Today marks the end of 19 weeks. “G” is blossoming whilst carrying our baby, although there have been moments of exhaustion, and emotional outbursts.
This week, our baby is as big as a mango.
Symptoms: Tired, tired, tired, nosebleeds, dizziness, trouble sleeping and heavy legs in bed, quick bursts of muscle pain in the lower stomach area.
Once again, “G” is finding it difficult to sleep at night. She is now exclusively sleeping on her side, and this isn’t the most comfortable position. She often wakes up in pain or lying on her back and having to consciously roll over onto her side again. Our very good friend (you know who you are) has been so kind and offered to buy “G” a pregnancy pillow (Stillkissen in German), so my wife is looking forward to testing it out soon. This lack of sleep in the evenings doesn’t help her during the working week though, as she is almost always tired after lunch.
Additionally, “G” has noticed a stretching pain in her lower stomach area. These short bursts of pain are her body’s way of telling her that it is preparing for more growth in her uterus. All of her organs, ligaments, muscles and bones are moving, and this movement is causing some discomfort.
We had a midwife appointment on Tuesday, and we heard our baby’s heartbeat again. It was so nice and comforting to know our little one is still safe and sound in “G’s” uterus.
“G” is now 18 weeks pregnant, and boy is she starting to show. Her bump is beginning to expand, and this week I even noticed it through her clothes! Maybe a photo will pop up soon.
This week, our baby is as big as a sweet potato.
Symptoms: Backaches, nosebleeds, trouble breathing through the nose, and trouble sleeping.
“G” has found little rest during the nights. She is finding it difficult to find a comfortable position and shouldn’t be sleeping on her back anymore. This is due to the increasing size of our little one compressing large veins that reduce the flow of blood to her heart. Our cats don’t always help the situation, and we’ll soon have to say goodbye to them sleeping in our bedroom, but for now, “G” isn’t annoyed enough to kick them out just yet. In addition to the sleepless nights, she is starting to complain of back pain, but who can blame her? She is carrying additional weight at the front of her body that she simply isn’t used to.
This week, “G” has started to feel something in her uterus. She describes it as feeling something tender going on, but finds it hard to explain. At our last appointment, our gynocologist said to expect movements this month, so “G” has been paying close attention to any unusual feelings in and around her belly area.
Our next midwife appointment is coming up next week, and we’re very excited to hear our baby’s heartbeat again!
Choosing the man who was going to be biologically related to our future children was an incredibly important and potentially life-changing decision. I say potentially life-changing because we cannot predict the future or whether or not our future children will want to meet their biological father some day*. Who knows what that hypothetical day might bring to all our lives.
The process for choosing our donor was a long one, and started long before we actually began our journey to parenthood. We knew long ago that we both wanted to try to conceive and fall pregnant, but it was clear that “G” would be the first. On that note, we wanted to choose a donor that would be suitable for both of us, so that when I did start trying, our children would be biological siblings.
When we arrived in Berlin in 2014 and started planning for a family, we wanted to find a fertility clinic that had a doctor who spoke both English and German. We had done a little research online, but eventually landed on the Praxis für Fertilität. We were impressed by the founding doctor, and were happy with the reviews we read online. At the beginning of this process, we were quite naive, and when we had our initial meeting with our fertility doctor, he mentioned quite a lot of things that had to be done. You can read about this meeting and the outcome here.
We were incredibly lucky to find out that our fertility doctor actually founded the Berliner Samenbank, a sperm bank that is situated in the same building as our fertility clinic. This made the process a little easier, although limited us in terms of donor options.
“G” had to go through a number of medical tests and we had to fill in some paperwork
before the sperm bank could give us suitable donors. During this process, we listed what our ‘perfect’ donor should look like. Ideally, he should have brown hair, brown eyes, be of similar height to us, and be of a certain build. Initially, we tried to find a donor that was similar to how I looked, but actually, the limited physical attributes we were able to list suited how we both look. Unfortunately there was no possibility of seeing baby photos or any photos of potential donors, but at the end of the day, we just wanted our future children to be healthy. This is something the Berliner Samenbank assured us during this process.
