S3E9: What's it Like Navigating Infertility as a Black OBGYN w/ Dr. Maya

Episode 9 June 26, 2024 00:45:48
S3E9: What's it Like Navigating Infertility as a Black OBGYN w/ Dr. Maya
Start to Finish Motherhood with Aisha
S3E9: What's it Like Navigating Infertility as a Black OBGYN w/ Dr. Maya

Jun 26 2024 | 00:45:48

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Hosted By

Aisha Jenkins

Show Notes

Aisha sits down with Dr. Maya, a dynamic fertility strategist, coach, and pediatrician, as she shares her compelling journey through the fertility ecosystem. From dealing with personal fertility challenges to advocating for maternal health, Dr. Maya opens up about the misconceptions surrounding single working Black women, her decision to preserve fertility, the intricacies of assisted reproduction, and her transition into a leading fertility coach. Tune in to hear about her experiences with egg freezing, IVF, and navigating the dating scene—all while empowering other women and birthing people along the way. Don't miss her invaluable advice on embracing transparency, breaking down barriers, and fostering a supportive community.

 

Dive deeper into her story and learn practical tips on fertility by following @TheDoctorsWomb on Instagram and other social media platforms.

 

Send your questions and join the growing conversation today!

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] Speaker A: Welcome to start to finish motherhood, a podcast for those thinking or already single mothers by choice. Just looking for practical advice for navigating life's relationships. When you decide to have children on your own, it doesn't mean that you're completely alone. I'm Aisha Jenkins, and I'm partnering with you every step of your journey. I'm here today with Doctor Maya, a dynamic fertility strategist and coach that I follow on Instagram adopterswomb. When I heard your story, Maya, I was drawn in and I thought your story was one that I could relate to, including you talked about your unique career journey, your rounds, and your encounters with the fertility ecosystem. And then you even talked about some of the misconceptions that outsiders have about single, working black women. So, Maya, welcome and please introduce yourself. [00:01:03] Speaker B: It is such a pleasure to be here with you today on your podcast. I'm super excited about it, especially since yesterday was maternal Health Awareness Day, and I'm coming right on the heels of that event where I was at the Georgia State capitol advocating for for mothers and birthing people everywhere in this state of Georgia. So I am super excited. Now, who is doctor Maya? I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a child of God. I'm a daughter. I'm a sister. I'm an aunt. I'm a cousin. I am a friend. And most of all, and most importantly, and most recently, I am a fertility coach. I am a pediatrician. By trademark, I work in the hospital only. But after having my own experience with maternal morbidity, I decided to start the doctor's womb. I like to think of it as a container that wraps women and birthing people in a cocoon to actually walk them from preconception to conception to the pregnancy to delivery to the postpartum period and into the newborn period. So we are really encapsulating women and birthing people in a safety net so that everyone is included and feels safe and comfortable as they walk through this experience of becoming a parent. [00:02:35] Speaker A: And so along with being a mom, a fertility strategist, an aunt, a wife, a friend, friend, and all of that, you're also a content creator. Let's just start off the bat, because the live that I saw that you shared your personal story as content creators with technology that's out here, I think we are often faced with having to make a decision about how deep do I go into my own story and sharing information. And so what made you decide to, to be fully transparent and fully vulnerable and share your fertility story? [00:03:15] Speaker B: You know, that's such a good question, because I can tell you I was not always like that. I can think back to the time when I was on my fertility journey just starting out. I didn't want to share it with anyone because I was ashamed. I had a lot of guilt behind it because I felt like I had waited too late. And I put that in quotation marks to start a family, and I was having to use assisted reproduction in order to do so. I look at my colleagues, I'm like, what if I started this earlier? And then there was even the shame. As far as I knew, there was no one in my family that had gone through this. My grandmother birthed nine children. And so I've never heard my grandmother say, or my aunts say that they had any problems having any children. No one ever talked about it. And I still don't know to this day. [00:04:11] Speaker A: So. [00:04:12] Speaker B: And even my mother, she has three children, I'm one of three, and she's never spoken about having any difficulties conceiving. So I really thought that I was alone in this, and it brought a lot of shame. But as I was going through the process and I started talking to more and more people about it, I realized I am not alone. There are millions of women and