Thanks for tuning into this episode of MomTalks with Christa. I’m so excited for this episode. Last week we had Shannon leach and she talked all about IVF as a way to get pregnant and have her 5 children. So this week we're continuing on the path of “There's more than one way to make a baby.” Have you ever thought about or have considered using a sperm donor to have a baby? Well, today's guest Megan is here to talk all about her journey with selecting a sperm donor to become a mom and it's so cool just to hear about her thought process, how she brought it up to her family, and then the process in itself. Everything that she went through to become a mom. I’m just so happy that she was so open and willing to share her story with us because I know there's many other women out there that are either considering it or just want to know more about the process, so without further ado, here's my awesome interview with Megan.
Christa: Today we have Megan here and I’m so excited because you are in our Facebook group and you're talking about using a donor to have your son and so I’m so intrigued, I’m so curious just to hear about your story and everything in between. If you just want to start and just tell us about you and we'll kind of go from there.
Megan: As you said my name is Megan and I am 37 years old. I live in Central Illinois and I work in supply chain management for a large construction and mining equipment manufacturer. I’m a single mom to my beautiful 4-month-old son Dylan and as you said he's a donor conceived child meaning I used a sperm donor to get pregnant.
Christa: So I kind of know more about like the process and when did you decide you wanted to do this and like how long in your mind were your kind of going back and forth? Were you thinking of other options? and just yeah kind of your story.
Megan: I always have felt very strongly that I wanted to be a mom. I first started looking into the sperm donor process back in 2014 and I was single at that time as well. Shortly after considering maybe going that route I did meet somebody and I wanted to see where that relationship would go because you know optimal I would have had a child with somebody but you know I was married and stuff too but that didn't work out. So when him and I broke up, I looked back into the sperm donor option again.
Christa: So what was that process kind of like and when did you kind of decide like okay this is what I’m doing and then dive right in.
Megan: It was a little over overwhelming at first because I honestly didn't know where to start I’ve never known anybody to have done this. I went in for my annual pap last year in May and so when I was there I told the practitioner that I was considering a sperm donor. But one I didn't know if I could even get pregnant. I had known since I was in college I got diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and you know I’ve never had a pregnancy, I never tried. She suggested that I get with a fertility specialist and referred me so I scheduled a consultation with him back in July of last year and what a blessing he was. I went in not knowing how to even go about this process and he really walked me through the whole thing, and it happened very quickly. So at the consultation we first made up a plan of how we would do it so it was going to be 3 natural IUI’s, if necessary up to 3 rounds and then Clomid if needed. He also recommended an HSG to ensure there's no blockages in my fallopian tubes, and then offered genetic testing as well. So august was kind of my testing month. I sent out for my genetic testing, I did the HSG which is probably the worst part of this whole process for me. I don't know if you're familiar with those but a lot of cramping. I definitely didn't enjoy it, they put dye, and make sure that there's no blockages but it's very uncomfortable. That was the worst part but that came back clear and the genetic testing came back that I was not a carrier for any of the genetic conditions that were tested. They also test for CMV antibodies, mine were negative which meant I needed to select a donor that was CMV negtive also which is less common. So if I had been positive, a positive c and b person can select a negative or positive donor so you have a bigger pool to select from. So that actually narrowed down my search a little bit when I was looking for a donor. So I selected my donor and purchased vials, they're approximately a thousand dollars each. California cryo bank does offer 50% buyback for any not used. I purchased 3 because I didn't want to risk my donor running out and having to select another donor. The cryobank then stores them for you until your insemination and then they overnight them to your doctor. So September was my first cycle. so after my period I went in and they do blood work. ultrasounds to determine the follicle size. and then they schedule the IUI. They give you a trigger shot to inject a couple days before the IUI and then the cryobank ships the specimen which a funny story with that when I went in for the IUI, they said they have to defrost it, thought it's a swallow vial that the nurse carries it around in her pocket for a half hour before the, I bet maybe laugh. The actual IUI takes less than 30 seconds and then you have to wait two weeks to take your pregnancy test. The first round didn't take so I did a second cycle in October. So same thing, period, blood work, ultrasounds, trigger shot, IUI, wait 2 weeks but I remember I took the test on October 30th, really early in the morning. I sent my mom a photo of the test thing it was negative, I was bummed, and then I went back to bed. When I got up ready to get ready for work a little bit later, I saw the test in the trash, and this time I could see a second line. Get a photo, I sent to my mom, and sure enough there was a faint line I couldn't see it when I was half asleep. I sent the photo to my sister-in-law to be sure and then well first she yelled at me for not using a digital test and then she said that there was definitely another line and just like that I was pregnant.
Christa: Wow! How cool! So let's backtrack a little bit, I’m so curious about when you kind of choose and then they're like okay you have to choose a sperm donor now, do you like, how does that work? Do you go in somewhere and there's a catalog? Or do they send you to a website? How do you kind of pick what you're looking for?
