When I was pregnant with Bingo, our donor retired.  At 24, he was done donating.  At 31, with no actual, out of the uterus babies on which to base our decision, Sea and I were left trying to decide how many babies we might want and how many vials of the now limited edition sperm it might take to conceive those potential babies.

I don’t remember the exact math that landed us there, but somehow we ended up with four vials of Lefty’s sperm in 2013.  They sat chilling at Clinic 3 until the beginning of 2016 when, after my period began on January 1st, one of those vials was used to conceive Powerball.

The incredible luck of conceiving Powerball on the first try meant that we had three vials left. In the hospital room, minutes after Powerball was born, I declared that we were done with two. Over time, Sea became more resolutely “two and through”.  I felt some feelings as we left babyhood behind, but also knew that I was at capacity: physically, financially, mentally, emotionally.  We were done. But were we done-done?  Done enough to part with those three vials of frozen-in-time ejaculate?

We hung on to them.

In 2018, my relationship with Sea was struggling in a big way. After a conversation where we seriously discussed the possibility of separating, we decided to try couple’s counselling.  “How will we pay for it?” Sea asked.  Without thinking about it, without hesitating, I replied: “We’ll sell the sperm.”

Sea agreed, and we posted to our Facebook group of donor sibling families offering up the sperm. Though nobody replied right away, a few weeks later a new member joined the group and asked if we still had vials to sell.

We did.

After about a million phone calls and e-mails to two fertility clinics, an in-person visit to Clinic 3, and more paperwork than I would have to fill out to transfer a house, a kidney, or an actual baby, one of those vials of sperm was packed up into liquid nitrogen and sent off into the world.  Though I know a little bit about what happened with it, the story of that vial is no longer mine.

Then there were two.

It seemed that nobody wanted those remaining two vials, which could have meant that they ended up flushed.  But a funny thing had happened in the process of selling the sperm: Sea had become less certain that we were done-done.  And when she wavered, I wavered. What if, one of us said, we used those vials?  IUIs, nothing fancy, just a fun game of fertility Russian Roulette.

Our relationship was still struggling.  We were still at capacity, in every way.  It was, in many ways, a terrible idea.  But we also knew that we would never look at a kid that this gamble might conceive with regret.  So, at the beginning of March, a year to the day after the injury that ended my dad’s life, we went back to Clinic 3 for an IUI.

I found out that I was pregnant on the day of the Spring Equinox. It felt meant to be.  But just because something feels a particular way, doesn’t mean it is.  And sometimes dates are just dates.  A second beta revealed that the pregnancy wouldn’t last, and a few days later I began to bleed.

Then there was one.

Our first response was to say that we had tried, that it hadn’t worked, and that we would move on with the two kids that we had.  But as I bled, I turned to Sea and said, “What if we used the last vial?”

The answer to that “what if” is currently rolling around in my uterus: I’m 20 weeks pregnant, with the third baby that I’ve been sure, at many times, we wouldn’t have.

I’m sorry for not sharing the story of those 20 weeks with you here, where I once counted every ultrasound.  The pregnancy has been my rockiest: including loss and risk, as well as the embodied knowledge that loss can happen, that my others just didn’t have. It has felt dangerous to name, even to the people closest to me.  It has also included moments of joy, plenty of humour at the hands of a new fertility doctor who managed to be unintentionally offensive at every turn, and growing excitement that maybe, just maybe, this story could end with three.

2016: year of the baby.

In an auspicious start to the new year, my period began on January 1st.
We didn’t end up trying in December, because it would have cut dangerously close to our holiday travel plans. We might have been able to squeeze in the IUI before we left, but we might also have been doing it on the way to the airport. So December came and went. I consumed a lot of sugar and paid very little attention to my uterus. It was lovely.
And now, 2016 is here: a year that, for one reason or another, will likely involve paying a lot of attention to my uterus.

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Partner’s Post: Clinic #3

If you’ve been reading along, you know I’m not on this strange trip into the world of fertility alone.  I have a partner, named Partner for the purposes of this blog.  If you’ve been reading along with some attention, you also know that Partner is not nearly as keen as I am to make babies.  Knowing how important this is to me, Partner has relented and has bravely stepped into the world of sperm donors and clinic visits with me.

Partner reads this blog (as do two other people who know us in real life).  A much better writer than I am, Partner has also been recording her experiences in all of this.  She’s allowing me to share what she has written here.

This is her experience of Clinic Three.

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Clinic One

Opinion, pre-visit:

My opinion of Clinic One prior to today’s visit was already covered in Not he.  To summarize: Clinic One was the clinic I knew the most about prior to these adventures in assisted reproduction.  To be honest, it was pretty much the only clinic I knew anything about.  Clinic One seems to be the gathering place for queer folks trying to make babies around here: every queer or trans person I know who has used a fertility clinic has used Clinic One.  My sample size here is small, granted, but I assumed that Clinic One must have something going for it.  Basically my reason for wanting to visit Clinic One was the same reason I tried deep fried pickles: everybody else was doing it.    Then Clinic One Receptionist called and asked about my husband, and the rosy glow surrounding Clinic One faded.  Clinic One is still the clinic fifteen minutes away from where I work and still the clinic where all of the queer and trans people I know have gone, but it’s also the clinic with the heterosexist receptionist.  Clinic One is the final stop on this whirlwind tour of fertility clinics, and I’m anxious.  If only I had my husband with me.

Score: 3.5/5

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Clinic Two

Opinion, pre-visit:

This clinic is far away from where we live/work/exist.  It is so far away from where we live/work/exist, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in a different timezone.  My fairly informed not-terrible doctor hadn’t even heard of this clinic, though was happy enough to refer us anywhere. We wouldn’t even be bothering to visit, except for two features.  1)  They have an onsite sperm bank, so a wider range of potential donors.  2)  They have an at-home insemination program.  You give them the money, they send you some sperm, some ovulation predictor kits and a how-to kit.  I’m not sure that I trust myself with this, but I like the idea of not having to leave home.

Score: 4/5

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