On episode 70, we have four women discussing their experience with donor egg conceive, and one women who donated her eggs. Host Jamie Massey is 17 weeks pregnant using donor eggs. Our guests: Jake, from episode 45 was pregnant at 51 who used her niece’s eggs to conceive her seven year old daughter. Janice, from episode 68 who was pregnant at 46 with an anonymous donor to conceive her four-month old son after having five biological children in her 20’s. Tara is a future guest on the show who was pregnant at 44 with her two-year old son that was conceived using donor eggs after having her biological daughter four years prior. Savanah is our first guest on the show who is not in her 30’s but was Jake’s niece and egg donor.
If you have just started the donor egg process, I have a FREE guide to navigating the donor egg process. It’s 10 Q&A’s that will help you with the process.
How does it work with donor eggs?
Donor egg conception uses the IVF process. Instead of using your eggs, a donor’s is used. After you select a donor, the eggs are received through a fresh egg retrieval or frozen eggs are shipped from a bank. Embryos are created by an embryologist in the lab with your husband/partner’s sperm and the donor’s eggs. It’s standard not test the embryos because egg donors are typically in their 20’s to early 30’s. A typical embryo transfer follows just like if your eggs were used. The only donor in this case is the eggs.
What led you to use donor eggs?
Jamie: We had an egg retrieval and we only got one mature egg. I didn’t want to go through that even for three or four eggs. It was kind of an easy decision to use donor eggs.
Tara: I did two egg retrievals and had 6 eggs frozen at thirty-six when I was single. It was an insurance policy for me. We tried to use those six frozen eggs with my husband’s sperm. Half of them fertilized and none made it to blastocyst stage. We were devastated. I thought I was never going to have kids. At this point I’m thirty-nine years old, and we decided to move forward with an egg retrieval. I knew I was probably going to have the same outcome at 36; three eggs or less potentially. I never got my cycle because I was pregnant with Sailor, our oldest child. I don’t know what to chalk it up to, good luck, a miracle…? I was on a lot of supplements because I was preparing for an egg retrieval. I had a great pregnancy, and she was born in 2017. We didn’t need another child, but she was such an amazing child. I’m older, my husband’s younger than me, and we thought it would be great to give her a sibling to complete our family. Then Covid happened. We finally did that egg retrieval where we got three eggs and one embryo with three abnormalities. My doctor told me I’m done. She wasn’t going to let us do that again. She brought up donor eggs, but I had no idea what that was all about.
Jake: I was old. I was pregnant when I was 51. We made the choice from the beginning going into the situation. I met Chris thirty-eight years ago, and we got back together. It would’ve been a good idea to have kids when we met, but we didn’t. After getting back together thirty-eight years later, being the age that I was, we decided right out of the gate that we wanted a family. Even go searching to see if there were any rogue eggs floating around in my body was one thing, but if we found them, what would our experience be like. What would the pregnancy experience be? We made a decision in that moment that we were going to use donor eggs. We didn’t know at that moment it was going to be a family member.
Janice: I have five children that I had naturally in my twenties. In my forties, I decided to have a baby with a new partner. So we tried to conceive naturally and using IUI for four years. At 45, the clinic that we were at, didn’t allow you to use own eggs unless you have a really good AMH. We were looking at traveling to another clinic out of state to piece together our care. We just felt like we wanted get started, and it doesn’t matter how we had a baby. It was exciting once we started learning about donor eggs.
How long was your journey to decide to use donor eggs and how did you decide? Was it easy or hard?
Jake: It was right out of the gate. We didn’t take time trying, we didn’t take time thinking about it. We found our facility in New York and started watching videos, trying to copy me when look at the donors: typing my height, my weight, my background, my ethnic background, my likes, my dislikes…
Tara: It took us about a year to decide. We were presented with that option and took our time researching it. Covid started in the six months after we were given that option. We were sitting at a table at brunch one day outside in a little tent because we didn’t want to be around people with Sailor. My husband looks at me and says, “why are we waiting?” I didn’t know what he was talking about? It came out of nowhere. We weren’t even talking about it. I guessed if he meant going forward with the donor stuff. It’s pretty expensive which was one of our big problems. I think we were just scared, and I think we didn’t think we were on the same page with each other even though we were. Our clinic made go through a two hour therapy session before we could move forward with the process. That was honestly the best thing we could have done. My husband was concerned about how it was going to affect our daughter. How do we talk to her about it. He thought I would look at Jensen and not think he was mine or like that. He wouldn’t look like me either. You have all these unknowns until it’s done and then you’re confident everything is fine. You don’t know when you’re thinking about it. The therapist got through to both of us. We really were on the same page, we just weren’t saying it to each other. That made our decision to move forward.
