I’m not sure if I differ from any other donor egg recipient mums. The wrong side of 35 (I put my career first) my husband and I started trying for a baby and assumed we’d get pregnant naturally. Well… we did after a few weeks but unfortunately, we suffered our first loss at eight weeks.
After eight years of trying again (and again!) unsuccessfully to get pregnant, we went to our GP then waited a year to be referred to an NHS fertility clinic.
Having been put through one too many invasive tests (you know the ones!) we were told our infertility was “unexplained”. What? After all the prodding and poking, we still had no answers and no solution to becoming parents? What next? Give up?
The specialists told us they couldn’t help as I was too old (and overweight for the Scottish IVF rules) and there were no options open to us. We didn’t want to go down the IVF route but that’s when it was *our* decision.
We decided to go private instead. After more tests, we met the consultant who told us we had a 23% chance of IVF working with my eggs. I was really disappointed with the results but my age was a major factor, I was 42 at that point. He gave us the choice of going on the egg donor waiting list, as our success rate would be higher – 50/70%. We decided there and then to choose the donor route, as we saw the chance of becoming parents slipping away from us. We also figured it would cost a lot of money and emotional stress to keep trying with my eggs with only a small chance of it working and couldn’t go through it time and time again. I suppose we’ll never know if it would have worked using my eggs and it’s best not to wonder.
As we made the decision really quickly we hadn’t done much research on donor conception, anonymous/anonymous identifiable or the complexities.
After six long months, we finally reached the top of the recipient list. Then things moved really quickly! One counselling session later, it was time to make decisions.
My main objective was to choose a lookalike donor to me (to avoid questions). Well, as much as I could! I felt this would help me to feel an even greater connection to the baby. We bought six eggs from one donor as we figured it was better to get more, as it gave us a bigger chance of the eggs surviving the thawing process, thinking we could keep some in reserve.
Days later, I found myself sitting in the waiting room while Rob was “making his deposit” I witnessed the metal box arriving that stored our eggs. Our clinic has an on site storage facility. It was amazing to see but surreal. I was quite emotional, as our hopes and dreams were caught up in this small metal box!
After a very hard few days, and more waiting! I worried about how many eggs would defrost. Would they be viable? Get to blastocyst stage? All words I never knew about a year ago! I even broke down at work in front of our chief executive – very unprofessional, but he was amazing!
Then… transfer day arrived. We got the news that two embryos had reached day five blastocysts. I worried about transferring two and having twins but decided to transfer both. Rob and I had a bit of a laugh afterwards, as it turns out he was looking at my bladder during the transfer not my womb. So, missed the whole thing by a few inches!
A week later, getting the positive pregnant result was the “easy” part. Believe me, I use this term very loosely! I had eight weeks of spotting and worrying that I’d miscarried (again), so I paid for lots of private ultrasounds just to check the baby was still there. I had so much anxiety throughout my whole pregnancy… then after 38 weeks, three days of labour and a traumatic birth, we welcomed the most beautiful baby boy into the world, Milo. What a rollercoaster!
After an hour, we were separated from “our little miracle”, as he had to go to the special baby unit for breathing issues. This really didn’t help my anxiety or bonding issues, as I’d struggled throughout my pregnancy with the fact that I may not bond with the baby or that I wouldn’t feel like the baby’s “real mum’.
Rob (and my close friends) said that of course I was Milo’s real mum, but it’s hard. Rob said – and still says when I’m having a tough day – that I carried Milo for nine months, felt him kick and that surely as biologically I must have influenced his development as he grew inside me.
Fast forward to a year and a half later and we have the most energetic, amazing toddler who I love more than life itself. And I honestly didn’t think I’d ever feel like this or this strong a connection.
Milo’s currently going through a “no mumma” stage and preferring his dad over me, which I’ve found really hard. But everyone I know with a toddler is experiencing the same thing. I just need to remember it’s not because I’m a donor mum – Milo’s just an independent and headstrong toddler!
Reflecting on my journey, I can’t pinpoint the exact day/time I bonded with Milo. Something just clicked for me. I have the strongest feeling that he’s mine, words can’t describe how much I love him, and I always will. Maybe it was one of the 2am feeds watching re-runs of Grand Designs, or just the way he looks at me or calls me “Mumma” It just melts my heart and I’m so proud. I know using a donor was absolutely the right decision for us.
I’m so grateful to the woman who carried out the most selfless act of donating her eggs so we could become parents. We used an anonymous identifiable donor, and I’d be lying to myself, and you, if I didn’t say I worry she’ll turn up one day. I know that Milo may want to meet her and I worry that he may reject me – I hope this isn’t the case.
I suppose it’s down to Rob and I about how we tell Milo about how he was conceived. I won’t hide the truth from him, he needs to know about his genetic background, as I don’t think it’s fair to keep it from him. I hope Milo reads this one day and knows we could never have imagined our lives without him and that we love him so much. We were given a pen portrait of our donor which explains who she is and why she became a donor. I’ve kept a copy to share with Milo when he’s old enough.
I’d also be lying if I said I don’t have major anxieties about when we need to open Pandora’s Box and tell Milo. No one truly understands how I feel unless they’ve chosen the same path to becoming a mum. I’ve read so many articles on the best age and how to tell – any tips gratefully received!
Part of me does really worry about what other people think and about being gossiped about. I suppose this is just human nature but I’m proud of the path we chose. Hence why I’m sharing my story.
Even writing this blog… it’s so personal to Rob, Milo and I… but I hope I can help you if you’re swithering about what to do. I don’t think using a donor is widely recognised in the UK or that most people truly understand it. But the more we talk about it, the more accepted it will become.
In my experience, there’s no after-care or support from fertility clinics and that’s why I’ve found the DefiningMum blog so helpful and supportive as I know there are others like me out there. It would be good to meet others who have chosen the same path to motherhood/parenthood.
In the end…
There are so many ways people become parents these days. Some of my good friends aren’t “traditional” parents. I’m thankful we made the decision to use a donor to give us a chance to become parents. The most important thing is seeing our beautiful boy develop and grow every day is just the best present anyone could have given us.
I hope you’ve found our journey helpful.