2: First Steps Towards Solo Mommyhood

August 5, 2023

The journey towards single motherhood is a unique and intricate path that comes with its share of complexities and challenges. Meredith Kate shares her journey in this episode, providing insight into her personal experiences, from her decision to DIY an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) (which…to be fair, was actually a DIY ICI, but semantics!), to exploring acupuncture for fertility, and handling the legal intricacies that come with utilizing  sperm donor agreement.

The process of DIY IUI involves taking the sperm from a donor and placing it inside the woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The choice to undertake this process on her own terms presented a myriad of challenges for Meredith. Finding an OBGYN who would support her decision, navigating the process itself, and dealing with the legal implications of utilizing a sperm donor were all significant hurdles that she had to overcome. Her journey was not just a physical one but an emotional roller coaster as well, as she had to make significant lifestyle changes, including deciding to go off antidepressants.

In her quest to increase her chances of fertility, Meredith explored acupuncture, an ancient Eastern medicine technique. This approach was new territory for her, and her experience with the acupuncturist proved to be not nearly as helpful as she expected. The difference in approaches between Western and Eastern medicine was evident, providing Meredith with new perspectives on her health and wellbeing.

An unexpected message from the future baby’s daddy added another twist to the journey. The discussion about parentage and the potential signing of legal forms to remove the donor from the parentage record raised new questions and considerations for Meredith. The legalities of utilizing a sperm donor agreement were another crucial aspect of her journey. The process involved ensuring that the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved, including the future child, were legally recognized and protected. This required a careful navigation of the law, involving conversations with legal professionals. This aspect of the journey served as a reminder that while she was undertaking this journey independently, she is not entirely alone.

Description

Travel back in time to MARCH 2023, the month that Meredith got serious about having a baby on her own. This week tackles her first OBGYN appointment, exploring acupuncture for fertility, and an unexpected message from her future baby’s daddy.

Transcript

Hello and welcome to the second episode of The Backup Plan. I’m so glad to have you join me again. Again, my name is Meredith Kate and I have chosen to have a baby on my own, with the assistance of my gay best friend, and I am sharing the journey because, to be honest, I just didn’t find a lot of resources out there that I aligned with, and so I’ve decided to put the story out there into the world that I wish I had, and hopefully help somebody along the way, create a little bit of a community and have some fun along the way.

Today’s episode is a bit of a retrospective in that – if you’re listening to this live or thereabouts – it’s late summer of 2023. And March of this year is really when I got started on, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this, here we go,’, and the first step I made towards that was an appointment with the OBGYN.

For a little bit of context, I planned on doing a DIY IUI (that’s what I was lovingly referring to it as), basically fly up to Alaska, provide my friend with a sterile cup, take what comes in the cup, put it into a sterile syringe and have my way with it. So I was a little bit nervous about telling the OBGYN that because I didn’t think they would approve. And then when I went to see the acupuncturist I had just bought a plane ticket to go up to Alaska to do that.

Now I haven’t had the best luck with OBGYNs in general. I’ve just never found somebody that I liked. So I’ve gone routinely to get examined and stuff, but I would say it’s different doctor every time because I really just haven’t found one that’s stuck and I hope I found one. I think I really liked the vibe I had going into this and you’ll hear a little bit more about that in a second, but it’s just nice to be listened to, you know, and they’re not expecting you to follow their specific chart and… Anytime a doctor just, hears out where you’re at, and meets you there, t’s just a really special experience and, like I said, I think I found that here.

So the thing too is that finding a doctor in America is just difficult. So you got to find somebody who accepts your insurance. You got to find somebody that’s got good reviews on Yelp or Google. Then there’s like a million different doctors rating sites and most of the people that rate on there are people who’ve just had bad experiences and I think no matter how good the doctor is, you will always find the review that their office staff sucks. So! Luckily, everything was a good experience here.

