When lesbian couple Amy and Susan decided to start a family, they knew there would be challenges ahead.
With the help of TFP Wessex Fertility, their dreams have come true.
Telling her parents that she was marrying Susan was tough on Amy.
The couple also knew they wanted to start a family and that this would be another cultural hurdle.
It would be a practical challenge, too, as their dearest wish was to have reciprocal IVF so they both felt connected to their baby.
When two female same-sex partners are having IVF, it’s possible for them both to be biologically connected to the baby. One partner’s eggs are collected to create the embryo, before being transferred to the other partner who carries the pregnancy.
Amy approached a few clinics, but none were prepared to offer reciprocal IVF as it would involve medical procedures for both women.
“We were disheartened by this, but when we stepped into Wessex, they tailor-made an IVF package just for us.
I would donate my eggs, we’d use donor sperm, and then Susan would carry our baby,” says Amy.
Susan says that carrying Amy’s egg was the perfect answer as both women would feel biologically connected to their baby.
They had AMH tests, to check their fertility, plus internal scans. No fertility issues were discovered.
The couple opted to use the sperm bank recommended by TFP Wessex Fertility.
“It was a little more costly, but we’d rather trust you guys, as we know how carefully you screen all the donors,” says Amy.
They chose a donor who had the same qualifications and interests as Susan. The only thing he didn’t have was the same eye colour.
Then it was time to prepare Amy’s body for the egg collection, which involved a series of injections to stimulate her ovaries plus the trigger injection.
“I was told I may feel hormonal,” says Amy, “But I didn’t feel any different at all.”
“Then the egg collection was straightforward, although I did feel a little sore afterwards.
Our team used intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to fertilise Amy’s eggs with the donor’s sperm.
They briefed the couple to expect roughly a third of the collected eggs to be fertilised successfully and then a third of those to survive to become day five embryos.
And this is exactly what happened.
Amy recalls, “We had a phone call on Easter Sunday, updating me. After the crucial five days, six of my eggs were the right grade of embryos.”
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a type of IVF where a single sperm is injected into the egg, instead of the sperm being mixed with the eggs to fertilise naturally.
Susan found the egg transfer process nerve-wracking, as she doesn’t like medical procedures, but our team put her at ease and talked her through every step of the process.
Then came the two-week wait, to see if the transfer had worked.
Amy says, “We were about to fly to New York. We thought this will either be the best holiday we have ever had, or horrid.
“We did a Clear Blue pregnancy test. We had it face down, with a timer running.
We flipped it over and discovered we were pregnant. We were shocked and so excited.”
Amy’s parents had accepted Susan into their family, but the arrival of a baby was another hurdle for the older couple.
Yet two months before Shaylan was born, they asked if Amy and Susan would like to have a Shrimant (a Gujarati baby shower) to bless the pregnant mum and baby.
“This had come out of nowhere and we embraced it with open arms,” says Amy.
And the day after Shaylan was born, the grandparents visited their new grandson.
“Having our baby brought our families together and it was amazing to see. Our parents met and got on well,” says Amy.
“To be fair, in the Indian community, we are one of the first in our generation to do this.”
The couple had always wanted a second baby and had five embryos waiting in the freezer.
They waited until Shaylen was two, and then approached TFP Wessex Fertility to arrange a frozen embryo transfer.
It took four attempts to conceive their second baby, Milan. “I felt a bit hopeless towards the end”
After three failed transfers, Susan felt worn out. “I was close to giving up,” she says.
“Once the six embryos were gone, we knew we wouldn’t be trying again. It was such a large financial investment.”
With only a few embryos remaining, our team began using embryo glue to aid the implantation of the embryo in Susan’s uterus.
And, on transfer four, it appeared to have worked.
Ongoing research is exploring whether the liquid the embryos are transferred in can affect the chances of IVF successs. Embryo glue is a thick liquid that is used with the hope of helping the embryo stick to the uterus.
Susan recalls that very shortly after the fourth attempt, she began to feel sick.
It felt like morning sickness, but she tried not to get her hopes up.
Two weeks later, a pregnancy test confirmed the couple were pregnant with their second child, Milan.
Reflecting on her experiences, Amy says that if you want to have a child and are happy and stable in your relationship, then you should go for it.
“You can’t always wait for your parents to be perfectly happy – you don’t know if they’ll ever accept your choices.
You must do what is right for you and your partner,” she says.
“In our case, we have created the perfect blended family and we are loving life.”
We’ve supported many same-sex couples through their fertility journey. If you want to know more about your options or want personalised support, get in touch today.