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Navigating IUI, IVF & PCOS to Become a Mother | Diana's Story

A PCOS warrior shares her and her wife's difficult journey through fertility testing, treatment, finding a sperm donor, and everything they learned on the path to motherhood.

June 12th, 2023 | 13 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

After dreaming of motherhood for years, Diana was diagnosed with PCOS and told she might never be able to have children. She opens up about her and her partner's challenging journey to have a baby with the help of fertility treatment (including IUI and IVF) and a sperm donor. 

In this article:

A Tale of Two Dianas

Born and raised in Colombia, Diana moved to the United States when she was 23 years old and then moved to Connecticut in 2015.

Her future wife, also named Diana (who also happens to be Colombian), moved to the United States at age two and grew up in Greenwich, CT. After joining the U.S. Marine Corps and getting stationed in Hawaii, she was honorably discharged and moved back to Connecticut to attend college. (We'll call her "D" throughout this story for clarity.)

The pair ended up attending the same school and met in 2016 after noticing each other and realizing they had the same class schedule. "It was just meant to be!" says Diana. They began dating and quickly fell in love.


Their Love Story

For their first anniversary, Diana surprised D with a trip to Disney World to celebrate. Little did Diana know, she would be the one who ended up getting surprised! D proposed to Diana on that trip, and they began to imagine a future together.

They had been living together for almost a year when they got married in Santa Barbara, CA in December 2017. "We got to enjoy a lot of time for ourselves pre-parenthood," Diana says. "We used to go on dates in the city, went to a lot of concerts, parties and of course, Yankees games!"

They both love traveling, which led them to go on many adventures together, including a cross-country roadtrip and a trip to their home country of Colombia, as well as Hawaii, Spain, Portugal.

As time went on, the couple created their own little family, which included two dogs (Coco and Louie), and a cat (Tiggs). But they soon realized they wanted to expand their family even more.

Dreaming of Motherhood

"I’ve always wanted to become a mother," Diana shares. "I feel like I was destined to be one." When the couple met and realized they both had a desire to have children, Diana felt like it was a perfect match. "I felt so lucky to have found a partner that shared the same goals for the future," she says.

Like many couples, they decided to wait a few years to enjoy some time to themselves before embarking on their journey to become parents. 

During a Pride in the Park event in Norwalk one year, the couple saw a Gay Parents To Be booth and stopped by to learn more. They left with information on the program, as well as our partner clinic, Illume Fertility, and started exploring their options.

The couple ended up having two friends who went through treatments at Illume to grow their families. After reading other patients' positive stories, and learning that their friends had found success with the help of the Illume team, Diana and D decided to schedule a consultation with reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Shaun Williams

The First Appointment

The couple had their first family-building consultation with Dr. Williams towards the end of 2019, and immediately felt like they had made the right decision. "I had been told by other doctors that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant due to my PCOS," Diana says, "but Dr. Williams gave us so much hope that we would be able to have a baby."

"Dr. Williams was amazing at explaining our family-building options," says Diana. "His positivity made us feel like he was definitely the right doctor for us, and we soon found out that we'd made the right choice!" 

Step 1: Fertility Testing

In 2020, after deciding to carry the pregnancy, Diana began the fertility testing process, which confirmed that she did indeed have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). She also found out that one of her fallopian tubes was blocked, which meant that intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment would be a bit more challenging.

In the midst of learning this information, the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, leading to their appointments being canceled or rescheduled. Because of all of the uncertainty and frustration that the pandemic caused, the couple decided to pause their family-building journey.

At the end of 2020, they felt ready to continue their journey. In order to reassess the situation and give them the best chances of success, Diana had to undergo some repeat fertility testing and the couple then had to wait for additional insurance approvals.

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Step 2: Finding a Sperm Donor

By 2021, things started to get moving again, and the couple began their search for a sperm donor. "Finding a donor took us a long time," Diana says. "We wanted the ability to do reciprocal IVF in the future and give our child a biologically-related sibling."

After learning a lot of new information through genetic counseling, they had to wait for D to undergo genetic testing as well, in order to be sure they chose the right sperm donor that would be compatible with both of their genetics.

