Wednesday, 11 November 2015

TWW Day 10

I did fine when I was at work. But to be home today is not so much fun. I need to be distracted. I've done some yoga and ate healthy food and googled a LOT and tried to convince myself that testing is a really terrible idea. I will not test. I WILL NOT.

So far today I have:
  • checked Pinterest for pins labelled TWW and 2WW
  • found out MaybeBaby's due date, if MaybeBaby exists
  • came up with the name MaybeBaby. I'm sure I'm not the first to come up with this but I think it's hilarious...
  • Googled camomile tea and trying to conceive, because I remembered I had some yesterday and will never ever have anymore ever again because there's a slight possibility it might be bad for early pregnancy
  • entered a bunch of contests on ContestsCanada, including some for baby stuff (I know I know...)
  • Googled 10dpo, got annoyed at how many people are proudly proclaiming in their blogs and forums that they got a BFP on day 10.
I am pathetic. And so very disappointed in myself.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

IUI #2

After last month's mess, I was SO RELIEVED to get an absolutely clear positive two nearly identical lines this month on day 15. It was the first actually obvious positive I've had.

Interestingly, the ClearBlue Fertility Monitor did not say I was having a peak, or even a 'high'. I also never get lines (at all) on the sticks for the monitor. I don't know, perhaps I'm incapable of peeing correctly on sticks. In any event, with the clear positive from the First Response, I went in for IUI on day 16, Nov. 1.

I did take my BBT on days 16 and 17 and it appeared to shift. So that's good. But then I got lazy and stopped temping and who knows what is happening now.

So I'm smack in the middle of my two week wait. Feel much better this time, at least at this point. Less crazy. Less obsessive. Less aware of my stomach and gas and whatnot. It helps that I'm tremendously busy at work and there is simply no time to sit around and obsess. Of course, when I do stop to think, I panic about how much stress I'm under at work and figure this cycle's hopeless. So much for moderating stress, getting enough sleep...it's not like I can tell my employer that I need less stress at work because I'm trying to get pregnant. I know there are human rights to protect me, but that just seems like a really bad conversation to have right now.

I've been keeping up with the acupuncture. If nothing else it is an hour per week of focus on me and the possible baby and mindfulness and stress-relief. This week I had a whole bunch of needles in my head. It was hilarious. I wish I could have looked in the mirror.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Fail.

Well, I screwed this month up. Should have called on the day with the darkest line. Actually, should have called the day before, the first day I could definitively say there was a 'change'. If it turned darker the next day I would then postpone my appointment by a day.
Ugh. So frustrating.
When I called on Monday to ask what to do (my second line much lighter at that point) the nurse offered to have me come in anyway that afternoon...I asked her why and she said that yeah, there wasn't really much point as I would almost certainly be too late. I see no reason to waste the money. So I wait for next month.
Next month: temping, fertility monitor with first morning urine and 11:00 First Response sticks. All the gear, all at once.
Dammit.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

You were supposed to get darker not lighter!

Stupid OPKs and their lines.

Cycle day 17. Today I'm about...60% on my test line. Absolutely not positive. Lighter than yesterday.

So much doubt. Don't want to have missed this month. If this doesn't work next month I'm going to ask for blood testing/monitoring because clearly I am not doing this well enough on my own...and really, with the blood testing being $150 and the pee sticks being $40 it's really not THAT much of a difference.

I wish I had used the fertility monitor this month, but I didn't for assorted reasons, most importantly that I forgot to start the monitor on the first day of my period. Bad decision. 


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Fading in...

Last month, I called the clinic when the two opk lines were nearly the same colour but not really the same colour, and I didn't get pregnant. You will remember that the nurse told me what I'm really looking for is a 'change' in colour.

So I was not so delighted this morning to pee on a (first response) stick and find that this time the lines were close, but definitely not the same colour. If last month the line was 90%, this morning it was 75-80%.

Does that qualify as a 'change'? It was certainly darker than yesterday. But what if I go in too early? What if the peak is actually 6 hours from now? 6 hours plus 12-36 to ovulation, then the egg lives for about 24 hours, and the frozen sperm doesn't last that long...but what if this is it, what if this is the darkest and I just simply don't get darker? Am I not listening to the nurse if I wait? What if...