So… after that episode, a couple days later I went to an acupuncturist and… I think acupuncture is just not for me and you’ll hear why. But you know, it’s really weird to have gone from a Western doctor, who’s like telling you how good you are and how responsible you are, to go to an Eastern doctor who just stares blankly at you and then tells you everything in you is wrong. There’s a lot of good girl ideology that I’m trying to work out and I don’t know, maybe I just need a different acupuncturist, maybe I need to give it another go somewhere else. But in that episode you’re also going to hear a little bit about the legality of what I’m getting into with all of this, because I had a great conversation with Michael, my donor- to- be, about his involvement and how he wants to proceed to make sure that we’re both taken care of and the baby’s taken care of in this situation. I’m really fortunate in that Michael has a lawyer friend who practices family law and was able to look up sperm donor agreement and the California Statutory Form for Assisted Reproduction (Form 4, FYI, if you’re looking it up) to make sure that we’re just all taken care of.

And the last thing I want to mention about these episodes before you get into them is that you’re going to start hearing my mood kind of drift a little bit because I had gone off of antidepressants at this time and I learned just how important they are in my life. The worst time to go off antidepressants is when you think you’re ready to go off antidepressants. And on that note, I’m looking to have a conversation with a reproductive psychologist here on the pod because I think it’s something really worth talking about, especially in this age that we’re in where everybody and their mom is on something (or at least so it seems) and making sure that you’re on the right something and you’re on the right path is super important. And I’ve had a lot of conversations with my doctors going forward and I feel confident about the path that I’m on. But I think just exploring that topic a little bit further is always helpful. So, again, if you know somebody who you think would be good to chat with, or you yourself would be good to chat with, be sure to reach out. The email address is info@backupplanpod. com and, without further ado, I’m just going to go ahead and get into this. So thanks again for listening.

Again, these pieces are from back in March. A lot’s changed since then. We’re going to get all into that and catch you all up by the time that I go in for my next IUI, which I’m hoping is going to be in the fall, because Michael doesn’t live here in California. There’s a lot of logistics involved in getting this done, so you’re gonna hear it all. You’re gonna hear every step of the way and I’m excited to share this with you. Going forward, we’re gonna be releasing on Wednesdays. So, due to the first week of dropping these episodes, you might not see something this Wednesday, but next Wednesday we’re on track, we’re good to go. You’ll find out all the information about where and when episodes are dropping on our social media accounts, which are backup plan pod on TikTok and on Instagram, and the website is backupplanpod. com. You can go on there for show notes, transcripts, links, contact information, what have you. It’s all there. So thanks for listening and, without further ado, here is me in in the past.

[drum roll]

So I want to talk a little bit about what I did this week. This week is– currently recording this on– I have to check the date. I’m currently recording this on March 19th, almost 4 pm, it’s a Sunday.

This week I went to my first doctor’s appointment as somebody who has decided they’re gonna have a baby. I’m a planner. I’m a planner and I wanna get all of my ducks in a row before I do something. So I decided to go to the doctor and discuss what I’m looking to do and I think I kind of– I think I kind of did it for like permission. I don’t know, I think that’s a very like millennial trait. If you’re somebody like me who was raised in like a happy suburban home with two loving parents. I don’t know, it’s just very ME to need permission from somebody. So I did a lot of research about who I’d wanna go to.

So I’ve been living up in LA for 11, almost 12 years and then I moved to Orange County during the pandemic. I guess it was kind of during that weird period where like life was happening again, but you’re still a little nervous about everything. So I moved to Orange County and I haven’t had an OBGYN that I’ve liked for a while. I just haven’t found one that’s, like, stuck. I have an amazing GP and I’ll continue to like drive up to Beverly Hills to see her, because once you find a good doctor you like I don’t wanna screw that up, right?

So in finding an OBGYN, I just wanted to find somebody who was open to sort of, non– I don’t wanna say non-traditional paths, but like, who’s open to midwives and doulas and maybe home birth. Probably not, but I don’t know exactly where my desires are gonna lie for these things going forward. So I also wanna see a woman. I just like having female doctors and I found Dr. Akerman, in his practice there is a woman, Dr. Lao. I did not meet her this time around, but I did meet the midwife that they have on staff and I just had a basic pap because I haven’t done that in a little bit and they’re so much fun to have. I made the appointment about two weeks ago and I went in on Wednesday or Thursday this week.

I was kind of nervous about what kind of reception I’d have to this when I went in, cuz I’ve gone to OBGYNs in the past who are a little judgmental or sassy about procedures I do or don’t want or tests I do or don’t wanna take.

