Everything starts with a blood test: IVF

It wasn’t a surprise when our fertility specialist suggested that we try IVF. I knew the odds of conceiving via IUI weren’t high; IVF was the natural progression. I was actually a little happy that we could jump ahead to a procedure with much better odds.

I read up on what the procedure involved. I expected pain during the egg retrieval, and felt prepared for that. I didn’t think too much about the fertility medications. I assumed they’d be no different to the medication I took during the IUI. This assumption was wrong.

My first cycle didn’t go quite to plan

Everything starts with a blood test. At least I was familiar with this part of the process. In the afternoon, the nurse called to say I was good to go, and I started the injections that night.  Injections are never fun, so I made Jay do them for me. 

After five days of injections I felt a bit bloated and uncomfortable, but nothing completely out of the ordinary. I went in for another blood test, and that afternoon the nurse called;

“we’re a bit concerned about how rapidly your oestrogen has risen. You’ll need to come in for another ultrasound and blood test tomorrow so we can figure out what is going on.”

I kept taking my injections as normal, but that night I struggled to sleep. I felt nauseous, the bloating hadn’t gone down, and that’s when the emotional side effects started.

The next day we went to the clinic early in the morning. Jay was taking notes for the sonographer. In total, there were 36 follicles. Jay ran out of room on the page and had to start writing in the margins. I knew this number was too high; at our first appointment the fertility specialist said she aims for 10.

I was on annual leave, and Jay was on school holidays, so we kept ourselves occupied with ice-cream and a visit to Paperchain bookstore. When the nurses called that afternoon, they didn’t hold back:

“I’m sorry, I don’t have good news…”

My cycle was cancelled. Apparently my oestrogen had risen too quickly, and it would be too risky to continue.

That night my stomach started to balloon. It got rock hard as it filled with liquid and I gained 2 kgs in just over a day. I felt nauseous, and cried in the shower (but I still don’t know why). I tried to sleep, and put pillows between my legs, and tossed to find a position that was comfortable. Nothing seemed to help. I eventually gave up, and Jay kept me company while I watched the latest season of Grace and Frankie.

IVF wasn’t fun. I’m feeling back to normal now, and hoping next time won’t be so hard.   Even if is, I’d still do it again, but I’ll make sure to stock up on ginger ale, wheat bags, and binge-worthy tv.

 

Separation and rainbow families: what happens when it ends?

In my last post, we looked at whether same-sex couples can have both mothers’ names listed on their child’s birth certificate. Just to recap, the legislation is slightly different in each state and territory, but in general two women can be listed on a birth certificate provided they are in a de-facto, or ‘marriage-like’ relationship and the child is conceived by artificial insemination with the consent of both parties.

But what happens if the couple separates? If both parties are listed on the birth certificate, do they have the same legal rights and responsibilities?

Parental responsibility

When a couple separates, the Family Law Act presumes that it is in the best interests of the child for both parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child (see section 61DA of the Act). This presumption applies to parents living all Australian states and territories. 

Parental responsibility means the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to their children. In practice, this involves decisions about what school your child goes to, where they will live, whether they will be brought up a particular faith.

Assuming both parents are the child’s ‘legal parents’, the presumption of equal parental responsibility is not affected by whether they are or are not biologically related to the child.

Parenting Orders

The presumption of equal parental responsibility does not relate to the amount of time the child spends with each of the parents. If the couple were unable to decide this matter between them, they can apply to the Family Court for a Parenting Order (see section 65D(1) of the Act).

In these matters, the Court’s paramount consideration is the best interests of the child. It will also consider whether the child spending equal time, or ‘substantial and significant time’, with each of the parents is reasonably practicable. The Court will have regard to matters such as:

  • how far apart the parties live from each other;
  • their capacity to communicate effectively; and
  • any other relevant matter.

Getting help

Separation is a stressful time for any family, and often involves complex legal issues. If you need legal assistance, you can get advice from:

The Family Court of Australia provides general information and referrals to the public, but cannot provide legal advice. It has also published a brochure containing information for people considering, or affected by separation or divorce.

Australian birth certificates: can my kid have two mums?

In the last few years there have been significant changes to laws relating to birth certificates and presumption of parentage.

Fortunately, all Australian states and territories now allow both women in a de facto relationship to be listed on their child’s birth certificate – if that child was conceived via artificial insemination or IVF.

However, the laws are slightly different from state to state making things a bit complicated; scroll down to your state and find out the key information as it applies to you:

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Under section 11 of the Parentage Acttwo woman in a domestic partnership are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner agreed to the procedure. 

