The reality around donor egg/fertility issues is that YOU need a village.
If you are reading this article, it is likely that you are approaching the donor selection process already having experienced multiple heartbreaks with fertility and with your desire to create a family. You have undoubtedly heard the phrase: “It takes a village,” with respect to the rearing of children. The phrase is often applied to the more mundane or infuriating, aspects of life as well. The reality is that YOU need a village. You need a team of support solely and expressly for you. I want to stress that this is an endeavor in which bearing its solitary weight does not serve you, your child to be, or your family to be. Cultivate and use your village and allow it to nourish and ground you. Your team can consist of many individuals and specialties, which you personally find helpful.
Here I will share with you some members to consider placing on your team. The goal is for you to move through weighty decisions in a supported way, which is pertinent, individualized, and unique to you.
I have developed this article with input from prospective parents, from other parents who have already experienced successful IVF technologies, and from health care practitioners actively participating in teams assisting with family building. It is my greatest hope that this will provide for you some valuable information on your personal journey toward becoming a parent. Here you will find some food for thought and may review some general considerations to assist with your experience.
A lonely process with no guidebook means you must create your own guides
Being on the path of egg donor selection is likely overwhelming.
As an acupuncturist and RN specializing in fertility/reproductive health for men and women, I often witness this struggle. One of my fertility patients aptly described it as a lonely process with no guidebook. By comparison, when you purchase a car, for example, you can conduct exhaustive research. Magazines like Consumer Reports offer the non-partisan, objective facts, as well as a plethora of specialty books and periodicals for the buyer. Moreover, the road to selecting an egg donor is every bit as expensive as purchasing a $30,000 automobile. But unlike choosing a car, it is a private topic about which you may prefer not to solicit input from family and friends, involving something more precious than all things with which money is typically considered—a baby.
The decisions are many and weighty AND you will get through them.
Yes, you do have many decisions ahead of you. It can be all consuming to sift through these and weather the emotional charges associated with them. Remember: you will get through this time. One of the best ways in which to make your way is to create your team of support.
Who might be on your team?
A Fertility Coach
A Financial Planner
A Licensed Insurance Agent
Conventional and Traditional Medicine
You will of course require established relationships with your doctors including an Obstetrician and Reproductive Endocrinologist. This is a conventional medicine must.
What you may not readily know is that conventional medicine and traditional Chinese medicine–including acupuncture, Chinese herbs and nutrition–work synergistically to improve pregnancy outcomes. Choosing an acupuncturist is key to weathering stressors and keeping your body tonified, strong, resilient and in prime condition for the many steps ahead.
Acupuncture has been scientifically found to:
- Enhance immunities
- Assist in hormonal balance
- Statistically improve ‘take home baby’ rates and
- Reduce stress to improve the way your brain communicates with your reproductive organs.
Acupuncture is one part of a 3,000 year-old complete system of medicine.
The process of acupuncture involves insertion of very fine, flexible needles into
acu-points on the body. Needles are sterile, used once, and disposed immediately following treatments. They are delicate, much like a cat’s whisker, and are not hypodermic needles in form, function or sensation. Acu-points located along specific pathways are chosen according to your body’s unique needs. Most of my patients fall asleep during treatments due to the deep relaxation treatments generally induce.
Are you concerned about the education and credentials of your acupuncturist?
Knowledge of training should put you at ease. Acupuncturists licensed in California are legally recognized as primary health care providers and are licensed herbalists as well. California acupuncturists are trained in 4-year masters degree programs, which total more than 3,000 hours of graduate studies. At websites such as the California Department of Consumer Affairs Acupuncture Board www.acupuncture.ca.gov, you can research Oriental medicine, practitioners and verify licensure. Please also see the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) www.aaaomonline.org and www.AcuFinder.com websites to research specialties and topics of interest. Many insurance companies cover acupuncture and I personally have a billing service which makes it easy to facilitate use of your coverage.
Donor selection and you: mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
In addition to combining conventional and traditional forms of medicine, remember to take good care of yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This aspect of your team involves choosing a psychotherapist and a fertility coach. I clinically observe that my fertility patients who actively pursue therapy and coaching move through challenges more easily and with greater senses of well-being and peace. Additionally I want to stress that therapy and coaching work synergistically with acupuncture. For example, I frequently use acu-points to address key emotions pertinent for the individual.
Ahead of you there are emotional wrestling matches amid donor research and selection. Support both your body and soul at this time. Donor selection and fertility stressors have the capacity to impact you, your primary relationship, your physical, mental and emotional health, your family dynamic, your career progression, and your finances, etc.
