First IUI Attempt

September 2019. It was finally time for our first IUI attempt! We went in for our 11 day ultrasound to check and see how many follicles I had that were ready to go! This cycle we were able to get two healthy follicles that were large enough to be able to attempt our first IUI.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with fertility treatments, IUI means intrauterine insemination.  During this process, a small catheter is inserted and directly places sperm into the uterus, where it will hopefully have an easier time reaching the egg in the fallopian tube! This method typically uses less medication than IVF, as you are hoping that the sperm will reach and implant into the egg on its own. For me, I only had to take oral medications and one shot, the trigger shot, during this process.

At the end of my ultrasound, and it was determined that my follicles were big enough to try an IUI, so they administered my “trigger shot”. This shot contains hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone that signals, or triggers, your follicles to rupture and release their egg. Typically once this shot is given, ovulation will take place anywhere between 34-42 hours. The trigger shot didn’t have any side effects for me, except for a sore injection site!

One of the harder part of doing these treatments, especially if you are trying to keep it low-key, is scheduling your life around these appointments. Once you begin, your life revolves around doctors offices, ultrasounds and follicles! You do not have the option to cancel or adjust appointments, because you only have a small window of opportunity to complete the IUI to leave time for optimal fertilization! This means leaving work on your lunch break, only to go back right after and try not to think about the fact that you just had the procedure that could potentially change your life forever! We decided to keep most of our journey to ourselves during this process to eliminate the constant questions and pressure of people asking if it was working. Anyone completing fertility treatments knows that feeling!

When we left the office, we immediately called Cryobank and had them overnight our donor sperm to the office. The cost was around $300 for delivery and it was guaranteed that they would have it to the office right when they opened! With this being our first cycle, there were so many questions and unknows about the procedure. 

How did it work? Was it going to hurt? How big was that catheter?!

We went in the next afternoon, and it was time to begin. We were so filled with emotions, knowing this day could potentially change our life forever! We went into the room, and our amazing nurse came in and explained exactly how the procedure works and what it would feel like. They thawed the sperm as soon as it came into the office and made sure it was ready for us. As soon as we checked in, they “washed” the sperm twice, which separated the healthy sperm from the seminal fluid and non-motile sperm. She asked us if we wanted to look at the sperm under a microscope and we both jumped up and ran over to it! The little poppy seed looking swimmers were moving, not too crazy, but they were swimming away! The doctor came in and approved that the sperm looked healthy enough to proceed!

We went back into the room, and they got the instruments ready. The catheter was extremely small (1.6mm diameter) and as soon as I saw it, I immediately felt a sense of relief seeing how small it was! The procedure itself took about four minutes and it was over! She inserted the speculum, then the catheter, injected the sperm, and was done! It did not hurt one bit, but felt more like the typical pressure of a routine pap. Once she was done, she had me lay flat on the table for 10 minutes, and we were done! 

There were not any extreme limitations after the procedure, and the only instructions were to not doing any exceedingly strenuous activity for a couple of days, but normal activity and exercise was completely fine. We both went back to work, and on with our day. It was time for the dreaded 18 day wait…

10 days later, we got antsy and took a pregnancy test! We knew that we were supposed to wait, but we were just so excited that we couldn’t wait! I peed on the little first response pregnancy test for the first time, praying to see two lines! 3 minutes later, and there was the lightest, slightest two lines, and we were so positive that it was positive! We tried not to get excited, but for the next 8 days, all we could talk about was baby related things. Nursery décor, names, strollers, you name it! On day 18, we took our confirmation test. It was very negative, followed by my period the next day. 

This is why they tell you not to take the test early. We got our hopes up, and they came crashing right down.

How did it go from being positive to negative? What did I do wrong? Was it the exercise or did I lift something to heavy to not let it stick?  

We knew it was only our first try and that it wasn’t going to be that easy, but it didn’t make it any less disappointing. I felt like I failed, like my body failed. I felt this enormous pressure, knowing that we had just used one of our eight vials, and we were only limited quantity here. All I could think about was that we only had seven left. Seven more chances. I felt like a pressure cooker of emotions, trying not to explode. That’s the biggest stressor when you use donor sperm, is that you don’t have unlimited access, like you would if you were a straight couple. We felt our emotions, talked though it, and picked ourselves up to begin again. You become so incredibly reliant on your partner during this time to help you on this emotional rollercoaster, and we were so grateful for one another.

