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First Person: To the Parents Raising My Eggs

Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | Comments Off

I talk to many parents daily about their fears and hopes as they anticipate the egg donation process. I came across this article written by a previous egg donor and it gives great insight into how a donor may feel. Keep in mind, this is only one perspective. At Heartfelt Egg Donation, LLC we allow egg donors and prospective parents to mutually agree on the type of future communication they will have with each other via an egg donation agreement/contract.


Original Article via Yahoo:

I was 24 years old when I decided to donate my eggs. I thought I knew it all, I was sure I had life figured out. With donation I saw an opportunity to help couples struggling to conceive while also lightening my own student loan debt. It seemed like such an easy decision to make at the time.

Leah Campbell

Leah Campbell

I was 24 years old when I decided to donate my eggs. I thought I knew it all, I was sure I had life figured out. With donation I saw an opportunity to help couples struggling to conceive while also lightening my own student loan debt. It seemed like such an easy decision to make at the time.

I’ve written in the past about the dangers of egg donation and the growing issues within the industry, both important topics that anyone considering donating their eggs or using donor eggs should educate themselves on before moving forward. This time I want to talk about the anonymity that often accompanies egg and sperm donations today and whether that anonymity is actually a good thing.

Egg and sperm donations are done almost exclusively on an anonymous basis. Donors never know more than a few details about the families receiving their donations, and while those families may be given information like first names and photos, identifying details about the donors are typically kept under wraps as well. Most agencies will tell you that this is to protect all parties involved.

As far as I was concerned back then, that made enough sense to me. Biology was an inconsequential part of the equation. I didn’t have a relationship with my own mother and some of the people I held most dear in my life were those I shared no biological bonds with. It never crossed my mind to consider what it would mean to have someone else raising those eggs of mine, to be kept completely out of the loop regarding who those eggs would become. Because once they evolved beyond eggs, I knew—they wouldn’t be mine. They would belong to the woman who carried them, to the family who loved them.

I donated to two families. The first wound up conceiving twins, a boy and a girl who likely started first grade this year. I was told the second family was not successful on the first try, but I never heard anything beyond that. It is at least possible that they were able to use my frozen eggs to conceive during a subsequent attempt.

Donors don’t always know the answers to these questions. They aren’t always given information regarding the outcome of their donations.

A lot has changed for me in the seven years since I donated. I lost my own ability to conceive and I adopted a little girl who brings me more joy than I ever knew before her—an act that has both solidified my previous belief that biology is not necessary for love, while also contradicting my stance that it holds no weight at all.

You see, I watch my daughter and I know there is no possible way I could ever love her more. Everything about her is perfection to me. She is my daughter. Even the fact that another woman carried her could do nothing to shake my belief that the two of us were always meant to come together. But, seeing her with that other woman also routinely reminds me of how substantial their connection is. I can no longer deny that biology means something when I watch the two of them together.

We have a very open adoption, one that includes the woman who brought my daughter into the world as well as my daughter’s siblings and extended biological family. The resemblance between her and those who share her genes is uncanny. Even the mannerisms are often the same. And as much as it sometimes cuts me to be faced with the reminder that she isn’t just all mine, it also makes me happy to know that she is always going to have access to the people she came from. I appreciate having that access as well, a fact which has come in handy more than once now when I have had questions about things like family medical history.

The whole experience often causes me to think back on my donations, though. The truth is, when I chose to donate, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to sever those biological ties. I didn’t know what I was signing up for when I agreed to such anonymity.

And today, while I refuse to ever regret my decision to donate, I can’t help but wonder about those children who are potentially walking around with my eyes, my nose, my laugh, my clumsiness and my lust for storytelling.

I can’t help but wonder how much of me is in them.

I think about them often. Certainly more than I ever thought I would. Not in the sense of claiming them or believing them to be mine, because I in no way see myself as a parental figure in their lives. But that curiosity is there. Perhaps only heightened by the fact that I will now never have a biological child of my own, I suppose leaving me to question what those children I may have had would have been like.

I wonder sometimes if their parents think about me as well. I heard from them once, an e-mail sent through the donor agency thanking me for all I had given them. They told me a bit about their son and daughter and even offered to send a picture, if I was interested. I replied to the agency immediately that I was, but I never heard anything again. The agency stopped replying to my inquiries and I’m still not sure what happened. Maybe they changed their minds. Or maybe the agency intervened, as I’m told has been known to happen in cases like mine. It seems that these agencies really like that anonymity. They like the line to be drawn in the sand, maybe because they still believe it better protects all involved.

But what if it only creates a divide that shouldn’t be there at all?

I wonder if you’re still out there. If you ever think about me and wonder where my life has gone. I wonder if you look at your children sometimes and imagine which of their little quirks are pieces of you and which are pieces of me. And if you ever think about what it would be like if that anonymity wasn’t there.

