IVF with Egg Donation: The Story That Sadly … Still Isn’t There.
For days I searched the internet for stories and personal experiences about IVF with donor eggs. Verifiable stories, with a real name to associate with a face, written in their own hand by women who have made this choice on blogs like this one. Not through anonymous interviews for well-known newspapers or via testimonials, always anonymous, on fertility clinic sites.
I was looking for women and couples who would “Come out” without fear of being judged, without hiding in anonymity, without being ashamed, and above all without having to lie.
I may not have been very thorough in my research, because the situation (here in Italy) is bleak. No one wants to talk about their history with infertility, explaining why they chose the path of using IVF with donor eggs. How it feels, the path to acceptance, and all the suffering and sacrifices that lie behind it. If someone does it, it is always more or less anonymous.
In part, I understand it. Admitting not being able to have children is not only a delicate matter but also a very private one, if we then add the choice of choosing egg donation, we’d rather cut our tongue than tell anyone about it.
Partially, this fear also applies to me. Although I had no problem talking about it with relatives and friends, deciding to do it on a PUBLIC level was a difficult process initially. Not because I’m afraid of criticism, I’m used to that, but because I feel like I have no reference points, I don’t know where to start, or what words to use. Basically, I feel lonely.
Why I Want To Talk About My Story About Choosing IVF with Donor Eggs:
Despite my massive respect for couples who have decided not to expose themselves for personal reasons, I have decided to speak instead. I’m sorry that we are still so far behind, and that’s why I want to tell my story:
- To help the many women and couples who would like to have support
- So that they don’t have to pretend, or worse yet, hide the true story behind the pregnancy.
- For them to be able of telling the truth about their desire to become mothers, about worries, sadness and frustration.
- To no longer be afraid of being judged, of receiving cruel and unasked comments, of being harshly criticized.
Since I personally made peace with my choice and I am very happy with the decision, I want to try to bring some little change to the issue, tell all of you reading this, in my same situation, that we must not be ashamed, that there is nothing wrong and that if someone has something to say, then let be it, we should not be afraid to reply in tune.
The important thing is to talk about it serenely with loved ones and not feel compelled to lie. Let’s make egg donation IVF a choice accepted (truly accepted) by society, with respect for all parties involved. Certainly difficult, but not impossible.
We women have come a long way, but when it comes to creating a life with the help of science, it seems almost worse than admitting to killing someone.
Every day Hollywood stars over 45 years of age declare that they are expecting and “that everything happened naturally!” Sure, and I’m Marylin Monroe 🙂
If you scroll a little bit further on this article, I posted the rather merciless data on female fertility, which, however, strangely, never concern VIPs.
I added this graph because speaking with some ladies in forums (very secret of course) about heterologous fertilization/egg donation IVF, they told me that they would have liked to know certain things when they were younger.
I don’t want to discourage anyone, but just say that if you have the desire to become a mom and are waiting for “the right time” (which does not exist in my opinion), perhaps it is better to think again.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have the right person at your side or for other reasons you have to or want to wait, just know that both the graph is downhill and the road is uphill :).
I too hoped to be the exception, like that famous cousin, or aunt, or grandmother of a friend … but no, most of us, sadly, fit the rule. It is better to know this fact asap, accept it and decide how to proceed accordingly.
I do not regret having waited until the age of 41 to feel the desire for a child. I can’t help it that I didn’t have it before. Had I known about the fertility decline after 35/40 I would have probably frozen my eggs. And maybe I would have donated them if I had decided that motherhood was not for me.
And to say that my mother at 22 had suggested that I “freeze the eggs”. I didn’t even understand why I had to do it, and what it implied (apart from imagining chicken eggs in the freezer). But let’s fly over … Ah mothers, they are almost always right, if only we would listen to them once in a while 🙂
Returning to our VIPs and how clearly they are all unicorns, a study by the ” American Society Of Reproductive Medicine” states that less than 1% of the stars admit to having resorted to assisted fertilization (and not even mention is made of the Heterologer, let alone) .