We decided we would try one more cycle, and if it didn’t work, we would wait until after the holidays and try again. October came, and it was time for IUI #2.

Let’s make a baby!

My body has always been a bit of a struggle bus when it comes to health since my teen years. I have never been the epitome of a healthy person. Something has always been breaking or stopped functioning properly since I was a kid, but it just kind of became who I am. I’ve never dwelled on it, or let it get in the way of me doing things that I want. But now that we were ready to make a baby, it was a hard realization that it was going to take a bit of work to get it functioning properly in order to be able to conceive and nourish a healthy baby. 

When I was 14, I was diagnosed with PCOS, Polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS currently effects around 1 in 10 women, and is one of the leading problems of female infertility. The biggest indicators for me when I was first diagnosed was excessive weight gain, irregular periods, and insulin resistance. I gained an excessive amount of weight exceptionally quickly and couldn’t figure out why. As a teenager, you already deal with body issues, but this lead me to an unhealthy hatred of the way I looked. No matter how healthy I ate, or lack there of, or how often I worked out, I could not lose the weight. I was finally sent to an OBGYN who ran the tests and finally gave me the answers that I was desperately seeking. I had bloodwork done to check all of my hormone levels, and an ultrasound which showed that my ovaries were covered with small cysts. The first thing that she did was put me on birth control, to regulate my period, and metformin to help regulate the insulin resistance. I was 14, 240 pounds and a type 2 diabetic, and all I needed to do was lose the weight to manage the diabetes, but with PCOS this is insanely difficult to do. 

I hated Metformin. Absolutely HATED it. It is an extraordinarily harsh medication on your digestive tract, but it does help regulate your insulin. So for me, I sucked up the side effects and took the medication. I carried that weight with me for a long time, and it was a constant reminder that my body was not working. After time, the metformin stopped working for me, regardless of the dosage, and I chose to stop taking all of the medication. After YEARS, I lost most of the weight and got to more of a healthy weight zone. My insulin started to balance out, but my body never began to ovulate on its own,

It was always my best superpower that I was lucky if I had two periods a year, but I never thought long term that this was going to affect me. When they told me at 14 that I might have a hard time getting pregnant, I didn’t think twice about it, but at 27, it hits a little differently. At our first appointment, we started talking about the medication regimen that I needed to start again in order to begin to track ovulation and follicle health. We chose to start our fertility journey doing IUIs, Intrauterine insemination, and we would plan for IVF if necessary. 

April 2019: I started 5 mg of Provera each day, which helps medically induce ovulation, with the hope of my body beginning to regulate itself. Provera, is a 10 day pill, and by the end of the 10th day, you should start your period. After the first two months, I still wasn’t ovulating, so my doctor recommended metformin once again, which has been shown to help PCOS patients conceive, but due to my history with the medication, we chose against it. We decided to try and give my body some time with the Provera to see if it would balance out and begin to ovulate. By the third month, July, I finally had a positive ovulation test! 

July 2019: Once we figured out I was ovulating, it came time to start Letrozole! We chose to use one table of Letrozole rather than Clomid, because it tends to work better for patients with PCOS. I took 2.5mg of letrozole from day 3-7 of my cycle. We did an ultrasound on day 13 of my cycle, which is the day when the average woman ovulates, to check and see the quality and quantity of my follicles. We were crazy optimistic that there was going to be a plethora of follicles, but instead, there was only one small follicle, 14 mm, which was super disappointing. In order for our office to complete the IUI, my follicles needed to be a minimum of 18 mm big. The bigger the follicle, the better the chances of fertilization! We went back the next day to see if it the follicle had grown, but instead, the follicle ruptured, meaning ovulation had already occurred. You want to catch the follicles pre-rupture (meaning pre-ovulation), because you want to be able to time fertilization perfectly. Since there wasn’t much action happening in my ovaries, she recommended Myo/Chiro inositol, which is a herbal supplement to help balance hormonal and ovarian health. I took 8 capsules per day, which was double the dose on the bottle, but I trusted my doctor explicitly! We realized July wasn’t going to be our month, so on to the next. 

