Tips When Considering Embryo Donation to Create Your Family

In todays world there are many different ways to raise a child and/or have a baby. Finding out that you can not genetically have a child can be devastating and Can make you feel like there is no hope to have a “child of your own”. Many people struggling with infertility are made aware of donor conceived options, such as using donor eggs or donor sperm, but there is another, less talked about option – embryo donation.

Embryo donation is where a person is able to adopt an embryo from another family that has created embryos using IVF. They may have decided that their family is complete, yet still have remaining embryos that are frozen. There are also options of adopting embryos that have been created by donor sperm and a donor egg, but this is less common to my knowledge.

Every couple that is considering embryo donation/adoption (the terms are used interchangeably with generally the same meaning, although you should check with the clinic you are working with) will have different experiences. In my case, my husband and I were on the same page very quickly, we knew that adoption was always a realistic option for us, when we discovered embryo donation, we instantly fell in love with the idea of combining adoption with the ability to carry a baby through pregnancy. We decided to match privately with a family that was willing to donate 2 male embryos to us and we have since gone on to have a beautiful little boy and have grown to be close friends more like family with our donors. We were both open to having an “open adoption”, however we wanted the relationship to build naturally, therefore we chose to not put specific stipulations in our legal agreement and the let nature take its course. We now speak regularly, FaceTime, have met 3 times and are even planning to spend a holiday together this year. “The boys” as we call them will all grow up knowing each other and understanding that they are brothers. We already share their story with them and the oldest child (6) seems to truly understand. We also read picture books to our son regularly, and our hope is that he will learn to love his story and feel how much love it took to create him. This is what works for us, not all situations are like this, in fact most are not so it is important to communicate your needs, wishes and hopes for the future.

Here are a few tips that I suggest to any couple that is considering embryo donation. 

See a psychologist that specializes in donor conceiving.

Most fertility clinics will have this be a mandatory step before beginning the process, but if its not, definitely see a professional to help you navigate your feelings about using an adopted embryo to get pregnant. It is a great way to have a safe space to speak with your partner about all of your feelings and make sure they are on the same page as you. There are a lot of emotions surrounding using an adopted embryo, most importantly the grief of how you imagined getting pregnant and brining a child into the world. Many people struggle with the idea of raising a child that is not their DNA, they fear that they may not love the baby in the same way they would if the baby was genetically theirs. 

Research the different ways to adopt an embryo.

Do your research and decide what type of adoption you are open to or would like to pursue. Just as in traditional adoption, there are several ways to go about embryo adoption/donation. There are 3 main types of adoption: open, semi-open and closed. Open can mean that you talk very often to the family, have many visits, have them be in your child’s life in one way or another. Semi-open could mean that you both decide to only share pictures a few times a year, communicate only through emails but not meeting face to face. A closed adoption would simply mean you receive the embryos and the relationship ends, but you would still have the benefit of knowing the genetic parents and/or siblings. A good place to start is by talking to your fertility clinic and seeing what options they have available to you. You can choose to have a private adoption where you and the donating family work out your own stipulations with a lawyer, this can include how open you would like the relationship to be in the future. There are websites such as https://www.nrfa.org where you can create a profile and match with a family, you can still decide to have a closed adoption even if you were to choose to match privately. You can choose to adopt anonymously from either your fertility clinic or another one that offers embryo donation/adoption. 

Join a social media group for Embryo Donation.  

This is a great resource for anyone considering heading down this path, you will be able to read many first hand true stories that will help you decide what kind of adoption you are interested in pursuing.  You can find support from families that have been through the same experience, have access to a resource to ask questions as they arise and also potentially match with donor couples. 

Embryo donation was the right choice for my family. We couldn’t be happier with our decision, not only did it bring us our son, but we gained this entire village to help us show our son what love and true kindness is all about. If you are struggling to conceive your family, Im sorry, I know how hard it can be to navigate all of your feelings and think about options that were not always part of your plan, but when you are ready, embryo donation is a beautiful choice and just might bring you a miracle.

Brian with his brothers

An Unexpected Journey : Teen Pregnancy

It was the November 2003. I was 15 years old, and had been dating him for a few months when I decided that I was going to have sex for the first time. Again I was 15, never really had a clue about monitoring periods, pregnancy etc. A little naive, if you will.

Fast forward to May 2004. I was getting ready for prom with my friends (after a pretty rough few months being in the middle of a custody battle between my parents) and I noticed the dress I had just bought a month before no longer fit like it did when I first bought it.

So did my mom.

I went off to prom, had a great time and finished up the weekend at home. The next Monday I went to school and received a note that I was going home for the afternoon. It was my mom picking me up to take me to the doctors because she had a feeling I was pregnant. In the car on the way there I remember laughing at her and saying she was crazy, it only happened one time and it was back in November.

We walked into the doctors office, went back into a room and the doctor came in. I remember at that time getting extremely nervous, but I did not know why. She gave me a cup, I went to the bathroom and came out. The doctor came back within 10 minutes to tell us the results.

I was pregnant.

I instantly got sick to my stomach and thought to myself “What the heck am I going to do!?” My mom was in shock and she did not say much after that. The doctor asked me a series of questions, none of which I could really answer because, like I said, I never really paid attention to when I got my periods. She sent me to another room and did an ultrasound to determine how far along I really was. After she completed her exam and measurements of the baby she told me I was due around August 19th, 2004 and ITS A GIRL! August 19th?! That was only 3 months away! How did I not know?

On July 22nd, 2004 after being in preterm labor for around 2 weeks, I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl, Michelle Elizabeth. One look at her, and I knew I was destined to be her mother. It was 8 days shy of my 16th birthday, and I was a mom. I promised her on that day, I would never give up and I will always do my best to be a great mom to her. I was not going to let the stigmas surrounding teenage pregnancy affect anything.