Megan: So they actually so it's very interesting to me actually because I didn't know until he told me but anybody could get on to the cryobank website and actually search donors. It's not private but it's kind of set up a dating website would be. You got your filters and there's photos for most of them. Most of them it's like a childhood photo but so you basically go to the website, you search the donors, as I said earlier I used California cryobank, it's one of the largest ones, and my doctor recommended it. They have most success with their specimens he said as opposed to other cryobanks as far as higher sperm count. So determining what traits were important was very difficult for me because nature versus nurture doesn't matter, what he's interested in. I kind of left it pretty open so I can get as many results to kind of feel around and see what gave me a feeling. So the filters that I used is I had to do CMV negative, I also put in dna advantage since I was in the carrier for anything genetic I was hoping to have a donor the same way, and then I put in I wanted an open donor. I wanted to give my child that option when he was older to be able to connect and then one with photos available. After that I just read their profiles until I kind of had a feeling about one of them. I was actually surprised at how much information that they provide you about your donor, info on his family, where they work, his sister, his uncle, what his grandpa did. I have childhood and adult photos of my donor. I have a recorded interview I could to hear his voice, pretty much get everything on them except for their name and where they live.
Christa: What was it like then, once you made this decision how soon did you tell family and friends in along in the process and what were their reactions like?
Megan: I was always pretty open about this when I decided to do this, my friends and family knew and you know everybody was pretty interested in this process so I was very open throughout the whole thing. My family took it better than I thought I and they were very supportive. I think their biggest concern was just me doing it on my own, as a single mom but everybody was on board, excited for a grand baby and my mom even went to every one of my appointments even to the insemination so it had a lot of support.
Christa: So you kind of talked about choosing an open donor because I haven't heard the term open donor so I was really curious about that. What's the legality of the process? what are like kind of the terms of it? And what does that mean open donor?
Megan: So with the California cryo bank, there is 3 donor types: anonymous, id disclosure, and open. But essentially for all of them, the child can reach out to the cryobank and they would make contact so there is a possibility for all of them but I did put open because I wanted a higher likelihood that my donor would make contact with my son if my son chose to reach out. Only the child can request contact so I can never and my donor can never request contact and it has to be when the child is at least 18 years old. At that point if Dylan wanted to reach out, he could reach out to the cryobank and they would initiate contact with the donor. Which I plan to be honest with Dylan on how he was conceived and this whole process so I think he'll grow up having an appreciation for that so hopefully they will make contact I mean I’ll leave that up to him but I think I would have a lot of questions if I were him and want to know that side of where I came from.
Christa: Yeah definitely! Yeah that's really cool. It's so cool to hear about this story because I think there's so many different ways I was talking to my last interview about different ways to have a family, to have children, and especially now, it's almost unlimited how you want to have a family. So what advice or tips do you have for women watching that were either thinking about this or maybe in the middle of this process right now.
Megan: So my experience was great. it gave me my greatest joy, my son Dylan, and then I also have one remaining vial left so potentially my donor will be helping me make two perfect children, we'll find out next year. As you said, families come in all shapes and sizes, now mine's complete. Although I’m lucky to have so much support for my family and I couldn't do this without them. If someone's trying to if someone's considering this process to help complete their family, I say go for it.
Christa: Was there anything that you kind of learned along the way about yourself or even once you became a mom. It’s not just about this process, just anything you kind of learned along the way, about being a mom or about during your pregnancy.
Megan: It's amazing how much your priorities and your perspective changes when you become a mom and also doing it during the pandemic so it's been definitely an experience. I didn't get to have a baby shower and nobody could come see me in the hospital, so it's been a little different but the biggest joy I was very nervous with a little one. He's definitely improved my patience. I don't think I was ever a very patient person but you learn that I think really quick when you're a mom. But just that you could I didn't know I could love something so much. I cherish that child, he's such a good boy too, he's so happy, and his smile makes my day. So no regrets! I’m so glad I did this and I look forward to watching them grow up.
Christa: That's awesome! I think it's so admirable what you did because I think it's one of those things where a lot of people might think of doing it or get nervous, maybe back down from it so I think it's so cool so when I saw you post, I was like, oh my gosh I have to! I feel like just sharing your story is so empowering because I’m sure so many women are going through the same thing, kind of thinking, can I do this by myself or should I or and I think it's so cool you've proven you can do it and I think that's really cool. I always like to end these with, I call them fun thinking questions. So my question is if you could have a billboard made today where you'd share one tip with moms everywhere, what would you have it say?
Megan: That was such a tough one! I’m so glad you sent me the questions ahead of time, it gave me some time to think on that one. I think I would have blanked but after thinking about it, I think I would say, that my billboard would say, “That the right way is your way.” I think it can be hard with all the information out there especially for a new mom. I’ve even seen mom shaming and just to feel that you were doing the right thing for your child or raising them the right way so I think it's important to do what you think is best and not second guess yourself because of someone else's opinion. I think us moms can be too hard on ourselves sometimes, by seeing some of the posts in the groups that I’m in. I think we're all very strong and we need to trust our gut because we like moms do know best.
Christa: Yeah! Absolutely and I think that was awesome advice. Like you said, there's so much mom shaming I feel like that comes from insecurity so I feel like trust themselves a little bit more, trust their gut maybe a lot less of that, more compassion. The last one is what advice would you give to new moms that are either in a tough spot right now or kind of struggling a little bit.
Megan: 100% ask for help when needed. They say it takes a village and that's for a reason. This moment is hard but there is support out there. I’m on a number of the Facebook groups and they're great with advice or words of encouragement but if you're in a hard spot, you just need someone to talk to or need help definitely ask.
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