Sometimes You Are Just Supposed to Meet Someone

It was Wednesday morning and I glanced at my watch. It read 11:59 a.m. and I was just about to walk into the Starbucks across from the hospital.

It had been so long since I had this feeling – the feeling when you have exchanged several messages on social media with a person yet you’d never officially met the person in real life. 

It felt like my days of online dating. Only this meeting was a lot different than my old days of online dating (gosh I don’t miss that at all).

A couple months ago I started following a woman named Sandra the Mama Coach on Instagram.  We first began talking about ovulation medication and quickly our conversations started to grow. We would talk about everything from hairstylists to spotting during pregnancy. It seemed that through it all, Sandra was there to calm me down and to make me laugh.

Sandra had stated that she worked a a hospital in the low-risk area as well as the high-risk fetal medicine unit.

Meeting Sandra Without Knowing It

On August 8th when I met with Dr. Whittle to discuss my procedure I was in a daze. After waiting several hours this super friendly nurse called out the name “Sarah.”  You know when you see a bunch of nurses calling out names? I always wish for the happiest and friendliest nurse. 

Unfortunately, she was calling out for another Sarah and I didn’t even recognize that the super friendly nurse that called out my name on that difficult day had been Sandra.

When I got home, Sandra had sent me a direct message discussing the long wait in the high-risk clinic that day and explained that there had been an emergency in the morning. She said she didn’t want to risk patient confidentiality so she didn’t introduce herself when she called out my name.

“OMG. You should have said hello!” I wrote back.  

After several conversations back and forth over a series of weeks, Sandra asked me a professional question. She wanted my opinion on starting a prenatal class (a group class, a private in-home class, and a virtual class).  I told her it was a great idea!

She stated that she had seen a lot of Mama’s who struggled with “infertility and then finally got pregnant.” She said that the “hopes, fears, struggles, doubts are all real.” Unfortunately, as clinic nurses, they didn’t have the time needed to really educate, support, and provide empathy to those women and their families.

She was right.

My OB appointments were very different from when I was a patient at the fertility clinic. At Mount Sinai Fertility, I never felt rushed and felt like every doctor weighed the pros and cons of everything with me. They had time to go over things and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions.

I felt a huge shift in moving from the clinic (hoping to get pregnant) to OB appointments (when you actually get pregnant). The wait times were longer with my OB and people that worked there were ALWAYS busy. It seemed like they wanted to have time to be with you, but they just couldn’t spend a lot of time with each patient because of their schedule.

In the past, because I knew my OB was so busy, I didn’t want to bother him so I brought a lot of questions home with me. I am sure he would answer them but I knew the kind of emergencies that took place there and didn’t want to waste his time on my silly questions.

Instead, I would take those questions home and usually entered them into google. Google turned me into an absolute wreck because every symptom that I experienced led me to death – death of my baby or to my own death. DO NOT USE GOOGLE.

So what was I to do with all of the anxiety? I knew had to stay off google but I didn’t want to bother anyone or take up anyone’s time with a series of questions. 

Enter Sandra the Mama Coach.

When you get pregnant, people start telling you about different services/classes you may want to take. Do I need acupuncture? Should invest in a doula? What is a sleep coach? What are prental classes?

For me, I didn’t know where to start but prenatal classes seemed like they would be helpful. After seeing Sandra twice this week,  I am telling you that if you want to pay for one service while pregnant, you want to hire Sandra as your Mama Coach.

For years I have had generalized anxiety disorder and with the right medication, I was/am able to fully function and few knew that I was/am actually a very anxious person. The fertility process was the most anxious time in my life and pregnancy has been a close second.

What is this spotting? Is the baby getting enough food if I am constantly throwing up? How can I tell if I am dehydrated? What medication can I actually take? My bowel movements have completely changed – when do I go to the hospital?

It seemed that every couple of nights I had a new issue that I was googling.

As part of Sandra’s program, you have a direct line to Sandra. You have direct access to an amazing nurse who has seen it all throughout your ENTIRE pregnancy. You don’t have to wait days to hear back – you get info right away.  Let me tell you, Sandra knows her stuff. She has worked in Calgary as a nurse and has spent eleven years at a high risk hospital. She has also seen EVERYTHING and knows when something is okay or if it is time to get it checked out.

