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

Archive for the ‘Assisted reproductive technology’ Category

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.

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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!

Should IVF and babies come at a price?

Should your income determine whether you are allowed to have a child or not? The cost of IVF is a barrier for many.

Luckily we have been able to afford our IVF treatments over the years (just). But where would be if we weren’t in well-paying jobs? Well; we wouldn’t be pregnant.

I can think of at least two people who can’t afford to have a baby yet via IVF. One is a 24-year-old workmate who says she wants to start a family but can’t afford IVF.  Her partner has a potentially debilitating condition which they don’t want to pass onto their kids. They’ve been advised that they should therefore use IVF to selectively weed out the condition.

Goodness knows how this would be done, but they’re not going to be able to find out for years, as they just don’t have the money yet.

The other person I know of has had embryos donated to her. But she can’t use them as she doesn’t have the money either. How cruel is that situation?  I would find it unbearable.

I think it’s incredibly unfair that those with money are the ones who can do IVF, while those without funds, simply can’t. In future I’m sure this situation will be looked back on as being ridiculous, inhumane and discriminatory.

I wonder what we can do now to try even the odds, so that everyone can get free IVF – as apparently they already do in some countries like Israel? Does anyone know of any other locations where IVF is available to everyone?

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.

Surprise!

I didn’t want to find out the results of my pregnancy test while I was at work last Friday, so my husband said he would take the call from the fertility clinic.

I asked him not to call me either way once he knew, so I wouldn’t know if it was negative or positive until I got to the safety of home that night. We didn’t have any contact that day, apart from me calling him in the morning to let him know I’d had the blood test.  Then just before I left work that night, I called him again, to let him know I was on my way.

I tried to guage from the tone of his voice if the result was positive or not. But I couldn’t tell. Because of that I presumed the test was negative. I then cried and cried and cried all the way home. There was some music on the radio by a band I had never heard of before called the ‘The Unthanks’ who recently played at the Sydney Folk Festival. They are a northern UK folk band and their music was so sweet it made me cry even more. I cried for my husband and me and everyone who so badly wants a baby and has so many problems conceiving.

By the time I got home my eyes were red and puffy and stinging from the salt of my tears. My husband met me at the door and led me into the bedroom and sat me down on the bed where there was a bunch of flowers. I thought the flowers were out of commiseration. Then he told me the test was positive! I couldn’t believe it!

I had my follow up blood test today which confirmed I am definitely pregnant. So we are over the moon. But cautiously so, given that we lost our first pregnancy. But for the time being, I am treasuring this feeling, this wonderful feeling.

Are we there yet? On the home straight to test

This Friday we find out if we are pregnant following our last embryo transfer.

Since then, I have had two rounds of acupuncture, been to the osteopath to get my back fixed, ditched the nightly whiskys (but not the chocolate) and have being doing my ashtanga yoga with no vinyasas (jump throughs and jump backs), and no ujjayi breath. This is because both, especially the breathing, work to heat up the body like an internal pressure cooker, which is NOT what we want for our little embryo. We don’t want to pressure cook it – instead we want it to settle into my womb lining, lie back and have a nice long sleep for while fattening up into a healthy wee baby.

I’ve been trying not to think about it, but have noticed some subtle changes to my body, just like I felt the first (and only) time I was pregnant. For instance, my left boob is a little more tender than usual and I am feeling a bit sick – a bit like I am hungover. I also have a slight feeling you get if you stop yourself weeing mid stream. Last time I had a tweaking feeling but this time it is a ‘mid stream’ feeling.

It’s no doubt way too early to be feeling any symptoms but I can’t help zoning in on them, hoping, really hoping that it has worked this time.