Bonzun ivf met with Mia and Lisa who tells their story about the true and raw face of fertility struggles. There is a reason they are called TTC warriors…
Part I – The journey begins
You know what it’s like, some things in life you just know. That feeling that can’t really be explained, you just know that it must be a certain way to feel that it’s going to be ok. For you to be able to feel good and to feel whole.
For many women, giving birth is such a thing. Something that must happen in life to feel meaningful and complete. Being able to get pregnant, carry and then give birth to a child is for most women something that we almost take for granted, something that simply should happen when we want it to happen.
However, that isn’t always the case and the struggle for it to be as you always knew it would be, will begin.
“I always knew I wanted to have children,” Mia says. The desire has been there, and it has mostly been about finding the right one to have children with.
For Lisa, it’s the opposite.
“It has not been obvious to me at all to want to carry and give birth to a child of my own. Wanting to have children – yes, absolutely – but not that I should carry it, Lisa notes.
How we meet our partner and find love has certainly changed over the years. Today, social media is a contact area that is becoming an increasingly common tool for finding twoness. Lisa and Mia met five years ago through a mutual friend where they both commented on their friend’s status update.
“I contacted Mia directly after I saw her comment,” Lisa says. It was a bit slow at first because none of us knew who the other one was.
“Of course, I wondered who this was who came out of nowhere, and started writing to me,” Mia says. First, she wanted to be my friend on Facebook, which I don’t normally agree to when it comes to unknown people, and after that, she started writing messages. But we found each other, and the rest is, as they say, history.
You were 27 years old when you met, what did you think about children, as a gay couple, it must reasonably be something that requires extra thought?
“For me, it was a very important question,” Mia says. I was 27 years old and didn’t want to waste time on a partner who didn’t want children, so we started talking about it early in our relationship.
Lisa fills in.
“To get county council support for IVF, you must have been together for two years, so we decided pretty quickly to go for having a child, and then it was really just to wait. We have not had the financial resources to try to have children on our own.
As a gay female couple, there are several legal options if you want to have children (please note that this depends on rules and regulations in the country you live, in this article the country is Sweden). One way is insemination at a clinic which is relatively quick and easy. One step that is often taken if that fails is IVF treatment. Another step that is often a viable option is to have children through a friend.
“For us, it has always been important for the child to be ours in a practical and legal sense. Using a friend as a donor can become complicated legally and it has never been an option for us,” Mia says.
What is your thought process about the donor, do you want to know what he looks like, who it is, and so on?
That´s been a journey on its own, they both say. First, we wanted to know everything about the donor, who it was, what he looked like, and simply a perception of him. However, that has evolved and changed for us, now we don´t really see the donor as a person anymore. The child should be ours and it should be us who are the parents, not the donor. The child will always have the right to know who the donor is, but we don’t want to know.
“In Sweden, you try to match the donor’s appearance when you do an insemination to the (prospective) parent who does not carry the child, in our case after Lisa who is dark-haired,” Mia says.
Lisa and Mia became a couple in 2016 and by the end of 2018 the two mandatory “be together years” had passed as required for county council-funded help.
“We submitted a self-referral to the clinic in Linkoping in December 2018 to do an insemination,” says Lisa, it was really at the first possible opportunity. It’s been almost three years since we started our journey of having children, so it’s been a long time.
All donation processes in Sweden require the couple who want to have children to see a psychologist, which must take place before anything is started. The conversation is primarily not about assessing and “approving” the prospective parents, but the conversation circles more around the child.
“The psychologist based the conversation from the child’s perspective,” says Mia. It feels like the health care system wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting into. They also want to see how we reason about the baby and the future, how we think as parents not only when it is a baby, but also when it grows up. One specific thing they want to know is how we thought about eventually telling the child how it was conceived. This is important because all children in Sweden have the right to know their genetic origin and sooner or later you must let the child know.
As a couple, can you fail to get help if the psychologist deems that you do not meet the requirements?
” Yes, you can, but it is unclear what the criteria are that the psychologist approves or rejects. When we have talked around with people in the same situation as us, the clinics in Sweden seem to make different kinds of assessments. But yes, you can fail, says Mia. For us, it felt like the psychologist wanted to feel confident that the child would come to a good and safe family, and when we could convey that this was the case, there was no problem for us.
However, before you get to the stage to speak to a psychologist, you need to figure out how to get help from the health care system. What do you do as a couple when you decide to get aid in order to have a child? The answer from both Lisa and Mia is that it is challenging to find and get information on where and how to start the process.
“It was really challenging to find information on how to start the process, and I tried really hard but it was not easy” Mia says. Now that we know everything, it’s easy but in the beginning, it wasn’t at all obvious how to find information and it was very difficult to google good answers. We got the tip from a friend to make a so-called self-referral, so that’s what we did, but we had never been able to figure it out ourselves.
“It was the same when we finally came to the clinic, it was difficult to get information for us to fully understand the process and to feel safe.
One thing you need to have plenty of, when you want to have children through public (and free) healthcare, is time. It´s been almost three years since Mia and Lisa started this journey, but in practice, there haven’t been that many actual attempts to become pregnant. The self-referral was sent in December 2018, and it took until April 2019 before they got any response. Mia then got an appointment to do a vaginal ultrasound and in May they got to see the psychologist, but after that nothing happened.
“After the meeting with the psychologist, a final physical examination remained before we could start. However, after two months had passed, we had heard nothing from the clinic, so I called them up” Mia says. So we finally got the physical done and after that, there would be but a clinic meeting to approve us which would take place in August 2019. It was moved forward without further explanation and only in December 2019, we were called to a meeting.
After meeting the doctor, they were approved for insemination, by then a year had gone by since they submitted the referral.
“We were put in line for the insemination” says Lisa. The problem was that the queue was 6-12 months long and bear in mind these were the queue times before the pandemic. Once it arrived, they could no longer say how long it would take, which is understandable of course.
Waiting and being patient when longing for something is probably one of mankind’s weakest traits. We want what burns in our hearts to happen instantly. When we know the exact time something is going to happen, the situation is completely different, and then we can let it go and do other things. Uncertainty makes us focus on what we long for and we find it difficult to live a normal life.
“The waiting and uncertainty of the pandemic made the whole situation very difficult, it really wore us down” says Mia. We just had to do something so we decided to go to Denmark and do an insemination ourselves.
To be continued……