First Session

In our first session, Sandra went over information about what to expect during the second trimester. She had really detailed info on how the baby is developing each week (way better than any pregnancy app). She then went into ultrasounds – the anatomy ultrasound (mine is on Monday and I am really nervous about it). I discussed my fears with Sandra who explained that a lot of women need to come back to have it done again because of how much the baby is moving. She said that we are asking so much of the baby in that ultrasound and if they ask you to come in again, it is usually because they don’t have a clear picture of baby.

Sandra then went over what to expect at all of the ultrasounds and also discussed movement and bonding with your baby.

This week I have felt my little boy move A LOT. It feels like there are tiny bubbles in my stomach or that he is rolling a ball inside of my stomach. It feels absolutely incredible and of course, I cried when I first felt him move.

The whole pregnancy thing feels surreal but it is starting to hit me since I have a baby bump and can feel him moving inside of me. 

After my first session on Wednesday, I felt so much better about my pregnancy. The information I was given was not available on google because it came from Sandra’s own personal experience.

Second Session

In my second session with Sandra on Friday, I was not nervous at all to meet up with her (again at Starbucks) and we went over what I have deemed “the tough stuff.”

The area that gives me the most anxiety in my life includes hospitals, needles, and health issues. This is because one can’t control any of this.

I didn’t know how I was going to be during our session when we discussed “viability” (when your baby can survive outside of the womb, etc). I asked Sandra so many questions about what she had seen at the hospital and we discussed resuscitation. I wanted to know everything and Sandra told me absolutely everything. 

After that, we discussed symptoms/discomforts during pregnancy (I have had most of them). It was interesting to know what is ahead of me though. I am telling you that people don’t discuss a lot about what happens during pregnancy. I also asked a bunch of questions about delivery and Sandra knew everything. She told me her birth story after having two kids and her story was beautiful. I explained that it was so nice to know that good birthing stories do exist. 

We concluded our second session by discussing danger signs and what to expect when you bring the baby home from the hospital. She went over when to call a doctor, and what discomforts are actually normal.

Can you read about all of this info? Yes and no. Yes because there is a lot of information on the internet about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  However, these sessions allow you to ask questions. I wanted to know what Sandra had seen working with mamas for so many years. I wanted to know what the hospital would do if various issues came up. I needed to hear personal stories.

I also needed to calm the F down. That is exactly what Sandra provided for me. She has such a calming and kind demeanour and really listened to all of my fears. She educated me on what is normal because A LOT of what I have read that says go to the doctor/hospital on google is not really true. If you are constantly being told that things are an emergency, you spiral out of control (at least I do). In those times I can’t think clearly. 

Sandra reminded me that one needs to stay calm to make important decisions and she really used all of her current experience to inform me that so many things are completely normal.

You know when you meet someone and you know that you are supposed to meet them? That is exactly how I feel about Sandra. She has seen so much and has so much experience. She somehow knew how to calm my fears while still acknowledging that pregnancy can be super stressful.

I hope you all have someone like Sandra in your lives to help you with your pregnancy. If not, try one of her classes. She is also offering a second prenatal session in my third trimester at 32-35 weeks. Please let me know if anyone wants to join us.

*Please note that Sandra didn’t ask me to write any of this. I just wanted to write this to help all of you get the support that you deserve. Her email is sandra@themamacoach.ca. You can email her to sign up for the Early Prenatal Class or the regular prenatal class she calls “Not Your Average Prenatal Class.” If you sign up for both classes you receive a free gift and special pricing. She even has some classes available in October in both Toronto and Halton.


Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

NEXT WEEK: My Anatomy Ultrasound and the Results


My First Appointment with my O.B.

Trying to look really casual but inside I am freaking out.

“What anything from Starbucks?” I texted my sister J.

“Would love an Americano so much. Thank you.” she wrote.

“The directions that I got to the OB’s office are crazy so just meet me on the third floor and we can find the office together” I texted.

It was Wednesday and J had agreed to meet me for my first appointment with my OB at Mount Sinai.

I was super nervous.  Why couldn’t I just stay with Dr. Jones at the Fertility Clinic? She was the nicest doctor ever.  Instead, I was to meet a new doctor named Dr. Snelgrove and was about to explore a new building – the Ontario Power Generation building.