I waited an hour and used a Wondfo test. Clear negative. This should be good news, a clear sign. But the Wondfo test expired in July, and it's September, and what if there is a real difference and the instant they expire they self-destruct and stop working? It's not like ovulation tests start to smell like milk that's gone bad, or something.

Imagine my relief to find this picture on the internet:


Thank you clear pictures!!

This morning looks kind of like the CD20 12:00pm picture. Which has been deemed by someone on the internet who I'm choosing to trust for no good reason as a 'negative'. And really that's what the damn box says, but I am apparently being way too high maintenance and obsessive about this whole thing.

So I am going to wait until tomorrow and assume that tomorrow will be the actual positive surge day. And if not...I am not sure what I'll do. It may involve crying.

Believe it or not, I had been doing quite well up until now...not obsessing, not worrying, not being impatient. Damnit.

Anyhow, turns out this 'fading in' thing is an actual thing. Some women get fading in, some don't. It may be a sign of a problem. This is explained nicely here. I don't think there's a problem in my case because I did a day 3 blood test before we started with the IUIs and nothing seemed to really worry my doctor.

Welcome to me overthinking things as usual.

Friday, 25 September 2015

More sticks, more pee

Isn't this fun???

This week I've had the joyful experience of peeing on sticks in all kinds of odd and unusual (for me) circumstances. I was at a couple different conferences and so got to wait out my 5 minutes in shadowy hotel stalls after slipping away in the middle of speeches. Thankfully there were covered disposal bins. Since I've been peeing on sticks I've happened to notice this disturbing trend of open disposal baskets in stalls...or worse, no bin at all and a sign directing you to take your garbage to the public sink area. Ew.

This isn't easy for me, and I have a fairly forgiving career where I get to, for the most part, work on a schedule that suits me and where no one tracks my washroom visits. It must be impossible for workers on an assembly line, or teachers, or...

And while I've been hoping for my dark second line, part of me really wanted it to not happen this week because I've just been so busy with the conferences and some other social event type things and those have required social drinking and it's just easier to have a beer than to make up some lame excuse. And tomorrow I'm getting my hair cut and I did not want to have to cancel because I need to be at the clinic instead. So I am not disappointed that I didn't get my second line.

Except now I have to slip to the bathroom in the middle of my haircut, probably while I've still got dye in my hair, so that I can pee on a stick at the salon.

Such trials! Such tribulations! Such drama!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Plans for my next TWW

Since my first TWW went so completely sideways, I have been thinking about ideas and plans to stay more positive and ruminate less this month. I think that perhaps, if I think about this now when I'm relatively level and in between trys, I will have a plan that I can then execute. I like plans. I'm kind of thinking about this like an advent calendar of sorts. A plan for each day. Something to look forward to.

So here's my rough plans for this upcoming TWW. This assumes day 0 is a Monday, as some of these things (e.g. facial) need to happen on particular days.

Day 1 - Dinner with Aion. We had dinner together last month  on day 1 too and I'm always up for a date night.

Day 2 - Chalkboard picture. We also did this last month - those 'how many weeks' belly pictures. I know it's kind of silly to take a picture so early as it will be the same for months, but I think it makes for a nice symmetry if we can manage to keep up the tradition throughout any pregnancy. So we'll delete the two pictures from last month and take new ones for however long this takes. Yes, maybe silly, but I don't think there's anything wrong with a little silliness.

Day 3 - Thursdays are my acupuncture days. I will be sure to mention if I am feeling stressed, because I really felt that the acupuncture worked to bring me down last week.

Day 4 - Yoga for fertility. There are several youtube videos that I have been meaning to check out. I'll be sure to blog about how that goes!

Day 5 - Facial! I have a coupon so I've been meaning to schedule one, and having it during the tww sounds like a great way to relax. Although I will be careful to not have too much steam (to avoid raising my body temperature too much). I'll also let the esthetician know that I could be pregnant, to make sure any scents are pregnancy-friendly!

Day 6 - Sundays are great days for a nice hike in nature. And as a bonus - I actually enjoy hiking in a light rain.

Day 7 - Mondays are very busy for me. I doubt I'll need to worry about keeping myself distracted - life does that for me once a week! But I will also do chalkboard picture #2. With lots of fingers crossed.

Day 8 - Last month, it was about day 8 when things started to get tough. I think the second Tuesday is an excellent time to go see a movie with Aion.

