Episode 174: Becoming a Single Parent by Choice: IVF + a Sperm Donor
Today’s guest spent a great deal of time juggling many things on a tight schedule – she was busy creating a successful career for herself as a senior producer at a media and entertainment company. Lakia Holmes realized one day that her to-do’s at work may not be the only thing functioning on a tight schedule.
Aware of her biological clock, Lakia looked into freezing her eggs, so she could continue waiting for the perfect partner for her and her future baby. However, her doctor informed that her best chance at motherhood was through IVF. Lakia was shocked into a realization; being a mother is what she has always wanted, partner or no partner.
Guest: Lakia Holmes, Progyny Member
Host: Dan Bulger, Progyny
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Here are some highlights from this episode:
Waiting for Mr. Right?
02:41 – 07:48
Lakia Holmes: By the time I was 37 getting ready to turn 38, I still wasn’t completely ready to have a baby, but I knew I wanted to explore the process of freezing my eggs and in my mind, I was just wanting to freeze eggs, keep them there in the freezer but then still get pregnant naturally. And you know hopefully find a partner, to go through that entire process with. I went to my doctor to just kind of explore the process. And during this series of tests, I found out that there’s probably about a 2% chance of me getting pregnant naturally. So, that changed everything.
Dan Bulger: She had an HSG exam in preparation for freezing her eggs, and it showed that one of her fallopian tubes was completely blocked. And the other one was mostly blocked as well. With these results it was apparent that her best chance for a future pregnancy would be through IVF.
Lakia Holmes: You have to change, I guess in some ways, how you approach dating, because you have this extra thing that you have to worry about. And so, my approach after hearing the IVF news was that, okay, I have to date with intention. And just kind of let them know, maybe not necessarily off the bat, but just to prepare them for the toll that it could take emotionally, financially. So, you know, oftentimes dropping that kind of a bomb, when you’re maybe, you know, several dates in, isn’t the easiest, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen, because not everyone is prepared for that. I really started considering, okay, what’s going to be the next step for me? And that’s when I came to the conclusion, I’ve waited so long to become a mom, what am I continuing to wait for? You know, I wanted this perfect life for me and for my baby and I delayed for so long, I’m just going to try this on my own.
Finding Support When Challenges Arise
08:08 – 11:28
Lakia Holmes: I started the process of finding a sperm donor. And that process was so overwhelming, I think, it might have even been harder than the process of going through the retrieval. Around January 2022, I just was just so anxious and just overwhelmed with the process that I said, I have to kind of take a break, you know, there were moments where I would call my Progyny PCA, just bawling, crying, because of anxiety, and just, again, the process just going so quickly. It was so overwhelming. I’d be on the phone with my PCA sometimes for like a good hour at a time. And feel so bad because I’m just like, “I’m sorry, I know you have other people but that helped a lot.” Jenna was my first PCA and Jenna said, you don’t have to go through everything at one time. You don’t have to just go full speed ahead and just try to accomplish everything in the next few months, it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to just take a beat, take a breath. And I think taking that break in 2022 is probably the best thing I could have done; I got a chance to be able to do things that I know I really wouldn’t be able to do once I had a baby.
The biggest challenge in finding a sperm donor is finding the perfect donor, maybe not so much the perfect donor but the right donor for you. And as a Black woman, that search is harder, because there aren’t as many Black donors as there are other races, ethnicities, nationalities. So, I kind of had to struggle with, um, “Do I continue to try to find a Black donor? Or do I look at donors of other races, and navigating that aspect of it?”
A Solo Success
12:17 – 16:19
Lakia Holmes: So out of the six eggs, five were mature enough to fertilize out of the five three made it to blastocyst stage, then we did PGT testing. And now I have two viable embryos. So went from six to two. And you know, considering my goals to have two kids, my nurse was like, we set out and we did what we wanted to do.
One of the biggest reasons for me going through the process of PGT testing was because I’m older, I’m 39. So to be able to have that safety net, and to you know, say, okay, let’s be proactive, let’s, you know, get these embryos tested, make sure so that we have the best possible outcome when it comes time to implant and the fact that it’s covered by Progyny also, like just made that process much easier because it was like oh, that’s covered, okay, let’s do it. Like why, you know, why not? That cost is significantly less due to my Progyny benefit, I say, let’s do it because not only am I thinking about it from a cost perspective, but just thinking about overall trying to bring a viable embryo, you know, to be implanted, to have the most successful chance of actually having the baby. So, you know, doing that was a huge, huge help. And it’s something I’m also really, really grateful for.
Dan Bulger: And that’s where Lakia was at the time of our interview, but then some time passed. And then on December 4th, she sent us an email with Lakia’s permission, I’ll read some of it for you now. “It’s been a few months since we last connected, and I wanted to share the news that I’m having a baby. I’m currently 17 weeks and due May 11, 2024, the day before Mother’s Day, what a journey this has been. And it gets more and more real with each ultrasound. I’m so grateful to everyone at Progyny for making this possible.”
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the past ten plus years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he has interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility and the producer behind the Progyny YouTube Channel which features interviews with dozens of the nation’s leading fertility specialists. On a personal note Dan’s parents started fostering kids when he was four years old, and he considers himself a proud older brother to over 100 foster children.
Lakia is senior producer at Warner Bros. Discovery Sports’ Diversified Sports Content org, which focuses on storytelling around underrepresented voices in sports and culture. After delaying her dream of becoming a mom to focus on her career, she decided at the age of 37 that it was time to look into egg freezing. After learning her only chance at having a baby would be through IVF, she’s decided to take the leap and start the journey of becoming a single mom by choice.
While navigating the NYC dating scene, she now found herself navigating the world of infertility as a Black woman, the challenges of finding a Black sperm donor, and how the choice to become a SMC will impact her career.
As an award-winning journalist and producer, she’s now on the other side, using her platform and personal experiences to tell her story to bring fertility awareness to the Black community.