“Good morning” said Julia as she came out of the elevators to meet me.

“I am so nervous” I confessed.

What was going to happen at this appointment? The nurse on the phone suggested it would be a “long” appointment but how long was “long”?

After making twists and turns down the hall, we finally found the admin assistant in the hall.

“My name is Sarah and this is my first appointment” I said.

Celine was so lovely and explained that I could just take a seat.

Both J and I commented on how everyone we saw around us was pregnant and going to the washroom. Most pregnant women were going at a leisurely pace but I could tell that some were going to throw up.  I felt like I was really among my people.

“Sarah?” asked a really cute nurse.  She had the exact same style as my sister J. She was wearing a white shirt and a really pretty pastel pink flowy skirt. 

“You have the exact same shoes as my sister” I said to her looking at how both she and Julia had on the same shoes.

“I also own the same skirt” Julia laughed.

The nurse’s name was Daniella and she was so lovely.

She talked about how Dr. Snelgrove was super nice and she just asked a lot of questions about my health. She talked to me about how many pregnant women crave carbs but how one should avoid eating too many carbs.

“But please note that now is not the time to go on any type of weight loss diet “she said.

That made me happy.

J and I laughed with her as we discussed many issues involving pregnancy and later even had a debate on whether Starbucks iced coffee really was worth the price.

About ten minutes later Daniella gave me an entire booklet of info and said “welcome to the low risk pregnancy program.”

“Low risk?” I asked. “I thought I’d be high risk because of my age and I think I have high blood pressure.”

“Your blood pressure is great” she said.

This made a lot of anxiety disappear.

From there, J and I waited for about an hour. We laughed through the entire hour killing time making fun of the art on the walls or various things that we were seeing.

The perfect artwork for the low risk floor.

At one moment we saw a couple who were obviously going through a lot and the man was cradling his partner’s head. They both looked as though they were crying.

“Stop staring” I said to J.

“What do you want me to do?” she asked. “I am an empath.”

J also saw someone she knew and pretended not to see her. In fact, J ran into people she wasn’t “supposed” to see because various friends were going through fertility issues/treatments and wanted to keep everything private. J respected their space and would only go up to people she knew if they seemed as though they wanted to chat.

“This is the reality” said J. “Many people are going through fertility issues around this age.”

“Sarah?” asked another nurse.  “We are ready to see you.”

“Want me to come in with you?” asked J.

“Of course” I said.

J sat in the chair and I sat on the examination table.

“What is that sound?” asked Julia. “It sounds like we are in a birth canal.”

J and I still haven’t figured out where the sound was coming from. It was either a weird sound coming from the vent or the sound of someone having an ultrasound done near us that sounded like the heartbeat was on a megaphone.

“Sarah?” asked Dr. Snelgrove.

“This is my sister J” I said.

“I can see the family resemblance.”

“You can?” I asked. “I personally don’t think we look anything alike.”

I can’t possibly go into all of the things that Dr. Snelgrove said because a) it went over my head b) I didn’t write anything down c) this would be 5,000 words longer.

Some things I did note were the following:

  1. I haven’t gained any weight.
  2. My OB only works at the clinic on Wednesday’s so all appointments will be scheduled on a Wednesday.
  3. You don’t get to pick your appointment time. You are just handed a card that goes over the times you must attend.
  4. Dr. Jones was Dr. Snelgrove’s Chief Resident while he was in training so I know I am in good hands.
  5. You should bring something to write everything down. There is so much information that comes at you very quickly. J and I could not possibly process everything that was said to us.
  6. Because of my age and the fact that I have used a donor, Dr. Snelgrove suggested that I have what is called a Harmony Test. It uses one vial of blood to screen for Down Syndrome and two other genetic disorders (Dynacare). Since I was ten weeks on the exact day I saw him, he ordered the test for me. It did cost $500.00 but he said that it is a very accurate test and that my results would be ready within a week.

After saying good-bye to my OB, J and I departed ways because she had to go to work and I needed to get some blood work.

After taking a number and waiting for about five minutes in the “lab” area, a woman called my number. I recognized her right away.

“You also work at Mount Sinai Fertility” I said. “You took my blood on several occasions.”

She smiled at me and said “well it is so nice to see you here.”

