My wife and I have been together for 8 1/2 years and have wanted to have a baby for a very long time. I have wanted to be a mother since I was 3 years old! Being a same sex couple we had been looking for a donor ourselves, but as I am part Maori, it was a little more complicated- we wanted our child to share our whakapapa.
Initially we brought my wife’s brother out from their home country to be our donor and we were thrilled that we were able to get pregnant twice. Sadly I miscarried both babies at 12 weeks. Eventually we found two known donors (one after the other) of my wife’s ethnicity, who were happy to help us start a family. We went through the whole process of counselling, blood tests, sperm counts etc with both, and waited out the quarantine period twice, but unfortunately due to personal reasons, they both pulled out at the last minute.
We were devastated, I was 37 and felt time was running out for us to find a donor.
I have thyroid problems which likely contributed to my miscarriages and difficulties in conceiving and also had a lot of stress and grief from the miscarriages and the process of finding our own donors. I knew that my chances of conceiving were dropping rapidly with time and we urgently needed help to get the process started.
We looked at a few fertility clinics to help manage the donor side of things. We were impressed by the empathetic, caring approach from Repromed right from the start, and they didn’t come across as “clinical”.
Dr Neil Johnson spent time with us talking about what we have been through on our journey as well as my medical situation. The team were genuinely interested and invested in our process. With another clinic we had seen, it felt like we were in and out and booked in for another appointment if the time was up. Whereas Neil took the time to really ‘get’ our situation, he was respectful of our cultural values, and comfortable with us as a same sex couple (as were all of the clinic staff we dealt with).
After our second known donor let us down Fiona McDonald, one of the Counsellors, rang us and said, “You have had such a hard time and I really feel for you guys. We have just started recruiting donors, and I just wanted to let you know that we have had a Maori donor join us”.
We were very touched that she had considered us, and really surprised. It is extremely rare for Maori men to donate. Even now I believe you could literally count on one hand the amount of Maori sperm donors available in the whole country.
We couldn’t take the heartbreak of choosing another known donor and the risk of being let down again. I had never wanted an anonymous donor because for me knowing your whakapapa (genealogy) is an absolutely essential part of your identity. But incredibly, Fiona also said that the donor may be willing to be known and possibly meet the child before they were 18! The fact that the donor and his wife only wanted to donate to a couple who also had some Maori heritage was a good sign that they valued whakapapa too. So after talking it through, we were ready to go full steam ahead.
We were very lucky in that it only took two IUI’s (Intra-Uterine Inseminations) to conceive. The first one didn’t work out. In September 2014 we had our second IUI. We tested early at home as we couldn’t bear the extra waiting to find out from the clinic arranged blood tests. I managed to wait 13 days to test which was slightly longer than usual. This was our 13th try to have a baby. I thought if I waited until day 13 to test it would be kind of neat, because the blood test (to confirm pregnancy) was booked in for October 13th. So I waited and to our shock, it was a good strong positive! I remember bursting into tears of both excitement and also a whole lot of trepidation after all our previous misfortune.
Of course we were nervous, I think anyone who has been through the infertility and pregnancy loss process would understand that. We were so broken and beaten after years of trying to get pregnant. So, when our early home pregnancy test (HPT) came back positive, we were comparing our tests with other results online. We had this joke that there should be a colour in the palette called ‘HPT White’, because on a pregnancy test when it’s negative the test shows up really REALLY white. Yet you stare at it hoping for a shade of pink! The next day we had the blood tests which confirmed that yes, I really was pregnant and this time the levels were great! After 13 attempts this could be the one!
Throughout the first trimester, the team at Repromed were so accommodating and gave us very individualised treatment. Dr Neil was supportive, without judging our desire to do things holistically and offered us a really individual plan, while working with our natural fertility specialist. His stance was, ‘If this is what is important to you in this process, then let’s do it.” The whole team were invested in the outcomes. When we got pregnant they were all super excited for us. Dr Neil extended my care from the standard 6-8 weeks after pregnancy, just to make sure I got past the 12 weeks due to my previous miscarriages. I was blown away when Neil even rang me about some results on Christmas Day. We felt that he genuinely cared about us and that he went above and beyond to provide us with the best care possible.
As much as I loved being pregnant, it was still tough after our difficult journey. I just desperately wanted this baby to be in our arms – and alive! To be honest, it wasn’t until I was around 25 weeks pregnant that I started to believe that perhaps this baby really was going to come home with us. I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy more but it was hard – we had been so disappointed in the past. But when I gave birth to our son, and finally held him in my arms, then I could finally believe that he was okay and that, yes, we had a baby that we were going to get to keep. Going through a process like we did, with years of trying to get pregnant, losses, delays and set backs of various kinds, well you understandably lose your naivety and innocence. That’s why we believe that it’s hugely important to have a clinic that really cares about you. Repromed did everything possible to make the part of the journey that we shared with them, as easy as possible.
We have been blessed with a beautiful little boy who is our entire world. Our journey to him was long and painful but we believe that we couldn’t have chosen a better team to guide us through the final stretch in order to bring this sweet boy into our whanau.Ngā mihi aroha Repromed!
Repromed NZ offer private and public funded IVF treatment and may be able to help you with your fertility journey. All patients are welcome, we stand for ethnic and gender equality and are proud to be awarded with Rainbow Tick certification. Donor service options are available to discuss. You can book a free 15 minute phone consultation with a fertility doctor. Click here to make the first step.