Part of both of us – Using reciprocal IVF to create our family

My lesbian partner Stacy and I have been together for about 7 years. She is very “maternal” – she works as a kindergarten teacher, bakes for all of our neighbours, and tears up at commercials about babies and weddings. She always knew that she wanted to be pregnant and be a mom. I, on the other hand, was OK with the idea of being a parent but I had absolutely no interest in being pregnant and the thought of giving birth scared me to death. I was fine with Stacy carrying our child – but I wanted more of a role in the process than just being the “other mother.” Being an only child, I also didn’t want my family bloodline to end with me.  And I was worried about our child being only genetically-related to Stacy, especially because she was going to be the one to carry our baby – if we every broke up, my parental rights might not be recognized. So Stacy and I started researching our options and read about something the blogs and forums were calling “reciprocal IVF” – where one partner contributes the eggs, which are then fertilized with donor sperm, and then one or two embryos are transferred into the other partner’s uterus. If this worked, it would mean that I’d have a genetic connection to our child and Stacy would have a birth (gestational) connection. It seemed perfect – Stacy could go through the pregnancy and childbirth process that she was so looking forward to, and I could still be our child’s “genetic” parent. Both our names would appear on the birth certificate and we’d both have an important role in our child’s creation.

It took awhile to find a clinic that offered reciprocal IVF for social rather than medical reasons, but we found one that Stacy and I felt comfortable with. We met with a counsellor to talk about sperm donor selection and the issues that might come up for our child in the future. We also talked about why it was important for both of us to have a role in our child’s creation, and what it meant to Stacy to carry our child but not have a genetic connection. We also talked about purchasing extra sperm straws so that we could use the same donor and Stacy’s eggs if we decided to have another child.

We selected an identity-release donor who had Stacy’s dark and olive colouring. Stacy and I started taking birth control pills in order to sync our menstrual cycles and then I took medication to stimulate my eggs for retrieval. After my eggs were retrieved, they were fertilized with the donor’s sperm. We ended up with 5 good quality embryos. Two of the embryos were transferred into Stacy’s uterus and one implanted. We were thrilled that Stacy was pregnant and that we were on our way to becoming parents! Three months ago, after 24 hours of labour, Stacy gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We named her “Lily” after my mother. She has Stacy’s calm presence and olive skin. And because part of her comes from my gene pool, I see myself in Lily’s face when she smiles. Stacy and I love being mothers and are pretty sure we want Lily to have a sibling. But for now, we’re going to enjoy Lily’s smiles and everything new that she does each day.

Read more about reciprocal IVF here. 

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