When my friends announce their pregnancies I often find myself thinking how strange it must be to get pregnant from having sex. I cannot fathom what conception without needles and penis shaped wands must be like. How very unscientific it must be. How utterly painless and stress free. Does pregnancy feel the same when it happens so effortlessly?
As I sunk yet another needle into my black, blue and yellow stomach I knew one thing for sure. I was done trying. I had subjected my body to three rounds of IVF and it wasn’t working. I was no longer envisioning the end result. Instead I was cursing and vowing this was it. I was done. I could see all of the perks of having an only child and I tried to forget about the negatives.
When that final attempt failed my RE suggested trying another round with a different protocol. She reminded me it would be covered by my health insurance. It would not however be covered by my mental health.
I could not have said NO any quicker.
So I went about my life resigned to be the parent of an only child.
Then we went to our dibling reunion. We had an amazing time.
On the last day the mother with whom I am closest brought up my recent struggles. She offered to donate me her remaining embryos.
If anyone has done IVF and found themselves with leftover embryos then I’m sure you can relate to how hard it is to know what to do with them. It is hard not to imagine the little people they could become. To compare them to your existing child and wonder how alike they might have been. But we don’t all have the resources to keep on having children until we empty the freezer so what to do?
You have a few options.
- You can pay to keep them frozen in time forever.
- You can destroy them
- You can donate them to science
- You can donate them anonymously
- You can donate them to someone you know
Of course this isn’t something one enters into without a lot of thought. This wasn’t the first time she had mentioned it although prior to this it had been half in jest. We talked at length about the ramifications, about how this would make us feel long-term. So we both went to therapists. She talked to her family/friends and the people who knew her best. Once they gave her the encouragement that she needed her heart was set and her mind was made up.
I am beyond lucky that this amazing woman decided that she would like to donate to me. What a gift. There are no words to convey it.
We spoke to lawyers and drafted up an agreement. She went for extra testing (at the request of my clinic!) We did a ton of paperwork and finally, after a month or two we shipped two PGD tested embryos across the country to my clinic.
Once again, I cannot fully put into words what it means to me. It feels belittling to call it a gift. It feels surreal and other worldly. I sometimes feel guilty that I didn’t struggle enough for this child. I know this is irrational but it’s a feeling that, at times is hard to shake.
On the other hand I felt an enormous sense of peace. I was scared of my own genetics. I was scared of my age, of my family history of strife between siblings and of what treatments were doing to my body. This option was perfect. Tested embryos from a woman I know, admire and trust. A woman who will be happy to connect with my child and answer any questions she has about her heritage when she becomes curious about such things. I love that we will see her Maternal donor at least once a year. Most of all I love that we had a pre-existing friendship which has only become stronger since embarking on this unusual, but beautiful journey.
At the end of August I transferred an embryo. I was full of optimism and excited about a May baby. I was on vacation with a group of SMC’s on the day I knew I would get a Positive Home Pregnancy Test if it were to be so. I thought it was the perfect crowd to be surrounded by and celebrate with.
The test was negative.
I was surprised by how crestfallen I was. I had let my hopes rise. I was so sure that I finally had a foolproof plan. I also felt as though I had let my friend down. Maybe I had done something wrong and that’s why it hadn’t worked. I didn’t want to waste all of her hard work!!
I took off a couple of months. I went to see my amazing Mayan Abdominal Massage therapist. I took a 2 week vacation to Mexico and drank Michelada’s whilst popping estrace pills twice daily. I got back into a good headspace.
Upon my return I transferred my last perfect embryo. I didn’t tell anyone, except for my Mother that it was transfer day. It was an uneventful transfer (unlike my sons which had been pretty traumatic!)
5 days later I woke up feeling as though I’d been hit by a bus. I felt so sick! I could barely function. I awoke the next day feeling much the same. I peed on a stick and this time I was 99% sure of the outcome.
A few minutes later a little pink line appeared.
I sent a picture of the test to the Maternal donor… and then, for the first time in a long time I felt true excitement.
In future posts I will talk about giving up on your own DNA and what that felt like for me. I have a lot of posts up my sleeve -they’ll emerge slowly but surely over the coming weeks and months. Until then, thank you so much for following our story.