Janice: It was 2021 after we had been trying for over two years, and I remember we were at my partner’s family’s house. We were actively trying, and I remember having the conversation about donor eggs? I’m fine with it. I’m ready to do this. We ended up trying for almost a year. When it came time, we just knew we wanted to do it. I was excited about it. Just ready to have my baby.
Jamie: We had a conversation with our doctor after our egg retrieval and she’s the one that suggested going to donor eggs. At first, I cried about it. Then after giving it so much thought, it really gave me hope. This is how we’re going to get pregnant. And it kind of switched like a light bulb for me that I was okay with it.
Donor eggs versus embryo adoption?
Jamie: It was really about at least being able to use my husband’s sperm. I have always been drawn to embryo adoption, but it was, it was important for my husband that we use his sperm, so that’s how we decided on that. Did anybody else consider embryo adoption?
Janice: We were thinking about embryo adoption, and I was actually getting kind of excited about that. My partner was wanting to use donor eggs and his sperm, so that’s what we did.
Tara: No. It didn’t even come up. I don’t think I really knew much about embryo adoption until after I started doing more research about it. We have our frozen embryos, and we don’t really know what we’re going to do with them. I think that’s when I learned more about embryo adoption. I don’t really think I knew much about it during the process at all. It never came up as an option.
Jake: No, it was never consideration.
Do you miss thinking you got X from me? (Not having your genetics in the child)
Jake: At first, I was okay with an egg donor. I just didn’t feel connected to the donors we found in the videos. I was like: Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. At one point my husband told me I needed to loosen my grip a little bit and once this baby is here, it’s going be ours. I got locked it not feeling right. I started thinking about what it would feel like to have some kind of a genetic DNA tie to the baby. That’s when I got really invested in that idea of my niece being the donor. There were a lot of conversations before we reached out to Savannah. I didn’t realize that there was a way I could have a genetic DNA tie. Once I realized that, I was in love with that idea.
Tara: I think it’s different for me because I did have Sailor first. It doesn’t come up that often in my brain. I don’t mourn it, but I worry about the future. I worry about what’s he going to say when he’s 12. Will he really understand, and he knows the story. We read books to him. We tell him all the time, there’s an embryo painted on the wall in his bedroom. He knows for what a two-year-old can understand. It’s already complicated. There’s already two other children out there that are his half siblings. I think she can donate four times at the clinic. There’ll be more potentially. There’s probably a few more out there that we don’t know about which is why we haven’t made a decision about what we’re going to do with our embryos. The embryo is half of the donor and half my husband, and they’re still genetically connected to my side. I worry about those kinds of complications. I didn’t have as much of a mourning process because we did have Sailor first. I’m an anxious person anyways, so I worry about future stuff, not as much as the past.
Janice: I did morn the loss of my baby having my own genetics at first. It didn’t start until pregnancy, though. I definitely shed some tears. I would have conversations with my husband that he didn’t have to worry about it. He wasn’t the one experiencing this. He’s going to be able to look at our baby and know he comes from you. I was really worried about it the first half of the pregnancy. It went away as I got farther along in my pregnancy.
I really accepted the adventure of the journey. I was really into learning all about it. I was fascinated with epigenetics. There’s been a lot of new research. They’re actually calling you as the donor egg recipient as the bio mom because you carried the baby and you give birth even though you’re not the genetic mom. Your genes tell the DNA what to do. The baby’s DNA that’s received in utero is being told by our RNA what genes are making that happen, turning on certain genes, turning off certain genes. I really think it’s three people that are creating the child and not just two. You’re not just a carrier.
