I was calm in traffic. I was calm as we sat and sat, watching bicyclists and pedestrians moving at quicker speeds. I was calm navigating around construction. I was even calm as we entered the impressive entrance of Fenway Health’s Ansin building and took the elevator up nine floors. Because of my neurotic travel planning, we were the first to arrive. Which means we were also the first to the snacks: hummus, pita bread, veggies, fruit platters, and a tray of sweets – it was lesbian catering at its finest. Even though I’m pretty sure they were going for a big healthy snack theme, they were kind enough to provide Diet Coke, which of course made Meredith jump around and clap her hands.
And, here is what the Inseminar was not: a ‘giant, overwhelming pile of information.’
It was, instead, a well-organized, extremely well-paced, succinct presentation of what it means to get pregnant as a lesbian couple or single woman.
(Not that the heteros are excluded, but it was made clear the Alternative Insemination program at Fenway is not designed to assist couples having trouble with infertility.)
When I say the orientation answered all my questions, I mean it answered all my questions and then 1,400 other questions I hadn’t formed yet. I packed a notebook and pencil because so many people had urged “Take notes!” But, Fenway had that covered when Program Coordinator, Liz Coolidge, handed us a thick orange folder stocked with FAQs, power point slides, information packets on major sperm banks, and additional information on the AI program.
Aside from notes I jotted down on last page of power point slides (and the childish scribbles Meredith and I wrote to each other about our other “family members” in attendance), no note taking was necessary. And, although no one could guarantee I’ll conceive a baby who will come out looking like the cherub, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, they did provide answers to some very important questions.
- Donor family background & medical history: gathered extensively but not verified
- Donor photos available: everything for a price; while some banks do not subscribe to this, there are some who will provide adult photos of donors (http://xytex.com/ for one)
- When should I be seeking out an OBGYN: basically if we decide to enroll in Fenway’s full AI program (the orientation was an introduction, not a commitment), I’ll need to get my snatch looked at and track ovulation for 3 cycles before going back in to get medically cleared for insemination. This was a bit of information I didn’t know – most sperm banks (if not all) will require written medical clearance from a doctor before selling you the baby juish.
- My favorite topic – the dollah dollah billz: Fenway was great about breaking down the real cost of this process. It’s all dependent on your choice of method and where you get the sperm. The turkey baster method, while not ineffective, lacks in precision, but it’s also free. So, if you’re the type who wants to spread roses on the bed, dress up in in a feather boa and wait for your partner Ellen to come home with the nitrogen tank … no? Anyone?
- Explain the insemination process, carefully, to my fragile little lesbian ears: If turkey baster insemination is the first tier, the second tier would be Intracervical. The little swimmers are inserted as far as the cervix at the opening of the uterus. The third tier, and most promising in my book, is Intrauterine. Here, the sperm is shot directly into the uterus, leaving less chance of those little guys getting lost along their way. And, trust, I fully expect some free-floating sperm to arrive at a lesbian’s uterus like “Where. The. Fuck. Are. We?”
I’m so glad we did the Inseminar and made contacts like the providers at Fenway. While Meredith and I still have a ton of huge questions floating around, we also now have a big fat orange folder full of helpful information sitting on our coffee table. Since Meredith is not one to be left out, she’s going to start tracking for three cycles along with me. And because I can predict her competitive nature, I have no doubt Meredith will be intent on getting that smiley face on the ovulation test kit before me or else be severely disappointed. So thanks again to Liz and the rest of her team at Fenway Health for helping a couple lost lesbians on their way to motherhood.
Look for these types of programs in your area. I’m a frugal Franny, but it’s money well spent in my book.