We’re just back from a National Meeting full of that lovely warm feeling that comes from meeting and re-connecting with other donor Mums and Dads, Mums and Dads to be and hopeful people starting out on their journeys. It was a lovely reminder that we are not alone.
Here’s our story of how we came to make our family through (known) egg donation and how important the DCNetwork was in helping us make our decision to embark on this journey.
In November 2004 our clinic strongly advised us that egg donation was the only way we would make our family. Following an ectopic pregnancy in June 2000 and then 3 years of trying naturally we had 2 cycles of Clomid IUI and 3 IVFs in the space of 18 months. On the final IVF with my own eggs I produced 2 eggs, 1 fertilised and our single embryo wasn’t good quality.
I was initially gutted, heartbroken, bereft, angry, I felt like a failure and not “whole”. Having been brave and strong for 6 years I started to crumble, and deep hidden grief started to seep out. Counselling was a life saver and helped me to live with my own grief and loss and helped to prepare us for the reality of egg donation, including the removal of anonymity for donors which we weren’t aware of and which, at the time, seemed so unfair, as we strongly suspected it would mean a long wait, with the real possibility of not finding a donor at all.
Our counsellor recommended the DC Network website and we joined the Network in March 2005. Luckily we were just in time for the London meeting and went along out of curiosity. We were both struck by the honesty and openness of people we met, the support we received and the number of bumps and babies at the meeting! It was so encouraging to meet similar people and to hear their stories. It was such a positive and hopeful atmosphere that we were awestruck. We joined a discussion group for people attending their first meeting and were truly moved to find others who felt like us, having felt so alone and isolated.
By the end of that day, for the first time we thought of our future child as a reality, as a person, and for the first time the decision about removal of anonymity made sense. Our minds were instantly made up that our dreamed of child would know about his or her genetic background and that a UK donor was the only option we could consider as the best one for our future family.
Following a meeting at our clinic we got our reference number and then contacted the NGDT and got their leaflets and posters and then had some of my own posters made up using our clinic details and reference number. I kept busy with my campaign and asked friends and family to put posters up at their workplace or gym, GP surgery, crèche, nurseries etc. I put ads in the local papers and in a glossy magazine appealing for donors to come forward.
Out of the blue things changed direction very rapidly. At a BBQ in September 2005 I was full of wine and telling some women about our infertility problems, IVF etc and needing an egg donor. The women were fascinated and asked lots of questions. I have always been proud of our strength and resilience, and knew that at the very least I wanted to educate others about the possibilities of gamete donation so was always happy to answer questions and a few glasses of wine helped my confidence!! I wasn’t actively seeking a donor that day, but subconsciously maybe I did hope that someone might be interested in finding out more, and possibly would consider donating on our behalf to move us up the waiting list.
2 days after the BBQ one of the male guests called and said that his wife had been struck by our story and would like to donate to us !!!!!!! Following a jaw dropping, dumbstruck couple of minutes, a few tears and a big deep breath It took about 2 minutes for us to make up our minds and say YES YES YES. She had previously considered the possibility of egg donation or surrogacy for a family member, so had already decided that she wanted to do something special in her life. I felt then that not only had we found her, but that she had found us, at the right time, and that it was meant to be.
So, my first call was to the counsellor. After thinking that we would have up to 18 years of “telling” we were then in a situation where we knew we wouldn’t have that 18 years to prepare ourselves, and our child, for the possibility of a meeting with our donor. Counselling’s not a test – there is no right or wrong but it was nerve wracking wondering what they thought of us as a group. I had no idea that they had plenty of experience of known donations and, again, was amazed to realise that we were not unique.
J already knew that not only would she not be an anonymous donor, but that there was a chance that our paths would cross socially so we were keenly aware of the importance of implications counselling and reaching agreement about our future relationship, boundaries and feelings. J already has 3 children whose feelings need to be considered too so after our first chat it was a great relief to know that we all felt the same about telling, and that we trusted each other.
I am now 35 weeks pregnant and by the time of publication will have met our longed for child, I have already read the “My Story” book to the bump and can’t wait to start to tell this precious child more about the joy we have found, and how special Our Story is.