Additionally, the child is presumed not to be the child of the sperm donor.

This presumption applies a procedure involving:

(a) artificial insemination; or
(b) the procedure of transferring into the uterus of a person an embryo derived from an ovum fertilised outside the person’s body; or
(c) any other way (whether medically assisted or not) by which a person can become pregnant other than by having sexual intercourse with a person.

Under section 14 of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, both parents may be listed on the birth certificate, but a not a sperm donor.

New South Wales (NSW)

Under section 14 of the Status of Children Act two woman in a de facto relationship are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner consented to the fertilisation procedure. 

Additionally, the child is presumed not to be the child of the sperm donor.

This presumption applies to children conceived by a ‘fertilisation procedure’, which means:

(a) the artificial insemination of a woman, or
(b)  the procedure of transferring to a woman’s body an ovum (whether or not produced by her) fertilised outside her body, or
(c)  the procedure of transferring to a woman’s body an ovum (whether or not produced by her) or both the ovum and sperm to enable fertilisation of the ovum to occur in her body

Both female parents may be listed on the birth certificate, but not the sperm donor.

A birth registration statement (a legal document given by the parents to register the child’s birth) may include a declaration that the child was conceived using donor sperm (see section 22A of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act).

Queensland (QLD)

Under sections 19C and 19D of the  Status of Children Act two woman in a de facto relationship or civil partnership are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner consented to the procedure. 

Additionally, the sperm donor has no rights or liabilities relating to the child.

This presumption applies to children conceived by:

  • artificial insemination; or
  • implanting an embryo or ovum in a person’s womb.

Both female parents may be listed on the birth certificate.

Victoria (VIC)

Under section 13 of the  Status of Children Act two woman in a relationship are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner consented to the procedure. 

Additionally, the sperm donor is presumed not to be the father of the child.

This presumption applies to children conceived by:

assisted reproductive treatment; or
artificial insemination. 

Both female parents may be listed on the birth certificate, but not the sperm donor.

A birth registration statement (a legal document given by the parents to register the child’s birth) may include a declaration that the child was conceived using donor sperm (see section 17A of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act).

Tasmania (TAS)

Under section 10C of the  Status of Children Act two woman in a significant relationship are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner consented to the procedure. 

Additionally, the sperm donor is presumed not to be the father of the child.

This presumption applies to children conceived by a fertilization procedure, which means:

artificial insemination; or
the procedure of implanting in the uterus of a woman an embryo derived from an ovum fertilized outside the body (IVF).

Tasmanian legislation does not prevent two women from being listed on a birth certificate. However, unlike many other states and territories, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act uses the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’. Tasmanian same-sex attracted couples may have more difficulty registering the birth of their child, than couples in other states and territories.

South Australia (SA)

Under section 10C of the Family Relationships Act two woman in a ‘marriage-like’ relationship are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner consented to the procedure. 

Additionally, the sperm donor is presumed not to be the father of the child.

This presumption applies to children conceived by a fertilisation procedure, which means:

assisted insemination; or
assisted reproductive treatment.

In South Australia, the birth registration statement (a legal document given by the parents to register the child’s birth) must include the details of the biological parents , which means the person who carried the child and the sperm donor (see section 14 of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act) . However, this requirement does not mean the sperm donor is legally recognised as a father, or will be listed on the birth certificate.

Northern Territory (NT)

Under section 5DA of the Status of Children Act two woman in a de facto relationship are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner consented to the procedure. 

Additionally, the sperm donor has no right or liabilities in respect of the child.

This presumption applies to children conceived by a fertilization procedure, which means:

artificial insemination; or
a procedure in which a fertilized ovum is transferred into the uterus (even if the ovum was produced by another woman).

Both female parents may be listed on the birth certificate, but not the sperm donor (see Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act)

Western Australia (WA)

Under section 6A of the Artificial Conception Act two woman in a de facto relationship are presumed to be the parents of a child conceived using donor sperm, if the non-carrying partner consented to the procedure. 

Additionally, the sperm donor is presumed not to be the father or have caused the pregnancy.

This presumption applies to children conceived by an artificial fertilisation procedure.

Both female parents may be listed on the birth certificate, but not the sperm donor (see Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act)

Final takeaways

This information is a handy fact-sheet, not legal advice. The law, especially family law, changes quite rapidly so please visit a lawyer to get detailed information relating to your circumstances.