When I had my first two daughters, fertility issues were not something I had to think about. Then, I had a miscarriage. And everything about the way my body was supposed to work in a “womanly” way appeared to be broken. It was the first time I had to think about infertility personally. I had friends that had experienced it, but it had been sort of taboo to discuss. I’d heard of donor egg success stories. I’d heard of friends donating eggs. I’ve had a friend of a friend that had a baby via surrogacy. It wasn’t personal until it was.
I didn’t like that it was taboo. It was so hard because people that hadn’t been there had so little understanding of what was happening.
A friend knew.
And when I was pregnant with our fourth, she was in the middle of her family’s struggle to get pregnant. We talked about what I had done and what she had done. I asked her to share her journey with you all; to make it less taboo; to make more people understand. She and I both wanted to share her donor egg success story.
About my friend
I am a 38 year old professional. I obtained two undergraduate degrees and a Masters. I love photography and gadgets. I married at 30.
My husband and I decided to try to start getting pregnant at age 32, two years after we were married. I started my monthly cycles at a young age (10) and was afraid that I might go into menopause at a young age as well. It figures that just about the same time we decided to start trying to get pregnant, we also had issues with job security. My companies that I worked for kept getting sold and closing the office that I was located in.
Trying on their own
I had my annual checkup at 32 and asked my OB when I should be worried if I wasn’t getting pregnant. She stated that if I did not get pregnant within the first couple of months I should schedule another appointment with her and she would try to help things along. She was able to prescribe a drug that is taken on certain days of your cycle, which should help to release eggs. After 3 rounds of this prescription, she referred me to a local fertility clinic.
Right about this time, my first company announced the office closure. We decided to put getting pregnant on hold until I was able to get established in a new position.
Reaching out to a fertility clinic
About 1 year into my new position we finally reached out to the local fertility clinic. My husband and I are on the heavy side, and as such my husband has health issues (gout and diabetes). The first issue the fertility clinic was able to establish was that one of my husband’s prescriptions was working against our getting pregnant. At the same time (and keep in mind there are mean and there are nice doctors) the initial doctor we spoke to told us that we would have to lose weight prior to the fertility clinic being able to help us. The doctor was not really nice about it, and it left a pretty bad taste in our mouths.
Weight was lost, appointments were made, and tests were taken, by this time, I am 34 years old. We went through several more rounds of the prescription then we decided to move forward with an IUF (Intra Uterine Fertilization). I have described this procedure as a complicated turkey baster. After our first treatment, I was notified that my office was going to be closed, again pausing the pregnancy track. Please keep in mind that during this time we did not do anything to prevent pregnancy, we just didn’t do anything to help either.
As a side note, around this time, we had some friends that were also struggling to conceive who decided to move forward with embryo adoption. The procedure took, immediately, and produced a beautiful little girl. Since then, in February of 2015 they gave birth to child that was naturally conceived.
It wasn’t working
Christmas of my 36th year was miserable. My husband pretty much ruined Christmas by moping about the whole time. The lack of children was affecting his disposition. By this time I was trying to accept the fact that we were never going to have children. I told him that on my 37th birthday (May), I would go back to the fertility clinic and try, one more time.
We were able to request a different doctor, who was much nicer and willing to work with us. She finally told me that I suffered from hyperovarianism AND that my quality and quantity of eggs was low. She suggested that we try a couple rounds of IUF and if that did not work, IVF or other methods were going to be our only options.
Considering different fertility help methods like using donor eggs
We tried 3 rounds of IUF to no success. The doctor sat me down and informed me that every day the chance of getting pregnant was slimmer. She gave me a 10% chance of conceiving with IVF but stated that my likelihood of conception with egg donation was 50%. My husband and I spoke and decided to at least attend the information meetings regarding egg donation.
Honestly, from the time of my 37th birthday to our decision to obtain more information 3 months had past. We were also interested in embryo adoption, but at this point knew that his sperm was viable.
Information we sought when exploring egg donation
Who, what, when, where and how!
- We wanted to know how much was going to be covered by our insurance (my husband’s insurance policy is written out of Illinois where they have a state law requiring companies to cover some infertility treatments).
- We wanted to know financing options (even after insurance covered the IVF portion of the procedure we still had a hefty bill for the cost of the eggs).
- We wanted to know about the screening procedure of the women that donated eggs.
- We wanted to know the medical procedure and the steps that we would have to take.
What do you wish you would have known going into it and that you could tell others?
I was allergic to the oil that housed the hormones I had to inject for 15 weeks. If you are uncomfortable, ask if it is normal. If it is not, they can prescribe something else. I ended up with welts and bruising and the inability to sit for long periods of time because I didn’t ask.
How we found an egg donor
My husband and I likened it to a dating website. We were able to filter based on certain “traits”. He and I both looked separately and wrote down our top choices. It just happened that both of our top choices were the same donor. We were given a wealth of information on the available donors.
- A health history and a family health history, goes back to grandparents.
- Basic characteristics of donor (also included family characteristics up to the grandparents) i.e. height, weight, race, eye color, hair color blood type.
- Education and work information.
