Table of Contents
From The Editor
Let me introduce myself. I’m Bridgette and I’m excited to be the new editor of SMC Newsletter. Like many of you, I made a Huge Decision to fulfill my dream of becoming a mom, and this group was a lifesaver. For me, it was, and still is, a resource for direction, order, reassurance, confidence, and hope. And I couldn’t be happier to be even a small part of helping others through the newsletter!
A little about me: I am the proud mother the cutest twin boys on the planet! My guys are the product of my second pregnancy as an SMC. My first son passed away, but the idea that I am the mom of three lovely boys makes me smile for days!
I’m curious. I ask tons of questions, and I love suggestions. If you have topics you would like to learn more about or something you think we would be interested in exploring, send me a note! Books, news stories, blog posts, something you read online or overheard at the grocery story, or a tidbit you picked up at the doctor’s office, whatever. If it interests you, it probably interests someone else.
That includes anything you’re worrying about or struggling with. Trust me, you’re not alone! Message me or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll figure it out together!
Grieving The Dream
Part of this amazing journey is letting go the dream of a creating a family in a particular way. For some of us, the dream was creating the quote-unquote traditional family unit with a husband and a wife. For others, it may have been simply becoming a parent with the person you love. Whatever the dream was, it is difficult to let it go, while at the same time, holding on to the idea that it may not have completely passed you by.
Says a member in between “thinking” and “trying to conceive”:
“I’m just having a hard time accepting that my dream of having a “family” in the way I always thought about “family” isn’t happening. I’ve always daydreamed about building a nursery with someone, picking out a crib, etc… But, I am really really sad about doing this without a partner. “
The feeling is a common one among us SMCs: https://forums.singlemothersbychoice.org/viewtopic.phpf=6&t=25352&p=428770&hilit=grieving#p428770
You are certainly not alone in feeling this way!! I’ve seen so many discussions here about this topic. Grieving the dream is a very really part of the process for many of us. It’s totally valid to wish things were different even as we move forward.
– A member trying to conceive
I also felt sad at 40 when I began seriously considering and ttcing. Making the doc appt by myself made me feel like I was accepting that I hadn’t found “the one” to do this with. I’m glad I have my daughter but it was sad for me to think that I had dreamed about doing this in partnership and it wasn’t happening.
– Mom of two
And yet, sometimes a change in perspective can help. Obviously we’re all take-charge, go-getters who know what we want and don’t let anything stand in our way. And while we may mourn the idea of a perfect Plan A, another SMC trying to conceive made an amazing point:
…you are definitely part of the tribe of taking control and moving towards your dream. Hopefully love will come for you but take pride in knowing that you’re not sacrificing your dream of having your own child….
Sperm Donor Challenge
Choosing a sperm donor seems simple enough, right? Just select anything from height to education level, and there you go. Ordering a pair of boots online can be harder! But let’s face it. Chances are once you actually start looking at potential donors, your mind will work overtime. What with dozens of features to consider — eye color, hair color, height, to name a few – the process can be a big daunting. Not to mention evaluating medical histories… But don’t worry! There are methods to what can feel like madness!
Here’s a Forum post with LOTS of information on sperm banks that our members have used, as well as a poll:
And here are some thoughts from our members:
This was one of my biggest hurdles in the beginning. I couldn’t get over the fact that it felt like online dating for sperm. Everyone told me to just pick some must haves and go with that.
Here is what I ended up basing my decision upon: I wanted an ID option donor, intelligent, healthy, and looked similar to my family. At the end of the day, I just let my “gut” decide. I bought the lifetime series photos and when I saw a picture of him as an 8 yr old, it just clicked.
It’s such an individual thing… I wanted my child to have the best chance possible of looking like he/she fit in my family, so I sought donors with lighter colored hair and eyes. I didn’t want someone too tall or too exceptionally intelligent, but I did want someone who didn’t have awful eyesight (to balance out my astigmatism). I also had a few ‘deal-breakers for medical history: Absolutely no mental illness, no heart issues in family, etc.
But these guys are so young and my parameters still yielded SO many choices at my bank that I finally paid for an all-access package so I could view all the baby photos I wanted. When I found my donor, it was a visceral reaction–I just “knew” that if my baby didn’t look like me, I’d want it to look like that baby!
