Two women, one hope: starting a family as a same-sex couple - part 214 August 2020
If you’ve read the first part of our journey (click here to check it out if you haven’t), then you’ll know that my wife and I have already been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride with our fertility journey. And there doesn’t seem to be any signs of it slowing…
Uprooting our lives
No matter how much time we spent online researching fertility options and processes for same-sex female couples, we knew that we had to find a way back to the UK as soon as possible in order to really get our journey going. This was going to be no easy feat considering that, in the military world, the location you live in isn’t actually up to you!
After a lot of enquiries and putting forward our case as to the reason we needed to be back in the UK, we received the news that we’d been given a new posting in the north of England. I was beyond delighted! As much as I loved living in Germany (the exceptional bakers being one of the many things!), we now had a date to work towards. We were taking the next big step in our journey.
To try to get ahead of the game, I contacted (who would be) my local GP to get registered, ready for our arrival. To my frustration, I was told that this was something I could only do in person as I needed to provide proof of identity and our address in the form of a bill, which I didn’t have yet. So this was another thing that had to be put on hold until we moved back to the UK.
The time had come. After months of patiently waiting and packing up all of our belongings (albeit, that second part wasn’t completed quite as patiently), we were finally on our way back to the UK to start our family. In the space of just under three days, we said goodbye to our house in Germany and drove almost 500 miles (crossing waters too) through five different countries to reach our new house in the UK.
Once the removal truck had been and we’d unpacked the majority of our things, the first phone call I made was to the local GP to get myself registered (the military have their own medical centre, so she didn’t need to register at the same GP). I filled in all of the forms but still needed one form of picture ID and a separate one for proof of address. In this day and age, most bills are paperless and sadly, digital bills were not deemed as acceptable. Yet another hurdle.
Painfully, I had to wait for my driver's license to be updated or hope that a paper bill would come through sooner. It was only when we’d taken our dog to be registered at the local vets that we were handed an itemised bill that listed our new address! I marched straight round to the doctors to show them I had proof and desperately hoped it was enough as the receptionist went to double-check with management. And it was! This was such a relief as it meant that I was now registered with a UK GP.
The initial referral
Once the registration process was complete, I booked an appointment to see the doctor for my referral. My wife did the same thing at her medical centre as we weren’t too sure if we both required referrals from our GPs.
At the appointment, I told the GP that my wife and I would like to go through shared motherhood (also known as reciprocal IVF). This is where my wife’s egg would be harvested and fertilised with the donated sperm, and then the embryo would be placed inside my body to allow me to carry our baby. He wrote the referral letter to be sent to the fertility clinic they commonly refer patients to.
When my wife attended her referral appointment, they discussed the various options available to us. The GP helped my wife see our situation from a different perspective in that our end goal and dream, aside from anything else, is to have a healthy baby. Do we really need to be spending thousands on shared motherhood? One cycle of this treatment can cost anywhere in the region of £6,000… that’s a lot for a couple only currently on one full-time wage.
Time to be realistic
This doctor’s appointment was a game-changer. When my wife explained everything she’d discussed with her GP, the more it made sense that we didn’t need to be spending money we don’t have to start our family. So long as we have a healthy and happy baby, it doesn’t matter which process we use. Either way, we will both be mums to the baby we produce and no amount of DNA is going to change the love we would feel for our new little addition.
So instead, we felt that the best option for us to try first would be unmedicated IUI - Intrauterine insemination. Also known as artificial insemination, this procedure involves the donated sperm being injected directly into the recipient's womb. This way, we’re also replicating natural conception as closely as we’re able to as a same-sex female couple instead of playing with nature and science too much.
Our referral letters were sent to our local fertility clinic, which has been helping people become parents for more than 25 years. They also proudly claim to have one of the highest success rates within the county, offering both NHS and private treatment.
Yet another waiting game
Four weeks had passed since our referral letters had been sent to the fertility clinic and we still hadn’t heard anything. Of course, we understand that these things take time but it never makes it any easier. We decided to give the clinic a call and found out that we had an appointment booked but the letter must have gotten lost. To us, it didn’t matter about the letter - we were just delighted to have an appointment!
We popped it on the calendar and my wife booked the morning off of work so that we could attend the appointment without any additional stresses. We were both literally counting down the days until our very first clinic appointment in which we’d be officially starting our fertility journey.
And then Covid-19 happened.
The country went into lockdown.
Our appointment got cancelled.
A glimmer of hope
Lockdown was very strange. Everything was put on hold - from people’s weddings and holidays to smaller things such as visiting family or going to the cinema. For us, it was our dream of starting a family. We’d gone through so much to get to this point in our journey and felt so close to finally starting the official medical process. It was devastating.
However, we had to keep reminding ourselves that this situation wouldn’t be forever. At some point, lockdown had to end and a new type of normality would begin.
Six weeks after the country was told to stay inside, we received a phone call completely out of the blue. It was the fertility clinic calling to invite us to come in on their first day back post-lockdown to start our treatment. And so the fertility journey continues…
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