Mary Kate and Nicole (USA):
Hello! My name is Mary Kate and my wife’s name is Nicole. We met in college and were friends for a few years before we started dating in 2003. During our early years of dating, I spoke frequently about wanting to start a family but the timing was not right. It frustrated me back then but I had to respect Nicole’s timing.
Finally, in 2009 we decided it was time to begin our family and I was going to carry our first child. Unfortunately, I was a teacher in a catholic school and I would have been fired if they knew that I was a lesbian. So, I lied early on and said I was married to a man. When I took the job, I was desperate to find a teaching job and that position was all I could find. I was incredibly uncomfortable hiding who I was, but I knew this was not my forever job.
My health coverage did not cover anything for fertility treatments, so we completed Intracervical insemination (ICI) at home. We attempted five cycles of ICIs. I tracked my ovulation by taking my temperature and using ovulation kits. I had put so much pressure on myself to get the timing just perfect. Talk about stress! That was probably one of the hardest periods in our relationship. I was so angry that my body wasn’t cooperating, getting pregnant, and I felt so alone.
Looking back, I feel as if I had a mental breakdown. For my mental state and our relationship, we decided to take a little break from ttc. We actually thought it would have been a few months but it ended up being a few years.
Life happened, I went back to school to change my career and we got married. We became certified foster parents with the hope of starting our family through foster to adopt. We found out the hard way that where we live is not in need of homes. That was another huge blow for us.
Before I graduated with my degree in Mental Health Counselling, I did my research on what agencies offered fertility coverage in their health plans. I had a friend who already worked for an agency and she told me about the coverage offered at her agency. I was determined to get hired by this agency, and I finally did. I submitted my insurance paperwork so fast and had to wait four months until coverage began.
While we were waiting on our coverage to begin, we started looking for fertility clinics that would be able to work around our schedule. We had so many options for fertility clinics that it became a little bit overwhelming. But we were aware that not everyone is as fortunate to have so many options.
We decided on the clinic that we chose because a friend highly recommended it, they would work around our schedule for monitoring and the locations was perfect for my wife.
We were full of hope and could not believe we were finally here! When the time came for our first IUI, we knew the chances of it working the first time were low – but hey why not us? Unfortunately, we did not get a positive pregnancy test until our sixth IUI and that was a very short lived “pregnancy”. On a Friday I had a positive BETA, and by Monday my numbers dropped. The majority of couples wouldn’t even know that they were “pregnant” that early but because we were being seen by an RE we knew. That hurt beyond words. We thought we were finally pregnant.
We knew our next step was IVF, which petrified me for many reasons. The biggest one being: what if this doesn’t work? What’s next? We scheduled our seventh cycle for an IVF and began the medications. While I was being monitored, it was evident I wasn’t responding well to the meds. I did not have a lot of follicles, I had about five in total. Our RE discussed our options and asked us what we wanted to do. We knew our insurance was limited so we decided it would be best to cancel the round of IVF and compete a seventh IUI. We were let down by the change in plans.
On my 36th birthday, my period came in full force ending our hope that the seventh IUI worked. A part of me died that day, I was with family trying to celebrate my birthday. At first all I could do was try and keep it together. I sat in silence acting like I was ok and everything was fine. Only my wife and myself knew what was going on. Then I don’t know what hit me but I told myself ‘enough’. I was ready for IVF, I was finally full heartedly ready for IVF. My fears were still present but I just knew IVF was going to work. It had to work.
The cycle worked and we are happy to have our 21-month-old daughter Olivia. It was so hard to keep the hope alive that, no matter what, we were going to be parents. Our road was long, not as long as others, but it was fully worth it.
We are currently trying for our second child and again for whatever reason, we are in a similar situation. My wife has undergone six IUIs and now we are at the IVF crossroad. We are emotionally drained but we keep in the back of our minds that we have been here before and we know how to survive this infertility ride. We are not perfect nor try to be. We argue, mainly out of fear and frustration of this process. But as it did last time, this process brings us closer together.