birthing people out there who are having to use assisted reproduction to conceive. The more I opened my mouth and started sharing my experience, the more others started sharing with me. And we formed a community together to support each other and help each other along the way. What made me decide to share that experience on Instagram for all the world to hear? Because I'm hoping and praying that it helped someone else to release the guilt, release the shame that they might feel as they're going through this process, and to know that they're not alone. And more specifically, for my underserved women and birthing people, my minorities, my black people, you are not by yourself having to do this at all. And I am that faith. I hope to be that faith for you. [00:05:36] Speaker A: Oh, see, I have a list of content creators that I think are just changing the game and opening up a world of conversation, and you're on that list. So thank you for coming, because it's probably not likely that we will be able to turn to aunties and siblings and say, hey, have you ever gone through fertility treatments? Have you ever experienced miscarriage or a loss? I hope that is changing with content that you put out there, content that I put out with the podcast, because we need to be having these conversations just to have the information so that we can make informed decisions. And I think those of us who are in the spaces who have done these things that are traditionally not seen in our communities, we have to be the pioneers and be brave, sharing a little bit more than we are comfortable sharing at first. And, you know, similar to you, I'm a private person, and now my business is out on Front street. Similarly, I hope it helps someone. I hope this conversation helps someone. Okay, so let's get into it. So you talked about shame, and society tries to shame black women for pursuing their careers before settling down. [00:06:54] Speaker B: Right? [00:06:54] Speaker A: So can you share a little bit about your decision to finish medical school first while you were also considering a family? Right. Because I think that that is important. You were not waiting to do step one, then step two. You were doing both simultaneously. And I don't think enough people understand that. [00:07:12] Speaker B: You know, I was determined and dedicated, that I wanted to become a physician, and that was paramount in my journey. And so once I graduated from college, I went straight on to medical school. During those five years I spent in medical school, there were several of my colleagues that were getting married. There was a time, one year, I think there was a wedding every weekend in the spring. So they were already starting their families. Now I will go on and say, those colleagues did not look like me. Most of us in the class that were brown or brown skinned people were focused on really getting through the journey of medical school. And so that's what we did. There were some of us that were already married, and some of us did start their families while we're in medical school, but the vast majority of us did not. And so I knew I just needed to be really focused during that time. I pursued that. I went ahead and finished my residency program. That was three more years of training. It's hard to date when you're in medical school and when you're a resident, because you are literally married to medicine. So it's really hard to do that. But I did. And then even when I finished and came out into practice, I was a private pediatrician initially. I still tried to date and see if I would find the one that I would start my family with. And then one day, I visited my obstetrician. I was 34. And she said to me very casually, you know, at the end of the visit, so, Maya, if you want to preserve your fertility, you want to have a family in the future, we're going to have to work on preserving your fertility. And I was like, okay, so how are we going to do that now? And she said, well, we're going to consider egg freezing. And I'm like, oh, okay, tell me more. And she talked to me about it and gave me information, sent up a referral for me to kind of get the process started. And that's exactly what I did. [00:09:12] Speaker A: So I love that you brought that up, that it was at that moment that you realized it was a thing. Because right in the black community, if we can see it, we can be it. And so when you look at the fertility clinic literature on the websites, it's starting to change now. But I know when I was getting started, there was a lack of color on these pages and in these pictures. One of my questions to you was going to be, when did you find out that egg freezing was a thing? And then the second, more nuanced question is, how did you become okay with it? Right? Because it's one thing to know it's an option, and it's another thing to participate in that option. [00:09:55] Speaker B: You are so right. I was 34 when I learned that this was an option. Again, at the OB's office, she literally just casually mentioned it. And to add more insult to injury, she said, if you don't do this now, you absolutely are going to be looking in a sperm catalog later on. So I was like, oh, okay, well, I guess I