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Patient Story

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Sarah tells how a chance viewing of an epigenetics donor egg video led to a successful treatment course at London Egg Bank and meeting her and Mark’s beautiful and long-awaited baby girl.

Our journey started 6 years ago when we decided we wanted to have a child.

I have a genetic condition which I’ve grown up with, and although I’ve been lucky not to be too affected by it, I had seen many other people who experienced much more severe effects.

We were scared that if we had a baby, they could potentially be very sick, and I wouldn’t want our child to inherit the condition. We had to rule out the possibility, especially as my husband was a carrier, and so we chose to undergo pre-genetic diagnosis and IVF on the NHS.

Our first attempts

When we started, we were eligible for three rounds of IVF on the NHS. However, when I reached 40 I was no longer eligible, so we ended up only having two rounds.

We’d already experienced four miscarriages and now the chances of having a baby were becoming impossible because we didn’t have any embryos left.

I was too old to harvest any good-quality eggs, and we felt completely stuck in a rut.

Netflix and inspiration

Seeking some form of comfort one day, I put Netflix on and stumbled on a documentary called ‘One more shot’, which was all about donor eggs and epigenetics.

It’s almost as if someone up there was telling me to watch it because it showed a couple’s struggles, their longing for a child and how they had found an egg donor to help them get pregnant.

It felt as if a huge cloud was lifted and using donor eggs just seemed to be the answer to all our prayers.

We later discovered from my hospital notes that the reason I couldn’t achieve a viable pregnancy was that my eggs were poor quality, and that confirmed that we needed to look at using donor eggs to get pregnant.

Epigenetics and donor eggs

We did a lot of research first and learned how epigenetics play a massive part in egg donation or pregnancy.

When we realised that epigenetics plays such a big part in changing the DNA of your unborn baby and that I would genetically influence the baby before it was born, using donor eggs became a no-brainer for us.

Knowing that our baby would be 50% Mark, 25% donor and 25% me was a massive relief and something we both welcomed with open arms.

No time to waste

We did wish that the NHS doctors had been completely honest from the beginning of our journey. If they’d told us at the start that because of the quality of the eggs the chances of success were very slim and the embryos had little or no chance of survival, we would have saved a lot of time and heartache.

Instead, on their advice, we went ahead and made use of the NHS funding. Those four years were the worst of our lives and we were in such a dark place we would have done literally anything to achieve our dream of having a baby.

Telling and sharing

Once we started to use donor eggs, we made the decision not to tell anyone apart from my immediate family. We wanted to be the ones to tell our baby about her beginnings when it was the right time to do so. We also thought people might treat them differently, so if nobody knows then there’s no risk of that.

We still don’t know if or when it’s something we’ll discuss with her. I’d like to think she’ll have such a happy life that she won’t question her upbringing, but at the same time, it’s not something we should lie about either. We think we’ll decide together if and when the time is right.

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“The care from the doctors and nurses was amazing and the day we had our first scan and the nurse turned the screen to show us, we almost had to pinch ourselves when we saw the image of our little baby and the flutter of the heartbeat - there’s nothing quite like it.”

Choosing a donor

For us, choosing the egg donor seemed quite daunting. It had to be the right ‘fit’ for me and I wanted someone that not only was the same build as me but also had the same hair, skin and eye colour. We also wanted her to be similar in what we like to do for a living.

Our reasoning was that the more the donor was like me, the more my future baby would also be like me.

The more we looked, the more we started to realise what we really wanted. We took some time, but we also didn’t want to miss out on the right donor. Also, time was no longer on our side, as having turned 40 I felt pressure on my part to get on with it.

Finding the right donor can only be described as a ‘feeling’. You just get a good feel for someone. When we found our donor she stood out to us, as not only did she have the same build as me but everything else just fitted with what I was hoping to find in a donor. She was artistic and loved the same things in life that I enjoyed.

So we selected our donor and then waited to start the next phase of our journey.

