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Sucks to be me

Very quick post just to say I’ve worked out why I suck at blogging and blogging about this topic in general. This could also be why there are so few resources on this topic. It’s hard. It’s hard to condense down the frustrations, fears, anger and depression that goes along with this process into meaningful posts. It’s hard not to just wah about how hard it is. It’s even hard to get the motivation to write.

In a nutshell there are long periods of nothing to report combined with the short periods of is she/isn’t she, followed by the blow of not being successful. It creeps into all aspects of your life and eats away at you until you’re numb and just avoiding thinking about it until you absolutely have to. As the nonbiomum you feel totally powerless whilst also analysing your technique (am I getting the syringe in far enough, am I doing something wrong with the inseminations). The process itself is hard. There’s no romance, there’s little connection – it’s just functional get it in and get it done. Is that the problem? Are my fears affecting things? Is my panic everytime I think about us being successful causing us to fail?

Etc etc etc etc.

I will write a more coherent post soon but right now I am a world of frustration, fear, anger and overwhelming sadness. And don’t even get me started on the current facebook motherhood meme – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/02/facebook-motherhood-challenge?CMP=fb_gu

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Absentee blogger

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Combination of things including being very busy at work has meant that I’ve not had the brain space to blog. I must try harder.

We are several cycles into trying to get biomum pregnant. So far we have at least one suspected early miscarriage and lots of exciting two week wait symptoms but no positive pregnancy tests. The one false alarm (turned out the line was in the wrong place and was just an accumlation of indicator) did almost send me into a tail spin of trying to work how we are actually going to cope with having a child. I feel like we are trapped in this weird state of biological clocks ticking, with an awareness that it could take a while to be successful, whilst also not in any way being in the best position to actually have a child.

By ‘best position’ I’m talking about ideal scenario. We are in a much better state than some who have children and manage to cope. For the cautious soul I can sometimes be though, it is non-ideal. Equally, I am aware that there is never a right time and you have to take a leap of faith. I do worry that I won’t be able to provide for my family though. I feel a certain degree of pressure, not from anyone else or even noticeably from myself, I’m not sure where it comes from. It’s sort of ambient pressure I suppose. I’m not even sure I can articulate what the pressure is. I wonder if prospective fathers feel this, vague though it is?

In other news I still struggle with other people’s pregnancies. Not all of them by any means and I feel awkward about my feelings towards the others. I may explore this in another post but I’m failing to articulate it in an appropriate way right now.

I will hand the blog over to biomum at some point for her to note down some of her thoughts. Watch this space.

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Not the daddy

I know biomum is desperate for me to impart the wisdom (and hilarity) of our first insemination attempt but I actually feel like exploring some of the feelings I have about not only not expecting a child (yet) but being the prospective nonbiomum around pregnant women.

Short version – it sucks. Not only do you have the we’re not yet expecting a child jealousy but as a woman who isn’t going to carry her child it is so, so hard to be around pregnant women.

This is in no way meant to be a negative reflection on my female friends and relatives who are or have been pregnant. Even ones whose conversations have revolved around pregnancy for 9 months. It’s a huge thing in their lives and totally fair that they should want to share it with others. However, as someone wanting a child but not being the one to carry that child it’s hard, really hard. There is the usual jealousy, mixed with being overjoyed for pregnant friend of course, but jealous that it is not you that is about to become a parent. This is even worse around first-time mums as every experience is new and whilst sharing in that is great, a small part of me (sometimes a large part) weeps inside at every shared pregnancy joy.

Add to that the fact that when it is our turn to be expecting a wee one (hopefully soon) I still won’t be experiencing the same things. I won’t be pregnant. I won’t be the father. I will have no genetic or biological link to the child my wife will be carrying. What does that make me in the pregnancy? A birth partner? A helper? I will be a mother without any of the experiences that go into that as the foetus grows. Some people have said it is like being the father – the father doesn’t experience pregnancy first-hand. But unlike a father, I have no input into making the baby – other than inseminating biomum with the aid of syringes and speculums. I know it sounds like I’m hung up on genetics but it feels like it matters, and at the point of preparing to be nonbiomum around pregnant friends, it feels like it really matters.

You could say it is no different to adopting a child but for the most part that is at least a shared experience with your partner. Neither of you go through pregnancy and neither of you are biologically the parent.

It feels isolating to be in the situation of being nonbiomum. biomum has pregnant friends and friends who are biological mothers to share experiences with – this is not her sharing her experiences but having ‘the shared experience’ of being a biological mother. Fathers have other dads and dads-to-be to have that shared experience with. That ‘you can only truly know it if you have lived it’ thing. I don’t know anyone in my situation to share it with. I don’t have anyone who has been through this to give me advice and to bounce thoughts and ideas off. This is why I started this blog – so that anyone coming after me might find some ‘shared experience’ to cling to.

So. Some statements. I am nonbiomum and I am jealous of pregnant women. I find them hard to be around even if I love them dearly. I am scared of being forgotten about during the pregnancy. I don’t yet know what role I have in the coming journey. I am frustrated that this all has to be so hard.

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Donor search – Part 2: Our journey

I’m not going to go into the specifics and details of our interactions with potential donors as that seems inappropriate. When we first started thinking about having a baby we thought long and hard about whether we wanted a known donor or an anonymous one. There are pros and cons to each and I found it hard to decide on what I wanted to do. We’d already ruled out completely anonymous donation via a clinic – the cost was too high especially when you consider trying to conceive 3 times per cycle, plus it had that very impersonal feel of having to go via a clinic. As you will see this is not a romantic process at all but we did want to keep some semblance of us creating this baby together. That rapidly goes out the window when doctors are involved.