Describe what it was like to select a donor and what was important?
Jake: It started with the fact that I was not settling on any of the donors that we saw. I think I have a little bit of a competitive nature. Once I realized it was going to be someone else, and once I realized that I could carry, I wanted more. I wanted some kind of a DNA connection. When I first suggested Savannah, my husband was very uncomfortable. He asked, what’s going to happen at Christmas, what is it going to be like when we see her, is she going to want to discipline the child. He didn’t know Savannah very well at that point. What is it going to do to our relationships with your family? It was ill feelings and jealousies and weirdness that he didn’t want. I told him there’s only one way to find out. I wanted to know from my brother and my sister-in-Law who are my best friends and closest people to me in the world, how they felt about it before we even spoke to Savannah. We called them and they though it was amazing and would be such an amazing experience. They gave us the full thumbs up, and I don’t think the phone was completely disconnected before called Savannah.
Janice: At first, the process of choosing a donor was a little strange, but we got right into it. My partner let me pick our donor. I was the one totally into looking at everything. I was looking for someone that looked like me. We had a couple donors that didn’t work out. One that we were super excited about that she looked so much like me. We put pictures of us together and we’re like, this is like me and you. She didn’t work out. I will say her responses were very short on the questionnaires. The donor we finally selected was so thoughtful. What she wrote felt like me, like these are the kind of things I would say. We ended up using frozen eggs from our agency’s bank. The coordinated gave me two different donor profiles. We didn’t get a lot of pictures. We just got one picture of her, and it was actually a black and white photo. I requested more from the agency, and they had one of her and her mom when she was little. I was just like, this this is it. This is how our baby’s going to come. I showed it to my partner and he agreed. We secured six frozen eggs.
Tara: I will add though that we ended up using frozen eggs as well with the second donor that we picked. She already had an egg retrieval and the eggs were frozen. I will say one of the things I was definitely pretty set on was I wanted someone to look like me. Jensen actually looks more like me than my husband. He has dark hair, darker skin, and a beard. It’s hilarious that he came out looking more like me. Epigenetics are real. I sorted through everyone first, and then presented them to my husband. I think the other thing that I was really looking for in the family as far as like health issues. I really did love how she answered the questions, but also, I mean, there was literally nothing, no cancer, no mental health issues, like zero problems. That was something I wanted to avoid repeating. My dad has Parkinson’s, so it was top of mind for me. Other than that, it was a similar process as everyone else.
Jamie: I offered my little sister as a donor, she was thirty-nine at the time. The doctor asked how old is she. She said absolutely not, and that donors are between the ages of 25 and 35. We looked for donors that looked just like me. We did find two donors that had like two eggs and four eggs that at least equaled six. One was like a basketball player and she was blonde. The other one looked just like my sister when she was little. I went back to my doctor and she said, “Oh no, no. You can’t have two different donors. You have to have one donor with at least six eggs.” Me and my husband are typically don’t agree on anything. Like when it comes to the little things, we can’t agree. We sat down in front of our tv, we put it on the big screen tv and it took us like 10 minutes to find a donor. I think we put a deposit down, and a few days later I found out I was pregnant. It felt like a miracle. We don’t need a donor anymore. It was amazing to write the email to the egg bank and fertility clinic. Well, I ended up having a miscarriage. We had to go back to the drawing board and find a new donor, because that donor wasn’t available anymore. The coordinator had new donors coming on board. I looked and here is this beautiful woman with a gorgeous smile holding this little kitten. And I was like, she’s at it. It seemed perfect and that’s how we decided ours.
What was it like deciding to become a donor for your aunt?
Savanah: The decision for me was pretty easy. We are so connected through such amazing bonds of love and friendship. I remember her calling and she said, I have something really crazy to ask you. After she asked, I didn’t think it was very crazy. Absolutely. 100%. It took me, honestly, I think all of two seconds to ask what do I need to do? Where do I need to go? How do we do this? Uh, like 100% to be able to give that to her and Christopher is one of the best things I think I’ve ever done in my life. It was a simple decision for me. I hope for everyone else out there, it can be a simple decision for them too.
