Friday, April 1, 2011

We have an RE, a rapid heart beat... and a Canadian donor?

Yesterday was our first appointment at a fertility clinic. I was so flippin' nervous all day and the day before for that matter. We had to both fill out surveys to give medical history and menstrual cycle info - the usual, I assume. I could not get over the feeling that they would look down at my medical history, then look over at my medication list, then look at me and say, "Yeah, sorry. You can't have a kid. You're crazy."

I couldn't shake that feeling at all, and though it sounds ridiculous, it was in the back of my head the whole time.

We were virgins in the office and holy-oh, it is a busy place! And oddly oxymoronic... there were Anne Geddes pictures all over the place, like bunches of babies dressed as bunnies in flower pots (say that three times really fast), which was vastly opposite to the energy in the room, which was quite sad and dark, actually. There were three women without partners with them in the waiting room, an couple in their mid- to late-forties, a couple in their late-thirties, and us. Devon was desperately trying to make a deadline, so she was head down in paperwork. Everyone looked so frikkin' sad, it was awful. I was not sad, but I was incredibly nervous.

The nurse pulled me into this cramped little room to measure my height, weight, blood pressure and pulse. She got to my pulse last, and when she was measuring it, she told me not to worry, that the doctor was very nice. I smiled and tried to calm down. But my heart beat strong and loud. She actually giggled when she wrote the number down on the page. She told me again not to worry. Easier said than done in my world. My pulse was extremely fast - I shook it off as nerves...

We went into another cramped room and met the doctor, who had someone shadowing him. He was lovely - very sweet. His English wasn't fantastic, but he was very clear and took his time explaining himself. We went through my history, and when he got to my mental health, I just cringed. But he didn't. He asked me to be precise in the dates of when I was hospitalized, how long I've been on specific medications, and how my mood was now. I was honest. The conversation went deep into my history, and I found myself explaining my electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) history, as this lead to a seizure disorder. The two doctors were a little taken-aback with the extent of it all. (He was also taken aback when he read my pulse - enough so that he took it again... it was the same).

I was clear that I would be doing this under the guidance of a reproductive psychiatrist. The doc said that my illness is beyond his expertise, but that they would be certain to work extremely closely with my repro psych through this journey... yes, he did not dismiss me... I had to hear it again: they would be certain to work with... YAY!

I had already taken my fertility blood tests, so he was happy about that. But he has given me a referral to get a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The one thing I liked a lot was that he didn't tell me I had to. He explained that it was painful and that it was not vital until they expected something was wrong, and then he said that considering the costs of IUI, I might consider thinking about getting the test done sooner, just so we're not wasting time and money at the beginning... but ultimately, it was up to me, and he'd be happy either way. It may sound small, but I appreciated it. And I am going to get the HSG sometime in the next two weeks. Can someone tell me exactly HOW painful they are?? Reading about them was not so pleasant.

Now, here's the kicker. I asked him all of the questions that you suggested the other day (thank you!) and when I was asking about sperm banks and the differences between sperm sold for ICI vs IUI, he explained what good ol' Canada has in place:

Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent to the FDA) has made it illegal to pay males and females for the donation of sperm and eggs respectively. I knew about the eggs. I wrote about that a while ago. So, in order to comply with government laws, Canada has a centralized third-party "sperm base": there is one sperm bank in Canada, where all the provincial/territory donors' sperm ends up and this is the only place in Canada you can buy sperm from.

He started to go into the legalities (which are apparently changing - I don't know to what) and I followed him for a little bit before losing him in terminology. From what I understood, it is illegal to buy sperm from the States (or anywhere else, for that matter). I did not push him on it, because I want to do some research on my own, but I'm very curious to find out.

In my readings, I found out that due to this new law of taking away paying donors, there was a sperm shortage in Canada (really?), and I don't know if that's improved. I imagine people still buy sperm from outside of Canada, but I don't know if it's illegal. It just seems so odd. If you know where to ship it to, and you have the ability and technology to safely deal with shipping frozen sperm, than what's to stop people from buying it off the internet, shipping it through the border in hopes that they don't confiscate it/arrest or charge you, and basically bringing it into their homes? Not to say that's what we're planning on doing, but it makes you think.

So, I guess we'll be using a Canadian donor. Nothing wrong with Canadians... there is just not as many of us as there are in our Southern neighbour (sorry, neighbor to you). At least Canada is a huge multi-cultural melting pot, so hopefully we will get some variety - even within the caucasian population. The RE did say that East Indian and African American people looking for donors of the same ethnicity are pretty much shit out of luck here, which is really sad.

Have to do more research, but definitely something that I didn't expect!


  1. I am so glad he was gentle with you and answered all your questions. I am sorry you picked up sad energy because maybe on other days it is happier. You will soon find out. Did your pulse settle down? I sure hope so. I am happy you took the first step and it was so beneficial for you and Devon. You are on your way.

  2. Wow--I'm surprised about the babies-in-flowerpots decor--my RE's office is all abstract art that looks like sperm heading for an egg--but at least no one in the waiting room has to stare at a newborn and feel sad. I'm so happy your doctor was nice and listened to you and isn't pushy. It's your process, and you should be able to decide how to do it, with professional guidance! Finally, I've heard about the sperm shortage in Canada--hopefully it won't affect you too much. Lots of women definitely buy from the states, but I don't know how that would be possible if you're using an RE. I think most of them are probably doing insems at home? Could be wrong...