There are many differing and miraculous ways children are conceived. Alongside the “straightforward” path of IVF there are additional routes which can be explored when creating a much-longed for family. Sperm donors and gestational carriers are just two of the wonderful alternatives we now have, thanks to advances in medical science. There is also the option of using donated eggs.
Some women will know, prior to starting a family, that their only option of conceiving and carrying a child to term is with the help of an egg donor. This may be due to medical reasons such as early menopause or premature ovarian failure, treatments for cancer can impact egg quality too and, even though it galls me to acknowledge this, age can also be a determining factor and affect a woman’s ovarian reserve (the number and quality of eggs). For others it will come as a complete shock, or be suggested after experiencing the heartbreak of failed IVF cycles, when using own eggs.
Through my freelance work, I’ve come to understand a lot more about egg donation IVF. I’ve had the privilege of speaking to those in the midst of their treatment, mothers who have conceived with donor eggs and those who decided it simply wasn’t for them; in all situations bravely experiencing a life so different to the one previously imagined. As with any fertility treatment, I’ve learnt it’s not always an easy, or black and white decision to make. That whilst, for some, the use of donor eggs may provide a greater chance of conception, the thought of using them can feel intimidating and overwhelming, raising difficult questions and concepts. And how there can also be a mourning process of one’s own fertility, and all that brings with it.
For this post I’m using a piece sent to me by Heidi Hayes, in which Samantha shares her story and fertility journey using donated eggs.
Heidi herself is no stranger to infertility. These days she’s the Executive Vice President of Donor Egg Bank USA, a California Cryobank Company, and has gained more than 20 years of healthcare experience, working extensively in the field of reproductive endocrinology. However, having been unsuccessful at traditional IUI and IVF treatments herself, she understands the struggles of infertility on a personal level too. After many years of trying to conceive, she finally built her family through adoption and donor egg treatment; her ultimate goal of becoming a parent did, eventually, become a reality.
Samantha’s story: Why I used donor eggs to build my family
This is her – she’s the one.
When I first saw my egg donor, I knew I’d found her. She was like me (if a little younger), she was creative, and she was full of joy. She was everything I wanted for my baby – and more.
Rewind several years, though, and it would have been impossible to imagine myself feeling this way. The thought of facing this entire process as a single mother wasn’t on my radar – it wasn’t even an option.
While life often seems to have a cruel way of carving its own path out for you, even if it’s in the total opposite direction of where you thought you were heading, I’m a firm believer everything happens for a reason.
Yes, I’d always dreamed of family life. A gorgeous husband and a football team of kids, enjoying the blissful contentment of being surrounded by my family. But the universe had different plans for me – someone thought I’d be better off going on this journey on my own.
Realizing life wasn’t all I’d planned it to be
I’m not quite sure what age I was when I realized things weren’t panning out as I had planned. It was after I hit 30 and shortly before I reached 35. I just remember sitting there one day thinking how different I’d imagined life for myself when I was a naïve, happy-go-lucky gal who had the world at her feet.
I also started becoming acutely aware my biological clock was ticking. Having recently witnessed one of my best friends going through the hardest time trying to conceive with her husband, I knew I needed to find out the state of play with my own eggs – just in case Mr. Right was waiting around the corner, you know?
A couple of weeks later, I found myself sitting at home broken and alone.
Finding out my eggs just weren’t good enough
I didn’t expect my fertility doctor to be full of unwavering hope for my eggs, but I certainly didn’t expect him to be full of endless woe, either. Turns out I was premenopausal – yes, premenopausal in my mid-thirties.
My fertility clinic gave me two clear options – adoption or donor eggs (and sperm if I wanted to go it alone). Neither of which I felt gave me my baby – it gave me someone else’s created by complete strangers. What about my family line, my genes, and my heritage?
The next few months were a dark, dark time where even my closest family and friends couldn’t reach me. I felt let down by my body. I felt like a failure, and worst of all, I felt as though I’d lost my purpose in life.
Why hadn’t I frozen my eggs when I had the chance? Yes, hindsight’s a wonderful thing but it’s a cruel, heart-breaking reality, too.
Thankfully, my best friend, Kate (the one who’d also been through her own infertility struggle), lifted me out of my hole by recommending her counsellor to me.
Talking things through and working things out
As I started to talk about my hopes, fears, options, and hurdles, I started to gain focus on what was important. Was it so important to me to have a baby who shared my genes that I’d forego having any baby at all? Or was it more important for me to nurture, love, and raise a child?
And so, for me, there was that lightbulb moment – I knew I’d love any baby I held in my arms.
I also realized I wasn’t prepared to wait indefinitely to meet someone to share this journey with, fearing that if I put this weight on my shoulders, I’d end up settling with someone “just because.”
Now came the choice – adoption or donor egg. I found it wasn’t hard to choose between the two. Even though my body had failed me in being able to conceive naturally, I was confident it wouldn’t let me down when it came to carrying a baby.
Fast forward a few months and we’re back to choosing my beautiful, courageous, and utterly fabulous egg donor.
Not long after, I found my sperm donor, too. It’s crazy but with all this matching and character finding, I felt as though I was weaving and writing my own fairy tale in a way!
A daughter – All of my own
Two days before my 37th birthday I gave birth to my beautiful, blue-eyed baby girl – all 8.2lbs of her. As soon as I saw Myla, I fell in love, and I knew she was mine – irrevocably mine.
And do you want to know the funniest thing? It was the blue eyes of my donor that caught my attention at first and it’s those same blue eyes in Myla that make everyone say; “Doesn’t she look just like you!”
About the Author
Samantha is a freelance writer and mommy to one beautiful blue-eyed girl, Myla. She loves spending time with her family, reading great books, and drinking good wine.
She is passionate about supporting other couples trying to cope with infertility.