Here is a list of the VIPs who have admitted the use of IVF, but if you notice, the word “Heterologous Fertilization/use of donor eggs” is usually not mentioned. This is how the false myths and false hopes for ordinary women are created: “Well look how many women get pregnant after 40! If they can, why not me?”
Having a child after 40 is of course still possible, but as the graph above demonstrates, the statistics are pretty merciless after turning 43/45 . Yet among the VIP mothers, denial of using donor eggs gives false hope to many women.
That’s why, (not without difficulty, hey…I’m human too) I want to take the first step, telling my story and sharing my path.
In the hope of helping even a single woman to feel better, to want to tell her story, to make her feel less defective or wrong, but above all not to be afraid to ask for support if she needs it.
Because whether we are talking about heterologous or IVF with your own eggs, those who have been through it know well how much moral support is needed. And how often this is a lonely path full of obstacles and setbacks.
My story About Infertility and IVF with Donor Eggs.
My journey has just begun (officially on January 7, 2021), but not without a lot of research and, above all, heavy blows to deal with for several months.
Although I am only at the beginning, I already understand better the very few people who have opened up to me, telling me about their ordeal with IVF.
But if you are reading this and you know me in some way you are probably asking yourself a question: how is it possible that a person like me, known for being a free spirit, with no desire for ties, always on the go, has had the desire not only to become a mother but to try to do so using donor eggs?
Apart from the obviousness of being 43, so with “kinder eggs” as I like to call them, that are certainly not as fresh a they used to be, it was not age that made me make this decision.
So let’s start from the beginning. I want to explain my experience step by step and I begin by saying that despite everything I am going to tell you here, I am and will always be a free spirit and if I ever realize the dream of becoming a mother, the first thing I will give to the little boy or girl will clearly be A NICE PASSPORT! 🙂
From my around the world trip to the desire to create a family and become a mother
For those who have known me for a long time, the news of my (finally true) engagement came with pleasure but also with extreme surprise, when I also announced that we would try for a child, the faces became more incredulous.
I have always said not only that I do feel great being single but also that I do not seem to have a biological clock that works properly 🙂 And in fact, when I was 41 years old I never felt pressured, or to put it better ” doomed “, given my age, because I was ” single “. During my travels I remember the questions that came up from time to time:
- Are you already 35? And are you single? Don’t you want a family? Beware, it’s already too late!
- So you’re not married? … oh poor you, I’m sorry! if you want I can introduce you to…(add the name of a friend, cousin, son, relative)
- Do you really never think about having a child? Time flies “tick toc, tick toc”, then don’t say that you regret it and don’t come crying on my shoulder, I told you! (how nice) 🙂
Set aside from my amusement seeing o many pitying faces, after all, I was a loser in their eyes, being single and unmarried, but I already knew full well that biology is not an opinion, and that the time to have children was coming to an end for me.
How could I possibly explain that I did not feel the need to be a mother and that the fact that my time was running out was not enough reason to find the first male “victim” and make him the father of my children? This is not how I wanted to start a family. Based on the “fear” of not having time. Fear that by the way did not even belong to me.
My life was ALREADY complete. I lived in Mexico, warm and 5 minutes from the beach, using Playa Del Carmen as a base, I traveled far and wide: from Tennis tournaments in NY and Toronto to beautiful beaches and diving in the Galapagos and Bahamas.
In short, a good life, not as perfect as it might seem from the outside, but satisfying. I didn’t even think about children and family. And why should I, honestly?
I remember the harsh criticisms they gave me when my story was told by Huffington Post Italia came out and then reported on the Facebook pages.
They slaughtered me, saying that a life like mine was meaningless, empty, because I didn’t have a family. Because only with a family and children a woman is complete. I would like to see how they would rub their hands now if they read this article. “WE TOLD YOU SO!” But they are wrong 🙂
Despite my search for a child and my engagement, I still think exactly the same as before.
I am of the opinion that there is no one way to be happy and fulfilled. Many associate being single with being incomplete. Not having kids with being half a woman. For me it is not like that. It wasn’t before and it’s not now. Despite what I am about to tell.
