Epigenetics and Donor Egg Babies – The 411

ivf - epigenetics

Epigenetics

How are we different?

I am sure that it will be a surprise for you to learn that 99.9% of genes are identical for every person on earth. This means that the differences we see at birth don’t depend on whether that child has a specific gene inherited from you but rather, differences are as a result of tiny variances in single genes.

The power of the womb

DNA does not produce life.  It is the womb that, despite fertilization, will determine embryos attachment and nourishment. Both whilst the embryo is growing in the womb and after birth, differences perceived between children are not so much about the tiny variables in single genes but also due to specific genes being “activated” in some humans and not in others.

This “activation” in only certain genes is affected by many different factors during our lives including lifestyle, hormones, exposure to carcinogens and, among other factors, the normal physiological working of the body. How we feel, think and react also causes certain genes to be expressed and others reserved. One example of many is the incidence of breast and ovarian cancer that has been linked to a woman’s specific exposure to estrogen and progesterone and the affects that these hormones have on cell differentiation.

These mechanisms that are expressed in some people and not in others are outside the gene and termed epigenetic factors. The expression of genes begins in the womb. The woman carrying the child; her internal environment is responsible for how the baby’s genes are expressed. This early stage of life, the first 40 weeks or so, begins to shape the characteristics of the child birthed.

The extent of Epigenetics

Epigenetics is a field of biology dealing with information held above and beyond the gene.

(http//en.wikipedia.org) “In biology, the term epigenetics refer to changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence, hence the name epi – (Greek: over; above) – genetics. These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell’s life and may also last for multiple generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism’s genes to behave (or “express themselves”) differently.”

Scientific evidence has shown that genes and DNA are not responsible for the ultimate uniqueness of human beings. Some schools of thought have suggested the even “as we think” will affect expression of the gene. Genes may be expressed or remain dormant depending on energetic signals outside the cell, from our positive or negative thoughts.
Science Daily (13 April 2009) “A certain laboratory strain of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has white eyes. If the surrounding temperature of the genetically identical embryos, which are normally nurtured at 25 degrees Celsius, is briefly raised to 37 degrees Celsius, the flies alter hatch with red eyes. If these lies are again crossed, the following generations are partly red-eyed – without further temperature treatment – even though only white-eyed flies are expected according to the rules of genetics.

The concept of epigenetics offers an explanation of this result. Epigenetics examines the inheritance of characteristics that are not out in the DNA sequence.

Another well documented example is that of the Agouti mice which are fat, yellow in color and prone to cancer and diabetes. When the pregnant mice are nourished with a diet rich in folic acid, B12 and choline they give birth to healthy slim, brown offspring; as do these mice in turn.

The effect of epigenetics on donor egg conception

Remembering that 99.9% of a baby’s genes are identical to all other humans, 0.1% results in the variations we see in humans.

A baby conceived using a donor egg (roughly the size of a full stop) gets his/her genes from the donor; she gets the “instructions” on the expression of those genes from the woman who carries him/her to term.
This means that a baby conceived using donor egg has 3 biological parents: a father, the egg donor and the woman that carries the pregnancy. The child who is born would have been physically & no doubt emotionally different had another woman carried that child. In other words the birth mother influences what the child is like at a genetic level – it IS her child. She has had a “say” in her offspring as does the donated egg and the sperm used to fertilized.

In horse breeding for example, it’s not uncommon to implant a pony embryo into the womb of a horse. The foals that result, are different from nomal ponies. They’re bigger. These animals’ genotype – their genes – are the same as a pony’s, but their phenotype – what their genes actually look like in the living animal – is different. Taken from a booklet published by Freedom Pharmacy “Perhaps the greatest myth surrounds pregnancy. Many believe the uterus is simply an incubator. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important aspect of all pregnancies – including egg donation pregnancies- is that as the fetus grows, every cell in the developing body is built out of the pregnant mother’s body. Tissue from her uterine lining will contribute to the formation of the placenta, which will link her child. The fetus will use her body’s protein, then she will replace it. The fetus uses her sugars calcium, nitrates, and fluids, and she will replace them. So, if you think of your dream as you dream house, the genes provide merely a basic blueprint, the biological mother takes care of all the materials and construction, from the foundation right on up to the light fixtures. So, although her husband’s aunt Sara or the donor’s grandfather may have genetically programmed the shape of the new baby’s earlobe, the earlobe itself is the pregnant woman’s “flesh and blood”.  That means the earlobe, along with the baby herself, grew from the recipient’s body. That is why the child is her biological child.”

