Wow, FET cycles are even slower and more frustrating than retrieval cycles! Since we are plodding along with nothing much happening, it's a perfect time for another flashback.
Chapter Three: Shopping for Sperm
After the surgery and the move there was a lot of waiting and waiting and waiting. It took three months for me to get insurance and establish primary care so that I could get a referral. Then I had initial consults with two different doctors to get some opinions on what to do. Both said to go ahead and start with IUIs, so I picked the one closest to my house and moved forward. Moving forward meant one big decision - picking a sperm donor!
We had two priorities for selecting a donor:
1) S is Indian and I am white, and carrying, so we wanted an Indian donor.
2) We wanted an anonymous donor, but one who was considered "open". In sperm donor world, "open" means that the donor is open to being contacted by the child once they turn 18. Contact would take place through the sperm bank, and the donor is allowed to change their mind over the course of those 18 years. In other words, it's not a guarantee, but it is the only chance our child would have to get in contact with the donor if they wanted to - and we wanted that option to be available to them.
Simple parameters, right? :) Before we could move forward on that, criteria number three came along:
3) During standard blood tests for fertility treatment, I found out that I am CMV negative. CMV, or Cytomegalovirus, is a virus in the herpes family. It is incredibly common - most people get it and never even have symptoms before it goes away and just lies dormant in the body. However, if you contract it for the first time while pregnant, the fetus can be significantly impacted. For some reason, no one ever talks about this, so most people only learn about CMV if they take this blood test for fertility treatment. I knew about it because a family member contracted it while pregnant and her daughter is adorable and happy and full energy, and is also deaf as a result of the CMV. Anyway, my clinic would not allow me to use a CMV positive donor because they feared that I could contract it for the first time at the moment of conception. There is no research that shows this happens, and straight couples are constantly procreating without either partner knowing their CMV status, but it was the rule so I had to go with it.
We looked at four different banks - three huge and one local. At the bank we ended up using they had over 500 available donors.
When I added the filter for East Indian, the number dropped to 12.
When I added the filter for CMV negative, it dropped to 1.
Across the four banks, there were three total CMV negative Indian donors. They were all closed donors (no contact).
It's incredibly frustrating that we had to let go of one of our priorities because of a lack of donors. I'm not going to fault the banks for not finding CMV negative donors, but I do think they could do more to recruit donors of color. Indian wasn't the only ethnicity that significantly dropped the number of options.
At the end of the day, with only three options we purchased the additional biographical information, interviews, even voice recordings. The donor we picked has a medical background, a kind voice, and a super clean family history. Throughout the whole selection process he had always stuck out to us, and we feel like him turning out to be CMV negative was one of the first tiny signs that things would work out.