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The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: July 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Women who give birth to donor egg babies are the biological moms

Freedom Pharmacy published this great booklet about egg donation -- here an excerpt:

“Perhaps the greatest myth surrounds pregnancy. Many believe the uterus is simply an incubator. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important aspect of all pregnancies- including egg donation pregnancies- is that as the fetus grows, every cell in the developing body is built out of the pregnant mother’s body. Tissue from her uterine lining will contribute to the formation of the placenta, which will link her and her child. The fetus will use her body’s protein, then she will replace it. The fetus uses her sugars, calcium, nitrates, and fluids, and she will replace them. So, if you think of your dream child as your dream house, the genes provide merely a basic blueprint, the biological mother takes care of all the materials and construction, from the foundation right on up to the light fixtures. So, although her husband’s aunt Sara or the donor’s grandfather may have genetically programmed the shape of the new baby’s earlobe, the earlobe itself is the pregnant woman’s “flesh and blood.” That means the earlobe, along with the baby herself, grew from the recipient’s body. That is why she is the child’s biological mother. That is why this child is her biological child.”

Kimberly Powell also wrote:

"While not discounting that genetic tendencies may exist, supporters of the nurture theory believe they ultimately don't matter - that our behavioral aspects originate only from the environmental factors of our upbringing. Studies on infant and child temperament have revealed the most crucial evidence for nurture theories.

•American psychologist John Watson, best known for his controversial experiments with a young orphan named Albert, demonstrated that the acquisition of a phobia could be explained by classical conditioning. A strong proponent of environmental learning, he said: Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select...regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors.

•Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner's early experiments produced pigeons that could dance, do figure eights, and play tennis. Today known as the father of behavioral science, he eventually went on to prove that human behavior could be conditioned in much the same way as animals.

•A study in New Scientist suggests that sense of humor is a learned trait, influenced by family and cultural environment, and not genetically determined.

•If environment didn't play a part in determining an individuals traits and behaviors, then identical twins should, theoretically, be exactly the same in all respects, even if reared apart. But a number of studies show that they are never exactly alike, even though they are remarkably similar in most respects.

So, was the way we behave ingrained in us before we were born? Or has it developed over time in response to our experiences? Researchers on all sides of the nature vs nurture debate agree that the link between a gene and a behavior is not the same as cause and effect. While a gene may increase the likelihood that you'll behave in a particular way, it does not make people do things. Which means that we still get to choose who we'll be when we grow up. "

: )

Genes must be ‘expressed’ within an individual in order to have an effect.

The same gene or genes can express in a number of different ways depending upon the environment. A gene can remain ’silent’ or unexpressed; it can be expressed strongly; it can be expressed weakly,and so on. There is also an entire field of study called imprinting having to do with which gene you ‘activate,’ the copy you received from your mother, or the copy you received from your father.

The field of epigenetics studies these phenomenon, and popular journalism is just starting to write about it. While the Human Genome Project was still underway, we usually heard genes referred to as ‘the Bible’ of the human being, as a kind of absolute truth concerning the fundamental nature of the individual.
That is now changing.

In a donor egg pregnancy, the pregnant woman’s womb is the environment.It is her genes, not the donor’s, that determine the expression of thedonor-egg baby’s genes.

A donor egg baby gets her genes from the donor; she gets the‘instructions’ on the expression of those genes from the woman who carries her to term.

This means that a donor egg baby has 3 biological parents: a father, the egg donor, and the woman who carries the pregnancy.

The child who is born would have been a physically & no doubt emotionally different person if carried by his genetic mother.

In horse breeding for example, it’s not uncommon to implant a pony embryo into the womb of a horse.
The foals that result, are different from normal ponies.They’re bigger. These animals’ genotype – their genes – are the same as a pony’s, but their phenotype – what their genes actually look like in the living animal – is different.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Am I Too Old To Have A Baby?

Back in December of 2008 I wrote a post about age and pregnancy. I asked our readers when is too old really too old?

The Spanish woman who had twins at age 66 has died leaving her children behind. And now Jenny Brown age 72 (yes I said 72) states she wants to have a baby. "I'd always had it in the back of my mind that when the time was right I'd like to have a child," she said. Jenny also says that women die of all ages, she hopes to live to be 100 and after all Jane Goody died young, and after all she will have a guardian appointed to raise her children in the event she dies before they are adults.

