Allie Conway is one half of the dynamic duo that is @allieandsam, an IG page dedicated to the same-sex couple’s life (which includes their extensive fur-family). Allie is a journalist, photo enthusiast and proud wife to the love of her life, Sam. In this Q&A she discusses her journey in conceiving with Team Ovry.
How did you and Sam meet?
Sam and I met on Tinder in 2014. I was newly out, and Sam hadn’t yet come out. After our first date, we were pretty much inseparable and got married in 2019.
We decided to grow our family in December 2019, and now, more than 2 years, 3 IUI’s, 1 round of IVF, 3 embryo transfers, 1 chemical pregnancy, and 1 miscarriage later… we’re still trying!
Have you always known that you wanted to be a parent?
Both Sam and I have always wanted to be parents.
I grew up with only one sister, who is 10 years older than me. Once she left home, I was really lonely. I also lost my twin before birth, and always felt a little lost knowing I had a missing sibling. So, to me, a huge family, with lots of giggles and screaming and busy breakfast tables just sounds like a dream!
Funnily enough, both Sam and I always wanted to adopt. When we decided to grow our family, adoption was the route we chose, however, it’s a very long process to do so. So, we decided to also pursue the fertility route - something we never imagined doing, yet here we are!
The world of fertility is generally unexplored up until you consciously decide to conceive. What has it been like navigating conception as a queer couple?
At first, it was really overwhelming. I had no idea what TTC, IUI, IVF, BFP, or any other fertility terms meant. It was like learning a new language.
I quickly versed myself in this new world and realized there was so much more to getting pregnant than I thought.
I also found most resources were geared toward heterosexual couples dealing with infertility. We fit neither of those boxes: we’re not straight and we don’t have an infertility diagnosis. Where was all the information for same-sex or queer couples or single moms by choice?
That’s something I still struggle with: there is very little inclusion for these groups in the fertility community.
We’ve been very lucky that our fertility clinic is fantastically inclusive and we have felt very welcome by every person there!
How did you decide whose eggs to use?
Initially, I actually wanted no part in the process. We planned to use Sam’s eggs, and she would carry. I personally had health anxiety and didn’t think I could go through an egg retrieval process or carry. Plus, I have anemia, asthma, and some other not-so-fun health things (like bunions - I am 90!) that I was like, let’s go with the “healthier” genes!
I can’t wait to see little baby Sams!
What was the process like for finding and selecting a sperm donor?
Choosing a sperm donor was SO FUN! This was my favourite part of the process. It was a riot! We spent so long looking through all the donor websites, reading profiles and looking at photos. It was surprisingly very hard to find one we liked. We gave them all funny little nicknames, and tried to imagine what our babies would look like with each one.
Sam ultimately fell in love with one, and then convinced me once I heard his audio interview - he was basically me in male form! I kept saying, “Wow! I love him.” And Sam kept saying, “You don’t have to date him!” It gave us lots of laughs, and still does.
What has been surprising or something you did not expect in your journey to conceive?
The most surprising thing to me on this journey so far is how long everything takes. We were so naive at the start. We thought: “all we’re missing is sperm”, but we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Before we could even consider starting to try, we had to undergo so many tests. This took months. And once we could try, it took even longer (and we still have no baby).
My whole life, I was told it was so “easy” to get pregnant. I spent my early 20’s actively trying to avoid it, without really knowing how it all even worked. I genuinely thought you could get pregnant at any point, I had no understanding of ovulation or timing.
Another huge surprise was changing my mind on carrying! I was dead set against it for the first year or so of this journey. But, slowly, my anxiety faded and something about trying just felt ‘right’ to me.
Do you have any tips for queer couples interested in trying to conceive but unsure where to start?
We found it really helpful to watch other same-sex couples journey’s on Youtube. It gave us a real life glimpse into what to expect.
We also found it helpful to do lots of research into all the options available: IUI vs IVF vs at home. It was overwhelming, but speaking to some doctors helped us!
What has been your favourite part of your conception journey so far?
Aside from choosing a sperm donor, another really special part of this journey has been making new friends. I’ve gained a few really close friends who are on a similar journey, and it’s been so helpful to have their support and understanding. They will be lifelong friends, and I’m so grateful a really crappy journey brought us something so beautiful.