Yes, it’s true. I’m so excited to let you guys know that I’m pregnant! Evan and I are expecting a baby in December!
It’s been a wild and long journey to get to this point. The whole process of getting pregnant took us over two years, a lot of heartache, tears, love, support, and science. More on that in a second if you’re interested.
You may have noticed that things have been quieter on Mostly YA Lit in the last few months (or you might not have, in which case, please carry on). That’s definitely because the first trimester of being pregnant was SO. FREAKING. EXHAUSTING.
I was lucky to not have morning sickness, but even without it, the complete and utter fatigue walloped me every single day of those first three months. Instead of eating lunch, I would go nap in our building’s quiet room. I would come home and just head straight to bed. And reading and writing? It was a chore just to keep my eyes open past 8pm.
So yeah, it’s been a bit quiet around here, and I expect that the quiet will continue as things move forward from pregnancy to being a new mom. I’m super excited, but also cognizant that this blog will probably change from a couple posts weekly to a couple of posts monthly.
For now, you’ll still see reviews of new and upcoming releases, from YA to middle grade to adult romance and some bookish fun. But come September or October, I’m slowing the blog down a bit and hoping to have more time to deal with third trimester tiredness, as well as reading some of the books that have been on my shelf forever.
I hope you’ll still be with me as Evan and I start this new chapter of our lives. To make sure you don’t miss a post, head over to the sidebar and plug your email in to get new posts delivered to your inbox. And if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on baby stuff as well as book stuff, feel free to follow and contact me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr! I’m so glad to be able to talk about this on social media!
Finally, if you or someone you know is going through their own fertility journey, and you think it might be helpful, I’ve detailed Evan’s and my journey below (click on the blue bar to access it). It’s a long and very personal post, so feel free to skip it.
Pregnancy: The Hard Way
Before It All Started…
It’s wacky, but Evan’s and my journey to getting pregnant started before we even got engaged, when we were talking about marriage. Evan has always wanted kids, and I was on the fence for a long, long time.
For me, kids had always been a take-it-or-leave-it kind of thing. I was never opposed to them, I just never really had that yearning to bring up a child of my own. It was something I could see as a possibility, but then, I also always wanted to live in London, to live in New York, to work for the UN (I actually did do two of those things). I’m a girl with a lot of wanderlust, and Evan is a guy who learned to enjoy travel with me, but is just as happy being home.
It all came to head when I spent a lot of time with Evan’s older sister’s kids and realized that I not only liked kids and got along with them, but that I could possibly want them. But only, I reasoned, if I could have them with Evan. In every other relationship I’ve been in, I could never, ever imagine having a child – but Evan’s patience, humour, sense, and playfulness just made me certain that we would have an amazing child together. I could see not only how great a dad he would be, but that together, we could actually create a special person.
In the Beginning
Fast-forward a few years. We’d been married for about a year and a half before I told Evan I was ready to start trying for a baby. I’d been thinking about it for awhile, and I was always convinced that 33 was a good age to have a kid.
After six months of trying, we started wondering whether we should do some initial testing. I thought it was probably too early, having heard that we needed to be trying for at least a year before talking to a doctor. But Evan mentioned it to his doctor, and he got a referral to do initial testing at a sperm bank. That was in July 2015.
A few weeks later, we were told that Evan’s sperm count was low and he was being referred to a urologist. That same week, Evan’s younger sister, who already had a daughter, told us that she was pregnant for the second time in two years.
We were SO happy for her – it was exciting to be getting a new niece, and we loved our current niece and nephews so much already. But that said…it did sting a bit. It was my first taste of pregnancy jealousy, and the fact that she already had a daughter made me a bit frustrated. But I reasoned with myself that that was probably a normal reaction, and that whatever we had to deal with, I was certain we could get through this quickly.
Try, Try Again
Evan met with the urologist a few months later. At the same time, I was referred to a fertility clinic at the same hospital where Evan’s urologist was. Our first appointment there was in October 2015. Because it was such a long wait, my family doctor suggested that I get a few tests done as well. Basically, these tests were to ensure that everything was working normally on both sides.
By the time we met with our fertility doctor, we’d had a battery of testing done – some of which was invasive and painful. After meeting with our fertility doctor and looking over our tests, she ordered MORE rounds of testing.
There were moments of complete uncertainty. Because we were at the beginning of our fertility issues, we needed to try to rule out everything. Between August 2015 and March 2016, I remember feeling like one or both of us were at a lab or the clinic every single week.
And some of the tests showed varied results. At one point, I was told by a nurse that it looked like my Fallopian tubes were blocked, which meant that any hope we had of a simple procedure like IUI (intrauterine insemination) would be out of the question. My fertility doctor, luckily, looked at the test and immediately suggested another test that would say for sure whether they were blocked. They weren’t. Phew.
The tests confirmed that for the most part, I was good to go. However, despite months of banking, we couldn’t produce useable sperm. By the end of April, we had conclusive evidence that we would not be able to conceive naturally.
There were so many times during this point where I would see people around me getting pregnant, or with their kids, and just feel exhausted. I would wonder why it was so easy for other people to get pregnant, and for us it had to be a big thing, a chore. And a thing that would probably cost us financially and emotionally.
The Hardest Part
In order to extract useable sperm, Evan’s urologist recommended a pretty major surgery to us, set for the end of May 2016.
