Pregnancy · Week by Week Update

Week 40 update

This is it! We have reached full term! Our little girl could arrive any day now. She doesn’t seem to have noticed, but we sure have.

At the end of week 40, our baby is as big as a watermelon.

Watermelon
Photo credit

Symptoms: Braxton Hicks contractions, tired, swelling of feet and hands, disrupted sleep due to excessive need to pee (still) and feeling uncomfortable all the time.

The last week has been tiresome. G finds it incredibly difficult to find a comfortable position when sleeping, so she is often tired throughout the day due to not sleeping well. In addition to this, she constantly feels the need to pee, even though it is normal for close to nothing to come out. Our little girl has been in the right position since approximately week 15, but the bigger she gets, the more pressure she puts on G’s bladder. It is incredibly uncomfortable, but that is what is to be expected at this point in pregnancy, right?

The waiting game has been the absolute worst part of the last week. And by worst part, I really mean it has just been very difficult to be patient. We are both very anxious for her to come, but babies come when they are ready, and not when parents are ready. We know. We’ve been told by countless people both on and offline. It doesn’t make the waiting process any easier, but we’re trying to keep busy. We’ve been going for long walks each day, and G has been eating pineapple, drinking a mixed raspberry leaf tea concoction, bouncing on an exercise ball and all those silly non-scientifically proven ways to try and induce labour a somewhat natural way. Obviously we know that these methods are pretty ridiculous, but we’re not above trying them ha ha. Hopefully we have some news before we get to 41 weeks, because G would prefer not to birth a 4000g+ baby vaginally.

Pregnancy · Week by Week Update

Week 39 update

How did we get here? How are we now in the 40th week? After a long and unintentional break from our blog, we are back and ready to provide you with some sort of an update! As I am writing this post, we only have six days before our little girl’s due date! What? We are very much prepared for her to come later than her estimated due date, which is next Tuesday 1st August, but we’d obviously like to meet her as soon as possible! As teachers, we have the luxury of being off on summer holidays right now, and this is particularly useful for me as I don’t have to take time off when G goes into labour, but if our little girl comes late, I won’t be around as much once she is born 😦

At the end of week 39, our baby is as big as a pumpkin.

Pumpkin
Photo credit

Symptoms: Finding a comfortable sitting position or laying position is impossible at the moment, extreme exhaustion, nauseousness, Braxton Hicks contractions (no pain, just a lot of abdominal tightening), and needing to pee 24/7.

G has had a great pregnancy. She has loved every moment of being pregnant, from feeling our little one moving around and kicking inside her, to having that pregnancy glow. As we sit here waiting for little one to arrive (cut to us watching television!), I asked my amazing wife what she will miss most about being pregnant, and she simply said everything. She is so grateful for being able to experience the wonder of human life growing inside her and she is actually sad that it will be over soon. That isn’t to say that she isn’t excited to meet our baby girl when it’s time, but the whole experience has been unforgettable. As the non-biological Mum who also plans to carry our future child/children, I am in awe of how amazing this woman is, and how she has handled the entire journey. Women are rockstars, and my wife has proven this.

Pregnancy · Week by Week Update

Week 24 update

G and I spent most of this week apart. I stayed in Berlin looking after our two adorable cats, and she went to visit her family for what possibly was the last time alone! Next time, we’ll be bringing along our potentially bouncing, bubbly little baby girl! I say potentially, because who knows what kind of personality our little girl is going to have, and by the time we lift our “if you want to see our baby you will have to come to us” rule, our baby will possibly be doing more than sleeping, eating and pooping.

At the end of week 24, our baby is as big as a cantaloupe.

Cantaloupe
Photo credit

Symptoms: More or less the same stuff, including nosebleeds, tiredness, and cramping, with added poor circulation and dizziness, and skin irritation.

Earlier in the week we had a pretty crazy day. We had to leave our flat early so that I could go to the Australian embassy to apply for a new passport, then we had lunch plans at Dolores California Burritos (it is super important that I mention this), walked quite a distance to visit Baby Walz and then our lawyer, before finally heading home. We haven’t had one of those days for a while, and it took a lot out of G. This was the first day that being pregnant really had an impact on her. It didn’t help that she didn’t drink nearly enough water for the amount of walking we were doing, so with all the activity and general excitement of the day, G felt really nauseous and dizzy.

It makes total sense though, and when we left the hustle and bustle behind us, G realised that she simply can’t keep up with what she used to be able to do pre-pregnancy. G immediately contacted our midwife that afternoon, and she informed us that drinking plenty of fluids, in addition to taking it easy, would help ease any dizziness.