One other thing that I sought just to help tip odds in my favor, if possible: I remember when I posed a similar question as yours, someone said she had looked for someone who was of a happy disposition, and it resonated with me!
I honestly didn’t put that much effort into it. … I basically picked someone with traits I lacked. I’m short and tone deaf, so I picked tall and musical.
Ask The Doctor
“Ask the Doctor” is an exciting new feature in our Newsletters. The column is written by experts who are affiliated with the wonderful sperm banks and fertility centers who are our long-term advertisers. If you have a question to ask our doctors, please send it to SMCemail@example.com.
This Quarter, we connected with Dr. Jaime Shamonki, the Executive Medical Director of California Cryobank (CCB). (See Below for full Bio)
What factors should a patient consider when choosing a clinic for IUIs since there is no SART data available?
There are many factors that determine your success with IUI procedures, though generally speaking, working with a well-trained, board certified physician and high quality andrology laboratory will help optimize your chances of achieving pregnancy. Your doctor should be able to provide you with pregnancy success rates for his/her own patients in your age group. You may want to discuss with your physician at the outset how many IUI attempts he/she typically recommends for a patient with your profile prior to proceeding to IVF.
Although it’s not an absolute requirement for helping you achieve success, one surrogate marker for andrology laboratory quality is whether they are CLIA certified. CLIA certification demands laboratories meet high quality standards, and ensures that the laboratory is overseen by a PhD-level high complexity laboratory director (HCLD). CLIA certified labs also require semen samples to be prepared by trained andrologists. While a nurse or medical assistant may be experienced and trained on-site to handle donor vials, only a CLIA certified lab will ensure that an andrologist who has passed comprehensive training in preparing semen samples is preparing the semen for IUI.
Although SART and CDC data do not include IUI outcomes, typically clinics with good IVF rates will also have good IUI management practices. This is because the andrology laboratory handling the semen vials is usually managed by the same HCLD laboratory directs as the IVF lab, and therefore falls under the same quality assurance model.
We often hear that certain clinics have a “better” lab. What makes qualities make a lab better and how can a patient determine lab quality on their own?
As addressed above, CLIA certification and SART or CDC data can help identify higher quality laboratories. Although the association is not absolute, generally speaking, these are typically markers for a laboratory that is staffed by highly trained andrologists, supervised by a PhD-level laboratory director, and adherent to quality assurance practices that meet stringent standards.
Dr. Shamonki is Executive Medical Director of California Cryobank (CCB). Founded by two physicians in 1977, CCB is an internationally-recognized, industry-leading gamete donor bank and provider of private reproductive tissue storage. Prior to joining California Cryobank, Dr. Shamonki was Section Head of Breast Pathology and Medical Director of the Blood Bank at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. She completed her residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed fellowships in Breast Pathology (Weill Cornell) and Surgical Pathology (UCLA). An Assistant Professor at the John Wayne Cancer Institute since 2009, she continues to contribute to research studies in the fields of women’s health, oncology and immunology.
Speaking of dreams, this tidbit was found on our Blog (emphasis ours):
Sometimes I reflect on my life over the years.
15 years, probably more, that I have fought for what I want, for what I believe. I guess in a way motherhood and dating go hand in hand, since my whole life I believed that one was the means to another.
My mother tells me that I have always believed that what I wanted, what I desired was out there. She admired my persistence and fight that it could be real for me, that I stood for what I believed steadfast, despite years of unsuccessful relationships.
Mom always taught me the lesson in life, the lessons of relationships – that you learn from them, that you take the lesson and grow, so the next relationship would be even richer.
Have I had hard times over the past few years? Yes.
Realizing Mr. Right was not here in time. Yuck.
Deciding, grieving the fact that I had to take matters in my own hands and become a single mother by choice. Not easy.
Deciding to do it, and losing a pregnancy, and my infertility in one moment. The most difficult thing that has ever happened to me.
IVF, then my miracle – Aidan.
Made it all worth it.
I squashed my need for companionship, for love and sex and all that made me who I was, and dove into parenthood. I was happy, and my dreams were met. Then almost by accident, I “meet” my boyfriend, my old friend for the past 12 years.
I am still so blown away by his heart, his honesty, and how safe he makes me feel. He has a soul that makes me feel fulfilled and a sense of humor that entertains me.
Is it true that my struggles over the years to follow my dreams, and what I knew to be true, despite what people said – could have lead me to what I have always desired?
