9: To Breed, or Not to Breed (w/ Krystina Arielle & Whitney Warren)

October 4, 2023


LET’S KEEP THIS ENERGY GOING! Krystina Arielle and Whitney Warren join this week to talk about The Cut’s article, “Why Can’t Our Friendship Survive Your Baby?“. Not only do we get into sociological stereotypes about motherhood and the changing nature of friendship as we age, but we even manage to squeeze in some Twilight talk.


Hello everybody, welcome to the Back of Plan. My name is Meredith Kate and I am having, or trying to have, a baby with my best gay friend, michael. This episode is just going to be me, myself and I, and we’re coming in hot on sperm procurement Everything you could ever want to know about sperm procurement, or at least what I know about sperm procurement so far, which is probably more than the average bear, probably less than I’m going to end up knowing about sperm procurement, and you know, just keep listening, I’ll fill you in Everything you want to know about getting it, getting it into your body, if that’s something that you’d like here, I’m here to share what I know. I want to take it back to when I first decided to do this, back to March, when I bought a plane ticket to fly up to Alaska. I just thought a DIY situation would be easy, and it was. I also thought that it was something I’d want to do kind of from the comfort of somebody’s home rather than an office, and I learned that wasn’t the case. Being alone in a room with a syringe was not fun. So, in case you haven’t listened to previous episodes, what I did in March was bought a plane ticket, flew up to Alaska, gave Mike a sterile cup, used a sterile syringe, took an ovulation test, made sure I was ready to go and he handed me the cup after he was done. Well, not really, actually. Let me tell you a funny story. So I was ovulating. I knew that I’ve been taking a test every day. I was really nervous and anxious because I had caught off my antidepressants, so I wasn’t really in a good frame of mind to do this. Ultimately, I’m glad it didn’t work then and there, because I don’t know what kind of frame of mind I’d be in right now. But I took a whole litany of things with me up to Alaska, which, if you had to the website at backupplanpodcom if this is something you want to try on your own, I have the links for you you can go and buy my little DIY kit that I made up on my own. I know that Free2Baby sells, you know, all in one kit. There’s also a company called Mozi that sells a kit and I’ll see if I can get some discount codes for you guys, if you want to try that. It’s something I might try in the future, because you’ll see why in a second. So I went up there and I kept testing my ovulation. It wasn’t happening, which was, I think. I was just super nervous. And when it finally did happen, I gave Mike a cup and he was like I’m gonna go in the bathroom and take care of business, just like, don’t make any sound, I just don’t want to think about you being here. I was like dude, likewise. So I sat in the guest room with everything on silent, I think I even turned the lights out, I think, just to be extra not there. And I told him you know, just knock on the door when you’re ready. And so his friend was coming over and they were going cross country skiing and he was like, do you want to come with? And I was like, nah, I don’t know. That, like a Nordic track action in the bottom half of my body is like the best idea in this situation that I’m gonna find myself in. I think I want to keep my legs as closely together and not in a scissor back and forth motion, I think, up in the air, if anything. So, anyway, I knew his friend was coming over. I didn’t know exactly. When I’m just sitting in the room totally alone, I hear him turn on the shower in the bathroom and you know, I’m just mentally preparing myself and feeling crazy anxious and all of a sudden I heard Hello, and I was like that’s a weird way to announce that you’re done doing such a thing. So I opened the door to the guest room and his friend was standing right there Somebody I’d never met, by the way and I was like oh hi, I’m Meredith, thinking Mike’s in the bathroom. He’s not. He comes out of his room in full ski gear, which I’m very confused about, because obviously I thought you know he was not wearing ski gear. It doesn’t seem like the best outfit to wear to provide samples. So I look at Mike kind of with horror and I was like I thought you were going to tell me when you finished. And he said I literally just finished. Now I don’t know when he had time to put the ski gear on. That’s a question for him next time he’s on the podcast. But I said well, where is it? He said it’s in the bathroom under the hand towel. It’s under the hand towel, that’s OK. And I turn to go back into the bathroom to get it and his friend goes I’m just going to pee before we head out and like got in the bathroom so fast, I couldn’t even stop him. And I turn and I look at Mike, who it doesn’t. It didn’t seem to register to him at first. And then, all of a sudden, his eyes went wide and he said, what if he washes his hands? And I was like, well, I hope he washes