After our failed cycle it became inevitable that I would have to seriously consider egg donation. In fact the prospect of double donation was put to us after both of our last cycles but my husband was finding it hard to accept. It seemed more pressing to start with egg donation in view of my age. I had been reading and thinking about this option for some time so it wasn’t a huge surprise. There were of course moments of grieving that I would never have my own genetic child who could be the ‘image’ of me. There was also the resentment at the fact that having already lost my own mother, I could apparently not have a child from the same genetic lineage. There is no reason for this. My own infertility has always seemed to come under the category of ‘unexplained’. Now being the ripe old age of 42, age plays a more significant part. The only issue I have been diagnosed with is antithyroid antibodies and I take a thyroid medication daily. It is still a process but I have come around to acceptance of the idea of donor eggs and indeed double donation if it comes to it. Reading about epigenetics and how the carrying mother influences the switching on of genes in the developing embryo and foetus helps greatly. The carrying mother creates the placenta which nourishes the baby. I know somehow that if my baby was placed in my arms after this struggle, I don’t think I would be overly concerned at the provenance of the eggs. Having said that, I do have that fear that maybe I won’t bond in the same way with the baby or that I will resent him/her for all the suffering and hardship we have been though. I also worry sometimes that as the donor conceived child gets older and will wonder about the egg donor, that they will resent the fact that I have no information to share and that the anonymous donor can never be found. I pray that they won’t hate me for it.
There is the whole argument of telling and not telling in the case of anonymous donors. Some say what good will it do? I fear though that it would come out at some stage so I think I may be inclined to be honest with the child from an early age rather than have it potentially sprung at them at an older and perhaps more delicate age. I guess there is no right or wrong as such with this and it is for every parent to decide what they feel is best for their circumstances. There are support groups that I link in with and they have useful information too and plan further activities in the future for donor receiving families in much the same way as adoption support groups do for those families. I suppose a happy balance of creating normality for donor conceived children as well as an outlet for them to meet others like them is what is sought here. It strikes me that in 18 years time as today’s donor-conceived babies reach maturity, the whole concept may have become quite commonplace in a more open way than is perhaps the case now.
However, despite my worries, having spoken to or otherwise been in contact with several donor mothers, not one of them has regretted it and all of them love their children. Some did confess to having a ‘moment’ every now and then, but I can imagine that is natural. I had a ‘moment’ myself recently while watching ‘Who do you think you are?’ a genealogy TV programme that traces the family trees of celebrities and others. Having to use donor eggs is not what you dream of but how amazing that the option exists and that the world has generous altruistic women who are prepared to donate to give others a chance at having a baby when otherwise they cannot.
I decided to get more information on donor programmes so emailed about 9 foreign clinics in Spain, Greece and the Czech Republic. All of them got back to me and it was a little overwhelming having all the information and wondering which was best, even though I knew we would probably try again with our current Prague clinic. I asked one clinic about the sperm FISH test and they said that an abnormal reading would probably only affect 10% of the sperm and that it was possible to have a child with such a result. Another clinic commented that they had seen worse results than my husband’s 0.49% diploidy result in successful pregnancy. Maybe a young strong healthy egg can compensate for less than perfect sperm. I sure hope so. At the moment I am relying on this.
I had my phone review with the Prague clinic and unsurprisingly I was recommended to proceed with donor eggs but they suggested I could still use my husband’s sperm. It is possible to freeze more than one batch of it and send over thus avoiding him having to travel over or to have backup in case the fresh sample if provided was insufficient. The clinic emailed consent forms and a donor selection form which asked for basic information about us- height, weight, eye colour, hair colour, skin colour. It felt a little strange reading it.
A few days later we had a review consultation in the local satellite clinic. I brought my paperwork and the specialist had a look and commented on some of the clinics listed as well as my current clinic. We had a frank discussion about what to do next, if anything. I said that I was finished trying with my own eggs and wanted to move onto donor eggs. However, it became clear that my husband was definitely not ready yet to move on to donor sperm. In the end the specialist agreed that a reasonable course of action would be to try donor egg only as although my husband’s sperm count is poor, his other parameters are reasonably good and we have always got decent fertilisation and blastocysts. The local clinic advised of a new programme they have with the Prague clinic which allows sperm to be frozen and sent over, embryos to be created in Prague and those shipped over for transfer in the local clinic, avoiding the need for any travel at all. The freezing process is vitrification which is very safe for the embryos (indeed my only brief pregnancy was from an embryo that had been vitrified). More than one sperm sample could be frozen. This approach appealed to my husband who can find it very difficult and stressful to get time off work at short notice. It is a little more expensive but then the package included more preliminary scans and tests that were charged separately before. It would also avoid the panic of booking flights and accommodation last minute. We considered going for this option initially though I sought further information before making a decision. The success rate is the same as for donor egg cycles generally. However, on looking into it further we opted to freeze the sperm and travel to Prague for transfer as the local clinic are only in the early stages of running this particular programme and I feel that I am too far down this road to be a guinea pig for it right now.
We decided to defer cycling until around August and the clinic agreed that this was best. Now that I have switched to donor eggs, the time pressure is not as great. For now the focus is on seriously healthy living and getting fitter and healthier, losing a few pounds along the way. I have to focus now on uterine health rather than egg health. I changed acupuncturist for a fresh approach and also found a reflexologist and healer who works with fertility patients. The biggest threat to me now is my overwrought, overactive and over anxious mind. These therapies along with my yoga, walks, mindfulness and other meditations will be my arsenal to keep the waves of anxiety at bay. It’s easier said than done though. I have a lovingly created vision board of babies, families and children to try and focus me. I read ‘The Secret’ and am trying to tell the universe that this is what I really desire.
I am mid cycle now and close to transfer. It hasn’t been smooth sailing and I am anxious and scared while trying to be hopeful. I will document the cycle in another blog post.
I really hope that we might get somewhere this time. I am surrounded by pregnant people including long standing IVF people and I am feeling very left behind even though I am completely happy for them. I just want to get there so badly it hurts! It REALLY hurts!