Caroline’s story – Using donor eggs

II was thirty-four when we got married, and we started trying for a baby right away.  I knew it might take longer because I was in my mid-thirties, but I also know time was going to be important as I was getting close to the point where your fertility drops off.  After about nine months, we went to the doctor and he told us to keep trying for a while so it was probably 18 months before we started having tests at our local hospital.

Nothing showed up at first, and the doctor gave me Clomid which he said might help. I wasn’t feeling great around that time – I’d had headaches and felt very tired, but I thought it was related to the Clomid.  Eventually we pushed for a referral to a specialist fertility unit. By then I was thirty-seven, and the first thing they did was some more blood tests for me.  At that point, they told me they thought I was menopausal. All my symptoms suddenly made sense, but I just couldn’t believe no one had noticed what was happening to me before. I was devastated, but assumed I could have IVF and that would help so I was really shocked when they told me that I’d need to use donor eggs to have any hope of IVF working.

I think I was in a state of shock for a while after that. We gave it a lot of thought, and had counselling which really helped us get through it.  Then finally, we put ourselves on the waiting list at another clinic where they had more donors.  We still had to wait longer than we’d hoped and I got to the point where I was ringing the clinic every other day to check on progress – I think I must have driven them mad.  We did think about going abroad, but after doing the counselling I’d realised it mattered to me for our child to be able to find out something about the donor later in life – my mum had been adopted when she was little, and didn’t ever know anything about her biological family and I know she’d struggled with that sometimes

I’d just had my thirty-ninth birthday when we finally got a donor. It was a magic moment, finding out that we’d been matched with someone and everything seemed to run so smoothly after that. We got six eggs from the donor, and three fertilised. The clinic put one embryo back, and we had the long wait. I remember that morning, going into hospital to do the blood test. We were going to get the results later in the day, so I took the day off work because I couldn’t face finding out in front of other people.  I’d been tempted to do a test at home, but my partner said it would be better to get a definite result from the hospital but that day seemed to last about five years!  And then the phone call came, and it was positive, and I elated.  I think I cried when the nurse told me, and then I rang my partner who was in a business meeeting but he just told them he had to leave right away for personal reasons and came home!  I’m sure they thought something really bad had happened not something really good.

I was anxious during the pregnancy, and worried about bonding with the baby, but as time went on I felt closer and closer to her. You can’t go through nine months of pregnancy carrying a child and not feel that way. I thought about the donor a lot too – we know very little about her and I sometimes wondered if I had walked past her in the street or stood next to her in a shopping queue and not known who she was. The pregnancy went very smoothly really, and even the birth wasn’t so bad. When I saw Grace, I  just loved her right away and was filled with such joy that she was ours and she was here.

For the first few months, at home by myself, when things were hard and I wasn’t getting much sleep and wasn’t ever sure if I was doing things the right way, I did sometimes worry that it was because we’d used a donor – and I wondered whether it would have been different, easier,  if I’d been able to use my own eggs. I went back to see the counsellor we’d seen when we were thinking about donor treatment and it was really helpful. I realised my worries were more new parent worries than new parent with a donor-conceived baby worries!

Now as Grace gets bigger every day I can’t imagine things being any other way. She was meant to be our baby, we were meant to be her parents and we’re a very close family unit. We still have some frozen embryos and as I’m not getting any younger, we’re thinking about trying for a sibling soon.


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