November 2007: This very moving post from the Fertility Friends web forum is reprinted here with the permission of the writer. A small amount of editing has taken place to explain some terminology and anonymise the name of the writer’s child.
My egg donor experience (pregnancy; miscarriage and success mentioned)
I’ve been meaning to write something about my experience for a while – so here goes. When I was going for treatment, I found that the one thing I wanted to know more about was the emotional side of donor treatment – I found excellent medical advice, but searched for experiences of those who had had donor treatment and children who were donor conceived. I am hoping that this will be a (positive) account for all new parents, those on the road and perhaps be of some help. It is a personal experience, just my thoughts, and not necessarily anyone else’s experience.
Well, as most of you know (I seem to be a prolific poster) I managed to fall pregnant easily but miscarried each of the three pregnancies I had. I decided after the third miscarriage that I couldn’t go through this again and that perhaps using a donor would give us the success we were dreaming of. (Despite a consultant wanting me to try again with PGD/IVF my own eggs, I looked at the success rates and couldn’t face odds that low). I was already on FF so had peeked at these threads and had a heads up start on what to do, where to go. Strangely enough it wasn’t a long road for us to make this decision, and my husband, after I mentioned it to him, (casually like you do one night over dinner) said yes, why not, and so our journey began.
At the time prior to my first planned DEIVF I thought I was pregnant. I felt a strange panic and thought, okay so I’ll miscarry in 6 weeks, and have to wait 3 months before I can go to Ceram (ed. A clinic in Spain), I felt strangely defeated. Well I wasn’t pregnant, just a cycle gone haywire, but it confirmed to me in a weird way how ready I was for DE!
After the first DE at Ceram I have to confess to feeling strange. I had never had IVF and it occurred to me that I had used another woman’s eggs etc. I remember clearly thinking to myself, if this doesn’t work, that’s it, and we’ve tried our best. Our first result was a resounding negative. The experience of that negative was not like a miscarriage (to me). Miscarriage was painful and left me in a pain that I had not experienced before, and still find hard to speak of. Yet a BFN (ed. negative pregnancy test) held its own unique pain, that of emptiness and loss, and although a different experience neither was easy and in a way a BFN is harder to explain to anyone and therefore even more isolating. I remember so well our negative, it was my husbands 40th, I had so hoped that our dream would come true and we would celebrate his birthday with a pregnancy. The two of us went to a play, a rather intense one, and I felt the pains of a period on its way. The two of us, sitting in a bar, London at our feet, both so sad, drinking champagne and not having to speak as we both knew and tried to digest a loss that was hard to describe. After the negative, my thoughts of one attempt only, went out the window! I suddenly thought, why am I putting a boundary on the amount of times, why do I have to succeed at first – and the thought of being childless, without trying. haunted me. (Not of being childless, I knew we would be okay with that, but of not trying seemed harder to bear). So I came up with a plan, and went for my second treatment 6 months later. In between this I continued with acupuncture, but lived normally, ate what I liked, partook of wine, and found this liberating to not be in treatment mode, not trying to fall pregnant, just knowing we had a plan. I also went for a treatment (kinesiology) with a woman in Geneva to help me unlock the pain of miscarriage – I believed I was holding on to the fear of miscarriage, and that I needed to re-lease it before I could carry a child. It was a difficult experience, bringing up a lot of emotion for me, but I did feel that I had unblocked from a cell memory, my experience of miscarriage.
Well our second round at Ceram brought up two perfect embryos. This time my DH (ed.darling husband) couldn’t be there, and I went in by myself. I sat on the beach before the treatment, taking in the sunshine and pleading with whomever above, and whatever child spirit was out there, that this was the time, and to please come. I made a promise (I intend to keep) that if a child chose us as their parents, I would do my best to give them the happiest most joyful time. Well we were lucky; who knows why, at times I still think it’s a numbers game. But now when I look at our daughter, I think perhaps we just had to wait for her.
Pregnancy hadn’t prepared me for the emotions I felt. (Please remember as you read this, this is just my personal experience) I suddenly felt that I was pregnant with a “donor” child, and every day of my pregnancy I seemed to think about this, had we done the right thing, had we thought it through properly. (this in relation to how a child would feel knowing they were donor conceived) But as my belly grew, so did my intimate relationship with my child start. She kicked and hiccupped her way into my heart, and became a part of me, and I knew that I had to resolve these feelings as a child was on its way, not needing any of my hang-ups. At no point did I not want the pregnancy; I just hadn’t expected the mixed emotions. I am eternally grateful to some abroadies (ed. others on an FF thread) who had already had a baby, who seemed to read between the lines, and emailed me and spoke to me about this, confirming that they too have felt this way.
My DH and I have always said we will tell the child, and were not too worried about our donor’s characteristics. Strangely enough we have a child who looks like an exact mix of the two of us, with the biggest blue eyes ever (eye colour was not important to us even though I have very blue eyes!) I guess I should say here, that the one thing about having a baby is that people always remark on how they look and try to pinpoint it to one of you. You need to grow a skin around this, and my DH and I are playful around these questions. We realize that they just seem to form the conversation around new babies. However, if you are not going to tell anyone then I would think carefully around donor characteristics. There are many people we have yet to tell, due to distance and circumstance, and many of my closest friends who have yet to be told tell me what an amazing mix my daughter is of my DH and I. Already her little personality is in sync with ours, who knows how, but obviously there is more at play than just genes in donor treatments
The next emotion that I wasn’t prepared for was after my daughter was born. It was the third night, we were home from the hospital and I looked at her. She was perfect and the most beautiful thing I had ever looked at. I burst out crying, saddened that my genes had nothing to do with her perfection. I so longed at that moment (and just for that time) that we didn’t have to contend with the donor issue. I’ll never forget what my DH said to me - looked at me, held me and said - our wonderful baby and I will help you, and You and I will help our gorgeous daughter, we are all together, we are all one.
Now, my beautiful daughter turns 6 months tomorrow. She is a delight. A magical child who is more than I ever imagined. If I could have a child of my own genes or her, I would choose her. She is my child; she is of my heart, of my mind and of my spirit. I want nothing more.
There were doubts for me along the road, and times that I wondered what I was doing. However I now know I can face it all as I have love in my heart and that she will see and know this. Those we have told have responded with kindness and love and told us that we are brave and awesome. The donor issue has faded into the background, although we will raise it when we feel our daughter is ready to comprehend more what we are saying.
So for those of you that are still on this road, I understand how hard it is, but if you can hold out it is worth it – it is worth just trying to know that you did what you could and no-one can ever take that away from any of us on this thread. We have all gone beyond ourselves to try and bring to fruition our dreams.