“We absolutely see the joy that children bring, we have 36 nieces and nephews”
Dr. Veronica Anderson, Host, Functional Medicine Specialist and Medical Intuitive interviews Alicia Young about egg donation and infertility.
Egg donor Alicia Young will talk about the physical and emotional requirements in order to become an egg donor. She will also share the life changing conversation she had with Mother Theresa. Listen to the end to learn how to speak with others that are experiencing infertility.
Listen to episode 47 on iTunes here or subscribe on your favorite podcast app.
47: Show Notes
Dr. Veronica Anderson’s Links:
07:40 – Why Alicia donates
09:00 – Meeting Mother Theresa
11:00 – Having and wanting children
12:00 – Donating to couples
14:10 – Becoming an egg donor
18:50 – Privacy donation issues
21:30 – Experiencing infertility
25:30 – Requirements for having a child
Female VO: Welcome to the Wellness Revolution Podcast, the radio show all about wellness in your mind, body, spirit, personal growth, sex, and relationships. Stay tuned for weekly interviews featuring guests that have achieved physical, mental, and spiritual health in their lives.
If you’d like to have access to our entire back catalog visit drveronica.com for instant access. Here’s your host, Dr. Veronica.
Dr. Veronica: I’m Dr. Veronica, medical doctor, medical intuitive, homeopath, and your host for Wellness for the Real World, bringing you all kinds of interesting people and topics to listen to, to make your life fabulous. Why do I do this? I do this because in order to have wonderful, physical health you have to have wonderful spiritual and emotional health. When anything is out of balance then your body breaks down. When your mind and spirit go out of balance your body breaks down.
Of course there are those factors such as genetics, and environment, and all those other lifestyle factors that you put in. However, you can have perfect genetics and have a horrible mental and spiritual life, and everything is going to break down. So I am here to help you learn the best way to live life and give you ideas and alternatives, and complementary ways to make it so that you enjoy life and you fulfill your sole purpose.
Now our next interview is with somebody who has an interesting purpose and has served one of these purposes. So you say, “Who does that kind of stuff?” I’m going to bring on a lady who talks about egg donation. So fertility, infertility are big business, and a lot of heartache for a lot of people.
First I want to say, for people who are going through this that there’s always a reason, everything happens. There’s a reason that it’s happening. And so explore and sit with the reason that it is happening when you’re going through these things.
But after you explore those reasons and you come out of being mad at the world about, “How come it’s me. I deserve this. Everybody else out there, all these horrible parents, and people who can have kids, and I can’t have kids.” After you come out of that, figure out what are your alternatives to earthing your child. There’s some different alternatives out there.
Everybody says, “Adopt. There’s a lot of kids out there.” I know that’s not for everyone. I am an adoptive mother. I have two birth children and an adoptive child also. And it’s been wonderful. I ask you, are you called to birth a child? Does the child have to be genetically yours? Or are you called to be a parent? Because you can be a parent without birthing a child, without it genetically being yours.
But then you might decide, “I want to go through the birth process.” And you can’t genetically make children for whatever reason. So there’s got to be alternatives there. Or you might have eggs and sperm that work but you cannot carry a child.
Let’s talk about some of the types of alternatives. But listen to it from the other side. We’re going to listen to it from the other side, a side of the egg donor, which is something that we don’t hear a whole lot. We hear about a lot of women who have gotten donation of eggs. But let’s talk to an egg donor. Not only a donor but somebody who has donated to somebody who is a friend or a couple of people who are friends, and how it changed that relationship, and how she feels that she is biologically a mother to somebody else’s child that’s in another family. I want to hear all about this because this is just an interesting topic.
But I want to mention that when I was in my training, somebody approached me about being an egg donor. The reason why they approached me about being an egg donor, think about me, I’m sitting in my doctor’s office. I own my own practice. I have an Ivy League degree. I graduated from medical school with honors, don’t this, that, and the other thing. Guess what, as far as you’re concerned if you want eggs you want my eggs because we possibly hit a home run with this from a genetic standpoint.