So what has changed for me?
I simply found a person with whom I felt the desire to build a family together. Put simply, at 41 I found the “right person” or better yet, someone special to me.
One day watching him play with his friend’s children, something clicked inside me, the desire to be a mother. For a few months this desire has surprised and terrified me, and I have tried to fight it and reject it in every possible way.
“Me, a mother? I must have hit my head. Clelia put yourself together.” This is what I said to myself to chase away the feeling. I’ve been fine for 41 years, why did I have to feel like this right now?
Although I hadn’t changed one iota otherwise, I couldn’t pretend that desire wasn’t there. I had to deal with it first and then accept it. I even jokingly “blamed” him, saying that if I hadn’t met him now I’d be pretty happy with no thoughts of motherhood whatsoever. In the face of fear and the biological clock 🙂
After talking about it for a long time, we finally decided to give it a try without too many expectations, given my age (he’s younger). That healthy attitude of “if it happens is great, otherwise we’re fine all the same”.
The discovery of not being able to have children
It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 40. As a woman, with a functioning reproductive system, being told that you cannot have children is a very difficult blow to digest.
When we decided to give it a try, out of scientific curiosity and not to waste unnecessary time, I did some hormonal tests to evaluate my ovarian reserve. I will not go into detail in this article but I will write in others for those interested.
To my surprise, I had values similar to those of a 30-year-old woman. Obviously satisfied (and even underneath a little proud of it), I arm myself with ovulation stripes and a thermometer to check my basal temperature, another topic I will talk about better, and I begin the scientific experiment to find my fertile period of the month.
There was no pressure or rush, and seeing that I was ovulating as if I had a Swiss watch embedded in my ovaries gave me confidence.
Out of curiosity, sifting through the groups of aspiring mothers over 40 I read that many had done an exam to verify that their tubes were open:
it gives me a headache just reading the name 🙂
I decide to do it sooner rather than later to get a general overview of how my reproductive system worked.
The premise to understand how tortuous this first period was:
We started talking about children in March, then the Covid arrived, and I got it in April 2020. After a difficult month, I finally felt better, but I was still in quarantine for a long time. my boyfriend was stuck in Germany and I was in Sardinia.
The lockdown kept us apart for 6 months. Nonetheless, I start the ovulation sticks to understand if my cycle is regular, and the charts looked excellent. Finally, in July, we were able to meet again in Sardinia.
From there we moved to Germany at the end of the month and this is where I had the exam to check the patency of my tubes. I went to the hospital only worried about the possible pain during the visit. And instead, I felt no pain, at least not physically anyways, but the result was lapidary: Both tubes were closed.
The doctor gave me the verdict in a pitying voice as if to apologize, even if it wasn’t her fault. I didn’t quite realize what she was really telling me. I hear her voice, the words explaining that my only chance of having a child is through IVF and that, at my age, I should do it basically “yesterday” if I want to have any chance.
I left the room without feeling anything, my boyfriend in the waiting area asks me about the visit and I simply replied “I didn’t hear anything, ah by the way, both my tubes are closed … there ‘!” He looks at me amazed, both by the news and by my reaction.
They just told me that I can’t have children naturally and I don’t seem to care.
This numbness lasts until we are home. A few hours go by and it finally sinks in: I’m INFERTILE. What a horrible world, I feel defeated. Just a few months earlier, when we started the research I was the one saying “Oh whatever if it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t in our cards”.
But that was more an age-related comment than the possibility of being infertile regardless. So the wrestler in me says “I’m not throwing in the towel for a reason that has nothing to do with age”.
And so, like a bolt from the blue, the day after the diagnosis of infertility, I officially enter the unknown world of assisted fertilization, better known as IVF (In vitro fertilization). Something I thought I would never do.
Never say never in life. Never judge someone else’s path. One day it might be yours.
