August 17, 2017
So this week my partner and I both started taking birth control pills. Which is not exciting, and hardly news, in itself. It’s also a bit unreal, and a bit humorous, as folks who are at zero risk of accidental pregnancy (I know there are many other reasons for being on the pill). But, counter-intuitively, us both taking contraceptives is the first step toward making a baby.
Because we want to make what I’m calling a “fancy baby” this time, and that requires syncing our fertility cycles. Oh yeah, and actually HAVING fertility cycles. Neither of us were bleeding at all, as Rowan’s has been suppressed with testosterone and mine hasn’t come back yet since I birthed a baby in March as a gestational surrogate for another family (and then went on testosterone myself for three months). So they’re tapering off testosterone, we’re both on the pill and prenatal vitamins now, and will hopefully both bleed during the week of placebo pills. The idea is to hormonally manipulate our cycles to give a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) more control, and more leeway if something needs to be adjusted. It also makes it possible for us to do a fresh embryo transfer using reciprocal IVF.
Reciprocal IVF has also been called Partner IVF, Lesbian IVF (fine when the participants identify as such), or, the clunkiest of the terms, ROPA–Reception of Oocytes from PArtner. Regardless of name, the process essentially entails dividing an IVF cycle into two parts, and each of us will do one half. Rowan will be doing a follicle stimulation and egg retrieval (lots of meds and an intimidating procedure), while I’m preparing my uterus to be as hospitable as possible (lots more meds). Once the eggs are retrieved, the RE will tend them through fertilization and growth. After 5 days, we select the most promising-looking blastocyst (“My mother told me to pick the very best one and You. Are. It.”) and transfer it into my uterus, while the rest are frozen for later. So if everything goes according to plan, I’ll be carrying the baby, but they will be genetically related to Rowan (and our sperm donor). It’s a way of allowing us to both contribute biologically to the baby’s creation. For me, the medical process should be very similar to what I did with the surrogacy, except that was a frozen embryo transfer, so I didn’t have anyone else’s cycle to sync with. It’s also, medically, the same process as if Rowan were an egg donor. Except within our family.
I’ve been interested in reciprocal IVF for as long as I’ve known about it, but it’s generally prohibitively expensive. We love the idea of RIVF, but also knew that any child in our family will be just as valid, just as loved, regardless of genetics and how they came to us. So we ruled it out, and figured we’d make Kid2 at home like I did with Sibyl. Then I heard of a clinic in New York whose tagline is “making priceless affordable.” They don’t cater specifically to queer families, but they do talk specifically about RIVF, and I’ve found them refreshingly trans friendly and competent. So even though we don’t need to make a kid this way in order to love them, it feels very sweet and very…something I’m going to call “geometrically complete.” Not sure how to explain. It’s symmetrical and collaborative and just feels right. We’re super excited and feel so lucky to be on this adventure in growing our family.
Perinatal care specialist. Spouse and parent. Vegan; drinks a lot of tea. Hosted three fetuses: our big kid, a surrogacy, and now our second, due around Halloween. Board game (and generally) geeky. Goat hugger extraordinaire.
Read more about Jay here.