A woman who couldn't get pregnant using her own frozen embryos shared them with friends, ultimately creating 3 families

Anna Medaris Miller
·4 min read
Abbey and Wendy pregnantish
Wendy (left) and Abbey, who got pregnant using an embryo Wendy created with donor egg and sperm. Sam Schmitz
  • Wendy and Abbey are two friends who, in their 40s, found themselves single and determined to become moms. They shared their story on the Pregnantish podcast.

  • After years of trying various types of assisted reproductive technology, Wendy adopted a child.

  • Abbey eventually got pregnant using a frozen embryo Wendy had created, but no longer needed, with donor egg and sperm.

  • The remaining embryos went to one of Abbey's best friends, who's now pregnant with what will be Abbey's daughter's biological sibling.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Wendy's boyfriend was watching hockey, fondling her, and happy. Wendy, a 40-year-old who was eager to marry and have kids, was not.

"It just hit me like a ton of bricks [that] this guy's never going to marry me," Wendy said during a December episode of the podcast Pregnantish.

So, after a year and a half together, the couple broke up. Wendy, a New Yorker who only used her first name in the show, started "dating furiously." But when she turned 43, she wasn't any closer to becoming a mom, and she thought, "What am I doing? There really is no time to waste."

READ MORE: What it's like to go through menopause at age 24, with night sweats, weight gain, and infertility

Meanwhile, her friend Abbey was facing the same reality. The entrepreneur in New York City was in her early 40s, newly single, and determined to be a mom.

"It's sort of hard to explain, but it was just not an option for me to not become a mother in this lifetime, even if that was at 60 to a 16-year-old," she said on the podcast hosted by Andrea Syrtash. "Once I made the decision, I'm like, I am going to be doing this."

Eventually, the womens' parallel experiences intersected. After plenty of stops and starts, the full range of emotions, and even more waiting, both are now moms. And, with their help, Abbey's other friend is now pregnant too.

Wendy tried IUI, IVF, and donor egg and sperm before looking into adoption

Once Wendy committed to becoming a single mom, she tried intrauterine insemination, or in her case having donor sperm placed in the uterus to increase the chances of pregnancy. It didn't work.

She then tried in vitro fertilization, in which her eggs and donor sperm were combined in a lab before being transferred to her uterus. She didn't get pregnant that way either.

Eventually, Wendy settled on using both donor egg and sperm to create embryos that she could carry. "This just needs to work," she remembers thinking, and so chose an egg donor with lots of eggs to boost her chances. "I thought, 'Hey, if they're extras, I can give them to all my single mom friends!"

READ MORE: A sperm donor who has 30 biological children said he wishes he had kids of his own

But while she did get lots of embryos, none of the seven or eight rounds of transfers got her pregnant. An insensitive clinician told her she'd never be, due to her "irregular uterus." "It was terrible," Wendy said.

At that point, she pursued adoption. "Every day I was like, who's gonna choose an older Jewish single woman from New York with a big mouth? Who would want me?"

But one couple did, and now Wendy is a mom. "She's totally the kid for me," she said.

Wendy still had a "basketball team" of embryos she wasn't going to use

Abbey was still childless, and Wendy still had seven frozen embryos. Having Abbey use them wasn't a new idea.

Early on, the friends half-joked about Wendy carrying two of the embryos, one that would be her child and one that would be Abbey's.

Later, while Wendy was waiting for a family to choose her as an adoptive parent, she remembers saying to Abbey, "Oh, you could carry [the embryos] and we'll do it together." Abby said "no problem."

But neither of those scenarios bore out. Instead, Abbey - who'd also gone through unsuccessful IUIs and who'd needed uterine surgery - used them to have a child of her own. "These embryos were always my backup plan," she said. After one implantation with two embryos that didn't work, she went through another that did.

Now, "I have a 14-month-old daughter that has genes that Wendy chose," said Abbey, who posts about her family on the Instagram page Momma by Design. "And I have the most amazing human as my child."

But there were still three embryos left. With Wendy's encouragement ("I had, you know, a basketball team of embryos here, like, just take them!"), Abbey gave them to her friend of 20 years who'd gone through two unsuccessful rounds of IVF with her fiance. The pair is now expecting a girl - Abbey's daughter's biological sibling.

"Your path takes so many turns during this and every one feels like a heartbreak," Abbey said. "But it definitely all worked out for the best."

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