As I sit here shaking my head in disbelief as I write on one level I of all people understand Jenny's desire as well as the desires of other women who so desperately want children. I was one of those desperate women. After each of my losses I always hoped that somewhere deep within me I had the strength and the wherewithal to just try one more time.

I ask myself often -- "Marna, how long would you have continued to try? When would you have stopped."

Honestly I can't answer that. I don't know when I would have stopped. I can't tell you if I would have continued this journey up into my fifty's or even sixties. I would hope not, so on that level I can understand the motivation of Jenny Brown.

For me it’s very complicated. On one hand I think it’s not okay to have a child as an elderly woman. However, with that being said I am not sure if there is a magic age. I know a lot of 35 year olds who are not as healthy as many 50 year olds who are having children now. There’s also the argument that we don’t know how long our time is on this earth and if it’s your time it’s your time regardless of age – I have seen lots of kids who have sadly lost their young mothers to accidents, cancer etc. And in the event that the couple attempting to have children through DE IVF, the father is 35 and the mother is 50 (Yes that does happen more often than we realize) -- is the couple's age really then 30? We don't think twice about older men marrying young women and having families -- look at Donald Trump and Tony Randall. Mr. Trump is 63 and a new father and I think Mr. Randall was 80+ when he fathered his last child. And to complicate things even further -- single mothers. Are we fair to them when clinics impose stricter age guidelines because they are without a partner?

Regardless I think the most important aspect to remember is regardless of the age of the parents if a person is going to bring children into the world they need to create a plan of care for those children in the event something unforeseen occurs – illness, death etc...

However, I ask you the audience, how old is too old?

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

For Those Traveling Aboard For DE IVF

I came across this site and I know the two women who run this very well -- and for anyone who is contemplating going abroad for DE IVF this might be a great place to get your feet wet. They offer free membership, and it's another resource with a very cool interactive map.


The other thing these folks are looking for are those people who are going overseas to cycle who would be interested in blogging, or are already blogging their experience.

Now remember it's a brand new site and service, so allow them some room as
they grow : )

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why PVED Is So Choosy About Who Comes and Goes...

I have had some pretty interesting conversations with a handful of individuals who are not really happy that our forum is private. That it's not open like other trying to conceive boards.

The PVED message boards are private support community only open to parents and parents-to-be who have been, or are attempting to become, parents through egg donation. For some this is one of the few places members can come to openly share about their hopes, desires, concerns, and fears revolving around egg donation. Because this is a closed community, members can communicate freely, safely, securely, and openly with each other without the worry of unwanted visitors.

The community NOT for agencies to advertise, psychologists or social workers to advertise, nurses, physicians, or any other kind of health care professional who are not attempting to become mothers through egg donation.

The community is NOT for egg donors.

For our member’s protection anyone wanting access is required to complete and All fill out and return this form to our membership committee.

From time to time I hear squawking -- but typically our members are really thankful that we go to the lengths we do to preserve their privacy.

We verify each member by calling them and talking to the individual seeking admittance. If they are away from their phone's we simply leave a message with our number to call back.

The other day when I answered the phone it was a recipient dad who called and he said "Wow this is a real person" -- That made me laugh. And I explained that yes I was real. He then thanked me for being so diligent about protecting he and his partner's privacy.

We are asked from time to time why we insist on being extraordinarily thorough regarding the application process, and our reasons for this are simple. This is a private community that offers support, education, and the issues discussed on these forums are often of sensitive nature. We do not allow anyone from the media on our list, nor do we allow egg donors, Reproductive Endocrinologists, Agency Owners, Clinic Nurses, or anyone else we don’t feel belongs and isn’t here for the right reasons.

Because we have people from all walks of life -- being a private community works best for us.

If you are interested in joining our community feel free to contact:


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Friday, July 3, 2009

An Open Letter To The Media and General Public

Michael Jackson was the father of his children whether or not they were a product of donor eggs, donor sperm, or gestational carrier. The way in which the children were conceived has no bearing on Mr. Jackson’s role as the children’s legal, social, and only father, regardless of his celebrity status and history of complicated relationships.

Egg and sperm donation are considered forms of tissue donation, differing greatly from adoption or even organ donation. In typical egg or sperm donation contracts, it is fully understood by all parties that those donating or, in the case of a gestational surrogate, carrying are doing only that: donating or carrying. To be clear—donors give selflessly of themselves and touch their recipients' lives in wonderful, profound ways; however, they do not sign on for any future responsibility for offspring created using their gametes. Recipients of donor eggs or sperm—the intended parents—are responsible for the resulting children and are recognized as these children’s parents in a court of law.