Day 9 - Time to try out another yoga youtube video.

Day 10 - Acupuncture again. Focus on making implantation happen, if it has not yet occurred.

Day 11 - (Virgin) drinks with some girlfriends. Gossip and silliness.

Day 12 - We've been planning to go to one of the local 'Escape Room' things with family. We will probably follow that up with a nice dinner.

Day 13 - Hike, or perhaps go shopping. Yoga.

Day 14 - Pee on a stick! Cry, regardless of the results.

I'm feeling good about this. I like plans. I think that having a plan will help me focus. And now I know a bit of what to expect, I can stop paying attention to all my PMS symptoms and/or digestion and just get on with my life. Right? Right. I've got some pretty great things in here to keep me nice and distracted and thinking about what I can look forward to in the present, rather than thinking about what month my child will be born in if I conceive this month, so...that's got to be an improvement. I hope it works.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

I am not good at patience. (TWW)

Two week wait. I didn't think it could be all that bad. It's two weeks! That's nothing. And I wait for lots of things. Hah. I was completely unprepared.



It was AWFUL.

First, the timing of this IUI was so perfect. A few days after my birthday - what a wonderful birthday present a positive would be! My dad is visiting from out of town in a few weeks, so I could tell him results in person. I was picturing the months, where I would be at all the various times...it just felt right. I was doing my acupuncture, taking all the right supplements, drinking only a single cup of tea a day. No tuna. No alcohol. Doing everything right.

But there was some work stress, which wasn't good. Aion and I had a bit of a fight - nothing serious, but it messed up my sleep a bit. And I hurt my shoulder, so I wasn't able to do the yoga I wanted to.

And then I started to lose it. I couldn't concentrate. I felt every gurgle in my abdomen. Never one to feel much PMS (other than the emotional symptoms) until the actual start of my flow, I had sore boobs and mild cramps. It consumed me way more than I thought it would -- than I thought possible.

I started reading weeks 1-3 of the pregnancy book, but that was useless as you aren't really pregnant yet and the book is just talking about the process of ovulation, conception and implantation. I suppose interesting, but not all that helpful. I turned to google. Bad idea. I quit google cold turkey.

I read and re-read the post-IUI instructions from my clinic, which say to take a home pregnancy test 14 days after IUI. I analysed the sentence structure. Does that mean 14 days AFTER the procedure, or 14 days STARTING WITH the day of? Could one day matter that much? I went back on google. General consensus from people who were also overanalysing just like me: 14 days AFTER. Ok. Friday.

On Sunday Aion and I got mani/pedis. I thought that might help.

By Monday I gave up and peed on a stick. $850 on sperm (plus delivery, clinic fees and storage), $400 for the IUI, $400 for acupuncture, $44 for ovulation tests, all my hopes and dreams, all translated into urine on a $7 stick. And it was negative. I was devastated. I moped for a good solid half a day. And then I completely got over it.

You know, I thought I would feel bad for 'cheating'. I didn't, not in the slightest.

The negative brought me back down to earth. It reminded me there was nothing I could do and that if this didn't happen I could try again next month. It was something to prove to me that I could stop interpreting everything I felt going on inside as evidence of a baby. And it allowed me to move on from thinking about the possibility of testing early, all the what-ifs and the hopes and the whole massive emotional mess that I was becoming.

The next few days were so much better. I thought about babies a bit, but not like before. I just let myself be. And it was good.

Work also got a bit intense, which helped too, as I simply didn't have TIME to think about babies very much.

Friday morning I peed on another stick. Negative. And it was ok. Didn't really bother me that much, actually. And then, two hours later, I started my period. I shouldn't have wasted the stick. Ah well.

So, onward and upward to try #2. At least my nails look amazing.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Voluntarily subjecting myself to needles

I hate needles. I don't think I know anyone who likes them, but I really don't like them. I have a tendency to faint. As described in my post about my laparoscopy, my veins really, REALLY do not like IV's. But a bunch of people in several fertility support groups recommend acupuncture for fertility. And since my extended healthcare plan allows me $350 of acupuncture per year, I thought I'd give it a go, to try to optimize "try # 1" to make it "first and last try."

As it turns out, the acupuncture clinic pushes starting treatments about 3 months before you are attempting to conceive / before your IUI/IVF procedure, in order to optimize egg health. But they were willing to work with me anyway, even though I had already started my cycle.

