Tag Archives: Egg Mama

One Donor, How Many Siblings?

My hubby sent me an article, One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring in today’s New York Times (thanks Mike!). It highlights a problem I worried about when I became an egg donor twelve years ago and when we chose to use a sperm donor eight years ago. When I became I donor, I stipulated that I donate only to people from out-of-town. I didn’t want to see my offspring in the grocery store or worry about them going to the same high school with my children. As a result, I only donated to families from Canada and other counties in the state.

We chose our sperm donor from a bank in California. At the time, the clinic only noted that at least one child had been born by our donor, not how many. But I saw it as a positive, demonstrating the sperm’s efficacy. I assumed the sperm would be sold to a few locations throughout the country, making the odds that my children would bump into one of their few half-siblings statistically unlikely. But ten years ago, I didn’t realize that sperm could be frozen indefinitely, that more and more people would take advantage of the advancing fertility technology, and I trusted that the sperm bank would use good sense and limit the number of offspring produced by any one donor. But reporting of births by parents is voluntary and as this article points out, this area of the fertility industry is not well-regulated.

My boys already have half-siblings that we know about: twin girls born from my donated eggs, Ruby and Raven, who live two counties away and our unique relationship has formed the basis of my memoir. The boys also have a non-biological half-brother born in my husband’s previous marriage. But what about the unknown half-siblings born from their sperm donor?  What if the sperm donor had children of his own? Is it important that we know of their existence? Their geography, sex, and age?

When I asked these questions of our sperm bank, they directed me to their sibling registry. We’re listed there, but as of this writing no other siblings appear there for our donor. A search of the Donor Sibling Registry shows no other siblings by our sperm donor either, but the site has an annual fee of $75, so it’s still quite possible that my children have many other half siblings across the country.

Will my children yearn to meet their unknown half-siblings and donor someday, a situation happening all over the country and chronicled in the forthcoming documentary about which I blogged, Donor Unknown? If they do, I hope that we’ll handle the situation with the grace and understanding that our children deserve. But let’s face it, we’ll probably make some mistakes, because we’re human, and we’re slogging into uncharted waters.

The article also mentions the modern sex education a parent must share with their teenagers born from donor sperm. The teen must know and remember their donor number,  and they must assess the birth status of each of their future partners. I think we all remember those awkward junior high/high school conversations leading up to a first kiss. Can you imagine the dialogue a teenager born from donor sperm must have in this modern day?

“So…umm, well…so your parents…umm, when you were born…umm,…so, there’s, like, no chance you were born from donor sperm is there??”

With this extra monkey on their backs, my boys won’t have their first kiss until they’re 25! Maybe that’s a good thing for my blood pressure, but seriously, I want them to be happy, and although the odds still seem in their favor, who knows what the climate will be like in the next ten, twenty, thirty years when they’re searching for a companion? Nowadays, and in the future, the geography that I thought would protect them has been made insignificant by the age of computers and technology. Most of my single friends use web-based dating sites. Will these sites incorporate a check box for “conceived from donor sperm or eggs” as a screening option or conversation starter? Will it be part of their dating profile? Probably someday. It’s only a matter of when.

I’m trying not to worry too much about this dilemma, for their sanity, and mine. My hope is that we, as their parents, will have educated our boys enough, and raised them with enough confidence and openness to approach these new dating experiences with only the usual amount of awkwardness. It will be tough no matter how we prepare them, but hopefully, being born from donor sperm won’t be the factor that keeps them from finding and feeling the love, security, and contentment that we all seek, and that they definitely deserve.

Do you think the number of offspring from each donor (sperm and/or eggs) should be tracked? Regulated? Or should we just print the donor number on our Facebook info page so we can avoid those potentially awkward moments?

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Contests & Synopses

Yeah! I successfully entered my first literary contest, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. I say successfully because I know a lot of people want to and never actually do it. But I couldn’t have done it without the help of my critique group members Emily and Jessica. Together we worked for over six weeks polishing our entries together and I definitely know that my entry is much better because of their insight and thoughtful comments.

The finalists in each category (genre) will be announced some time in June and each entrant will receive feedback from at least two judges, one of which will include a literary agent or editor. It will be hard not to count the days until June. Finalists in each category receive several honors including a special colored ribbon on your name badge at the summer conference (like the scarlet letter but with an upside), as well as recognition at a dinner at the conference. In addition, the contest entry of finalists (which included a synopsis and my first two chapters of my memoir) is available to all agents and editors that attend the conference in a special quiet room for their review. I’ve never heard anyone say they found an agent or editor this way, but I’m not ruling it out (provided I am fortunate enough to be named a finalist)!

First and second place in each category also receive $500 and $200, respectively, as well. I’m certainly looking forward to the feedback.