Although it may be very tempting to delve into all aspects of the Jackson's’ lives at this time, the way in which his children were conceived is neither the business of the public nor has it any bearing on the appointment of their guardian. A sperm or egg donor is a donor, not a parent. The person who raises a child is a parent. Mr. Jackson was his children’s father, and his own mother—the children’s grandmother and Mr. Jackson’s preferred guardian in the event of his death—is a much more logical assumptive legal guardian than an alleged sperm donor who has no relationship with the children.

It is vitally important to the welfare of Mr. Jackson’s children that they be left alone to be cared for by their now legal guardian, Katherine Jackson, instead of being subjected to the media’s invasive and, simply put, ignorant speculations about their biological origins. Biology and legal/social parentage are two completely separate issues, and the media should therefore stop treating the subjects as if they are one and the same.

Marna Gatlin
Parents Via Egg Donation

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

There Are Lines That You Do Not Cross

The frenzy over the death of Michael Jackson is mind blowing – the question about his children’s genetics, incredibly distasteful.

Nancy Grace, Larry King, TMZ, US Weekly, People Magazine – they are all saying things like:

“Who’s the real father?” “Who’s the real mother?” “Who’s he biological father?” “Who’s the biological father?”

And I say “Who cares? And it I any of your business?”

Michael Jackson was the legal, social and only father those children had. He loves his children and the only concern he should have ever had was selecting the right guardian for his children in the event of his death – which he did. He chose his mother Katherine Jackson to be his children’s guardian.Just like every other family –
Michael Jackson was the only one entitled to select that guardian.

Aside from the fact that Michael Jackson the King of Pop died – there are three children who have been orphaned in this tragic situation. And if in fact these three children are the product of donor sperm or donor egg for that matter -- and their father hadn’t for whatever reason had and important conversation with his children about their story and their origins then they are certainly finding out in one of the most damaging ways ever.

There are lines you don’t cross and those lines are to do with children. These kids didn’t sign up for this – and I want to ask the Nancy Graces of the world if she would want her children talked about like this, in this fashion. After all, there’s question about Nancy Grace and her children because Nancy was almost fifty when she conceived her twins – You can bet your bottom dollar that Nancy would be the first to shut down every single question or conversation that came her way in regards to the genetics of her children.

Where is Debbie Rowe in all of this? Who knows, but I would like to think something like this would be private and not become a spectacle for everyone to leer at.
In the meantime, the media needs to learn the basic definition of what the term Mother and Father mean, and they need to butt out of Michael Jackson’s reproductive life. Pick apart his personal life, his alleged drug use, his big spending, his eccentricities, but really do the right thing and leave his children alone.

They just lost their father for God’s sakes.

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I Used an Egg Donor by: Suzanne Schlosberg

IVF? Adoption? These tools for becoming a parent are discussed openly. But using another woman's eggs to get pregnant? It's the new taboo.

By: Suzanne Schlosberg

My husband, Paul, and I launched Operation Procreation in perhaps the least romantic spot in the Southern Hemisphere: the windowless room of a $10-a-night hostel in Chile, decorated with faux oak paneling, brown industrial carpeting, a blinding overhead fluorescent light and, on the night table, a statue of the Virgin Mary. Paul was so creeped out by the stained, scratchy bed sheets that as I undressed, he disappeared, fully clothed, into his sleeping bag.

Married one year, we were on one of those last-hurrah vacations—what we expected to be our final chance, before retirement, for a kid-free, carefree, overseas holiday. My monthly window of opportunity landed on a weekend when every hotel room in town was booked; but at age 37, with my biological clock ticking loudly, I would not be deterred. Scratchy sheets or silk, we were going to have sex.

I managed to lure Paul out of his sleeping bag ("We can keep the lights off!" "Remember, I'm almost 38!"), and as we struggled to ignore our surroundings, we laughed nervously, like two novice skydivers about to jump out of an airplane. "Oh my god!" I said. "What if this procreation thing works?"
We never thought to ask: What if it doesn't?

