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 myself…why wait if I want to have a child and become a Mum? I contacted a local fertility clinic (Nurture Fertility) for an initial appointment as I was clueless on the whole process and where to start.
After an appointment to check that I was able to conceive, I then attended a consultation to discuss my options and the process. Initially I’d thought I would use IUI but this soon changed after discussing the chances of it working, number of attempts etc. and so I was swayed more towards IVF. When given the cost of it all I was taken aback – I’d never considered how much donor sperm alone would cost, never mind anything else. I had to think about how I was going to be able do this – being as determined as I was, I wasn’t going to give up easily.
This is when I first learned about egg sharing. I’m totally embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know you could donate your eggs! I’d heard of sperm donation but never egg donation, I’m so pleased it’s something I found out about and looked into. As I was using a donor myself to help me have a baby I thought…why not help someone else at the same time by donating my eggs to someone who needs them? In the meantime, I had to choose a donor for myself so I began by logging onto the European sperm bank, searching through the profiles matching the characteristics I had inputted. I was soon drawn to one, I just knew it was the one for me and so I took the leap, ordering two “lots” of Swedish sperm ready to be delivered to the clinic.
I informed the clinic that I wanted to share my eggs and so then had to wait for a match to be found. This took from October until around May time when I got the call to say someone wanted my eggs. Suddenly it was all systems go and everything was back on track. I started my IVF stimulation drugs in the May, ahead of the planned egg collection and transfer in June. It was important for me to have a counselling session to discuss the implications of both donating my eggs and using a sperm donor, followed by signing paperwork confirming that I understood the law around donation and that, although it was anonymous now, the child could find out where they came from after they turn 18. I was comfortable with donating my eggs as I understood how it worked, my child would be the same position when they were older, should they want to find out who their sperm donor was.
To egg share they needed to collect seven or more eggs, any less then I would have to make the decision to keep them all or donate them. I decided that, in this scenario, I would donate them all and start again as soon as I could. Thankfully, eight eggs were collected and shared – half each. Two of my four eggs fertilised and created viable embryos. I have since discovered that the shared eggs were frozen and have not yet been used by the recipient. Five days later my embryo was transferred and two weeks after that I was delighted to read the word “pregnant” on the two tests I had taken. Unbelievably, it had worked – I was going to be a Mum and was about to embark on a crazy solo parenting journey.
After Evelyn was born I repeatedly saw adverts about egg donors being needed to help others to conceive, I knew I wanted to help and so I decided to do it again. I made contact with the clinic and was told to wait until my cycle was back up and running before starting again. When Evelyn was around 10 months old I made my first appointment to check everything was still ok… things had shifted around a little since carrying Evelyn but thankfully I was given the go-ahead to donate again.
A donor recipient was found quite quickly this time and so it wasn’t long before I was back on the stimulation drugs, gearing everything up ready for egg collection. I found it easy administering the drugs, even more so this time knowing that I was doing it to help someone (hopefully) become a parent. My eggs were collected in February this year and all went to the recipient ready to use. I felt so happy and proud to have done something so life-changing to help others. I plan to donate a couple more times in the future to help more families.
A lot of people have been curious and asked questions about egg donation. Some say they’re not sure how they would personally feel about it, but personally I think…if people donate organs and blood, why wouldn’t you donate eggs to help someone?! It feels like sperm donation is more widely known about, more-so than egg donation, which is why I wanted to speak out and share my story. I would really encourage anyone who is thinking about donating their eggs to get in touch with their local clinic, I’m even happy to be contacted myself to share my personal experience and answer any questions!
I am now 17 months into my solo parenting with Evelyn and, whilst it isn’t an easy ride juggling work, a house and a child, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am thankful to have a great support network around me. The majority of people have been lovely and positive but as always, there have been some people who are negative about the choices I’ve made. I featured in an article for a local newspaper and received some backlash, mainly from men opposed to me purposely depriving a child from having two parents, (mainly) a Dad, with the viewpoint that all children should have a Dad. In reality though, not everyone does…whether that be due to separation, parents passing away or same sex couples. But why does it matter? In my view it doesn’t, not one bit, because as long as a child is loved and cared for then it doesn’t matter if they are raised by a single person, two people, two women, two men…love is the most important thing.
I think it’s great to see these topics being spoken about more openly and I have benefitted in connecting with more people who are looking to, or have embarked on a journey to become a parent on their own. I am enjoying my time as a parent to Evelyn, but I do hope to meet someone in the future and not be on my own forever. Parenting and living alone can be quite lonely, I would love to have someone to share my evenings with!