With choice comes complexity
Never in history have people been able to make the decisions that the wonders of technology afford us today. However, this blessed opportunity brings about choice and choice ushers in complexity. It does not translate to an easy process. You need emotional and spiritual support. Seek it. Discussion with trained, compassionate, and mature professionals is invaluable.
Psychotherapy and drop-in support groups prove to be exceptionally healing for my patients. At Balance Restored Center for Integrative Medicine in Mill Valley, we have three psychotherapists on-site. All specialize in fertility and family therapies. Dr. Ellen Hammerle, the head of our Psychotherapy department, offers rare expertise to persons in the process of family building at each of its many levels. Ellen is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT #32398) and holds a doctorate in clinical psychology. The current emphasis of Ellen’s work is on the integration of Western Psychology and spiritual wisdom teachings; of body, mind and spirit. The application of these tenets is pivotal for fertility and post-partum support groups. Please see our News Blog at www.BalanceRestored.com for postings re: our available support groups.
Fertility Coaching-creation of your life plan
Coaches are fabulous for co-creating with you your desired life plan. Keep in mind that this can be important time for you to nurture other dreams in addition to that of having a baby. Plans keep you moving forward even when emotions run high and tend to cloud activities. A coach will help you define your needs and goals. With support and compassion, a coach will monitor your progress and keep you accountable to your goals. There are coaches who specialize in fertility challenges and even those who draw from personal experience of the various paths of IUI, IVF, donor selection, surrogate selection etc..
I would like to refer you to www.FertilePerspectives.com, a website created by coach, Merideth Mehlberg ACC. Merideth draws from more than 15 years experience in the business world having functioned as a product manager, business analyst, and project manager. She is the author of the book: The Power of Plan B: How Infertility Can Transform Your Life. From her solid, analytical skill set, she coaches her clients to dream big while creating plans with manageable steps toward those dreams. Being herself a survivor of what she aptly calls the “fertility maze”, Merideth brings to you support to promote creation of your passions, focus, and life goals. You can reach Merideth at email@example.com or 510-864-0249.
Psychotherapy vs. Coaching-drawing distinctions
You may wonder about differences in psychotherapy and coaching.
Psychotherapy is like looking into your rear view mirror of your life. You see behind you what you have already passed and also that which has influenced your experience of your journey. There are profound life experiences in your rear view mirror, which mold how you move forward to present and future endeavors.
Coaching is like looking through the windshield of your car to the path ahead of you and deciding how you will navigate that unfolding road.
Both specialties are important: your past and your future.
Fertility challenges are not your fault, nor are they a measure of your worth
Interestingly I find that sometimes clients are reluctant to invest in their spiritual and emotional health in this most trying of times. It can feel indulgent when so many other resources in their lives are being dedicated to fertility processes. Some women share with me that they feel as though they have failed or let themselves or their mates down to find themselves struggling with fertility challenges. What I will share is that you are experiencing a situation of intensity for which you must give yourself every ounce of compassion and utmost credit. You always deserve to be treated well, to be loved and honored and to be supported in your journey.
Legal, Financial, and Insurance advisors on your team
A wise teacher of mine once said: plan as though for all eventualities, then live with joy as though life will unfold perfectly.
Independent of those of your fertility clinic or other agencies, it is wise to hire your own legal, financial and insurance advisors. These professionals protect and educate you. While the realms of law and money might trigger stress or anxiety, it is always preferable to operate in a well-informed and educated manner. It is money well spent.
Know your responsibilities as well as the donor’s responsibilities and review the plans for possible scenarios such as donor back-out etc. In my practice I find some clients who do not want to consider undesirable possibilities. In contrast, other clients focus so very much energy upon the scary “what if” scenarios that much precious energy is lost. A place in-between is most in balance. It is wise to plan in case bumps in the road occur and then set about choosing the best possible plan for you.
Options to Investigate
•Shared risk programs available at some clinics. These are programs in which you prepay for multiple cycles at a discount, and there is a refund available if you do not take home a baby following care.
• Tax breaks may be available to you.
•Donor/Recipient accidental health insurance.
There is a 5 Element Acupuncture saying that the each person who enters our doors is the likes of which we shall never again see. Each person is unique, special, and sacred. You are unique, special, and sacred. Honor yourself in this process and create your village. I wish you well in your journey and selection. If I can be of help, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone: 415.381.8500 Ext. 4.
All rights reserved. Karen Reynolds, L.Ac., M.S., R.N. 2008
Karen Reynolds, L.Ac., M.S., R.N.
Balance Restored Center for Integrative Medicine
600 Miller Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Phone: 415.381.8500 Ext. 4