Two Guys Walk Into A Fertility Clinic
By Alec Saitman
We had two of the biggest grins on our faces, walking through the two glass doors of our fertility clinic on a cold Tuesday morning,. After checking in with the front desk, we sat down on a comfortable set of chairs next to a table with current magazines and a live orchid.
Once we got settled waiting to be called in for our consultation, we scanned the room. Besides being the only pair of guys amongst a sea of presumably straight couples, there was something else that was different. The room felt somber and sedate. The people seemed to have the color drained from their faces. We stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs.
We felt immediately out of place with our excitement and enthusiasm. No one seemed to want to be there except us. Going to our fertility clinic, we were bright and chipper and excited to get started. For the others, their presence at a fertility clinic was not representative of a first or best option to create a family. Their presence did not bring them joy. Being there in that waiting room with us likely represented repeated fertility attempts and tremendous loss over the course of months or years.
Our journey has changed our perspective on fertility and the stigma that comes with IVF and Surrogacy. As gay men who want to pursue having biological children, gestational surrogacy with IVF is one of the only options that is readily available. There is no question that we would seek out the help of a fertility clinic to build our family even though we aren’t technically infertile.
Beginning our surrogacy journey with the help of our fertility clinic brought us an immense sense of hope to grow our family but for many intended parents, surrogacy and IVF is considered a last-ditch effort in the journey to create a baby.
Being largely ignorant of the infertility world and the people in it, we were happy to openly talk about IVF and surrogacy to anyone willing to listen. Besides the biases we face by just being gay men wanting to have children, there was no real perceived stigma attached to IVF or surrogacy itself as it is regarded as “the way” many gay men or single men have biological children.
We are both scientists working in healthcare so IVF was a point of conversation with our peers, mainly because it’s such an amazing technology that exists. How cool is it that we can create an embryo outside of a human body, genetically test it, freeze it, thaw it at a later date, and then transfer it into a human body to potentially make a baby? Needless to say, our friends and coworkers had many questions, and we were excited to help answer them.
Continuing talking about our surrogacy journey openly at work or with close friends, it became clear that this infertility world, a world we thought was so small and uncommon, was quite the opposite. Dozens of our friends or coworkers began to approach us about their struggles with fertility and their pursuit of IVF or even surrogacy to build their family. These exchanges were always behind closed doors with the intent of maintaining confidentiality. Some stories had good endings and others did not but our takeaway was the same. It was something to stay quiet about. It was something to conceal. On some level, we felt honored that we were confided in on a clearly sensitive subject.
Our journey hasn’t been easy, but as we approach 35 weeks pregnant with our twins created through IVF and carried by our amazing surrogate, we are humbled by the struggles some of our friends have had to endure to build their families.
Hopefully, by talking openly about our journey (the good and the bad) we can help break down this stigma for everyone going through IVF and/or Surrogacy Journeys. What we have learned most of all through this journey is we are all here pursuing IVF and/or surrogacy to build our families. Why these processes are needed to build our families shouldn’t matter.
Alec and Paul live in Portland, Oregon. They were married in 2017 and besides their mutual love for hiking and IPAs, they both knew they wanted biological children. They started their surrogacy journey in late 2018 and are now the new parents to twins.