IVF: From My own Eggs To Donor Eggs – The Second Blow:
The first day of research on how IVF worked was very hard. I was overwhelmed by terms never heard before, success rates of 3-5% after the age of 40, protocols, medications, egg retrieval … I was about to throw it all away.
I remember the notifications I received from a Facebook group of aspiring mothers over 40 and how I was now out of there too. Age wasn’t even my main problem anymore. I left a goodbye message to everyone (secretly envying them) and I unsubscribed from the group. They were trying naturally, I wasn’t even given this little hope.
I didn’t expect that having a baby would be a piece of cake. I’m not that naive. But knowing with absolute certainty that trying naturally would lead nowhere was very difficult to accept. As a woman, I felt “defected” for the first time. As if it were a fault that my tubes had decided to go on strike.
Despite everything, in these groups, there were women who became mothers over 40 naturally. More than I expected. And given my hormonal values, I knew I could hope too, not naturally, but with the help of IVF, yes, I could.
So I now find myself in IVF groups and I see that here the age sadly drops even below 30. These groups opened up a new world to me, a world of young and older women, some had even worse values than mine, suffered from endometriosis, premature menopause, or just had an unexplained infertility diagnosis.
Reading these stories I feel almost “lucky” that I haven’t had to face this ordeal before. Never having felt the desire to become a mother until then.
Between Covid, lockdown, not being able to travel, and my first blow, I feel like I’m living a suspended life. Always waiting. I try not to get discouraged and keep searching. To be on the safe side, I want to redo the analysis for the ovarian reserve which was excellent only 4 months earlier.
The second disappointment:
And here is the second blow, since having both my tubes closed was not enough, I get the results of the hormonal values, and this time there is little to be proud of: they are in free fall.
I remember, incredulous, spending all morning staring at that paper, almost as if it were a death sentence. Between tears and defeat, I even began to think, very dramatically, that I would soon go through menopause. Let alone have a child.
I call the doctor to ask for clarifications, to know if it was normal that in just four months the values had worsened so much. He tells me to double-check some hormones the following month because they could fluctuate. And in fact, in August they are better, while In September they go down again but slightly. I do not know what to think.
I try to react to this news. Okay, I can’t conceive naturally, but it looks like my body hasn’t decided to shut down completely yet. They tell me I can still try with my own eggs. I’m feeling defeated, yes, but with an Airbag to cushion the blow, so to speak.
So, since there is a way, I want to try. I talk about it with my boyfriend, who agrees and we throw ourselves headlong into the search, albeit with a veil of sadness.
Because, let’s be honest, having to resort to science and medicine to conceive is not what a couple has always dreamed of when thinking about starting a family.
What everyone dreams of is an unexpected positive test, not seeing doctors, enduring endless exams, talking about medications and injections every day.
But there was still the possibility that my “kinder eggs” were not expired yet. I continue to take my supplements, hoping to improve their quality and keep my fingers crossed for when we find a clinic that suits us.
I inquire about the costs in Italy and abroad, the procedures, the difficulties of this path, of which I knew nothing. I read stories of women, even young ones, on their third, fourth, fifth attempt with no results. How devastating all this is on an emotional and even physical level. I never imagined it was a real ordeal, even for the strongest people.
I’m starting to ask myself some honest questions. Is it really worth it? Are we psychologically prepared for such a difficult path? What are my real chances?
I’m not sure how my brain started to think, but between trying with my eggs, and risking to wait months if not years for a positive result (maybe!), Or trying the path of egg donation, the needle was shifting more and more towards the second option.
And what about adoption? Haven’t I Considered It?
For the record, I would add that before evaluating other options we considered adoption, and then changed our minds since we did not have many of the requisites required, and economic stability that unfortunately for me went to the drain with the arrival of Covid-19.
In any case, to tell a woman who wants to try IVF (with her own eggs or donor eggs does not matter) “Why don’t you adopt instead”? Is one of the cruelest and most inappropriate remarks one can do. Not because adoption is not a valid alternative, on the contrary.
I believe that adopting a child is one of the greatest gestures of love that can be made. But I also believe that every woman has the right to try to become a mother as she sees fit and in such delicate situations it is better not to judge or give unsolicited advice.
