It all began in 1999. I'll spare the details of how we met, and all other minutiae related to our relationship, living arrangements, family, etc. That'll all come out in other posts, I'm sure. But I met Cassie while living in Montana (of all places). We got along very well and we fit together as an unlikely, but delightfully complementary couple.
We agreed that children were definitely in our plans, hopefully very soon. So we began the process that same sex female couples must endure--finding a donor, drawing up agreements, negotiating the embarrassing realities of dealing with ovulation cycles, sperm, and at-home insemination. A month became two, then three, then 12. It was frustrating, but not yet daunting. We sought medical assistance and began the mental running total of what would soon be a surprisingly expensive and emotionally exhausting venture.
Over the next 9 years, Cassie and I each attempted to conceive. Our little journey involved copious methods of diagnosis and treatment--including intrauterine insemination, excrutiatingly painful and invasive tests, countless rounds of oral medications, numerous cycles of injectable hormones and drugs, four sperm donors, three clinics, and, in Cassie's case, even surgery.
Anyone who has struggles with infertility understands this path and knows it too well. It's hard to verbalize the emotions which come up when our bodies fail us in this way. Life, in whatever form, is the only given in these bodies. And the desire to reproduce life is one of our basest instincts.
As our friends bought homes, paid off their student loans, and grew their 401ks, Cassie and I were putting all the extra scratch we had into the baby making fund. We charged up and paid off one $10,000 credit card 3 times.
25 years old soon became "mid-thirties". We were both very aware of the ticking of the clock. We had discussed adoption, but we were really "craving" a baby (selfish, admittedly) and adopting a baby was every bit as expensive as in vitro fertilization (IVF), a method which had always seemed financially out of reach. As our 35th birthdays approached, we decided to fire up the ol' credit cards a final time and invest in IVF. We swore this was it. No more. If we were unsuccessful, we would travel more, see the world, and then move closer to our nieces and nephews in an attempt to experience children vicariously.
We found a clinic nearby which did a great deal of fertility research and, thus, could charge a bit less for IVF. We met with the doctors and the suggestion was made (by them, not us) that we take eggs from Cassie and implant them in both of us. We had relatively healthy uteruses, that was not the issue. By implanting in both of us we would increase our chances of taking home a baby. The chances of us both becoming pregnant was only 12-13%. It was a good plan. We paid our deposit, and started the process.
Fast forward about 6 months, Cassie and I are all drugged up--her body in hyper-ovulate mode, mine in ovulatory hibernation. We were devastated when only six eggs were harvested, and only two "took". These are signficantly low numbers for IVF. It's not unusual for 20 or more eggs to mature and about half of those typically become viable embryos. We knew at this point that if a viable pregnancy was not achieved we would have no "back-up" embryos to freeze for future use. We went in to the implantation a bit despondent, but trying to be hopeful.
Well, it worked.
And then some.
The egg implanted in me actually split. I was pregnant with identical twins, and Cassie was pregnant with a single pregnancy. We were due Thanksgiving Day, 2009.