Can you tell us how you decided to start a family and the journey you took to get there, including the method you used?
My fiancé and I had been together for nine years and felt that welcoming a baby into our lives and beginning our journey of parenthood was the right 'next step'. We navigated medical IUI with internationally sourced donor sperm.
In your experience, does the LGBTQ+ community face unique challenges when starting a family?
It's important to recognise that heterosexual couples may also experience infertility issues but only issue we had was that we were cautious of entering a space that might be homophobic. Most of the large and well-known fertility clinics are LGBTQIA+ friendly but I am a firm believer that the company/organisation does not always speak for individuals/staff members in which work for it. From a financial perspective, it is also important to consider that all people who are unable to healthily conceive children without medical intervention have a lot of saving to do before they can consider parenthood.
What were the major hurdles you encountered in your journey to parenthood, and how did you overcome them?
We initially spoke with a fertility clinic in which instilled a lot of fear into our fertility health without having run any medical tests to confirm that we would have troubles and would need to opt for IVF which is the more intrusive and far more expensive option. They did not respect that we did not wish to investigate my fiancée’s fertility health and that I would be the one to carry the pregnancy and they stated multiple times that we would need to explore her health before moving forward. This made us feel very uncertain about our next options and we decided to leave behind the idea of having children now that we were under the impression that it would be too hard and much more expensive than we had originally anticipated. After 4-5 months, we found another clinic that we found to be much more pleasant.
Could you touch on the emotional and practical aspects of your journey to becoming a parent, including the process and the outcome?
Around the same time that we started going through this process, a close friend of ours and her husband fell pregnant without any medical intervention required on their first attempt. I grew a lot of resentment and anger towards, not just our friend, but all heterosexual people who are able to begin their journey to parenthood this way. Additionally, as someone who was also born from parents who required medical intervention, it began to infuriate me further. It took quite some time for me to recover from this perspective - I would even say until I was pregnant, I couldn't let go of this feeling. Once I was pregnant, it took me until getting into my second trimester to feel a relief of anxiety that something would go wrong.
What has been the best part of becoming a parent, and how has it changed your life and perspective?
Austin, our almost 6-month-old, is the best kid in the world. While being a mother is something I had always dreamed of and aspired to be, there was nothing that could prepare me for this. I had a bit of a hard time with breastfeeding and feeling like I was doing enough for him as his mother. Not once did he show any signs of being affected by my struggle with this. Austin took to a bottle very easily while I was pumping my milk, he drank my pumped milk at any temperature, fresh or thawed/frozen, any type of bottle teat we tried and then when I decided to move to exclusively formula, he had no issues with the first formula we tried. It was such a helpful reminder that even though I was struggling to be sure I was doing the right thing by him, nothing we tried or trialled and attempted ever negatively impacted him and his feeding.
Were there any unexpected costs or financial challenges to starting your family?
Nothing was "unexpected" as we had a run-down of all the costs required in our first appointment with our fertility specialist. However, once we were pregnant, we decided to navigate and go through the private health sector which was a cost we did not initially plan on but one we eventually felt was best for us.
If you could go back and do anything differently in your family-building journey, what would it be and why?
I think the only thing I would change is not knowing the gender of our baby until the moment he was born. This was because, obviously, as an LGBTQIA+ family, gender means nothing to us and it didn't matter what gender we had. Ido believe that if we had had have known, I would have been able to mentally prepare for having a baby and knowing he was going to be a son. For the entire duration of my pregnancy, I did not feel as though I was actually pregnant.
What advice would you give to others in the LGBTQ+ community who are about to start their own families - what words of wisdom or encouragement would you share with them?
It is possible!!!!!! For a long time, Tayla and I both felt as though pregnancy/family-building/parenthood was not something we would ever be able to afford until we had won the lotto. We didn't see many lesbian couples within our socio-economic level having children and without the representation of it being possible, it was very easy to believe that it wouldn't be. Ask questions!!!!! I am always available for ANYONE who has questions about fertility/fertility options and all things pregnancy - but especially for those within the LGBTQIA+ community.
If your children are old enough to understand, how do they feel about being part of a rainbow family? If comfortable, could you share their perspectives?
Austin isn't old enough to understand. But it is out mission for him to grow up learning about how his family is so special and that he came into this world loved more than we could ever describe. This is how I grew up as a child born from IVF/Surrogacy myself.
As told by Izzy.