So, what is reciprocal IVF (RIVF)?
It is the ultimate form of science. And magic.
Well, to sum it up, it’s a pretty magical process. It’s a mixture of science and magic and something that is slightly whimsical and we had previously thought was just right out of our touch.
We started out like that – did you know? The story of me and her started out with a series of (very fortunate events) that lead us to the meeting point where – yes, I can confidently say – we fell immediately in love with the other.
It wasn’t supposed to be like that. We weren’t supposed to be like this but then a whirlwind occurred one spring day in April. I was going to meet her in her city because the weekend before I didn’t get to visit the art museum there and she found me through a series of odd happenstances and we talked and she invited me but it wasn’t supposed to turn into this.
We weren’t meant to end up here – in this moment where we continue to ride on our combined science and our magic.
But, the events – how it all unfolded – leads us to believe that we were supposed to meet, to end up here.
I first saw my wife when she came into a coffee shop were decided to meet. I was too early, of course. She was on time – or possibly a few minutes late. The moment we met set forth an electric connection that followed us throughout the day and became stronger and stronger. Little moments became big moments and there was science going off in our bodies – rapid heartbeats, sweat, something drawing our bodies together like magnets – and as we walked through a museum and then on a hike and then from one place to another, we were unable to separate our cells.
From that day, it is as if our cells have been begging and begging to come more and closer together.
Our origin story involves so many outside events that occurred to get us to that point – our point A – that makes me entertain the idea of fate. It makes me mumble silly little words like “everything happens for a reason” and it makes me thing of magic. The universe is made of science and magic and that is us.
Funny, I got a tattoo that said that nearly a year before we meant (debatable if it was the exact date but it probably was).
So, our little exploration of just how powerful the science between us and the magic between us has navigated us through so many moments that caused our cells aching to grow more and more together.
How could they grow together?
We didn’t entertain the idea of RIVF in the beginning of our trying to conceive journey because we thought it was out of our reach. We didn’t even lift our hands to graze at the possibility because it seemed too much – too hard, too expensive, too much.
But we are a couple made of much muchness and should have realized.
We went through the IUIs but was optimistic. We wanted our baby but with each try, we nearly didn’t believe that would bring us our baby. The baby whose name we whispered daily. The baby who we imagined so clearly.
A year of trying without it working is hard. I really want to make it clear that trying with medication and procedures and multiple intravaginal ultrasounds is very different from a heterosexual couple trying to hit the right moment during the right time of the month. If I have mourned anything this past year, its the fact that we never got any chance to make a baby in our own home with just us.
We always needed science.
My body was made slightly differently and I accepted that.
It was emotionally hard. It was ragged. My body wasn’t used to these hormones that most people made and it had a very, very hard time. I became withdrawn from others, I’ve lost friends because of my depression and hermit abilities, and I’ve lost pieces of myself.
How do you reach out to others when you are drowning?
I’m thankful for the few who understood that and reached out a hand, a life jacket, helping me afloat.
These five IUIs since January was hell – and add to the fact that we barely had any hope because we were told that there was barely a 10-15% chance of it working – but we did it. We tried and tried and tried.
My body didn’t fail me because it wasn’t set up to win this battle.
It needed more.
And then it happened.
The last try failed and my wife started her period on that day and we watched so many episodes of Living Rosa on youtube and our insurance covered IVF and things started to spin into motion.
Everything was a whirlwind.
We were a whirlwind.
And so, on the phone talking to our doctor, we asked about reciprocal IVF – seriously asked, not just mention, not just say we wanted to do it but made no plan – and she said that since my wife started her period and I would start mine soon, then we can start this month.
It was very important that we started now versus later. Zika is always, always on our minds and my wife travels to Mexico about twice a year for work. Since our clinic had us sign a contract stating that we won’t travel to those countries for a specific amount of time – these next few months was the only window we had to harvest her eggs. It has nearly been the recommended 6 months since she traveled to Mexico and she will be heading there in October, again.
Timing was very, very important or we couldn’t be apart of this magical journey.
