Blog about having premature ovarian failure and trying donor IVF with my sister's eggs

Archive for the ‘Family – egg donors’ Category

Welcoming our daughter

Our daughter conceived with my sister's donor eggs arrived safe and well on February 13 - much to the delight of my husband and I, after six years' trying to conceive

Our dear daughter is now 11 days old. She is absolutely beautiful and perfect in every way. She hasn’t even inherited my one-eared deafness which I mentioned in my last post, which I inherited from my own aunty.

She arrived safely via c-section on 13 February and every day since then has been wonderful but hectic – hence my tardiness posting this news.

We still can hardly believe she is here. I forget all the time that she was conceived with my sister’s eggs as she is very much my husband’s and my baby. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t tell her about her genetic heritage – we are being open about this with everyone we know well and will tell her of her special conception and birth story from as soon as she can understand.

Thank you to everyone for your love and support leading up to this – I just hope that everyone else in hope and need of donor IVF is as lucky as we are.

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Monday’s child is fair of face

Our beautiful baby, conceived with its aunty's eggs, arrives by c-section tomorrow, and I can't wait to see who he or she looks like and to welcome it with open arms into our family.

Tomorrow we will have our long-awaited-for baby and I keep trying to imagine who it will look like – my sister, my husband or me?

Of course we won’t be able to see who it looks like until it is much bigger.  And some people will tell us that it looks like itself and that we shouldn’t try to make it look like anyone else.

But I’ve always loved making genetic links between family members. It’s something to do with a sense of belonging or clan, and understanding where someone comes from.

For instance – much to my mother’s consternation – two of her four grandchildren have her eyebrows which stick straight out rather than lie flat on her brow. They are very distinctive and obviously very dominant! (thank goodness I inherited eyebrows from my father which lie down flat and have a lovely shape, if I do say so myself).

And my aunty is deaf in one ear, as am I although no one else has this special feature in our family.

So given this baby is conceived from my sister’s eggs, what will she/he be like?  Is there a chance it too will be deaf in one ear like its genetic aunty (me) who is actually its mother?

Will it have my sister’s beautiful freckles and green eyes or will it have my colouring which is darker hair with blue eyes and white skin prone to moles?  Will it be tall and gangly like its Dad, with curly brown/red hair? Or will it be a throw back to someone else distantly related?

If we had conceived our baby with help from someone unrelated, I would still be having these thoughts. Traits are fascinating and are a unique part of everyone and something to be noted/proud of/mulled over/celebrated.

Whatever, this baby has been born out of much love and is/will be truly treasured – and even if it inherits its grandmother’s unfortunate eyebrows (sorry Mum!) it will be beautifully fair of face in our eyes.

What a difference a year makes

Four-Seasons-Trees

Waiting for a baby can seem interminable but it only takes a year - sometimes less - for things to change completely

Waiting to conceive a baby can be unbearably long, lonely and painful but things can turn around so quickly.

In just a year, we have undergone donor IVF with my wonderful sister from New Zealand; conceived, miscarried, had a negative transfer, conceived again and are now awaiting the arrival of our first baby in five days’ time.

Conception and pregnancy followed six years of grief, uncertainty and personal growth, all of which began with my diagnosis of premature ovarian failure at 35.

I grieved then for my young womanhood (going into premature menopause made me feel like an unattractive old crone), my periods (truly!), the children we would never have; our first IVF cycle that yielded zilch eggs and for the life we’d had before my diagnosis.

More recently, we grieved for the little baby we lost last year to miscarriage – it felt like our hearts had been ripped out.

But all the grieving and uncertainty helped us to become more thoughtful, empathetic and kind. It made us rethink what being a beautiful, sexy woman or man really means (it doesn’t mean you have to be fertile) and what life would be like childfree (books called Silent Sorority and Sweet Grapes were particularly helpful).

So what a journey it’s been!  It has been truly remarkable for which we are very thankful.

If it can happen for us, it can happen for others too.  I can’t wait to read about other people’s success stories – I know they are out there, or about to begin.

An extra special dinner and a tribute to all egg donors

I bet that the dinner I went to on Saturday night in Melbourne was the only one of its kind happening at that time – in the world.

It’s not that the food we were eating was unusual or that the venue was strange – it was the people who made it unique.

We were all (nine of us) either egg donors, people looking to match up with a donor, or people pregnant with a donor egg.  Unfortunately, I was the only one in the latter group. It made me realise how lucky my husband and I are to be pregnant with my sister’s donor egg; it doesn’t happen for everyone.

