After struggling to conceive for a year, I went for a basic fertility check, expecting to be given a bit of medicine to help things along. It was then that I received the very unexpected and heartbreaking news that I was going through early menopause (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency). Our whole world fell apart. My partner and I had always imagined our future focused on building our own family.
We pursued regular IVF, desperate to try and extract a viable egg from me, though soon realized that was going to be impossible. My partner and I then spent several years struggling over whether or not to use an egg donor, which was the only route open to us as I wanted to carry our baby and use my husband's sperm. But we also worried about the origins of the donor egg, the ethical dilemma over whether our future child would have wanted to be conceived this way, whether we would feel a bond with the baby, how and where we should begin our search for an egg, hearing about options overseas and the UK, and whether we should enable a route for the child to find the donor, and how this would impact the child and our lives in the years to come.
The journey felt overwhelming and put a huge amount of stress on us as a couple. At times, I wasn’t sure we would make it through together. I felt an all-consuming desire to become a mother while my husband really struggled with the idea of using a donor. We were also mourning the loss of the parenthood we had imagined and tortured ourselves in a no man’s land of indecision about what to do next.
The team provided us with gentle guiding support throughout the process. They allowed us to take things at our own pace and met us several times to talk things through.
We feel immeasurably grateful to have found London Egg Bank and to have had our treatment through London Women’s Clinic. Given the world of fertility can be very commercial, expensive, and bewildering, we felt nothing but a gentle guiding hand of support throughout. The team allowed us to take things at our own pace, met us to talk things through on many occasions, and helped us find the most incredible donor. We truly feel like we could not have imagined a better match. We were pretty broken, at our lowest ebb, but the kind, professional support, and compassion that the team showed us gave us the strength to carry on.
Everyone from the London Egg Bank matching team to the receptionists, nurses, consultants, and embryologists went out of their way to support us and guide us through this stressful journey. Two years after we decided to go ahead with treatment using donor eggs, we are the proud and adoring parents of two wonderful, healthy boys, born 22 months apart.
My husband and I couldn’t love them more – and felt a huge bond throughout the pregnancy, birth, and beyond. It is a cliché, but we often forget about the pain we have gone through and even the fact we used a donor – our bond couldn’t be closer. While they feel “ours,” we also are so very mindful, grateful, and humbled by the role the extraordinary donor played in helping to build our family. The personal, mental, and physical undertaking they put themselves through, in the service of other people’s happiness, and their role in transforming other people’s lives, is extraordinary.
I feel our fertility struggle has made the joy and gratitude for our family all the greater. We thank our lucky stars every day. I don’t know if it is going too far to say I am almost glad we went through this journey because we feel so blessed by what we have now.
We plan to be open with our sons about how they were conceived. I used to worry about whether they would feel like the “odd ones out” or resent me for not being able to have created them using my own eggs. But I now have so many friends who have conceived through surrogates, egg, or sperm donors, that I hope they will feel all the more special for the commitment we, and our donor, put into creating them! And that also they are not unusual at all, and so many people have their own different stories and journeys.
I wanted to share our story because I feel we suffered much more than we needed to. The shock, sadness, and stress of being unable to conceive felt overwhelming and we didn’t know where to turn. All my friends were having babies, and no one, not even the closest family, understood what we were going through. We worried so much about using donor eggs but feel we made life harder on ourselves than it needed to be.
Although I am glad that we made serious time to think about our decision, I would urge those struggling with the dilemma not to torture themselves. Get advice from counsellors, learn more about the process and whether it is right for you, and be confident in the rigorous checks London Egg Bank put in place. But ultimately know the worry soon fades when the reality of your healthy child is in your arms, and you can put all that emotional energy into being the best parents you can try to be.