sad but not standing on the Southbank sobbing for ten minutes sad. I mean, come on body get it together!!

Anyway only 1 week to go and then I guess I will do a test. BFP or BFN (getting used to the acronyms used in the fertility world!) whatever happens I’ll have a plan for the next month and can act accordingly. I’m just still trying to think positive!

IUI

So the IUI went without a hitch, we think.

After a long wait in the waiting room with me downing loads of water as the treatment has to be done on a full bladder we headed down to the basement of CRGH bursting for a wee. The room was dimly lit and very clean and just contained an ultra scan machine, it was all pretty chilled really. I got undressed and it was all over in minutes. Bit like a smear test…uncomfortable but ok and I did my best to visualise the little spermoids swimming in and making contact with the egg. (I was told to do this, as well as think lots of positive thoughts.) I then had to lie down for about 15 minutes and then head home. We spent the day relaxing and eating yummy food and thinking good thoughts!

I’m writing this five days after the IUI and I feel completely wiped. The medication they have given me comes with lots of side effects which bizarrely are a bit like pregnancy signs like sore boobs, tummy ache, tiredness etc. But I keep having to remind myself that they might mean nothing at all and not to get my hopes up. I’m already having to stop myself googling IUI success rates every two minutes… it’s all I think about at the moment…!

1 week and 3 days and then we shall know!

High Fertility

I’m not going to talk too much about choosing the sperm as K wants to get in to all that, but it’s all a bit of an odd experience.

For the past week I have had ‘high fertility’ according to our little ClearBlue fertility monitor and that’s meant going in to the CRGH every day for internal scans and watching my follicle like a hawk. Every day we have not known whether today ‘will be the day’ that I get inseminated so everything has had to take a back seat…theatre trips, birthday parties, friends coming over…work. It’s been a really odd week as I am determined to stay at chilled as possible so have tried to get rid of all stressful aspects of my life. However since I’m totally anxious and nervous about the IUI itself the week hasn’t really played out that way.

This morning we went in for yet another scan thinking that the IUI would happen today or tomorrow but my little follicle needs to grow just a tiny bit more for the doctors to be happy. So I had a blood test to measure my hormones and am currently at home waiting for a phone call from the nurse to tell me whether to inject myself tonight in prep for IUI tomorrow or just to come back for a scan in the morning.

Everyone that knows knows I am terrible at not knowing what I am doing.  I’m a planner and I plan pretty much every hour of my day. I don’t like to waste time… I like multi tasking and getting tons done in one day but this week I’ve just felt shattered so I’ve been allowing myself some luxury day time naps and have been trying to do relaxing activities like cooking or reading which has actually been quite nice. So this afternoon has consisted of a rest and me urging my follicle to grow and doing lots of  visualisation techniques which apparently are supposed to improve chances of conceiving. Hmm…we’ll see.

Six months later

Six months later we were ready to talk baby again. Ok, so that’s a lie – we had been talking baby almost every day for the past six months but had to learn to be patient and wait till we could start treatment again.

My renal consultant did some research as he wanted to find a place that was ‘kosha’ for us to have our treatment after our disastrous experience at The Women’s Clinic (they refunded all our money for treatment by the way.) So we headed to the centre for reproductive and genetic health (CRGH) in central London. It was a little frustrating having to have the same appointment that we had had 7 months ago talking about why we want to have a baby and how etc, but CRGH seemed really great so we left feeling quite positive.

We also left with a giant list of blood tests to get done and also a compulsory appointment with a counsellor. We wanted to get the bloods done as cheaply as possible so rather than do it at the clinic we went to our GP and renal clinic who were (sort of) happy to help. It took weeks to get them all together though and once we had we had the rather important job of choosing SPERM!

Home Alone

After being sent home with a HUGE bag of antibiotics I spent the next six weeks pretty much laid on my sofa recovering. I spent so much time in my little warm cocoon at home that when I was actually well enough to go out for short amounts of time I really didn’t want to. I had to take these horrible drugs to wipe out the bacteria from my system for 2 months and they made me feel awful…totally wiped out and sick. It really took it out of me and in the midst of the illness I lost my job at the BBC as they had to replace me…nice! Poor K was running back and forth between home and a big edit and it was all quite stressful.

I then had an appointment with my consultant who told me not to do any baby treatments for six months until my body recovers. We were gutted.

Hotel Hospital

After spending the afternoon with my Mum who had come into town to have lunch with me on my day off I was beginning to feel really bad. I didn’t even finish my Byron burger which to anyone that knows me will ring alarm bells straight away.

I got home and after instructing K to run me a very hot bath I jumped in and still couldn’t stop shivering. I really should have gone to the hospital at this point – having had a kidney transplant in 2008 I don’t have an immune system and so the slightest cold can make me pretty poorly. But despite K’s insistence that I should at least call the kidney unit I decided to go to bed ‘and sleep it off.’ How I thought I was going to sleep off a great big fucker of an infection I have no idea.

I spent the night in and out of fevers which made me talk throughout the night whilst not realising what I was saying and thrash around. What a joy for K I was.

In the morning, it was time to see a Doctor. So K rang the GP and they told me to pop in that morning. There was gonna be no popping, I literally couldn’t get out of bed so to cut a long story short I rolled up at A&E that evening to be straight away put on IVs to stop the infection that had no hit my kidney and bladder full force.

The next couple of weeks were a bit of a blur of sleeping, IVs, pain killers, The Good Wife, bed picnics and lots of visits from K and my Mum who basically moved in to Hotel Hospital. Perhaps my illustration below will explain it better than I can…

IMG_6723

More soon!