need to go ahead and look into this. So, you know, as anything that I do that's new, I go into a data gathering process. And so that's what I started, gathering data not just about the process itself, but also about the clinic that I was going to choose to go to. And then I did have to come to a place of acceptance. You know, oftentimes when we're faced with things we didn't expect were going to happen in our lives, we have to take that time to grieve what we thought was going to happen. And so I literally had to come to a place to actually acknowledge the fact that I was still single at 34, and that was okay. And then I had to come to the place where, you know, literally grieving the fact that I had to consider preserving my fertility in this way because this is not what I expected. And once I became okay with that and accepted that this was my reality, then I could move on and take the necessary steps to make it happen. And it really is all about acceptance and a lot of soul searching. Like, is this what I want to do? Because the question also came up, what if I do this on my own? What if I preserve my fertility and I don't meet the person that I want to marry. Am I okay with freezing my eggs and then having to go through motherhood or create an embryo and raise a child by myself? I had to consider all of that. [00:11:50] Speaker A: And so I can answer that question, right. Because I was you, right? I think a lot of us will go down that path, that road, that thought process, process where, you know, I was married and then I got divorced and so I was dating again in early thirties, and I was just like, oh, my gosh, there's a chance that this could not work out for me. There is a chance I could not ever become a mom. And am I okay with that? You deny it as you're processing for. No, that won't happen to me. That won't be me. That won't be my path. And then you get to that do or die point where it's just like. And I know for me, I had to ask myself, am I going to be okay? It was going to be hard. Regardless. Now, am I going to be okay not pursuing motherhood because of what they would say, or would I be okay pursuing motherhood, understanding how complex and how challenging it can be at times. Which of those would I be okay with? [00:12:51] Speaker B: Right there with each other. I mean, these are real questions that need to be considered and answered before you start on this journey. [00:12:58] Speaker A: And then the grieving, right? Because in, at least within my social circle, the marriage and the kids was a plan a. Anything else was a plan b, a plan c, a plan D. And in the single mother by choice community, we do have people who knew that being a single parent was going to be their plan a. And then for a lot of us, marriage and kids was our plan a. So when plan a doesn't happen, you have to mourn, right. In order to get through the emotions because you need to be fully present for the next stage of the journey. And so this is where I want to ask you, because we can dish, right. And so I think at one point, your fertility journey started with the egg freezing. So you were still single. [00:13:46] Speaker B: Yes. [00:13:46] Speaker A: Right. So tell us that story and how you had to administer the injections on your own. [00:13:53] Speaker B: Listen, I'm a whole physician, but I was so nervous about making sure I was administering this medication correctly. First of all, it was expensive, so I didn't want to waste anything. I wanted to be sure I was mixing it correctly. My clinic actually gave me a schedule. Most clinics do give you a schedule of the medications that you're going to take, what time, all of that. And so I put it into my phone as an alarm to make sure that I would take it on time every day. Some of the medications still have to be reconstituted or mixed together, so you'll get the liquid, and you'll get the powder form, and you have to mix the two. And then once you mix the two, then you have to draw up the exact dose that you need. I checked myself once, twice, three times before I gave myself the medicine. Like, I literally had to make sure that that was the only thing that I was doing so that I would not get distracted by anything else. Literally put my phone on. Don't call me. Do not disturb. Ring off. I cannot focus right now on talking to you or anyone else that was calling. I needed to focus on what was in front of me, because, again, these are medications you're giving your body to say to your ovaries, let's make more eggs. And so I wanted to be very careful that I was mixing everything correctly and making sure I was giving the exact dose. Now, that comes to the second part about the needles. Okay. So when I first started this process and was talking to the doctor and she was explaining everything to me, I asked, well, so how big is this needle? And she's like, oh, it's like an insulin needle. And I'm familiar with insulin needles. You know, they're not that big. They're very small. But then when I actually got the products in the mail and I looked at it outside, now, wait a minute. It's a little bit bigger than one needle. Just a little bit bigger. So I was like, okay, but I gotta do it. There's nobody else here to help