After the testing and paperwork, we received a number of potential donors that were suitable. We received information about their eye colour, hair colour, height, weight, body type, nationality, job and hobbies, in addition to some medical information such as blood type, etc. We chose our donor based on these qualities, but ultimately decided on someone who was willing to donate their sperm and give “G” and I the gift of life. We are so grateful that this human being decided to donate so that we could conceive a child. If there was the possibility of personally thanking him in some way, “G” and I would not hesitate to do so, but of course this isn’t the case. So for now, we’d just like to publicly thank him here. Thank you.
*In Germany, once our future children are 18 years old, they are entitled to find out information about the identity of their biological parent.
A lot of people ask us how we got pregnant (because, you know, two women can’t make a baby without some form of help just yet), and I am always incredibly proud to say that it was through IVF. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma attached to IVF and I honestly don’t know why. Is it because of ignorance? Religion? Cost? The process is absolutely amazing, and allows women to fulfil their dream of carrying a child. It puzzles me how often women are quick to judge and comment on another woman’s choice to do whatever the heck she wants. Why aren’t we praising each other and lifting each other up? Aren’t there already enough people out there who want to put us down? Why do we go and do that to our fellow sisters?
But… I digress. Our decision to undergo IVF was an easy, yet difficult one to make. There were many factors in the decision-making process, but ultimately, it was the next (and last) option for us.
During our Summer holidays in 2016, we tried three cycles of IUI. It was the perfect time to just try as often as possible, because “G” was super relaxed and we didn’t have to worry about taking time off work or stressing about how to ovulate at the right time outside of working hours. During our sixth unsuccessful insemination, our regular fertility doctor was on holidays, so “G” met with his colleague. She immediately asked “G” why we were still trying with the IUI process and not taking the IVF route or even switching utero to ME! We were actually quite shocked by this, as despite “G” being 37, she has always been really healthy and way above average, medically speaking. IVF simply wasn’t on our radar, and the later thought was downright rude.
** Quick side note on why we both think the switching uterus comment is rude. Quite a lot of people asked us why we didn’t switch to me, or when we would decide to switch to me, or even simply suggested switching to me, because clearly everyone else knows best. I know our friends and family were not intending to be rude, and probably didn’t think twice about the comments, but for us, these comments really hurt. If it was a heterosexual couple, would you suggest switching to someone else’s uterus so quickly? “G” wanted to get pregnant first, and I totally and 100% supported her in this. My time will definitely come. We weren’t going to give up so quickly, especially since we hadn’t tried everything.
After our seventh unsuccessful insemination attempt, we decided to weigh up our options and talk more about IVF. “G” and I weren’t in a good place, and our relationship was under strain. I certainly didn’t feel like we were connecting, and “G” was feeling 10 times worse than me. Imagine feeling like your uterus is failing every time a big fat negative appears on a test, or when your period comes. On the outside, we projected the image of a happy couple, but deep down, we were devastated. We both hated the thought of going out, so we’d spend days at home, wallowing in our despair. This probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but at the time, it felt like it was the only thing we could do to cope.
Our regular fertility doctor supported our decision to try something new, so we continued down this path. Up until this point, we had done everything naturally, with no additional hormones or medication. “G” was physically fit, so our fertility doctor didn’t suggest anything different. In fact, he was always super positive and happy. Seriously, the guy whistled every time “G” opened her legs.
Although we were both extremely crushed at the time, we had to keep thinking about the fact that seven failed cycles was actually not a bad statistic at all. It can take couples years to conceive a child without any assistance, so we needed to stay positive. Easier said than done.
We had a few things going against us that required us to speed up the trying to conceive process. The biggest factor that we had to consider was finances. IUI and IVF aren’t cheap options; sperm costs money, the procedures cost money. Everything that touches and doesn’t touch you, costs money. We are extremely grateful and fortunate to live in Germany, as the costs are much cheaper than in the UK, US and Australia, but they are still steep. We had to budget and save constantly.
