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The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: February 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Of Course Mother’s Matter – We matter

Elizabeth Marquardt – I am calling you out. This is from one mother to another:

I read your latest article “Do Mothers Matter” and I am left with a sort of “What the heck” head scratching reaction to not only this article but to you Elizabeth.
You seem to think that if you have a child any way other than “the old fashioned way” (heterosexual sexual relations) that your children are going to reject you, or in some way they are going to suffer. So that means all of us who have had children via egg donation or sperm donation we are in some way harming our children.

You go on to imply that in some way if women use an egg donor to create their family, or if they happen to need the services of a gestational carrier that their child is going to grow up missing his or her “real mother”.

Really, all I could think was what planet are you from Elizabeth?

What I know about you: You are the Vice President for Family Studies and Director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values (IAV) co-authored a report-study titled “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor” You wrote a study based on those children conceived through sperm donation. You make the argument that those kids created through sperm donation struggle with a parental loss when they don't know their biological father. You also go on to say that this can lead to depression, delinquency, or addiction and you assume the same with donor eggs, or gestational carriers.

The problem with this report is that you have no credibility in my opinion because you published non-peer reviewed research under the guide of the IAV. Those who are indeed established academics in the field of donor conception have misgivings that are quite serious about your methods of research because your ability to come to any sort of rational conclusion are not supported by your findings.

But really our kids who are conceived via egg donation are going to miss their real mothers, and they are going to become depressed, become juvenile delinquents, and become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food, etc… I mean really?

Here’s a clue Elizabeth – guess what else leads to depression, addiction, and delinquency? Parents who are unavailable emotionally, bad parents, divorce, abusive parents, unwanted pregnancy, as well as those kids who undergo trauma of some sort, those children who are from disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances, situations where kids undergo incredible stress, genetics and the list goes on.

I for the life of me cannot fathom that those kids who are intentionally and mindfully brought into this world by non-traditional methods are going to suffer or have some sort of negative impact upon their mental health. I just can’t wrap my head around that.

In reading your article I think of my child who I just love so much. The kid we brought into this world mindfully.  The one we waited for, for many many years. The child we invested so much time, money, emotion, love, and work.

The baby that told us at age two “Momma I chose you, I waited in line for a long time”. 
Is this kid missing his “genetic parent” or to take it a step further – “Is this kid missing his genetic mother?” I don’t think so. I am right here. Live, in the flesh, caring for him, cheering him on at school, helping him with his homework, taking care of him when he’s sick, comforting him if he’s scared, tending to his scrapped knees, happy, or sad – I am the one who is his go to when he needs something.

Not his egg donor.

What I don’t understand Elizabeth is how can you even think for two seconds that somehow my son’s egg donor – genetic parent – genetic mother, whatever you want to call her is even remotely more important than myself? I mean come on, you are a mother yourself think about all you do for your child. Well guess what? I do the same. I care for my child, raise him in a loving and stable home, prepare him for the world, provide him a spiritual education, provide food, clothes, a roof, and offer him unconditional love.

Are kids conceived via egg donation going to have questions? Of course they will. It’s human nature. Some are going to care about this more than others. My kid is curious. He wants to know if his egg donor is nice. Does he look like her? Does she like coffee and chocolate like he does? Do they share the same allergies? He is also going to tell you that he doesn’t spend his every waking moment wondering what she’s doing. It’s because he has a mother and his life is full living his life. The way it should be. Does he want to meet her one day? Yes and why is that? He wants to say “thank you”. He says he wants to complete the circle and thank her for helping us have him. It’s certainly not because he misses her. He doesn’t even know her, she contributed a single cell, a blue print if you will, she helped give him his start.

I answer every question he asks me about his origins. There are no secrets in our home. He has access to his egg donor’s profile, and we happen to have a great relationship with our Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. John Hesla who he can ask questions about her any time he chooses. But does my kid feel like he’s walking around half of a person or the shell of a person because he doesn’t interact or know his egg donor? No not at all. Does that sound like a child who is missing his genetic parent? I don’t think so.

Personally, I feel strongly that how a child is conceived has nothing to do with how they are going to “turn out” or grow up as adults. It’s what happens after they are born.
So let me ask you Elizabeth, after reading all of this, and being a mother yourself, do you really think kids conceived via egg donation or embryo donation are going to miss their egg donor or to take it a step further their genetic parent?

