Monthly Archives: April 2008

Those burning questions

I felt that we learned a lot at the Rainbow Families conference last weekend. Among the most interesting or important things follow, as well as the answer to at least one of my burning questions:

  • Does the length of time that a sperm sample is frozen matter?
    Yes, mainly due to the fact that freezing techniques have changed in the past however many years. Thus, using 1 year old frozen sperm vs. 3 year old frozen sperm will probably not matter, but using sperm frozen in the early 90’s vs. the early 2000’s may actually matter. One of the donors Nutella and I were looking at (but crossed out) had donated in the 1980’s! I’m extra glad now that we’re not using those swimmers.
     
  • When a sperm sample is washed, does the process kill a certain percentage of the swimmers?
    The good thing about washing sperm is that it weeds out all of the dead or weak swimmers, as well as all the other yucky stuff that you don’t need. What you’re left with is a highly concentrated ‘packet’ of good, strong swimmers which are then deposited directly into the uterus when using IUI. Do NOT, repeat, Do NOT eject ICI/unwashed sperm directly into the uterus. This sperm is not supposed to go directly there and will cause uterine contractions that can be severe. The doctor even mentioned that this has been known to cause death.
     
  • Controlled studies have shown that two inseminations in one cycle do not increase the percentage that a woman will get pregnant if the timing is already on the money. Thus, if you’re using OPK’s and you know the day you’re ovulating, you may be wasting money to do two inseminations. Logically this is hard to understand, but that’s what was said so…
     
  • If you need certain tests done prior to TTC and you’re afraid that your insurance will not cover them, get them done at your primary care doctor if possible. Fertility doctors are a red flag to insurance companies, unless you know that your insurance is good and will cover it. I must say, Nutella’s insurance has proven so far to be extremely good. Our first expensive visit to the fertility doctor, we just found out today, has been fully covered.
     
  • The average cost of second parent adoptions in our blue state is about $1800-$2400, with up to another $1000 for additional documents. So basically, count on approx. $3000, but then you apparently get it all refunded back as part of the tax credit for adoptions. Sweet.
  • If anyone reading wants to add anything or had different experience with those issues, please let us know 🙂

    -Strawberry

    Eagle Scout has landed.

    We bought sperm! 3 vials which are due to ship at the end of the week, to be stored at our fertility clinic until we need them.

    Since it seems to be the thing to ‘name your donor’, we’re calling ours ‘Eagle Scout.’ It was either that, or ‘Frat Boy’, but since he seems much too wholesome to be called the latter, even though he is/was in a fraternity, we are calling him the former.

    -Strawberry

    We’re a rainbow made of children

    This weekend we attended the Rainbow Families Conference in the DC area.  It was fantastic, we learned a lot and met some great people, including a few friends from blog-land.  Out of the over 40 session topics that were offered we went to:

    Donor Insemination 101—  led by an RE and a woman who has a 10 month old son after a full year of insemination. It was very informative from a medical and procedural perspective and it was a great place for those of us at the beginning of the process.

    Budgeting for Baby and Beyond — led by a financial planner. It turned out to be a session on general financial planning and we really only got 5 minutes of baby related financial education at the very end, because one of the participants asked her to address it in the time left. The entire session left me feeling like I was never going to get ahead financially and that I should just lock myself in my house and never leave.

    and finally 2nd Parent Adoption — led by 2 lawyers from the top 2 firms in the DC area that do 2nd parent adoptions for same sex couples. It was very specific info, including time frames, pricing, documents required and it was excellent. It makes me really glad that I live in Maryland, where the process can take a little as 6 weeks after birth to finalize.

    Overall, the conference was a huge success from my perspective and I am looking forward to it in the years to come. If I had to guess  I would say that there were about 200 people in attendance. There were families of all make-ups and identites.  One problem with the conference as it is currently being done is that there is a “Kids Camp” for children over the age of 2.5 years.  However, participants were asked not to bring any child over 6 months to the sessions.  This leaves a HUGE gap for familes that would like to participate but would need to find alternate childcare.  I really hope that someone steps up and finds a creative solution for next year.   It seems like there could easliy be programming that was inclusive of parents and children between 6 months and 2.5 years.  I know that there is a community that would love to join in and they are now excluded.

    Back to the baby batter catalog

    The RE’s office returned my message about sperm washing at 7:05am this morning. Thankfully our alarm goes off at 7:00, so we weren’t TOO startled. They charge WAY more than we are willing to spend and since our #1 choice of donor is only available “unwashed” we are now back to the catalogs. Good thing we still have 2 months before we need the stuff.

    To sum it up thus far:
    choice #1= unwashed only
    choice #2= CMV+
    choice #3= schizophrenia in the family history

    Thank goodness for the Internet. I can’t imagine doing all of this by mail and phone!

    *Strawberry adds: We do have 3 other possible donors, with long profiles for one or two so far. Fortunately we’re not ‘SOL’ at this point, but it’s unfortunate we can’t go with our top choices. Oh well.

    A meme

    Here’s a meme for Olive over at Insert Metaphor

    1. How many places have you lived in your life? Countries? 2 States? 5 Homes? 13

    2. What’s the longest and shortest you’ve ever been in one place? Longest? 10 years in the townhouse with my parents. Shortest? 4 months in the flat in Oxford for my study abroad program

    3. Which place did/do you like the most? I like my little row house now.  It’s the first place that I have owned and Strawberry and I have made it ours.  The least? I hated living in the house I shared with 2 people for about 6 months when I was in college.  And the apartment in Boston, although that was more a “grew to hate” situation because of bad roomates and pests.  I loved Boston, though.

