Join me in welcoming guest blogger, Alicia Young – journalist, speaker, and award-winning author of Two Eggs, Two Kids: An egg donor’s account of friendship, infertility & secrets., about her experience with in vitro fertilization for her friends. Alicia was once told off by Mother Teresa for not having children (she forgot). Ms. Young is based in the US but has lived in 8 countries and speaks internationally (although she swears she’s not on the run!).
For more insight, check our Dr. Veronica’s video interview with Alicia.
If you’d like to hear more about Alicia, In-Vitro Fertilization and being an egg donor, visit the links immediately following this article for Alicia’s website and publications.
It was a simple conversation that changed everything.
Today I’m a journalist, but years ago I was a social worker, based in a child-protection agency. I was on the way to a home visit with a friend and colleague, Angela, and she said something that struck a chord. “Everyday, we investigate children who starve their children, beat their children─and worse. All I want is one of my own to cherish.” Angela was 43 and peri-menopausal (the stage before menopause.) She was producing eggs, but they were declining in quality.
Families are made in myriad ways, and on the scale of things, donating my eggs felt doable. My husband Jon was comfortable with it all and I was open to undergoing in vitro fertilization twice. We offered to donate (I consider it a joint gift) and I underwent physical and psychological assessments. It was great news to be deemed a good candidate, as Angela and I share an ethnicity: we’re both South Asian. When Rachael was born, Angela and Steve were spent, physically, financially, and emotionally. Undergoing another round of IVF wasn’t an option.
Our friendship, already solid, deepened. At the same time, Jon and I were conscientious (especially in the early years) to give Angela and Steve the space to raise Rachael as they choose. New parents don’t need someone looking over their shoulder – especially not their donor! Today, we live in the US, and they live in Australia, so there’s a steady stream of emails, photos, and phone calls. I remain available for any questions, and I love Rachael as a niece.
The Second Time Around
Five years later after the first fertilization, the phone rang and once again, there was a shift. A different friend, Kate, was on the line. She was always known for her well-modulated, controlled voice, but that day, her emotions bled down the line. She had exhausted all efforts to conceive naturally, and she had been told she needed a donor. Let me add: while we love and support our friends, it’s not as though we hunt around for ways to rescue people. I gently suggested Kate’s sister would want to help, but the same female health issues ran in the family. The penny dropped and the phone went silent – she was asking me.
I was happy to talk to Jon, but there was something Kate needed to know. The first time I donated, I was 29, but, by then, I was almost 35, and at an age where some clinics wouldn’t consider me. I went through a second round of assessments and donated an egg for fertilization, and today, Kate and Thomas have Sam, who’s now in middle school.
Unfortunately, my friendship with Kate unraveled over the years. At the time we donated, we attended a group counseling session. The clinic therapist suggested that openness, with any child/children, was in their best interest. Kate agreed, but it didn’t quite play out that way. Tom, her husband, wanted to be open with Sam about his origins (in an age-appropriate way) from an early age, but Kate refused. The secrecy grew as he did. I wrung my hands a bit, but I respected that I had no say in it or in how they tell him. What saddens me is that Sam doesn’t know he has a half-sister. Each is an only child in their families, so knowing about each other would be a lovely support as they grow up.
The final straw came some years later while I was writing my first book. It was a steep learning curve to transition from 75-second news reports to a full-length book. I circulated the draft to family and friends, asking them to each review chapter or two. I noticed Kate didn’t get back to me but I assumed she was simply busy. She was an English teacher, so I could have really used her feedback as to structure and flow. We. journalists are a persistent bunch. So I asked her a handful of times over the course of a year, but she was always busy. Let’s take the donation off the table; it hurt more because we’d been friends for almost two decades. Despite how it turned out, I remain available to Kate for any questions.
My tip to potential egg donors is this: take it seriously but wear it lightly.
Find out more about egg donation and in vitro fertilization. Visit Alicia Young’s website at www.savvylife.net or find her on Twitter at @askaneggdonor.
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.