Initially we didn’t know about the existence of places like Cryos and so our first thought was asking friends or using something like Pride Angel to meet someone willing to help. Both of these would come under the known donor heading for me – meeting a stranger through Pride Angel would lead to the donor becoming known as there would need to be conversations face to face, contracts and meet-ups several times a month.

I’m going to be a little abstract here as I don’t feel too comfortable sharing interactions with those friends who we asked and who were kind enough to consider. Suffice to say asking a friend to be your sperm donor is one of the more terrifying conversations to have and also, for us, demonstrated the love and respect we had for the individuals we asked. We restricted our choices to men who already had children to reduce the chance of something being wrong donor-side if we were struggling to conceive which also shortened our list.

It’s hard not to feel rejected when people say no. Really hard. It’s also hard to reconcile some of the reasons given with your own feelings about the process and about how you view what is going on. Every reason given is valid for the person giving it regardless of whether it fits with your outlook – as hard as that may be in the moment.  I personally really struggled with this part of the process – with having to ask someone else’s permission (in effect) to start a family. It’s hard to have someone outside of your relationship dictate whether this can happen. I’ve used quite emotive words there and that is not a reflection on any of our potential donors who were all lovely. It’s just how it felt from my side as the person who actually has no input (biologically) already, to have to wait for someone to agree to help. Unreasonably or not I felt angry and frustrated that the decision to start trying to conceive was not solely within mine and biomum’s control, that a third party, however vital, had a say.

This was one of things that drew me to places like Cryos. It felt like taking back control of the process for ourselves. Order the sperm, have it delivered and away we go. It felt impersonal and I wasn’t sure if I liked that. We could search by characteristic, sure, we could even go for extended profiles with more detailed background information, but we had no idea who these men were. Whether we would like them if we met them. It felt detached.

Fortunately for us, at the point where previous potentials hadn’t worked out, we got an offer. Yep, that elusive and mystical offer. Someone actually volunteered to help us start our family. Not only that but our thoughts about what we wanted were in sync. The contract writing was pretty easy (once we found a template) and every discussion about what needs to happen has been relaxed and involved a great deal of humour. Believe me, if you’re doing this yourselves, you need a lot of humour. We could not ask for better people (donor and his wife) to be doing this with and their willingness to help and their support and encouragement is invaluable and so, so appreciated.

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Next Step

Having decided that we were going to have a baby, biomum and I began to look into the options. Obviously just having lots of sex wasn’t going to work (though we did amuse at our GP with that) – not without an added ingredient. I’d been the slower of the two of us to admit that children was something I wanted and given we wanted to give biomum the chance to carry the child we did consider using my eggs and her uterus. Briefly.

For those of you who don’t know, IVF is expensive. Our PCT has only just relented and decided to allow one cycle of IVF on the NHS provided you are under a certain age and have been trying for a certain period of time (with sperm, dammit) – we doubted very much that they would fund harvesting my eggs as well as everything else. Going private was looking like it would be prohibitively expensive especially adding in the cost of buying sperm from a bank. The idea of us having a child that could be considered to come from both of us – my genetic material combined with biomum carrying the child and being the birth mother was just not going to be viable. We would be forced to go down the very clinical route of IVF and, expense aside, it all seemed too impersonal unless we had to. The process of home insemination is by not means romantic but at least it would be the two of us, together, making a baby – even if the baby would have no genetic link to me.

As far as the NHS goes – until you’ve been trying to conceive for a while the only assistance or checks available are some basic blood tests for biomum to check things like iron levels. If we encounter problems later than there are things the NHS may be able to offer us but without going private for either IVF or the acquisition of sperm we were on our own.

I found myself really envying my straight friends at this point. Unless there are specific fertility issues with one party or the other all they have to do is have unprotected sex, a lot. I appreciate this is over-simplifying massively. Getting pregnant can take time and be hard work but compared to what we were facing – finding a sperm donor, home insemination etc, it just seemed too easy for everyone else. Especially when you read the cases of child neglect. I had so much pent-up frustration about how unfair it was. This is before you add in the rubbish about being gay being a ‘lifestyle choice’ and that I shouldn’t therefore be able to have children because I chose to be with a woman. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with my sexuality – but it’s not a choice. This is how I’m wired. I also want children and it shouldn’t be this hard.

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Background

OK, so, let’s start this off with a bit of background about myself and biomum. We’d always been slightly ambivalent about having children – at least we thought we were. It was always going to take planning – being as we lack a vital ingredient between the two of us. Leaving it to chance wasn’t going to be an option. Each time a friend got pregnant and subsequently gave birth we’d pretend that we weren’t broody, nope, not at all. Not even slightly. Honest guv’, no broodiness here. Yeah, right.

Towards the end of last year we discussed things, finally, in the face of mounting evidence of our broodiness. We discussed the problems – lack of sperm, the various other issues that we were using to say we couldn’t have children… at least not yet, and eventually, after talking to friends with kids already, decided that we were never going to ‘be ready’. Even when we have a child we won’t ‘be ready’ – I’m not sure anyone ever is. We’ll just muddle along like everyone else making the best of it and trying not to screw it up too badly. Bam. Decision made. We were going to have children.

Initially we considered that I would carry the child. However biomum is older than me and I have some issues – during our initial discussions I was going through investigation for endometriosis resulting in surgery. As it stands right now I’m in simulated, chemically induced menopause. I might never be able to have children depending on what happens after the current course of treatment ends. We don’t know. So for now biomum is ‘it’ as it were. I may end up as biomum to a child in the future – we just don’t know. For now I am nonbiomum (albeit nonbiomum-to-be) and figuring out what that means.