She was right – I had graduated from Mount Sinai Fertility to Mount Sinai Low Risk.

“I love your nails” I said as I recognized the fact that she always had her nails done in interesting colours.

“I need gold and glitter in my life” she said in her Russian accent.

She then started plugging info into the machine and it no longer felt like Mount Sinai Fertility. It took about ten minutes for her to process info, get the right coloured vials, and get the correct stickers printed for the vials of blood. At Mount Sinai Fertility, things took seconds. This was taking a long time.

The ten minutes were excruciating. It had been over a month since I had my blood drawn and I had forgotten how anxious I became when forced to sit down and “relax” while having blood taken. She was concentrating so much that my small talk conversation that usually allowed me to focus on something else was not allowed.

“Make a fist” she said.

Eight vials later I was finally done. Through the whole process she kept looking at the needle in my arm and then would look right into my eyes. It felt like she was looking into my soul.

I wondered if she knew how nervous/anxious I was or if she could feel me shaking. I also wondered if she thought I might pass out.

Three and a half hours after my appointment time, I finally left Mount Sinai. In my purse was a giant pamphlet of info I was going to read along with a prescription for baby aspirin to be taken starting August 9th (a precaution to help avoid genetic diseases for the baby).

Every time I passed a pregnant woman or saw a baby with his/her parent/guardian, I couldn’t help but smile. Yes the third floor was full of a lot of medical information, precautions, facts, stats, testing, etc., but it was also full of so many miracles. We were all in this together and I finally felt as though everything might be okay.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Truth

Morning sickness pills and some ginger ale = my two faves.

“You are just like Princess Kate” my friend texted.

“We only have one thing in common – morning sickness” I texted back.

Then I started thinking about what else Princess Kate and I had in common and the list ended there.

This week has been quite interesting. I’m teaching online summer school so I am marking about 40 grade twelve assignments per day. You have to be on your A game as assignments are literally coming in at any time of the day.

Yet I have struggled with morning sickness.

So how do you balance work, friends, family, while having morning sickness every day? Who knows. If you could tell me, that would be great.

Also, who the hell called it “morning sickness” when it should really be called “all day sickness?”

For whatever reason my “morning sickness” hits at 12:30 p.m. It’s the weirdest thing and for the past couple of days I have checked the clock to see when it starts and every day the number 12:30 looks back at me.

For those of you incredible people who have yet to experience morning sickness let me tell you what it is like. Think of your worst hangover you have ever had. Sometimes you had the spins, sometimes you were just ready to throw up at any second, sometimes you craved certain foods while other times you had to force yourself to eat. All you wanted to do was to possibly throw up to feel better.

That is basically morning sickness. Now I must tell you that mine is not bad. My heart breaks for pregnant women constantly throwing up all day. I can’t imagine opening my eyes every morning to morning sickness.

I also remember not being pregnant and watching my friends go through morning sickness.

“They are so lucky” I thought. “At least they have a baby inside of them.”

That is so true but perspective really is everything. Yes, I am so grateful to feel this way because it means I am still pregnant but feeling hungover every day of the week can feel a bit much.

Weeks ago I was prescribed a medication from my fertility doctor, Dr. Jones. It was for Diclectin but she informed me that it would make me feel really drowsy.

“You can take up to four a day” she said. “That is a lot though so I don’t know if that will just make you way too tired. Just start with one and go from there.”

I didn’t want to take pills because a) I am stubborn and thought I could just be tough b) I was afraid of how tired I would be. I already found myself exhausted after the lamest things and was worried my marking would go to hell if I took medication.

On Thursday I went grocery shopping and my morning sickness came on. I started to curse myself because it was 11:30 a.m. and I was cutting it too close to my 12:30 morning sickness timeslot.

Despite the grocery store cranking the A.C., sweat started pouring down my face.

“I need to get out of here” I thought. My shopping was almost complete and I just needed to pay.

I stood in line and placed the top of my body over the bar on the cart. Somehow I felt that would help. Then I started taking deep breaths.

The man behind me looked puzzled.

“I just need this” I said to the clerk as I grabbed a bottle of ginger ale and chugged it like I once downed shots in University.

After paying my bill and getting out of there without throwing up (small victories), I decided it was time to fill my prescription.