me. Has to do this on my own. And so I just had to. Back at that time, I was a little more fluffier than I am now. And so I had a little extra fluffiness that I could inject the medication into, and it didn't really cause much pain. Once I did it a couple of times, I was, okay. I was like, all right, I can do this. I can handle this. Now, when the doctor says, okay, we're ready to actually harvest. Wait, wait, wait, wait. [00:16:21] Speaker A: Okay, okay. I need to interrupt you because. Yeah, well, you're talking about the needle. Okay, so I think I had ganner relics, or. And that needle. That needle was thin. That needle was probably, like, an inch long, and it was thin, and that was the injections. Right? You gave into your. Your tummy. I do have a question, and this has bothered me for a very long time. When they send you your box of medication with all those needles, why do they only send you one sharps container, right? [00:16:52] Speaker B: You can actually request another one. So you just have to call the pharmacy and say, hey, I need another sharps container, and they'll send you. I think I actually had. Because you fill it up pretty quickly as you go throughout your journey. [00:17:05] Speaker A: I want to continue on with your particular journey because you didn't just go from egg freezing into IVF, you went to egg freezing. You froze your eggs, you set them aside, and then you were also still dating. And so that meant that you had to have some conversations that single mothers by choice. I'm going through this process. I am harvesting eggs. I'm injecting all of these hormones. How did you navigate the dating scene? You met your husband in the in between times. Tell us that story a little bit. How you navigated the conversation of, here's my situation. Here's what we might have to do with any partner. [00:17:47] Speaker B: It's not necessarily the first thing you want to say to a person that you're just meeting for the first time. I held that close to my chest until I got to know them a little bit better. I will say, knowing that I had eggs in the freezer really took a lot of pressure off to date. And it wasn't because I was dating some frogs. Oh, lord, I was dating some frogs after I froze my. Because I felt that pressure of, okay, I'm getting older. I need to find the one. And once I made the decision to harvest, that pressure was released and I could actually date with intention to actually find the person or he find me to marry. And so when I did meet my husband, yes, I was still single and I already froze my egg. I was honest with him and upfront now he likes to say, this was the second thing I said to him on our first date. It might have been the fourth thing I said on our first date, but I wanted him to know exactly what he was potentially going to have to deal with because this was a reality. Because not only did I preserve my fertility because I was getting older, but also I had other comorbidities, so I had PCos. At that time. I didn't know that I had until I went through my egg harvesting. I had chronic hypertension and I was overweight. So I had a lot of factors that were stacked against me. So I was just simply honest with him. And I said, clive, that's his name. I want you to know I want to have children in the future. Is that something you're interested in? And he said, yes. And I said, you know, well, for me, it's going to be a bit challenging for me to have children naturally. And so what I have done is I've actually preserved my fertility at six eggs in the bank. And should we need to use them, if we decide that that's what we want to do, that's going to be the way that we have to conceive now. Of course, he was like, oh, okay. And he asked me questions about it. He asked me about the process, and then he asked me about what would happen if we did need to use them. What would that look like? And we talked about it in detail. I wanted him to know exactly what he was, quote unquote, getting into. I believe in being transparent with people so that they can make their own decisions, because he could have decided that that's not something he was interested in. And I have to respect that decision if that was what he decided, and then we would have parted ways as friends and moved along. [00:20:32] Speaker A: All right, so before we move on to this next stage, what advice would you give? We talked about preserving your fertility. What does that mean exactly? And then what advice would you give to your younger self to, like, your 30 year old self? [00:20:47] Speaker B: Yes. So preserving fertility essentially means that you are harvesting or retrieving eggs to preserve in ice. We say ice, but it is a complex system that the embryologists actually use to preserve those eggs, and they're very delicate. When you're looking for a clinic, you not want to also know about the physician, but also ask about the embryologist, because that's the person behind the scenes of doing all of the magic. So you want to ask questions about their embryology lab. I did not know that at the time. I do now. You go through that process. The doctor will go in after you've taken your stimulation medications. Once the doctor decides that the eggs that