Would you send me Christmas cards with their photos? Would you feel comfortable picking up the phone if a family medical question arose?

And would you want to know about me? About my daughter and our life and how I have never once regretted donating, despite the subsequent loss of my own fertility. About how some days I almost even want to thank you, because I’ve come to believe it was those donations that eventually led me to my little girl. And I wouldn’t change having her in my life for anything.

Maybe you’re reading this now. Maybe you’re wondering what I want from you. And maybe it’s really scary, because you have your life and your kids and everything has lined up just the way you dreamed it would and this was not part of the deal.

I get that. I get that when I signed on to be a donor, I promised to be completely content remaining far off in the wings—out of sight and out of mind. But I guess I didn’t totally know what that would mean when I first agreed to donate my eggs. And now, I find myself often so curious about who those eggs have become.

I wonder if you, or they, ever have a similar curiosity about me.

I don’t want to take anything away from you. I don’t want to intrude upon your lives or make you feel in any way uncomfortable. I just want to know you. And I want to know whatever you would be willing to share about those children you are now raising.

So consider this my attempt to break the anonymity. I donated once in California in the summer of 2007, and once in Boston in the winter of 2008. If you received my eggs, you’ve seen pictures of me. You read a profile a mile long before selecting me as your donor. You already know that this is all directed toward you.

My name is Leah Campbell, and I am easy enough to find if you ever decide you are willing to reach out and make contact.

I would love to know you.

Who knows? Maybe we could even be friends.

How to make a baby (in a lab) – Nassim Assefi and Brian A. Levine

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | 5 comments

TedEd has a wonderful video about how to make a baby (in a lab).  I definitely recommend it to women who are considering becoming an egg donor through Heartfelt Egg Donation, LLC or any other donor egg program.


 

Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples worldwide. But in the last 40 years, more than 5 million babies have been born using in vitro fertilization (IVF). How does it work? Nassim Assefi and Brian A. Levine detail the science behind making a baby in a lab.

Most Americans Believe Miscarriage Myths

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | Comments Off

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer for Live Science  |   May 08, 2015 06:37pm ET  Original article on Live Science.

Miscarriages are common, but the majority of Americans still think they occur rarely, a new survey finds.

Credit: newphotoservice | Shutterstock.com

Credit: newphotoservice | Shutterstock.com

The nationwide online survey found that 55 percent of people in the United States believe that miscarriage happens in 5 percent or less of all pregnancies. But in reality, miscarriages end 15 to 20 percent of reported pregnancies, according to the researchers.

Miscarriage myths affect more than just people in the United States; they are a universal problem, said the study’s senior author, Dr. Zev Williams, the director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in New York City. [Blossoming Body: 8 Odd Changes That Happen During Pregnancy]

People tend to treat miscarriage as a taboo subject, and many women blame themselves for losing a pregnancy, Williams said.

“I’ve taken care of sisters who didn’t know that each of them were having recurrent miscarriages,” because they didn’t tell each other, Williams told Live Science. “But you don’t see that with anything else. I ask for family histories, so everyone knows when their family has heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. But miscarriages, people don’t talk about them.”

Here’s a look at five lessons about miscarriages doctors and the public could learn, based on what the researchers found to be common misconceptions about miscarriages in their survey, set to be published on Monday (May 11) in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

1. Miscarriages are common

In reality, about 1 out of 5 pregnancies, or between 750,000 and 1 million pregnancies yearly in the United States, end in miscarriage.

But according to the survey, 10 percent of participants said they thought that fewer than 2 percent of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage.

This misconception was 2.5 times more common among men than women, the researchers found.

One possible reason many people hold such mistaken beliefs is that few people talk about miscarriages, Williams said.

2. People don’t understand its causes

The majority of miscarriages happen for medical or genetic reasons. For instance, about 60 percent of miscarriages occur because of aneuploidy, which is the presence of an incorrect number of chromosomes. Other causes can be related to the mother’s health conditions, such as whether there are structural abnormalities in the uterus, or if she has an endocrine disorder or an autoimmune disorder.

But 22 percent of the survey participants incorrectly said that lifestyle choices, including drug, alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy, were the single most common causes of miscarriage, the researchers found. Men were 2.6 times more likely to think this than women, the study found.

People also falsely attributed miscarriages to other factors. For instance, the majority of participants said that a stressful event (76 percent) or longstanding stress (74 percent) could cause a miscarriage.

A large number of participants said that a miscarriage could be caused by lifting a heavy object (64 percent of respondents), having a sexually transmitted disease in the past (41 percent), using an intrauterine device in the past (28 percent), using oral contraception in the past (22 percent) or getting into an argument (21 percent), the researchers found.