The pharmacist warned me that I should just start out with one because so many people complain about being way too tired on them. Yes, yes, everyone was giving me the same warning.

On Friday, after getting nine hours of sleep the night before, I popped my first Diclectin.

Within two hours I could barely keep my eyes open and had to go for a two hour nap.

So now I wake up each morning and choose. Will today be a day of nausea and throwing up or will today be a day I spend sleeping? What a choice!

Do you remember Kourtney Kardashian when she was pregnant? She loved and embraced her pregnancy so much. She was so happy and felt as though she was “one” with her baby.

For me, pregnancy has been a bit of a gong show. It consists of days when I spot and go into hysterics thinking that I have miscarried my baby. It is also a time where I have to debate which is less likely to interfere with my day – sleep or vomiting.

That being said, pregnancy is also the best thing in the world. I legit strut down the street exposing that my stomach is becoming bigger. People have complimented and said that I am “beautiful” on the streets which has not happened in years. I am positive this is because I am no longer trying to hide my belly or my weight.

People also comment on the fact that I am “glowing” when in fact, my body is just drenched with sweat and I feel like I need to shower. It is so nice to receive compliments at a time when you think you may pass out from heat stroke.

I am also fully aware of my limits. Before becoming pregnant, I attended everything and my friends can back me up on this. I was always out and having fun. I’d often be completely exhausted though because I was doing far too much. Now, I have to slow down and have to make choices. I can’t attend everything anymore which makes me sad but I really appreciate the times that I do get to spend with friends.

I’ve also started rubbing my belly when I am anxious and have started talking to the baby. If anyone saw me, they would legit think I was crazy but I am enjoying this little bonding experience.

This week I also got my OB! His name is Dr. Snelgrove and he is at Mount Sinai. I have an appointment with him this week and was told that it will be “long.” Have no idea what it entails but my amazing sister J will be by my side.

So right now I would give my pregnancy about an 8/10. Most days are filled with joy but I do miss my wine on patios and I do miss feeling well during most days.

Still can’t believe this is happening though. Sometimes I just think “I am pregnant” and I am filled with so much joy sprinkled with a bit of fear.

Excited to see what a new week brings! How will I feel? Will the morning sickness end? Can I make it through a day without having a two hour nap? Will I leave my house and go out in the heat? Will my marking get done? Will I stop being a hermit? Will I just invest in shares of Canada Dry because I am drinking so much ginger ale? Time will tell. Sometimes you just have to laugh at all of this because it is so ridiculous.

So I may not look like Princess Kate, I may not be rich, I may not even be married to royalty (or married at all) but hats off to Kate because we do have a shared experience and morning sickness is no joke.

First Ultrasound: Not At All What I Expected

It was 9:30 a.m. and the sun was already beating down on me. I had just stepped out of my apartment and I could see my Mom rounding the corner with a huge smile on her face.

“Today is the day” she said as she gave me a hug. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Incredibly nervous and super excited” I said with a smile.

I ordered an Uber and we stood outside in the heat talking about what we had been up to the past couple of days. When the Uber arrived, I felt relieved to just sit down. Had no idea I’d be this nervous to go to my first ultrasound at 8 weeks. My legs felt like jelly and it was nice to just sit down and relax.

Our drive was bumpy and my Mom was telling me all about going out for dinner the other night and the server that they had.

“You know. The dinner was exceptional but I think it may have been the servers first time serving.”

I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying. Instead I was watching the time, watching how the Uber driver was darting inbetween traffic, and I was just trying to focus on my breathing in order to stay as calm as possible.

“What would you like from Starbucks?” my sister J texted me. She was kind enough to make sure that she changed her day at the office so that she could come with us. She had been to so many appointments and it was so beautiful that she could come to this one.

“Just water” I said feeling so thirsty.

The Uber driver finally dropped us off at the fertility clinic and I was excited to show my Mom that this was the place I had been attending for almost a year. It was also a place where I went for about 30 appointments over that time.

“This is it” I proudly said to my Mom.

We went into the elevator and I pressed seven. “This is really starting to feel real” I said. “It also makes me somewhat sad as this will most likely be the last time I come to this clinic.”

When the elevator doors opened nobody was in the waiting room.

“This is so odd” I said to the receptionist. “Where is everyone? It is a weekday.”

“It is eerily quiet right now” she said with a laugh.

