Almost a year ago, after quietly wondering about such things I secretly made myself a profile for the Known Donor Registry. I can’t recall where I had heard of it but the idea intrigued me. K and I don’t really have much of a plan just a goal– have a baby. But one thing we are both clear on is that the baby will know it’s donor. K and I both see it as a human right to know to the extent possible where you come from.
But the Known Donor Registry and other sites like Conception.com have issues. And this made me uneasy. How difficult would it be to draw up a legal contract for the donor to relinquish all rights to the child? What sort of reassurance would we have from the donor that he was doing his due diligence to always protect himself from STI’s? Could we really extend such trust to someone we met over the internet? It felt so subversive, so stigmatized. And let’s be honest, all the dudes over on KDR trolling for “natural insemination”aka: sex (a truly new low for horny dudes on the web– prey on women and couples desperately looking for a sperm donor) really aren’t doing much for the image of known donors from the internet. Thanks guys (I hope you can read my sarcasm).
At the same time, sperm from a sperm bank is expensive. Now, before you go and tell me that having a baby is expensive so I better get used to it– I know. And that’s why it irks me to no end that sperm costs what it does for us gays, single parents, and folks dealing with infertility. It makes a lot more sense to spend that money caring for a family instead of blowing it all trying to create one.
But to me, the money is not the issue so much as access is. I work in the public school system. K makes decent money and we are living a DINK-ish lifestyle right now but we are not rich. We are what I would consider somewhat comfortable. But we do not have thousands of dollars to spend on multiple vials of sperm each month. We can afford exactly one. Maybe two if we get a good tax return or money as a Christmas gift.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that can be greatly affected by hormonal cycles. For many women this means a few things. First, statistically speaking women fare much better than men in terms of level of disability. Men tend to get hit much harder at a younger age with MS. Another interesting thing about MS is that a large majority of women have their symptoms nearly disappear and relapses halt while pregnant. Sounds pretty amazing, right?
But there is always a downside. In this case, one more way that MS is affected by hormonal cycles is when women use Assistive Reproductive Technology (ART) such as intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Medications are a big part of this process and while the pregnancy hormone changes seem to reduce relapses and symptoms, medications used in ART, specifically the GnRH antagonists actually cause relapses. In fully 75% of women in studies. 75%, people! That’s a terrifying statistic. Clearly, I will not be using this class of drugs. Which probably means that I cannot use IVF if I am unable to conceive using artificial insemination at home.
When I think about limiting my opportunities to conceive each month a single, solitary vial of sperm it fills me with anxiety. Because at my age with my medical history, irregular cycle, and the likelihood that IVF is not an option for me I need frequent regular access to sperm if I am to get pregnant. A known donor would absolutely give us the best access for this.
After carefully considering our situation we decided to make a Skype date with a potential sperm donor. We are anxiously counting down until we are able to meet him. I’m worried he won’t be willing to donate multiple times a month to us. I’m worried he won’t be willing to ship sperm to us. And I’m worried he might wind up just being a creeper. Hopefully none of that will be the case. We speak with him this evening so I will update here once my thoughts are collected and we have made a decision. Keep your fingers crossed for us!