September 8, 2014

Back to school and infertility

Little boy and girl on their first day at schoolHowever reluctant we are to admit that it’s autumn now and this year’s summer has gone, there are some clear signs that time is moving on: kids are going back to school. But back to school time can be a difficult reminder for infertile couples of what they are missing out on.

Pamela says, “When I was going through infertility treatment, the beginning of another year was yet another marker of time passing. All the images that flew at me through the “Back to School” media advertising only increased the pain. All of the happy families shopping for school supplies. It was a great big reminder of yet another cycle of life of which I was not a part.”

Back to school advertising is everywhere, but it’s also a big milestone for kids that families like to celebrate and share. Naturally all these photos of special first days are posted everywhere on social media where they can be hard to avoid.

“Every year our Facebook and Instagram feeds are taken over by insanely cute children with their new school uniforms and a shiny new backpack,” says Amanda. “We see them start kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and by the time we watch them start 3rd Grade we’re wondering how in the world did they grow up so fast, and has it really been four or five or six years since we started trying to have a baby of our own?”

Lots of our Altrui egg donors are already happy mums, and sharing the joys of being a parent is one of the reasons they want to donate. Now that the kids are back at school, could you make time to make a difference to people who want a family of their own?

July 28, 2014

After egg donation… then what?

Thoughtful woman copyright Rachel Sian, know the feeling? You’ve looked forward to the donation for months, your family’s been all excited, you’ve got through the treatment, you’ve had the collection, your eggs are fertilised and you know the outcome… and then what?

Women become egg donors out of empathy and compassion and the desire to make a positive difference in someone’s life. So much of our hearts goes into doing this, and the process is so intense for that short time, that when our part is over, sometimes it’s hard not to feel a little bit left behind.

This can be especially true if the couple is pregnant and moving on with their own lives into the joy of the family life they’ve longed for, and that we have helped to make possible. The focus moves away from treatment and on into an exciting new future for them.

Most couples who have egg donation have tried for years to have a family. Although some couples are happy to maintain contact with Altrui and their donor, most often they want to put all that pain behind them and quietly enjoy the pregnancy and their new family, to feel like a normal family after so long. Part of that can be loosening ties with everything concerned with their treatment, and keeping in touch less often.

This doesn’t mean that egg donors are forgotten or undervalued. In a sense, it’s a bit like when children leave home. When they move on to become independent it’s because you as a parent have done your job – now it’s their turn to take over. And donation can be like that too: donors do their essential and precious piece of work, meaning the parents can take it from there.

So what do you do with those feelings of being left out, or sadness, when it’s all over? Well, one way is to remember that this is what we’ve all been working towards. We want people to have their chance to get pregnant and when it works out it’s even better. So that ending is just the natural completion of the process.

The other is to remember that egg donors are not forgotten, either by the parents or by Altrui. You’ve done something to be proud of and that precious gift – and the feelings of pride and achievement that go with it – are with you for life.

July 14, 2014

I want to lose weight so I can be an egg donor

Healthy eating and a healthy weight helps women become egg donors. Copyright TipsTimesAdmin on FlickrJenny tells us about her special reason for losing weight – she wants to become an egg donor.

I first approached Altrui when I saw one of their ads on Facebook – I hadn’t thought about donation before then.

But my auntie had fertility problems and hasn’t been able to have children of her own, so I always thought that I’d like to do something to help. And when we were trying to conceive our son, we had to wait for a year before I got pregnant. I know it’s not long compared to what couples waiting for donation go through but it made me understand what it’s like to want a child but not be able to have one.

When I saw the ad, I contacted Altrui through Facebook and got the information pack about becoming a donor. I noticed that donors have to have a BMI of 30 or below, but I thought there might be some flexibility with this. I spoke to Cathy and she explained that the clinics have this limit because of the drugs you need to take.

At the time I was already on a weight loss programme and my target BMI was just under 30. In fact I’d already lost 8lb at that point. So after a chat we decided to put my application on hold until I’d lost the weight.

Cathy kept in touch to check how I was getting on. Although I weigh in every Monday, I needed to lose 3 stone, so I agreed to let Cathy know my progress and email when I had a stone left to go. This will allow time to do the tests and match me up with a couple while I lose the remaining weight. The bonus is that it’s good for the family too – I’m trying to get everyone to eat more healthily.

I did worry that they might match me with a couple and the couple would reject me as a donor because of my weight, in case they had an overweight baby. But Cathy said couples want someone to match with them physically and would be impressed by my commitment and altruism.

My son is 16 months old now. I don’t want any more children but I know how much it means to have a child and really want to help someone else. I have 2 stone left to go before I reach a BMI of 30 and I’ve found that aiming to become an egg donor has really improved my motivation. I was losing weight anyway but to have a target and a special reason for doing it really keeps me on track.

