Chasing Motherhood

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Deciding to use an egg donor – the male perspective

Deciding to use an egg donor – the male perspective

I’ve been asked many times about how my husband, Matt, felt about the decision to use an egg donor and how he himself came around to the idea. Not being in a position to answer this myself and not wanting to speak on his behalf, I asked whether he would be happy to share his thoughts. Thankfully he agreed and I am delighted to share his first blog post written for DefiningMum, one that he has penned in response to…

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Event – DefiningMum presents…

Event – DefiningMum presents…

Donor Decisions and Beyond I am beyond excited to announce the reality of what has been my vision for the past year – a day dedicated to those needing to use a donor to build their family. On Saturday 2nd May, at a gorgeous venue in central London, I will be hosting my very first event! Saturday 2nd May – 9.30am-4.30pm Mary Ward House, Tavistock Place, London. WC1H 9SN. It will be an opportunity to come together for the day…

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Happy Together Children’s Book – Telling Mila about her conception

Happy Together Children’s Book – Telling Mila about her conception

Mila and I finally had the opportunity to read our new book Happy Together Childrens Book – a story about egg donation, kindly gifted to my girls. I actually started talking to her occasionally as a baby, holding her in my arms in the middle of the night. For me this was such an important time – it helped me to gain confidence and recognise my emotions, whilst it still being a one-way conversation. It helped me become more comfortable in…

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Unexpected questions

Unexpected questions

As you know, we’ll always be open with the girls about their conception – they’ll never know any different. It’s only now that Mila is three and a complete chatterbox, that we can actually talk about it in a two-way conversation. One of my favourite things to do is to have time for an uninterrupted chat with her – she just amazes me every day. I thought now was a good time to start weaving in some information about how…

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Conception Gratitude

Conception Gratitude

Jana Rupnow has, yet again, sparked realisation in me! This relates to Jana’s post on ‘Conception Gratitude’. It’s something I want to share and bring to life from the viewpoint of the parent. Jana explains that this is: “1. Forced feelings on a child for a choice they had nothing to do with that assuage a parents negative or unexplored feelings 2. A natural feeling that arises from a child trying to reconcile their complex conception story” Conception gratitude is…

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Defining Motherhood

Defining Motherhood

Recently I’ve been talking about how I came to make the decision to use donor eggs. I realised that the biggest step-change in my decision-making happened when I asked myself a simple question – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A MUM? That’s where the name ‘DefiningMum’ evolved from; it’s become the foundation behind everything I am trying to do – to show a positive reality of life as a donor egg IVF Mum, whilst trying to empower and support…

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Holding two places

Holding two places

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, especially since Jana Rupnow and I talked about it in a recent episode of Three Makes Baby podcast – click here to listen. It was another ‘lightbulb moment’ for me and a concept that really lessened some of the fears I’d previously had around the donor. I spoke about my feelings and how, at times (more-so in the past), the mention of the donor had sparked some deep-rooted feelings of…

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Love isn’t genetically programmed

Love isn’t genetically programmed

I’m sharing because I believe sometimes we can overthink this, particularly when it comes to fears around bonding before we have our children. Think about all of the people you love in your life that you aren’t genetically related to. Simply put, genetics are not a requirement for love. I truly believe that love is what makes and builds a family, cemented by the experiences that we share. Just this week I overheard two comments at nursery that would have previously…

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“Empathy comes from being empathised with”

“Empathy comes from being empathised with”

One of the most important skills I’ve always wanted my children to have is empathy. Above anything else I believe it is so important to have the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, without prompting, and take notice of how they might be feeling. It’s not something everyone has the natural instinct to do, but it’s a skill I like to think is a strength of mine – it’s something I’ve always wanted to pass on to my…

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Likeness to Daddy

Likeness to Daddy

This picture popped up on my memories today from 3 years ago. Mila at almost 6 months old (those chubby cheeks 🥰) and Matt at a similar age. They’re the same baby, right?! I still can’t believe how alike they were, and still are! Before using donor eggs, I did wonder whether it would bother me if they were to look just like Matt, like it might make me feel less connected in some way. Truthfully, I was uncertain about not…

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The significance of small-talk

The significance of small-talk

As I’ve been busy planning my DefiningMum event (announcement coming soon!) I’ve been thinking a lot about the different fears and challenges that we inevitably face as parents who don’t share genetics with our children. One of the worries that I often didn’t share out-loud (for fear of sounding ‘shallow’ or being misunderstood) was my anxiety around whether my child would bear any resemblance to me. I was lucky to bond with my pregnancies instantly, but it didn’t stop the…

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“Just like Mummy”

“Just like Mummy”

I plan to be very open with Mila, Eska and Lena about how they were conceived using an egg donor. We don’t share genetics but despite this, we are still very similar in so many ways – all because of epigenetics, nurture over nature and simply through sharing nearly every waking minute with one another. So, whilst being open might feel scary – almost like a bond is being broken with the truth – what you are actually doing is…

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Did she get her curls from the mum?