his hands. But yeah, true, but if he washes his hands he goes, he’s going to find the cup. And I was like, well, you better do something about it. And so he knocked on the door and he was like, hey, when you’re done, just wash your hands and use the towel on the wall. And his friend was like, all right. And so then they left and I zipped in there as quickly as I could and, like, took the cup and tried not to smell it that was the worst part for me was the smell and they left for cross country skiing. And then I used my trusty companion, the sterile syringe, and did what I had to do. I also used a menstrual disc to basically keep the swimmers in the pool. I also used there’s a kind of a gel that you can use that will make it a more hospitable environment, so I use that as well. And then, like I said, I wasn’t really in a good headspace. There had just been major layoffs of my job and again the aforementioned depression, and I freaked out and said you know what, if it happens, it happens, that’s it Done. And I just wasn’t in a comfortable location either. I just wanted to be at home in my own bed. So, all this to say, I decided that after that whole experience and I got myself leveled out, ready to go I really would prefer to do this in a more sterile environment. There are some fertility clinics that are like really above and beyond. The top choice for me is kind body. It just looks like a place I’d want to hang out regardless. The vibes are very like millennial co-working space for gals. It’s just a nice environment and I’m a sucker for aesthetics, so I like the way that they work with LGBTQ couples. I like their ethos. I’m really into what they’re doing. That’s the preferred situation. The thing is getting the sperm to that location, because the procedure itself is expensive enough. I think it’s about $2,000 at kind body. I have seen a range of prices on the sperm procurement and storage. I’m just going to keep saying sperm procurement it’s too fun not to, it is cost prohibitive. It really is pretty difficult. I knew it was going to be expensive. I didn’t know it was going to be this expensive. What I’m going to do right now is take you guys back to Friday night. Now I’ve done some preliminary research prior to this, of course, about known donors and stuff like that, but this is where I really got super nitty gritty, because I wanted to present to y’all the 411, the information, and it was just not the most fun information to find on a Friday night. So let’s time travel back to Friday night. It’s Friday, september 1st, and I have moved my computer and my microphone and my little external hard drive into my bedroom and I’m sitting in my bed ready to tell you guys about what I learned this week. Guess, who read the word sperm one too many times last night Was me. I did. It was me. I didn’t love the information I got either. So here’s what’s up. So, in terms of conception, I found out some stuff this week that’s like not as fun and required me to do a lot of research. So I just thought it would be a lot easier to find some place to do sperm banking. I thought that that was just something that was more readily available than it actually is. There are some places that will do private sperm banking and it’s hard for me to look this up because it’s not my sperm and I know we’re gonna have to go through a lot of hoops and hurdles with these different places and having assigned forms and having to go through different medical tests and stuff Mike more so than me because my sperm just it’s not enough of my sperm to test. But yeah, I just thought it would be simpler and Mike is moving from Alaska to Washington and thank God I didn’t look this up when he was in Alaska and I didn’t know if he was gonna be moving, because it would have been so much more depressing. First and foremost, when you look up sperm donor information, the first thing that comes up is the more normal anonymous sperm donation stuff. So it’ll come up with donor profiles and joining like sperm clubs and whatnot, and that’s not what I need. So I had to find the right term to look up the right term. It’s either designated donor or it’s known donor, and those two qualifications certainly helped me Google things a lot easier. After that I learned that there are some sperm banks that are really hard and fast about a six month quarantine period, meaning that the donor would get an STD, sti test, donate and then, after six months, take another test and then at that point the sperm can be released to the person who will be utilizing it. So there’s that. I don’t love that time period. I don’t want to wait six months, I want to do this in two to three months. So then I started reading other stuff and it was saying there are some sperm banks that will forego that six month period if a doctor signs off on it and if you sign off on the risks. Now it seems that that’s up to the fertility clinic as well. So where I would go for the IUI, if they specifically adhere to that six month period and they don’t wanna play games, then that just sucks, or I had to find another one. So it’s not like you know what brand