As so many of us know, the journey to parenthood is often fraught with upset, stress and barriers. Which is why the advent of IVF and other assisted reproduction procedures is so important, providing hope and happiness to so many people struggling on their path to becoming a parent.
IVF has provided a lifeline and a normal family unit to many LGBTQ couples and individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to become parents.
Most of the time, we hear IVF stories of heterosexual couples who’ve struggled to conceive for years, so it’s interesting to hear things from another side, that of couples who may have no problems conceiving, only that they don’t have one half of the two elements that are necessary – an egg or a sperm.
One mother spoke to the New York times about her successful IVF procedure with her wife.
She said that the scientific revolution that led to her and her wife being able to have a child without having heterosexual sex is profound and like a miracle, but that it also involves a lot of sacrifices. The main one being “forfeiting the luxury of making babies in the privacy of our own home and embracing the absurdities that can come with becoming pregnant, industrial-style”.
Finding sperm was surprisingly easy for the couple, after a good friend of theirs offered his “genetic material”. So they set about using his sperm at home along with a syringe bought from a chemist. These DIY attempts weren’t successful so they then embarked on assisted reproduction.
This meant that their conception journey then involved “doctors, nurses, lawyers, psychologists and a surprising amount of red tape”. The most “absurd” thing was that their donor sperm had to be “quarantined” for six months in case their donor was harbouring an STI, despite them having used his sperm albeit unsuccessfully at home.
Another absurdity was that at each clinic visit, she had to have, and pay for, a pregnancy test “just in case”. Just in case of an immaculate conception, maybe?
The frustration, as people assume they are just friends
The couple also faced issues when they were continually mistaken as friends, despite making it clear at each appointment that they were, in fact, married and going through this together.
They know other couples that have similar frustrations, and hope that the more normalised LGBTQ parenting becomes, they’ll be a thing of the past. That is, despite LGBTQ couples creating families through assisted reproduction for decades now. The issue is, these couples are in a minority making up only around 5-10% of fertility clinic patients.
Now, the couple have a “perfect, terrible, typical toddler” and have just been through the same procedure to have their second child, but with a difference…
“This time, we took advantage of a perk available to some lesbian parents: We traded places. My wife was the pregnant one being jabbed in the ribs from the inside, and I was offering encouragement from the side lines. Instead of saying, “That sounds awful, honey,” I could truly commiserate: “I know! It’s the worst!”. When she finally pushed out a baby boy, I felt awed by her strength and stunned that anyone could go through what she went through — I nearly forgot that I had experienced childbirth myself”.
She says that although their journey to parenthood was “often absurd and occasionally maddening” it’s been full of “extraordinary benefits”. “Reproductive technology may have separated childbearing from sex, but it will never separate childbearing from love”.
What a beautiful note to end on.