    4. How have you chosen the places you live? We fell in love with the small city we live in and it was in our price range and in an excellent location near our jobs and my family.  We lucked into our actual house because the sellers agent was an idiot and we knew to jump on a good deal when we saw one.

    5. If you could live anywhere, where would it be, and why?  I would really love to live in NYC.  I’m a city girl at heart and NY is the one for me.  I love the pulse of it, the variety.  Who knows, someday perhaps.  Although Strawberry doesn’t ever want to live there, and I’d rather be where she is.

    Frozen Strawberry juice, anyone?

    My OB called with the results from my CMV screen.  I’m negative for both the antibodies and the active virus.  She was a tad confused and asked me if I had been concerned about myself.  I explained that I needed it to help me choose a donor and that now I would be sure to pick someone that was also negative.  She said “Ah, well good luck then and I hope to see you soon!”  This is why I’m not going to her for help getting pregnant but really like her anyway.

    These results mean that our  #2 donor is now out of the running.  So, it looks like Mr. “Strawberry if she’d been a boy” who’s juice has been on ice for a long time is the winner!  Now I’m off to call the RE to check the prices for “washing” since his samples are only available “unwashed”.

    Books…and things

    So we have in our possession:
    1. The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians: How to Stay Sane and Care For Yourself from Pre-Conception to Birth

    2. The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth

    The top one seems down-to-earth and very readable. The latter one seems too full of new age crap for my taste.

    I’m just now looking through Amazon’s other listings for books related to lesbian pregnancy. Let’s see….

    3. Baby Steps: How Lesbian Alternative Insemination is Changing the World. Yeah- recruit! recruit! recruit! Also, I love the first comment someone made on Amazon for this book: I think all women should be able to decide how to live their lives and raise their children, whether with another woman, a man, both, or neither. Baby steps provides an alternative way to get pregnant without being penetrated by a man’s […]. Nice.

    4. Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All. This one sounds interesting, but I’m sure most of these stories do not apply to me.

    5. My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy. Sounds just as happy as The Well of Loneliness! It sounds good though: …reads like an intimate yet super funny, painfully true letter from my very best friend. Andrea is like a girl version of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs, mining perfect comedic moments from the very worst of life’s offerings. You don’t have to be miserable, lonely or a lesbian to completely relate to the hilarious journey that is Andrea’s life.”

    And finally, Amazon thought I could use this product since I was looking at all these books:

    Vaginal Speculums, metal, 3 sizes

    Thanks, Amazon. Thanks a lot. *runs away in terror*

    – Strawberry

    It’s a giant baby!

    Yep, me.  I am still a giant baby when it comes to needles.  Somehow over the years I have managed my phobia well enough to suffer thru tetanus boosters and flu shots with a minimum amount of fuss and hysterics.  But it has been at least 6 years since my last blood draw and I’m still as much of a wreck as I always have been.  My blood pressure drops and I get cold, my veins retreat, I get tingly extremities, my ears ring, and I have to concentrate very hard with my eyes squeezed shut on breathing deeply and not passing out.  And then once I’m given the “all done” I burst into tears.  Thereafter, a quickly administered small amount of chocolate boosts my blood sugar enough to counteract the drop in blood pressure.  I need about 10 minutes to recover enough to walk and my arm will be weak and almost useless for the rest of the day.    All of this for 1 tiny vial of blood.  Like I said, a giant baby.

    But, I survived the blood draw for my CMV screening.  The phlebotomist was very quick and patient. Strawberry was there to hold me and reassure me and administer the chocolate.  She’s so good and kind and now she can commiserate with my mother over what a ninny I am.  It would be really great if this were the last time I needed blood drawn during the whole “have a baby” process, but I know that’s impossible.  I think I may explore the possibility of getting a prescription for a topical numbing cream, and I am going to request to lie down next time.

    I don’t know when we’ll know the results, they will only release them to my OB, since she’s the one that did the lab order.  I guess I can call them starting on Monday.

    Top 2

    We received the 3 long donor profiles we ordered yesterday. That makes a total of 5 that we have right now. We like 3 of the 5 and have a decision to make regarding who to use of our top 2. We’re going to order 3 vials at a time, because third time’s the charm, and if it hasn’t happened by then, I’m going to want to switch donors.

    Some of the issues that have come up are:

    • One of our top 2 donors is a smoker (less than 10 cigs a day). The other is not, therefore, I’m tempted to go with the latter. We’ve read that smoking can effect both the fertilization ability of sperm, as well as increase the percentage of miscarriages by 60%! Even when taking this data with a grain of salt (I mean, we did find it on the interweb), the instance of smoking will definitely not *help* anything. Anyone using a donor who smokes or gotten pregnant by a donor who smokes? The smoking donor is still in the running because we like everything else about him, but I don’t want to be wasting money.
    • Nutella has a second-degree relative with schizophrenia. That alone is not a big deal, but surprisingly, one of our donors also has a second degree relative with schizophrenia, and that was enough for us to cross him out. We just don’t want to add those genes to the mix.
    • Some of our donors donated a loooong time ago. I’ve read that we should consider using “newer” samples. Anyone have any information on older frozen sperm not working as well? Has anyone used or is anyone currently using older samples?
    • Apparently, we need to make sure the sperm banks are licensed to ship sperm to our state. We know one is, but we’ve got to call the other.

    – Strawberry

    Quick question…

    One of the donors we like…well, we’ll see when we read his long profile soon enough, is CMV+. If we decide to go with him, we’ll have to get Nutella tested to see if she is CMV+ or -. Has anyone had this test done, and if so, what was it like (finger prick or full draw of blood) and where did you have it done?

    Thanks!

    – Strawberry