In particular, I had an OBGYN who was, like, really on my ass about a BRAC analysis for breast cancer and I was just at a time in my life where I just didn’t wanna think about bad news, and she really like laid into me about how that was a poor choice I was making and… it was okay for me. It was a fine choice for me. And I even brought that up to the this midwife that I spoke with and she was like, ‘Yeah, no, that’s fine, it’s okay,’.

And when I told her about the turkey baster method (for lack of a better term) she was just totally chill about it. She was chill about everything and made me feel like I was smart in making choices that were right for me and she wasn’t heavy handed one way or the other about it. You know it wasn’t like, ‘Yay! You go girl! You’re doing the right thing,’.

You know like sometimes– I don’t know, sometimes when I tell people about plans that I have –  either for this or whatever other cockamamie schemes I’m planning in my life that do or don’t come to fruition – sometimes people just get like overly excited about them and then I don’t know why that spooks me. But she was just like, ‘Yeah, no, this is a thing you can do and it sounds like you’re thinking about it the right way and when your friend comes on a cup, just have him keep it close to his body until it’s ready to be syringed inside of you,’. And I was like, ‘Okay, wow, that’s very practical advice, thank you,’.

And she offered some hormonal testing and stuff, which I decided not to worry about, just to, you know, A) because I feel good about my reproductive health. I’ve been totally fine and I haven’t had any major health concerns over the years, knock on wood. And she said typically if you’re trying for three to six months and something doesn’t come to pass, then you can worry a little bit more about getting testing done and stuff. I kind of went back and forth in the office about whether or not that was actually something I wanted to do and then decided you know what? I’m going to save money because my Baby Daddy lives up in Alaska and I’m going to have to fly up there or fly to meet him (he travels a lot for work) so I’m just going to save a little money and not do the testing right off the bat. Although, who knows, maybe if I did the testing now I would know… no. It wouldn’t tell me how to do this any better, it would just tell me that I was more or less likely to be able to conceive.

So I mean, screw it whatever, I’m just going to give it a go. I’ve got a good feeling about it. So yeah, in the end, the doctor’s appointment was really great and I was really happy about it.

I think I’m probably in a book tickets to go up to Alaska in a week and a half and just sit in a pile of my friend’s goo or something a little more scientific. Thanks for listening.

[drum roll]

So today is Friday, March 24th, 2023, and I’m kind of in a foul mood. I’m not having a great end to my week.

Yesterday morning was kind of baller. Things were great. Some stuff came up at work that we had to throw together this presentation on the fly and the guys that I’m working with are excellent and we nailed it. We fucking killed it. And then I had a tax appointment – which I was not looking forward to – and turns out I’m going to be getting the refund that I thought I owed, like it was literally the flip side, which is great financially because of the season I’m heading into. So that was thrilling. I was having a baller day, feeling great about myself and also really excited because I had an acupuncture appointment scheduled.

I found somebody in the area who does acupuncture. I’ve never had it done before and my mom and dad rave about it. My mom continues to rave about it. It did my dad wonders when he had cancer. So I said you know what I’m going to go get acupuncture, get poked where I need to get poked and maybe, you know, stimulate some fertilization vibes. I don’t know, like, I don’t know exactly how acupuncture works, but you know, just kind of get the juices flowing, so to speak.

And so I had made the appointment as a fertility consultation and I went in and I really liked the guy in the waiting room and then I was taken into the acupuncturist’s office and it was my first real Eastern medicine appointment, I guess, and I don’t know if it’s just– it felt weird, I don’t know how to explain it. I

t was just like, she came at me with some like very blanket statements and according to this– according to this application I had filled out, she looked at it and she was like, ‘You’re carrying a lot of stress,’ and I was like, ‘Tell me something I don’t know,’. Y’know what was kind of weird about it?

So, whenever I go into a doctor’s appointment, I’m not nervous to see doctors, but I do turn into this, sort of like, comedian when I go into a doctor’s appointment. And I’m telling jokes and I’m like, making them laugh and putting everybody at ease, and I guess it is sort of like a nervous system response, but I’m never nervous. I don’t know how to explain it, but I could NOT do that here.

