When I met Kris, she had two dogs and a cat. If you know me, you know I am not much of an animal person - mainly because I am pretty allergic to the dander most of them have (cats, dogs, horses, cows, goats... you name it.) Being allergic makes it miserable to be around them; my eyes get itchy and pink, my nose gets stuffy, my breathing gets shallow - you get the point. It's pretty ugly. So, I have to say that with Kris having all of those animals when we met, that just shows you how in love I was; that I could get past the animals and move forward with our relationship! Luckily the dogs, Pepper and Crombie, are poodles, which means they were hypoallergenic dogs (no dander), and the cat, Bear, was pretty old and passed away shortly after we had been dating. So, it all worked out! And actually, having the dogs around turned me into more of a dog person, over time. When I moved in in 2010, Crombie became my snuggle buddy; especially at night! Sadly, as she got older we had to put her to sleep as her quality of life wasn't good (2012). I was devastated! I never thought I could be attached to an animal, when she passed, it was like losing a family member. I cried and cried! And now, our little poodle Pepper is getting old. She is 15, and slowing down a lot lately. She can't see well and can hardly hear. It's sad to see her get older. She probably only has a few years left, but I don't want to think about that...
Okay, sorry! I went off on a tangent about our animals...but I had a reason! I was getting to the point where we decided we wanted to have kids. I mean, animals are great, but I knew I always wanted to have kids; and so did Kris. And with Kris getting older (remember our age difference of 18 years), we knew we had no time to waste. We were ready! When we started the process, I was 27 years old and Kris was 44. We felt like the timing was as perfect as it was going to get for us! But where to start?
We were both clueless! Neither one of us had ever looked into having a baby and what our options were. So, the research began. Luckily, we had some friends that had just gotten pregnant, and they totally let us pick their brains and ask a million questions! (We love them so much for that!) The ball was rolling. We still looked into a few different options, even after talking to our friends, to find the one that was best for us. After looking at a few, we realized that using a Sperm Bank and choosing an open donor was the best option for us. We went through California Cryo Bank and all I can say is, they were so great to work with! They make everything so clear and straight forward; there is not a lot left to question. You can check out their website here. In order to use them and their services, you had to have a physician you are working with that will sign-off on some forms (blood work, metal health, etc..). Finding a physician in Utah that was willing to work with us was difficult and frustrating! Our same friends recommended a physician, but she was so busy that she was not taking on any more patients. Finally, after waiting several weeks to just meet with her, she decided that she would find a way to help us out. We were so excited - it was a miracle!
Then came the fun part - picking out our donor! I can honestly say that this was such a fun experience. I loved reading all the different profiles. It was amazing learning about these different guys, from different backgrounds, with different appearances, different medical history, different talents and hobbies, and yet they were all willing to donate. And I could choose any of them - so many options! I am truly grateful for all of the sperm donors out there. They make it possible for people like me, who want to have a family but have obstacles to overcome. (I know that the money may be a big reason for them, but the fact that they are willing to do such a huge service is remarkable!) It is a big commitment for them - especially for open donors, who are willing to meet the kids when they turn 18 (which we decided we really wanted, by the way). I think it is so important for the kids to have the option, if they want it. Let it be their choice, but that's my opinion. I would feel horrible if my kid needed that part of their life to feel whole, and I couldn't give it to them. So, an open donor was a must! And choosing a donor was easy - we knew what we wanted and we almost found it instantly. We read a ton of bios, but the one we chose was one of the first ones we read. We wanted the donor to resemble Kris - this was an important detail to us - so we found someone with about the same height and physical details. As soon as we agreed on him, it just felt right. So, we moved forward! (They also do a celebrity look-a-like and it just so happened the one we picked supposedly looks like Ryan Gosling; you can't go wrong with that!)
There is a lot we learned along the way. First, we started tracking my ovulation. This is a must! And for our physician to start working with us, she wanted us to track that for close to 6 months, so we did. That way you have a good idea what day you usually ovulate on. I used an app that helped me keep track of everything and it gave me a guesstimate of when it thought I might be ovulating. It was helpful, but the key for us was using Clearblue ovulation kits. They were so helpful because they would tell me when I was peaking and exactly when I was ovulating. (You can find them at a lot of different stores, but I usually bought mine at Target.) You have to know this detail in order to know when to order your sperm. Because they have to ship it to you from California, you have to have your timing almost exact. You can only have the tank for a certain amount of time before they will charge you for not having it back on time. (I think it's ten days that they allow you to have it, and it's expensive if you keep it longer.) Let me explain a little bit better; you have to have the tank there, at the location where you will have the insemination preformed, in order to have everything ready to go when you get your "smiley face" telling you that you are ovulating. Once you get the smiley face, your most opportune timing to inseminate is within 24 hours, thus needing the sperm on hand. It can be so stressful and emotional, getting everything just right.
