Maria (UK): Helping someone to have a family...
I remember walking into my mum’s bedroom one day; it was after school and I was with my little sister. I was about 8 or 9 and she was 5 or 6. My mum was in her 40s and pregnant with our soon-to-be brother.
She was sat up in bed with her partner. She had had a hospital appointment earlier that day for a scan; she had not been feeling right for a few days and they wanted to check everything was okay. I just knew from looking at her that something wasn’t right. I’ve always been quite mature for my age, so my mum sent my little sister into her room and called me in closer to sit on the bed. I knew something serious had happened.
She had lost our little brother. She was about 28 weeks pregnant. They tried again with IVF afterwards, but never successfully. It absolutely killed me seeing someone I loved going through not one, but two terrible ordeals. I remember the injections she had, what she put her body through to have just one more chance at being a mother. Seeing the emotional pain she was going through is something that never left me.
It wasn’t until last year that she looked at the medical sheet from when she lost Dylan: a detailed report on why she lost him, and what went wrong. I suppose that was her way of coping, the not knowing. There was a problem with his chromosomes; he had something called Edwards syndrome, which is where Trisomy 18 is a triplet instead of a pair. It affects the brain, nervous system, head and face, heart, bones and malformations of the digestive tract, urinary tract and genitals. From reading up, most pregnancies end before birth, and the survival rate from there on rapidly declines. I have however read that the oldest person to live is 35!!! <— amazing right!?
Fast forward to my teenage years, my eldest brother met his partner. She was quite a bit older than him, but they were very happy. I remember when she fell pregnant, we were all super happy! I couldn’t wait to see my brother become a father, something I know they had been trying for for a while. That’s when I first discovered the word ectopic...
There was never much said about what happened, I know she lost one of her tubes, and the other was so damaged, it was almost impossible to become pregnant. They tried and tried, but trying and failing to become pregnant put huge stress on their relationship. They were so good together, but eventually they went their separate ways. She’s now 50 and has never had children, and knowing she will never have that feeling I have been so lucky to have is heart breaking.
Those experiences are the reasons why I have always wanted to donate my eggs. When I had my first child at 18, I started looking into egg donation, but I was too young. I wanted to give someone else the opportunity to have what I had so easily. It’s not fair.
I’m now 27, I have two beautiful children, age 8 and 3, and for us our family is complete. I’m incredibly lucky as they are both happy, healthy, blue eyed boys. It’s now time to concentrate on building our future, but I also want to help others.
We moved from where I had originally researched clinics with egg donation, so I had to research again on clinics nearest to me. I found one which was 20 minutes away and on the NGDT website – ‘perfect’, I thought!
I called the number provided, again and again.
Never any answer. I emailed, and called, and emailed, and called. Nothing. I found it rather odd, considering other clinics answered their phones and replied to emails very quickly.
I eventually received an email from the donation coordinator - the smile on my face when I saw it come through was like no other! I replied straight away, excited to begin my journey, and that was the last time I heard from her. Even now as I’m writing this, three weeks later, no contact since.
I decided to move on and contacted a few others. CARE Manchester and IVI Chester were my top two. I spoke with both on the phone to talk about everything going forward, and decided to go ahead with IVI. Isn’t it amazing how first impressions are so important?! She was so lovely and warm on the phone. I explained the situation with the previous clinic and my worries - all I thought was, what if something goes wrong mid-treatment and I couldn’t get hold of anyone? She told me that they have doctors on call if I needed them at any time. Needless to say my first appointment with them is booked for March 14th!
I’ve always had needle phobia, since I was about 3 or 4 years old, so the FSH injection side of things is something I’m nervous about. My eldest son has also developed a phobia in the past 2 to 3 years too. Maybe this will give us the opportunity to overcome our fear together? I might even let him help me with the FSH injections. They say you should take control of your fears. You have to find a positive in every negative, right?
Since 2005, they have changed the anonymity laws on egg donation. When the child is 16, they can have identifying information of their donors, as well as more detailed information at 18 including names, addresses etc. This has probably been the most thought-about part of my journey. Many people have been negative about it, saying I would have children out there I didn’t know about, or what if they come knocking on my door in 18 years time? And do you know what, that doesn’t scare me in the slightest. By donating my eggs, I am helping someone to have a family; I am giving that couple, a family, or person, something they couldn’t have without my help. That makes me feel amazing! If any children born through my donation want to find me in years to come, and speak to me about why, or know about their egg donors life, I would be more than happy to speak to them. At the end of the day, I am not their parent, I haven’t raised them, so they are not my children.
There are no words to describe just how excited I am: to think that I can help someone achieve their dream of a family gives me the best feeling in my heart! I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, as there is always the possibility that I won’t be able to finish this journey. What if my bloods come back with a problem? What if my egg reserve is too low? What if I don’t respond well to treatment? So many negatives that I could think about right now. I’m just focusing on the hope that my eggs give someone out there a family.... Can you imagine any better feeling? Because I can’t!