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Building a Family with Love & Reciprocal IVF | Taylor & Holly's Story

Two moms share what it was like to both participate in the building of their family through IUI and reciprocal IVF.

June 13th, 2024 | 7 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

Taylor and Holly open up to share their LGBTQ+ fertility journey, which included both IUI and reciprocal IVF, how they navigated the ups and downs, their advice for other two mom families, and what life looks like now as a busy family of four.

In this article:

Meet Taylor & Holly

Taylor and Holly met on an LQBTQ+ dating app called HER in 2016 and quickly entered into a serious relationship. They lived in Boston, MA and Providence, RI before moving to Connecticut together. In 2018, after realizing they wanted to spend forever together, they got married in Taylor's hometown near Stowe, VT.

"Family has always been central to our relationship," Holly says. "In fact, our shared desire to build a family is one of the things that drew us towards each other."

They discussed early on how many kids they both wanted (lots), who would carry the pregnancies (Taylor didn't have a desire to carry, but Holly did), and that they both wanted a biological connection to their children (meaning they would likely pursue both IUI and IVF).

"We even discussed what to do about our last names!" Holly says. "While Taylor was willing to hyphenate or take my last name, I wanted to make sure that her last name had special meaning. I suggested that if we ever had a girl, we would name her Rousselle (Taylor's last name) and we would call her Roux."

Ready, set...babies!

In 2019, Taylor and Holly felt ready to start expanding their family. They reached out to their OB/GYN for a referral to a fertility clinic and were soon connected to the team at Illume Fertility.

"While the referral originally came from our doctor, we felt even more confident in our choice because we had close friends (Katie and Becky) who were working with Illume and had already had their first baby," Holly recalls. "They spoke so highly of the care and support that they received, not just from their doctor, but from everyone they interacted with."

The Reality of Family Building

As an LGBTQ+ couple, Taylor and Holly knew their journey to motherhood might be a little more challenging. One thing they didn't expect was how many in-person appointments would be required when working with a fertility clinic.

They soon learned they'd have to drive in to the Illume offices for initial fertility evaluations, diagnostic blood work, morning monitoring, ultrasounds, and other important parts of the process. 

First Time's a Charm

In June 2019, Taylor and Holly had their first consultation with Dr. Cynthia Murdock and discussed their long-term plans for kids. One thing they knew right away was that they wanted to try reciprocal IVF in the future so they could both have genetic connections to their children.

Reciprocal IVF is similar to traditional IVF treatment, with the exception of both partners being able to be intimately involved in the process. For couples who both wish to be biologically connected to their child, RIVF can be a great option. One parent is genetically linked (acting as the "egg donor") and the other parent carries the pregnancy.

The couple decided to start with an intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle, using Holly's egg combined with sperm from a donor. Thankfully, their first try was a success, and Holly got pregnant in August 2019. Their daughter Roux was born in May 2020.

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Our Reciprocal IVF Journey

 

In November 2021, when Roux was a little over a year old, Taylor and Holly had another consultation with Dr. Murdock to discuss trying for their second baby. "We knew that the reciprocal IVF process using Taylor's eggs would be more complicated than a simple IUI cycle," Holly says.

During Taylor's egg retrieval in March 2022, she had 23 eggs retrieved.

17 of those eggs were deemed 'mature' by Illume's Embryology Team, and nine eggs successfully fertilized with the same donor sperm they'd used for their daughter, Roux. In the end, the couple was able to freeze five embryos.

Balancing Hope and Uncertainty

The most difficult part of the process for Taylor and Holly was waiting for results and the uncertainty after Taylor's egg retrieval.

"We felt good about having so many eggs retrieved," Holly recalls, "but in the days following, it was really unnerving to see the numbers dwindle so quickly." While attrition is a natural and expected part of the IVF process, that doesn't make it any easier for hopeful parents.

Thankfully, when they went on to do a frozen embryo transfer in April 2022, they heard those two little words they'd been hoping for: "You're pregnant!" Taylor and Holly's son Holland was born in December 2022. Big sister Roux quickly took to her new role, helping with everything from bath time to tummy time.


Leaning On Community

"We were very lucky to have gotten pregnant quickly with both children," Holly says, "but in navigating this sometimes confusing, overwhelming process, we were very fortunate to have friends who had been through IVF themselves and were ready and willing to answer questions - or just talk."

One of their close friends, Sarah, even hopped on a FaceTime call with the nervous moms for their first night of IVF injections when they started treatment. "We felt like we needed the extra support," Holly says. "And we've tried to pay that forward to other people who have reached out to us with questions as they begin their own fertility journeys."

Advice for Other LGBTQ+ Parents-to-Be

Establishing your own community and support system is essential, the couple says. 

"It's especially helpful to have other LGBTQ+ couples who have been through the process and can answer questions or provide resources," Holly says. "Also, don't hesitate to make connections with people on social media - most people we have reached out to were so warm and willing to talk!"

Similarly, she says, they love hearing from and connecting with other parents and parents-to-be. Having been through multiple forms of treatment to build their family of four, Taylor and Holly enjoy supporting others on similar paths.

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Best Resources for Two Mom Families 

Before starting their IUI and IVF journeys, the couple says they loved listening to episodes of "If These Ovaries Could Talk" (now called The Queer Family Podcast), which gave them a better understanding of what was ahead of them. "It was an amazing resource and a great conversation starter for pregnancy and parenting-related things," Holly says.

"Now, as parents, we stock our bookshelves with LGBTQ+ family-friendly books to ensure our kids see families like theirs represented," Holly says. Some of their favorite books include:

Another favorite family tradition? Attending West Hartford's family Pride festivities with their kids every June! 

Looking Towards the Future

"Right now, we're enjoying the hectic and amazing life that comes with having two little ones," Holly says. "Roux loves being a big sister, and Holland can't take his eyes off of her!" The siblings already have such a strong bond and their moms say they can't wait to see it develop in the coming years.

As for expanding their family, Holly says they can't wait: "Future babies? Yeah, sign us up!" 

Sierra Dehmler

Sierra Dehmler is Illume Fertility’s Content Marketing Manager - and 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 fertility patients by demystifying the fertility treatment process.

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