Thinking about egg donation? Contact us for a chat on 01969 667875 or email Alison and Cathy

June 30, 2014

Three ways that egg donation is like the Tour de France

Cyclists work hard to even participate in the Tour de France...Here in Yorkshire we’re deep in preparation for the Yorkshire Tour, due to start in Leeds on 5th July. And as the peloton passes by Altrui HQ and the homes of most of our team that weekend, we thought we’d have a bit of fun with it. So sit back and let us tell you how egg donation is like the Tour de France!

1 You need a great team behind you

Every rider needs a great support team and just as Chris Froome will be relying on Team Sky to make sure everything else runs smoothly, you can be sure that we’re there to support you throughout your egg donation journey, whether you’re having treatment or you’re an egg donor.

2 And some of your teammates work just as hard!

Richie Porte will be out there covering Chris Froome’s back every pedal-push of the race. And our amazing Altrui egg donors, who go through intensive preparation, counselling, a drug regime and egg collection, are every bit as committed to helping their couple have the best chance they can of getting pregnant.

3 Timing matters

The closest race victory in the history of the Tour was in 1986 when Greg Lemond beat Laurent Fignon by a mere 8 seconds. While the drug regime and egg collection is a little less rigorous than that, donors have to take their medication around the same time each day for the whole course of treatment and have their egg collection 36 hours after their last injection. All this is carefully scheduled in with the clinic and synched with the receiving couple’s cycle.

It’s a long, tough road, but it’s worth it

Tour de France racers – and their teams – need the stamina to cycle for 3,664km along some of the toughest routes in Europe. Similarly, infertility is one of the hardest things a couple can go through, and being an egg donor is a big commitment too.

It’s a long way to go, but it’s worth it.

Thinking about egg donation? Contact us for a chat on 01969 667875 or email Alison and Cathy

You can watch the first three days of the Tour de France live from locations all over Yorkshire.

June 15, 2014

A dad through egg donation talks about his donor

Father holding baby, copyright Lachica, has a daughter by egg donation. For Father’s Day, he talks about what the donation means to him and his family.

My partner and I met about ten years ago, and we decided we wanted to start a family. We had a beautiful little girl in 2009. She’s got special needs, and we were told that, if we wanted to conceive together, the chance of our next child being born with the same condition was 1 in 4. We thought it through long and hard and decided that we didn’t want to take that risk.

So we explored other avenues and chose assisted conception. We always thought we’d like two more kids, one each with our sperm and eggs, so decided to use sperm donation first, as my partner’s slightly older than me and we wanted to use her eggs at their freshest!. That gave us a second beautiful daughter who was born in 2011. Then we completed our ‘patchwork family’ as we call it with another baby girl conceived via egg donation who was born this year.

Egg donation is an invasive procedure, so you’ve got to really want to do it. Donors don’t get many financial or other rewards from this, other than helping families. It felt nice that there was this person offering to share their dreams with you, and help you create another life; and they had an approach to life which was very altruistic.

We also looked for a donor whose physical appearance was similar to ours. There were going to be enough differences for this child to potentially focus on so we wanted to make sure we were giving them the best chance of fitting in in other ways.

Everybody tells you you can’t describe what it’s like to be a dad until you’ve had kids and I think they’re right. It’s really difficult to put it into words. It adds something to your life that you didn’t realise was missing before. With that comes a lot of extra responsibilities and stress, but also a lot of joy – an extra way of being happy.

The benefits far outweigh the sleep loss and the stressful situations. Like when you’re putting them to bed and are cuddling up reading them a story and rather than just wanting to get it out of the way, you’re secretly hoping they will ask for another one because you’re enjoying it so much.

Once you hold this little bundle in your arms it’s really not a consideration as to where the chromosomes came from. I’ve become – I don’t want to say blasé about it because it makes it sound like it’s not a big thing and it is – but it just doesn’t really affect me at all on a day to day basis. In fact I have to remind myself that the physical traits I occasionally think my middle child has picked up from me can’t have come from my genes at all.

Then there’s the fact that our youngest two children have been made with the love of three people each because they’ve got us two who wanted to conceive them, and then the donor, and there’s a lot of love in that. That’s a really sweet thing to think of, and that’s certainly a message we will be sharing with them when the time comes to start discussing where they came from.

Our donor probably doesn’t understand on a day-to-day basis just how much how she’s helped us. It’s lovely to see the impact of her generosity. My middle daughter gets so much pleasure out of the new arrival; it’s given her an avenue for loving another little person. And we have this fabulous little family thanks to the donor’s generosity. ‘Thanks’ doesn’t really cover it but we’re very grateful indeed, very grateful for lots of little things every single day.