I was 25 when Jake asked me. I think that at that point in my life, I wasn’t thinking about kids. I still am not really thinking about kids ten years later. I think I just fit the part really, really well. I was very independent, living my own little free life, and it was just such a simple thing for me personally, to be able to give to them. Still to this day, I wouldn’t take it back for the world. Just such a blessing in our lives. The decision was super easy on my part. It was a fearless process for me. It was more about creating this life for my aunt and my uncle. Maybe I’m an anomaly or the exception to the rule.
Jake: They do the same thing. They run the same way. The whole family is like, wow, this is crazy. Amazing. Yeah. Pretty awesome. She moved down, she moved from Vancouver, Canada to Atlanta, and she lived with us for three months. Yeah, it was like, I think it was an incredible, I mean, I’ve loved this child since the minute she was born. So, and you know, she used to come with me on the road and, and, you know, to when our band would play and stuff and just, I, I, I always used to tell her the reason I didn’t have kids is ’cause I knew that I, I couldn’t love them as much as I loved her. So I’ve had to kind of reject my narrative when Avalon’s around
How did you share with family and friends during pregnancy after giving birth?
Tara: I think we, Mitch and I decided very early on we’re going to be a hundred percent open about this, and that is not for everyone. I do truly 100% believe you have to be honest with your child. Like there’s no reason to hide this from your child, and they need to know that they’re donor conceived. I did a lot of reading up on things, a couple different books I read. The book by Wendy Kramer, is about being a single mom by choice and just. At the end of the day, I think it’s a lot of education. At least once a month I’m explaining what IVF and donor egg conception is. I feel like I do a lot of educating, but my family was great. I’m very close with my husband’s family and they did have some questions. How does this all work and what rights does the donor have with the child? Is your child going to meet the donor someday? I think the only person that doesn’t know is my grandmother, but she’s ninety-three. I just can’t think about sitting down and explaining IVF to her and the process. I was a little nervous about being pregnant and being older. Looking back, it’s hilarious because I have so many friends that were so much older than me when I was pregnant with my kids. I don’t know why that was a concern. I was concerned about what people were going to think. Now I just don’t care what anybody thinks anymore.
Janice: Our closest family members know, but we have not shared with extended family and friends. That’ll probably change as time goes on, but we just didn’t feel the need to just tell everybody all at once. Even with our family, it just kind of came in trickles and I was actually super nervous about it. I thought I would be judged because I already have so many children. I don’t really want to explain myself. Everybody has been really inquisitive. I was really nervous to tell my mom and my five children, but it was smooth sailing. The children didn’t miss a beat. They thought isn’t that what IVF is. Some of them were really interested in learning the process and how it works scientifically. Most of them just said, “Yeah. Cool Mom. Cool.” There was never any weirdness, just totally acceptance. I actually did not tell my mom until a month before he was born. It was a really big deal for me, and she was the same way: She was happy for me.
Jake: I can’t keep a secret. We decided that everyone in the family would know. As far as friends are concerned, they were just so shocked that I was pregnant after everything in my life. I’m the woman with the little dog living in the high rise…they were so shocked I was just pregnant, how didn’t come into play until later. I loved our story so much, and I love so much that Savannah is a part of it that I love telling that part of it too. There’s no one who knows our story that does not know that she was a part of the triangle that made this happen.
How are your kids like you despite not having your genetics?
Tara: I mean, he’s definitely dramatic, so I can see that from me for sure. He’s two, so I think that comes with the territory. It’s so hard to tell yet. because he is only two. We are really starting to see his personality a lot more. He’s a big talker which I’m a big talker. He doesn’t have any mannerisms that are exactly like me yet. He definitely looks like me for sure. People are shocked he’s not genetically mine. It could be the blonde hair, I don’t know, but even our eyes and our noses look pretty similar. We talk a lot about nature versus nurture in our family. I really truly believe it doesn’t matter where your child came from, if you nurture them the proper way, they’re going to end up looking up to you. We had the opportunity to meet with a geneticist in this process as well. If you are raising that child the same way and you’re nurturing them and teaching them, there’s a good chance they’re going to just be like the older sibling. It’s been interesting to kind of see how that’s played out so far.
