I went through three unsuccessful rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) when I began fertility treatment. I knew my eggs weren’t great, but we wanted to give that a proper go before moving on to donor egg.
The Decision to Move Forward with Donor Egg Treatment
I was quite relieved, actually, when I was told donor egg treatment was the most suitable option, as it was very apparent that IVF wasn’t going to work. So the fact that there was this other option with really great success rates that was open to us was great to hear. Once we had our meeting with the doctors after the third unsuccessful IVF round (we asked about donor eggs in that round, as it had come up in an early meeting with a doctor anyway), we contacted Shady Grove Fertility and started referring to it as ‘plan Q.’
Meeting with Shady Grove Fertility
We decided to move forward with Shady Grove Fertility because of the great success rates and, especially, the opportunity to choose a donor from such a good sized pool. Additionally, I’m American and have friends and family in the D.C. area (even though I’m originally from Texas), so it was a no-brainer, really.
Choosing a Donor and Going through Treatment
It was a bit odd/surreal at first, looking through the database. But once we got into it, it was just fine. We had so much information about the donor we chose that we were really comfortable with the decision. Besides the basics—she resembled me physically in many ways; if we had a baby who looked like her baby pictures, no one would think anything of it; and there weren’t any health-related concerns—she sounded like someone we’d like. She also had traits we’d like to encourage in our child (e.g. an interest in science). But what made the decision for us was that in her answers to the short-answer questions, she just sounded like me. Once we’d selected her, we became more and more comfortable with and confident about our decision—it just seemed right.
When it was time for our donor’s egg retrieval, the process was slightly delayed due to an ovarian cyst, but that was also nice because it meant that (accidentally or not), we got some additional insight into the donor’s personality, which gave us even more confidence in our choice. Shady Grove Fertility made the whole process as smooth as possible, given that it’s tricky to know what exactly will happen when.
Our nurse kept us up to date about every development, as well as providing lots of guidance about meds and what we needed to do when. The first transfer (Feb 2013) went smoothly and resulted in a pregnancy, but unfortunately that turned out to be a miscarriage due to a blighted ovum (discovered when we went for our 6 week scan). But knowing that I could get pregnant and that the miscarriage was due to sheer bad luck was helpful.
We had three frozen embryos still and one was put back the following July (2013). Unfortunately that ended in a miscarriage as well, which was really, really difficult, but Doris and Amanda were really supportive and encouraging. Fortunately, a likely culprit in terms of my immune system (cytokines) was identified by the Lister Clinic here, and so I was put on steroids (easy and inexpensive!) for the third transfer in January 2014. That pregnancy was quite fraught due to the previous miscarriages, as well as a lot of bleeding, but we got through it and Barnaby was born in October!
When I found out I was pregnant the first time I felt happy, then quietly happy the second, and relieved the third (but really, really nervous that it would end in miscarriage again).
Now that we’re parents, I’ve realised no one told me that sleep deprivation is actually cumulative. But, additionally, no one told me that a baby could be so much fun—I didn’t expect to enjoy Barn so much until he was at least 18 months old or so!
Jen’s Advice for Future Donor Egg Patients Seeking Treatment in America
SGF has a number of advantages over using an egg donor in the UK: first, you get to choose the donor from a database and have a LOT of information about them. The argument I’ve heard (mostly on Radio 4) against using donor eggs is that the child doesn’t know anything about his or her ‘history,’ but in our case, we know a LOT. As Barn grows, we can tell him quite a bit about this woman who gave his mommy and daddy such a wonderful gift. Second, you really forget that they are from an egg donor, as does everyone who knows him. His grandmother (my husband’s mother), often remarks on how he looks like my brother or seems to have traits from my side of the family—which, genetically at least, is not possible. Of course, the comments that he seems to have inherited my hair colour are the funniest—my hair has NEVER been this colour naturally.
Third, the time difference is actually a huge advantage—I could reach a doctor or nurse pretty much from 8 am to 10 pm UK time (mornings I could reach someone here; evenings someone there.) So many things seemed to happen around 8 pm, and it was wonderful to be able to speak to Doris on the phone then, as it was 3 pm in D.C. Finally, with the Shared Risk Program 100% Refund Programme for Donor Egg, we knew we could just keep going until it worked and just focus on what to do next when the two miscarriages happened. It took a LOT of stress off of us.
Barn is OUR baby and we are the only parents he’s ever known. Adoption is a route we considered, but as older parents who would only be able to adopt an older child, we just didn’t feel like we could manage it. Donor egg has been the best possible option for so many reasons.
Go for it!!!!!