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Thankful and Fearful – The 411

Thankful

At a time when I should be elated, my heart is heavy and my spirit weeps…  Today is CD2 and I am now on my journey towards motherhood. In exactly 19 days from today, I start my protocol of Lupron injections.  My nurse has given me my list of meds for my protocol and had previously called in all of them except the HCG, which is now a part of the protocol.  They do an HCG wash prior to transfer to help improve implantation.

While I am excited about moving forward with my IVF cycle, excited about Thanksgiving and my family joining us at the beach to celebrate Thanksgiving, my heart broke into a million pieces this morning when my worst gut feeling I have been having was confirmed…. my nephew is in the hospital going through withdrawals after a relapse from drug addiction.  He had been clean for two years and something he can not articulate to my sister has pushed him back into using.   My sister and her husband are trying to get him to fly home from California next week and enter into a rehab program.  There is a phenomenal program near them that is the “go to” rehab for celebrities and common folk alike when they truly want to kick the drug habit.

I have been having nightmares for a few weeks that we were getting “the call” that my nephew overdosed and passed away.  I have also been itching and having this strange feeling that my nephew was in trouble.  Today, when my sister informed me that he was using again, I knew….  He was supposed to come to the East Coast for Thanksgiving, and instead, he was at home with his roommate, sick.  This morning, he agreed to go to the hospital.  I hate what drug addiction does to a person.  It is a powerful, satanic pull on the spirit.

We have decided not to tell our mom because it will stress her out and probably cause her to have panic attacks.  She can look at me and tell that something is wrong and I just told her that I have cramps… Our mom is having reconstructive surgery on Wednesday, so we feel it is best to just not say anything to her.

Anyway….  I will going in for my baseline on December 23rd (ironically the same time frame I was to give birth to my daughter last year….)  If all is well, which it should be, I will start the Estrace and other meds and prepare my lining for the transfer which will be on January 11th or 12th.

It was my intention to stay as calm as possible and to just relax.  With my nephew’s situation, I will find it hard to do so.  I will began a liquid fast on Monday of protein shakes for 2 weeks to get my body into ketosis.  Hopefully, I will be able to burn a little stored fat and drop a few more pounds by the time I start taking the Lupron.   I will then continue with the Paleo diet to make sure I keep my immune system in check…

Happy Thanksgiving to you all !

Coquito – Recipe

Coquito

 

Coquito is an amazing drink served around the holidays in Puerto Rico.  It is Puerto Rican Eggnog, with a hint of coconut and a kick from the rum !

Ingredients:
2 cans Coconut milk
(3) 14 oz cans Condensed milk
(3) 12 oz cans Evaporated milk
6 organic Egg yolks
2 cups Water
(8) 3 inch Cinnamon sticks 
Vanilla extract, to taste 
3 cups dark Puerto Rican Rum
Directions:
 In a 2 quart saucepan, heat water and cinnamon sticks to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until liquid is reduced to one cup. Remove cinnamon sticks and set liquid aside to cool to room temperature.
In a 3 quart saucepan with a wire whisk, beat egg yolks and evaporated milk until well-mixed. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats a spoon – about 10 minutes (DO NOT BOIL). Set aside to cool slightly.
When cinnamon flavored liquid has cooled, stir in coconut milk, until well mixed. In serving bowl, combine coconut mixture, yolk mixture, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and rum. Chill well and serve.
Served: Strained
Standard garnish: Cinnamon stick and fresh grated Nutmeg
Copyright 2015  Valerie Renèe

 

Going BOINKERS Over DE IVF !! – The 411

Cray Cray

So…. Friday, my clinic called to inform me that my donor, for family emergency reasons, had to pull out of the program 2 weeks before she was to start birth control pills to get ready for my cycle. The donor had done three prior cycles and the last cycle, all eggs were banked but belonged to another couple.