of shampoo am I gonna buy here? My options are more limited. There are some options, there’s not a lot of them, and that was not a fun bit of information to learn the other night. So last night I would say I spent about two to three hours creating a spreadsheet Spreadsheets are my love language, by the way. I put together a really you know comprehensive sheet of rows and columns of like these are the sperm banks, and these are the criteria that they are working with or under. Here’s the regulation that they have. And here are websites that do have information about known donors. Here’s another it’s a private banking website, but they don’t have information about sperm donors. Here’s a private sperm bank, but they don’t have a page about using that sperm for known or designated donors. So it’s not the same information is on all the websites. And then there are some sperm banks that you know they do say yes, we do cater to this sort of need if you are donating sperm to somebody who is not your sexually intimate partner, and some of those require multiple donations over a two to three week period. None of those are in the town that Michael is moving to. Some are in the town that I live in or near the town that I live in. So then, that requires asking Mike to come stay with me for two weeks, which, look, I’d love. That would be really fun. But he’s also just uprooted his life and moved to a new town. Luckily, there is a sperm bank in Seattle. That’s a short flight from where he’s moving to, but then do I wanna you know I will pay for him to fly to that place back and forth, back and forth. It’s a commute. It’s a little short up and down flight, but it’s still. That’s a lot of pressure, that’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of stress, and stress affects sperm count and motility and all of the things. So it’s complicated. This is complicated. A lot of times you’ll hear with heterosexual couples like, oh, it’s five minutes of fun for him and then she gets to do all the work. No, this is a little bit more equal guys, this is some legwork that he has to put in. I don’t know, man, it’s just, it’s a lot. I really wish that our whole little DIY method had worked. Alas, here we are. So that’s kind of the skinny. You know I’m emailing a bunch of companies too and letting them know that you know we’re sharing the story and asking if they want to partake in it, because you know I’m happy to share the great experiences I have with different companies. Because it’s hard to, it’s hard to find, you know you can read Yelp reviews, I guess, but it’s it’s difficult, difficult to know. It’s a lot to think about and I’m doing the best that I can. My spreadsheets help and my friends help and the kind words that I’m getting from all of you guys. That certainly helps as well. So thank you. So, anyway, that is the update on this fine Friday evening and thanks for listening. So what is the story now? Right, that was, that was Friday night. We’re now Tuesday. I’m recording this like right at the last minute for you guys, for Wednesday release, but I ended up emailing a couple of different companies. After I went through my spreadsheet of who was going to be the best option to work with, I got some emails back from some places. I don’t know if I want to. I don’t know. Should I tell you all the places I reached out to or should I just tell you the places that got back to me? Well, all right, here’s the deal. Here are the 11 companies I decided to reach out to, in alphabetical order. I’m going to stress that not all of these provide information about known donors. I just figured I’d reach out to them regardless, just to see if perhaps there was like another website, or maybe they had another company that they worked with to do that, or if they did known donor storage. I don’t know. On the download, I just figured I’d reach out to them. So in alphabetical order California Cryo Bank, cryo Bank America, cryo Choice, cryos International, fairfax Cryo Bank, legacy, new England Cryogenic Center, san Diego Sperm Bank, seattle Sperm Bank, sperm Bank Incorporated and the Sperm Bank of California. I think that Sperm Bank Incorporated is now going by fertility. Let me check Fertility Center of California. So of those I got emails back from Cryo Choice, fairfax Cryo Bank, fertility Center of California let’s see here. Seattle Sperm Bank oh, in the email signature of Seattle Sperm Bank it’s like a rainbow, that’s fun. And Cryo Bank America. So Support fosses from yours. Of those that wrote back, some of them said no immediately. Let’s see. I think CryoChoice said no, we don’t do that. But best wishes to me and you know what Best wishes to you as well, cryochoice. Let’s keep on keeping on Good on you. Cryochoice. Seattle Sperm Bank wrote back very lovely, quick little message that they’d be happy to chat. Fertility Center of California wrote back as well. They said they don’t do this as much, but they do do it. Legacy wrote back and said they’re not a typical sperm bank. We don’t sell or buy sperm, we only freeze sperms. This is funny Freeze sperms for the clients. So one of