Janice: This picture of me when I was a baby, I feel he looks like me. It’s really interesting. And sometimes I even feel like he’s not donor conceived. I’ll forget. There’s no difference in having him. Once I gave birth to this child, they put him on me, I breastfed him, I knew he’s mine. He fits right in. People have commented that he looks just like my other boys. He actually looks so much like my youngest son. I think maybe his eyes look like the donor’s a little bit from the picture. I don’t know just yet because he is only five months old. Right.
Jake: My husband and I are both singers, and she’s incredibly musical. This child is singing all day long. I definitely see mannerisms that she is not just talking, but growing into her personality. I definitely see an equal part. Like there’s definitely parts of her personality that are showing up as she is my daughter. She is her father’s daughter, and then there are moments where Chris and I will look at each other and go: Savannah. She’ll be out on the field, and Savannah is incredibly athletic. Christopher and I, not so much, but we’ll watch her do something on the field and go, oh my gosh. It happens so much. Definitely Savannah.
Were there any hard parts to using a donor? Were there hard or easy parts to using donor eggs compared to using your own?
Janice: I’ll, I’ll say just during pregnancy, I went through a really hard first trimester to where I was really questioning what did we do? Is this okay? How’s this going to really be? How’s this going to pan out? As soon as I got pregnant, I started to worry about the physical part, like, is my body going to reject the embryo? I had an unsuccessful donor egg transfer the first time, and so I thought this isn’t going to work. Then I worried about bonding. Are we going to connect in the same way? Is it going to be the same?
Jake: I can totally empathize with that. In my case, those were not my concerns. I was more concerned because Avalon was transfer number six. Savanah was the first person I would call when we would get the results. I was more concerned with how she felt about these aren’t taking. Savannah said every time, “but next one, it’s going to work.” She was an incredible cheering section. I think because it was my family, I knew the background, there was DNA involved, my mind didn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t have been happier with the choice we made during that time.
Tara: I did go through the grieving process a little bit. I had a long time to think about it. and we were lucky to have one genetic child first. I grieved, and I was sad. At the end of the day we wanted to have another child to complete our family. It was more about being positive and going forward with the process. I didn’t worry about bonding or anything. I had an easier time bonding with Jensen than I did with Sailor. And I think it was because I was just a disaster. I was so anxious. I was worried if she was breathing. I think I was just always worried. With Jensen, it was just different because I knew what I was doing, and we had waited so long to have him. There’s four years in between them. I wasn’t as worrisome about that process. I was convinced that Jensen was going to come out as a clone of my husband, and there is no cloning at all. He doesn’t look anything like him. Sailor and I have exactly the same face. If you add my mom in the picture with my daughter and I, it’s like the three of us are triplets. You have no idea what they’re going to come out looking like.
What was bonding like for you?
Jake: As soon as I laid eyes on that little thing, I could not believe she was here. I don’t know what it’s like to have a child who is biologically mine, but I thought this is my baby. There was no oddness. But again, I keep going back to this in the conversation, that anything that I didn’t feel was mine, felt like Savannah’s. I love her so much that it was endearing to see things that were like her. It’s very strange, you know, when it works, it works. It was true love.
Tara: I had a little bit of a traumatic birth experience. They took him right away. He had the cord wrapped a little bit, and they had to give him a little bit of oxygen. He was fine. I was having trouble birthing the placenta. After it was out, they said I was good. I rolled over and I hemorrhaged two liters of blood. I had to be taken into emergency surgery, I almost died. I didn’t really get the time I thought I was going to get bonding. This happened at 12 o’clock in the afternoon, and I didn’t hold him until nine or 10 o’clock that night. I did not have trouble bonding with him. I went through a lot of craziness for eight hours leading up to seeing him. I did not have sailor laid on me for a while when I had her. We bonded right away. I was still nervous, don’t get me wrong, but I could tell already that I was better than I was when Sailor was born. Mostly because I had done it before. I knew what to expect a little bit more which was good.
