Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘Not only did we form a very unexpected relationship with our donor, but we’ve also formed relationships with many of the other moms who have used him.’

Patchogue

“Our experience using a known donor has been very positive because he’s an amazing person and he’s made the whole process very stressless. There did come a lot of unexpected things with having a known donor, and using the donor that we used specifically, because after us he started helping start families for a lot of other women, which ended up giving our son almost a hundred siblings all over the world — a large, extended family of brothers and sisters, some of which he has relationships with now, and some he’ll hopefully meet and have relationships with, if he chooses, as he gets older.

“At first, we didn’t know if we were going to use a known donor. We didn’t know that was an option. And through researching it, we found a known donor is a possible option when trying to conceive a child the way that we were doing it. And we still weren’t sure, even knowing that, that we wanted to have a person involved in the life of our child. We didn’t know legally how it would work. But once we found our donor, that’s what really changed our mind.

…using a known donor, especially the one we chose who doesn’t charge money and does it out of the goodness of their heart, ends up being extremely less stressful and you can just focus on starting a family.

“Starting a family as a same-sex couple, or a couple who is straight and faces fertility problems, is a very costly expense, especially in the United States, where it’s often not covered by many insurances and you have to pay out of pocket for most of the expenses needed to attempt to conceive a child. So, we found for us, and for a lot of people we know, using a known donor, especially the one we chose who doesn’t charge money and does it out of the goodness of their heart, ends up being extremely less stressful and you can just focus on starting a family.

“I think one of the most interesting parts of this whole thing is that not only did we form a very unexpected relationship with our donor, but we’ve also formed relationships with many of the other moms who have used him, moms from all walks of life. There began to become so many, that we all formed a social media group where we’re able to add new moms as we find them. And we don’t know what’s going to come of it…maybe even start expanding to real-life meetings and family events. It’s really endless possibilities, and we’re very excited about the future.”

‘As the years went on, it just sunk in that this is something that could kill my son.’

Patchogue

“I found out when he was nine months old and my mother was watching him. I was working and she called me up and said, ‘I think you better come home.’ So, I come home and see his face, it’s blown up, welts all over it. I took him to an allergist, got him tested. And lo and behold, there was a larger-than-life peanut allergy on his little skin. And then my whole life just changed right there.

“As the years went on, it just sunk in that this is something that could kill my son. I remember going to a restaurant one time and he went by the case with all the cheesecakes and had a reaction just from smelling it. That’s how we discovered that he was airborne allergic.

“When I have to go onto a plane, it’s a whole big thing because not a lot of people understand the seriousness of it. And I have to ask the flight attendant to please make an announcement not to eat anything with peanuts because it’s recirculated air and there’s a chance he can inhale it and have a reaction. And if we’re all the way up in the air, the only thing that could save him is his auto-injector. Some people will be really great about it. I’ve had people sitting behind me who asked, ‘Is this, okay?’ and they would show me ingredients. And that’s an amazing feeling. Then you have the other side of it where people are like, ‘Why can’t I eat my peanuts?’ because they don’t understand. They think it’s a little itch. Peanut allergy is a whole different thing because it can actually kill you.

Any minute, one false move and it could be their life. Something simple as a food everybody else just eats and doesn’t have to worry about.

“There’s just such a lack of understanding of food allergies. I wish that there was more awareness out there. When I think about him going off to college and not having me there to kind of be his guide and protect him, I hope he’s ready.

I’ll have him make phone calls to restaurants now himself and ask the question, ‘What kind of oil do you cook in?’ and he does it. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to let him go. It’s so exhausting. And it’s so scary. Any minute, one false move and it could be their life. Something simple as a food everybody else just eats and doesn’t have to worry about. It’s like I see peanut — and I see poison.”