This personal story was written by Sara in 2018.

I always wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember, but didn’t have much luck with men.

I had a couple of serious relationships, but they didn’t work out and we didn’t get to the children stage. Suddenly I found myself single in my mid 30s - back in the dating game - but not meeting any men who wanted to commit. I felt a real sense of panic about my ticking biological clock, but also felt extremely out of control, because you can’t force somebody to commit to you and have a family.

Then in 2012, a short time after a failed four-year relationship, I went to a fancy dress party and met a lovely man who made me laugh with his terrible dancing. We started dating, and I assumed it would be a casual affair, due to him being seven years my junior. However, he proved to be more mature than all my ex-boyfriends put together, and we moved in together two years later.

In the year I turned 40 we got engaged and decided to try for a baby straight away, knowing that age was not on my side. I was cautiously hopeful that we would fall pregnant, as I knew a few friends in their 40s who had had success and even my GP had told me that a lot of his patients were having babies in their 40s. Unfortunately after six months of trying, we realised that nothing was happening for us, and went for tests. I received a shock when I was told that I had a diminished ovarian reserve, giving me a less than 5% chance of getting pregnant naturally and an even lower chance of having a live birth, unless I used donor eggs. I remember crying in the hospital corridor, and sobbing hysterically on the sofa at home, utterly devastated, and saying “I can’t do this!” - in my mind there was no way I would ever be able to use donor eggs.

Fast forward three years, and here I sit on that same sofa, with my precious three month old baby daughter cooing on my lap. Conceived using donor egg IVF at a Spanish clinic, she is the absolute light of our lives and we cannot imagine life without her. I also know that I would not want any other baby but her.

There was a grieving process to go through before I was ready to accept that our best chance for a baby was donor egg conception.

We tried two IVF cycles using my own eggs, and during that time I met a wonderful woman who had had her son via donor egg IVF in Spain. Chatting with her and cuddling her little boy made it all seem less scary and more possible. We decided that if our second cycle with my eggs didn’t work, we would move on to donor eggs at the same Spanish clinic my friend had used.

We also heard about the DCN during this time and found the resources and articles very useful. I felt happy that the DCN offered support for families and donor conceived children beyond the pregnancy stage. My  “I can’t do this” started to turn into “I think I can do this”.

With the support and love of my husband, we made our trip to Spain in 2017 and were lucky enough to get pregnant on our first donor egg cycle - the embryologist said that the blastocyst was “stupendous!”. That little ball of cells which was already hatching became our wonderful daughter Rachel.

I truly believe that the long wait for her was worth it, and that she was meant to be our baby. I found the developing pregnancy very comforting, as my body nurtured and nourished the embryo into a fetus, and then into a growing baby. Pushing her out into the world and feeding her at my breast allowed me to truly feel that I am her biological mother - we may not share genes but we shared blood and my body made her grow. One of my most treasured photos was taken a few moments after the birth before the umbilical cord was cut - I feel so emotional seeing the cord that my body created to sustain her life and that connected us for almost nine months.

When Rachel is older we will tell her about the conception, with the help of the DCN story books - we are also going to produce our own version of the story book using photos of us, and have it printed, as suggested by a DCN member I met recently.

I have made peace with the fact that she isn’t genetically related to me - and I feel that being a parent is about so much more than DNA.

Everything we went through was leading us to her - though we didn’t know it, we were always on the road to Rachel.