Chasing Motherhood, Defining Mum

How did I know when it was time to use a donor?

This is probably the most common question I get asked and definitely the most difficult to answer! It’s a complex decision…everyone has their own individual thoughts, experiences, diagnosis, hormone levels and funds available to keep trying with their own eggs.

I remember wishing that one of my Doctors would just take it out of our hands and make the decision for us, it can be so hard to know when to stop and abandon the dream you have always had – a genetic child. If you’re experiencing this scary, potentially life-changing decision now, I can truly empathise with you – it can feel like such a leap into the unknown. The acceptance that we were going to need IVF to conceive was hard, but the move from own eggs to donor eggs was so much more significant. For me it took just under 18 months from diagnosis, after 5 failed IVF cycles and a miscarriage we decided to take a step in a different direction to reach our end goal. Although it’s impossible to give a definitive answer, what I can talk about is my personal experience in making this momentous decision.

Being honest, I believe that becoming pregnant with my own eggs on ‘IVF cycle one’ was a huge factor in extending the length of time that we tried with our own eggs. Whilst I felt the loss so deeply, what it had given me was faith and hope that, because it had happened once, it could easily happen again. We’d also retrieved five eggs from my first cycle, three of which were mature – more than we ever thought possible with my miniscule AMH of just 0.7. It was during the following four cycles where our hope dwindled. Negative results and consistent failure of our embryos from day two to three showed that quantity wasn’t our only problem, my egg quality didn’t appear to be great either. Each cycle I fell deeper into despair but, I always had at the back of my mind, “I can still be a Mum using donor eggs”. Even though I wasn’t ready for it yet, I think it was this option that kept me from falling apart completely.

There definitely wasn’t a lightbulb moment of clarity and realisation. We both yo-yo’d back and forth numerous times, with what felt like a decision based on so many unknowns and ‘what ifs’. In fact, after making the decision to take a step towards Donor Eggs and have a consultation in Prague, I was actually in my two week wait following a surprise opportunity with my own eggs just a few weeks prior to travel. With my FSH uncharacteristically low, we decided to roll the dice again with a natural IVF cycle. With help from no stimulation drugs whatsoever I produced TWO eggs and two day 2 embryos for transfer – it was all so improbable and had me believing that this really was meant to be. I almost cancelled our appointment in Prague but we figured “what have we got to lose?” by finding out more.

Although the failure of this ‘bonus’ cycle was devastating, unexpectedly I felt some comfort in knowing that we had a plan in motion and all wasn’t lost.  So, what were the factors that led us to start changing direction and move towards donor eggs? The two blog posts that will follow will talk more about what I believed were our big turning points, I hope that in some way it might resonate with you and provide some comfort as you make your own momentous decision…

The first turning point was starting to recognise that the odds were stacked against us – click here to read more…

Finally, I had to define what it meant to me to be a Mum – click here to read more…

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