Donor Conception

What My Donor Conception Journey Sparked

Kate Knapton, CEO of Jojii and Co  |   2 Sep 2021

Donor conception can be such an extra difficult path when it comes to fertility treatment. At The Ribbon Box, we want those who are considering donor conception to have the opportunity to read about a variety of success stories, so that you can see for yourself why donor conception could be a great way to start your family.

That’s why we’ve reached out to Kate Knapton, CEO of Jojii and Co, who has had two children through embryo donation. Read on to find out more about her successful donor conception journey and how this led to her opening an infertility jewellery shop.

Infertility Diagnosis

If you knew me, you would know that I’ve always wanted to be a mom — not just a mom, but a young mom. Get married young and then have babies right away — that was the plan. I checked off the “get married” box pretty quickly. Right away, we decided we would start trying for a baby and if it happened, great! Time started to pass, months went by, and boxes of negative pregnancy tests started to pile up in the garbage. But when those months turned into a year, we started to wonder if it was something more.

At my yearly exam with my fertility doctor, I discussed with her what was going on and what our next steps should be. She informed me that we could get tested to see if there were other issues. She told me that having my husband tested first to rule him out would be easiest because it was less invasive than what I would have to do.

A few more months went by and FINALLY I made an appointment for my husband. We sat in the fertility doctor’s office and we were told that the chances of having children were low and if we were able to, we would have to do in vitro fertilization (IVF). Our only chance of finding out if we were capable of trying IVF was for my husband to have a surgery. I’ll never forget that day. The doctor pulled me into a room and told me that the surgery wasn’t successful and there was a “0% chance for genetic children”. When I went to see my husband, he was coming out of anaesthesia and the first thing he did was look at me and ask if it worked. I didn’t have to say anything. I just put my head down and we both just hugged each other knowing our dream of having our genetic children was over.

Donor Options

We took some time to wrap our heads fully around the news we were given. Yes, we found out that day that genetic children were not an option, but we also learned that there are many other ways to have a family. We met with our fertility doctor and discussed what path we would take. Our options were: traditional adoption, donor sperm and embryo donation adoption. I knew that I wanted to carry a baby and be able to experience pregnancy; which means we were down to donor sperm or embryo donation adoption. I was familiar with donor sperm, but I was not at all familiar with donor embryos. There are about 1,000,000 frozen embryos in the United States alone from couples who went through IVF and are storing their remaining embryos. When a couple has completed their family they have the option to donate their remaining embryos to a family who was like us — unable to have genetic children. When we heard this option, we knew right away that this was the right option for us. We finally felt like we were on the path to becoming parents.

In August 2017, we had our first frozen embryo transfer (FET) with two embryos anonymously donated through our fertility clinic. We were so excited and were convinced we were pregnant with twins. I started planning our life with two babies. We had been through enough, there’s no way this wouldn’t work. Oh… was I naive! I went in for blood-work and my levels were too low. I wasn’t pregnant and we were devastated. With our clinic’s embryo adoption program, you only got one chance at the bank of embryos they had because they wanted to be sure to give everyone an equal chance. We were back at square one.

Related Article – What to Consider when Looking at Donor Conception

Finding Donors Through Facebook

When we found out we would be going through embryo donation adoption, I found a few Facebook groups to join with people who were going through the exact same thing. One thing my husband and I really struggled with was going through this alone and having no one who could relate to it. Both of our families and friends were extremely supportive, but no one had dealt with not being able to have their own genetic children. This was uncharted territory for us. One Facebook group in specific saved me. It was a group of 1,000 women going through exactly what I was. They could relate, answer questions, listen to me vent, and lift me up when I needed. This group also gave us something we couldn’t get on our own, babies.

In this group, they have a section dedicated to couples who are ready to donate their embryos. They were done with their family and ready to donate their embryos to a couple, to give them a shot at life. I contacted the only profile that was up. 