are there are mature and ready to harvest, you give yourself a trigger injection to say to your body, okay, now let's release these eggs. And the doctor goes in, collects the fluid, and the embryologist does the work of creating those embryos and preserving them for you. So that's what that process means. And if I had to say something to my younger self, I wouldn't even say anything to my 30 year old self. I'd go earlier and say to my 25 year old self, maybe if I had the means to be able to preserve my fertility at 25, I would have done so. Medically speaking, we are all born with the eggs that we're going to have in life. We're born with them. In fact, you have the most eggs you will ever have in life. When you're inside your mother at 20 weeks, that's the most eggs you're ever going to have. And birthing people start to menstruate. You are actually losing eggs. So you start with millions, and then they trickle down as you go through your menstrual cycle. In that phase of life, some people, as they get older, experience diminished ovarian reserve. And that just simply means you don't have as many eggs left to use to be able to create a baby, that the eggs will dwindle. Now, not everyone has diminished ovarian reserve, but everyone has eggs that will diminish. [00:23:04] Speaker A: Okay, so now continuing on your journey, you are married, and now you're in the family planning period with a partner. And then there was a bump in the road. So take us through the bump in the road, but then also how you explored your different options. [00:23:25] Speaker B: So there were several bumps in the road. Let's just be clear. This fertility journey is not a straight line all the time. It has its twists and turns, and you also have to be ready for that, too, because it's an emotional roller coaster. And I think the first bump that we encountered, and my husband doesn't mind me sharing this, but he had a vasectomy, and so that vasectomy was, at that point, 20 something years old, so there was no reversing it. That was not going to work. And so the doctor said, all right, well, let's do a test on your husband to see if there are any viable sperm. So he went through that test, and I remember sitting in the office waiting for him to be done, and the doctor who actually did the procedure walked out of the office. I'm like, well, what happened? So the next thing I knew, we were called to the room to speak with the provider, and the provider told us that there were no viable sperm that were found, none. So they actually went to the source where sperm are created to look to see if there were any, and there were none. I cannot even tell you what else that provider said to me after she said, you will never have your own biological child, because she did not find any sperm from my husband. I was devastated because we walked into that appointment with so much hope for the future, and we were so positive that this was going to, you know, be smooth sailing for us, and it wasn't. We then had to go back and have conversations with each other and with ourselves about what we wanted. What are our goals? What do we really want? Do we want to be parents? Do we want that the child to be our genetic material? Are we okay with using other genetic material or adoption or surrogacy? So we had to consider all of those things. Now that we hit that first speed bump, I think it's important. Important for others to know as they're going through this process to go in, you know, eyes wide open, and just be prepared that there may be a few speed bumps as you go through it. [00:25:46] Speaker A: Were there any other things that were discovered as you were going through your fertility journey? [00:25:52] Speaker B: So, now, remember, I already had six eggs in the freezer from when I was 34, and so I knew I was going to try to use those. But after we heard from that first provider, my husband and I decided to switch clinics. We found a provider that would create his sperm, and it was successful. There was no problem. After we got with that doctor, the doctor said to me, I want you to go through another round of egg harvesting. I agreed, but at that point, I was older, so now I'm 39, having to go through this, and I only had three. Barely got those. And usually most physicians will cancel a cycle or a harvesting cycle if there's only three. But he was committed to our goal, and he knew what we were trying to do, and so he went after those. And so I put those with the six that I already had. My husband's sperm was plentiful. In fact, he had his procedure before I had mine, because if there was no sperm from him, there was no sense in going through retrieval from me. But there were plenty of sperm. In fact, he rolled out of his procedure just as I was getting ready to go into mine, and I saw the doctor walk by. He's like, yeah, there were plenty of sperm. We had great numbers. How many children y'all want? Plenty. And it's like, all right, I'm off the golf course. So he left, and we ended up retrieving those three from me, put them together with the six. They were fertilized. By the time all was said and done, we did use PGT testing, and there were two that were completely normal. So we had two embryos