Savannah, as a donor, what is your bond like with Avalon?
Savanah: It’s fantastic. We’re like two little peas in a pod. I think our motto actually might be, “can’t be besties if you’re not the samies.” There’s no weirdness, there’s nothing. We’re just two cousins. We’ve actually, I mean through my dad being sick, which is a curse and blessing silver, like lining through that experience. I was down there probably every other month for at least two to three weeks. So we’ve actually got a lot of time in the past three, four years, uh, together.
How to talk to your child about conception?
Tara: I feel like I was in your boat when he was five-month-old. Is he listening to me? Should I have this conversation? I progressed into a much bigger story. In the beginning we had his embryo picture painted by an artist and put it over his changing table. It’s been there since day. That’s where I started. My husband and I started the story by just telling him that was his embryo. Then we worked our way up to more complicated information, so he can repeat some of the story now to include, ‘You were in mommy’s belly and we had a helper.’ Simple. We’ve worked our way up to more complicated story time. During the newborn stage, I don’t really feel like I talked about it as much. When I rocked him to sleep, I would tell him that we’re so lucky that this woman was able to help us. I think you just need to be age appropriate with your story. I was more scared to tell Sailor, at the time she was four. I was like sweating. I was panicking. It was no big deal to her. I should have known better. She is even very aware of the story and she can repeat it.
Jake: I loved being able to practice when she was teeny tiny. It was always, “once upon a time…” I love that Disney vibe of starting it like that. I tried different things and the magical, mystical missing puzzle piece just felt right. I just kept developing the story until Avalon would start inserting parts of the story. Now that she’s seven, she really does understand anatomy and where babies come from which I didn’t think I’d be having with her. She loves and feels special because of the story. She knows for most kids it, it takes two pieces to the puzzle. For her, she needed that extra sparkle. I think at one point she thanked Savanah for helping to make her
Pros and cons of telling the child if the egg is from a country where donors are anonymous.
Jake: Yeah. I think it’s such a personal, a personal thing. For me, there was no question. That’s such a personal one.
Janice: I think that the child has the right to know.
Any unforeseen challenges now that your child is older?
Jake: I do not.
Tara: We have met one of the donor siblings. I wouldn’t exactly say it was a challenge, but it gets a little more complicated. I think we initially put Jensen on the Donor Sibling registry. We did that because we wanted Jensen to be able to find that other donor siblings and have a relationship with them. I think I probably went into it a little bit naively thinking it was just going to be roses and happy. I just think people are very different. You can’t force a relationship and I think I want Jensen to have the option to have relationships with these donor siblings out there, but I think he’s almost too young to formulate an opinion and judgment. I think it’s just complicated. It’s just a challenge to connect with all of them. I think it’s just a little bit of a challenge because you’re meeting the family too. We will be able to have all of the information about our donor when he’s 18.
It’s called the Donor Sibling Registry. You need to have your donor ID number. If there are other families that use that donor, they match you anonymously. You can choose to chat over the database or I had exchanged emails eventually with the other family. Not a lot of people know about it. We found out it through our fertility clinic. It was nice that we had that option.
What advice would you give someone else considering donor egg conception?
Jake: I think anyway you slice it, I can speak from being really close-fisted in the beginning. We ended up going with my niece and I had my desire fulfilled of having DNA in my child. I know carrying this child and having the end result being having the family is one of the most amazing, magical gifts that there is on this planet. It’s real, it’s bonded and it’s beautiful. I just could not say enough if anyone is even remotely considering it, I say 100%. It’s a beautiful way to go down this path.
Janice: I would her to research epigenetics if you’ve never heard about it. Families are made in all kinds of different ways, and this is a really cool adventure to embark on. When you start looking into it, hearing other people’s stories, the child will be yours. Once you give birth to that baby and you start taking care of that baby, there’s not going to be a question if is this really my child.
