NEDC NEEDS YOUR HELP!

PhotobucketYou are invited to participate in the Harris Interactive bi-annual survey of awareness of and attitudes towards Embryo Donation (ED) and Embryo Adoption (EA) sponsored by the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC). Your voice will help us monitor trends related to ED/EA. The survey takes about 5 minutes to complete, and all responses are strictly confidential. To participate in the survey, click on this link http://go.hpolsurveys.com/GeneralHealth or copy the link into your browser, and then simply follow the instructions. At the conclusion of the survey, you will have the opportunity to enter Harris Interactive’s monthly $10,000 sweepstakes.

Please share his link with your friends. And forgive us our repetition, but we’ll be promoting this all month.

LAUGH A LITTLE

We laugh a lot in our house. Many might not find our antics funny, but after 11 years together, we have our fair share of games and inside jokes that we find quite amusing. We have a long history of coming up with band names that arise out of the normal course of conversation. “Kamikaze Ice” (rock or metal), “Scarf Belt” (punk) and “Rivers of Snot” (metal) are just a few that we have dubbed over the course of our time together. Bizarre, I know, but Jeremy and I are well matched in our wit and weirdness, which I think is one reason we do so well together. I grew up in a home where dry and often sick humor was the norm, so it was only fitting that I married someone who not only gets the humor, but also can easily play along. The only time I ever got called out in class was my senior year in college when Jeremy and I were in a child development class together and were discussing “utterances” that babies make. Jeremy quickly writes “ants on udders” at the top of his notebook page, inducing me to laughter and caused our professor asked if there was something we wanted to share. I wanted to die. Thankfully, Jeremy quickly responded that everything was okay.

I think laughter is one of the reasons our embryo transfer was successful and now there is a small study that could confirm my line of thinking. It’s a very stressful time, but Jeremy had me (and the nurses) laughing to the point where I was finally able to empty my VERY full bladder into a bedpan while inverted. Laughter helped relax me and possibly lowered my stress hormones enough to allow my body to let Grant and Maria latch on. An Israeli study showed that women who were visited by a clown on the day of their transfer had almost double the pregnancy rate of those who did not receive a clown visit. Now, this was a small study, but the results are statistically significant. More research is needed, but I think they are on to something. I think clowns are frightening, so that might not have worked for me, but never under estimate the power of a witty husband to make a stressful situation tolerable. For the right price, I will consider loaning him out for the next round of embryo transfers.

EMBRYO ADOPTION RESEARCHER SEEKS VOLUNTEER INTERVIEW SUBJECTS

PhotobucketFor the sake of our many new readers, I’m re-posting this introduction to Hannah Dowling, student at Elon University, in North Carolina.

 

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Hello,

My name is Hannah Dowling. I am a Women/Gender Studies major at Elon University in NC and am pursuing research on women’s experiences with embryo adoption, particularly within their larger experiences with infertility. My research is interview based, and I would really like for my work to speak to the issues and experiences that actual women who have been or are currently involved with embryo adoption–both as donors and as adoptive mothers– find to be most important and significant. I am looking for women who would be interested in speaking with me about their embryo-adoption experiences (either as donors or adoptive mothers). I have already spoken with many women in various stages of involvement with the embryo-adoption process (i.e. those who are still waiting to be matched with an adopting or placing family, those who are currently pregnant with embryo-adopted children, those who were involved with embryo adoption many years ago, etc.), but I would like to include every woman who has the desire to participate in this research effort.

Participation in this research is entirely voluntary, and you will always have the option to not answer any questions with which you feel uncomfortable or would otherwise prefer to leave unanswered. You will have the option to complete interviews by phone or through email and can spend as little or as much time as you would like on the completion of interviews.

If you think that you might be interested in speaking with me about your experience or if you have any questions before you decide to participate, please do not hesitate to contact me at hdowling@elon.edu. Additionally, I would be more than happy to speak with you over the phone.

I look forward to speaking with you,
Hannah Dowling

Embryo adoption researcher seeks volunteer interview subjects

PhotobucketIf you have participated in embryo donation or adoption, or if you’ve simply looked into it, you’ve probably asked at least one question to which the answer was, “We don’t know yet.” The body of legitimate research is growing, but there will never be too much.