But let me just tell you, genetics are about 15% of what happens to you in life. But everybody feels it’s the know all, end all, be all. And so therefore I was approached to be an egg donor especially because I am of African America descent. And a few people of African American descent are egg donors.
Fertility is pretty much equal across ethnic groups. As far as African Americans are concerned, and people of European descent are concerned it’s about equal, the amount of fertility or infertility, even though you may think it is different. When you look at infertility the numbers are pretty much the same.
There are a lot of people out there who look like me, who would like to have a child who they feel looks like them biologically, just because you know how the world can be cruel. You want somebody that looks like you so there’s not all the questions and all that all the time. But there’s not a lot of people donating eggs. One thing I would say is for people who want to give in a different type of way, consider being an egg donor. Consider doing that. Consider giving that gift to somebody else.
I didn’t become an egg donor. And at this point in life I’m passed the age where they would want my eggs. But if they could have them they would probably still take them, because I make beautiful sons and daughters. Because we all think our kids are wonderful and beautiful, I know.
I want to bring on our guest now, Alicia Young. She is a US-based journalist, author, and a speaker. She’s lived in eight countries but she’s not on the run. She’s not trying to get away from everything. And her latest book, Two Eggs, Two Kids: An Egg Donor’s Account of Friendship, Infertility, and Secrets has won four awards. This lady really knows how to write.
And so when you read this book you will actually enjoy reading it, unlike a lot of books today. I’m going to upfront give her your website in case you’re listening. I’m going to give it throughout because there’s a lot of people who would want to know about this experience, because you’re going through it from one side of the other. Twoeggstwokids.com. Alicia, welcome to Wellness for the Real World.
Alicia: Hello Dr. Veronica. Thank you so much for having me.
Dr. Veronica: Thanks so much for being on. Let’s talk about what motivated you in the first place to donate the eggs? It’s something that a lot of people, we never even think about. We’ve heard about organ donation. People think about livers, kidneys, and bone marrows. But eggs, most people don’t think about that a whole lot. What motivated you?
Alicia: Actually it was just a very simple passing comment that a friend made. Before I was a journalist and a writer I was a social worker working in child protection. And a dear friend of mind, Angela, was also a child protection social worker. And one day she just made this comment that struck my heart. She said, “Every day we go out, we investigate parents who beat their children, starve their children, and worst.” All I want is one of my own to cherish.”
But you see Dr. Veronica, she was 43 at the time. So she was peri-menopausal. She was producing eggs but they were declining in quality. I went home that night and I talked to my husband, and we just talked about all the ways that families are made today, whether it’s adoption, or celebrity adoptions, or the 19 kids and counting. And we kind of talked about where we fell on that spectrum.
For example, I truly admire surrogates. I consider them earth angels. But I’m not sure that I could carry a child, feel his kick inside me, and then give him to someone else. But on a scale of things, donating my eggs, it was something doable, and that warranted further investigation.
Dr. Veronica: You do not have your own children in your family that you’re taking care of, is that true?
Alicia: No. We always say we forgot to have kids, and in fact Mother Teresa told off for not having children, which was kind of embarrassing.
Dr. Veronica: What?
Alicia: I worked years ago in India and I got a chance to meet her. It was such a simple comment. She said, “Oh, you’re married.” She saw my wedding ring. And I said, “Yes, mother, three years.” And my heart sunk. I knew what was coming next. She said, “And no children?” And I said at my shoes, I didn’t know what to say. And she got right to the point Dr. Veronica. She said, “You’re taking that pill aren’t you?” I thought, oh my goodness. And she said, “Young lady, you take that pill to stop getting pregnant.” And I was mortified, but I saw my chance. I said, “Mother, I don’t always swallow it. Sometimes I balance it between my knees.” Her face froze. And for a minute, honestly, I thought, “Oh my god, she’s had a stroke. I killed Mother Teresa. This will not look good on a resume. But then she laughed, so thank goodness. I got out of that one.
Dr. Veronica: Wow. It’s interesting because we have this view of Mother Teresa as being beautified. She’s a saint. And what you just told me sounded very judgmental.