What if it doesn't?
In every fertility book I've read—and I've read plenty—there's a final chapter called "Other Paths to Parenthood" or "There's More Than One Road to Motherhood" or something similar. These chapters talk about egg donation and adoption, about grieving the loss of your fertility and accepting a different path. When you're starting fertility treatment, these are the chapters you avoid. You think they're for other people—women who began trying to conceive at age 42 (Hey, what did they expect?) or who lost an ovary to cancer (Unfortunate, but at least they have options). You suspect it would be awful to be in their shoes, but you barely give the scenario a passing thought. Given all the high-tech procedures you've heard of—IVF, ICSI, PGD—you're confident that something will work for you. Maybe not on the first try, but eventually.

At least that's how my own thought process unfolded. Then one day, a year and a half after our trip to Chile, Paul and I found ourselves in our fertility doctor's office facing bewildering news: We'd never conceive using my eggs. After four cycles of intrauterine insemination and two miscarriages, we decided to try in vitro fertilization, but we crashed right out of the starting gate. All 11 of our embryos, the products of Paul's sperm and my eggs, had flunked genetic testing. There was no point in transferring any of them to my uterus, the doctor said, and there was no point in trying again. Although I was barely 39, it appeared that my eggs already had exceeded their use-by date.

"I'm sorry," the doctor said, gently. "I didn't expect this at all. But you'd be a very good candidate for donor-egg IVF."

At every stage, Paul and I had been in sync, emotionally, about what to do next, but that changed the morning the embryo transfer was canceled. My sweet redheaded husband had burst into tears, and despite my hugs and assurances that we'd figure something out, he seemed inconsolable.

Nothing's so bad that it couldn't be worse
I was deeply disappointed, to be sure, but I wasn't devastated or even shocked. After four years and 50 dead-end blind dates on Match.com, where Paul and I ultimately met, I'd developed an all-purpose coping strategy: expect disaster. If you prepared for the worst and got something better, I figured, you could only be pleasantly surprised.

I immediately thought of my Grandpa Julius' favorite saying: "Nothing's so bad that it couldn't be worse." It was true. I hadn't been attacked by flesh-eating bacteria or kidnapped by terrorists or diagnosed with cancer. Surely there were circumstances more dire than harboring expired eggs.

These days, in vitro fertilization is so common that the stigma has virtually vanished; of my six friends who underwent IVF, only one kept it quiet. But donor-egg IVF is a different story. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a substantial 12 percent of all IVF cycles in the U.S., about 16,000 a year, involve eggs retrieved from a donor; and donor-egg IVF has the highest success rate of any fertility treatment—52 percent nationally, upward of 75 percent at the top clinics. Yet few women admit to going this route.

Plenty of celebrities—TV commentator Nancy Grace, political wife Elizabeth Edwards and actress Geena Davis, among them—have given birth in their mid- to late 40s, and you can bet that nearly all have used donor eggs because the odds of a woman 44 and older conceiving via IVF with her own eggs are 0.8 percent, according to CDC statistics. But no one has come right out and said so. Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross, who gave birth last year to twin girls at age 44, came the closest, telling the media, "When a woman gets older, they get donor eggs, which doesn't make the baby any less beautiful or perfect. One's own eggs only last so long." But she has never indicated whether she used donor eggs herself.

Even at my own fertility clinic, when a pregnant donor-egg IVF patient "graduates" to the care of a regular obstetrician, the doctors ask, "Do you want your OB to know you used a donor?" They seem to view egg-donor IVF as a touchy subject. Remarkably—alarmingly—some women who use donor eggs don't even tell their own children.

The logical next step
After our fertility doctor broke the news, we told him we'd mull over the idea of using an egg donor and get back to him. But I was already sold. Unbeknownst to Paul, a few days earlier I had scrolled through an egg-donor website—just in case—and surprised myself by how quickly I warmed to the concept.

Before we'd started down the road of fertility treatment, I had this vague idea that egg-donor IVF must feel like a second-rate option, a distressing last resort. But as I perused the donor database, it seemed nothing of the sort. It simply felt like the logical next step—between IVF and adoption—and I was grateful that technology offered us a back-up plan. Of course, some of the donors needed some serious help in the marketing department (one English major described herself as "calm, cool and collective"), but overall they seemed like an endearing bunch. A law student/snowboarder, a nurse with a flair for graphic design, an aspiring writer who'd climbed mountains—certainly among them was a worthy substitute for me, if it came to that.

And so, when it did, I was a step ahead of my husband. Paul had never considered that we might flunk out of IVF and at first couldn't fathom using an egg donor. He couldn't quite articulate why, but when I pressed, delicately, I got to the bottom of his objections: He worried he wouldn't love our children as much if their DNA wasn't entirely ours. He thought we should consider trying straight-up IVF again, on the off chance that a healthy egg or two would surface, but I vetoed that idea, pointing out that I was not a pincushion.