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Friday, February 17, 2012

SART Statistics are just spring board – a place to start

With the SART statistics recently published there’s been lots of rumblings about some of our beloved clinics and their success rates taking a hit for 2010. I think before we become too concerned about our clinics and their success rates we need to remember the following:
• No two treatment programs are alike; each clinic has its own set of statistics (success rates), protocols, and procedures.
• SART and CDC success reports are always two years behind. For instance at the time of this writing it’s February 2012, and SART’s reports are for 2010. That means that the success rates you are reading for 2010 may not be at all reflective upon current success rates for that specific clinic.
• Becoming familiar with SART and CDC statistics in instrumental to choosing a treatment program. They are a great place to start and can help you narrow your choice of potential clinics.
• While doing your research, keep in mind that statistics are going to fluctuate from year to year for many reasons. That’s why it’s really important to look for success rate trends: Is a clinic generally improving its success rates each year? Are they maintaining and/or growing the number of (DE) cycles they complete each year? Do the statistics illustrate an overall consistency of success?
• The SART success rates for each clinic report a “live birth rate” or what we refer to as a take home baby rate. Some feel this isn’t entirely fair on the part of the infertility clinic because once your Reproductive Endocrinologist releases you to your OBGYN/Perinatologist they have no control over your pregnancy and cease to monitor your pregnancy or its care.
What I am learning is that sometimes it’s virtually impossible to compare clinics and SART rates. Why?
• Some clinics for instance are under one company name but have clinics in different places and they don’t all use the same lab but SART will gather their statistics and lump them into one big fat statistic.
• Individual doctors are listed by success rate – which I think they should be.
• And SART reports on live birth rates, or take home baby rates which I think is unfair. Your clinic should be rated on initial pregnancy or pregnancy to heart beat as measured on ultrasound, not live birth rate. From week 12 to week 40 there’s a lot that can happen and after the first trimester your pregnancy is out of your clinics hands.
So with all this being said – sure start with statistics. But make sure to do your homework and call the clinic you are interested in being treated at. Ask tons of questions – “Are your success rates based on single DE IVF cycles, or are your success rates based on three attempts at your clinic”. Ask about their FET policies. Does the clinic return emails or phone calls in a prompt and timely manner? Is their staff kind and courteous and accurate in the information they relay to you?

It’s not just about the statistics – it’s about the whole package.

Good luck on your DE journey!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

This One's For The Guys...

What’s the most embarrassing part about infertility?  For women it’s pretty much all of it – the stirrups, the ultrasound probes, the embryo transfers on a full bladder, the shots, and general loss of dignity.  I kind of felt like a huge science experiment when it was all over with.

However, women don’t get to take all of the honors – men experience their own level of discomfort as well.  For them it begins with actually making the appointment with the fertility clinic, accepting the little clear cup and proceeding to the “collection” room that’s loaded with age old porn to help create a “sample” for the lab to examine, and then the “walk of shame” – placing that sample in the brown little bag and handing it over to the receptionist and walking out the door.

You know why you are there, she knows why you are there, the front office knows why you are there.  And granted it’s a normal bodily function, but it’s one of those bodily functions that you’d like no one to think about especially if you are doing it.

So what would you think if you and your partner, or just you had the ability to conduct your own sperm count in the privacy of your own home?  You wouldn’t feel pressured to perform on command, or distracted by the noises down the hall.  

The Fertility Advocate Pamela Madsen  (one of my favorite industry professionals ever) is the new spokesperson for this product called Sperm Check.  This product is a kit can be used in the privacy of your own home, which can quickly inform men as to whether their sperm count is normal or low.

Does this replace your doctor?  Not in a million years.  But it is a great place to start and ease in to the whole world of infertility and testing if you or you and your partner think there might be a problem. One of the things I liked about this product is simple – for years it’s always been the female who undergoes a slew of testing only to find it’s really not her, it’s him.  Wouldn’t it be great to have the male test at home first just to get an idea of which direction to go before sending the female for a bunch of unneeded tests?  That’s the selfish part of me I guess.

This test isn’t going to tell you anything but a simple sperm count.  It’s not going to tell you about morphology, or any other part of a complete semen analysis and it should never ever replace your doctor, but I can’t imagine how happy I’d have been 15 years ago if this test had been available.