It was a couple who had gone through IVF using donor eggs and the husband’s sperm. They had six embryos left after they used one embryo to have their beautiful daughter. I messaged her right away asking if she had already found a recipient for the embryos. She told me they were already donated. My heart sank knowing another option may be out the window.

Related Podcast – Donor Conception and Surrogacy – Marking Gay Pride with Two Dads UK

The Pivotal Phone Call

The next day, I woke up to a message saying: “Hi Kate, I would like to speak with you if you have time.” What could she possibly want; she’d said the embryos were already donated. I messaged back to see what it was about. She responded with, “the embryos”. She explained to me that she would like to donate the remaining embryos to us if we would still like. I called her, we chatted for a little and she told me that they had been searching for a family that they connected with and felt comfortable giving their embryos to. They ended up not finding a couple and had signed the embryos to be destroyed, another option that couples can choose to do with their remaining embryos. After I had messaged her the day before, she looked at my profile and felt an instant connection. She said she’d called the storage facility that was keeping the embryos on ice and asked if they had been destroyed yet. They hadn’t, so she asked them not to destroy them because she’d found a family.

I couldn’t believe that we were being offered six embryos in hopes of starting our family. After three months of legal contracts, psych appointments, and shipping these precious cells over 800 miles to our clinic, we were ready to give this another go!

Successful Transfers

In December 2017, we did another FET. This time around, I was preparing for the worst. It didn’t work the first time, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. That’s one thing you do when you are going through infertility, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. On December 23rd I took a home pregnancy test. I wanted to know before Christmas if this had worked. I assumed it would be negative. Except this time, it wasn’t. There was a nice line and no denying it. I told my husband, and we went through the holidays cautiously optimistic. After my first blood draw, I had a very high hCG number and it continued to double like it should. The further along I got, my anxiety never went away. I worried through my entire pregnancy that this little baby would be taken away from me. But it wasn’t and in September 2018, we welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Josephine. She was pure perfection and had the sweetest dimples I ever saw.

In August 2019, we decided to try and give our JoJo a sibling. We had another FET and, again, it didn’t work. This time around, I was prepared for that and we went back to back. We transferred again in October 2019 and found out that we would be expecting a baby boy in July 2020. We welcomed our son, Bennett, and he too had those two dimples that are to die for.

I spent my whole life wondering what features my babies would have. Would they have my defined chin? Or be short like me? Or maybe they would have my blue eyes? I couldn’t wait to compare my husband’s and my own baby pictures with our babies. Except for us, that wouldn’t happen. I often hear that our sweet babes look like us. But they don’t – they look like themselves and they are beautiful. We fell in love with memorizing their features, like JoJo’s gorgeous brown eyes or Benny’s sweet button nose or the fact that they both have the sweetest dimples, one on each cheek. We stopped looking for our own.

Starting My Own Community By Making Fertility Jewellery

I realized during my second pregnancy that I still didn’t have a community of people who were experiencing infertility. I decided to start an Instagram account dedicated to infertility and helping others along the way. That’s when Jojii (joe-gee) was created. A space to share my journey and that of others as well.

A few months later, I launched my first piece of jewellery — my 1:8 bracelet. This bracelet represents the 1 in 8 couples who experience infertility. From there, I continued to add to my pieces including my 1:4 bracelet, hand-stamped bangles and necklaces, all things pineapples and rainbows, as well as my favorite WARRIOR cuff! There are so many options for anyone experiencing infertility and even for those who just want to support the cause.

Our journey wasn’t easy, hell it still isn’t easy — that’s infertility for you — but when these two babies came into our lives the pieces of our broken hearts all fell back into place and life was so much sweeter.

Hopefully, Kate Knapton’s donor conception journey has helped to show that there are many avenues for donor conception and that there could be other options to consider, even when it feels like all hope might be lost.

Check out Jojii and Co if you would like to pick up some infertility jewellery. Use code FHH15 for 15% off.

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