"We never anticipated how hard it would be to find a donor with Latino background - it was such a complicated process" Diana says. They finally found a donor and began IUI treatment at the end of 2021. But this too was a frustrating, taxing experience.

Step 3: Beginning IUI Treatment

Diana underwent five IUI cycles, none of them ending in pregnancy. Her first IUI procedure in October was unsuccessful, the second procedure was canceled due to insurance delays, the third procedure was canceled because there were no growing follicles, and the fourth cycle was also unsuccessful.

By her fifth IUI cycle in January 2022, Diana didn't have any viable follicles on her "good side," which meant that the cycle would likely be cancelled. The couple decided to go ahead with that fifth IUI cycle so they could move on to IVF treatment, and as expected, their final IUI cycle was indeed unsuccessful.

The most difficult part of that experience, Diana says, was hearing the words "not pregnant" over and over. "Those were probably the most stressful weeks of my life," she says. "It broke my heart every single time...the amount of tears I cried!"


Step 4: Moving On to IVF Treatment

The couple's first IVF cycle began in March 2022. Diana had an egg retrieval in April and shockingly, a whopping 44 eggs were retrieved! (Many PCOS patients experience this due to their body's robust response to fertility medication.)

Of those 44 eggs retrieved, 40 of them were mature, 25 ended up fertilizing successfully in the IVF lab, and by the end of that week, they ended up with 17 embryos to freeze.

Why don't all eggs create embryos? Dr. Cynthia Murdock explains.

"We did a frozen embryo transfer because we wanted to do preimplantation genetic testing (PGT-A) on a few of our embryos," Diana says. "We only tested five of our embryos, and all five of them were chromosomally normal." After deciding not to find out the sex of their embryos,  the couple asked Dr. Williams to choose the best one for transfer.

Although they now know that the sex of those five embryos were four boys and one girl, Diana and D chose to keep it all a secret in order to be surprised on the day of their baby's birth. 

Step 5: Frozen Embryo Transfer

Diana's frozen embryo transfer (FET) was scheduled for May 17, 2022. "We were so hopeful, but also very cautious," Diana admits. "At some point during treatment, the excitement went away because I couldn’t handle more heartbreak."

They went in to their first embryo transfer hopeful, but aware that it might not result in a pregnancy.

That day, Dr. Laura Meyer was the one performing Diana's transfer, and she met them ahead of time to explain how the procedure would go. "She made us feel so comfortable," Diana recalls. After the transfer was completed, the couple left Illume Fertility and went on a walk, then to the arcade to have some fun and ease their nerves.

Step 6: The Results

Despite promising herself that she wouldn’t take a pregnancy test at home after her transfer, Diana (like many hopeful moms-to-be) found it impossible to wait.

"By the third night post-transfer, I got a very very faint line that I thought it was an evaporation line," Diana remembers. "The next morning, I woke up at 4am to take another pregnancy test and it was still faint - but visible!"

As the days went on, the lines on her pregnancy tests started to become darker and darker.

Around a week later, Diana received a phone call with the official results of her blood work, confirming that she was finally pregnant! "I kept it secret for awhile and surprised my wife after my nurse Rachel called to confirm that my HCG levels were doubling after the second test," Diana says. "I don’t think I have ever seen my wife as happy and emotional as she was that day!"


On Finally Meeting Their Son

"When we held Kai for the first time, we felt such a strong love for him," Diana says. "After years of planning and dreaming of having a baby - after so many medications, injections, morning blood draws, appointments, tears, and the physical, emotional and economic toll that fertility treatment can take on you, we finally had our beautiful son in our arms."

Kai recently turned four months old, and his moms report that he's growing and learning quickly.

"He is very resilient and loves smiling to everyone," Diana says. "He's currently a master at chewing his hand, rolling over on his own, babbling a lot, and he seems like he already wants to start crawling!" Kai also loves to laugh at funny noises, watch the family dogs play, and spend time with his best friend (grandma).

Though the road wasn't easy, the two moms are deeply grateful to finally have their baby boy in their lives. "It felt like such a long journey," Diana says, "but it feels so worth it every single time we look into his beautiful eyes...the long wait makes sense now!"

