Being gay, Holly and I have had a different conception experience from most heterosexual friends or co-workers we have, which is both cool and daunting. It’s cool because we have a little bit more of a story to tell, but it was daunting at the time because we didn’t have more than one set of friends that had done it the way we were planning, through IUI by using a sperm donor, and that made the whole thing so unknown. What’s cool about living in 2016 is the internet can tell you a lot about things like IUI, or IVF, or other conception opportunities, but all the research I did personally came up with a distinct heterowash to it. That is to say, many of the perspectives were of heterosexual parents with fertility issues, and as our Reproductive Endochronologist Dr. Kumar said at our first consultation with him, the only fertility issue we have is that we don’t have one half of the reproduction tools.
Enter California Cryobank, which is the largest sperm back in the United States and popular from coast-to-coast. Now, you might ask, how does one select a sperm donor with which to make a baby. Its really like shopping online, but for a person’s sperm and not for food items. But really, the process is pretty much the same. Holly and I sat down one night last November and talked about what we were looking for in a donor. We decided we were looking for someone with our shared heritage, European with some Swedish, French, maybe even Scottish or Irish in them (strictly for the red hair), who was taller than I am, but not a 50 foot giant, with a math smart brain (something we both lack) and overall clean family genetic history. We thought this was not a lot to ask, though you might think the opposite, but when we plugged these wants into California Cryo’s search options, there were a flood of choices that popped up. I think we combed through their donors for three weeks at least, looking for just the right one and going back and forth on a few. We narrowed it down to a list of 3 each and then swapped to see our other’s chosen donors and discuss why.
For me, this is the funny part, because naturally you’d think I would look for a donor like myself, because I wouldn’t be the biological parent of our child so I would likely want someone who is like me to make sure my “me-ness” is represented. Wrong. I found 3 wonderful donors that were exactly like Holly, but in man form. We both found that pretty funny, and still do. Finally we settled on a donor, with red hair, calculus level math skills and a dry sense of humor like my own. Best of all, his mom is a teacher, and so is his sister, much like the teacher I want to be, which was a bonus plus 10 points. In January, when we had finally decided to pull the trigger on this IUI business, we did all the pre-tests and what not with our RE’s office through Kaiser and then called to order our little swimmers. Of course you all know we didn’t succeed with the first IUI, but with the second, same donor, we did.
Funny things about this donor, he has two daughters of his own, so it was almost perfect for Holly because she wanted a girl from the jump, even following a Chinese calendar for insemination so that we would be sure to get one (looks like it worked). Also, and this is a little creepy but in a good way, his childhood pictures look like they could be related to me. When you purchase the childhood pictures option from California Cryo, you get one early, one middle and one late childhood, toddler, elementary and early middle school ish. He has a whole mess of freckles and my shade of red hair in all three, but its the facial features that really match. His toddler picture, up next to mine is eerily similar, which is wicked in the grand scheme of things, because this baby will likely have some of my features as represented through our donor.
Since there’s always a down side to things, here’s the things I didn’t like about choosing a donor through California Cryobank:
- The “membership” packages they offer, with access to things like baby pictures, extended family history, writing samples, voice recordings, are only 90 days and are EXPENSIVE, especially if you don’t want to hear your donors voice or see his shitty (or wonderful) handwriting.We opted for ala carte choices that best fit us, but to each their own.
- Every year they have a promo code that lowers the price of these membership things, and of course when we were looking to get one, no existing promo codes worked and they hadn’t come out with this year’s one yet. Word to the wise, get pregnant in not January.
- We only bought the one vial per-time of our donor’s sperm for each IUI, because it was a lot of money to buy and store and we just didn’t have it at that time (and figured we wouldn’t need it because they would have more vials). Suddenly he became quite popular and now there’s nothing left, so that sucks but maybe advice for the future: BUY IN BULK.
- Relating to the point above, they now have a financing option to help families buy more at once and store, through monthly payments. Would have gone with that if we had known it was an option.
Cool things about California Cryobank are that they offer a donor matching service, where they can match a donor to your partner, or husband, or ideal mate, so that you get the best match for you and your family, of course for a higher fee. They also list celebrity look alikes for each donor, which can be comical when you don’t always recognize the name and then google the name, find the picture and laugh because of who it is. Worthwhile experience there. We also liked that once you register a pregnancy with them, they will notify you if more vials for your donor become available, and you can also participate in the donor sibling registry, which lets you have the opportunity to connect with half siblings that used your donor all over the country (world?).
As this was a lot of information, I’ll let you all digest that. But know, if you have any questions, curiosities or just wonderings about this process, please feel free to get in touch with us. There’s a contact page somewhere on this blog, and we’d love to share more of our experience with you if it helps you gain understanding of how to go about this yourself. That’s the whole point of starting this blog for me, so that other queer families don’t have to go through the struggle to find information like we did. If we can do that, then its all worth it in my book.
Next time we’ll cover: Granny activities and other things you do when your spouse is pregnant. See you then!