My Mom and I sat down for a couple minutes before I was told that I could get changed into a hospital gown. My Mom got to come with me and suddenly all of the places in the fertility clinic that I had described in my blog were coming to life for my Mom.

“This is where I sat when the women all coached me on what to do before my first ultrasound” I said.

“I am here! Where do I go?” texted my sister J.

My Mom knew she would get lost if she went to find J so I just went out in my hospital gown.

“This is so exciting” she said as she followed me into the room with the hospital gowns.

“Sarah?” asked the nurse. “Have you had a chance to use the restroom?”

“I will go right now” I said remembering that every time before an ultrasound I had to empty my bladder.

“Your family can follow me” she instructed to my Mom and sister.

“They get to actually go in?” I asked.

“Of course” she said.

It was so exciting walking into the room with the nurse, the ultrasound equipment and seeing both my Mom and sister sitting on chairs.

“Are you ready?” asked the nurse.

“Great it is an internal ultrasound” I laughed. There is nothing like something going inside of you as you look at your Mom and sister.

“Take her picture” instructed my Mom to my sister. “We need to remember this.”

“Really?” asked my sister laughing.

“Of course” I said with a smile.

The probe was inside of me and my Mom, sister and I just started catching up about various family members and how everyone was doing. I could hear that the nurse was taking pictures and it was taking a bit of time.

From what I had heard from other people regarding ultrasounds, the nurse would not say anything so I didn’t expect to hear or see anything.

“Do you want to look?” asked the nurse.

My Mom and sister stood up and came closer to the screen. I stared closely at the screen.

“Is there a baby in there?” I asked. “Please just tell me a baby is in there and that the baby is okay.”

“Look at this” said the nurse. “If you look close enough you can see the heartbeat flashing on the screen.”

I saw it.

It was beautiful but also made me feel something I did not expect – absolute and total fear.

This was not like the movies. I was supposed to have my belly out and we were supposed to hear the heatbeat. We were supposed to all scream with excitement and I was supposed to start crying tears of joy.

It wasn’t happening.

Instead, I felt this intense feeling of protection.

When I first told people that I was pregnant, they would say “congrats Mama” and I didn’t get it. Yes I had something instead of me, but I totally didn’t feel like a Mama.

Now, looking at this heartbeat I finally felt like a Mama. It was a feeling of so much joy but it also felt like all of this weight being added to my shoulders.

Things were changing.

There was no denying it. I was no longer single independent Sarah anymore. I was a Mama who was going to do anything for that little baby. My needs didn’t matter anymore because all I cared about was making sure that little one was protected. I was going to sacrifice and do anything so that I could to be the best Mama that I could to that little heartbeat.

With that image on the screen my life had completely changed. I was now responsible for something so great and now every single decision in my life would be made thinking of that little heartbeat before my own wants and needs.

“Here are the pictures” said the nurse printing out the pictures of the ultrasound.

“Thanks” I said laughing at how there was really not that much to see in the image.

Yet one thing was for certain – that tiny little seed had a heartbeat and my life was transforming infront of me. I would do absolutely anything for that little seed.

After being in the room we saw my fertility doctor and I thanked her for everything.

“You are now graduating from the clinic” she said.

“I feel like I need a graduation song” I said thinking of Vitamin C’s graduation song that plays at literally every graduation of life.

“Do you want me to play a song on my phone? “asked the other nurse in the room.

“It’s okay” I laughed. I knew that even the words by Vitamin C would be too much at that moment. It was super emotional and I knew that I’d burst into tears.

Mount Sinai Fertility made me feel at home for the past year and it made me so sad (and happy) to be leaving and graduating from the clinic. The nurses had helped answer every single question I had ever had. They had called me and given me life-changing news. My fertility doctor (Dr. Jones) was also the most compassionate, empathetic, intelligent woman. She always had this calming nature and was there to support me through everything.

As my sister, Mom, and I all left I couldn’t help but notice that the waiting room in the fertility clinic was completely full. There were hardly any seats available.

My heart sunk and I just wanted to reach out to everyone there.

I also felt guilty that I was holding pictures of an ultrasound and that other couples had been trying so hard and for so long without their pictures just yet.

“Magic happens here” I thought. “Don’t give up.”