I spent the entire day Friday (the 13th of all days), all weekend, Monday, Tuesday, and part of the morning today in tears, on the internet looking high and low for a new sperm donor to match me. I found two on California Cryobank and two on Xytex. I also researched San Diego Fertility Center donor embryo adoption program and looked a few others. I happen to log into my patient portal to start looking for a European egg donor and I have a message in my portal from the donor coordinator… Guess what? The donor NOW has banked eggs available. I guess the family who banked them decided to share or not to move forward. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

This whole process is driving me insane ! It has been a wonderful last six months not having to focus on infertility and cycling. I chose my donor and decided on a time I wanted to cycle and I have been chilling and working on my weight and being as healthy as I can possibly be. It has been a relaxed time. As soon as I get close to the time I am start my next ivf cycle, all hell breaks loose !

I have to kinda admit that I am bit relieved. Now all I have to do is have the donor vial shipped to the clinic by January and go back to focusing on dropping more weight. The prednisone did me IN last cycle. I have lost all of those 30 lbs plus some, but now I am addicted to how great I look so I am continuing to lose weight until I get closer to my ideal weight, which can only help my cycle. I plan to work out up until the week of Christmas and then I will give it a rest. I have 34 more days to work on me 🙂

Back To Square One – The 411

Square One

So, after doing my due diligence, I learned that in order for me to use an egg donor bank, I would have to cough up an additional $10,000 plus the donor’s local monitoring, transportation and likely other hidden costs ! I would do it, but see the way my bank account is set up…. (in my Kevin Hart voice)

I have done NOTHING but research all day long.  After finding two donors that I like, it hit me in the middle of the night to check to see what the agency fees are because the $3500 only covers the donor’s fee and they are all unproven donors.  Imagine my shock when I realized that there was this astronomical agency fee.  This is why is it a lot more cost effective to use the fertility clinic’s in-house bank, plus from what I have gathered, using an in-house bank, you are more likely able to get a clearer, truer depiction of the donor’s prior cycle history.

After struggling with this dilemma all day, I finally took a break and went out onto my balcony and just watched the waves whip and the ocean rhythm.

Valerie - beach

After communing with nature it came to me, ” CHANGE YOUR DONOR TO MATCH YOU !”  I was adamant that I did not want to change my donor.  My mom made a good point that I had already done five OE cycles with the same donor with no good results so switch it up and do the work to find a donor that matches to me then I can change the egg donor around to match my first choice of donor.  In doing this, I do not have to pay any additional money because the donor will cycle at my fertility clinic where monitoring is included and I only have to go through every cryobank in the USA to find an educated black male donor who has a strong background in mathematics and sciences and meets all my other criteria.

On a tip from one of my IF board friends, I called San Diego Fertility Center about donor embryo donation.  They had a Caribbean donor who did very well and has a lot of embryos there.  The lady I need to speak with to get the info is out until Friday.  With a simple google search and a heads up to check IG for a current patients account, I was able to piece together the financial portion.  I am concerned about the fact that a lot of these places that do embryo adoption expect you to complete a home study, which is time consuming.  I do not have time for that foolishness !  I left a message, but pretty much decided to start searching other cryobanks for a suitable donor and then going through the clinic database to find the egg donor.

I started with California Cryobank, based on tips from other ladies on the boards.  I found two black male donors that I liked.  One is ID Open and the other is Anonymous.  One of them only has one vial left and the other has several.  I have to research other banks and look at the inventory before making a decision.   I am bothered by the fact that this bank will not divulge whether the donor has more girls than boys and they do not have adult pictures.  Everyone is darn near cute as a baby or child, but adulthood can be waaaaaay different ! lol

If anyone has any cryobanks they think I should look into, please share !!

Possible Donors Found – The 411

ivf - egg donor

This weekend, I spent time searching for a new egg donor. I found two that I really like.  Both of them are not local to my fertility clinic and I am not sure if either is available to cycle in January.  I will speak to the egg donor agency tomorrow to get more info.

