Kate and Becky met in May 2013 through our local roller derby league! Becky proposed to Kate in November of 2014 during a game, with many friends and family present, with both of us on roller skates!
We bought a house together in January 2016 and were married that May. In August 2017, we did one intrauterine insemination (IUI) with donor sperm through a local fertility clinic, and Kate was pregnant! She gave birth to our daughter on our second wedding anniversary in 2018.
After our daughter was born, we purchased 3 more vials of sperm from the same donor, in preparation for another child. We had planned for Becky to carry our second child, so that they would be genetic half-siblings. We began IUI treatments in October 2020 for baby #2 but went through all 3 vials of our donor sperm in as many months, with only negative results. This donor was no longer actively donating, so for us to move forward in our dream of having another child, we had to grieve that our children would not be genetically related to one another, or Becky would not be able to be pregnant with one of our kids.
Our third negative pregnancy test, our last with our initial fertility clinic, was in December of 2020. We paused our treatment briefly at this point and transferred our care to Shady Grove Fertility.
We began working with Dr. Melanie Ochalski in early spring of 2021 and Becky had another IUI, with a new sperm donor, in April 2021. This IUI also did not result in a positive pregnancy test, so we moved on to try another IUI with Kate this time. We made this decision because she had already been pregnant with our daughter, so we knew she could get pregnant (we had no idea why the 4 IUIs thus far for Becky didn’t work). This IUI, with yet another sperm donor, resulted in a chemical pregnancy for Kate in June 2021.
At this point, we moved to yet another (our 3rd) fertility clinic in another state, where we could afford an attempt at reciprocal IVF. Kate had an egg retrieval that resulted in 10 eggs, but only 2 made it to blast, and only 1 was euploid. So, we transferred that embryo to Becky in October of 2021, but this too resulted in another negative pregnancy test. After this, we stumbled upon the sperm donor we used to create our daughter having 1 single vial available, and we immediately purchased this, returned to Dr. O, and attempted another IUI with Kate (meaning our children would be full genetic siblings!). But, once more, we got a negative pregnancy result in December of 2021. At this point, we decided we had spent enough money, time, energy, and effort trying to get pregnant and that we would move forward as a family of 3.
But, as these things go, in March of 2022, Becky asked to try again, but this time do something different.
We returned to SGF, where we had received the best care and attention throughout our journey, to ask what we should do next. We could not keep trying IUIs, which were not working for us this time around, we could not afford another round of rIVF, and we could not physically or emotionally do another egg retrieval.
We were already both content with not having children who are genetically related to both of us; as 2 moms, we knew that this was the reality, any way that we would choose to have a child. We also had already dealt with creating a child through donor sperm, so the idea of attempting to have a child through a donated embryo was not too far outside our lived experience already. So, we discussed the option of receiving a donated embryo with Dr. O and our care team. They had been incredibly supportive through our entire journey and supported us in this attempt to grow our family in this new way.
We were approved for a donor embryo, found our match (which felt like it took forever, but was only a few weeks),and transferred our perfect embryo on May 19, 2022, days after our daughter’s 4th birthday and our 6th wedding anniversary. And then, on June 1, 2022, Becky got her first positive pregnancy result!
Becky’s pregnancy was uneventful (thankfully!) and went by in a flash. As we drove to the hospital for our scheduled induction on February 1, 2023, we realized that we were trying to get pregnant for twice as long as we were actually pregnant! (18 months of trying to get pregnant, without ever actually being pregnant is exhausting!) Our second, sweet baby girl was born on 2/3/23 – a lucky number for our lucky lady!
We are so lucky to have the 2 sweet kids that we do, but also know how precious and fragile their very existence is and how lucky we are to be their moms. We also know how exceptional our donor-conceived babies and their creation stories are. We owe so much thanks and love to our daughters’ donors, and all those who make this choice to help other families grow.
We both know that our story, with all our attempts to grow our family, could have gone very differently, at very many different points. With so many options, and no “right” way to grow our family, we continued to say that we were trying to make the “best decision with the information we had” at each moment. Obviously, that information changed throughout our time in fertility treatment, but we believe that we did make the most-informed decisions we could at each turn. But oh, how we wish we had had a magic ball to see what to do next!
If we could give one more piece of advice to those in the midst of fertility treatment, it is to not let fertility treatment be all that you are doing. It is so hard to not let treatment consume your entire waking (and dreaming, sometimes) life. But, if we only spend time thinking about everything we eat, which supplements to take or not take, when we’re ovulating, which donor to choose, etc., we miss so many other moments. Before, during, and since our fertility treatments with baby #2, we have spent most weekends beginning in July 2020 visiting all the State Parks of Pennsylvania! This offered us guaranteed time together (almost) weekly, a shared goal (to visit all 124!), and something (else) to plan around – outside of treatment schedules. We should visit our last State Park before our newest family member turns 1!