Getting started at last

For us being with London Egg Bank was the most amazing experience from start to finish and we literally had the clinic on our doorstep which meant no longer having to take time off work to stay in London. I could even have local appointments during my lunch hour. This meant that a huge amount of stress over additional travelling and expenses was just taken away.

We went into the treatment feeling extremely positive and knowing that we were in good hands, we just felt it was going to work and we had never felt like that before on our journey, where everything previously felt stacked against us.

The care from the doctors and nurses was amazing and the day we had our first scan and the nurse turned the screen to show us, we almost had to pinch ourselves when we saw the image of our little baby and the flutter of the heartbeat - there’s nothing quite like it.

The one thing we had wished for since starting our journey and there it was - our baby!

What about the wobbles?

I admit that at about six months pregnant I had a major wobble, and one day I just couldn’t stop crying. I had all these thoughts going through my head and so many questions.

Will the baby feel like mine? What if I don’t bond with my baby? What if she looks nothing like us? Will she love me as her mother?

So many thoughts went through my head that day, but thankfully my husband brought me round and helped ease my mind. We agreed that we were definitely doing the right thing, and we overcame any lingering thoughts we might have had about the disadvantages of using donor eggs.

I watched a lot of documentaries on epigenetics because it confirmed to me that genetics and environment play a massive part in influencing your unborn baby, even down to the food you eat.

There was no question that the baby growing in my tummy was ours and at every scan when we saw her on the screen our love just grew and grew.

When our baby arrived

The day she was born and I held my daughter in my arms for the first time, that was it. The love we had for this tiny little baby was just so overwhelming. It was the best decision we have ever made in our lives.

Our love grows and grows each day our daughter is with us, she came out looking exactly like my husband and bonding with her was just so natural. We absolutely adore her and love her more than life itself, she’s exactly like both of us. We didn’t regret using a donor egg for one second.

Raising a donor-conceived child

There’s absolutely nothing different about raising a donor-conceived child, because you forget all about it. We never think about it now, she is our daughter forever, I gave birth to her and there’s never been any doubt in our minds about using an egg donor.

We wish we could sit down with couples and actually talk to people face to face and tell them about the process and reassure them that they will not regret it. Have faith that if you’ve come to the decision of wanting to go down the donor route then you’re almost halfway there, the rest comes so naturally and you will never look back.

If we had our time over again it would have been lovely reading about other couples’ experiences before embarking on our journey. We were very firm on wanting a donor egg but naturally, we were apprehensive about whether I as a mother would bond with my baby.

Never fear that because it’s so natural you won’t even question your decision once your baby is in your arms.

Hearing from our donor

Our donor actually wrote us a goodwill message which was so beautiful it made us both cry, it came from the heart. We read this after we ordered our eggs, and it was so uncanny how similar we were in our ethics. It cemented the reason why we decided on going down the donor route.

The message was such an amazing part of it because in years to come if we do tell our daughter then it will be nice for her to read the message for herself.  

Thinking of our donor, firstly we’d like to thank her for her selfless act of donating her eggs to us. Someone who does that must be so kind to want to help total strangers and not know the outcome. It’s the best gift anyone could ever give, the gift of life. And it takes a lot of courage to be a donor, we will be eternally grateful for that.

What we’ve learned and what we want to share

We’ve never looked back after deciding on using an egg donor because without it we wouldn’t have a child right now. It seemed scary at first, but we want to reassure couples who are thinking about it that there’s no doubt in our minds that it’s the best gift we ever received and there are no doubts about bonding with your baby. You love them from the minute you see that image on the scans and your love for your unborn baby just grows and grows.

When we look at our daughter every day we keep pinching ourselves because she is so remarkable and we really couldn’t have wished for a more perfect child. Everyone who has met her just falls in love with her and there is no question that we made the right decision.

We hope other couples have donor egg success stories like ours because you won’t regret it - we promise you.

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“We’ve never looked back after deciding on using an egg donor because without it we wouldn’t have a child right now.”

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