Tara: I agree with what everyone else said, and I think to add one more thing is find your community. My husband and I joined a support group that was put on by CCRM. We met once a month over Zoom at the time because of Covid. But really, honestly, that was the best thing we could have done. I literally just had lunch with two friends that I met from the group yesterday. Um, and they both have donor-conceived babies. One had a biological first and one didn’t, and they’re, um, both 50 or fifty-one, so a little bit older than I am. And it’s just so nice to have people that are in the same boat as you. [01:30:00] Um, and they, everyone has a different story. Everyone has a different reason that led them to use donor eggs. So it’s, it’s fascinating, number one. And then, you know, it was just nice, like we were all in different parts of our journey. Like some people were just. Purchasing their eggs and other people were already pregnant. And so, you know, we, you kind of did like a round table. You got to go around and talk about where you were and talk about your fears, ask for advice, things of that nature. And it’s funny, like I still, you know, once you’re, once you have your child, you’re kind of kicked out of the group, which I get, I get that. But you know, like at first Mitch and I were like, we, we know we can’t talk to you guys anymore. Like, um, so we have like a WhatsApp like group that some of us are still connected in, which is nice, but they still do it every, uh, once a month, every Saturday or on Saturdays. And, um, it’s been great. And I just connect with others and I think like, you’ll find that so many people have so many different ways of building their families. Might not be exactly the same as yours, but, um, you, you’ll find your people is, is kind of what I’ve learned. Like, you’ve lost some friends, we’ve [01:31:00] gained a bunch of friends, like, you know, you find your people and I think that, um, I think that’s the most important thing too. Like you, um. Uh, this is a hard road. It’s not easy, and you want to have positive around you, not negative. So that would be my advice as well.
What would you say to the woman who is struggling to conceive but can’t afford donor eggs?
Janice: I would say look into frozen eggs. They’re generally less expensive. It was a lot less expensive than using your own eggs because you skip that retrieval process. We ended up using the frozen eggs and ended up saving a lot of money. Some clinics have different programs that offer really great payment plans and stipends.
Jake: Yes to everything that Janice just said. There are payment plans just like anything else we invest in in these days. Consider people that you know. I know a lot of people are afraid to even consider or ask. It’s surprising how, like from Savannah, it felt like an honor to be able to be a part of that. You never know who you ask that might want to help in that way. Not being afraid to have a conversation if you know someone who might fit the bill.
Tara: Yeah, I agree with what everyone has said, and one additional thing are the grants that are out there. There’s a lot of non-profits and organizations that are trying to help women with IVF, donor eggs, sperm donation, whatever it might be. Be creative. We had to be very creative to figure out how to pay for this. Taking money where you might not want to take it from. Some people have the luxury of asking their family for help and pay them back. I’ve seen a lot more organizations try to help out. Even if it’s $5,000 which I know doesn’t sound like a huge help in the scheme of things, but it’s something. If you can get a grant from someone or from an organization, that’s pretty awesome.
What do you wish you knew before using donor eggs?
Jake: Honestly, I can’t think of anything. I felt incredibly informed once we decided to go down that path.
Tara: For me it was that my husband and I didn’t think we were on the same page. Communicate with your partner. Not that we weren’t, it’s just that we needed that intervention of someone talking to with us. So that would’ve been helpful to know ahead of time. Just knowing that everything’s going to be okay on the other side of it. Just try and take a step back and enjoy the moments and not worry as much about what’s going to happen. I know for me it was going to be my last pregnancy, and I wasn’t going to do this again. I tried to enjoy every step of the way on that front.
Janice: More about the open donation and about how, how important that was. Um, ’cause we, we honestly didn’t learn as much about that until after I was already pregnant. We, it didn’t really matter to us that, our donor did a closed donation. When we chose it, we did. We just really didn’t know, um, what all that entailed. And so that would, I think that’s really important. Um, so that’s what we wish we would’ve known. Mm-Hmm. So, because, you know, our, [01:38:00] our journey ahead, we’re not sure what that’s gonna look like. ’cause there’s just so much that we don’t know. So, yeah.
What do you wish you knew before becoming an egg donor?
Savanah: We were so well informed about everything from the get go, I don’t think there’s anything particularly that I wish that I knew. In terms of the process, I am a relatively fearless person in what I was doing. I was just fully supportive of anything… maybe how big my boobs were going to get. In all seriousness, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that I wish I would’ve known. Like we were very well informed, and we knew every step we were about to take. We were very fortunate in that sense.