After the Easter weekend, we head into our last week of the holidays. We have our next gynaecology appointment this coming week, and we look forward to the beginning of G’s 7th month pregnant!

LGBTQ+ stuff · Pregnancy

Our chat with a lawyer

Earlier this week, G and I sat down with a lawyer to discuss the adoption process post-birth, and our woes with the 1993 German law that states that double-barrelled last names are permitted for married couples, but their children will never be able to inherit said double-barrelled last name (Kirchner, 2009). Ergh. Why is Germany so damn regimented? More on this later.

Choosing the legal practice to get our initial advice from was very straightforward. We wanted a practice that specialised in family law, and we wanted a lawyer who could speak English. Some vocabulary simply isn’t used on a day-to-day basis, and understanding legal jargon is hard enough as it is! I did a lot of research on the Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (LSVD) website, particularly looking for LGBT friendly legal practices because we wanted to feel safe and secure knowing that our family wouldn’t be judged. We ended up choosing Elmar Hörnig, in Charlottenburg, whose fee for initial advice was €100 paid in cash.

When we arrived at his office, the receptionist was very friendly and upon looking us up in the appointments book, immediately switched to English. I found this to be very promising, as I can’t tell you how many times I have requested something to be done specifically in English when it is offered, and then found out that it really wasn’t an option at all. This happened at the dentist all too often. At 2pm, we were greeted by Elmar Hörnig and invited into his office. As we entered, his poodle, who was sitting under the desk, came to say hi. This was another check on my mental list of things to like about the legal practice. Something about having a pet at work just makes everything appear less threatening.

P-G Journal
My trusty journal goes everywhere* with me. *Everywhere does not include the bathroom.

I got out my super subtle rainbow covered journal and pen, ready to take notes. We immediately started by asking Elmar about the adoption process. He was thorough enough in explaining what needed to be done, but didn’t go into too much detail as the process can’t officially be done by him, and can only start eight weeks after the birth of our child. Once our little one is eight weeks old, we submit our application along with all the required documents to a notary public. Elmar was helpful and provided the name of a notary public he has referred clients to before, in addition to the list of documents required. As I will be the parent who is adopting, I need to provide the following documents with my application:

  • My birth certificate
  • Baby’s birth certificate
  • Our civil partnership certificate
  • My passport
  • My registration certificate that shows my registered address in Germany
  • A full health certificate to prove that I’m healthy
  • A police check
  • Proof of income in the form of at least three of my most recent payslips
  • Proof from the sperm bank that we do not personally know the sperm donor

Most of the documents I need to provide make total sense, but to provide a health certificate to prove that I’m healthy seems crazy. There are so many parents out there who are not healthy for reasons out of their control, and they are still parents all the same. I’m sure there is a simple explanation for it, but I still don’t see the need for it.

This part of our consultation was the easiest. The second half of our consultation was frustrating and made us want to be in a different country for the birth of our child. Ergh, Germany, you make us so mad sometimes! Basically, we asked the complicated question of how the heck can our child have our double-barrelled last name. We didn’t get the simple answer we were hoping for.

To begin, Germany flat out refuses to allow double-barrelled last names for any offspring. As stated earlier, married parents can have a double-barrelled last name, but their children cannot inherit this last name. Parents in Germany have to choose one last name only. How does this even make sense? I understand that having a chain of four names for a last name is ridiculous, but why isn’t a double-barrelled last name an option? Why give married couples the right to have two last names, but not allow their children to have the same name? Why not simply make it a law that there can never be more than two last names in a chain? This isn’t even discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, this is a meaningless and ridiculous law that has been in place since 1993, condemning the personal right to choose a double-barrelled last name. You can read more about this in an article published by The Guardian here.

Ergh.

So, a double-barrelled last name is out of the question here in Germany. It was time I turned to my trusty Australian citizenship to provide the answer we were looking for. Unfortunately, this was also not as simple as we had initially hoped.

Elmar couldn’t give us an answer on the spot about using my Australian citizenship to veto the German law for our baby’s last name. He had to look this up, but promised to call us back as soon as he knew more. This didn’t sound very convincing.

We left the legal practice feeling completely dejected, knowing that our options were limited. Our baby would bear only half of our combined identity. G and I strongly identify with our double-barrelled last name now, and it feels unfair to have to split us up in this way. Slicing a brain in half doesn’t make sense, so neither should this!

