Perhaps it was a well-intended co-worker at a holiday party or a family member at Christmas dinner who asked, “So, when are you having kids?” while you were innocently sipping your eggnog. If starting or expanding you family is on your mind, we’ve got you covered! Luckily, it’s 2018 and if things haven’t been progressing “the old fashioned way”, you have the option to explore more modern approaches. Don’t take my word for it – look to any number of celebrities! Celine Dion, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Mariah Carey, Courtney Cox, and Giuliana Rancic are just a few who have openly shared their less conventional paths to parenthood. Below are some examples:
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
This is when your partner’s or donor’s sperm is cleaned and then inserted through a catheter into your uterus around ovulation time. IUI is done with the help of fertility medications (typically hormone injections) so that the woman produces more eggs than usual.
Singer Melissa Etheridge is the mother of four children in total – all conceived through the help of intrauterine insemination (and the sperm donation of folk singer David Crosby).
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Emma Thompson conceived her first daughter in 1999 with the help of IVF, actress Jaime King had her son through IVF (after enduring 5 miscarriages, a noteworthy 26 IUI’s, and 5 rounds of IVF), and Gabrielle Union recently shared that she also is undergoing IVF, but her attempts have unfortunately not yet been successful.
IVF entails taking hormone injections and being closely monitored by a reproductive endocrinologist. The woman’s eggs are then retrieved and mixed with the sperm of her partner or donor. The resulting embryos will either be transferred to the woman’s uterus or frozen for later use.
Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS)
The Real Housewives of Orange County star, Meghan King Edmonds, shared her journey with IVF and PGS on the TV show and on her blog. PGS is a genetic test performed on embryos produced through IVF. PGS gives information about embryos’ genetic health to help your care team select the best embryo for transfer and improve your chance of achieving a successful pregnancy. In Meghan’s case, she pursued IVF not because she was struggling with fertility issues, but because her husband had a vasectomy after having children from a prior marriage; thus, they could not conceive naturally. Her husband, baseball star Jimmy Edmonds, had frozen sperm prior to the procedure, which was thawed for use in his IVF cycles with Meghan. Of the 10 embryos the Edmonds produced, four were chromosomally normal: three boys and one girl. They now have a little girl named Aspen and are expecting twins this year.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
Similar to PGS, PGD is performed on IVF embryos prior to transfer. Unlike PGS, which may be appropriate for anyone undergoing IVF, PGD is an option for those who are at known risk of having a child with a specific genetic condition, like cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease. PGD is much less common than PGS, so we don’t hear about it so much in the celebrity world, but it can be a powerful medical tool to help couples significantly reduce the risk of having a child with a genetic disease.
One way of having a family is through eggs that were frozen at a younger age. Human oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is a procedure to preserve a woman’s eggs (aka oocytes). The intention of the procedure is that, in the future, the woman may choose to have the eggs thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus as embryos to facilitate a pregnancy. Kaitlyn Bristowe from The Bachelorette, Olivia Munn, Sofia Vergara, and Maria Menounos all have shared that they have eggs on ice.
Donor Eggs or Donor Sperm
If you’re a same sex male couple, a woman unable to conceive using her own eggs, or have a known genetic concern, doing IVF with donor eggs is an option to consider. The donor eggs are combined with a donor’s or your partner’s sperm, and the resulting embryo(s) can be transferred to the intended mother or gestational surrogate’s uterus. Ricky Martin and Elton John both had twins with the help of donor eggs and a surrogate.
Donor sperm is commonly needed by single women, same sex female couples, and heterosexual couples with severe male factor infertility. Monica Cruz, Penelope Cruz’s sister, used IUI and a donor to start her family, giving birth to a little girl back in 2013. Monica shared that she decided to stop waiting for the man of her dreams and take action, knowing her biological clock was ticking.
Surrogacy (Gestational Carrier)
Another couple who is a great example of modern approaches to family building is Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka who had help from an egg donor and a surrogate to have their twins. A surrogate is a woman who is not genetically related to the baby but carries the embryo (or donor embryo) to term, and gives birth to your baby. In order to be a surrogate, you have to have had a baby previously.
Harris told People in 2011, “We found an egg donor anonymously through a hilarious process of looking at people’s profiles and then an amazing surrogate who had helped a same-sex couple before.” In their case, they used both his and his partner’s sperm, Burtka adding that the couple “don’t know whose is whose”, but each are the biological father of one twin.
If you ask Hugh Jackman, he would say, “Adoption is about taking a baby into your home — and your heart. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done.” There are various ways to adopt. You can pursue it domestically, internationally, or through foster care. A wide array of celebrities have added to their family through adoption such as Kristin Davis, Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Viola Davis, Sheryl Crowe, Jillian Michaels, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ty Burrell, and of course, Angelina Jolie and Madonna.
Obviously, these options are all available depending on where you are in your trying-to-conceive journey and what you and your partner are comfortable with. It’s ALSO worth mentioning that all of the above are not mutually exclusive, and in some cases, as we saw, these forms of building a family can be combined (donor sperm + IUI, donor eggs + donor sperm + IVF, IVF + surrogacy, etc.) The very best first step is to make an appointment with your doctor to share what your family goals are for 2018 and hopefully, by next year, you’ll be one step closer to being a parent.