Hannah Dowling, a student at Elon University in North Carolina, has chosen embryo adoption as the subject of her undergraduate research project, and has the support of her faculty there. We at NEDC are happy to pass along an invitation for you to participate in her project. Be aware that your participation is entirely voluntary, that it will not affect your care in any way, and that your interaction with Hannah will be entirely external to NEDC and any of its programs.

Feel free to read Hannah’s appeal here. And if you are so moved, reach her via the email provided for additional information and perhaps next steps.

Chris Barrett
NEDC New Media Coordinator

LIVES WITH POTENTIAL

Yesterday a judge temporarily blocked the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research stating it violated law because it involved the destruction of human embryos. Of course, this brings up lots of debate and discussion on television and in the news. Being that this is near and dear to my heart, I started reading and made the mistake of reading some of the comments. Quickly these digressed into a religious debate. This is not a religious issue. It’s a life issue. Yes, I’m a Christian and part of my Christian faith honors life at all stages, but when this issue becomes a religious one, it takes the focus off these tiny lives that are at stake. As I sat on the couch last night holding Grant and Maria, one pundit stated that if these embryos are not used for research they will all go to waste. The thought made me sick and made me more fervent about sharing about embryo adoption. Embryonic stem cells have not shown the promise that is touted in the news. Yet, adult stem cells have been successful in treating disease and it doesn’t get nearly the same attention that embryonic stem cell research gets. The only hope I have is that this judge’s decision will open the door for more people to learn that research and death isn’t the only option for frozen embryos. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again….frozen embryos are not potential lives, but lives with potential.

NEDC’s WEBCAST SERIES CONTINUES

Join NEDC Patient Coordinator Clydene Elkins, RN for a FREE, informative and educational webcast entitled “How To Apply Online If You’d Like to Donate Embryos”.  Clydene will take you step by step through the online application process and discuss what your next steps are.  A good reference for patients who are seeking to donate or adopt embryos as well as medical professionals seeking information for their patients. The webcast starts TODAY at 3:00 Eastern, so if you’d like to attend, head over to www.embryodonation.org/webcast and prepare for an interesting educational experience!

VALUE OF LIFE

I’m convalescing at home this morning due in part to a touch of a stomach bug as well as general pregnancy blahs and I made the mistake of watching “A Baby Story.” This couple—who is expecting their first child together—was sharing the story of their previous two pregnancies. The first ended in a miscarriage and the second ended on much different terms. They said that during an amniocentesis it was discovered that this baby had some heart problems that, if the baby was born, would result in surgery after birth and unknown complications. They stated that due to these findings they “terminated” the pregnancy because it would be “easier for the baby.” This prompted me to yell at the TV and quickly turn the channel.

This hit a particular nerve with me because we know our babies are at a slightly higher risk for a congenital heart defect due to a genetic sibling being born with a hole in the heart. We’ve gotten the question on many occasions as to why we would pick embryos who had a higher risk for a problem. Wouldn’t we want to go with the “strongest” to increase our chances of “success?” Our answer has been that we were being obedient to God and His direction in our lives. I get bothered when I think about this question because it shows that many people perceive only “perfect” life as one of value. If you knew that your child would have asthma or autism or some other issue, would you have decided a different outcome for their life? Would picking different embryos have guaranteed us “perfect” children?

Another comment we have frequently gotten from people is “I bet you are glad all three embryos didn’t take.” Again, I get bothered because this devalues that little life. Would triplets have been more challenging and posed more risk? Absolutely! But are we going to celebrate that one didn’t make it? Absolutely not! Our celebration is the hope we have that one day we’ll meet him or her in heaven.

Our prayer is for healthy babies and that we’ll have the strength to get through any challenges we may face in the future. We also pray others would have the courage to value life no matter what the circumstances.

GRANDSICLES

One of the most exciting parts in the embryo adoption process was selecting our embryos. We chose to do an anonymous adoption and after our May consultation with Dr. Keenan; we were told we would receive profiles near the end of July after the July transfer cycle was completed. I had spent that last two years praying for God’s will for our lives and for guidance for our future family. Once we started the adoption process I was praying for our “popsicle” babies that my mom lovingly called her “grandsicles”. We didn’t know where they would come from or anything about their biological families at this point, but I knew that God knew and He would keep them safe and prepare our hearts for them.

On July 31, 2009, at 4:30 in the afternoon, I received an e-fax from the now familiar area code and my heart leaped because I knew what it was. Contained in that fax were 40 donor profiles and I couldn’t wait to get home to print them out. The profiles contained basic physical information about the genetic parents as well as education, career, ethnicity, and national origin. I had no idea we would have so many to pick from and felt overwhelmed at the responsibility that was before us. How do you pick one and dismiss another?