The doctor had told us about one couple with our diagnosis who had nonetheless tried again four times and ended up using donor eggs anyway. Given the physical discomfort of daily shots, the emotional costs of another failure and the high price tag—about $15,000 each time—no way was I going down that road.

Besides, who could say the Schlosberg genes were better than anyone else's? Certainly we have our strong points, including longevity; even my grandma Ruth—a lifelong chain smoker who stocked her Oldsmobile with emergency fudge cookies—lived to nearly 90. But in my clan, we also trend toward bunions, psoriasis, uncontrollable hair frizz and barely enough collective mechanical aptitude to operate an electric toothbrush. If somebody's DNA had to be sacrificed, I reasoned, better mine than my husband's. At least the undesirable traits in Paul's family—voting Republican, a fondness for holiday lawn ornaments—were not genetic.

If all this sounds entirely too rational, I did eventually have my own meltdown. A few days after the appointment, I spent a morning sobbing, mostly over having to wait so long for what came so naturally to others. I even resented couples who'd succeeded with regular IVF. No lawyers, psychologists or donor agencies involved—how easy they had it!

Pressing on...
But these feelings faded after a few days. I defaulted to the approach I'd relied on during my dating days: press on, and meanwhile, do something fun. When I was single, I'd taken up road-bike racing. I'd quit competing before our trip to Chile, but now, with several months to wait before we could try with a donor, I cranked up my training. Better, I figured, to be infertile and fit than infertile and flabby.

Besides, becoming parents was still well within our control, something I had decidedly lacked during my quest for a mate. Sure, infertility sucked, but it sucked a lot less than my years of dating guys with the emotional depth of a dust mite. After all, there aren't any adoption agencies for husbands.

What I liked best about donor-egg IVF was that we'd both get to play a role in the creation of our child. Paul would provide the sperm; I'd provide the womb. Now all we needed were a few good eggs—that and my husband's blessing.

Given the depth of Paul's despair, I was surprised when after just a couple of weeks, Paul announced, "Let's do it! Let's find a donor." On our doctor's recommendation, he'd read a book about egg donation and felt we could be as happy as the families included in the book. He saw online that there were plenty of smart, athletic donors to choose from, but what really made him turn the corner, Paul said, was the procedure's high success rate. There was a great chance that we'd make a quick transition from being fertility patients to being parents.

Months later, Paul told me that from the beginning, he knew he'd come around, and he thanked me for giving him space to go through the decision-making process at his own pace. I never told him how hard it had been to keep my mouth shut.

Finding the right donor
With donor-egg IVF, you have two options: finding a donor you know or selecting an anonymous donor through an agency. Most friends assumed we'd prefer a familiar donor. Three even offered me their own eggs. (I thanked them profusely before explaining that they were, oh, about 15 years too old.) Several people asked whether I'd considered my younger sister as a donor. But the very idea of mating my sister's eggs with Paul's sperm would complicate our family dynamics in ways I didn't even want to imagine. "At least you'd know what you were getting," one friend said.

Comments like that drove me nuts. What DNA merger isn't one big roll of the dice? In some respects, though, I understood the sentiment. After all, we did find it comforting to have even partial genetic input and to know that our baby would be exposed to all the right nutrients in utero. Still, we harbored no illusions that we had more control than any other couple trying to have a baby.

And so, Paul and I began our donor-egg hunt, securing the passwords to several agency websites so we could get beyond the headlines and read the complete donor profiles.

Back when I was active on Match.com, I'd been clear about my search criteria: I wanted a smart, athletic guy who could use "I feel" in a context other than "I feel like pizza tonight." But now? What exactly were Paul and I looking for? Someone who looked like me? Someone who looked like Julia Roberts? How much weight should we give a donor's GPA or SAT score or the disconcerting revelation that her favorite food is "anything from the Olive Garden"?

This was like Match.com all over again, only it wasn't. I wasn't seeking a date or a friend—just a batch of healthy eggs. Did it really matter if the donor was funny or adventurous or "cheerful, athletic and goal-oriented"?