On our 20-minute bus journey home, we vented, debated, lent on one another, and ultimately came to terms with the fact that the most important thing at the end of the day, is that our baby is healthy and happy.

When we got home, Elmar had already left a voicemail message on my phone. I called him back immediately and he informed us that our best option would be to seek legal advice in Australia to confirm that Australia recognises the adoption in Germany, and to make sure our baby can get Australian citizenship once I am the legal parent. After our revelatory bus journey home, G and I were thrilled that there was still some hope left.

Australian visas and residency are hard to come by, let alone requesting citizenship! This is a topic for another post, as there are so many complexities to the issue. Stay tuned for more information in this area, and thank you for continuing to support us in this journey!

Pregnancy · Week by Week Update

Week 23 update

An uneventful week passed by, but now that we’re on holidays, we’ve got lots to catch up on. G is looking more gorgeous than ever, and her baby bump is growing nicely. We can feel and see our baby girl moving quite a lot now, and as her hearing has developed recently, she seems to move when she can hear loud noises. G went to a basketball game over the weekend, and our little one was very excited by all the new sounds.

At the end of week 23, our baby is as big as a grapefruit.

Grapefruit
Photo credit

Symptoms: Nosebleeds (still), exhaustion (still), cramping and potential Braxton Hicks contractions.

G felt some strange tightening below and around her belly this week, and we read that this could be her body preparing for labour. Braxton Hicks contractions occur throughout pregnancy, but only become more noticeable after the halfway mark (Baby Center). They occur infrequently and don’t cause any pain, but they certainly take a little getting used to. To make sure these Braxton Hicks contractions don’t turn into preterm labour, G has to drink plenty of water and change positions frequently to stay comfortable (The Bump). If the tightening becomes more frequent and/or causes pain, we will have to consult our gynaecologist as this could mean its labour time or much worse, but fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.

Over the next week, we’re going to catch up on a lot of the administrative aspects of pregnancy, in addition to cleaning and decluttering our flat. We have an appointment with a lawyer to discuss the adoption and last name issue, in addition to our next midwife appointment. We’ll let you know how everything goes.

Pregnancy · Week by Week Update

Weeks 21-22 update

Where did the last two weeks go (?) because they came and disappeared as quick as lightning. We didn’t even have a chance to post our weekly update last week. In these last two weeks, we finally found out the gender of our little one, went to our mid-pregnancy ultrasound, felt much more than flutters (!), and generally calmed down on the baby shopping… not!

At the end of week 22, our baby is as big as a coconut.

coconut
Photo credit

Symptoms: Nosebleeds, backaches and general aches and pains, complete and utter exhaustion, abdominal muscle stretching, mood swings (she told me to write this!)

Let’s clear the air first. I always ask G to read over any and all blog posts. We write a lot of them together, especially the weekly updates, so when I say that she has mood swings… these are actually her words, not mine (but I certainly feel the wrath of them ha ha).

Over the last two weeks, a lot has happened! It wasn’t long after I wrote the previous update that G had the shock of her life. We were sitting in bed just before lights out, when all of a sudden G let out a gasp and scared the living daylights (gotta keep this website PG-rated) out of me. She felt our little one kung fu inside her. That same night, even I was able to feel our baby! The transition from flutters to full-on boxing moves was a quick one.

Since then, our baby moves quite regularly, and often when G is having a moment of downtime. We’ve read that babies inside the uterus like the rocking motion created by walking and doing things. When G finally has a chance to sit down and put her feet up, often little one wakes up and starts to move around. As the days go by, and our little one develops more and more, her movements are getting bigger and more defined. We are even able to see some of her movements of late! We are so happy every time we can feel and see her move.

Yes, you may have noticed my subtle shift to using gender specific pronouns, because as of last week, we found out that our little one is a girl! At our mid-pregnancy ultrasound (Feindiagnostik in German), our doctor announced that our baby is very clearly a girl. We were so thrilled after this discovery, that we went out and bought far too many girly (and non-gender specific) things than we actually need at this stage. More on that later. At the ultrasound, we could see our little girl moving, smiling, sucking her fingers, and laying very close to G’s placenta. It was so surreal and such a beautiful moment. From what the doctor could see, everything is looking great.