That night we looked through the profiles just to get an idea of what we were looking at and discussed some of the things we did or didn’t like about the profiles. Of the 40, there were 4 that were labeled “special consideration embryos.” This was due to some known medical issue with either the biological parents or siblings. We prayerfully began our selection process, picking profiles with similar physical characteristics to our own. One of the special consideration profiles had biological parents with characteristics very similar to Jeremy and me. I researched the issue listed and realized it wasn’t that big of a deal so we put them back in the stack and continued to narrow our list. The next day we had narrowed the field of 40 to 8 profiles. This included a favorite we called “the giants” because the biological parents were extremely tall. We left for church that Saturday with the profiles laid out across our coffee table and said we needed to pray some more.

At the end of our worship service we were singing the song “Overcome” and I was overwhelmed with emotion. Very clearly I saw a profile and knew God was placing this one on my heart. God was telling me that no matter what, with Him, we would overcome. I knew which babies were to be ours! We walked out of service and as we moved across the parking lot, I looked at Jeremy and said I knew which ones we were supposed to pick. He looked at me and said “the ones with the heart.” He also knew. See, the “special consideration” profile, which wasn’t at the top of our short list, were listed as such because of siblings born with history of Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) otherwise known as a hole in the heart. We came home and quickly put the other seven profiles away and started staring at the sheet of paper listing only basic physical characteristics, but to us, this represented our children. We soon received the full medical history and with no concerns, we confirmed we wanted these little guys. Within the next few days it was confirmed that profile #1200 with 13 embryos was now ours.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

I recently had the pleasure of speaking via phone with Chris Barrett, New Media Coordinator at NEDC. One of the questions he asked me was how I felt about embryo adoption. I started to think about it in terms of would this be something my husband and I would have considered as an option for creating our family? I think I would have to answer yes. We did discuss traditional adoption, which my husband wasn’t that keen about. I told him I wanted a family, and that may be our only way of achieving our goal. He reluctantly agreed that would be a last resort.

I like the idea of adopting an embryo, because not only are there embryos waiting to be adopted, but you could select characteristics which closely resemble yourselves, the adopting couple. You also have the option of whether or not to share with others the fact that this isn’t your biological child. You experience first hand the wonders of pregnancy, the birth process and can even opt to breast feed if you so desire. These are all things which aren’t possible with traditional adoption.

We found the process of donating to be quite easy. The staff at NEDC were very helpful and knowledgeable. Each step of the way all of our questions and concerns were addressed accordingly. Once the forms were completed, we basically waited for someone to choose our donated embryos.

My husband and I opted for an open adoption, which basically allows for the adopting and donating families to have contact with each other. You are able to select to what degree this contact will be, which is also a plus. I felt this was important for both families for the simple reason that health issues could arise at any point in time. I feel both parties have a responsibility to make the other aware by sharing this information. I personally felt strongly about this, because my oldest son was born with a dairy allergy. At the time of our making the donation, he had just been found to have outgrown it. I think it is important to keep some form of contact between the two couples for updates on health issues, as well as for other reasons.

I’m hoping that more couples turn to embryo adoption if this is right for them. I am pleased that NEDC is working to get the word out about it.

FROM PATTY, FEB. 22

As I blogged earlier, we really didn’t know anyone who was dealing with infertility issues, at least not openly, which made it hard for us to find resources.  At the time, I was working in a library, and spent a lot of time searching the database for reading material to educate us and find inspiration.  This was in the early part of the 1990’s, which I know is only roughly 20 years ago, but the material in print, especially the stories of real life couples, sometimes seemed outdated.  It would be from the mid 1980’s, but advances were being made so quickly, that the previous treatments now seemed outdated.

I can remember reading of a couple traveling to Norfolk, VA for their treatments.  They would spend approximately 2 months per cycle there, and the story went in great detail of their treatment, but more importantly for me, how they felt, what they were thinking and how they coped.  This couple had a happy ending of twins.

I felt overwhelmed enough with the whole infertility issue, and didn’t really spend a lot of time searching for information on the internet.  I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and still prefer getting my information in print, on actual paper that is.  Ask my husband about this; he purchased a Kindle for me as a Christmas gift, and he is using it.  I have yet to read anything on it.