Our group met for the first time having traded recent stories on a forum called ‘Egg Donation Australia’. This is an extra special forum.  It was established by women who are donors. Women needing donor eggs can go onto the forum and get to know potential donors and vice versa. Close relationships are formed, especially between those who decide to team up, and sometimes a baby is conceived.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think the women who set up the forum are angels.  They established it voluntarily to help other women – strangers – in need of a donor.  I still can’t get over how altruistic these women – and egg donors everywhere – are.

So to be eating dinner with some donors in Melbourne on Saturday night was fantastic. It was equally fantastic to be able to talk to others in the same boat as me: women who have tried and tried to have babies in every which way possible. These women and their partners are all so brave as they just keep getting back on that horse even though it keeps bucking them off – often with horrible, painful bumps.

And then there are the women who are doing it on their own. There were two at the dinner.  To do it with a partner’s support and love is tough but I imagine doing it solo takes true grit.

So this is why I think Saturday’s dinner was so unique. I challenge anyone to tell me of a similar dinner that was happening at the same time. In fact, I would love to be proved wrong.

An unnnatural conception – and delivery

Like the clouds from this spray can, my pregnancy is completely manufacturered and quite magical

The only thing unmanufactured about my pregnancy is my pregnancy itself, which explains in part why I am expecting to have a cesarean delivery.

The conception of our baby was entirely aided by synthetic hormones and IVF. I took oestrogen to thicken up my womb in readiness for the wee embryo I received in June, while my sister took drugs to stimulate her ovaries and release her eggs to donate to me. During the conception period, I filled myself with progesterone pessaries to create a welcoming environment for the embryo to settle into, and hey presto, after lots of manufacturing and unnaturalness, we have a pregnancy!

The pregnancy itself is chugging along nicely without any drugs – my placenta has now taken over that role. So that is natural and normal.

I love that something so fantastic can come out of something so manufactured – it makes me feel very borg-like and connected to the future. I am eternally grateful to have the science available to us to be able to create life within us – to me it is a real crossover between science and magic.

So why not continue the artificiality with a cesarean – it only seems natural (!).

My obstetrician brought up the subject of delivery on our last visit, saying that given this could be our only baby, we should consider a cesarean to avoid any potential birthing complications. And having watched several knuckle-biting episodes of One Born Every Minute, I’m very happy to accede to his recommendation!

My sister – aunty first and egg donor second

My sister's gift of her eggs are what made it possible for us to be pregnant now.

Our families overseas are already making plans to come and stay with us after our baby is born, although my sister says she doesn’t want any special treatment, even though she is our egg donor.

My sister’s help is what made it possible for us to conceive – we wouldn’t be pregnant without her eggs. I would therefore really like for her to come visit as soon as possible after our baby arrives. I mentioned it to her on the phone the other day, and she said she would love to come visit. But she also reminded me of our arrangement – that she is the egg donor only and doesn’t want to be treated any differently from my other siblings.

It startled me a little me when she said this, but then I was grateful for her outlook. That was always the understanding – that she will be the aunty first and the egg donor second. That her being the egg donor wouldn’t give her any special standing with our child. I love that she has this outlook. It gives us the freedom to be the parents of our baby without worrying that my sister wants to assume any type of role with him/her other than being his/her aunty.

Those good ol’ (young) eggs of my sister’s

Janis Joplin,  Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Michael Hutchence are forever frozen in time at the ages at which they died. Forever young.

Similarly and fantastically, the embryos made of my sister’s eggs and my husband’s sperm are frozen in time too – they will always be embryos made from two people in their mid 30s.

So, even though I am knocking 42, the little embryo inside me is seven years younger. Apparently the chances of my pregnancy continuing with embryos this youthful are around 95% – (touch lots of wood).  If the embryos were made of my eggs, it would be a different story with a much higher chance of miscarriage.

Even so, every time I go to the loo I brace myself in case I see blood but to date (apart from the first bit of spotting a few weeks ago which the doc put down to the progesterone pessaries I take) there has been nothing. I am now 7.5 weeks – still early days but further than we have ever been before.

If we are lucky enough to have this child and decide to try again for another baby at some in future with our remaining five embryos, they will still be frozen in time at around 35 years old. How brilliant is that?

I love the miracle of IVF plus of course the wonderful benevolence of my sister and brother in law who have allowed for this dream of ours to gradually be coming true.