Alicia: I guess she’s very clear on the stand of the church on contraception and things like that. But she laughed. I hadn’t killed her. I kissed her hands and ran out of there. I wasn’t hanging around for the lecture. And I don’t think that her laugh has signaled any kind of approval, but it was just one of those things that happened. I’m sorry.
To get back to your question, we did choose not to have children, but we absolutely see the joy that children bring. We have 36 nieces and nephews. And so we have babies in our life, children, teenagers. And not our own nieces and nephews are having children. So we feel very blessed to be a part of that.
Dr. Veronica: And I think people should have children because they want to and they’re ready, not because they feel that something else is compelling than to have children. And so I remember I trained in New York City at Mt. Sinai Hospital and there were a lot of people who followed certain religious beliefs that came there. And I remember seeing young women who are having child upon child upon child. And they felt like because of their religious background that they had to do this and they were absolutely miserable.
I believe that the best way for children to come in is because mom and dad really both wants them, not because somebody else is mandating them to do it. But that’s where I feel people like you are angels in that you are willing to help other people have children. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Alicia: That’s very kind. But honestly we feel it is a gift. And I feel that it’s a joint gift Dr. Veronica. Both John and I were entirely comfortable with it. And not to be crude but every month I was discarding an egg I didn’t value, which our friends could value very much instead. And that was the clincher for us, that we offer to donate to Rachel’s parents. And I said to John, “If we do this let’s be of the mindset to go in and do it twice, assuming that I tolerate the drug regimen well.” Because if we’d started a family we would’ve wanted more than one child.
But long story short, when they had Rachel they were physically, financially, and emotionally spent. It just wasn’t an option to do it again. We thought, “Okay, it’s worked out beautifully. That’s great.” Five years later the phone rang and a different friend asked me to donate. So we never know what’s around the corner.
Dr. Veronica: Wow, that’s interesting. Now, I assume that your other friend who asked you to donate, it was public knowledge that you had donated to another friend so they considered asking you?
Alicia: Yes. We’re very open. One of the reasons we felt comfortable donating to Angela and Steve, Rachel’s parents, they were very open from the get go about the origin. And most of all that was wonderful for her because she’s known since the age of four, in age appropriate language of course, that we had a connection.
And then by age eight or nine she was telling her friends in the playground how she came to be. I felt comfortable that they were very open with it. And that there was no big secret or revelation in her future. It was always just there in the background and I respect that very much.
The second couple we donated to, and I respect it’s any parents’ decision how to handle this, but they pledge to be open. But once the little boy, Sam, was born the mother with the best intentions just started being very secretive. She said to me one day, “I just feel a failure as a woman. I don’t want people to know about this.” And he doesn’t quite know the story now.
Dr. Veronica: If one is considering on both sides assessing, becoming an egg donor, how do you assess whether or not you’re ready? There’s the physical aspect that everybody worries about. But what about the emotional and psychological aspects of it?
Alicia: Part of my assessment was to do the physical test, the medical history of things as you’d imagine. I also did a lifestyle questionnaire. But in terms of the psychological assessment I met with a clinical psychologist, and they explored things like what if my motivation was anyone guiltying me into this or feeling pressured which was not the case at all. Was my husband supportive? That’s a really important one because we both acknowledged the biological reality that us having a child with another man, Dr. Veronica. And he had to be very secure of himself and in our marriage, which he is, to be able to be comfortable with that.
We had to look at are we comfortable being a known donor or an anonymous donor. Is our own relationship stable and ongoing? How do we deal with conflict? Have we really thought about how this will look in the short-term and the long-term? There was a lot to hash out but it’s really time and thought well invested for something so important.
Dr. Veronica: Interesting. Tell me more about your husband and how he reacts to it. Because we talk in this country about… Although a lot of the men in the country are controlling the reproductive rights of women, when it really comes down to it women are making the decision about what they want to do with their body, we really are. The laws are what they are but people go and do what they feel like they do and usually women do it.