that were completely normal because we chose to do the genetic testing. They, of course, had to be frozen. And then I prepared myself for the transfer of the embryo into my uterus. So that was a different kind of. But we transferred on December 12, 2019. We both saw exactly where our baby was being placed in my uterus. And two weeks later, we did our test. And the beta hc of a pregnancy test was positive. It was positive, and we continued to go to the doctor, it continued to be positive. It grew, the numbers grew, which they should, you know, as you're going along your pregnancy. I did have another bump in the road. Even though I was successful, I had some light bleeding, and it scared me. So I went to the emergency room, and we had the ultrasound, and the tech was really careful. Tell me. It's like, it's still early on. We're not going to be able to see much, but I'm going to do what I can. And I went to my doctor afterwards, and he said, everything looks good. Let's keep going. Now, mind you, after you transfer that embryo, actually, before you transfer that embryo, as you're getting your body prepared, you have to give yourself progesterone. Some women use the injection, some women use the insertion, the vaccines. I chose to use the injection. So that meant that was a very long and big needle that I had to take every night. And I started that just before the transfer. I could not stop until around six or eight weeks of pregnancy. So that meant every night like clockwork. That's what we were doing. And, of course, I couldn't do that myself because it has to go in your bottom. So my husband did it. I felt like a pincushion. But, you know, this is what we needed to do in order to get pregnant and sustain the pregnancy. And so, yes, I was successful, and I was eventually graduated from the clinic, and I went back to my ob to continue the pregnancy. [00:29:40] Speaker A: Aw, congratulations. [00:29:43] Speaker B: Thank you. [00:29:44] Speaker A: That needle is about three inches. Three and a half inches long. And now I will tell you, having done this as a single person would have, yoga moves, right? Because it's moving that trunk. Some people will have their nurse put a circle on their backside so that they know they've got a target to hit. Okay. [00:30:03] Speaker B: All right, so thank you. [00:30:04] Speaker A: I love that you were successful, because it's a journey, and I will just leave it at that. One of the reasons I knew I had to have you on is that being a person with a uterus, I'm used to that whole first part, and then I buy sperm that's been tested. I really wanted to have the discussion about the sperm aspect. Your husband had a procedure, was that called the microtestes. [00:30:32] Speaker B: It's a microteste, and they look under a microscope. They're going into the source, where the sperm is created, and they're actually looking for viable sperm, meaning sperm that are swimming. When you're going to the source, they don't swim because they haven't matured yet. But you can still see that they're viable when you're looking. That's why they got a look very carefully under a scope, and they retrieve those sperm. You cannot use, like IUI or anything like that because the sperm will not swim. They're immature. They won't swim. And so you have to use IVf. And then a procedure called the embryologist will inject a singular sperm into the egg in order to fertilize it. [00:31:20] Speaker A: Okay. All right, thank you for that. It's the folks with the uterus, that is, we're injecting all of this medication. We're doing the ultrasounds. We're getting all of these tests, invasive tests. But the fertility industry is so male dominated, and I ran into an issue, and the issue was the sperm. But because the male dominated industry, they told me the issue is usually the egg. So they never looked at the sperm. And so can we talk about male factor infertility and the role or the percentages that it exists in the larger population? Yes. [00:31:58] Speaker B: So, and I think the more we're learning about this, the more we're going to find that those statistics are going to be higher than we expected. But it's not always the egg. Most often it's the sperm, you know, or it could be both. And so it's just important that as you're starting this process at the very beginning, not only should the person with the uterus be tested, but also the partner who's going to supply the sperm needs to be tested as well, because there can be issues with the morphology of the sperm itself. And to be quite honest, sperm is very, very fragile. All it contains is that genetic material. And as the embryologist prepares it to fertilize, they actually have to spin it down or centrifuge it. And so it can break. It can, you know, tear. I mean, there are millions of things that can happen as you're spinning something down at high speed. But that is the procedure they do in the lab. And then they look for the ones that morphologically normal. They don't have any shape that's missed, misshaped. And then even though all of that, the reproductive system for both women and men is controlled by hormones. So if your brain is not communicating to your reproductive organs like it