The intake form was seriously intense. Many questions that I had never really thought about or considered to be 'medical'. Questions about my body temperature or whether I thought of myself as often irritable. A LOT of questions about the quantity and quality of my menstrual flow, urine and bowel movements. Totally TMI.

The first appointment was a general consultation. No actual acupuncture, just an extensive and repetitive review of my form, more questions about my diet and lifestyle, etc. I have arthritis, so there were a fair number of questions about that. (Bonus: if the acupuncture can help my fertility AND my arthritis, I just may be a customer for life...)

Then, instead of acupuncture, I was somewhat disappointed to be recommended a special elimination "detox" diet thing with expensive protein powder supplement "Mediclear" and little else to eat, which the acupuncturist recommended I do for 3 weeks. He brought out a glossy brochure and painstakingly went over the foods that were allowed and not allowed during the three weeks. I tried to move things along but that did not work at all. And that took up the appointment time.

I said I would consider the diet. Because I had been thinking about how I could have a food sensitivity that was affecting my arthritis. Many people do, and are able to manage their symptoms through their diet. But this was just too much. I went home and read the brochure in detail - no dairy, no beef, no gluten, no tomatoes, no sugar, no potatoes...no food. And another thing that concerned me: the brochure warned against using the diet during pregnancy.

I decided to do some good old fashioned research.  I googled the hell out of Mediclear. Mediclear plus clinical study. Etc. The company that makes Mediclear is called "Thorne Research" and make a big stink on their website about their affiliation with the Mayo Clinic. Their website has a page called "Clinical Trials". But...no actual trials. No actual research. Apparently the only one talking about this wonder product from Thorne Research is...Thorne Research.

The following week when I saw my acupuncturist I told him I would not be going on the diet. He asked why, and I said the brochure said it was not for pregnant women. He said that it was just a supplement and whole foods and that it would be fine. Then I said there had been no clinical trials, and I like my medicine to be at least SOMEWHAT evidence-based (see summaries on some clinical trials regarding fertility acupuncture here). He looked at me somewhat quizically at that moment, as if he was wondering what I was talking about. I gave up. Let's move on from this diet thing and onto why I'm here: needles. I did commit to reducing my dairy and gluten intake for a while (I already eat very little sugar) to see how that went. Again, that somewhat surprised me. I would have expected his focus to be on eliminating the potentially inflamation-causing nightshade group (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes etc) but nope. Gluten. He wants me to be one of THOSE GLUTEN PEOPLE. God help me. No.

I should pause at this point to tell you that in the months and year leading up to this point, I have been trying to become more healthy in preparation for this process. I have just made it to a healthy weight according to my BMI...until about two months ago I was underweight. So...the thought of eating even healthier and probably less food was not particularly appealing to me from the get go.  But I will try to (gently) exercise a bit more.

I've now had two sessions of actual acupuncture, in addition to the consult. It's fine. There are needles, you feel them, but not too much. I have had a few tiny bruises, but that's all. Laying there on the "ion something or other" bed with sounds of the ocean and a lavendar eye pillow is kind of lovely. But I'm not sure I'm getting anything out of my $90 per treatment that I couldn't replicate at home sans-needles.

When I asked some people I know about their experiences with acupuncture and what they felt they got out of it, they said 'relaxation' and 'de-stressing'. Again, do I need needles for that?

I hit the max of the extended health benefits next session. I think I'll go for 4 sessions of actual acupuncture and then stop, unless I experience some kind of miraculous something or other.

Worth a try, though. I mean, it can't hurt.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

First IUI (Oh please let it be the last)

The clinic had me come in at 1pm the day after my line stress. Aion came with me which I appreciated tremendously. When we arrived we were immediately ushered to the "Finance Department" (a desk) where we paid our $400 for the procedure, then went to sit in the waiting room forEVER. We read crappy magazines while another family came in and went for an ultrasound and another couple disappeared...somewhere.

We got taken into a room to sign papers and verify the donor number and then I got to undress from the waist down and get up on the stirrip table covered in a paper sheet. The false modesty is kind of hilarious. Aion insisted on holding my hand. Speculum and many, many instructions to 'relax'. I could not relax. Nope nope nope. Ugh.