Did she get her curls from the mum?

“Did she get her curls from the Mum?” Ouch. This is one comment I’ve had in relation to donor conception that really hit a nerve. It’s actually been said twice, once to Matt from someone I’ve never met, & once to myself from someone close. I know it was simply a curious, innocent ‘slip of the tongue’, mistakenly using different terminology to us. In both cases they were quick to stop themselves & apologise. On the surface I just calmly…

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Society’s focus on family resemblances

Society’s focus on family resemblances

Society tends to focus on appearances when it comes to family. Naturally we are drawn to search for similarities, especially when it comes to babies. My husband thinks all babies look the same, but I used to pride myself on being able to easily pick out likenesses of both parents when meeting a newborn – I could always see an identifiable similarity. When we started TTC it filled me with excitement as I’d often wonder what our children would look…

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Facing fears relating to donor conception

Facing fears relating to donor conception

Many on Instagram have engaged with my posts about fears – thank you for confirming that I’m not alone! These fears are important to acknowledge & I believe talking about them can better equip us to recognise & support our children with similar feelings that actually might ‘mirror’ ours. Before we connected on Instagram, I remember listening to Jana Rupnow LPC talk about this with Natalie Silverman on ‘The Fertility Podcast‘ it was a lightbulb moment where it all made sense. I…

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Finding out we’d need to use a donor

Finding out we’d need to use a donor

I still remember exactly where I was, what the weather was like, even what I was wearing when I first heard the ‘D’ word. By ‘D’ word I mean ‘Donor’. It was so life-altering for me that the memory has stayed with me. There I was, still trying to process the need for medical assistance to have a baby (something that for most is so natural), when I then had to process the potential use of a third party, replacing…

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The Uncertainty of Infertility

The Uncertainty of Infertility

I recently saw heard someone say “infertility robs us of the long-term view”. Planning anything during fertility struggles becomes near on impossible – I remember I had so much of my life hung up on the loose possibility and desperate hope that I might soon be pregnant. From minor things to major life events – I’d find myself thinking… Best not buy that dress… in the hope that I might not get much wear out of it as I would soon…

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How to best support someone facing infertility

How to best support someone facing infertility

Not all journeys to motherhood are easy. It can be a long, difficult & traumatic path for as many as 1 in 6 couples, with not all struggles ending with a baby. It’s very likely that someone you know is facing infertility, but may be suffering in silence. From those that have been there, here are some useful tips for how you can best support someone… We don’t expect you to fix it for us, so please try to avoid…

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Getting pregnant isn’t a skill

Getting pregnant isn’t a skill

Getting pregnant isn’t a skill. It isn’t a talent that some people are better at than others. It’s simply the luck of the draw . YOU are not a failure. It is not your fault. It really is just the luck of the draw, meaning some of us have great difficulty in conceiving and may only be able to become parents with some help from science. Why is it that so many of us feel like we’ve failed when we…

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Guest Blog – Frances’ Story ‘Defining Mum’

Guest Blog – Frances’ Story ‘Defining Mum’

“To love and be loved by you is a privilege I am eternally grateful for and each and every time you wrap your arms around me and tell me so, you give me the only confirmation I will ever need that I am Mum.” Today I’m honoured to share an extract from a recent blog post written by Frances, a wonderful Mum I met recently as we both talked on BBC Radio 5 Live about our alternative routes to parenthood,…

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Guest Blog – Ally from HalfOfMe Podcast

Guest Blog – Ally from HalfOfMe Podcast

I’m Ally and I’m donor conceived. When I found this out in my late twenties, there were so few resources for people like me, so few voices that echoed my experience. This is why I now like to share my story – talking about donor conception lifts the shame off of something that has been shrouded in secrecy for decades. In the processing of my news, I often wondered what my parents went through. Since then I’ve sought out voices…

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Guest Blog – IVF@Work

Guest Blog – IVF@Work

The HFEA reports that 1 in 6 couple are affected by fertility issues. This isn’t a negligible figure by any stretch of the imagination. It affects everyone regardless of how much money you have, how popular and beautiful you are, which country you live in or what social circles you move in. It has no boundaries. I didn’t want to be one of these 1 in 6 statistics; nobody does. But I was; and so was my husband and like the…