I encourage every writer to enter a contest. Don’t wait until you’re completely ready. Instead, identify the contest well in advance and then plan for it. I think having the deadline out there helps push you along. I certainly worked harder on my first two chapters than I would have without it. Plus, those two chapters, now more polished, will improve the quality of my book proposal that I’ll be sending out to another round of agents in a month or two.

As I’ve blogged about recently here, I wrote a synopsis that I love for the contest and I’m sharing it with you now below. Please be aware that this synopsis may or may not be considered “a quality synopsis”, it’s just what I wrote for my contest entry. Thanks for reading.

EGG MAMA: AN EGG DONOR AND HER EXTRAORDINARY FAMILY, a memoir

Synopsis

The desire to be a mother washes over Nina like a slowly rising tide. A neurotic, single twenty-something fresh out of college, she wanders, exploring the sandy beach of life, the sea nowhere in sight. A shiny treasure catches her eye—an adventurous older man. Twinkling like a precious stone, he feeds her aching need for love, for life.

Water rises quickly, almost undetected, as Nina clambers over the now rocky shallows. He already has a child and doesn’t want any more. The waves turn cold against her legs. Should she climb out, into the sun’s indulgence? Or turn away in search of deeper water?

To calm her fear and indecision, Nina donates some of her eggs anonymously, giving another woman the chance to swim. When Nina learns of the fraternal twin girls born from her eggs, a surge rises to her chest. She meets Ruby and Raven at two-years-old, and is no longer afraid. She floats on her back, alive; and now she wants her own baby more than air.

But her man, who wades into the shallows slowly, cannot give her the baby he is now ready to share. They despair. Buoyed by a fertility doctor, they are rescued by a faceless stranger, the Frenchman, who bestows his seed.

Nina tests many different strokes against and with the current: aunt, stepmom, and Egg Mama, all training for the race that is parenthood, as her own twins grow inside her.

Storms blow in: Ruby and Raven’s parents divorce and Nina’s own twin boys arrive too soon. She can barely stay afloat and they all struggle to stay together. But as the storms subside, Nina rolls in the waves of motherhood, riding the natural rhythms. Water becomes her air and soon she cannot live without it. The flood tide crests and Nina no longer cares about the shore.

End of Round Two

Well, I’m a bit disappointed, although I knew it was probably coming. I received a rejection (which agents and editors sometimes call a pass) yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad they actually reply with one or two sentences of feedback, but it’s hard to accept the finality of it.

Yesterday I “was passed over” by Kit Ward of Christina Ward Literary Agency. Kit was one of ten agents and editors I submitted my book proposal to of those I met this summer at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association meeting. She was the last of the bunch to reply. One success of round two over round one is that everyone in round two actually replied. Not so in round one.

I had the pleasure of actually getting to know Kit a little at the meeting. That hardly ever happens, so I was really hoping she’d identify with my work and be excited about having me.

Turns out though, that from that meeting, Kit discovered my wonderful writing friend, Kim Kircher, and Kit has been helping Kim through her book deal for The Next Fifteen Minutes. Kim’s book chronicles how her job as a ski patroller and avalanche expert helped her through her husband’s battle with liver cancer. I’m so excited to read it when it comes out next year. I’ll be following Kim’s journey vicariously and hope you will too through her blog (on my blog roll to the right).

I was first drawn to Kit when I discovered that she also represents author, Karen Fisher, who wrote the novel, A Sudden Country, which my book club read and loved last year. Karen also happens to live in the Pacific Northwest.

So it is sad for me to see this potential opportunity go by. I try not to get my hopes up, but it’s hard not to when you meet people you could actually picture yourself working with.

I’m so very happy for both Kim and Kit, and their publisher, Lynn Price of Behler Publications.

When I look back over the feedback I’ve received from agents and editors during round two, it seems clearer that the voice or content of my sample chapters are where I should focus my future efforts. I feel great to have written 90% of my manuscript now, which is 60% more than I had in October. I’m going to spend however long it takes to polish it before heading into round three. I don’t know how many rounds I have in me, but those who know me would probably say I have excellent stamina. My persistence is what makes my hubby love and hate me at the same time!

But I’m going to make sure to take the advice I’ve heard in many places and try not to rush it. I’ve read and personally know authors who have submitted to and been rejected by more than fifty agents before landing their book deal. I’m only at around eighteen.

I am currently working with a critique group and plan to enter my first writing contest in the new year. When I feel like my manuscript and proposal are significantly improved, head back into the ring for another beating. I’ll be sure to put in my mouth guard and cup.

Here’s the actual gracious e-mail I got from Kit for your voyeuristic reading pleasure:

Dear Lorraine,

A thousand pardons for this tardy response to your proposal for EGG MAMA, which I asked to see at the PNWA conference.  Your story is an extraordinary and touching one, there’s no doubt about that.  But the reading experience here hasn’t compelled me as the idea did originally, I’m afraid.  Given my reservations, I’m going to pass, with regret.  But I hope another reader will see the opportunity here.  (Perhaps you’ve gone ahead without me in any case.)