should, you're going to have some difficulties creating those either eggs or in a male's case, the sperm. So there can be problems with hormones that men don't realize that they have that could be affecting their ability to create sperm in the first place. And that's why it's so important to not just test the person with the uterus, but also test the person who's supplying the sperm to make sure that everything is good on their end. Male factor infertility is a real thing, and I want to release some women from some guilt and shame right now because of that. It's not just you. It's not always you. Birthing people and women with uterine, it is not always you. So, you know, release yourself from that guilt and shame. Do not blame yourself. Don't hold on to that. Make sure that the person who's supplying the sperm is also tested, whether that be someone you know. And there are people who do that, someone you know, or if you're purchasing from a sperm bank, you want to absolutely know what they're doing to test the sperm and how they're processing it. So important. [00:34:46] Speaker A: Okay, so for my listeners, we are two geeks out there in the fertility industry, so we could have a whole conversation for probably another hour. But I do want to direct you to the doctor's womb on Instagram, where you can find out more about doctor Maya's story, more about male factor infertility, more about the fertility infrastructure at large from someone who is warm and inviting and will answer your questions. I do want to do a rapid fire, because while I have you here, what were your thoughts about Kerry Washington discovering that her biological father was the person who donated sperm so that she can be conceived and not her social father? What were your thoughts? [00:35:29] Speaker B: Yeah. So I read her book, and I just commend her for her bravery in sharing that, because she did not have to share that at all. And the way that she handled it, once she realized that that's what the truth was. Of course, there's some anger and an initial resentment because it was not shared with you from the beginning. But, you know, a lot of times when people are in those situations, they do the best thing that they know how to do. And at that time, her parents believed the best thing for them to do was to not share that information with her. But when she did learn it and they were transparent with her and told her what happened, I think it's amazing that it did not change her perception of the father that she knew. Did not change it at all. He was still the person that raised her as her dad. That's who she knew to be her dad. It did not change their dynamic and the love that they have for each other at all. Yes, this did happen in my family. Yes, I was disappointed that I didn't know it sooner. But now that I do, it does open my eyes. I do maybe want to see if I could find that person just for, like, even family history things so I can let my children know what's in the family. But even if I'm not able to find that person, I just am thankful that I now have that knowledge and be brave enough to share it with the world. [00:37:04] Speaker A: And you know that her article, when it was released, it went around in the single mother by choice spaces. Because that's a common question that we get because many of us will use sperm donors, whether it's a known donor, someone you know, or if you're going to a sperm bank. And one of the questions is, when do you tell your kids? And in the single mother by choice community, it's tell them early, tell them often, as long as they recognize it as part of their formational identity. Yes, they will have questions, but there will be no secrecy and no underlining underlying feelings of deception. And so I definitely appreciate, you know, different times right now, it's more common, it's a little bit more normalized. And so I thank her for adding her story into the wealth of stories that are being told about donor conception. What are some things ethically that we should be aware of? Yes. [00:38:00] Speaker B: So if that needs to be the route that you take, your physician will guide you through that process. It does include psychiatric evaluation. They want to be sure that you know what you're getting into, you know, what the potential risks might be, because while egg banks and sperm banks do their best to try to vet the donors, they are not always able to pick up everything. And when I say, I'm talking specifically about genetics, genetic disorders, they're not able to pick up all of those. Now, a lot of them will pick up some, and you'll have a lot of information. In order to make an educated choice. In fact, I had to walk one of my clients through this, and we talked about not just the psychological effect that it may have, but also the emotional effect. We also talked about the fact that she felt like she would not be connected to the child because it was not her genetic material. But what I like to remind women is that although it's not your genetic material, you are carrying the baby. And what we know is that there is genetic imprinting that occurs as you are carrying a baby. Your unique genes will express themselves. Some will turn off, some