Many people dream of becoming parents. “We all have preconceived notions about how it works to have a family,” shared Megan Wagner, a Southdale ObGyn patient and mother of three. “But fertility struggles are an issue for all kinds of people, and I think it’s helpful to read stories about same-sex couples who are trying.”
“Our conception story in the beginning…we wanted to make it intimate and romantic and make a baby in a way that was special. But the reality is, it took us a year-and-a-half to get pregnant,” Megan said. “It wasn’t romantic, because life takes over…I want people to know there is more than one way to have a family.”
Laura and Megan had two children from Megan’s first marriage. As a newly married couple, they wanted to add to their family. In preparation, they searched for a midwife and found Southdale ObGyn. The Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) at SD ObGyn are expertly trained, experienced professionals who embrace a “low-tech, high-touch” approach to family planning, prenatal care, labor and delivery.
“I had my first visit at the clinic and felt really excited about all of the midwives,” Megan shared. Having been pregnant twice before, Megan felt confident she knew what was ahead. So she and Laura began by approaching family and friends about being a donor. When that didn’t go as planned, they turned to an online sperm bank. “My wife and I thought it would be a little like Tinder,” Megan said. “We’d pay for an account, have access to an app, look at pictures, find someone we liked, and there you go.” Turns out, it is far more complex and costly than that.
Finally a friend reconnected with them agreeing to be a donor, and they were relieved. Getting pregnant would be much easier than going through the bank. “We assumed we’d all just go into Southdale, he’d make his donation, and they’d do the insemination.” But there is more to it than that.
A clinical insemination required a six-month quarantine and many more tests. So they met with the Southdale midwife to discuss other options. She explained the process, the cycle of ovulation and the science of conception.
“It was such a big deal to us. We felt really safe and free to talk openly about our plans,” Megan said. “Often times you feel pressured into doing things a certain way, but we just didn’t think we had the time or resources to do what they needed us to do in a clinical setting. So we felt really good that the midwife took time to share how we might look at it and how everything works.”
“Basically, they are bathing your cervix with sperm,” Megan concluded. “It wasn’t wildly impossible to do at home.” After talking through the options with Southdale’s midwife, Megan and Laura decided to do everything in the convenience and familiarity of their own home – and they ended up pregnant!
“We had our first ultrasound and saw the little flicker of the heartbeat and knew there was a baby in there, which was really exciting!” Megan started to cry, confusing her wife.
“Are you happy or sad? What are we looking at?” Laura asked, as she was experiencing a pregnancy for the first time.
They were tears of joy. It was a healthy heart beat in her womb.
Excitement and relief – but soon Megan began to have complications.
Megan came down with influenza and was in bed for four days. Then she developed persistent pain in her leg. When she went to the doctor for the pain she was immediately sent to the hospital and diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in her vein.
Her midwife had more disappointing news. The blood clot meant a higher risk pregnancy, and the couple would now need an obstetrician for prenatal care and delivery.
Dr. Annelise Swigert, one of Minnesota’s Top Doctors and a physician with Southdale ObGyn, would care for the couple moving forward.
Through the next few visits, Megan learned she would need blood-thinning injections every 12 hours for the duration of her pregnancy. In addition, because of the need to carefully plan her delivery, as well as Megan’s history of a prior Cesarean, it was decided that a planned repeat Cesarean Section was the safest for both mom and baby.
So what happened to the vision of a midwife?
Laura and Megan went to Southdale ObGyn seeking a midwife, in hopes of less medical intervention and a sense of control over the pregnancy and delivery. But when Megan’s medical situation unexpectedly changed, they were thrilled Dr. Swigert was there to take them on their journey, and safely deliver their baby boy.
Megan expressed that she had feared working with physicians would be too calculated. “You know, like a seven-minute visit, and you don’t get to know them. But I never felt that with Dr. Swigert… I got to know her, the nurses, the midwives, the ultrasound technician. We felt really comfortable there.”
Megan had frequent visits to Southdale ObGyn, many more than with her other pregnancies. She required multiple ultrasounds to follow a cyst on her ovary. When she started spotting during the third trimester, she called in after hours a lot. “I think I ended up speaking with almost all the physicians at Southdale. We felt cared about, that each one knew our case, and that we were part of a small community. We never felt awkward about being two moms,” she added. She had been through this before and come up against providers who weren’t always warm and welcoming during her first two pregnancies. At Southdale ObGyn, she felt listened to, cared for and supported.
She also found the boundaries that she needed.
“My wife made some joke about me about riding a bike, the doctor said no. No bike-riding. No jet-skiing. It was fun watching Dr. Swigert get a bit ‘momma-bear-like,’” Megan explained. “But, I needed someone to set limits for me. With my first two kids, I wake boarded and rode bikes up until delivery. I’m older now and had this high-risk thing going on.”
The C-Section was scheduled for August 27, the first day of school for the two older kids. “We got up in the morning and did our traditional first-day-of-school stuff, then we took the kids to school. We had a few hours to kill before we needed to go to the hospital, which was weird. It’s so weird to think, we’re going to have a baby today.”
The couple met Laura’s parents at the hospital and prepared to welcome baby Crosby.
Megan remembers feeling great getting the epidural. “It was wonderful, and kind of tickled,” she said. Then she felt nauseous and kind of out of it. But she knew she had a strong team to care for her, and to bring her baby boy into the world.
“We joked a lot that Dr. Swigert is the kind of person you want to have in your corner when something goes wrong. She is all business and matter of fact,” Megan recalled. “But as soon as she pulled the baby out, she just melted into such a baby person. We have this great video of Dr. Swigert baby-talking, ‘Oh, you little stinker, what a stinker.’
Advice for others
Parenting is never easy and the journey to parenthood is rarely direct. “It’s hard to take negative pregnancy tests month after month after month. I really believe that everything is connected,” Megan said. “So, if you are overwhelmed and stressed out … your body is not going to line up to be able to get pregnant. I want other families to know there is more than one way to make a family, whether that is fostering, adoption, surrogacy … There are so many ways to do it. Our willingness to be OK with that allowed us to adjust and keep going. You have to be willing to be flexible and stay positive.”
Interestingly, during the pregnancy both Laura and Megan started new jobs, had great health coverage and could have selected any provider, but that would have meant changing from Southdale ObGyn, and they wanted to stay with their people, the people they knew and who knew them. “The whole team at Southdale was so warm and welcoming. We felt really cared about.”
Today, Megan and Laura are enjoying their family of five. “We do a lot of two-moms talk. We love to lay with the baby between us, kiss the baby’s cheeks and say: Two moms.”
Crosby, you have two moms who love you.