TLDR: Melissa and Kimberly share their experience in creating a two-mom family, including details of their IUI and IVF journeys and the kind of support they’re receiving as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
As exciting as it is to decide to have a baby, family building for the LGBTQ+ community can be a roller coaster. From the length of time it takes to conceive to the hurdles of parenthood itself, the fertility journey for a two-mom family can be full of surprises—and it certainly was for our featured couple, Melissa and Kimberly.
Melissa, an LGBTQ+ content creator, and her wife Kimberly, a nurse, celebrated their marriage in the fall of 2020. While they were dating, the couple agreed that once they tied the knot they would start looking into fertility treatments and see what the journey ahead looked like for their family.
In 2021, we connected with Melissa to tell her story.
Expectful: When did you decide to start trying to conceive, and where are you in your fertility journey now?
Melissa: The topic of having children was covered early on when Kim and I were dating. I felt very strongly about the fact that I wanted to start a family, as did my wife. The stipulation was that I wanted to be married first. However, I’m turning 38 this year, and my wife is turning 36. Given the biological clock and the time that you have the highest odds to conceive, we figured that starting sooner rather than later would be beneficial for both of us.
So we’ve done two rounds of IUI1 thus far, both of which were unfortunately unsuccessful. I actually have my consultation for IVF today. Earlier this month, my insurance changed and waived the mandatory six IUI treatments necessary before they would start coverage for IVF. So, I am switching to a new hospital system to start this round of treatment and I’m so excited for the consultation.
Expectful: Is there anything that’s surprised you about this process?
MC: It varies on a state by state basis, but in the state of Ohio, if you are using a third party donor to conceive, you have to undergo mandatory testing with a psychotherapist. Due to COVID limitations, we did a video consultation which lasted approximately two hours with a psychotherapist from the comfort of our living room and discussed a lot of things that we hadn’t thought about previously.
Initially I was concerned with whether this testing was required across the board for all people using a third party donor or whether it was just for same-sex couples. I felt relieved to find out that it was for everybody.
After we actually went through it, I feel like it was very enlightening. There were some topics that we hadn’t considered yet and just talking openly with the therapist was surprisingly helpful to us.
Expectful: You’ve been so open to sharing your TTC journey as an LGBTQ+ couple—what has motivated you to open up about this experience?
MC: I feel like there’s so much animus about what the journey and the process looks like. I’m on several different support groups where people come to the table and ask questions of friends, and other other resources. It leads me to believe that there’s also a little bit of an apprehension to just openly discussing things with your actual doctor, who could be a fountain of information for you.
So I’m trying to tell myself to remember to be open and be unafraid to ask any relevant questions, and I would recommend anyone else in this situation to do the same. It’s your health, it’s your future, it’s your family. And if there’s any time where you should feel completely at home and comfortable, it’s in this situation.
Expectful: You’ve shared that both you and Kim hope to carry future pregnancies for your two-mom family. Can you share how you came to that decision together?
MC: I have always wanted to have the experience of carrying a child. It’s something that I’ve innately wanted since I was little, and my wife happens to share that same feeling. For her it was a little bit later on in life; she wasn’t exactly sure that she wanted to have kids, but shortly before we met, she had come to the conclusion that she did, in fact, want a family. And if she was going to have a family, she also wanted to carry. So we decided to have two kids so that we each get the opportunity to carry a child.
Expectful: If you could share a message to yourself or your wife before you started your fertility journey, what would you say?
MC: We are so fortunate. I feel very confident being in the middle of this journey now, knowing that we have a really great support system of chosen family.
No matter what people tell you about their experience and family planning, or how hard the two-week wait is, nothing compares to actually experiencing it. It’s not only a combination of waiting that 14-day period, but it’s all the emotions and all the hormones that go along with it. Try to give yourself a little grace and patience and kindness with yourself. There’s so many uncontrollables that you go through and that you can’t anticipate, and it’s difficult to navigate.
Remember to lean into your relationship, too. Kim is not physically going through the same process that I am, but when you lean in as opposed to pulling back, it allows your partner to really experience that in real time with you and support you better.
Expectful: Do you have any words of affirmation or encouragement for other LGBTQ+ families that are trying to conceive or thinking about starting a family?
MC: The family you dreamt of is possible. Growing up, I wanted a family. I’ve always wanted one. I feel as though when you come out, it also comes along with all of these questions over whether the family you’ve dreamt up is actually attainable. What does that look like?
There are so many different paths to get there, and I feel as though it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to lose sight of what the end of the road looks like when you’re in the middle of it. Sometimes it’s a little more stressful and a little more difficult than anticipated. So I would say remember that the family that you want, and the family that you dream up, is possible.