- Information about former pregnancies and donation cycles. (Our donor had never been pregnant but she was proven in that another person had chosen her as a donor and successfully delivered a child.)
- Essays with personal information about the donor.
Once the donor is selected
Once we choose the specific donor, those eggs are put on “hold” for us.
Once that decision was made to move forward, everything began to move quickly. Since you are willing to invest more money in the procedure the doctors want to make sure that your body is viable for implantation. I was scheduled for a Hysteroscopy in August. During that procedure they found several polyps on my Uterus. The polyps did not mean that I could not get pregnant, but they also would not help my in the process either. They immediately scheduled me for a Hysteroscopy Polypectomy (September).
At the same time we were given access to the website to choose the donor and we scheduled an appointment with a Psychologist. Our clinic screens both the donor and the recipients to ensure they are stable enough to go through the procedure. What was awesome about the appointment was the Psychologist provided a list a books that will aid in telling our daughter how special she is and how this wonderful woman gave a tiny piece of herself so that we could have her.
Once I was fully healed from the Hysteroscopy Polypectomy I began taking hormone pills (two different pills several times a day) and injections (once a day) to prepare my body for the transfer. The injections continued for 12 weeks after the transfer, as they would for any IVF patients, to insure that my body produced the right amount of hormones to encourage sustainability and growth. The injections sucked, but the end product was so worth it!!
Nowadays, unlike in the past, doctors are aware that it is just as likely for one egg to take as it is for two. They suggested that only one egg be transferred, as multiples cause more difficulties. We agreed.
We started with 8 eggs. From those eight eggs we had 5 viable embryos. They implant the embryos at the blastocyst stage (5 days after fertilization). They are able to determine which of the five blastocysts was the strongest and that was the one that was transferred. We have a picture of the blastocyst on the day that it was transferred, our baby’s first picture. We also have 3 remaining embryos that were eventually frozen (one did not develop past the blastocyst stage). We can choose to transfer more embryos in the future or donate the remaining.
Is there anything else you would want somebody to know that is in your same shoes?
You are not alone. Oh and if you are older it is not your age, but the age of the egg that determines if it is a high risk pregnancy. My egg was 29, so I did not have to go to the specialist.
Tell us your donor egg success story aka happy ending
My transfer occurred on October 21. I was declared officially pregnant on Halloween day, though I “knew” before. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl less than a month after my 38th birthday. She was 3 weeks early; due to a condition that I developed called Polyhydramnios during pregnancy. I delivered her via C-Section and she was 8 lbs 9 ounces, 20.5 inches. She is the light of our life!
An open mind
We went into the pregnancy with an open mind. We knew there would be issues, but we decided that we would do what the doctor’s suggested and not try to fight. When the doctors initially told us that we would probably deliver via C-Section they were shocked at how calm I was and repeated themselves several times to make sure I understood what they said. I told the doctor it is what it is and it is pointless to get upset over it.
We ended up taking a “loan” from our 401(k) plan in the amount of $14,000. We decided this was the best option, as we would have costs after the child was born as well and didn’t want to have a loan out there that we may not be able to pay. We also did not want to deplete our saving. The donor eggs cost right at $9000. Then you have all of the procedures and medicines. We were lucky to be covered with insurance. I believe it could have easily cost over $20k without insurance. The annual storage fee for the remaining embryos is $400.
I didn’t explore surrogacy. I wanted the experience of being pregnant. I don’t know what we would have done if the result had been different. We may have investigated this option.
More on egg donation
If you are looking for more information about egg donation, or seeking the right program, you may want to consider Family Creations, LLC®. They are an internationally recognized Egg Donor and Surrogate Program. Their experience and devotion to their clients has earned Family Creations, LLC® the reputation of being one of the most renowned Egg Donation and Surrogacy agencies in the world. They choose to work with people who have their passion for this very special kind of sharing and their team is committed to providing the very best assistance to each of their clients. Family Creations, LLC® addresses every family’s concerns each step of the way – not only do they work to help with egg donation and finding donors, but they also work with recipient families, too. They have a very rigorous process for both the donor and the recipient to make sure that it runs as smoothly as possible.
More on Surrogacy
While my friend didn’t explore surrogacy, it could have been an option for her, too. Surrogacy is when one woman carries another woman’s child (either with her own eggs and her spouse’s sperm, or donor’s or a combination of both). Family Creations, LLC® also has a very thorough process of helping families obtain a surrogate to help them become parents, making sure that they are healthy and matched in the best way possible.
Becoming a surrogate
If you are interested in becoming a surrogate, Family Creations, LLC® is currently looking for surrogates in the Georgia area (as well as the others listed below). To become a surrogate, they require that a woman be between the ages of 21-40 with a BMI (body mass index) under 35. She must be a non-smoker and must not use drugs. For surrogacy with Family Creations, LLC®, a surrogate candidate must reside in California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Georgia, or Nevada, have had at least one easy pregnancy with no complications and must not be receiving any type of government assistance.
I’m so happy for my friend’s story and their beautiful child. I know the struggle is not something anybody wanting to become a parent should endure, but I’m so glad she found services like those offered at Family Creations to help her and her husband became the parents they dreamed they could become.