Finally, squirt, cramping, ok, done. Unpleasant. No relaxing. Probably less unpleasant if I could relax. But nope.

And that was it. They gave me a half-sheet of instructions that basically say to take a home pregnancy test in 14 days and two requisitions for blood tests if I test positive. Oh, and an acknowledgement that the next two weeks might be 'hard'. I asked if there were any restrictions for the next two weeks - nope.

The drive back to work was hard. Being back at work was harder. At least it was a Friday afternoon. It is so hard to not think about it when you have cramps reminding you that there's some foreign DNA inside that could be so very exciting or so very disappointing. It was hard, and unexplicably so.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Pantone tests

You may be able to tell that I overthink things.

On Thursday morning, my fertility monitor said no surge.
I used the regular sticks at 11:30. There were two dark lines. But the results line was definitely not as dark as the reference line. So I'm sitting in the work washroom under TERRIBLE light trying to assess if the top of the line is 95% of the reference line and the bottom 90%, or some other variant...
The clinic said 'the same or darker'. Is 95% close enough? What about the 90% at the bottom?

Still in the washroom, I google pictures of other people's sticks. This is what it has come to, people, Looking at PHOTOS of PEE STICKS on the INTERNET. I'm so embarassed.

Then I wrapped my stick in a paper towel and brought it back to my office. I called Aion.

Me: "My stick is like...95%? Definitely not darker. Actually in this light it might just be 90%. Crap I don't know."
Aion: "You want me to do what with this information?"
Me: "I don't know. The clinic said it was supposed to be darker. I shouldn't call. But what if I should call?"
Aion: "Call?"
Me: "But I don't want to be the annoying person who calls when they gave specific instructions of when to call that I'm clearly annoying because this line is certainly not equal to or darker."
Aion: "Only you would think of this in terms of percentages."
Me: "Maybe I should check some sort of pantone test."

But I'm sitting in my office (which is private, but people do have a tendancy to open my door and walk in unannounced) holding a pee stick and I really need to just stop with that immediately. So I wrap it back into its papertowel and shove it deep in my purse to display to Aion that evening, work up my courage, and call the clinic. I swear I left the most ridiculously random, confused message EVER. And then tried to work for the next several hours while I waited for a return call.

When the clinic phoned back, the nurse just told me to come in the next day at 1. I asked about the lines. She says, "Oh, we're just looking for a change in colour from previous lines." "Oh." THAT IS SO NOT WHAT YOU SAID BEFORE.

I got home and showed Aion the lines. She agreed, about 90%. But then (about 7 that night) I tried one of those Wondo tests I had been gifted and it was definitely positive. And the next morning the fertility monitor showed a surge. So...yes, I used three different kinds of tests. Yes, overkill. But I just want to get this right.

Man, I felt better after the Wondo test. I needed actual confirmation. I do not want to get the timing wrong and mess up this change. Each chance needs to be the best possible chance. Too expensive otherwise. I'd be so mad if I didn't get pregnant and then had to sit around wondering if I screwed up my chances because I couldn't read an ovulation test.

Aion officially thinks I'm crazy. She might be right.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Peeing on sticks

As I mentioned previously, I got an electronic fertility monitor a while back. I started using it one cycle just to check it out, but didn't use it all the way to 'peak fertility' because I went away and didn't want to travel with it if I didn't have to. So now that I'm "on cycle" I didn't feel comfortable relying on the monitor alone, because what if it doesn't work and I then end up wasting a month?

So I'm doubling down, because I have this darn monitor and want to use it but don't feel like I can trust it until its reliability is confirmed.

There is an added complication also. The monitor's instructions say to use first morning urine. My clinic wants me to test between 11 - 1. I'm sure the monitor could deal with some other pee, but maybe it wouldn't be as sensitive? Ugh.

And I wasn't keen on carrying the monitor and a test strip into the workplace washroom every day. A single stick is easier to be subtle about, more like an oversized, bright purple, crinkley tampon.

So I'm using the digital monitor to test first morning urine (starting on day 6, per the monitor's instructions) and then the normal sticks for the test between 11-1 (starting day 10, per clinic's instructions). Overkill, yes, but it makes me happy. Look, every cycle is *$%^@!& expensive. If I spend an extra $44 for a box of sticks to make sure I'm doing this right, so be it.