None of these factors cause miscarriages, the researchers said. [5 Myths About Fertility Treatments]

Williams said he treated one patient who said that, while pregnant, she had doubts about whether she’d be a good mother. “She miscarried a couple of days later” and was tormented by the thought that she miscarried because she “didn’t want it enough,” he said. In reality, there is no way that such thoughts could bring on a miscarriage.

3. Miscarriages make people feel guilt and shame

About 15 percent of the survey participants said they had been personally affected by miscarriage, and these participants answered additional questions about their experience, the researchers said.

Among those affected by a miscarriage, 47 percent said they felt guilty, 41 percent said they felt like they did something wrong, 28 percent reported feeling ashamed, and 38 percent said they felt like they could have prevented it somehow, the researchers found.

Most of them (57 percent) were not told what might have caused the miscarriage. Some were told, “It just happens,” or “We don’t know.”

But knowing the possible cause can be helpful, the researchers wrote. A majority of respondents, 88 percent, said they would want to know the cause, even if it wasn’t something they could have prevented, the researchers found.

Among the people who were given a reason for the miscarriage, 19 percent fewer felt as if they were to blame, compared to those who were not given a reason, the researchers found.

4. People who miscarry need support

Even among people who haven’t miscarried, more than one-third said that a pregnancy loss would be “extremely upsetting, equivalent to the loss of a child,” the researchers found.

Of the people who miscarried, 74 percent said they received emotional support from the people they told, but only 45 percent said the medical community had provided adequate emotional support.

Celebrities can also help. Of survey participants who miscarried, 28 percent said that public figures who shared their miscarriage stories, including Ann Romney, the wife of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, helped ease their feelings of isolation, the study found.

However, friends helped even more. When a friend revealed a miscarriage, 46 percent of study participants said they felt less isolation after their own miscarriages.

“When people start talking about it, it has a very positive effect,” Williams said.

5. More awareness is needed

Few people advocate for greater public awareness of miscarriage because the topic can be emotionally difficult to discuss, Williams said.

“Because it’s such a taboo subject, you don’t see advocacy for it, you don’t see these support groups, you don’t see people lobbying Congress to get more funding,” he said. “And so research in miscarriage is dwarfed by all of these other conditions, even in women’s health.”

Even doctors may unknowingly discourage open discussion.

“When a woman does become pregnant, we tell them keep it quiet,” he said. “The subtext to that is you might miscarry, and you don’t want people to find out about it.”

Follow Laura Geggel on Twitter @LauraGeggel. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Thank you: Nod to Mother’s Day blessings

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | Comments Off

Dear Suzanne,
It’s that time of year again for me to thank you & my donor Ann for giving me the chance to be a mom but not a minute of any day goes by that I am not eternally grateful to both of you. My daughter is now almost 4 years old & my son is 2. They are both the most beautiful, & smart children I have ever seen (spoken like a true mother) & I love them to death. They have changed my husband’s & my life so much for the better. I can’t imagine my life without them. It is hard to put into words my infinite gratitude but I think you have an idea. Thank you both again & again & again & Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

thankyou2

Healing Your Heart After Pregnancy Loss

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | 2 comments

By Helen Abbott from BeyondPregnancy.com originally posted April 15, 1014

While many of us become excited about becoming pregnant and eagerly awaiting that positive sign on the pregnancy test, there is another side to pregnancy which is often overlooked and rarely spoken about.

Today, nearly a quarter of all pregnancies result in the loss of the baby[1], often for unknown reasons, before full term An early loss (before 20 weeks) is commonly called miscarriage, and a loss later than this is known as stillbirth. Although Dr. Braverman and the field of Reproductive Immunology have made tremendous advancements in diagnosis and treatment of “unknown” causes of pregnancy loss, few have addressed the emotional healing that is necessary after such a long and difficult process. I am excited to be working with Dr. Braverman, whose expertise in recurrent pregnancy loss has changed so many lives, and assisting him in this most important aspect of recurrent pregnancy loss care. .

Long after our bodies have healed from this type of loss, we can still feel deeply sad months and years later because the one part of our bodies that needs attention, our hearts, has often been ignored or dismissed.

It is difficult to describe how the loss of a baby during pregnancy feels because it can be a very different experience for each of us. Regardless of the gestation, every reaction and every emotion we may feel is valid when faced with such an unexpected tragic event. All pregnancy losses come as a shock, even those of us who have experienced more than one loss do not embark on the second or subsequent pregnancy with the expectation that we will again lose our baby.