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Breaking The Silence – Dealing With Fertility Struggles Whilst At Work

Breaking The Silence – Dealing With Fertility Struggles Whilst At Work

With the majority of those experiencing fertility struggles being actively employed, how is there so much silence about these issues within the workplace? I’m exploring what can be done to change this, drawing on my experiences from both sides of the fence… From an employee perspective, I struggled to cope with the all-consuming nature of treatment and the prospect of not fulfilling my lifelong dream to start a family. The endless disappointments and devastating loss hugely affected my mental health…

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Sophie’s Story

Sophie’s Story

As a midwife, I knew that birth and death walked alongside each other. Having seen first hand the babies that entered the world with a silence, still nothing could prepare me to say goodbye to my own babies. I had to give birth to two babies, knowing that there would be no chance for them to live. That they would be so premature that no amount of medical intervention could save them. I was giving birth to death.  This is…

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Ellie’s Story

Ellie’s Story

Our first baby was conceived after we had been trying almost 2 years and I had started clomid. The first cycle didn’t work but on cycle 2 I got a very early positive pregnancy test.  I had never so much as a sniff of a second line before. I was elated. I thought we had got away with it. 2 days later however I was crunched over in pain on the sofa. This wasn’t normal. I was scared. We rang…

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Jade & Will’s Story

Jade & Will’s Story

24th March 2018 “The Beast from the East”; the unseasonal spring snow. It fluttered to the pavement in thick flourishes, burying the daffodils and the freshly cut grass. It was almost March, the hint of Spring was supposed to be teetering on the breeze. Instead transport creaked to a stop and street lights wavered in the white fog. We held each other and looked out of the window in disbelief. I squeezed him tight as we looked down once more…

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Kelly & Lee’s Story

Kelly & Lee’s Story

In our seven years of trying to start our family, we’ve suffered three devastating losses. Each completely different, each utterly heartbreaking. After two and half years of trying naturally, pleading with the GP and finally having a years worth of invasive tests and operations, we fell pregnant – our only natural pregnancy. It was Thursday 9th July 2015, 2 weeks before our first IVF appointment. We were newly engaged and planning our wedding and that day, we were the luckiest…

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Vicky & Ric’s Story

Vicky & Ric’s Story

I met and then married my amazing husband, Ric on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond 5 years ago. I still remember his speech at the wedding and him mentioning hopefully us having a family one day. If only then we knew then how hard that was going to be. We started trying to conceive after our wedding and I guess given we were both in our mid-30’s age wasn’t on our side. After 6 months we visited our GP…

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Lisa & Ryan’s Story

Lisa & Ryan’s Story

Thinking back to when we saw that second pink line on our First Response test, I still feel butterflies. We just could not believe it and were just so over the moon. The evening before we tested, we had taken our beloved dog, Teddy, for a walk and I spotted a shooting star in the sky. It felt like that shooting star was a sign to us and when the test was positive we truly believed our miracle was making…

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Sarah & Jonathan’s Story

Sarah & Jonathan’s Story

My first experience of Baby Loss Awareness Week almost passed me by. It arrived a little over three months after the loss of my son, Harris, and I remember seeing one of our beautiful Edinburgh buildings lit up in pink and blue one night, but I didn’t know why.  Just a few days later, and while going through a second pregnancy loss, I noticed photos of candles appearing on social media. One after another, people lit them up and shared…

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Baby Loss Awareness Week

Baby Loss Awareness Week

‪Starting today and over the coming week, to mark #BabyLossAwarenessWeek, I’ll be sharing a guest blog each day, written by women honouring memories of their babies – sharing stories to create greater awareness & education about baby loss. ‬ I want to thank each and every one of these women for so bravely putting their darkest moments down on paper to help others, as Sarah Roberston says, “my story is one I still feel compelled to keep sharing if only to let…

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Baby Loss Awareness Week – My Story

Baby Loss Awareness Week – My Story

Many of you will be aware that October is Baby Loss Awareness Month, something very close to my heart. Quite simply put – miscarriage needs to be spoken about, awareness needs to be raised and people need to realise that they’re not on their own. I had no idea until it happened to me just how common it was. When I started my DefiningMum blog I intended to write my whole story, chapter by chapter. I had it all mapped…

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Rachel’s Story-Single Mother & Egg Donor