We pressed the elevator to go down to G and I couldn’t help but become very sentimental about leaving a place that gave me so much.

Thank you Mount Sinai for everything and thank you for giving me a little heartbeat inside of me. I promise to make all decisions based on what is right for the little one and to be the best Mama that I can possibly be.

Hello! I’d Like You To Meet My Sperm Donor

I can never make a decision for the life of me.

What if I end up not liking it?  What if it isn’t the best available option? What if my decision makes someone else upset?  What if I have made the wrong decision?

In the past, I have had other people make my decisions for me.  What make up product do I want to buy?  The reviews tell me which one to buy. What song should I add to a playlist?  The Top100 list is available, so I will just pick something from there.  What should I wear? I’ll just buy everything that is already styled on a mannequin to complete my look. If reviews and experts can’t make the decision for me, I usually turn to my family. I can’t even want to imagine the number of emails that were sent to my family from ages 20-35 with me asking, “what should I do?”

Once my divorce settled and I started living on my own, I began to hear a faint voice telling me what I wanted and I finally started developing an opinion. That being said, I still depend on the opinion of everyone else way too much when making major decisions (people pleaser, say what?)  I don’t want to mess up or have any regrets.  I still don’t know if this is my anxiety or if this is just my personality.

So imagine trying to find a sperm donor on your own when all you want is the opinion of everyone else.  There are no reviews or Top100 lists.  You can’t even physically meet the person and know right away if you like someone.

As mentioned in previous posts, I asked my family to help me with the process of picking a donor but they kept insisting that I do it on my own. At first, I felt unsupported because I thought I needed their help to make one of the most important decisions in my life. Turns out, they gave me a gift. I found my sperm donor on my own and feel absolutely incredible that it was my decision and mine alone. Now, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I never thought I’d be using a sperm donor, writing about using a sperm donor, or even using three separate blogs to write about the topic of a sperm donor – yet here I am! For me, this was a really important decision and one that altogether took me about 50 hours.

So who is my sperm donor?  Well let me introduce him. Please know that I can’t actually introduce him according to the law or show you his childhood pictures or his donor essay.  I don’t even know his name – all I know him by is his donor number. Here is what I can tell you about him:

  1. He is CMV negative. Most people are CMV positive but I am CMV negative. If a CMV positive sperm donor combines with a CMV negative person, you need to sign a form at the clinic because there is a chance that this combination could lead to developmental delays in children.
  • He is healthy.  When I looked at my sperm donor’s records, I could see that he is very healthy (both physically and emotionally) and that his parents and grandparents are all healthy.  He was also tested for genetic diseases and when reading through this list, everything looked great. There were some sperm donors that I loved but I would have to sign a form that they tested positive for a genetic disease saying that “I fully understood that there were risks associated with picking that donor.”  Those forms scared me too much. No genetic disease form needed for this girl!
  • His baby picture and features are somewhat like mine.  At the beginning of this process, I kept trying to find someone that looked like me.  Then I realized that it was more important to me to have someone with a super clean health record than it was for me to have someone that looked like me. He actually looks A LOT less like me than I thought so I really surprised myself in my final choice.

It’s so funny because when you buy sperm, you send the clinic a donor number.  The whole time I was kept making sure that I was typing out the correct donor number.  What would happen if the clinic got the vials mixed up?  Isn’t that somewhat like the plot of Jane the Virgin TV series?

  • He has a really positive vibe. Sperm donors are interviewed and I got to listen to a twenty minute interview with him.  For whatever reason, I felt as though he was really kind.  This is also partly because of his line of work.  When he was talking about his work and how he likes to help people, I felt an immediate connection.

I also really enjoyed reading his essay.  In a donor’s essay they are asked questions like, “what is your earliest childhood memory.” While reading his essay, I felt a huge connection to what he was saying.

I feel like the donor essay is a really good way to get to know the person better. I was looking at one donor in the process who I thought I was my “perfect donor.” Unfortunately my decision changed as soon as I read that he hopes his child knows that “the kid isn’t important. Kids think they are so important but I would just tell them that they are just another person on the planet. They aren’t special.”  For some, this would be a great answer. For me, this just somewhat clashed with my value system.