We didn’t want to keep paying for IUI attempts when the probability of getting pregnant was much lower than the success rate of IVF treatment. Each IUI had a 13% chance of success as opposed to 40-50% with IVF. The switch to IVF was a no-brainer at this point.
So, after that Summer, we took a couple of months to regroup and get back on our feet before starting the IVF process. It wasn’t always easy, and we fought and cried and hugged each other a lot, but ultimately, we both wanted the same thing, so we kept going.
Hi again everyone! Remember us?! I know it has been a long time, but we’re back. Finally!
We inadvertently took a long hiatus from blogging. It was a difficult time, and blogging just wasn’t on our radar. The last time we shared a blog post was during the two week wait for our sixth insemination attempt. We were unsuccessful, and tried another time before moving onto IVF. It would be a massive understatement to say that I’m paraphrasing quite a lot here, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway. I’m paraphrasing. This hiatus was HUGE, and with it came a lot of tears, both happy and sad.
I’ll get to all that another time.
The good news that we are just so freaking delighted to share with you all though, is that we are finally pregnant! Yes, after just nine cycles, “G” has a bun in the oven. She is eating for two. She is knocked up. She is carrying our baby, our little one, our future child. She is preggers and putting on the pounds. Ok, I jest. I’m from Australia and have no idea what a pound is. We’re in the 21st Century, people*… get your shit together.
We’re just so excited, and cannot contain our happiness!
Over the next few days and weeks, I’ll be updating the blog with “G’s” progress. She is currently 17 weeks pregnant and looking gorgeous.
TWW. What does it stand for? What could it possibly mean? How can this short, three letter abbreviation make a period of our lives feel so endless. Three words.
Two. Week. Wait.
It’s that period after G has ovulated (and for us, after the insemination actually takes place), and before we can actually take a pregnancy test to find out if it worked.
The waiting game is the hardest. It feels like we are constantly waiting. We wait for the beginning of G’s menstruation and start counting the days. We wait for the ultrasound appointment to check G’s follicles. We inject. We wait 32 hours for G’s ovulation and she gets inseminated. We wait a day before G starts taking hormone pills. And if there hasn’t been any sign of blood by the time we’ve waited 14 days since the insemination, we can take a pregnancy test. If it’s a BFN (big fat negative), we start the waiting game again.
I will be thrilled when this waiting game ends, and the 8 month waiting game begins.
For the most part, I am a strong person. Not in a physical sense, but in an emotional sense. In the most difficult situations, I push past heartbreak and pain in order to move forward.
Everyday, for the past couple of weeks, I wanted to write about the Orlando shooting that took place on June 12, 2016, but I kept putting it off. It was and still is a deadly and violent incident that leaves me lost for words every time it becomes the topic of conversation. For a while, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was rendered speechless and unable to process my thoughts about the topic, but now I think I know why.
I’m scared. For the first time in my life, as a lesbian and a member of the queer community, I actually feel afraid. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or conceited, because I know how difficult it can be, but throughout my entire life and up until this point, I have never once felt discriminated against, or hated for who I am as a person.
For as long as I can remember, LGBTQ+ rights have been progressing in the right direction; countries are legalizing same-sex marriage, people in powerful positions are coming out, media representation of the queer community is becoming normalized and the list goes on. As this was happening, I became comfortable, complacent even, almost to the point of truly thinking that positive change was making a difference; that I was safe.
Despite all of this though, when the Orlando shooting happened, it felt like we as a society took a giant step backwards.
This shooting made me realise that I’ve become too complacent about the queer community and LGBTQ+ rights. Those rights are not going to happen overnight, and they definitely won’t happen if I sit back and wait for others to fight for those rights for me. I can’t become comfortable. I don’t want to be comfortable.
The Orlando shooting was in my opinion, a hate crime. As a member of the queer community, I have a responsibility to fight for the safety of all members of that community, and in memory of those who lost their life that night.