So, if you are considering this process, just know that it's a bumpy road, but stay positive. It's all worth it in the end!
After tracking your ovulation, you will have to choose what kind of sperm to use. There are two different sperm vials you can choose from when doing artificial insemination - an ICI and an IUI. ICI stands for intracervical insemination, and IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. The main difference is that the ICI procedure places the sperm sample near the cervix, rather than the uterus like the IUI.
So, this is where things start to get complicated...I thought that with me being young and healthy, I would have no problem getting pregnant. We started with the ICI version, thinking it would save us money, and that my body would get pregnant easily. Our physician had a good record of getting people pregnant, usually on their first or second time. I totally thought this would be our case. Unfortunately, it was not. I couldn't help but think, "Really? Don't people get pregnant by accident all the time? And here I am, getting everything in order and perfect timing, and nothing...REALLY??"
Moving forward, when we were getting ready to buy our sperm and try for the second round, much to our disappointment, the donor we had chosen was completely sold out. We couldn't believe it! How could this happen? (If you are thinking about artificial insemination, I highly recommend buying several vials for many reasons. You have to realize that there is a good possibility you won't get pregnant for the first few rounds. You also have to think about wanting multiple kids right from the get-go. Don't make our mistake! It's expensive to buy bulk, but it will give you peace of mind and a smooth ride through the years of growing your family. However, if having a different donor for each of your kids doesn't bother you, this wouldn't necessarily apply.) Because we didn't buy several vials for our process, we had to find a different donor almost each time. Luckily, there were a lot of good choices.
Fast forward a little bit from October to March. We had already tried a few different donors, with no luck. We were both emotionally drained, getting our hopes up, only to be let down month after month. I know some people try for years, but those six months felt like an eternity. Who knew that getting pregnant could be so emotional, hard, and expensive! (My heart goes out to all of you that have been through this or are in the middle of it. It is heart breaking! *insert baby juju here*)
It was during our third month of trying that Kris came up with a funny idea in hopes of making the process a bit more fun. She decided that she was going to start growing a Jedi braid that we could cut off once we got pregnant! I have to say that I wasn't on board at first, but I am glad I agreed to it in the end. It was a conversation piece, and it kept us laughing!
By the sixth month of trying, we had to do some tests and found that my progesterone was low. So, that month of March, my physician started me on Clomid. We had been checking back on our original donor every month to see if he had any more vials become available,and then it happened - there were finally more! We kind of freaked out. And so, with our March attempt, we had our "first pick donor" back with Clomid and guess what...IT TOOK! We were finally pregnant! We were both extremely happy and felt so lucky that it was finally a reality. We were going to be parents! (*cue the tears*)
I remember, I had the day off and I was supposed to wait a few more days to take my pregnancy test, but I couldn't resist! (I am not a patient person.) So, I took the first test and it came back positive! Naturally, I did another one...positive too! I did one more, for good measure...POSITIVE! I am pretty sure I happy-danced all around the house! And then thought, "How should I tell Kris?" So, on a dry-erase board, I wrote, "Say good-bye to your little braid!" and set it on our nightstand. I put our lucky winning vial next to it for the finishing touch. I couldn't wait for Kris to come home (like I said, not very patient and the excitement was killing me!) I jumped in the car and drove over to the school where she was working and pretty much ran into her office. Kris was surprised to see me, but also knew something was up because I couldn't stop smiling. That was when I found a pair of scissors and chopped off the braid! I was so excited! It was fun and meaningful to share that moment with the people who worked in the office with Kris! They had been so supportive and encouraging during those tough six months! (You know who you are, and we love you!)
We couldn't wait to tell our parents, so we hurried and tried to think of a fun way to tell them. We went to The Sweet Tooth Fairy and picked up some yummy cupcakes. Kris turned the boxes each one came in into a tiny oven. When you opened the box, it said, "We have a bun in the oven! Congrats Grandma and Grandpa!" A little cheesy, I know, but who doesn't love cheese. It was so fun telling each of them and seeing the different responses; all of which were very happy, I'm lucky to say!
Life is such a crazy ride, but when you look back on it, you see why things happen and it starts to make sense! I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Stay patient and trust in the journey!