Like Rabbits

Image description: Rabbit carrying two tote bags looks drily to the right at title: “Like Rabbits”

These drawings were done during the two year period that my wife, Sarah, and I were trying to get pregnant. So much has changed in my life since then. These doodles sat, almost forgotten, for almost a decade. When I pulled them out of storage, it was a window to a tough time I’d mostly forgotten.

I found the process of trying to get pregnant to be somewhat lonely. So, I’ve gone back and sorted these random sketches into a timeline with captions, in order to tell my version of the story: charting our journey, like rabbits, trying to make a baby.

January - April 2007 Image description: Plastic vile with date 04-09-07 next to a voluptuous Venus of Willendorf fertility goddess. Caption: “We’re doing this. Medical tests for Sarah and known donor. × Legal agreements signed. × Sperm donation through certified sperm bank. × Fertility goddess carved out of ivory soap.” Image description: Two rabbits speed off in a convertible Caption: “Let’s roll.”

Part One: Intrauterine Insemination Image description: A stork floats a baby bundle above the top cube of a Q-Bert game board Caption: “So far, so good. At every hurdle, we level up. Fertility tests passed by known donor. HIV and STDs tests all clear. Future mom’s doctor says everything looks good. Future grandmas are aglow. Everything is falling into place.”

June 2007 Image description: The two rabbits are in their bed. One sleeps soundly and the other is sitting up against the headboard with a thermometer in her mouth, looking tired. Caption: "Temperatures tracked to monitor ovulation." Image description: The rabbits smile at each other, each with one hand on the vile that once held the sperm that was used. They share a thought bubble with an image of insemination. Caption: "First attempt at artificial insemination, via IUI. The vile we’re holding held the donation used. Our clinic would give us the empty vile, which we kept as a sort of keepsake, on the top of a dresser in our bedroom."

July 2007 Image description: In the distance two rabbits occupy a desert island. One looks out to a vile, like a message in a bottle, floating in the ocean. On the side the vile says “This could B.” The second rabbit sits facing away. Caption: “Second attempt at IUI”

Image description: A rabbit chills with her eyes closed while listening to an iPod with earbuds. Caption: “We wait and see.. While in-flight to an academic conference from Orange County to Chicago, Sarah gets her period.”

August 2007 Image description: Three rabbits sit on a log miming the speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil, see-no-evil positions. Caption: “Third attempt at IUI”

September 2007 Image description: A vile sits in the foreground with the same fertility goddess from April on the distant horizon Caption: “Time to re-stock. Second sperm donation from known donor.”

Image description: Two rabbits hold a magic lantern with outstretches ears. Their ears are reaching high and rubbing the lantern as a stork genie comes out with a baby bundle hanging from its beak. Caption: “Fourth attempt at IUI. We wait again, hoping this will be the time that takes.”

Image description: Two rabbits lie in bed. One is asleep with relaxed ears. The second is awake and looking tense. Caption: “We wait and see.”

Image description: Three rabbits lie fly above a desert highway, two large, one small. Caption: “Sarah flies to Tucson for a job interview. I have a dream of a baby while she’s gone.”

Image description: A rabbit kneels, as if in prayer, holding her ears between her hands with her eyes closed. Caption: “Sarah calls in the morning to say she got her period the morning before her job interview.”

October 2007 Image description: A rabbit stands in knee deep water holding a vile high. The vile reads, “Enough already.” In the standing water a tortoise rows by in a row boat. Caption: “Fifth attempt at IUI”

Image description: A rabbit wears a karate gi and eye mask, deftly balancing on one foot while swinging both arms. There is a hole in the wall behind. Caption: “Sarah successfully defends dissertation.”

November 2007 Image description: A rabbit hold a vile that reads, “Maybe this time.” The rabbit has an eye patch and a cast on one leg. Behind her, her shadow hits the wall. Caption: “Sixth attempt at IUI”

Image description: Two rabbits stand under a rain cloud, though one is clearly getting more wet. The dry bunny reaches a hand to the wet bunny. Caption: “Sarah gets her period the first week of her new job.”

January 2008 Image description: A rabbit rides a skateboard on her belly past two traffic cones. Caption: “A new city, new jobs and a new fertility doctor… (We have our sperm shipped from California to Arizona)”

Image description: An idyllic cottage has a very large bunny inside, with two ears sticking out the chimney and a large foot out the front door. Caption: “…with a very crowded waiting room.”

