Fertility treatment and I
by Laura-Rose Thorogood, Founder of The LGBT Mummies Tribe
I always knew that the one constant desire I had from a very young age was that I wanted to be a mother one day. By the time I finally came out, met my wife and settled down, we had discussed having a family and that we both wanted to carry. The question was, how? So many questions, and many of them unanswered. We knew that our local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) at the time didn’t provide funded access to fertility treatment, so off to a private clinic it was.
It’s difficult enough to go through fertility treatment as it is as a heterosexual couple. But being LGBT+, threw up so many barriers in our journey.
The lack of access to funding, the ‘who will carry first’ decision. Then it was trying to find a donor in the ocean of donors from sperm banks that could meet our expectations, and ultimately help create our future children. After watching my wife have five attempts of IUI (Intrauterine insemination) including a miscarriage to conceive our daughter, we finally got our dream of becoming mothers and no feeling could compare. Then several years later we revisited our clinic to try for a sibling.
I felt ready. I was prepared body and mind, healthy ready to carry our second child. I found IUI relatively easy, less invasive than IVF, and after seeing my trojan of a wife go through such difficulty conceiving with her PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome), I knew this was something I could conquer. I was spectacularly pessimistic; I told myself it wouldn’t work straight away, that it would take a few attempts like before. I was relaxed, took the journey with ease, and was surprised when on the second natural cycle of IUI, I was pregnant. My pregnancy was a smooth one, I felt great, and although the birth was a difficult one, I knew I had been lucky. So, when we made the decision several years later to have a third child that I would carry again, I did what many do. I convinced myself this would be as ‘easy’ as the last time. That I would just ‘fall’ pregnant again. But life, never works like that.
Three failed IUI’s in, just as the pandemic was about to hit, we discovered that my ovarian reserve had diminished. By HALF. How? I had eaten all the right things, kept healthy, removed anything toxic from the house. What had happened? I was only 33? The foolish, misguided assumption that “I fell pregnant so quickly last time, I’m sure I will again”. But my body had other plans, and falling pregnant so easily wasn’t one of them.
I soon learnt you shouldn’t take your fertility for granted or make assumptions history would repeat itself. From there, a move to IVF (In vitro fertilisation) for us was what was needed (we have only two sperm vials left and our donor had long been retired). Then lockdown hit and I was crushed - no IVF, not even an egg collection could be arranged in time. I pulled myself together and spent the first lockdown getting mentally ready for IVF. When we started the IVF, I didn’t realise the toll it would take on my body. The constant trips to the clinic, the medications, my hormones were all over the place. The desperation I felt, the pressure to get those two lines. And again, I was crushed. My first IVF transfer failed. Two perfectly graded embryos failed. I felt my body had failed me, us. So, we went again, once more on this marathon journey, and I knew I had to stop putting pressure on myself, on us and just know that it would happen, it was just a case of when. And on that next attempt it did, we got those two lines.
All those years, the money, the barriers, the medication, the scans, failed cycles, the tears, the stress, dashed dreams, the trips back and forth to the clinic. Having fertility treatment has been the hardest journey we as a couple, and myself as a person have ever taken.
I now know you should never take your fertility for granted or assume that just because you fell pregnant easily once, it will happen again.
Fertility treatment may be the hardest thing I have gone through physically & psychologically, but the wonder of science has given me the most precious three miracles life could give and they are worth every single injection, penny, tear and breath.
Laura-Rose Thorogood is a married lesbian of fifteen years and a mother with three children by IUI and IVF treatment spanning over a decade. She is the Founder of The LGBT Mummies Tribe, a global organisation that supports LGBT+ women and people on the path to motherhood or parenthood.
She is an LGBT+ Family Activist, fertility advocate, educator, writer, speaker and campaigner for policy change for LGBT+ families. She works with the NHS, met with Government, and works with other global organisations to improve policies, educate and usualise LGBT+ families on the path to parenthood through pregnancy, birth, general healthcare across society and the media.
Review date: 22 February 2024