One donor lives in New Jersey and the other lives in North Carolina.  That poses a problem since we have to pay for their monitoring.  I would have to try to find an RE that is local to the donor and work out a flat rate monitoring fee.  At CNY Fertility Center and Spa, the monitoring fee is included in the price.  My head is spinning with the choices.

I let my mom take a look at both donors and she likes them both, though one of them is a lot prettier than the other.  The less pretty one is still a pretty woman, its just that the other girl has a flawless, model-esque look to her. One of them is short too and I worry about that since I am 5’11.  Neither are quite as tall as I am.  My other concern is that both girls have a different complexion that I do, though one is my grandfather’s coloring and the other is about the color of my sister. I do not want my child to feel like the odd man out.  With genetics and recessive genes, you never know what you are going to get anyway…

Anyway, just wanted to update everyone and let you know I have found two possibles… and they are prettier than the first one I was going to use.  They are all very bright girls and both have college degrees and seem to be outgoing and family oriented.  I will let you know what happens !

Why Why Why???? – The 411

rage

My day starts with a phone call from my fertility clinic to inform me that my donor is having some personal problems and has asked to be withdrawn from the donor database for a while.   I was going to be her last cycle, as she has already done 4 cycles with great outcomes.

At the time the donor coordinator called, I was lying on the beach soaking in some Vitamin D.  The sun was up and shining and I had just come back from having breakfast at a local pancake house.

I was so upset at first and then I just let it go and realized that if this is what it is, God has better plans and an even better donor for me out there somewhere.  My only issue is this better donor better hurry the heck up because I need to really do this cycle in January and do my transfer so that I have time to graduate from the fertility clinic before I settle in LA permanently.  I will not be bouncing back and forth like that after March.

I was going to be very upset until I suddenly remembered the generous offer I received from a dear friend who was going to do donor egg ivf and she and her husband split and are divorcing.  She told me that if I look for a donor at Fertility Bridges then she would transfer her $3500 deposit to me and I could apply it towards my donor fee.  The donors at Fertility Bridges are $3500 – 10,000.  By using Fertility Bridges, my fee would less at my fertility clinic as well, as long as the donor cycles at CNY.  Otherwise, I would have to pay for her to do monitoring elsewhere, which could be quite costly.  If I use a donor that is not local, I would have to also pay for her transportation to Syracuse for her retrieval, but at least the hotel stay would not be that long because I would have her fly out the morning after retrieval.  The only upside to this is also that I get to keep all of her eggs and am not limited to the a 5-7 or 8-14 egg package that is shared with someone else. If she ended with a lot of eggs, then I would be left with making the horrible choice as to what to do with the remaining embryos- which would be to donate them to science, as I could not bear anyone else having my babies out there and trusting that they are not a lunatic.

In other news, things have escalated with my crazy stalker !  I went to DC for my niece’s shower and to my mom’s pre-op appointment while there Cristal called and texted my cell with death threats.  I never changed my number and will not because as long as she continues to spoof numbers and call me, it adds to the charges that will leveled against her when the police and FBI finally do something about this situation.  Because I blocked her from contact on social media, they felt that it was handled.  I spoke with an attorney and was instructed to leave my numbers the same and if she called to answer and let it play out.  Once she physically speaks to me and makes a credible threat against my life, I have just cause to force the police to take action.  I returned from my trip and notice my phone at home has a ton of missed calls.  I go through the log and realize CRAY CRAY has called my phone SIXTY EIGHT times between the house of 2 am and 6am !  Who does that?

She texts my cell phone with the message ” BANG… DEAD BITCH!” –  How I so wish I could see her face to face, kick her ass from one end of the street to the other and keep it moving !  I wanted to take that drive to Georgia but my mom and friends talked me out of it because (1) she is not worth the wasted effort and energy and (2) I would give her ammunition to file assault charges against me and she wins.  My best weapon is to let the authorities handle it- and of course they are SLOW !  This is how people end up getting killed or hurting someone.  The police wait until something horrific has occurred before they take things seriously.  It is sickening that I have been harassed since May and it is still ongoing.

Anyway, I am off to search the donor database for the perfect donor !  Wish me luck !!  Finding the first donor took forever….