February 2008 Image description: Two rabbits sit in chairs with a clock on the wall behind them. One listens to headphones. Their postures are upright and they share a concerned glance. Caption: “The wait is one hour in the waiting room. ”

Image description: Two rabbits are in silhouette, drawn as scratched lines. In the foreground a vile reads, “Try #7”. Caption: “We give IUI another try, our seventh. ”

Image description: A rabbit cries, neck deep in a pool of her own tears. Caption: “It doesn’t work. ”

March 2008 Image description: A rabbit wearing a snorkel mask is perched on a diving board above a giant beaker ready to dive in. Caption: “Based on Sarah’s history, he prescribes Clomid, a drug to boost fertility.”

Image description: A rabbit walks away from the viewer. Her shoulders are slumped and she’s hanging her head low. In her wake are footprints and two rows of tears. Caption: “Clomid blocks estrogen receptors at the hypothalamus.”

Image description: A rabbit lies on her stomach and looks into a deep grave-shaped hole with a ladder at its side. Caption: “We try IUI plus Clomid, our eighth attempt. When this fails, IVF is the next logical step.”

Part Two: In Vitro Fertilization Image description: A rabbit falls head first into a hole looking worried. Caption: “IVF. So much more work than it looks like on TV.”

April 2008: Week One Image description: A rabbit lies on a bed with six needles in various locations in its body. She’s thinking about a butterfly. Caption: “Acupuncture.”

Image description: A rabbit stares at a neatly arranged array of viles, syringes and drugs in various packages. Caption: “Drugs from Canada.”

Image description: A rabbit reads the side of a bottle that is taller that she is.

April 2008: Week Two Image description: One rabbit sits on a chair giving the second rabbit a shot in the stomach. Caption: “Lupron shots, directly in the stomach.”

Image description: One rabbit eyes her watch. In her other hand she holds a giant towering spatula over a second rabbit that is a flat, round pancake. Caption: “The goal: Flat line your natural hormone cycle.”

April 2008: Week Two Image description: Ripped open packet of a steaming alcohol swab.

April 2008: Weeks Three and Four Image description: Two rabbits cook together at a stove top. One looks confused and is thinking of carrots. The second is crying and thinking about a line of syringes. Caption: “The Lupron is not working yet.”

Image description: Two rabbits lie together on a bed. One is crying with a puddle of tears collecting on the floor. The second is staring at the ceiling.

May 2008 Image description: A rabbit is seated at a table with a circle shaped part of her body removed and lying on the table. Caption: “Eighteen months since we started.”

Image description: A rabbit carries a cylinder down a flight of stairs. Caption: “I considered myself a patient person.”

Image description: A sad rabbit places a jar on the top row of basement set of shelves. All the shelves are lined with similar jars. Caption: “It’s not like I was expecting a miracle.”

July 2008 Image description: A rabbit prepares a syringe with her tongue out in concentration and her ears crossed for luck. Caption: “Ready to resume,”

Image description: Two rabbits are distracted by a hummingbird feeding at their window. One rabbit is giving the second a shot in the stomach. Caption: “First the Lupron.”

Image description: A happy rabbit gives the other rabbit a shot in the ass. The same image repeats three times. Below is a line of three large bandaids. Caption: “Then repronex.”

Image description: An underground cross-section of the rabbit hole shows a network of tunnels and storage areas with viles, swabs, and other medical supplies. At the base of the rabbit hole, two rabbits and a cat sleep peacefully, sharing a dream of a stork with a baby bundle. Caption: “Follicle count shows 11-12 total.”

Image description: Two rabbits smile at each other, nose to nose. Centerred in the foreground is a basket of eggs. In the sky behind them, a small sun is shining. Caption: “The doctor gets the eggs. He’s optimistic and so are we. The team fertilizes them and implants them.”

Image description: A rabbit prepared a shot of progesterone. Caption: “Progesterone shots.”

Image description: A rabbit leans her head on the table crossing her long ears for luck. Caption: “Fingers crossed. This is really our last chance.”

August 2008 Image description: Two rabbits hold hands looking up at the sky, where two baby bundles float down from parachutes. Caption: “At home pregnancy test: positive.”

Image description: A confident rabbit winks and gives the hang loose sign with one hand. In the other she hold a giant syringe with a sparkling needle tip. Caption: “Still lots more shots.”

September 2008 Image description: Two rabbits share a thought bubble containing a pair of baby bunnies in a stroller. One of the adult rabbits is dreamy and happy. The other has her hands on her hips looking up with concern Caption: “Twins! Wait, what!?! Twins? What were we thinking?”

It was not an easy road, but in the end, Sarah did get pregnant. In the years since these were originally drawn, we’ve been very busy raising the kids generated by this process. It’s been exhausting­­ — like they say, “All joy, no fun.” Despite all the emotional upheaval, we got our happy ending. I know not all couples are so lucky.