The clinic told me to use the normal sticks with the two lines, not the digital 'smiley face' ones. And then I have to call the clinic before 1pm the day that the line that changes colour is the same as, or darker than, the reference line. Insemination will take place the following day.

I picked up a box of 9 ovulation tests from London Drugs on sale for $44.95. They're sturdy and easy to use. No complaints so far, other than MAN the packages are hard to tear open; I'm using scissors.


Monday, 17 August 2015

Picking the Goods - Our Donor

Picking the donor was the weirdest experience for me. I did not like it at all.

I already wrote here about our initial forays into making our choice.  It got a bit better when I got slightly more used to the process, but only marginally better.

We ended up selecting a few 'must haves' to start. I'm short, so Aion insisted we go for a tall guy. That narrowed things down a bit. Then, to be honest, we just went through them one by one. Using one of our free 24 hour fake email addresses (there's a lot of silly, one-time use gmail accounts out there, 'girlsbuysperm' and degenerating quickly into much more vulgar ones) we opened a LOT of profiles in a bunch of firefox tabs, then when we had enough, flipped through and eliminated obvious 'no's. That left us with a shortlist of maybe 20 or so.

We then printed the short list, whole profile on one page (tiny writing, but we both have decent eyesight). Aion took one colour highlighter and I took another, and we both took turns looking through each profile, highlighting things we found either awesome or concerning. Sometimes we just decided a profile shouldn't be in the shortlist.

From there, we made 'maybe' and 'nope' piles. And then, the hardest task, ranking those that were left.

In the end, for us, it came down to the donor's essay. We figured this profile was the only thing our child would know of his/her genetic heritage until age 18, and perhaps forever. We wanted something that really spoke to the kid. The donor we chose wrote to the kid, rather than about himself. Sure, there was stuff about him too: why he chose to donate, what he had done with his life thus far. But he also addressed the child and offered his tips for the child's future. We thought that was quite special and endearing. He is, of course, also fairly attractive, tall, academically accomplished with some musical talent...all around an amazing sounding guy. And he's going grey a bit early. We have affectionately dubbed him 'Silver fox' and have decided that when his child starts misbehaving we can tell the child about how their fox is showing.



He's also still actively donating, important since we may want a sibling if this process doesn't kill us or exhaust us or bankrupt us first.

So, foxy. Hope you're as advertised.

[Image information: By Zefram (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) via Wikimedia Commons]

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Picking the goods - Distributors & Banks

Once we decided we wanted to go with a bank, we had to make some further choices.

My blood test showed that I was CMV+, which means I was not restricted in by my donor's status (CMV+ means I can have either a positive or negative donor; if I was CMV- I would need to find a negative donor).

We also decided it was important that our child be able to contact his/her donor after age 18. Open ID sperm is slightly more expensive than non-open ID sperm and there is a smaller selection, but those appears to us to be the only downsides for a huge potential benefit. Aion is adopted and will have a much harder time finding her birth parents, should she choose to do so. This was part of our decision-making process. In addition, since we had the ability to give the child a choice later in life, we felt it was important not to make that choice for him/her.

Our clinic accepts shipments from only three sources: ReproMed, CanAmCryo, and Outreach. Confusingly, these are distributors rather than sperm banks. The distributors can ship sperm from a variety of banks.

The reason for this restriction is because of Health Canada restrictions. There is sperm out there that people in other countries can use, but clinics in Canada must use "Canadian Compliant" sperm. They get to regulate this because sperm falls under the purview of the Food and Drugs Act. Kinda funny, but it serves a good purpose. One of the requirements is that sperm must be stored for 180 days after collection, and then the donor must be tested again to ensure that he remains transmissible disease-free, because some infectious diseases can be found in bodily fluids long before a test would detect them. (This is one of the reasons we chose to go with a bank, as we discuss in an earlier post.) If you're a big nerd like me and interested in the requirements for Canadian Compliant sperm, check out this link.

We checked out all three distributors.

We did not find Outreach's homepage very user-friendly. There is a lot of text and the fact they call themselves a "health clinic" is confusing. Located in the middle of a line of links is one called 'donor listings'. Clicking on that leads you to this image:
We didn't have any prior knowledge of the particular banks so chose to 'Search ALL'. That leads to a list of Canadian Compliant donors that you can scroll through (10 or 20 at time from the current selection of 779 donors), search or filter based on bank, certain physical and genetic features, religion, CMV status and whether the donor is an 'Open ID' donor. Then you can click on the 'profile' to be directed to the bank's website where you are supposed to be able to obtain more information about the donor.