will turn on. As you are developing and caring. That baby, as the baby is developing, will imprint upon that growing fetus. So that is why there are adoptive children that start to look like they're adopted parents because of the environment that they are growing up in, the imprinting that occurs on them. Some children who were born from donor egg or sperm actually start to look like that person because of the genetic imprinting that occurs. So it's so important to remember that and release if that guilt. These are not my chromosomes. No, they're not the original chromosomes from you, but you are imprinting on that child, and so that is so important to remember. As far as legal concerns, you certainly want to make sure you consult an attorney. There are attorneys that deal just with reproduction, especially when it comes to surrogacy. You want to have a really good attorney for that. And then you also want to think about what you're going to do with the embryos that you create. Some women or birthing people will end up producing quite a few embryos, and so you then have to kind of decide what you want to do with those embryos. [00:40:46] Speaker A: You use the terminology, and I think that it is so important because it is more inclusive language. You use the terminology birthing people. Can you explain that? [00:40:58] Speaker B: Absolutely. So when we say the term birthing people, we are including our LGB population of people. They're humans, too. And so we have to realize and normalize the fact that this is true. When we can know that and normalize it and make it okay from the very beginning, it actually helps. And as that birthing person goes through their pregnancy to get better care, because it is what we all deserve. And so it's so important for me to include the term birthing people because it's not just women that were born women as we're talking about, but it's others that are transgender or others who identify as women in different ways. We still want to be inclusive of everyone. This is a human right. Everyone should be able to have that right to have a child if that is what they want to do. [00:42:02] Speaker A: Yes. Well, thank you so much for coming to talk to me. I would never have learned as much about sperm and the sperm process if I didn't have you on the show today. Where can my listeners find you? Find out more about your practice. Where can they follow you? Tell us the deets. [00:42:20] Speaker B: Yes. So, first, before I tell you that I also want shameless plug, I have a empower her fertility Facebook live series that I do every Friday. So we talk about some aspects of fertility. We touch on a lot during that time. If your audience is interested, they can go to calm and get signed up, and they won't miss another live session that I do, but they'll be on my Facebook page, they'll be on my Instagram page and those pages are at the doctor's womb. I'm across on all social platforms as at the doctor's womb. So you can find me there. My website is www, you guessed it, dot thedoctorswound.com so people can certainly reach out to me there. My contact information is there. I am happy to answer any and all questions. I am an open book to share and a resource to you as a person who's done it and as a medical doctor to help guide people, people through it. Yes, I do have a coaching practice. I am so excited about it. I've had the opportunity and the honor of witnessing. Let's see now. We've got seven women who have birthed babies into this world. We've got two that will be transferring, three we transferring very soon and I've got one that we'll be delivering here in the next few months. So we are excited at the doctor's womb that we have been able to provide that cocoon of support as these women have walked through their journeys. And so we are open to everyone. We do not discriminate. All are welcome. And I encourage you if this is something that you need, just an extra support to help walk you through a person, you can call or you can text and say, hey, I just left the doctor's office. I don't understand anything they just said to me. Walk me through it. Doctor Maya, what does this mean? Because I want to make sure that you are empowered and you have the accurate information and you are supported emotionally like you should be as you walk through this process. I am at the doctor's womb on all social media platforms. My website is www.thedoctorswoon.com. [00:44:52] Speaker A: Well, thank you doctor Maya and sending baby dust to your seven, eight patients and wishing them all the best. And to my listeners, there you have it. Until next time, thanks for listening. To start to finish motherhood with aisha. If you want to keep the conversation going, follow start to finish motherhood on Instagram or email me at aisha starttofinishmotherhood.com. if you love this episode, please share it with anyone who's thinking of becoming a single mother by choice, anyone who's already parenting as a single mother by choice and just looking for advice on navigating it all, or a friend or family member who's looking to support someone else's single mother by choice journey. Until next time. Bye. Now.

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