Update: Athena’s Story
All of us at The 16 Percent feel honoured to share so many personal stories with our growing community. We are thankful for all the brave women and men who have opened up and helped us grow this community. As the community has grown, so have the connections we feel to the stories and to the people behind the stories.
As a result of this connection, we are introducing a new story segment that reconnects us with previous contributors, finding out what people have been up to since they first shared their stories.
First-up, we have Athena Reich. You can read her original interview on our website (https://www.the16percent.ca/stories/2018/9/20/athenas-story?rq=athena). Athena is a Canadian-American actor, writer, singer/songwriter, and Lady Gaga impersonator. Athena writes about being a single parent by choice, and conceiving with donor egg and donor sperm for magazines such as HuffPost, Today’s Parent, and Chatelaine. She is also a family building coach and speaker. Athena is the Creator and Chief Editor for Alternative Families International, an online magazine and community for anyone outside the nuclear box. Find out more about Athena on her website: www.AthenaReich.com
Thank you, Athena, for being such a passionate advocate for the infertility community and sharing your story with us (twice!).
1. Please share an update on what you are doing these days or tell us how your journey has changed since you shared your story with The 16 Percent community.
When I last wrote, I was trying to conceive my second child. At that point, I had done one failed embryo transfer and one cycle with an egg donor that didn’t produce viable embryos.
I then found a new egg donor and simply tried again. Fantastically, the first transfer worked and 40 weeks later I had a C-section and gave birth to my daughter, Raven.
And so, I am now a single mother by choice for two double-donor conceived children! My eldest is now 4 years old and just started Junior Kindergarten a few days ago. I am actually nursing Raven as I write this! The children have the same sperm donor but different egg donors.
My life is pretty much consumed with the challenges of being a working single mother of two small children. Like any mother of two, I worry about giving enough attention to each child. I try to not feel guilty when carving out creative time (like doing this interview!) and I do my best to enjoy them and connect with them, as much as possible, while balancing my own needs and wishes.
2. How did you feel after sharing your story? Did sharing your story have an impact on your loved ones or on your relationships?
I love being open about my story. I have been open about it to everyone and their mother since I first got diagnosed with low ovarian reserve in 2012. My story was featured in Vegas Baby, an Emmy nominated documentary that you can now watch on Netflix. I tell everyone with pride (friends, doctors, teachers, acquaintances) that my children were conceived with donor eggs and sperm because I want to break the silence surrounding infertility. I want to normalize donor conception so that my kids grow up in a world that understands and accepts their conception story, and so that future generations experience fewer stigmas when diagnosed with infertility.
3. What piece of advice would you offer someone struggling right now or are there any other thoughts you would like to share?
My advice is this:
1. What you are going through is HARD. Know this to be true. Many people will say things to you that are dismissive, ignorant or just plain wrong. Find others who understand what you are going through and connect with them.
2. Infertility is not your fault. It is not from stress, from negative thoughts, or from not eating enough kale. It is medical and/or age related and, simply put, bad things happen to good people.
3. If you are determined and flexible, you will get your baby. You may not know HOW you will get your baby, but know that it WILL happen, if you don’t give up.
4. I love my donor-conceived children like any mother of any child. Genetics are overrated. We are one human family, interconnected in ways much more complex than we understand today. Love and connection are formed by the experiences we share. I am present with my children every day, to the best of my ability, and our bond is birthed from our participation in each other’s lives.
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