Christy is a graphic designer in Orange County, CA who spends most of her time trying to make nice signs so people know where they are and don't get lost. She's also the mom to two amazing nine year olds, who are learning to play LaCroix (sic) in PE Class. Follow her on twitter @2clicksmore.

Christy has written 1 articles for us.

40 Comments

  1. This was so incredible and deeply moving. Thank you for sharing this window into your lives with us. Funny enough, while you were penning these comics I was 17-18 years old living in Orange County and coming to terms with my sexuality and feeling so alone. I had no idea a story like this was unfolding right in my own backyard. Really broadens your perspective and makes the lonely journey, in retrospect, somehow feel a little less lonely.

  2. This was quite a page-turner, or rather a “mouse-scroller” ! What will happen next ? The moods, the imagery. Was that a cabbage-patch outside the Arizona doctor’s office ?
    Thanks for sharing such a personal story with so much thoughtfulness.

  3. I also felt very lonely during the trying-to-get-lesbian-pregnant process. There isn’t a lot of support, especially as you fall down the rabbit hole of reproductive medicine, that is geared toward queer women…and most queer women’s websites seemed to focus on the aftermath, pregnancy, or acted as though acquiring sperm is the hardest part–once you have it, just throw it up there and boom, a baby!

    At 24 years old I did not think it would take me a long, gut wrenching, expensive, medicated year to get pregnant. We did six IUIs, 3 unmedicated in 2017 and 3 with letrozole (similar to Clomid), trigger shots, and progesterone in 2018. We were preparing for IVF when I got my positive after #6. We are now overjoyed to be 10 weeks pregnant and to have seen our kidlet twice over ultrasound.

    I think we need more writing about what it’s like for lesbians to go through this, especially when it is not easy!

    • Right?!?
      It was very complicated.

      As someone who has never had to deal with the possibility of getting pregnant during sex, I was pretty naive about some of the details of the reproductive side of sex and timing.
      Even within my larger circle of friends, a lot of straight women I know had spent over a decade medically avoiding pregnant. So much so that they had the wrong idea that it would be easy, like catching a cold.

      And yes, like a lot of the primary narratives might lead one to believe, I thought getting the sperm would be the hard part. Ha!

      Who knew lube usually contains spermicide? I recall our donor showing us the packaging for something called “HisSeed, ” a non-spermicidal lube. The lab room was low on gay porn, but he finally found something called “A Hard Gay’s Night” which I’ll never forget.

  4. Thanks you so much for posting this! Right now I’m at IVF round 2 after 5 unsuccessful rounds of IUI. We have all our fingers and toes crossed but at this point I feel like I’m completely at the bottom of that little bunny burrow. So it’s so good to hear that you ended up with TWO! Congratulations. And thank you again x

  5. Been reading for YEARS, finally signed up to comment.

    Thank you *so much* for sharing this. I have been searching for stories of queer women (or trans men, or partners of trans men) trying to conceive.

    We just tried our first IUI in June and it didn’t take. I believe a zygote tried to implant but couldn’t, based on symptoms I had. It has been hard on both of my wife and me. I need to a break before trying again.

    Thank you times a million.

  6. What a beautiful story – I’m so glad you were able to have your babies!I’ve also been on the same heartbreaking journey, but as a single mother with an anonymous donor.

    6 IUIs resulted in 1 pregnancy that ended in a devastating miscarriage at 9 weeks; 1 round of IVF with two frozen transfers and 2 years later I’m pregnant (13 weeks). It’s such a difficult journey – both physically and emotionally.

  7. Thank you so much for this.

    My partner and I are only in the early stages of trying to conceive but I’m already overwhelmed by the uncertainty and the loneliness due to lack of support for queer couples. It doesn’t help that I seem to be surrounded by straight women who were fortunate to conceive easily! Reading other people’s stories really helps.

    • Thanks. It’s been a great experience so far to share this via Autostraddle and hear the responses.

      I’m not sure what to tell people in the middle of a similar journey. Part of me thought this piece should have a subtitle: A cautionary tale… Or some such warning that it might make you never want to try to get pregnant.

  8. This is me and my wife, right before Part II. Seven IUIs, three without meds, three with some meds, one with all of the meds. You know the part of the story where you’re sure the main character is going to die? That’s where I am right now.

  9. My oldest is also nine with a similar lengthy getting pregnant process.

    I agree with the other commenters saying that we need more of these stories out there so we know how common this story is.

    Thank you for sharing and for the beautiful drawings.

  10. Your artwork is amazing! It allowed me to walk through your journey, with all of its emotions! I have low vision, but I can see your drawings some lunch when I get very close. I want to say that I greatly appreciate the fact that you have also added alternate text and captions. Thanks a lot for thinking about accessibility! All the best to you and your future!

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.