We are so in love with her already, and we simply cannot wait to meet her. Our little Eisbärchen is a true fighter ❤

Insemination · IVF · Pregnancy

The cost of IUI and IVF

Apart from wanting to connect with and update family and friends around the world, the main purpose of this website is to connect with LGBTQ+ families who are trying to conceive, and families who are struggling with infertility. Having gone through both intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to conceive our little one currently growing in G’s uterus, we know a lot about the process and procedure in Germany. We want to be completely transparent about the process, and more importantly about the costs, because trying to conceive with additional help is expensive! Hopefully this post opens your eyes to our world a little more, and you gain some insight into how much it can cost to conceive a child through IUI and IVF, particularly with no support from the government and health insurance agencies.

Disclaimer: This is our journey, and what you are about to read is what we went through in Berlin, Germany. Other couples in other cities and countries around the world, at different fertility clinics, at home, etc. may go through a similar or completely different process. We hope this post simply helps others to understand what costs might be involved in their process, should they find themselves identifying with two women trying to conceive a baby the unconventional way.

Administration costs: €1800 (plus tax)

We wrongly assumed that the upfront administration costs would cover a lot more than it actually did. We thought the ultrasounds, insemination procedure(s) and use of the equipment were covered in this section, but don’t be fooled by this upfront fee, because it didn’t cover a damn thing. We essentially paid this fee to register with the fertility clinic. It took a huge chunk out of our savings, but without it, we wouldn’t have been able to start the trying to conceive process.

Medical tests: €145.72

These costs were partly covered by our health insurance provider and were necessary before any treatment could begin. They tested for infections, blood type and risk factors, in addition to other important medical type things that I don’t know the translation for!

Sperm and sperm preparation for IUI treatment: €398.65 for the first three tries, and €410.55 for the following four tries. A total of €2838.15 was spent on sperm!

Doing the calculations now, I can’t believe we spent this much on sperm. And this was only for the IUI treatment!

Fertility clinic services for IUI treatment: €1982.10 for all seven tries

The cost of the services included each and every ultrasound, phone call, piece of advice given, check-up, vaginal treatment, insemination procedure, test tube used, blood test, acupuncture treatment, and the list goes on. Basically, every time they touch, talk or look at you, you have to pay. This was difficult to get used to at first, because we really couldn’t believe a lot of this wasn’t included in the administration fees, but in the end, it mostly made sense. The staff at our fertility clinic were always wiling to explain each invoice and what each part of the invoice meant.

Medication for IUI treatment: Approximately €355.65

The medication for the IUI treatment included many rounds of the injection that initiates ovulation (Brevactid), and hormone tablets such as progesterone and oestrogen. It’s hard to say exactly how much we spent, as we didn’t keep all the receipts.

Medication for IVF treatment: €619.73

Before the egg retrieval procedure could take place, G had to be injected with a fertility drug every day for 10 days in a row, which then allowed her body to produce more follicles and therefore eggs before ovulation. In addition, to ensure that her body didn’t dispose of those extra eggs, she had to use a nasal spray to counteract the use of the fertility drug. Brevactid was also necessary again, as was the use of hormone tablets.

Anaesthesia for egg retrieval procedure: €294.47

This basically covered the costs of having an anaesthesiologist present and working during G’s egg retrieval procedure.

Sperm for IVF treatment: €410.55

We had to fertilise those eggs somehow!

IVF treatment: €2462.02 for two cycles

The cost of the IVF treatment was steep. It included monitoring of G’s eggs through to fertilisation, follicle treatment, sperm preparation for IVF, acupuncture and the embryo transfers. Again, basically everything was billed to our invoice!

Cryopreservation: €600

After the egg retrieval procedure, we were able to freeze one fertilised egg ready for G’s second cycle should the first one be unsuccessful. This fee covered the cost of freezing that last fertilised egg (which would go on to be our little one currently in G’s uterus) for 6 months.

Sperm reservation for P: €297.50

With G now pregnant, we had to look to the future and reserve the same sperm for when I finally start trying to conceive. We want our children to be biologically related, so in case our sperm donor stops donating sperm, we had to reserve a batch for then.

FINAL TOTAL OF ALL COSTS: Approximately €11,805.89

We could not have afforded this without the support of our wonderful parents. G’s parents lent us money, and my parents paid for part of our holiday to the Philippines. We are so grateful to them.

Hopefully this post has given you some insight into the financial costs of trying to conceive a child in a same-sex family. This is actually the first time we calculated all the costs, and to be honest, it is quite overwhelming to think we spent so much money on this process. It wasn’t easy, and we did have struggles along the way, but we were both determined and stubborn as hell. We were not willing to give up on starting a family.

Thank you for all your love and support.