In 2018, I married my best friend, Rachel. Creating a family was important to us. It’s amazing to have the privilege to be alive during an era when creating a family as a same-sex couple is possible through places like Shady Grove Fertility.
Rachel and I both always yearned to be parents, but Rachel always envisioned herself carrying. I, myself, simply wanted to be a parent and never had a deep desire to be pregnant.
We put our parenthood plans into action by meeting with Dr. Paulette Browne at SGF’s Fair Oaks, Virginia, office. Dr. Browne discussed reciprocal IVF during our first meeting with her when she laid out the foundation of what routes we had as options. We chose to use Rachel’s egg first since we had already started the fertility process with that in mind and collectively decided to begin with the less invasive path of IUI.
We had briefly searched through cryobank websites and profiles, but it wasn’t until we met with Dr. Browne that we really dove into the process of how to pick a donor from a cryobank.
Health testing — physical and mental health aspects of the donor — was important to both of us. At the end of the day, we felt most comfortable choosing Fairfax Cryobank and using an ID option donor so that our child would have a choice to meet their donor in the future.
Finding an LGBTQ-friendly fertility practice
Rachel and I wanted to be with a fertility practice that was known to be LGBTQ-friendly. We were two women who wanted help in creating a family. We knew this would be a long journey and at times an emotional one, but at no point did we want to feel unwelcomed or judged.
The staff at SGF never even thought twice about our family dynamics nor did they ask. Neither of us ever had to explain ourselves or get mislabeled as far as asking about the “father,” etc.
We had followed SGF previously on social media and appreciated their openness to serve the LGBTQ community, so we felt comfortable starting there and we are thankful we did.
Our first try with IUI
Given Rachel’s age and health, we decided to try an unmedicated IUI first. We were fortunate to get pregnant on the first try.
However, our pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
The pain and defeat we felt when enduring a miscarriage is something I hope no one experiences. Now that we’ve faced one of our own, we’re surprised to learn that it’s a hurdle that’s fairly common, yet rarely discussed.
Our world felt shattered, but our desire to be parents helped us stay positive and persistent.
Red, white, and due in 2021
After a few additional failed IUIs and discussions with Dr. Browne, my wife and I decided to go the IVF route — not only would this result in a higher possible success rate, but we’d only be using one vial of sperm to hopefully produce multiple fertilized eggs.
Coincidentally, our first IVF transfer happened to fall on our dating anniversary and our favorite holiday weekend: The Fourth of July! Thankfully, Rachel’s dream to be pregnant became a positive reality.
Finding out Rachel was pregnant after her first transfer was such a beautiful and amazing feeling. After having a miscarriage and a few failed IUIs, I think we were both slightly cautious to be overly excited but that heart-throbbing, heart-in-your-stomach feeling of seeing that positive test is something so pure.
That day changed our lives and blessed us with our son, Elliott Brayden.
Elliott is our world, and we are instilling in him a sense of imagination and a love for the outdoors. Even at 4 months old, he has already gone on so many hikes and road trips. We look forward to all of our family adventures and creating our own traditions with him.
We are so thankful for this journey with SGF — for giving us equal access to services and being kind throughout the entire process.
We have discussed and plan to use reciprocal IVF for our next child, in which Rachel will carry my egg while using the same donor. Rachel loved being pregnant and often speaks about being a surrogate once our own family is complete.
After our journey, I had so many same-sex couples that were friends contacting me with questions to start their journey. It’s a big, scary unknown to many same-sex couples so I love sharing any knowledge and/or information we have.
Words of wisdom
For those starting out, know that fertility isn’t a straight nor simple path. At times, it can be heartbreaking, angering, frustrating and there may be a point when you feel truly defeated —it’s in those moments you must lean on each other for strength.
I suggest diving into the Shady Grove Fertility website or searching donor lists to get an idea of what is important to you. This may help inform your decision-making before you even start the process, that way you’re ready to go after meeting with your doctor.
Also, make an appointment well in advance of when you want to start trying to conceive — it doesn’t mean you HAVE to start then, but it’s better to be prepared and have everything set for when you are ready. I think the earlier you make an appointment to meet your team and discuss options, the better.
Thank you again to Dr. Browne, SGF’s Fair Oaks, Fairfax, and Rockville offices, and to Fairfax Cryobank.