Somehow, I came to realize, it did. I was drawn to women I could relate to, like the bike racer/schoolteacher who was lousy at math and who wanted to use her $5,000 egg-donor fee for a cycling tour of Spain. Paul, meanwhile, drifted toward women who looked like that blonde criminologist on CSI: Miami. He was particularly enamored with a pretty, green-eyed donor who appeared to be my polar opposite—an aspiring chemist in possession of her low-voltage electrician's license. Though I was hardly aiming to clone myself—ultimately I found hair and eye color were low priorities—the idea of using her eggs didn't exactly excite me because we were so different, and I wanted to feel excited about my choice.

Like the best of the Match.com guys, some donors clearly had put effort into their essays. Others, though, were coasting on their genes, like Sage, a 5-foot-10 volleyball player with hazel eyes and a strikingly angular face. She left blank the questions about her aspirations and fondest childhood memories, revealing little besides the fact that her brother is a 6-foot-4, blond lifeguard.

"Man, who does she think she is?" Paul said.

Narrowing down the list
After three months of searching—and learning that our top choices had a long waiting list—we narrowed our list to two available donors. One was the blonde chemistry student; I had to admit she was smart, cute and well rounded, plus her family had impressive longevity. The other was the bike racer who loathed calculus. She wasn't available for three months due to her work schedule, but I was willing to wait because I liked the idea that we seemed similar—we competed in the same sport and shared a fear of indefinite integrals.

We contacted the aspiring chemist, via her agency, and learned she was available right away. But my gut pulled me toward the bike racer. I simply had a good feeling about her, and in the end, that was enough for me. Paul deferred to me.

We chose not to meet our donor. Some therapists strongly advise a get-together, on the theory that it will be reassuring to the child to know that his or her parents met and liked the donor. But we already had several pictures of our donor. We knew she had a master's degree and a National Geographic subscription, a fondness for Hugh Grant movies and "an outdoorsy and outgoing family" with no known medical problems. We knew she was willing to meet our child, if he or she so desired, at some point in the future. What more did we need? What if we met and had a personality clash? Why jeopardize the good feelings we already had about her?

Following my clinic's instructions, we consulted with a therapist, who told us most recipient couples don't meet their donors, and she felt that was a reasonable choice. Once we signed a contract with our donor—she relinquished all rights to any embryos created; we paid her $5,000 fee plus travel expenses to my clinic, 200 miles from her home—the process went smoothly. For six weeks, Paul injected me daily in the stomach and hip with drugs to suppress my ovulation and prepare my uterine lining for the embryos. Meanwhile, the donor, supervised by my doctor, took hormone injections that stimulated her ovaries to produce extra eggs.

The morning her eggs were surgically retrieved—six months after our canceled IVF, two years after our trip to Chile—they were fertilized by Paul's sperm. Five days later, we had 18 embryos. During a short procedure, the doctor inserted two of the most robust ones into my uterus. The rest were frozen.

I spent the next two days on bed rest, mostly watching reruns of The Office on TiVo. I knew the odds of success were high, but as usual, my gut said: expect disaster.

When you have an IVF transfer, the nurses implore you not to take a home pregnancy test and instead to wait for your blood test 10 days later. Some urine tests aren't sensitive enough to detect pregnancy hormones so early; why risk unnecessary disappointment?

The moment of truth
But the day before my blood test, I impulsively dug up an old pregnancy test in my bathroom and went for it. Instantly, the stick turned blue, and for the first time, I let myself feel optimistic. The next day I received the official results: not only was I pregnant, but my hormone levels were sky high, suggesting twins.

My boys arrived loud and healthy, and they're now 12 months old. Ian is the fearless one, diving off steps, pinning his brother in a headlock and mowing down whatever or whomever happens to be in his way as he crawls across the room. Toby is the softie, always showering his family with Oprah-style hugs and slobbery kisses. I adore them more than I could possibly describe.

I'm immensely grateful to our donor, and I hope that she did not endure too much discomfort and was able to use her $5,000 for that bike trip to Spain. Still, I rarely think about her, and I imagine the situation is mutual.

In a few years, Paul and I will start telling our boys about the circumstances of their conception, a conversation likely to evolve in interesting ways and span well over a decade. We'll tell it to them straight and hope that they grow up feeling as we do: that our family was lucky enough to benefit from some remarkable technology and the kindness of a bike-racing schoolteacher named Jill.

When a friend said to me recently, "I'm sure your boys will be tall, like you are!" I nodded before remembering, and reminding her, that genetically, my children aren't related to me. I had to laugh. When you're busy playing hide-and-seek and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and scraping peas off the floor, the last thing you think about is your babies' DNA.

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