“Nicky” talks about being a recipient of donated eggs
I guess everyone’s got a different reason for being here tonight or different reason for needing egg donation.
Our one was … we started off thinking we had male factor infertility and then when we did the workup we found out I also had a poor ovarian reserve. In some ways it’s quite nice, because we both had a problem, but in terms of fertility treatment it was not a good position to be in, because I needed fantastic sperm and he needed fantastic eggs and we didn’t have either.
So I think it came … I’m sure you all know, it’s an awful shock and we went through … I don’t think you can … I mean some people don’t have any choice and they have to jump straight to donation. But we we did have a choice and we needed to try with our own first before we were ready to make a decision to go for donation.
So we went through three cycles of ICSI, so similar to IVF but using special technique for low sperm count, and it didn’t work, so then we had to regroup.
The hard thing was, I think, because we almost got there, it was really hard. I’m the sort of person that, sort of, I do just keep going and plodding and going and plodding, going and going and going until my husband said stop.
So we did get embryos, but, and we had a miscarriage, so it is so it is so tantalising, it’s nearly there. But actually I think emotionally it was just too much and we decided to stop and have a rest and have a break and have a think.
And, for us, people mentioned sperm donation earlier and and then egg donation as having the best chance and, I think we both thought egg donation would be fairer, because, with us both having a problem, I think you know as a as a woman you get to carry the baby even though it might not be your genetic imprint, whereas if we’d gone for sperm donation I was a bit worried he might feel completely left out of it. So it felt like a fair option for us, but hopefully not too many people have to face that dilemma.
So initially we really weren’t ready to do egg donation. I was all for ‘Just sign us up and we’ll do it’, and my husband said ‘No’ and he was irritatingly right.
So we had to go through a process, it is like a process of mourning really, and I suppose everybody here’s at various stages of letting go of what you thought would happen and being ready for something different. I used to have endless chats about when/if we’d be ready or not. And it didn’t feel like a baby without my own eggs would feel the same as one with, and that wasn’t right to do it.
So I think a few things happened that helped us on our way. Well first of all we got a cat, and we realised we … people say get a cat or a dog, and it can be really irritating, patronisisng. But we did get a cat and we realised we loved him very much, and he wasn’t even human, and then and then we had some … a couple of friends of ours ended up being single mums, and so we helped them out a lot more with their babies. I think there’s … again I think you go through stages – the stages we can’t bear to see babies and then other times when you want to see them. So we decided that we didn’t want to miss out on being around babies and children, so we got quite involved in looking after these two friends’ babies, I was even there for the birth of one, and we … one night we sort of said ‘You know what? If they just got left here it would be fine wouldn’t it?’ We would love that baby and it wouldn’t matter, and that was for us what I think flipped us into knowing we … we’d come to terms with not having our own, but know we could still love another child -well, not another child but, you know, one that wasn’t genetically ours. It really didn’t make a difference and and at that point I think that’s when we knew we were ready. There were still quite a few doubts and a lot of questions, but we knew then. So everybody will have a different point, I suppose, but for us that’s when it started to feel right.
I think we’d always wanted an anonymous donor. I mean I don’t have a sister, so it might be different if you had a sister, but we just we just wanted to get only being parents like everyone else, I didn’t want to be looking at my friends and, you know, a friend offered to do it for me and I thought well I don’t want to be meeting with them and my child will be their child’s half-brother, half-sister, and I’d be looking at her thinking does it look like her, does it look like me. So for us anon… we’d always wanted an anonymous donor, just so that we could have our own child and, you know, we we were like everybody else again, as much as you can be.
So we … at the point, I think we really start thinking about it we thought we would have to go to the States, because basically because of my colouring, because there’s not many ginger people in Greece and Spain, so we thought we would have to go to the States.
And then Alison and I got talking and she said ‘Why?’ and then we hatched a plan. And really all I was … I mean when I started I thought almost ‘I don’t care, as long as it’s a woman whose vaguely brown haired, with blue eyes’, that was all I wanted, that’s what I really cared about. And and then this this amazing woman came forward and and the more we found out about her, the more similar she was to me, and it was really spooky, because we like the same music, we have the same sense of humour, she had a cat. And we … so we went through all the tests and and then it was go ahead.
We also made … I mean as well as wanting a … an anonymous person, I think we also … we sort of didn’t really want everybody to know. It’s not a case where, I mean … in doing some of these talks it’s made me really unpick and think why we didn’t want anyone to know. I think it was a bit like, I just didn’t want everyone to be looking and thinking and and and approaching our child with an expectation of looking -‘Does she really look like her … does …?’ We just we just wanted … we’d been through so much we just wanted to be normal again, and I think we felt like awful failures and everything had gone so badly wrong. So, is a bit superstitious, but the cycle when we had got pregnant we hadn’t told anyone, so we we had that on our minds – if we don’t tell anyone we’ll get pregnant. So it was it was a bit superstition, and a bit of thinking about what what we wanted. So … and the people that we did tell, were just so pleased for us, really pleased and just – ‘Oh my god, and what has taken you so long’. And it’s really interesting now, so this small group of people who know, it has made absolutely no difference. So I think maybe, I probably was being slightly paranoid and overprotective because … even they fall into the trap of saying ‘Oh he’s really got your eyes’, and and you know and people don’t judge. But, you know, you you have to, I suppose in your heart, know what’s right for you and go with it.
We did have joint counselling before we went through with it, and that was really helpful because I thought ‘I know all about this. God I’ve been doing therapy for six years now, or something, I really should know this’, but actually they posed an awful lot of questions that we hadn’t thought of. And for us, it was we felt so positive in our answers it really strengthened our resolve that this was the right thing for us, so in that way it was really helpful, so things that we hadn’t thought about they talked about and we we … it really made it feel like it’s the right thing to do. So I would say definitely, I think you have to go ahead with it, but it is really really helpful too.
In comparison with, I don’t know how many people in the room have been through IVF who’ve got a similar problem to me, it’s just soul destroying ‘cos you go through all these hormones and get one egg and then no, 3 follicles, one egg, one embryo and all that hope’s riding on one. It hasn’t got that awful hope riding on this one little thing that you’re imagining is going to go on and become a baby. So you’ve got you’ve got some choice in it so.
The actual physicality of going through the processes is very easy. I mean, I just went on the pill and and then … you had to make a lining in your womb and then they pop the embryo back, and that was it. Easy as that. Much easier than going through a cycle. I think you get a tougher deal.
So that was, that was, fine really. I suppose you feel … slightly disconnected from it. It’s a bit weird, this momentous thing’s happening somewhere across town and you’re not quite there and and there’s always a slight worry ‘what happens if something goes wrong, what they pull out, what if they don’t produce any eggs?’ But as you get closer and closer it sort of becomes realer and realer and then you can finally hope again.