Same-sex couple Danielle and Natalie, 29 and 27, already had a daughter, Eilidh, from Danielle’s previous relationship. When she approached school age, the couple talked about the options for expanding their family.
They decided to go for it and that Danielle should carry as she enjoys being pregnant and they knew she had no fertility issues. They also felt that Eilidh may find it easier to accept her sibling if she’d seen her mum go through the pregnancy. And having found out more about the IVF options available, they opted for IUI.
Natalie said: “We chose IUI because it was non-medical and less invasive. We wanted the most natural approach possible. Fertility treatment can be tough and we wanted to put less pressure on ourselves throughout the process.”
They’d heard about TFP GCRM Fertility in Glasgow and, having made contact, knew it felt right. “We really like this clinic,” said Natalie. “They were so personal and down to earth. Being same sex, you sometimes don’t get the warmest welcome, but this did feel welcoming.”
Natalie had worried that as the non-biological mum, she may feel left out. She said: “I face prejudice in the outside world. People don’t always consider me to be a ‘real mum’ which is difficult and sad – but the clinic was so inclusive and always called me mum.”
For the sperm, the couple opted to use a Danish sperm bank. They’d looked at the website and liked one particular donor. Danielle said: “You get a voice note, so you hear the person speak. It was really cool, hearing how passionate he was about donating. He also has dark hair and blue eyes like Natalie, which is what we wanted.”
They ordered the sperm online and TFP Fertility completed extensive background and screening checks. Through this process they learned that when you buy sperm in the UK, it has to be from an open donor who has agreed he can be contacted when the child reaches eighteen. Natalie said: “We didn’t know about that and so the clinic checked for us and helped us with the decision making.”
In 2005, a change in the law meant that people conceived from donor sperm could now ask for their donor’s name, date of birth and last known address when they turn 18. They can also ask for non-identifying details, such as relevant medical histories, when they turn 16.
With the sperm donation arranged, Danielle had routine checks to establish her readiness for treatment. Even though IUI is a natural process, medication may be used to ensure the egg release is synchronised with the arrival of the sperm.
The sperm is then prepared in the lab and delivered through a catheter directly into the uterus, timed with ovulation.
The couple admitted that they were nervous. Their first attempt at IUI had gone well, but hadn’t ended in a pregnancy. They’d found it harder to accept than expected.
When the first insemination attempt didn’t lead to a pregnancy, they went to Benidorm for a week to relax. Whilst they were there, Danielle started her period. From Spain, they rang the clinic to update the team and ask when the next IUI could be attempted.
On the second attempt, Natalie recalls: “The doctor was so nice. He sat down on the bed with Danielle and sensed our tension. He told us that there was no rush, that we had all the time in the world and that the team would wait until we were ready. What I remember most was the gentleness of that procedure. We never felt like a number, we felt as if our unique journey through this process was being honoured.”
After the second procedure, the couple returned home and tried to relax. “Two weeks has never gone slower,” said Danielle. “Every tingle, every feeling, made me wonder if I was pregnant. We went to see Natalie’s sister and her cat wanted to sit on my belly. We are sure the cat sensed I was pregnant, it was crying to be near me.”
After the two-week wait, the clinic took blood samples from Danielle. This enabled the team to more accurately detect if hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, the pregnancy hormone) was present in her body.
Natalie said: “The day we got the blood test result saying we were pregnant was the same day that our daughter graduated from nursery. There were so many emotions on that day.”
They were both shocked and happy that the IUI had succeeded and Natalie reports feeling extremely protective towards Danielle. “It was hard for me because I couldn’t feel anything, I just had to take Danielle’s word for it and support her through all the changes,” she said. “So, the highest point of the pregnancy was feeling the baby when we were both sleeping beside each other, and he would respond to my touch and voice. It was amazing.”
Baby Lyle arrived after a straightforward pregnancy and birth and the couple are already pondering whether to use IUI for the next pregnancy or go the reciprocal route.
Natalie said: “Reciprocal is something we’d consider for the future. We think it is magical that it’s an option for same-sex relationships and Danielle says she’d feel blessed to carry my egg.”
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