Like, she was just so right down to business and I was basically like ‘Well, I’m not going to put you through my fertility plan because I’m a last resort,’ and I was like, ‘Okay,’. She’s like, ‘And it’s $8,500,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, no! We’re good,’. She’s like, ‘Have you ever been pregnant before? I was like, ‘No,’. She’s like, ‘Well then, we don’t know your fertility status and you may not be dropping eggs and you’re very stressed out and, so, it’s probably not likely that you’re going to get pregnant,’. And I was like, ‘Whoa, lady! Like… you just met me and I just filled out a form,’ and I don’t know, I was very put off.

And I’m a perfectionist, and I’m type A, and I’m always like, the good student, and when I go to the doctor, like, they’re always– (laughs) they’re always like, ‘My God, your blood pressure is amazing. Oh, you haven’t been sick? Fantastic. You’re here to get a flu shot? Look at you,’ and it’s always just like such a– like, I’m always.– (laughs) I’m always patted on the back for being like a good girl who does the right things. Could I stand to lose, like, 15 to 20 pounds? Probably. Especially, like, post- grief. Normally? No, I’m pretty in shape, you know. I brush my teeth and I floss and I spent a lot of time in the past couple of years in therapy and working on myself and loosening up myself and calming down and all the work I did mentally, for as low as I was? I’m really proud of that work I did.

And walking into the office, this woman was just very like down to business and like, by Chinese standards? I am fucked up and that was not great to hear. I also just don’t think it’s true, like sorry, I live in the Western world and I’m doing okay and I know people who are a lot more stressed out than me that are getting knocked up, so, let’s calm down.

So then I went in and I was like, ‘Well, look, I still would like to get acupuncture because I know that I have had so many friends who’ve done it and family who’ve done it and I’ve heard wonderful things. I would like to reap the benefits if I may, ma’am,’. And she was like, ‘Oh yeah, of course let’s go,’. I was like, ‘Okay,’ and we go into the back room and like– (sighs) I pride myself, again, on being pretty, like, open and cool to, like, new situations.

But MAN, she stuck those needles in and it was almost like I had been pinned down to the chair. And I’m not a– I don’t have problems with needles. I hate IVs because I hate the feeling of, like– I like to be able to move and fidget. And so you know, when you get that IV and it’s in your arm and you feel– oh, I hate that. But otherwise I’m fine, I don’t care.

And she did some of the pins– needles– acupuncture needles, right? That’s the right term? She did them in my hand because she was, like, ‘Your stomach and liver are AWFUL,’. –She wasn’t THAT specific about it or hard about it, but she was like, ‘Yeah, you’re holding tension that has been created in an environment and has been passed down throughout generations,’ and I’m like, ‘AGAIN, tell me something I don’t know,’. Like, I am the firstborn daughter of a firstborn daughter of a firstborn daughter, as far back as you can go. My father is German, I am a Capricorn. What else do you want? Like it’s just, it is what it is, and I’m doing my fucking best.

Yeah, man.

I just felt like I was pinned down and she was like, ‘Just close your eyes, and normally people sleep for the next 45 minutes,’. Dude. And my mom, who is WAY more stressed out than I am in life, she’s like, ‘Oh, I do acupuncture, I float away and I see colors and I go to different planes,’. Nothing for me. All I could do was think about how, if I moved my hand, I would feel a needle in my hand. But I had to move my hand because my hand was sticking to the bed and then I didn’t know if I could move my other hand. So then I would lift up and look. And then I remembered I had pins in my ears and I was like, ‘Fuck, put your head back down. Oh, put it down gently,’. And then I was freezing cold, so cold. The room wasn’t that cold, but I guess it’s just part of the process. And then she came back in and she was like, ‘How was it?’ and I was like, ‘Not. Great. See you on Saturday! I’m coming back!’ I’m gonna give it a go again because, like you know, like it’s a process, I know it’s not like a one- and- done situation, but again: she was just kind of, like, so matter of fact about some things.

And I said I was cold and she was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s because of this and that and the stress of this and that,’. She’s like, ‘When you put your hand on your stomach, does it sometimes feel cold?’ And I was like ‘No,’ she was like, ‘Oh huh,’ Like, I confounded her. I’m like, ‘Great! Let’s talk about THAT a little bit more, stop telling me everything you think you know about me, and let’s like, figure your things out together,’ And then she told me, she’s like, ‘You might feel bad tonight, so go home and watch a comedy,’. And so I took that as I took that as a sign that I should get Taco Bell on the way home, Another tenant of Eastern Medicine, I’m sure.