5. He is an intelligent person.  This was a complete added bonus.  I did want someone that could write complete sentences but his level of intelligence far exceeds mine (from what I can tell) both in his writing and in his interview. I am also more of a creative thinker and he is more of a logical thinker. 

6. He is an Open ID Donor.  This means that at the age of 18, if my future child wants to know more about him, the child can write to the sperm bank and get his information. This one was probably the most important to me because I want my future child to decide how he/she wants to proceed with this information.

7. His sperm is available – so many sperm donors that I began to love, were no longer available.  It’s also not like I had a lot to choose from.  As you know, I looked at three different companies. After reading about some health concerns from one of the companies, I eliminated that one right away. From there, I could select from either Can-Am Cryoservices (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) or Repromed (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). I’d say that after going through my checklist, there were probably about eight from each that I could pick from.

8. Canadian ID Release – my sperm donor is from an American sperm bank.  There are two sperm banks in the US (in my knowledge) that transport sperm to both Can-Am and Repromed.  The amount of men in Canada that donate sperm is very few (they also don’t get paid).  In the US, they do get paid so I think this is possibly why there are a few more donors to choose from.

9. He did not already have a positive pregnancy.  This is something that I was hoping would not be the case.  It feels a bit better to me knowing that the sperm donor has been able to get a woman pregnant.  So why did I still go with him?

When I read up on this, I found that people said it wasn’t that bad.  At least I knew that there weren’t thousands of babies born from the same donor. Plus, your donor will not be absolutely perfect so I was willing to still go with him even after this info.

There is also something available called the “sibling registry.” If there is a confirmed birth you can put their info in a sibling registry.  Eventually if my future baby wants to get into contact with his/her sibling, he/she can do so.

My fertility doctor at Mount Sinai told me “don’t get too attached to your sperm donor.”  Unfortunately, I did not follow her advice and knew who I really wanted.  Truth be told, I didn’t get my first choice as a donor.  His sperm was out of stock and they didn’t know when/if he would have any vials in the future.

From there, I got to select my second choice.  He is my donor and the one I am writing about today. Thankfully I got his sperm in time! I’ve said to a couple friends that buying sperm is like buying something at the Winner’s Department Store.  For those of you outside of Canada, Winners is a store that offers beautiful clothes at a fraction of the price.  If you don’t buy the item from Winners right away, it is always sold out when you go back to their store.  Buying sperm is the exact same – you think the vials are there and it appears as though the vials are there.  When I picked my American donor, I saw that he was available at both Can-Am and Repromed so I called both sperm banks.  Although Repromed showed online that there were many vials of my sperm donor available, this was not the case.  They only had one vial left and Can-Am was completely out of stock.

Without hesitation, I bought the first vial and I have the other two being shipped to Toronto, Ontario, Canada right now.

Overall, I feel as though I have made the best choice given everything available to me.  I didn’t get the opinion of anyone else looking through sperm donor pictures or information and did it all on my own. There were a lot of times I needed to pause when finding a sperm donor.  Once I did write about what was really holding me back from finding a sperm donor, I felt so free and was able to start the search again within a week after writing that blog post.

So thank you for supporting me and for allowing me to get through tough times by having this blog as an outlet for all of my thoughts.

Some of you are reading this because you are in the process of becoming a Single Mother by Choice or maybe you are trying to get pregnant, but your partner has a low sperm count so you are finding yourself going through the sperm donor catalogue.  Just wanted to wish you good luck on your search – it can take a lot out of you emotionally.

Others of you are my family and friends who are interested in following me on my journey and for that, I say thank you.  Thank you for being open to learning about this process. Thank you for also feeling as though you can ask me questions about this journey and for not judging me on my path.

A few of you may be reading this and may be actually thinking about going through the process yourself.  If you are thinking about this, know that right now, I feel as though it is totally worth it.  I have found inner strength that I didn’t even know I had.  I’ve also found that this process has been like holding a mirror up to my face and has made me examine and question things in my life that I was trying to avoid.

Please also know that after all of this decision making, it may not even work.  I am trying three IUI’s and I have about a 20% chance of getting pregnant for each IUI cycle.  Altogether this process is going to cost me about $6,000 – $8,000 thanks to government support.

Fingers crossed this all works out and that this entire process of choosing a sperm donor was worthwhile. Time will tell.

Next Week: Can I please just start the process? No? Okay. Cool.