the questions I have back to them is okay, will you freeze them? But like, where will you send them? Can Michael tell you to send them to me? You know that’s the question. Fairfax CryoBank wrote back and said that there is a package fee of $6,500, which seems wild to me, which is much more expensive than the other ones. I think what I’ll do is put together. I mean, should I make this sperm bank spreadsheet public? Would you like to see it? Because, listen, the only thing I love more than making a spreadsheet is sharing a spreadsheet, so maybe I’ll put it up there. So that’s where we’re at on all of that. And I talked to Michael about this over the weekend and said, you know, basically back, what I said on Friday was that I know you’re probably not gonna wanna come for two weeks and just hang out, come for two weeks. And he said he would. He was like no, I think that’d be fine, I’d love that. I think I’d annoy you though, like, are you okay with that? And I was like, yeah, I’m okay with that and he will probably annoy me, but I love him and I love being annoyed by him. He’s one of my favorite annoyances. So that’s where we stand right now. I don’t know I still have to go through these emails because it’s so hard. You know you have like seven different threads in your inbox from different people about different things, and that’s why the spreadsheet is so helpful to me, because I can just organize my thoughts and organize the information. You know the other option too once I get the sperm, then I have to figure out where to get it IUI’d into me, and you know that’s where I just come back to to like, why don’t I just give the DIY method a go again? We tried once and that was it. So I can’t really say it didn’t work, because it didn’t work that singular time that we did it. You know it might be worth just flying him down here at the appropriate time and going balls to the wall. You know? Yeah, you know it’s something to think about, it’s a lot to consider, it’s wild not knowing what’s going to work, and it’s also really wild for me to share something in progress because I really like to present the full package. I hate admitting that I don’t know and admitting that I don’t know how something’s going to turn out, but none of us know how anything’s going to turn out right, so we’re just going to see what happens. I’m going to keep sending these emails and I’m going to keep my information in check. I’m going to keep sharing with all of you what’s going on. If I’m honest, doing the podcast is actually really helpful, because when the going gets tough and I just want to not think about this, I’m like shit. I got to release an episode on Wednesday and I need to have an update. There’s a certain level of accountability that you’re all holding me to, which is not to say I don’t want to do this. I very much do. But when you’re doing it all by yourself, it can just wear you down. It’s nice, it’s really nice to have to keep answering to somebody. So, truly, thank you, it’s very helpful. You know what else is helpful? Apple podcast reviews. I so appreciate reading what you guys are thinking. We’ve got 27 ratings right now, which I read. Some report that like, if you have more than 11 ratings on your podcast, you have more ratings than, like, 70% of the podcast out there. So I am swimming in praise and thank you. I want to thank Jess for throwing a review out there. She said I don’t even want kids, but I love hearing Meredith’s story. As a millennial, I feel like. It makes you think about life, beliefs and how we’re raised to believe life should go a certain way, and that’s really sweet. Thank you, jess. Yeah, it’s a wild time to be alive and I’m really grateful that I’ve had a lot of time to do some naval gazing and consider what I really want, and I’m grateful that you guys like hearing it. As a reminder, I have social media accounts set up on Instagram, tiktok. I have been putting the podcast up on YouTube as well. At some point there’s going to be a bit of a vlog element to this, you know, as I’m going to doctor’s appointments or, you know, putting together a nursery or stuff. That’s definitely a more visual situation and I want to share that as well. So if you go to YouTube and subscribe there, like you are finger on the pulse, you are a trendsetter, you’re ahead of the curve, we all bow down to you and beyond that. I think that’s. I think that’s it for this week, guys. I think we’re keeping it a little bit short, a little bit sweet. You know, again, keep reaching out. Got some guests lined up, gals who’ve already done this. Wisdom I’m going to glean from them. I’m very excited. Otherwise, I hope you’re having a great week and thanks again. The backup plan is created, produced and hosted by me, meredith Cape. Julian Hagen’s is my co producer. You can find us on social media at backup plan pod. The best place to get updates is to sign up for our newsletter at backup plan podcom, where we also post all episodes of show notes and transcripts. Thank you for listening.

Sanity-Saving Baby Gear According to Krystina

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