I've been encouraged to post this in its own thread in case anyone else is interested who isn't on the January POAS thread. It's a long description of my experience TTC so far. Not your typical experience, but we're trying to make the most of it and stay positive. FYI, we are two women, married since August 2014, TTC since October 2014. I'm 33, my partner is 40, and we are TTC #1.
OK...So we started out thinking we were going to use a sperm bank and IUI at a doc's office or the same sperm bank. Um, yeah, at $2000/month for only 2 inseminations/month, we decided that we just couldn't do it that way. We would've run through our savings in no time and had nothing left for when baby actually came! No good. I started looking into other options, and came across a few websites: knowndonorregistry.com and prideangel.com. I did a lot of research, found that there are many others out there in our same situation, and got the feeling that while this was a very weird, awkward, and potentially dangerous thing to do (all things I'm completely uncomfortable with), it also seemed like these two sites were pretty legitimate, and that a lot of the donors seemed to be there for "the right reasons." We browsed quite a bit for a while, it can become quite a hobby, kind of like internet dating in a way. Eventually we were actually contacted by a donor who lives 5 hours from us, but we are in a super remote area and figured we'd have to travel. We exchanged emails a few times, he answered some awkward questions (WHY are you doing this?!?!) and I saw proof of various things (STD tests, family medical history, his PhD, etc). I decided to go for it, and so for three months (until this cycle I'm in now) I've been traveling the 5 hours each way once or twice per cycle to do two AIs each cycle.
To do this, I charted a bit fanatically, spent too much money on lots of OPKs, and tried hard to be as accurate as possible with my timing. I would email him as soon as I got my first positive OPK and then head down there as soon as I could. Sometimes this meant leaving the next morning, as I work full time and couldn't always just call in sick or get coverage easily. I would quickly book a hotel room on hotwire, and then kiss my poor wife goodbye and head out the door. I met him in the hotel lobby, gave him the key and room number, and he went up to do his part. He would text me when he was done and I went up, got the key and he took off. It was a little scary the first time but he seemed like a really good guy and was very polite and respectful (he's done this before) so I didn't feel too weird about it.
Basically the procedure went like this: He made his deposit in a sterile cup and left it on the counter. I went in, propped myself up with pillows under my butt, and sucked up everything I could from the cup into a syringe (I work in a medical office where there are plenty of sterile needle-less syringes to choose from) and then pointed the syringe as close to my cervix as possible and slowly depressed the plunger. They say to do it slowly rather than with pressure so you don't damage the sperm. Then I stayed like that for a few minutes, inserted a soft cup (they're meant as an alternative to a tampon but are also useful for this purpose) to keep the semen right up against the cervix, and went about my business. It was pretty easy once I got the hang of it. Once the cup was in nothing leaked out but if I didn't put the cup in I definitely had some leakage unless I was REALLY propped up. Down sides to this method were mostly stress related, I think. I was traveling, rushing, and missing work. Plus I was alone (it just didn't make sense for us both to miss so much work in addition to the costs of the travel and hotel rooms, plus finding someone to care for our little farm was too hard). I never felt comfortable in the hotel rooms, so I went out to dinner with friends from the area afterward each time, which was fun but made the whole experience seem surreal and like it couldn't possibly be working for baby-making. They suggest having an orgasm might help after the AI, as it is supposed to dip the cervix into the semen and encourage the swimmers to make their way up, but I never did this, it just wasn't going to happen in that situation. I did this or some variation of this for 3 cycles with no luck. I didn't even think it would work when I did it. I think my timing was late each time, because I wasn't even able to leave my house until after the positive LH surge, and at best it was at least another 6-8 hours before I even got the first insemination done, and often more like 18. I may have missed ovulation a number of those times.
This last cycle was much better. We found a different donor who lives just under an hour away. He is super nice, very genuine and more open than the last donor. We aren't looking for someone to have a relationship with this baby, but it helps if you get the sense that they're really positive about doing this and are interested in the life the kid will lead. If the kid and donor meet at some point and we decide to become friends with the guy, that will be good too. Anyway, with this donor I felt comfortable going to his house and having him come to mine. My partner was able to be with me every time, as we were able to just do it after work. My timing was SO much better, because I wasn't waiting for the LH surge to even start the process. The donor was willing to do whatever we needed, and he followed my lead because he's never done it before. I said ideally we would start the day I got the first "high" reading on my clear blue fertility monitor and do an AI every other day until I got the positive OPK, and then every day until my temp shift confirmed O. So we met for the first time last Friday at his house. He went upstairs to do his thing, and gave us the guest bedroom downstairs. We just hung out, talked, laughed about how we never thought we'd ever do THIS in our lives, until he was done. He brought the cup down with the sample and I did the same process. This time, based on more research, I left the syringe in for about 10 minutes or as long as I could stand it. I also have been worried all along about whether I was inserting the cup correctly, and that if I wasn't maybe it was blocking the sperm from even getting up there (like a diaphragm). So I waited about 10 min before inserting it. Then we drove home, or ate dinner at our favorite restaurant. We also (TMI, but this whole post is TMI) were intimate every evening after the procedure. It was probably too long after to make a difference, but it made the whole thing feel like we were doing it together which makes me feel so much better about it all. We met again Sunday, but this time he came to our house. That was nice because I didn't have to use the cup at all, I just stayed in bed afterwards for the rest of the night. Monday I got a positive OPK, so he came to our house again that evening. Tuesday and Wednesday we went to his house, and then Thursday I got my temp shift so we called it quits for the month. Oh, and Wednesday I ran out of sterile cups, so he deposited right into the softcup, and I put it directly in, skipping the syringe all together (less wastage, less sperm damage, supposedly) It was tiring, but WAY less stressful than last time and a much more positive experience. And I feel really good about this month, so we will see!! I'm 2-3 DPO now (I had a long surge, so not sure exactly when I O'd) and trying to think good baby thoughts and not obsess over every feeling I have!
It's been interesting, certainly nothing I thought I'd ever do, but you do what you have to so I guess this is our life. I'm really hoping it works soon. I'm seeing a GP on Feb. 11, either to confirm pregnancy if this cycle works, or to get a general check and see if there's anything obvious wrong that would be keeping it from working. I'm also in touch with an acupuncturist who sounds wonderful, so I might start that next cycle if this one wasn't successful. Fingers crossed!! Anyone else going through a similar situation? Or even better, anyone who has already gone through it successfully?