Home > Life > TMC Talks > What It’s Like For Two Women To Have A Baby.

Having a baby isn’t an easy road for anyone to go down. But for one Mama and her wife, it was clear that their journey wouldn’t be straightforward. 

Our Story

I met my wife when we were both studying in London. After experiencing the usual relationship milestones of meeting friends and family, moving in together, getting new jobs, and going on holidays, I popped the question. Thankfully, she said yes, and before we knew it, we were standing under a flower arch, saying, “I do”.

Pre-wedding, whether or not we’d have kids wasn’t much of a conversation; yes we wanted them and we usually left it there. The topic would come up from time to time with new friends or relatives but as soon as we became Mrs and Mrs, the flood gates opened and in swanned our overly inquisitive uncle, probing us on what we might do, and more importantly, for him. HOW? 

(We didn’t know). Having seen friends go through it we were roughly aware of the possible options open to us, but how we’d tackle the road to motherhood? Yeah, not so much. 

Our first port of call was to speak to our GP to find out what we were eligible to on the NHS. Our GP was very positive but couldn’t advise us so she congratulated us on our decision to start a family and set the exciting wheels in motion by referring us to a department that should be able to help.

The biggest hurdle

I was sent for fertility tests, which seemed a little odd, as we knew why I wasn’t conceiving (!) but we went along with the protocol as we thought we might learn something helpful along the way. We figured that if it were one step closer to a bump then to bring it on!

The results came in and we met with a doctor who asked how long we’d been trying. I thought it was a joke, my wife and I both looked at each other. ‘We haven’t even started yet, we were referred by the GP to find out how to go about it’.

The doctor, a little shocked, looked blankly at us and said, “I’m afraid we can’t help you”. I’d been tested in error and wasn’t eligible for any (more) tests or treatment relating to fertility or trying to conceive unless we could prove that we’d tried to conceive and been unsuccessful.

As a lesbian couple, we would need to show that we’d tried six artificial insemination treatments before the NHS could offer us support. This would need to be documented with evidence that was only obtainable through private treatment. Very expensive private treatment. Soon it became apparent that this was not a hurdle that straight couples find as they could try at home for a year without providing any evidence and still qualify for help with the NHS. It felt frustrating to realise having children could cost us thousands before even selecting a donor (most clinics insist on the same fertility tests before beginning treatments). As far as we were aware, you also had limited options for donors through clinics and they were always anonymous and uncontactable until the child turns 18. 

Unsurprisingly, we left that appointment feeling deflated and headed home, ready to make a plan for ‘what now?’.

Quite honestly, we didn’t know where to start. We spoke to friends, did tons of research, and contacted some private clinics. Looking back, I’m weirdly grateful we went through this arduous process, as it led to some discussions that we might not have had. 

Some of the things we considered: 

Who would carry the baby?

Everyone’s favourite question for us, but a straightforward one to answer, as we always knew it would be me. My wife has never had an interest in being pregnant unless it turned out that I couldn’t. For others, it’s not always an easy decision; wives pregnant at the same time? Or should it be the eldest or the least likely to conceive so that they could take turns?

Would our sperm donor be anonymous?

Initially, my wife was a firm yes for this, as she felt knowing who it was could affect her relationship with the baby. After lots of pros and cons lists, we decided that it was in the best interests that our child could find out information or ask their donor questions if they so wished.

How would we try to conceive?

We decided that we should try artificial insemination at home, rather than costly IVF or any other clinical insemination. We wanted the process to be as least invasive as possible and for my wife to be involved and not to mention that the treatment would have significantly dented our savings for a house deposit!

Where would we find a sperm donor?

When we asked the second doctor for advice, he laughed and recalled a programme he’d seen about a man in a van dropping off a donation like a Deliveroo service. Apart from being wildly inappropriate, as well as insensitive, it was also unhelpful. Luckily some friends pointed us in the direction of Pride Angel, an amazing website connecting same-sex couples with sperm donors as well as other atypical arrangements like co-parenting, solo parenting and surrogacy.

Finding a sperm donor

Once all our decisions had been made, we made a profile for the type of match we were after. It was important to us that the physical attributes matched my wife’s but after whittling through around thirty people, we realised that personality traits and a certain level of education were equally important to us. 

It took about three months to find our final three, and after meeting the first one, we decided not to see anyone else, as he was exactly what we’d been searching for.

The relationship with our donor

We appreciated that our donor was so happy to help us, and he made us feel at ease with the process in so many ways. He suggested a good family lawyer, as he’d previously provided donations, and this meant we were all on the same page from the get-go. We also worked together to make sure he had the correct health checks and then chatted about how we would proceed. 

How did it all work?

We didn’t live in the same area, which meant we had to rent an apartment in the same city as our donor when it was time for us to conceive. I had tracked my LH hormone for months previous using urine strips so we knew which day of my cycle was my peak ovulation.

We’d discussed a plan with our donor, worked through a contract provided by a family solicitor and bought the correct kit but I was so nervous. At first, it was hard to get our heads around it all, but I suppose it’s a bit like a bikini wax. Once you’ve had one and know the drill, the second, third and fourth are always easier (ish). 

Our donor was very professional about everything. After leaving the sperm in a specimen cup, he would depart pretty quickly and we were left in private to self-inseminate. We used a needleless syringe and an extender to inseminate and did it on three consecutive days during my most fertile period.

After our initial hesitance and nerves and despite my natural ‘ick’ to the whole process, we personally think it was pretty cool that both of us could be a part of the baby-making process, and on reflection, that was very important to us.       

Advice for other couples

Make sure you’re both legal parents.

One of the main things I would recommend is that the baby is undeniably yours. If we weren’t married, then my wife would have a much harder time claiming that the baby was hers if we were to split. So, if you’re not married, it’s worth seeking legal counsel.

Get professional advice.

We knew how to protect ourselves legally, but we were also acutely aware that others may not know how to find out this information. The correct and up to date information wasn’t easy to find, so I would suggest speaking to someone in the know.

Have difficult discussions.

Even if they feel uncomfortable to ask or answer, I advise to you broach every testing question, that way, you’ll find out what’s right for you.

Stay safe.

If you’re going down a similar route to us, consider how you’re contacting potential donors and always meet them in public with someone else, consider using a unique email address to keep your privacy until you’ve made your decision. On the days of the insemination, we asked our donor to get same-day sexual health tests to ensure I was protected.

We finally had a bump!

We got pregnant on our second cycle after the horrendous two-week wait and a negative pregnancy test(!) and then the fun really began!

I had an uncomfortable but fairly routine pregnancy and everything went as expected in terms of my treatment. There were only a couple of challenging experiences as a same-sex couple and one was with our NCT group. Most of the content was directed towards the typical ‘mum and dad’ setup, and there were moments where the dads were put into one group and the mums in another. As ‘the other mother’ my wife didn’t feel like she could sit in either camp, so she opted out of some activities. The midwife was lovely and apologised if she’d caused any offence, and as within other organisations, there’s still a little way to go to avoid situations like that. When it came time to birth our baby the NHS were fantastic at making changes fairly quickly on the couple of occasions that we had to fill in forms that only allowed for a male/female response.

And now? Well, apart from the regular sleep deprivation issues we couldn’t be happier with our beautiful baby boy!

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