Age at interview: 38
Contributing factors to fertility problems: Needed donor sperm (in a same-sex relationship)
Age at diagnosis: 33
Fertility treatments: IUI and IVF
Background: Ruby works part-time as a lawyer. She and her partner live in a metropolitan city with their new baby and pre-school aged child. Ruby is Australian.
About Ruby: From a young age Ruby had wanted to one day have children, and spoke about this with her partner at the beginning of their relationship. When Ruby was 33, she and her partner told a friend they had were planning to have a baby ‘in the next couple of years.’ Having experienced IVF herself, their friend urged them to start straight away as fertility treatment could take a long time.
In gathering information to help with decision-making, Ruby spoke to her doctor and friends about their experiences and watched documentaries which included donor-conceived children. While there wasn’t much publicly available information at the time for queer people wanting to become parents, Ruby thinks this has since changed.
After going to a fertility specialist recommended by friends and deciding to start trying to have a baby via Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) using donor sperm, Ruby and her partner chose to begin with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). IUI seemed to Ruby to be fairly painless, more affordable, and more ‘natural’ than IVF. Although she didn’t become pregnant during IUI, she wasn’t surprised as they had been given ‘clear expectations’ from their doctor about their chances. After twelve months of IUI, Ruby and her partner made the decision to begin IVF.
Neither Ruby nor her partner had really wanted to do IVF, as it seemed ‘invasive’, and Ruby was resistant to the idea of taking hormones and anesthesia for egg collection. They had decided that they would try one round only, but their doctor told them that “everyone says that, and nobody does that.” While Ruby recounted the physical discomfort of the process, as well as their stress of procedures and anxiety about whether she was ’doing it right‘, she found her views changed after her first round. No longer feeling ‘concerned or fearful’ made it easier to continue.
Ruby wasn’t surprised that her first round of IVF was unsuccessful. She had low expectations due to her age, as well as the statistical information provided by her doctor, but was ‘extremely happy’ to be successful on her second round. While she had gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, Ruby said it ’wasn’t anything [she] couldn’t manage.’
When Ruby and her partner decided to have a second child, they tried with a frozen embryo from a previous egg collection, however this was unsuccessful. Following a third egg collection and IVF cycle, Ruby became pregnant with their second child. As a result of IVF treatment, Ruby experienced hyperstimulation of her ovaries, causing her to feel swollen and uncomfortable for the first eight weeks of her pregnancy. At each scan during her pregnancy, her ovaries were still enlarged.
While Ruby had excellent care throughout her fertility journey, she nonetheless found the experience very heteronormative, and felt at times her partner was marginalised and not ‘considered to be a decision-maker.’ However, she was supported by family, friends, and colleagues as well as her partner throughout, and believes having someone able to ’stick with you’ for the difficult parts of fertility treatment is crucial.
Find out more about Ruby's experiences in the following short films:
Experiences of Becoming Parents: Queer Women and Gender Diverse People Presumed Female at Birth
Experiences of Health Practitioners and Health Services
Navigating Infertility and Fertility Treatment: Relationships with Family, Friends and Peers
Infertility, Fertility Treatment, and Work
Advice for others Experiencing Infertility and/or Fertility Treatment