TLDR: Same-sex couple Allie and Sam share the story of their fertility journey, which started just before the pandemic. The couple faced delays undergoing IUI and IVF, which they detail here in an intimate interview about LGBTQ+ family planning.
Family planning is an exciting time, but it can also be a roller coaster for many couples, particularly for same-sex couples. Allie and Sam are married and live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They started their family planning process in December 2019 and faced serious delays in starting fertility treatments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We connected with the couple in 2021 to learn about their journey to parenthood as an LGBTQ+ family.
Expectful: Tell us about your decision to start a family together.
Sam: So I always wanted to be a mom; I’ve known since I was a little kid. It’s just something that’s in my soul. I love children so much and it was a non-negotiable when it came to serious relationships. I only wanted a partner who also wanted children because it was so important to me.
Allie: When we met, I was in no rush at all, and I’ve never really wanted to be pregnant. I’ve never wanted to give birth. So I thought, you know, if I never end up having kids, that’s fine. Then I think something just switched in me. I was like, ‘I can’t imagine a life without children.’ I’ve always worked as a nanny and once I stopped nannying, that was when I was like, there’s no kids around, I need some of my own! So it’s good that we’re on the same page.
Expectful: When did you start trying to conceive and what did that look like for you?
Sam: So in December of 2019, we decided that we would get on the waitlist at our fertility clinic. We were super naive though, and thought that it would be a quick process of getting started. They emailed back and said, ‘Great, it’ll be 12 months on the waitlist before your initial consultation.’ So we got kind of disappointed and a little frustrated with just how long that wait was.
Allie: There’s only one clinic in our province. So we didn’t really have a local option to shop around for a clinic that was a better fit or a shorter waitlist.
Sam: Although we tried before the pandemic, we had three consults at clinics in other parts of Canada and in the US to see if we could find another option with a shorter waitlist.
We had a consult with a clinic that we really liked. They called us right after our appointment to let us know that the border between the US and Canada was shutting and they didn’t know when it was going to reopen. So then we were really frustrated because there was nothing we could do at that point. It’s a global pandemic, but there was a little bit of a silver lining. Because our clinic here had to shut down in-person appointments, they were able to get through more of their waitlist faster. In April, we got off the waitlist and started our process. The testing took a long time—we ended up doing all different testing from April until September when we finally were able to start our IUIs.
Allie: We didn’t know how much testing was involved. When we first started the process, our blood collection labs and everything was shut because of Covid. So that pushed the process back. As soon as you had a little bit of hope there was just another wait involved.
Allie: We did three IUIs in three months, and sadly they were unsuccessful. From the start, we were really drawn to IVF. We didn’t want to do IUIs but the clinic suggested, ‘Why don’t you try there? It’s cheaper. It’s less invasive.’ So we were sort of convinced by them.
Sam: Then we decided we would move on to IVF. We made the decision that we would start the IVF process. It took a little bit of time to get started, just because it feels like you’re always waiting on a cycle day when it comes to trying to conceive. It’s always like, ‘Oh, we have to wait for the next one to get started.’
So we did that—we did our IVF egg collection and ended up with nine embryos. So right now we have nine embryos on ice, waiting for us to do our frozen embryo transfer. Allie: It’s nice to know, we’re like, ‘Oh, they’re in the same city as us just waiting!’ That’s exciting.
Expectful: If you could share a message to yourself or each other before starting this process, what would you say?
Allie: I think just giving yourself more time and being a little bit easier on yourself, right from the start. I feel like I was rushing things and just feeling like we needed to do everything we possibly could to make this work. It all goes kind of back to patience and flexibility, just being gentle with yourself and with your partner.
Sam: Take care of your mental health. I feel like I’ve done a lot of things on this journey that were not great for my mental health. When we were doing our IUIs, I would Google every single time, and I convinced myself the second that I was inseminated that I would be pregnant. I convinced myself that every little thing I was noticing was a pregnancy symptom.
Then I would get really, really sad when it wasn’t. Once my period would come in, it was a really big emotional roller coaster. I think doing some things to protect your mental health, like unfollowing or muting accounts [of people] who are pregnant, if that’s making you really sad. I’ve seen so many pregnancy announcements in the time that we’ve been trying to conceive. If you’re unfollowing someone saying no to a baby shower, or any of those things that are going to protect your mental health, I think you need to do them.