Rachel’s Story-Single Mother & Egg Donor

When I was in my late teens, I had always said to my Mum that if I am single when I hit 40 I was going to have a baby on my own using a sperm donor. I knew nothing about how it worked or the ins and outs at that stage, but it was something I was always considering.  Fast forward a few years, aged 26 and single (again!) I started to think about this more and thought to…

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Guest Blog – How to Help Your Kids Cope with Unexpected Questions from Classmates – Jana Rupnow

Guest Blog – How to Help Your Kids Cope with Unexpected Questions from Classmates – Jana Rupnow

I am honoured to be sharing a guest blog post, written for @DefiningMum by the amazing @JanaRupnowLPC, a licensed professional counsellor specialising in fertility and family building. In the timely theme of “back-to-school”, Jana provides some advice for supporting our children to cope with unexpected questions that may innocently arise in the school environment. It’s an important stage of development for our children, a stage where we aren’t able to physically be by their side, to protect them and answer…

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#CryingShame – Fertility Network UK Campaign

#CryingShame – Fertility Network UK Campaign

It’s a #CryingShame that those experiencing infertility often feel they need to hide their pain and ‘put on a brave face’ due to a lack of awareness and support.  Many of us have come across people (usually someone lucky enough not to have experienced infertility) showing a complete lack of understanding and empathy. They’re unable to recognise the magnitude of what you are feeling because it isn’t visible or tangible. It made me feel as though my feelings were an…

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Eloise’s Story – Sperm donation

Eloise’s Story – Sperm donation

My husband and I had been married for 3 years before we started trying for a baby.  We both always wanted children and used to talk in depth about what they’d be called and what they’d be like. The excitement was electric. We almost wanted to wait to start, not just because of our careers, but so that we had something to look forward to.  Circa May 2015 we thought: right, now is the time to get going! Feelings of…

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IVF is NOT simply a choice

IVF is NOT simply a choice

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet recently, ever since reading some highly insensitive, misinformed comments. The first in response to a fellow blogger’s IVF update post, followed by some ignorant comments in response to a celebrity couple announcing the start of their IVF journey. Reading them left me speechless, but have now inspired this post which (as it’s mostly a lack of understanding that can cause hurtful comments) will hopefully educate a few people along the way!  Some say…

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Do I Regret Not Trying Again With My Own Eggs?

Do I Regret Not Trying Again With My Own Eggs?

Regret – Feeling sad, repentant or disappointed over something one has done or failed to do. I’m asked often if I regret not trying again with my own eggs.  I can honestly say that I don’t feel one ounce of sadness, repentance or disappointment about choosing to use donor eggs to have my family. I’ve never regretted not having one last roll of the dice with my eggs. How could I feel anything but happiness when I have our three beautiful…

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Infertility Grief IS real

Infertility Grief IS real

Infertility grief IS real. It wasn’t until I listened to @janarupnowlpc that I truly acknowledged this – it validated everything I’d felt. Many of us have come across someone (usually someone lucky enough not to have experienced infertility) who shows a complete lack of understanding and empathy. They’re unable to recognise the magnitude of what you are feeling because the loss isn’t visible & tangible. It made me feel as though my feelings were an over-reaction, that I wasn’t normal for…

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Redefining my vision of a Mum…

Redefining my vision of a Mum…

It wasn’t a simple choice based on odds alone, it was a complex emotional decision that took time. I realise now that one blocker for me was worrying about what others might think – the main worry being “would people think I wasn’t the ‘real’ Mum?” This stemmed from my deeply engrained societal view that creating a family was solely down to shared genetics. Based on my life experiences and limited exposure I’d been programmed to believe that this idyllic…

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Sarah’s Story – Telling the Child

Sarah’s Story – Telling the Child

I’m Sarah, a 46 year old mum to a 6 year old son, conceived in northern Cyprus by anonymous egg donation. When my husband and I initially embarked on the donor conception part of our journey, we were adamant that we would not tell our child how he had been conceived.  However, as soon as I got pregnant and the dream of having a child became a reality, my thoughts began to change.  We’d told my parents, my brother and my…

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The Personal Impact of Fertility in the Workplace – My Story

The Personal Impact of Fertility in the Workplace – My Story

Dealing with fertility struggles whilst trying to maintain a career is one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. As a HR professional, I can honestly say that I would have struggled to truly comprehend the effect that facing infertility could have on an individual’s time and emotions before going through it myself. I know I wouldn’t have been alone in this lack of understanding. Until it happened to me, I never considered how it could totally change my…

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