On one side there’s a lot about termination of pregnancies. And I’ve known men who said the girlfriend was pregnant and she terminated the pregnancy and I didn’t want that. He didn’t necessarily have any say. It’s sort of interesting to think about where if the child is biologically his, 50% his, yet because the woman is carrying it in her body he really doesn’t have a say one way or the other. If she doesn’t have it she doesn’t have a say. If he chose to have it… even if he didn’t want it he would be on the hook for child support for 18, or if you’re in New York or California, 21 years. Your husband having a say and you thinking about that is interesting just because the way we’re set-up is it’s women’s rights. Men are controlling the laws.
Alicia: Absolutely. I fully support a woman’s right to choose, to make those decisions. I guess from the egg donor’s perspective, because I was already married when we did this I wanted to obviously be very open and honest with my husband about how I felt about it. But I really do consider it was a joint decision that we made.
Dr. Veronica I don’t mean to sound like some 1950’s housewife who defers decision to her husband, not at all. But out of respect enough for him. This is a big decision and we wanted to make it as a couple. And he was from the get go entirely supportive.
I do think it helped that I wasn’t going to be carrying any child. Angela was going to be carrying a child. He didn’t need to see me heavily pregnant with someone else’s child. And I do respect people do that and I think they’re wonderful. But I think that might have been a bit of a challenge for both of us. But in a way that it worked it was a situation that came together well and thank goodness had a good and healthy outcome.
Dr. Veronica: Interestingly I’m remarried and my husband and I talked about having children. And I said, “Listen, we’re both at the age where it’s not going to necessarily be so easy. However, if you really want a child we’ll figure out how to do it. And we discussed egg donation because the reality is you get past a certain age and you don’t know what your eggs can or will produce. And he said, “No, if it’s not genetically yours I would prefer not to have a child.” And so it was over, off. People want it for different reasons but I think it’s good how open that you’re able to be about it and still go on with life. The friend that you donated to who now is secretive, do you get to see the child at all? How is that working?
Alicia: Case and Thomas were the second couple we donated to, and they have Sam who’s now 12. On a practical note they live in Australia and we live here in the US. And also Case and Thomas separated just very recently in part because of his secrecy and the way that Thomas didn’t feel she was being open with his son about his origins.
Basically we are still in contact with Thomas and through him we get the photos about Sam and all that kind of thing. But we don’t see him now as much as we would like. We certainly used to see them whenever we went back to Australia.
But you know, it’s just one of those things that with the ups and downs of any long term relationship, as my friendship with Kate began to crumble when she became very secretive about Sam. For example, he marches around the house Dr. Veronica and he says, “I’m going to be six-foot-eight like my uncle so and so.” And I think, “Darling, you’re part Indian. We are a small people. It’s not going to happen. I’m sorry.”
But of course it’s not my place to say that. But what upsets a little bit, and again, I respect it’s not my call, the children could really know each other and be a source of comfort and support to each other. But Sam doesn’t realize he has a half-sister, and that’s kind of difficult. But again, it’s how Kate wants to do it, and Tomas wants to be open but she blocks him about it. So it’s a difficult one.
Dr. Veronica: It is difficult because I think as the child you want to know the whole truth and the real story. And it really shakes people up later in life when they find out some type of secret surrounding their family or their birth. And then they start questioning everything that they thought was real and believe them that it wasn’t real.
And so I know a lot of people, they want to hold secrets, but it doesn’t really serve the child emotionally long-term to keep those type of secrets. But as you said, everybody handles this the way they feel is right. But I can tell you, from seeing this from a distance, or even up close in a professional level that people get devastated. I’ve never seen it any other way. They’re devastated when the truth has been withheld from them.
Let’s talk a little bit about navigating fertility, infertility type of issues. For instance family, we can be very, saying the wrong thing all the time, especially yacking out with social media and all this other type of stuff you see everything. What do you tell people, if there’s somebody in your family is going through infertility what should we say to them?
Alicia: There’s a couple of things to watch, and I appreciate people say this with the best intentions, but perhaps not say things like, “Just relax. Or you can always adopt.” There’s so much grief to work through about their own natural fertility or infertility before many people look at adoption.