What They Learned On Their Journey

After years of fertility testing, treatment, and navigating a pregnancy after fertility struggles, Diana says she and her wife D learned five important lessons:

1. Fertility Treatment Isn't a Quick Fix

Diana shares that she wished she would have understood that going this route isn’t as simple or fast as she thought it would be:

"It isn't always easy to get pregnant, and there are many steps that need to take place in order to even get your treatment cycle started," she says. "Consultations, fertility testing, insurance approvals, morning monitoring, waiting for your body to respond properly to medications, and many other things can affect your timeline."

2. You'll Need Lots of Support

"We were fortunate to have a support system of family and friends around us that we were able to count on," Diana says. "I have very close friends that have undergone fertility treatment, and they were my biggest supporters throughout our journey." She also joined peer support groups and read stories from other fertility warriors, which helped her feel less alone.

3. Self-Care Is Crucial

In addition to the emotional support component, Diana also found it important to prioritize physical self-care by getting frequent massages to release tension from her mind and body.

4. The Waiting is the Hardest Part

One of the most difficult, taxing parts of any family-building journey is all of the waiting and uncertainty that hopeful parents have to navigate. 

"By far, the hardest part was living life on a two-week-wait basis," Diana admits. "It’s a constant loop of waiting two weeks for the next step, or the next piece of news, and that was extremely hard." The repeated negative pregnancy test results were also heartbreaking, she says. 

5. Pregnancy After Fertility Challenges Isn't Easy

Once she finally got pregnant, the anxiety continued in a different form, Diana says: "I was scared all the time (of losing the baby)." This is a common challenge for many parents-to-be who have experienced infertility, pregnancy losses, or other family-building struggles. 

Yet, even though the process can be incredibly challenging, she says it's all worth it when you finally get to hold your long-awaited baby in your arms. "I don’t think I have words that can fully describe how I feel," Diana says. "But many parents who have been through what we've been through know the feeling."

Take the next step:

If you anticipate needing an egg or sperm donor on your journey to parenthood, get our free guide to donor conception to better understand what lies ahead!


Advice for Other LGBTQ+ Parents-to-Be

Throughout their journey to motherhood, Diana and D learned important lessons that they now want to share with other hopeful parents in the LGBTQ+ community:

Choose an Inclusive Fertility Clinic

"Make sure that you find a fertility clinic that is inclusive and makes you and your partner feel welcomed - a clinic that really cares about you and your concerns," Diana advises. "It should be a place where you don’t feel rushed, and somewhere that has a medical team that will walk you through each step of your treatment."

Get to Know Your Insurance Coverage

Before you have your first consultation at a fertility clinic, "Try to really understand your medical insurance coverage," Diana says. "It will save you a lot of time (and money)."

Connect with the LGBTQ+ Community

"Don’t hesitate to ask other LGBTQ+ parents for support," Diana says. "There are a lot of blogs, websites and support groups (Illume even offers some events that support our community)." People will usually be more than happy to share their experiences with you. "This journey can feel very overwhelming, but believe me - you are not alone," she says. 

Build Up Your Library

One fun way to prepare for parenthood is by creating an inclusive, diverse library of books for your future children. "There are some very cute kids books for families with two moms or two dads, as well as books for children conceived through IUI, IVF, surrogacy, egg or sperm donors," Diana shares. "Kai’s favorite so far is the book, 'Mommy, Mama and Me!'"

What's next for their family?

As Kai grows, the moms say they look forward to continuing to learn and grow alongside him.

"He is teaching us so much - both about himself and ourselves," Diana says. "We are enjoying this new chapter of our lives called motherhood; it is the greatest roller coaster with all the ups and downs that we have ever jumped on."

They are also excited to hopefully give Kai a baby sister in a few years, and the couple plans to meet with Dr. Williams at the end of this summer to discuss potential next steps for adding to their family!

Sierra Dehmler

Sierra Dehmler is the Content Marketing Manager for Gay Parents To Be and its partner clinic, Illume Fertility. She is also a fertility patient herself. Combining empathy gained on her personal journey with her professional experience in marketing and content creation, she aims to empower and support other hopeful parents by providing family-building resources that educate, inspire and encourage.

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