What is reciprocal ivf – besides science and magic? It is the ultimate form of gift giving, on both sides.
For the next month and a half, my wife and I will be embarking on the ultimate journey of trying to conceive.
Reciprocal ivf is when one person donates their eggs to help create embryos that another person with a uterus will carry. It allows both parties – especially two people with uteruses – to be a part of this experience together.
We both started birth control so that our cycles will sync and then, once August 1st rolls around – my darling wife will undergo a ton of hormonal injections to stimulate her ovaries and grow many, many eggs (8-15, we are praying for a lot). I am both really excited to be the one to take care of her during this time period – to be the one not being held down my the hormones and to have enough energy to care and love for her while she is growing, growing, growing these follicles.
Growing follicles is hard. And, growing so many is a bit dangerous (girl can’t jump), exhausting, and very uncomfortable. I am so grateful that she is doing this for our family. I pray that we get enough, make enough embryos so that we can use them for two or three more kids after this.
Simultaneously I will be on hormones to prevent ovulation, not grow any follicles and estrogen patches to grow my lining nice and thick and cushy for an embryo.
About 12 days of injections, my darling wife will then undergo an egg retrieval. She will be kind of put under (“it’s really just a nap” our doctor reassured) and a huge
needle is inserted in a very dark place and, bam, eggs harvested!
Each egg harvested will be injected with donor sperm to make an embryo.
(Finding a donor is hard. There aren’t many Indian donors and there aren’t many Black/Mixed donors. So, when we found Indian donors for the IUI – we both felt like we had to make a lot of compromises. It was rough and not entirely fair to my wife to have to make those compromises. This round, we found a Black/Mixed donor who could have been my sibling. Our childhood photos we nearly exact at different stages of childhood – from chubby little baby to introverted kid with big brown eyes and light brown skin – and had a similar family history – okay, probably not the best but it actually made me feel connected – and he just seemed like he tried so hard to get where he was in his life and I felt connected – so we got lucky.)
The day that she gets her eggs harvested I begin PIO – aka fucking hell. PIO is progesterone in oil shots. Unlike the little insulin needles used for the ‘egg growing’ injections – these are needles similar to the HCG shot that goes in your hip above your butt. You get them every day, for your entire first trimester (about ten weeks), and you end up with a lot of bruises.
We will be contacted every day for five days to tell us how many embryos are growing. Each embryo is a possibility and the more embryos is a possibility for children in the future.
We never really thought that our children could be biologically related – and yes, it really doesn’t matter – but to a kid who didn’t have full siblings, it’s a bit whimsical to my heart. Also, god forbid something to happen to one kid, but if it does they’ll likely have a match (blood, stem cells). Did you know that it’s extremely hard to find a match for a mixed kid – especially a kid who is mixed with races who don’t really mix?
And finally, on day 5 of them growing, I go in for an embryo transfer. We have made the decision to transfer two of them into my uterus with the hope that at least one sticks.
10 days later, we find out if it works.
Our chances rose from 10% to 60%.
By the end of August, we will know if we finally have created a potential human.
We will know if her cells are nested into my uterus, connecting and connecting and connecting. My body and my blood and even my own cells helping create and create this tiny human.
Both of us – magic and science.
There is science being researched right now that leads us to think that traces of the DNA of the gestational parent ends up in the fetus. That they get pieces of the gestation parent – and, yes, later on, this little one who will spend many days with me will have pieces of my personality and smile and nose crinkles and who will be a part of me.
How lucky can I be right now? How lucky can I be to have a piece of my wife inside me growing – a piece of both of us?
My wife and I will always mention this, believe this, but our family is made of science and magic and we won’t forget that. We will not take that for granted.
We are very excited about this process. Our calendars hang on our fridge, our medication waiting to be ordered, and already, little pieces of this kid is all around our home.
Being two people with uteruses and wanting to make a baby is hard. Like really hard and very emotional but we are doing it. We are staying positive and excited and finally, this time, we are so hopeful. We are so very, very hopeful.
Finally, finally, our cells will be combined.