I heard something the other day Dr. Veronica, “Get on with it. We have a family tradition of honeymoon babies. What are you doing?” At your next family gathering maybe don’t ask for updates on whether or not someone is pregnant. Assume that if there’s good news to share you will hear it.
And also, if you have your own pregnancy news to share with a sister, cousin, or good friend, and you know that she’s going through infertility, then take her aside and tell her privately, and trust that she’s going to be happy for you, but she might need a little time to digest it. So perhaps don’t tell her as part of her big, boisterous announcement in front of everyone because it might send her reeling.
Dr. Veronica: And yet, what is okay to say and talk about? I’m a medical professional. I see people, they get married later in life. The first thing I think, and they talk about, “We’re going to have kids soon.” And the first thing I start calculating is how many years they are past peak childbearing. Seriously, you got to understand this.
You’re 40 and peak childbearing is around 26-28. It really is. Everything goes downhill from there. And that’s just the way it is from a biological standpoint. I know we have all the science and technology about this. You see people who are 60 who have a baby and you think, “Well, it’s going to be easy.” What can we say?
We’re in a society where everybody thinks they’re entitled to have a child, yet, because of career, or circumstances, or whatever it’s been delayed way past when it’s biologically easy. When is it okay to say or not say? I just try to keep my mouth shut because I know it’s going to be really challenging for you probably.
Alicia: It is really hard. And it can feel like a delicate balance. You want to show interest in their lives and what’s going on but you don’t want to be too inquisitive. But I think a good and honest intent really helps. And what we can do is give someone the gift of active listening. Wait for them to bring up something about children.
And if they share with you, “Hey, it’s not quite working out like we thought,” just say to them, “Tell me more about that. Or that sounds really difficult.” Whereas if saying things like, “I know how you feel because it took me three months to get pregnant, when she then shares that she’s been trying for two to three years.
But you can just say things like, “That sounds really difficult. Or how can I help? Or is there anything I can help you find about a doctor a good clinic.” And I often don’t need that kind of help but it’s just that support network that is so important.
And at the same time, because it’s all consuming when you’re dealing with infertility every waking hour is about, “Am I pregnant? Will I become pregnant?” Recognize that sometimes they just don’t want to talk about it. They want to be your friend or daughter without the hat of infertility. And they just want to hear about your weekend or something else as a bit of a decoy if you like. Just go with them. Let them dictate the conversation. And just give them the gift of active listening without jumping in with your opinion.
Dr. Veronica: Active listening without jumping in with your opinion. I think that’s interesting to say that because everybody has an opinion even though it’s not a professional opinion. And so as I said, when I’m thinking these things I’m thinking them. I’m not saying them out loud, even though I know a lot from a professional level.
And let me just say one thing to people who are attempting to have a child biologically. You must get your physical house in order. A year or two, before you’re even thinking about it, you have to take all those lifestyle choices and changes both mom and dad to get your body in order and your house clean.
And so if you don’t have somebody help you do that, do a little bit more than go to the university of Google, and realize that your OBGYN is not necessarily going to be the person who can guide you best on those lifestyle changes in order to help you be healthy for fertility. It is important that you do everything you can to be able to get pregnant, mom and dad. Dad has to be healthy too. You are 50%, and 50% of what’s going to happen is going to be important in conceiving a child.
But then when it doesn’t happen the way you expect there are wonderful people out there like Alicia Young who have agreed to be egg donors. And there’s many other women out there who agree to be egg donors. And for women who are considering being egg donors I also recommend that you contact Alicia Young, twoeggstwokids.com.
Alicia Young, go out and get her book. Two Eggs, Two Kids: An egg donor’s account of friendship, infertility & secrets has won several awards. Alicia Young, I really want to thank you for being on Wellness for the Real World. I want to thank you for your gift of writing these books so people understand what it’s about, but also being an egg donor yourself, and allowing two families to have the joy of two children.
Female VO: Thank you for listening to the Wellness Revolution Podcast. If you want to hear more on how to bring wellness into your life visit drveronica.com. See you all next week. Take care.
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.
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