Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is common today. In fact, ART procedures have doubled in the US during the past 10 years. Urologist Kevin McEleny has spoken to four young women about their experience growing up as ART babies.
Emma Grønbæk from Denmark was born after sperm donation, the twins Evie and Eleanor Lake from the UK were born after surgical sperm retrieval and ICSI treatment, and Rebecca Tippin from the UK was born after her parents went through IVF treatment.
You can watch the interview with the four women here:
Emma: Born with the help from a sperm donor
“My parents went through many years, six years I think, of fertility treatment and then at some point they decided to use a sperm donor. And because this was early on, it was an anonymous sperm donor. At that point, you didn’t have any other option, so I’ve always known that I was donor-conceived and that my parents were my parents but that they had help from someone we didn’t know.
I don’t have any memory of a certain time when I was told. My parents made a small children’s book and we read this as a nighttime story. It was a nice story about two people who loved each other and wanted a child but it wasn’t easy – and then a nice man helped them to make this possible. So, I’ve understood more and more gradually. I don’t have a memory of the day I was told, and I think that it is really nice that it never came as a shock. It’s just been part of my life always and part of our family.
It hasn’t really been a problem. Also, my twin sisters are my dad’s biological children because of new methods. But family dynamics change, and this is just a new way of being a family and it has never really been a big issue for any of us.”
Evie and Eleanor: Born after ICSI treatment
“We were made through a new technique with a single sperm and a single egg through surgical sperm retrieval and ICSI – and we were also born cesarean and one minute apart.
Very much like Emma, there was never a specific memory of being told. I think we were just always told and aware that we were made through this special way. I think there were times where we didn’t really fully understand it because being that young you are like “I don’t know what you are talking about. ”So, it’s just something we learned about it in biology and we were like “oh that’s what happened?”
We can both remember being in secondary school in biology class where we were introduced to new alternative methods (fertility treatment), and I remember raising my hand really proudly and say: “I’m born this way.” It made me feel different and stand out a little bit. And I remember all of the silly boys in our class being like: “does that mean your dad is not your dad?” But we always knew they were our mum and dad – I mean you can tell by looking at us. We are literally the carbon copies of both my mum and dad. So, it was never really an issue for us either and we always grew up knowing.”
Rebecca, born after IVF treatment
“I just recently turned 30 so it was a while ago that my parents went through IVF. It was when it was kind of in the beginnings and although it had been around since the 70’s, it was still not very much spoken about. They went through one cycle and they had me.
I think there is far less stigma attached to it now than there ever has been in the past, and I think it is only getting lower which is brilliant. I think we don’t even really think about people’s method of conception unless it comes up in conversation. I think that is the way it should be. Today I work as an embryologist, and it is nice that it doesn’t need to be discussed. You know you don’t need it stamped on your forehead that you were from IVF. But at the same time, it is something to be proud of.”