What's the Buzz?
There have been so many changes on our website recently, we thought it might be helpful to breakdown the two login systems in more detail. Please feel free to email us in the office at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions or concerns!
Here’s a breakdown on each system:
SMC User Profile:
You may login to your SMC User Profile at this link: http://www.singlemothersbychoice.org/member-login/
Once you’ve logged in, you can click on “Member Home” under the “Member Resources” tab in the green task bar on all of the SMC.org webpages. In “Member Home” you can access a list of popular SMC resources by clicking on any of the green links at the top of the page.
If you scroll down on this page, you will see a list of regions. Click on the region that contains your state (from the address you registered with), and you will be brought to a page containing the local Contact Persons’ contact information. If you are a Full Member, you will also see the full Members Directory for your area. Please note, not all of our members choose to be listed on our members directory, so if there are not many members listed on the directory, that DOES NOT mean there are not members in your area.
SMC Newsletters, and the SMC Newsletter Archive is also available in this login system. Once you’ve logged in, you may click on “Newsletter Archive” under the “Member Resources” tab. **Please note, due to repairs on our site our newsletters are currently unavailable. We hope to have them back up and accessible as soon as possible.**
If you wish to change your password or update any personal information in this system, you may do so by clicking “Edit Profile” under the “Member Resources Tab”
SMC Members Forum:
You may login to your forum account at this link (also found under the “Members Resources” tab by clicking “Forum”): https://forums.singlemothersbychoice.org/
This is a separate login system than the SMC User Profile, so you may need to update your password in order to successfully login. You may do so through our “Forgot Password” system. *UPDATING YOUR PASSWORD IN EITHER THE SMC USER PROFILE OR FORUM LOGIN WILL ONLY CHANGE THAT LOGIN SYSTEM, NOT BOTH* That being said, we encourage our members to set their SMC User Profile password and Forum password to be the same in order to avoid confusion.
Another important note about our forum login: If you attempt to login multiple times unsuccessfully in a short period of time, you will be locked out by our security system. Unfortunately, this is not something we can override, so you will need to wait 1-2 hours before attempting to login again.
Once you’ve successfully logged into our Forums, you will be redirected to our Forum homepage. Here you can see all of the major topics being discussed on our forums. These categories are set up to keep the huge number of discussions organized and easier to locate. Click on the main topic you are looking for, and you will be taken to a list of “sub-forums” that discuss more specific issues. You can either respond to a thread that is already present, by clicking the “Post Reply” button in a particular discussion, or you may want to start your own thread, by finding a main category and clicking “New Topic” at the bottom of the page.
If you wish to change your password or any personal information such as location, signatures, or pictures, you will need to click on “User Control Panel”, and then click on the “Profile Tab”.
All Passwords MUST be:
-At least 10 characters long
-Include both upper and lower case letters
-Include at least 1 number
-Include at least one symbol, ex: !, @, #
The Things Kids Say!
Sometimes you just have to laugh at the things little ones say. Because when you think about it, they’re not wrong! Here are some of our favorites.
The logic of Twins:
Stephanie: “I’m a girl.”
Mommy: “That’s right. Alex, are you a girl?”
Alex: “I’m a boy.”
Mommy: “That’s right. Is mommy a boy?”
Alex: “No, you’re a Mommy!”
Mommy: “Be careful Stephanie. You can look at the photo of Grandma and Grandpa but don’t touch it. You don’t want to wrinkle it.”
Stephanie: “But Grandma already has a lot of wrinkles.”
Just when you think your four year-old isn’t paying attention. …
One mom got a funny surprise when her son was asked is name. His reply? “My name is Bennett but my mom calls me Earth to Bennett.”
Another mom wanted to make sure her daughter had a grasp of the donor process and how it all worked.
As mom explains:
When she was about 4 she asked me if there were any man ladybugs (i.e., because of the name). I said of course, and then added, “How else would they get baby ladybugs?”
Without missing a beat she responded, “Maybe they have doctor ladybugs.”
You can read more wonderful moments from our members on our forum, or submit your own; here.
We are always so excited to hear about the newest members of the SMC Family! Birth announcements are often made on our members Forum, however we welcome our members to announce their arrivals in our quarterly newsletter.
If you would like to have your birth announcement featured in our next issue, please send any pictures or text to our editor, Bridgette at email@example.com