Fertility & Wellness: A Sex Therapist's Journey to Having a Baby Part 3
Fast forward to January 2021 (read part 1 & 2 here and here). I spent the last few months stacking my coins because I knew moving forward with fertility treatments without a partner would be costly. I decided to schedule my consultation in March so treatment could begin in the summer. Having had the previous experience of going to the fertility clinic for my egg count (read part 1 here), I knew that there were other procedures I had to do before beginning the actual process.
The first step was to find a doctor/fertility clinic. I initially wanted a black fertility doctor, but unfortunately, I could not find one in South Florida, let alone the entire state. I sure wasn't traveling to Georgia for this process. I then decided to see if the fertility doctor I had met with some years ago was still at the same clinic. Unfortunately, she was not. Back to square one. By this time, my criteria were to find a doctor in their 30s. I chose this age range because even though they may not have enough experience in the field, I was hoping that he or they would be more open-minded and nonjudgmental to a person who has decided to have a baby on their own.
I looked through dozens of websites and read a ton of articles. I found an article that mentioned finding a clinic that was part of the society for assisted reproductive technology (SART)( https://www.sart.org/). SART clinics meet the highest standards for quality, safety, and patient care. I searched through their directory for clinics in my area and then looked at each clinic's website and the profiles of their medical providers. Bingo! I found a medical provider and scheduled my initial consultation.
On the day of the consultation, I was excited and nervous. Upon walking into the lobby, I saw two black women, which wasn't the case when I went to the fertility clinic years prior. I met with Dr. G and shared my goal to start a family by myself. She responded in a nonjudgmental and kind manner. She then administered a health assessment where she asked me questions about my physical and sexual health. Dr. G showed me a chart that depicted the rate of success for women my age but she said that it would also depend on the results of my upcoming tests (Pre-conception panel (bloodwork), a transvaginal ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram (HSG), Saline Infusion Sonogram (SIS), and genetic screening.) Additionally, she recommended taking "age factor" supplements to help improve the quality of my eggs along with prenatal pills. Everyone that I encountered at the fertility clinic was kind and welcoming. I left feeling hopeful and that I had made the right decision with choosing this clinic.
Over the next couple of months, I felt as if I lived at the clinic. Every test needed to be completed during specific days around my menstrual cycle/ovulation. I must admit that it was frustrating at times. It seemed as if every woman was on her period at the same time as me, especially when I had to come back the following month to do a test because there were no available appointments. Also, scheduling appointments ahead of time was not feasible because the tests are based on the first day of your menstrual cycle. At the beginning of June 2021, I met with Dr. G to go over all of my test results and my chances of getting pregnant. She informed me that everything came back without any issues and that if I decided to go through intrauterine insemination (IUI) then my chance of getting pregnant would be 15-20%, whereas in-vitro fertilization (IVF) would be 65%. I decided to start with IUI because it would be less invasive, cheaper, and I could start as soon as my next menstrual cycle. Now, the only thing left to do would be to find a sperm donor.
Finding a sperm donor, specifically a black sperm donor, was not easy. I joined the national Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) support group ( https://www.singlemothersbychoice.org/) to help me with the process. After joining the national group, I reached out to my local chapter who connected me with the Mocha SMC group (https://mochasmc.com/). Speaking with the ladies helped me feel more confident about what I was getting myself into. Additionally, I started to follow a young black woman's journey to becoming an SMC on Instagram (@alicia.latrice). I also shared my decision to be a single mom by choice with my closest friends, who were very supportive of me and the process. I decided I would go on this journey with love, laughter, and positivity, which meant telling my family later on so as not to be discouraged on my path. I chose to look at four sperm banks: California Cryobank, Seattle Sperm Bank, Xytex Sperm Bank, and Fairfax Cryobank. Each sperm bank had about 5-15 black donors compared to the 50+ Caucasian sperm donors. After narrowing down my search based on other factors such as anonymous vs. not, then the number dwindled to 1 donor at each sperm bank. I included my friends in the process by hosting a Zoom sperm daddy search party. In the end, I decided to go with a sperm donor through Xytex.
To prepare for my IUI in July 2021, I focused on self-care and positivity by getting a massage, acupuncture, utilizing positive affirmations (such as remixing the chorus to Nas's song, "One Mic," to "All I need is one egg and one sperm."), prayer, eating delicious food, and taking a 2-week mindfulness training. My appointment was scheduled on the first day of my menstrual cycle and the doctor prescribed a medication to induce ovulation. Once I finished taking the medication, I went to the fertility clinic with my trigger shot (used to cause the growth and release of a mature egg) but was informed that my follicles weren't ready yet and to come back in two days. I came back and had one follicle that was between 18-20mms. The trigger shot was injected into my abdomen. I came back the next day for the IUI. I had decided to do a double or back-to-back IUI and was injected with the donor sperm over the next two days. Afterward, I had to wait two weeks to do a blood test to confirm pregnancy. Honestly, I felt I was pregnant one day after the second IUI. It is hard for me to describe, but I am very in tune with my body. It just felt different. Five days after the IUI, I experienced implantation bleeding, which further confirmed for me that I was pregnant. Two weeks felt like forever, but I could not take a pregnancy test ahead of time, because the medication used for the IUI contains the hormone (hCG) which helps to trick your body into thinking that it is already pregnant. In other words, taking a pregnancy test during the two weeks could lead to a false positive before the hormone has time to leave your body. The day had finally come for me to go and take the blood test. I was so nervous but yet, certain that I was pregnant. The phlebotomist stated that I should be contacted by the end of the day with my results. Once again, I had to wait. Finally, the call came in and I was told that my results were delayed and it should be in by tomorrow morning. I ended the call and laughed to myself, "God has jokes." I then decided to go to my local Walgreens and purchase a pregnancy test. I couldn't wait any longer. I knew it would be on my mind all night. After taking the pregnancy test, I once again had to wait. What I can say is that this journey taught me patience. Then I saw it, one line and then a second faint line.....OH MY GOD, I am pregnant!!!! #fertility #wellness #SMC #SMBC #Selfcare #MochaSMC #stepstowardswellness #blackmoms #mom #mommy #fertility #IUI #IVF #mentalhealth #counseling #sextherapy #pregnancy #kids #Children #therapy #women #blackwomen #over30 #over35 #dreams #hopes #prayers