So yeah, whatever, we’ll see how that goes.

I also got an interesting text message from my future Baby Daddy. I didn’t think that he had been thinking through this as much as I was? And then yesterday he called me up with a whole thing about parentage and signing some legal forms and stuff to kind of strike him from the parentage record that California has. And it caught me off guard because it felt very like, I don’t know. Isolating. At first he texted me about it and then I called him back and was like, ‘Say what now?’ And we talked a little bit through some of the legal ramifications, which is something we need to do. It’s just something I didn’t think we would do until I was actually pregnant and then we could, you know, figure some shit out.

But it was good. I was really glad I got on the phone with him and talked through it rather than just read text messages, because, like my God, it’s the like most faceless way of doing a thing. Just watching this dot, dots, dots form at the bottom of the app, wondering what they’re going to say. But he thought through some aspects of the whole arrangement that I hadn’t thought through, which you know, at first was alarming to see him say, “on’t list me as a parent, I have no responsibility to this child,’– which is not what he means, it’s just the legality of it all. It was good to talk through it with him and I actually felt way better about it after we got off the phone because it made me realize that, like, I am doing this on my own, but– even though I’m gonna sign a document that says he has absolutely nothing to do with this, he IS still supporting me and thinking about parts of it that I wasn’t thinking about, and different ramifications that our own personal situation lends to the whole kit and caboodle. You know, just the arrangement that we have and how we’re going about it. He thought through aspects of it that I wouldn’t have thought through, and so there was a real comforting aspect.

I finished up that conversation with him as I pulled into the acupuncturist parking lot and was like, ‘Yay! Things are figured out. Look at us being so smart. I explained to him what a cervix is,’. And then I got in there and the lady was like, ‘Yeah, no, you have–y ou don’t get sick regularly? Well, that means that you have an autoimmune response and you’re internalizing everything and you’re full of stress in your Chinese stomach and your Chinese liver,’ (which are different from– she’s like, it’s doesn’t–) The way she was explaining it, I was, like, ‘Is it kind of like a chakra thing or what?’ But then I didn’t know how woo woo I could get, and then I found myself just trying to like stand up for myself and be like, ‘I’ve been in therapy!’

And then I told her – I was like, I was all proud of myself I’m like, ‘I’m coming off of Celexa! I’m tapering off Celexa!” and she’s like well, there have been studies that have been done that show that Selexa leads to infertility, which I don’t think is true. I don’t know what she was quoting, because you know I go to my regular doctor and I had the pap with the midwife and I told her I was tapering off Celexa and she was like ‘You know, you don’t have to do that, right? Like you can be on Celexa and be pregnant. It’s totally fine,’ Which is different from fertility, but that’s more about birth defects. I know there’s so fucking much to think about. There’s so much to think about.

If you watch the show Catastrophe, sometimes THAT was like, my dream scenario. Just like, ‘Oops! Oh well, I guess I better do this,’. Like, what I’m doing right now? I’m making so many specific and definite plans about, like, THIS is what I’m going to do. THIS is how I’m going to do it. THIS is the form I will sign when it is done. There’s like, there’s not a lot of like fun spontaneity to it, but I guess you could say that buying a plane ticket to Alaska less than a week to take off is kind of spontaneous.

I don’t know, that’s what yesterday brought me. A wild day and then I was just like, anxious all night and then I’ve been anxious pretty much all day. Just short and kind of sassy. So, I’m glad it’s not yesterday afternoon anymore. It’s just so shitty. I’m going to prove her wrong! Now I’ve got something to prove and that’s when I do the best! I’m going to prove that acupuncturist wrong and come back and be like, ‘WELL! Guess who got pregnant right away,’ and she’ll be like, ‘Oh, the acupuncture worked,’. I’ll be like, ‘Alright, LADY,’. Why am I going back if I was so frustrated? Cuz I’m giving it the old college try, that’s why. That’s why. I’m gonna get relaxed, God dammit. All right, I’m outta here.

The Backup Plan is created, produced and hosted by me, Meredith Kate. Julian Hagins is my co-producer. You can find us on social media at backupplanpod. The best place to get updates is to sign up for our newsletter at backupplanpod. com, where we also post all episodes, show notes and transcripts. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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