The significance that we place on each loss can also be different. Some of us respond in a matter of fact and philosophical way while others may be immersed in grief for lengthy periods of time. Most of us are somewhere in between. Continue reading original article…

6 Things You Absolutely Must Tell Your Gynecologist (and Donor Egg Agent)

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | 1 comment

I came across this article and realized that the important things you need to tell your gyno you also need to be open and honest about with Heartfelt Egg Donation, your egg donation agency . All of these questions are part of the egg donor screening process and have a place in ensuring prospective egg donors are healthy and responsible enough to go through the egg donation process.

6 Things You Absolutely Must Tell Your Gynecologist

Original article posted Feb. 11, 2015

Is it ok to lie to your gyno? (Photo: Courtesy of Fox) 

It’s really tempting to lie to your gyno. You’re embarrassed, you feel awkward, or maybe you just think it’s none of her business. But lying to them (or lying by omission) could be hurting your health. I called up Rebecca C. Brightman, an ob-gyn in clinical practice, to tell you which things you need to get real about with your gyno.

1. If you drink or smoke or do drugs. “We’re treating the whole person. Plus, if someone’s under the influence when they come in, they might not be able to communicate with us fully. And if they tend to drink a lot or do certain drugs, they’re not going to be discerning in sexual relationships. Plus, there can be long-term effects from these activities, so we could recommend appropriate counseling and advise on the potential ramifications.”

2. The real number of sexual partners you’ve had.“We’re not there to judge you. If a patient ever feels she’s being judged, particularly by their gynecologist, which is a relationship with very personal private things, they should find another doctor. We just need to know how many partners you have had or currently have so we can determine your risk of STI exposure, since each person you’re exposed to has had their own history of exposure.”

3. If you have or are recovering from an eating disorder. “Eating disorders can have an adverse affect on your bones, along with other long-term health risks. Sometimes we can look at someone and see there’s more than they want to talk about, and we don’t want to pry but we want patients to feel they can take the floor and tell us something if they need to.”

4. If you’ve terminated a pregnancy in the past. “It depends on what trimester you terminated in. An uncomplicated first trimester abortion should not have risk for a future miscarriage, but second trimester may, so it’s important to know.”

5. If you’ve ever been treated for an abnormal pap smear. “If you’ve had an abnormal pap smear in the past, that could potentially shorten your cervix and it may impact a future pregnancy.”

6. The gender of all your sexual partners. “Lesbian and bisexual patients, especially lesbian patients, really feel they’re overlooked for risks for STDs. They need to be screened for all of the same STDs as straight patients and they absolutely should be. We don’t care if you’re sleeping with men or women, but we’re not clairvoyant. We don’t know if there’s been someone else or an affair or if your partner has had an affair. I’ve had patients come in for an exam and the second we’re about the leave the room they say, ‘I have to tell you something.’ So really be forthcoming from the beginning. Doctors are not judgmental. We just want someone to be honest so we can provide better care.”

By: Lane Moore

Motivation Monday: It takes a village

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | Comments Off

It takes a village

Way wanted

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | Comments Off

Love this:

IVF baby

Bachelors turn to surrogates when biological clocks tick

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | Comments Off

As presented on the TODAY show 3/17/2015

Susan Donaldson James – TODAY contributor

 

Dr. Conrad Cean was nearing 40 when he felt his biological clock ticking — with no special someone to help him start a family.

So he did something that’s only recently become an option for single men: He turned to IVF and a surrogate halfway around the world to make a family of his own.

The 43-year-old pain specialist from New York City is now the proud, single father of 18-month-old twins, Konrad Fritz II and Kennedy-Josephine Marie. And he’s considering adding to his brood.

“I grew up in a very close family with two sisters, parents in Queens and cousins,” he told TODAY. “We’ve always been a tight family and I always wanted children.”

Cean’s surrogate family takes on special poignancy in the wake of the blowup between British singer Elton John and the fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana after the founders recently championed “traditional” families and criticized fertility treatments in a magazine article.

Continue reading more of this story…

Dr. Conrad Cean and his twins, Konrad Fritz II and Kennedy-Josephine

Courtesy of Dr. Conrad Cean/Alex Kaplan Photo
Dr. Conrad Cean and his twins, Konrad Fritz II and Kennedy-Josephine.

The Fragile X – Autism Connection

Posted by on Feb 24, 2015 in Egg Donation Blog Posts | Comments Off

(Yahoo News ) “He crawls into your heart. And he has a way of just touching you. Because he is so sensitive, and he has a good sense of humor. And those are on good days.” It’s the good days for her 13 year-old son, Justin, that Shari Silver is hoping for.

Justin suffers from Fragile X Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental condition that causes symptoms ranging from learning disabilities to severe mental retardation, seizures, speech delay and anxiety. It is the most common known cause of inherited cognitive impairment and the leading known genetic cause of autism. (Continue reading…) and watch video below…