Is there anything we should have discussed about donor egg conception but didn’t?
Tara: I think just the importance of being well-informed about every aspect of it. I remember texting with one of the women in the support group, asking her how many eggs to buy. It’s not that the clinic doesn’t want to help you with that, but they’re making money. So like, how many do you really need if you just want one more child? I remember the day we were putting the deposit down for eight eggs and wondering if we should get more. I’m so glad I did because we needed. We ended up with three embryos from 11 eggs. It’s such a numbers game. It doesn’t matter if you’re 23 or 43, everyone’s eggs that come out of someone aren’t all going to be perfect. Yes, you have a better chance with a younger donor, but it doesn’t mean they’re not going to have a few bad ones in there. I wish I knew a little bit more about that part of the process and how much does all this cost. I remember sitting on the phone for hours with these people trying to figure out how much I’m spending. I’d get a bill for one thing and a bill for another, and I it was so confusing.
Jamie: When we first started talking about this, my husband said was so concerned that we would have the same number of embryos as eggs. No, that’s not how it works. If we could go back in time, I think we would get more eggs, and I would probably choose a proven donor. Our donor was a first-time donor. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I do like the security of a proven donor.
Jake: Everything feels so covered. The one element of discussion that was really paramount in our experience was the mindset part. Yes, there’s all this medical stuff and there’s all, but we are playing a numbers in a science game. For us, the mindset part: the mantras, believing, that was everything in our story. And Tara, you mentioned earlier, we spent a lot of our lives trying not to get pregnant. I remember being on the road with the band, and we’d be at an early morning Denny’s after a late night. They’d ask me how do I want my eggs. I’d say, “unfertilized” for years. Then to turn around and try and convince my body instead of going into menopause, let’s have a baby. I think our minds and accepting that once you make that decision, being on board with yourself and saying: this is the beautifyl way my family’s coming about and going forward with that mindset, I think is, is really helpful.
Janice: I feel like we’ve been really thorough. To me, the open donation piece, and then Tara talking about support. For me, we really don’t have the support piece. I didn’t really know anybody else that was conceiving with donor eggs. That’s how I found your show. I didn’t know anything about donor eggs when I first started listening to your show. I started listening to you as I was going through my second transfer with Remy. So just looking for that support and just craving it. Listening to this show was a huge support piece for me. The support piece is really crucial and I would recommend people having support.
What do you wish people would ask you about being an egg donor?
Savanah: I think just how fulfilling it is. I think people skip that a lot. Maybe just from lack of knowledge around the topic, but I feel like people more or less gravitate to the negative questions like, is it weird? I think that it’s just such a beautiful thing. I would like people to ask more positive questions about how great it was. It is such a beautiful thing that I wish it would come off in a more positive light and more intriguing questions. I think it’s so fabulous and awesome and great.
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Over 40 Fabulous and Pregnant on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/over40fabulousandpregnant/
Jake on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carmendunnnutrition/
Jake’s Website: https://www.themostlypeacefulparent.com/
Janice on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ja_nice5/
Tara on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taracarbo1/
Savanah on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/being_savvy/
Jake’s Pregnancy at 51, episode 45: https://over40fabulousandpregnant.com/from-jakes-5-chance-with-donor-eggs-to-her-first-child-at-51/
Janice’s Pregnancy at 46, episode 68: https://over40fabulousandpregnant.com/episode68/
Your Family: A Donor Kid’s Story by Wendy Kramer: https://www.amazon.com/Your-Family-Donor-Kids-Story/dp/0692106936/?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_w=Xrdha&content-id=amzn1.sym.cf86ec3a-68a6-43e9-8115-04171136930a&pf_rd_p=cf86ec3a-68a6-43e9-8115-04171136930a&pf_rd_r=135-9605281-2072920&pd_rd_wg=GLCeQ&pd_rd_r=239ec58c-6c0e-4f27-83a2-69910de6d866&ref_=aufs_ap_sc_dsk
Donor Sibling Registry: https://donorsiblingregistry.com/