Following fertility tests, the doctor at the fertility clinic gave us a 5% chance of conception using my own eggs and a 50-60% chance with donor eggs. Because I was 44 at the time (45 when I gave birth), we felt that we didn't have the time or money to try with my own eggs a few times first. In a way, that made our decision easier. We did lots of research into using donor eggs, and in particular found the Donor Conception Network (DCN) very useful.
It took us some time to choose our egg donor. We started narrowing down based on physical and other characteristics such as education and came up with a shortlist of four or five.
We received some further information from London Egg Bank on those, including a couple of personal letters. It was this that made our choice easy, as I resonated so much with our donor and what she shared in her heartfelt, personal letter. I felt we were similar in many ways, and she sounded so lovely. It was very clear she was the right choice. Her letter made me cry - in a good way.
We felt lucky that we got pregnant on our first round of IVF with one batch of 6 eggs. I’d been having acupuncture for fertility for about a year and continued this all through the IVF and pregnancy, and alongside Chinese herbs, I think it really helped.
Of course, it wasn't so easy, we asked ourselves lots of questions, explored future scenarios and talked through our “where’s, why’s and what’s”. After a lot of thinking and talking, in the end we felt we'd made a very informed decision.
Our journey was a little emotional, as we made the decision, and I was grieving the loss of my own genetic child. But I've been very interested in the role of epigenetics and how through growing my son in my womb I've been able to influence what genes are expressed, and how that makes him different than if the egg donor had carried him.
I had a difficult pregnancy, and I was anxious for the first 12 weeks, but perhaps no more so than if we hadn't used donor eggs. IVF is not an easy journey whichever way you do it - and neither is parenthood!
When my son was born, I’d already bonded with him in my womb, and I honestly don't believe I felt any different than if he hadn't been donor conceived. I've loved him from day one, and I really don't think much about the fact he was donor conceived. He's mine (ours of course) and that's that.
It's also quite interesting how many people have said he looks like me, even though we've been open about using an egg donor. A nice, somewhat strange surprise!
We aren’t doing anything differently with our son because he's a donor conceived. We’re members of the DCN and I find other people’s stories and any research that’s published interesting. We plan to tell him from the start about his story, with the help of the DCN books and advice. He’s our only child, so we’re just figuring it out as we go - just like all other first-time parents.
If I had a message for our donor it would just be an enormous thank you really, and to let her know what a beautiful bright boy our son is!
If I were asked for advice by other people thinking of starting out on the egg donation journey, I would tell them to ultimately do what's right for them and no one else. To do their research, use the DCN, and if possible, talk to other people who've made a similar decision.
Don’t rush into it, discuss it with their partner if they have one, explore all the options and then really feel into whether it’s right for them – like it was for us.
*In order to protect our patients’ privacy, we change their names and use royalty-free images for our stories.