There was a script on the list page that my computer did not like. I got an annoying pop-up requesting that I make a choice about what to do about the script and the pages seemed to load very very slowly.

The information available about Outreach donors depends on the bank. CLI has a substantial amount of information available for free but one must pay for more extensive information such as photos. ESB has no additional information available without writing to Outreach and buying an extended profile. The FFX link leads you to the homepage for FairFax, a bank, where you have to re-search by donor number.

I found the Outreach interface to be clunky and frustrating. We did not spend very much time looking at the site.

ReproMed at least highlights its 'Sperm Bank' button in a different colour at the top of the page. Clicking on it and through the dropdown menu to 'Donor semen catalogues' leads you to a page with a list that looks similar to that from Outreach, but without the ability to filter or search. There were only 52 listings to scroll through on the one page. You can download a 'Donor Portfolio' for free or log in and purchase 90 days' access to the extended information for $67.80.

I was not impressed with ReproMed's lack of selection and found the information available in the donor profiles a bit limited. ReproMed's samples are the least expensive available though.

Finally, CanAm Cryo. It opens on a graphical search tool where you can search from among 349 current donors. It displays 20 listings per page in the same type of list as on the other sites. You can view a bit more extended information on the CanAm site than on Outreach, but similar to Outreach, you have to click through to the bank's site (and perhaps long in and pay) for more extensive inforamation.

I liked CanAm's user interface the best of the three. But I will admit: they are all AWFUL. I hate how the pictures are hidden and expensive. I hate how people are reduced to basic characteristics. I hate how the physical is emphasized way more than the personal/medical. I hate the lists and the four billion clicks. There are so many more and better ways of looking for sperm. I guess I expected something more like petfinder, or online dating, where the picture is important and so is the temperment information and it's not just a long page of text. I think an even better way of doing it would be to select the most important MEDICAL or TEMPERMENTAL items that concern you, then flip through photos tinder-style until you stop on someone you want to learn more about.

Eventually we ended up just searching on the Xytex (bank) site for Canadian-Compliant specimens, then ordered by number from CanAm Cryo. We liked the amount of information available on Xytex, and found a donor there that worked for us. It was also the most expensive choice we could have made. Typical for me.

TIPS
  1. Create one or more fake email addresses to use for trial accounts. On Xytex one can view extended profiles for free for 24 hours on a new account. We have already made about 5 fake accounts.
  2. Think about how the physical features of the donor would interact with the genetics of the person providing the egg. I have a strong nose. We wanted to avoid donors with strong noses so the kid wouldn't have a comically embarassing nose. 
  3. Don't forget the lubrication. This is a creepy, weird process. It is partially genetic engineering (creepy with super-discriminatory undertones), partially traumatic (even though I'm not sleeping with them, I'm still learning an awful lot about these men and it's quite creepy particularly because they're all jailbait...), partially a really hard compromise (turns out Aion and I have really different taste in men!) and, I found, not even remotely fun. It took alcohol.
  4. Take your time. We had to do this over several weeks because we found it quite intense. Which leads to...
  5. Leave enough time for your order. My clinic wants the sperm to be at the clinic prior to Cycle Day 1. And it's not like you can just order online and they will ship the next day. They're pretty quick, but CanAm still needed to confirm availability, process my payment, confirm everything with me by phone, and then ship overnight. That took a few days.
  6. Have your payment ready. I didn't do the math in my head (clearly self-preservation) so when it came time to order I was not at all prepared to shell out the nearly $5K for my 5 samples. That was more money than I could put on my credit card all at once. CanAm says they take PayPal but I could not make that work. They don't take Debit or Debit VISA. And so when I finally arranged for an e-transfer from my bank, my bank stopped payment and called me, assuming the transaction was fraudulent. It made for a gongshow of a morning while I was trying to sort all that out, particularly because I didn't abide by tip #5 and was convinced that the delays would mean I would miss this cycle.
  7. Don't buy the extended profile or pictures until you are actually pregnant. I have not paid for any information about my donor yet. I will, for my child, if I get pregnant. But if I don't get pregnant with this sperm, I don't need overpriced pictures of some random dude.