After two failed attempts at IUI, lesbian couple Kerry and Andrena had all but decided to give up. But they gave it one more try – and along came baby Romy.
Kerry’s son, Jamie, was five years old when she met Andrena. In the early days of their relationship, the couple felt that taking care of one little boy was enough for them.
As he grew up, they realised that they missed the hands-on parenting that comes with a younger child.
Neither Kerry nor Andrena had said it out loud, but they’d both been thinking the same thing. They wanted to have a baby together.
Once they got talking, and realised how they both felt, they looked for their nearest clinic and found TFP GCRM Fertility in Glasgow.
When it came to deciding who should carry the baby, Kerry seemed like the natural choice.
Andrena explains that she had been worried about the prospect of carrying a baby herself, as she was coming up to 40.
“My age was always in the back of my head, and I was very aware that my egg reserve was likely to be diminishing rapidly,” she says.
She continues: “Kerry was a little younger than me, and she’d already had a baby, so we felt she was likely to be fertile.
“We were also very keen for Jamie to have a sibling – we thought he’d enjoy being close to the new baby.”
The clinic recommended intrauterine insemination (IUI) as a first option instead of IVF, and the couple opted for this more natural route.
In IUI, also called artificial insemination, the highest quality sperm are selected and injected into the womb where they fertilise the eggs naturally. This is less invasive than IVF, where eggs are collected and fertilised in the lab, and doesn’t need fertility medicines. IUI is a good place to start for same-sex female couples using donor sperm.
Next came the search for the sperm donor. Having considered various options for sperm banks, the couple chose their donor from GCRM’s own bank, which was local to them and felt right.
They’d been looking for someone with the right physical characteristics, but personality was important too.
So, when they found a sperm donor who was honest about his past, they immediately liked him.
He explained in a letter that he hadn’t done too well at school, but he’d gone on to set up his own business and made it a success.
He could have told them anything, but they felt that this was the truth, and it came from his heart.
The IUI treatment started soon afterwards. From the beginning, the couple say they felt they were treated in the same way a heterosexual couple would be.
“The staff were always respectful and considerate of both our feelings equally throughout the process,” says Kerry.
Andrena, the non-biological mum, was required to fill in consent forms, she attended all the appointments, and she had her own login to the patient portal.
The IUI process itself felt ‘simple’ to the couple. We checked Kerry’s ovarian reserve before she started medication to trigger ovulation.
“It was easy,” says Kerry. “And then the procedure was just like a smear test. They inject the donor sperm, and you leave and hope for the best."
"It was a nerve-wracking wait, but we kept ourselves busy and then two weeks later we did a blood test, to see if the procedure had worked.”
When the first IUI cycle didn’t work, the couple felt low. After the excitement of starting out on their fertility journey, they now felt disappointed and sad.
When the second cycle led to a pregnancy, they were overjoyed – they felt they had a family. At the early pregnancy scan, they saw the tiny heartbeat and it was a dream come true.
But, sadly, at the twelve-week scan, their dream was shattered. They discovered that they had lost the baby. And two weeks later, Kerry had a procedure to surgically remove the pregnancy.
Andrena says: “It’s still hard to talk about. We were in the car on the way to work and we were both crying."
"We’d pictured this wee life, but it wasn’t working, and it was so tough. We went to a bad place where neither of us had been before emotionally.”
It was some months later, whilst hill walking in the Highlands, their ‘happy place’, that Kerry mentioned she was now ready to try again. Andrena had been thinking the same thing.
She says: “Enough time had passed, and the pain had been dulled, so we hoped that we could try again and maybe be successful.”
For their third cycle, their clinician recommended they use IUI again as it was very likely to be successful.
And when they did, it was third time lucky – they were pregnant.
Andrena remembers: “When the test showed positive, we just stared at it in disbelief for a few minutes.
I cried a little and was pacing about, half not believing it and half bursting with excitement!”
Later that day the GCRM blood test confirmed the pregnancy.
Despite some nervousness from the couple, it was a perfect pregnancy and led to the birth of a baby girl, Romy.
“We didn’t realise how intense and emotional this process would be,” says Kerry.
“At one point, the nurse asked how I was feeling. She said that it can be quite draining. You need to make sure you are speaking to each other. If you need to call us, you must call us.”
She adds: “We couldn’t be happier with TFP GCRM Fertility, Glasgow. Everyone speaks to you, and we got to know all the nurse’s names.”
Andrena attributes their success to their dynamic as a couple. “We work well together,” she says. “We talk each other through things."
“Our advice to other same-sex couples starting out on this journey would be to make sure you support each other one hundred per cent as there will be a lot of emotions, ups and downs and possibly hard times –but don't give up hope if it’s what you really want."
“Romy is the best thing to have ever happened to us and we can't imagine our lives without her,” she concludes.
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.