Blowing the Lid Off Pandora’s Box to Discover the Hope Inside: CNN, Egg Donors, and the Science of Chance

On Sunday, October 12, my family and I will be part of an episode featuring the evolution of infertility on a new show on CNN. It is called This is Life with Lisa Ling and airs at 10:00 pm PST. The title of this particular episode is “The Genius Experiment.” The goal of our participation in the documentary is to begin chipping away at the wall of secrecy surrounding infertility, particularly donor IVF.

If you feel, as I do, that infertility needs to be a subject discussed often, and without shame, you can help by doing the following:

1) Reblog this post to get the word out about the upcoming episode. This is where the conversation begins.

2) Share this post on Facebook or Twitter to reach a broader community of infertile men and women, as well as their friends and families.

3) Send this post directly to anyone you know who suffers from infertity.

Please note: I do not, nor will I ever, benefit financially from my participation in the documentary. The same is true of my blog. There is one goal: encourage and educate my brothers and sisters in infertility as they have done for me time and time again.

On June 2, 2014 I learned that if I wanted to conceive again, I would need to use an egg donor. We had been lucky the first time; against all rational odds we were successful at our first IVF attempt in 2011, when I was 32. Our reproductive endocrinologist was amazed three years later, when he reviewed our first cycle in detail, hoping to understand why three subsequent attempts had failed. He concluded that statistically, all four attempts should have failed. Our son, a particularly stubborn embryo who didn’t give a damn about statistics, hung on anyway and grew into the baby we had dreamt of for so long.

Lightning was not going to strike twice. My crappy numbers had become even crappier in the three years that had passed. Immediately after being appraised of my diagnosis, I began mining the internet for the information and support I desperately needed to make heads or tails of my new reality. I very quickly found a tremendous website,, that was full of answers for every single question that I had bouncing around in my overwhelmed brain. PVED is one of the most comprehensive and well respected websites on the topic of egg donation/reception. If you have been told that an egg donor cycle is in your future, go check out this site.

While on the organization’s website, I saw a post inquiring if any donor egg recipient patients would be interested in speaking with a documentary team about their experience. Now, as an introvert who does not strive to be the center of attention, my expected behavior would have been to move right along to the next post. However, infertility journeys are hallmarked by the unexpected; true to that concept, I behaved uncharacteristically and emailed the producer. I simply stayed that that if my story could be of use to anyone, he could give me a call. And he did! In this struggle, this enemy-less fight, my husband and I felt emboldened to venture outside our comfort zones and reveal to this gentleman what six years of heartache and elation truly look like, from the perspective of a perfectly ordinary couple who has been there.

Who is there.

Who will be there as long as necessary.

Who may remain there indefinitely because we will never give up.

Because if even one couple who is ready to throw it in feels like they can press on after hearing what we have to say, then the intrusive high beams of the spotlight in my photosensitive eyes will be worth it. Figuratively and literally (production lights blaze with the luminosity of a thousand suns).

Much to my great surprise, the producer I had been speaking with for weeks informed me that the production company would like us to be a part of the documentary. Us? As in, on camera, in our home, discussing the most intimate details of our lives with Lisa Ling? It got real, real fast. It is a great credit to Nate, the producer, that I accepted this opportunity. Throughout our conversations it was clear that he genuinely cared about our story. He educated himself about the egg donor process, in between our conversations, and truly demonstrated his commitment to accuracy and integrity in his work. Consequently, that is how it came to be that at the end of July of this year, my husband and I welcomed a production crew into our home for two days, to learn about our story and to investigate how exactly a couple goes about selecting the woman who will provide the genetic material of their future offspring. That will be detailed on the show, as well as explored in depth in another post, coming in the next day or so.

There are many brave souls who have already taken up the mantle of infertlity awareness. Please join me by participating in their ranks and work together to put an end to the idea of infertility as being off limits.

Frustrated?…Get Yourself a Hammer and Pound the Hell Out of Something

I’m grateful to the people who have taken the time to read my thoughts; it makes me feel more connected to those who suffer in silence as I do, in some strange meta cognitive way. 🙂

I took a couple weeks off from writing because with the summer coming to an end I really wanted to finish up a few outdoor projects. Truthfully, I’ve been making my backyard a fully fenced, 100% childproof wonderland. Like most of us who have spent everything they have and more trying to conceive, my family is on a budget. My gifts may be few, but I’m resourceful and I know how to do a lot with a little! So I looted my grandfather’s barn and scored a whole lot of free lumber. It was old, dirty, and not cut squarely, but sometimes a day spent measuring and cutting can be just the therapy I need. Then the next day I spent clutching my pink yet powerful “grip for ladies” hammer and pounding that lumber into a fence. Speaking only for myself, when hopeless and fear about infertility creep in to my otherwise happy life, there is no better cure than to go out and build something!

Why the on-a-shoestring budget backyard wonderland? In my mind’s eye, the place where intuition and optimism collide with varying realistic results, I see myself with a big ol’ baby belly and very little enthusiasm for being the non-stop entertainment source for my will-be 3.5 year old son. Essentially, what we have here is a case of me working my tushy off now so that I can be lazy next summer. If I really am baking a baby or two by the time June rolls around, then lazy I shall be!

What do you do to relieve the overwhelming emotions that sneak up on you when you’re going through treatment? I can’t wait to hear what other mamas who are looking to “borrow genes” do to keep the yucky feelings away. Together we can help each other, and after all, that is the goal of this blog.