I was going to beat the statistics.

For two days I sat in the hospital just staring at her, holding her and loving her. For a moment, I forgot that I was just a baby myself.

Fifteen years later, I still hold those same promises to her (at least I think I do, with a few bumps here and there… I AM STILL HUMAN).

I proved every person that doubted me wrong. I graduated high school with HONORS, went to college and got a degree. All while working and taking care of her without much help.

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Life was definitely not easy. I still dealt with all the teenage drama, breakups, being broke etc. But I never let it steer me from my ultimate goal….providing Michelle with the best life possible.

Now I am raising a daughter, who is 15 (along with another 14 year old bonus daughter, and two 10 year old boys; biological and bonus). She is the same age as I was when I became pregnant with her. She is smart, sassy, beautiful and completely obsessed with school. When she first got a boyfriend, I was worried. But hoped I had raised her to know she can always come to me and how to prevent teen pregnancy. It is a conversation I have openly with her, because it was not a conversation my parents were willing to have with me. While I do not regret being her mother, as it has made me who I am today, I do not want the same for my children (or bonus ones). There are times where I wonder who I would be today if I had not become a teen mom, but the answers are blank.

Yes, I am often asked how old she is and how old I am, and I watch those who ask do the math in their heads and just stare at me. I just simply say, “Yes, I was a teen mom.” My daughter often gets the same treatment from people that ask her the same questions. She just smiles and tells them they’d be lucky to have me as a mom. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED. No matter how many times we argue or “I’m ruining her life” because I take her phone; she always knows I always did my best.

As a probation officer, I often come in contact with girls in similar situations. Not the best family life, lost in the world, and making poor decisions. I try to use my struggles and most importantly my accomplishments to help them get on the right path in life and not dwell on what could have been done and focus on what CAN be done. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But just like 15 years ago, I never stop trying.

It is true that your current life is, to a large extent, the result of your past actions, choices and experiences. The great news, however, is that your future is determined by how you act in the present moment. In other words, your past does not have to define you or your future.

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Nicolette Geigle is a wife and mom to 4 amazing kids (2 bio, and 2 bonus). She works as a Parole Office and resides in Metro Detroit. You can usually find her supporting her daughter at dance, or on the sidelines cheering her sons on in sports. Read more about her here!

13 Labor And Delivery Tips For A First Time Mom

The thought of giving birth can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. For me, the first time I had a baby the thing that scared me the most was not the pain but the fact that I didn’t know what to expect.

I asked a group of women who recently had babies what kind of advice they would give a first time mom who is ready to pop. Here is what we came up with.

Don’t panic!

Things are not going to be exactly what you’ve planned, so be prepared to roll with the punches. No matter what happens, the least helpful thing you can do is panic.

Have your support person know your wishes

You may be too medicated to be able to make those decisions for yourself.

Things can change at the drop of a hat

You may have a textbook pregnancy your whole 40 weeks, and then while you are in labor and delivery, things can change.

The epidural may not work.

Don’t rely on having a epidural for pain management because sometimes they may not work. Even if they do work, they may only work on half of your body, or they may work for a little while and then completely stop.

Educate yourself on coping methods

Even if you do plan on having an epidural take a birthing class or at least watch a video on YouTube to help learn breathing techniques and other coping methods. Epidurals may not always work, or you may not have time to get one.

Do not feel ashamed if you end up getting an epidural

If you decide throughout your whole pregnancy that you are going to have an unmedicated birth, it’s okay to change your mind!

Have a birth “wish”, instead of a set in stone plan

Birth plans are great. They help put in writing what your wishes are and help keep your care team aware. Just know that sometimes things change, and not everything in your birth plan may be feasible. You may need to be flexible. You’re birth plan may say “no Pitocin”, but if you aren’t progressing naturally, well then Pitocin may be needed if your water has broken. In most situations, you have 24 hours after your water breaks to get that baby out!

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Don’t be embarrassed by anything

OBGYN’s, midwives and L+D nurses deal with bodily functions on a daily basis. One of the biggest worries many women have when thinking about giving birth is worrying about pooping on the bed. Chances are you are going to be so focused on getting that baby out that if you do poop while pushing, you are not even going to care. Nurses see it happen ALL OF THE TIME. They will quickly switch out the liner and you may not even know it happened!

Consider hiring a photographer or have a friend of family member take pictures.

You are about to meet the love(s) of your life and like your wedding day, pictures are a great keepsake!

You do not need to pack much in your hospital bag

Keep your hospital bag to a minimum, You are going to have lots to carry out, especially if you have visitors and they bring gifts for the baby

You may swell up

Sometimes the IV/ medications mixed with labor will make you retain water and start to swell up. If you have rings that fit you, or any tight bracelets, make sure to take them off before leaving for the hospital. They may be hard to take off if you start to swell, and swelling will most likely not be something you are thinking about while in labor.

Take off your bra when you get to the hospital

It may make things easier if you decide to get an epidural. Even if you don’t want an epidural if you become uncomfortable and want it off, the nurses will have to unhook your IV so the strap doesn’t get caught in it. Also if you wear a sports bra or a bra without a clasp it makes it even more challenging to get off. Believe me, when you’re ready for that epidural, you do not want to have to wait any longer than you need to, especially if its just to take your bra off!

The goal is to have a healthy baby, healthy mom

The rest is just a bonus!

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What pieces of labor and deliver advice would you give to someone who is about to have a baby?

 


 

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Paige Martinek is a SAHM to her stepsons, son and daughter. She enjoys road trips, long drives along the lake, writing, reading and talking about anything pregnancy related. She is an infertility awareness activist and plans on going back to school to become a L+D nurse. You can read more about her here!