I don’t think I knew quite how painful or invasive it was going to be. Evan’s surgery was done in a hospital right beside my office, so I was able to go down during lunch, before he was released. It was the first time I’ve seen my husband that sick or in that much pain. I immediately realized I needed to be home with him to ensure he was okay. His parents were with us, but it was just…crappy.
We were able to get the results of the test the next day. Evan called in and was told that nothing was useable. He had essentially done the surgery for nothing, and we realized that this meant we would not be able to have a baby together.
I don’t even know how to tell you or talk about how devastated we were. We spent the next few days in complete shock and mourning. Even though we had always talked about adoption for a third child or something, the reality that we literally could not have a baby that was biologically ours wrecked us. Especially because Evan has ALWAYS wanted kids, and I knew I didn’t want anyone else to be the father of my child.
Exploring Other Options
Over the next few weeks and months, as we adjusted to our new reality, we had discussions with friends and family, and explored donor insemination with our doctors. Before we were allowed to go forward with it, we actually had to meet with a social worker who discussed all of the attitudes, consequences, and other issues of having a child through donor insemination.
This is probably one of the weirdest parts of this journey. Discussions of half-sisters and brothers, quarter-aunts, whether there was stigma…the ramifications of having a kid with a sperm donor were more than we expected.
Even weirder was choosing the donor sperm. When we first logged into a bank, we discovered a whole slew of information about each of the guys who had donated. No full photos of the current guys, but everything from slices of pictures of an eye, an ear, a hand; to audio interviews, to likes and dislikes and behaviors were listed. It was like looking at a menu for the attributes that you wanted in your ideal kid.
We probably looked at around 50 guys, and listened to around 20 interviews. Right away, there was one guy who had the most amazing interview and essay. He was musical, like Evan, and had thought about being a lawyer or engineer. He had several kids of his own, and seemed like such a caring, wonderful guy that we knew he was our pick.
I did my first IUI in December 2016. It was a simple, super-fast procedure. It probably took no more than 15 minutes, and wasn’t really uncomfortable. I was grateful for that. More frustrating was the two-week wait to go get a pregnancy blood test.
The first time didn’t work out and we discussed the possibility of switching donors. Even though we liked the donor we’d chosen, we’d looked at the site for the bank, and it looked his most recent samples were earmarked only for IVF – meaning that the samples might not be as potent as they could be.
After finding another donor – a nice, younger guy who sounded creative and interested in a lot of Evan’s tastes (he also happened to have features more like Evan’s), we went in again in January. No go.
By this time, the stress and expense of donor insemination was starting to weigh on us. The monthly anticipation and cost, followed by the let-down – and the disappointments of the last few years were hard to take. We took a month off.
In March, I went in again. A week later, I started to feel super exhausted. Another week went by and my period didn’t show up. Two days later, a blood test showed that I was pregnant.
The joy, relief, and heartache we experienced was overwhelming. We were so excited, but also still mourning our biology, and frankly, I was terrified that I was going to lose the baby. Up until I got my first ultrasound at six weeks, I just couldn’t believe that it had happened, or that I wasn’t going to miscarry.
It’s a feeling that has stayed with me, though it’s dissipated significantly as I’ve moved into the second trimester. We’re so happy to be having this baby, but also so cognizant of how lucky we are.
One of the first things that came to mind during this process was nature vs nurture. While at the beginning, we balked a bit at donor insemination, there is no doubt now that we are this baby’s parents. Biology means a little, but I know that our parenting will mean much more. While we chose an open donor (one who is open to being contacted when the child is 18) and we are also planning to be very open about our child’s biology from the start, we know that this child is going to be our pride, joy, and a part of the family we’re creating together.
I know this has been a long post, but we really wanted to share this experience with those of you who might need it. We weren’t super share-y about all of this at the beginning, because, frankly, it was too overwhelming to know where to begin. We have been incredibly lucky to have support from our family and friends throughout this entire time – from people who have experienced fertility issues, to people who just held our hands while we cried.
So I wanted to let anyone out there know that if they are experiencing fertility issues, Evan and I are happy to discuss with you or be resources for you. It’s been a wild ride for us, but I think it has really made us stronger as a couple, and more ready than ever to become parents. Please feel free to contact us here, by email, or on any of my social media platforms.
And if you’re interested from a YA perspective, I also wanted to mention Natasha Friend’s The Other F-Word. I read it this spring, and it looks at two kids who were born from the same donor, and what happens when they decide to meet and start talking to their other half siblings. I think Friend did a really great job on the research for this – it’s a unique look at coming-of-age, and I admit that it helped me a lot on my own journey.
Finally, I wanted to say that here in Canada, there isn’t that much selection for sperm and egg donation (I’m not exactly sure how it is in the US or other places around the world). That’s partly because compensation isn’t permitted in Canada. But we wanted to let people know that it’s very, VERY much appreciated, and if you are willing to do so, there are several banks that you can donate to. It’s a great public service, I don’t think it’s too complicated, and it goes without saying that without it, Evan and I would not be having a baby. I’ve linked to a few sites here if you are interested:
So guys, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! If you’re a reader…are there any specific books I have to read before the end of the year? If you’re a parent, what advice do you have for me? If you’ve read our story and care to share, happy to hear any comments or thoughts.