 It was lovely to meet you at the conference.  I hope our paths will cross again sometime.

 Best,

Kit

Christina Ward

Positive Feedback

I’m still kicking ass with NaNoWriMo. I’m currently at 29,169 words, approximately one full week ahead of schedule. I’m really liking the approach, which is to write with little or no editing. Of course that means that the draft I have is quite rough, as Ann Lamott’s Bird By Bird refers to it, my shitty first draft, but I don’t think its all that shitty. So I’m optimistic that I can use December and January to whip these chapters into shape.

I have a couple of writing friends who graciously will be looking over my chapters during that time and they can only improve.

I woke up to a new rejection this morning of my book proposal, this time from St. Martin’s Press’ (one of the big girls) editor, Michele Richter. Calling this a rejection seems like a misnomer though. I think I’ll start calling it a “pass” when it sounds like this one. It’s always hard to know whether they’re just being kind, but I’d like to think there is sincerity here. I met Michelle at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference and she seemed like a true New Yorker, not one who beats around the bush to spare people’s feelings, so this pass is very encouraging to me.

I’ll keep plugging away and hopefully will send out my proposal to another round of agents and editors in February or so. I think I’m waiting to hear back from only one more agent from the round I sent out in August.

Here’s her e-mail message in all its glory:

Dear Lorraine,

I enjoyed meeting you very much, and I thank you for sending me EGG MAMA. You do have a fascinating story to tell, and there’s certainly an inspirational aspect, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass on the chance to make you an offer. Memoir is a very crowded market, and we’re having to be more and more selective with the projects that we take on. I do think that your writing is engaging, and that someone else will snap you up and give you a happy home. I wish you all the best of luck.

best, Michelle Richter

Feeling Blessed

Well, it’s only 1:45 PM and I’ve already hit my 2000-word-per-day goal. Today was actually 2339!

And it’s making me feel incredibly blessed. Blessed that I have the time in the schedule to do the writing, blessed that I get to be a stay-at-home, work-at-home instead of trucking to an office every day, and blessed that I have so many great things to write about. Indeed, the subject of my memoir is the many blessings I have as the mom of twins and Egg Mama to another set of twins.

Sometimes I feel so blessed I forget to think about the other millions of women who suffer each day, each month, with infertility. I just read a very thoughtful blog by Jay Bronte, where she struggles with how to stay positive about her infertility when her second opinion reveals a uternine polyp missed by her first physician. You can read her poignant post, It’s the Great Infertile Charlie Brown!, here.

Wishing you all bountiful blessings and massive word counts.

Lorraine Wilde

Slowing Down

I received a rejection just a few minutes ago from one of the two agents I most wanted to work with. I have to admit I’m a little sad. It seems harder to roll with rejection from someone I let myself get excited about.

Elizabeth Wales was a long shot for me. She’s been in the business for years, happens to be in Seattle, and represents some bigger names. But she got my hopes up when I met her at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s conference because she was the only agent that was also interested in my background as an environmental scientist. Ms. Wales represents several scientists and engineers who write non-fiction books, an area I dream about breaking into someday. Her form rejection e-mail is posted below.

Lynn Price of Behler Publications blogs regularly that writers are too often in a hurry to be found and get their work published. She reasons that this rush compromises quality. I am definitely feeling in a hurry sometimes. I know what I want and I want it to happen now, not two years from now. I’m impatient about lots of things, so why not this? But I have reasons for wanting to make things happen sooner rather than later. How long can I learn about writing and plug along without actually earning a living at it? Most people don’t have the “luxury” that I have at the moment. My impatience is spurred by the fact that I don’t know how long I have the luxury either.

So, I’ll try not to be in such a damn hurry. If I don’t end up with an agent after this round (I’m only waiting to hear from a couple), then I’ll be patient and finish the manuscript and submit to another group of carefully selected individuals. Maybe in February.

In the meantime, I’ll expand my platform (writing resume) by publishing some more articles in magazines, and maybe branching out into public speaking.

I’m still planning to participate in my custom version of NaNoWriMo. Please let me know if you are going to join me in this adventure.

Ahhh, the rejection:

Dear Lorraine,

I enjoyed meeting you at the PNWA conference this year.

After reading Egg Mama, my agency must pass on offering you representation. Because of the amount of client work in our office, we try to make quick decisions on all possible new clients and projects. Our process is ultimately subjective and we do the best we can.

We wish only to encourage you even though we can’t pursue working with you at this time. Thank you for sharing your work with us.  We wish you the very best with your writing. 

All the best, 

Elizabeth Wales

Wales Literary Agency, Inc.

PO Box 9426

Seattle, Washington 98109

waleslit@waleslit.com

www.waleslit.com

twitter.com/waleslit

Tel.. 206 284 7114