Yesterday, I was invited to chat to Anna Foster of BBC Radio 5 Live about sperm donors and how there is now an increase in demand for them outside of the realms of the NHS. We talked about what we went through and what *should* be common practise when deciding to do at-home artificial insemination (AI).
It certainly wasn’t your average Monday and throughout the whole interview I was asking myself why on earth I was sharing such personal details about our son’t conception (legs up in the air and all). It was an experience, and whilst I was incredibly anxious about the whole thing I was driven by our story and getting it out there so that others out there could see some form of hope. That there are other options when it comes to conception.
If you would like to listen to the whole feature, you can skip through to 10:12 via the link above.
(I’m on at 39:00).
The main concern within the interview surrounded the regulation of certain Facebook groups where couples, usually Lesbian couples, can find sperm donors, and how risky this is. It also briefly explored how the NHS need to change their stance on when they offer support for same sex couples.
Basically, if the cost to have a baby wasn’t so high – then perhaps women wouldn’t be taking the risks to have a baby.
At the moment, the current stance across most NHS areas (although each area can differ slightly) is that a couple needs to be ‘trying’ for 2 years minimum before IVF is offered, HOWEVER, a same sex couple also need to have self-funded 6 IUI treatments before fertility treatment is offered on the NHS. Whilst I can understand some of this, the NHS can’t afford to be giving away fertility treatment, there is no mention of a scenario where a lesbian couple has been trying with the same known donor for two years. If this is the case, then they should be treated like a heterosexual couple. This isn’t the case though. They are expected to pay out thousands of pounds before even being considered – because they’re in a same sex relationship.
Specifically speaking about the UK couples we have spoken to over the years (I know in the US and Australia it’s very different and much harder if I’m honest), it became evident very quickly that your chances of having a baby were slim unless you had thousands of pounds stashed away, or you turned to Sperm Donors like the one featured in the radio interview above or the one we found on Pride Angel. It really is a sorry state of affairs when you have families so desperate for a child but they can’t simply because of money.
But that’s what we did. It came with risks, but they were risks we were willing to take (we’ll be writing a handy guide on this soon!). We had no other option. We wanted a baby. So we researched and researched and researched. Sharon, specifically, researched into the early hours of the morning most nights trying to find viable options for us. Although it was only 5 years ago it was very different to the world we have now. We didn’t have Facebook groups offering sperm donors. We didn’t really have other families to turn to that had done it the way we were intending (AI) – others had either gone via IUI or IVF, or travelled abroad to have treatment. That simply wasn’t an option for us due to finances.
Whilst we felt some comfort in knowing that there were others like us out there, what we really wanted was to find someone exactly like us to reassure us that it was possible to make a baby with no money.
So we started our blog
When we first started this blog, many years ago now, we wanted to join a community and find other families like us. We also wanted to share the highs and lows of our conception journey so that one day we could look back and see what we went through. But as time went on, even during the early days, we realised that the community we thought was incredibly small, was actually quite vast – each couple with a different story or perspective. Every few weeks we would get messages of support from other couples across the world, and equally from couples who were just starting out and asking US for advice (even though at the time we were far from experts seeing as we were still without a baby!).
It was amazing, and over time we have watched our community grow. Every day I am finding new rainbow families to follow on Instagram, as well as finding their own blogs that detail their highs and lows. But whilst I am sat happily in my little bubble, meeting and chatting to members of our community who are doing it or have done it – ‘it’ being the baby making – I am all too aware that there are people out there who don’t know what we’ve been through and make incorrect assumptions that we conceived via some form of treatment, as if that’s the only option. As if it was easy.
That’s not to say there is anything wrong with this method or choice, but the more people realise that this isn’t the only option to conceiving the more educated people will become about the whole process (especially when they ask questions!) and what options are actually available to them. With any luck, the more people talk about the different ways they conceived, then maybe, one day, there will be more financially inclusive options for couples who want a baby.
Which is why I share so much on this blog, and why I agreed to take part in that interview on Monday. It was my way of getting the message out there not only to people outside of the LGBT community, but to same sex couples who are struggling and losing hope. I wanted to tell them that there are other options out there, that it can be done without life savings, and that they’re not alone.
Credit: Photo by Kasuma from Pexels