August 2019: Time for round 2! I took Provera, and then started Letrozole once again! This time, we upped the dose of the letrozole slightly, to 5 mg per day. We scheduled our day 13 ultrasound, hoping for a better outcome, but this time we discovered that my body actually ovulated somewhere between day 9-11. There was two ruptured follicles this time, but two was better than one! They were still measuring on the smaller side, 13 mm and 16mm, but at least there was more progress. I had been on the Myo/Chiro inositol for four weeks not, and it seemed to be helping!

September 2019: Round 3! I completed the Provera and Letrozole, and the wait was on! We decided to go in for multiple ultrasounds this month to try and find the exact day that my body ovulated. I went in on day 9, 10, and 11 of this cycle, and we decided that day 11 was my sweet spot! This month, we had two bigger, healthier follicles, 18mm and 21mm, so we decided to give it a shot, literally! It was time for the trigger shot and our first IUI!

On the next post…the process of our first IUI!

How did we pick our donor?

Picking out a sperm donor is a lot like online dating, only, rather than focusing on their hobbies and interests, you’re looking at their medical information and family background. It’s the one time in your life that it is okay to be extremely judgmental, because after all, if you are paying a lot of money for one vial, you want it to be exactly what you’re looking for! 

Our doctor’s office recommended that we begin by looking at California Cryobank to purchase our sperm. They were located here in California, which was easier for shipping purposes, and if we didn’t find a match we liked, there were many other banks we could use. We got home that day and created an online account, and the search was on! This particular cryobank was fantastic and had so many helpful tips for picking out our donor. They have three different subscription levels that you can purchase, and each level gives you more information and detail about your donor! You begin by narrowing your search into different categories;

  • Height, eye and hair color, hair texture
  • Ethnic origin 
  • Blood type
  • Ancestry
  • Religion
  • Genetic testing
  • Education level

That is just the baseline. Once you have narrowed your search, you typically still have a few hundred donor matches! For us, while physical looks are important, we were more focused on their medical background. We wanted to eliminate as many medical complications as possible, and this bank went into great detail. The donor had to disclose all medical information for himself, his immediate family and extended family. They cover every ailment that you can think of, from cardiovascular and neurological problems to mental health. 

Beyond medical information, they provide childhood photos of the donor (some choose to have adult photos, but most are childhood), genetic testing, a psychological evaluation, and a personal essay provided by the donor, detailing their hobbies and interests, athletic abilities, and educational choices. 

Once we sorted it down to the final five profiles, we narrowed it down in two ways. The first was the donor with the cleanest medical background, as this was most important to us. The second, was the donor who had the most physical similarities to Lauren. Since I (Katie) was the one carrying, we wanted our child to look like a mixture of the two of us as much as possible. The donor we chose ended up looking so much like Lauren as a baby that they could have been related. The same eye color, facial features and a lot of the same hobbies and athletic abilities as her! 


Once you chose you donor, you face the cost…$895 per vial plus storage and shipping. You purchase your vials and pay for storage for the bank to keep them safe! Shipping alone cost $300 per cycle to overnight to our doctor office. We chose to purchase eight vials, which allowed us to hopefully have enough to have more than one child if we choose to. It is recommended to purchase four vials per hopeful pregnancy, as it can take many tries and the doctor may prefer to use more than one vial per cycle. One thing you have to be careful about, is that you need to buy enough sperm, because they can actually sell out of that donor! If you are able to achieve all of the pregnancies that you want, you are able to sell back the vials to the bank, but you always want more than not enough!

We decided on a closed, anonymous sperm donor, which means that when our kids turn 18, they can reach out to the sperm bank for more information if they choose, but neither we nor the donor can search for one another or initiate contact. For us, the donor got paid to help provide us the opportunity to create our family, and while we are extremely grateful, donor does not mean dad. Love is what makes a family, not DNA!