Fortunately, I was not told, precisely because I immediately mentioned the almost impossibility of pursuing that path. As expensive as it was, IVF with egg donation was a more sustainable option. And as a woman, I would also have liked to experience the sensation of carrying your child in your womb and giving him life.
I asked myself many questions about my choices to become a mother. I started with the intention of trying without commitment and now it would almost seem to have turned into “Useless stubborn persistence”.
This is what I would have thought a few years ago anyway. Then you realize that the saying “you do not know how you could react if you are not in the situation” is a golden truth, and when you take this path you cannot click the “off” button and erase the desire to have a child overnight.
Could I get over it? Of course, I could. The world does not collapse If I don’t become a mother, nor does my value as a woman. But I would have lived badly knowing that I didn’t even try, even though I had some real possibilities.
What about my the age? Did it affect my decisions? Only when it came to choosing the timing. If I had been a few years younger I would have waited but more for practical, logistical and economic reasons, not for lack of desire. So the answer is no, I would have made the same choices even if I had been many years younger (with the same desire obviously).
Age only led me to shorten the time. Also because if I ever become a mother, I still want to have the energy to keep up with my child, so waiting was not in my cards. Without forgetting that the older you get, the more complications there are, including physical ones, in carrying on a pregnancy.
Why did we choose IVF with Donor Eggs and how are we experiencing it emotionally?
In reading about the vast amount of IVF experiences with own eggs after the age of 40, and comparing them with those who used donor eggs, I realized that a 5% chance with my eggs towards a 50/60% with one donor’s eggs transfer, didn’t leave much room for doubt about what was best for me and us as a couple, financially and emotionally.
As I see it, while I understand the sense of defeat of some women who have had to resort to the eggs of another woman, I consider it as an opportunity, not as a “condemnation”.
I was wondering what makes a woman a mother and a child truly hers. I couldn’t find any other answer than love. Pure and simple. As cliché as it may be, for me it is. This is why if it had not been for the bureaucracy and the impossible costs we would have also thought about adoption.
You become a mother when you take care of your child. Doesn’t it have your DNA? Ok, but you carried it in your womb, you gave birth, you fed the baby for 9 months with your blood. You have been given a single cell. You did the rest. This is what I think.
What about surrogate motherhood? What do I think?
The talk about carrying the baby in your womb, then feeling it 100% your child, sent me back to a reflection on surrogacy, a subject on which I still cannot express an opinion or have a clear and definite opinion.
Personally it is an option that I would not consider. But as for the criticisms addressed to those who resort to IVF or the use of donor eggs, who am I to understand the women who take this path? I haven’t been there, so I can’t judge.
I have my own ideas on when too much really becomes “too much” both in terms of age and procedures. But I keep these thoughts to myself because I know that among the cases that I consider “too much”, there are stories that I don’t know, as valid as mine.
A Thought For Those Who Criticize IVF with Donor Eggs:
Returning to my choice of resorting to Heterologous Fertilization using donor eggs: I turn to those who think that this is “too much”. You can criticize my decision. I have no problem discussing my choices. This does not mean, however, that I question them. As for me, I am at peace with the decision taken. I know it’s the right one for me and us, and that’s all that matters.
Emotionally both my boyfriend and I, after having carefully considered the pros and cons of the two choices, are living it relatively well, considering the stress of research, understanding the process and the many changes that our couple has had to undergo.
We made the decision with full awareness and responsibility. Both in relation to the donor and to what we hope will be our baby. What is right, not so much for us, but for our child, if there will be one. The duty to tell the truth, with the psychological implications that may exist and how to be prepared for it all.
Because IVF with egg donation does not only concern the moment in which it is done. It is a choice that you carry with you throughout your life. A decisioion the whole family will carry their whole life, and it is a duty to be informed and aware.
In the end, considering everything, we are happy and we can’t wait to start this path, documenting it here in the special section dedicated to IVF with Egg donation.
- To help those who are going through it, to understand that they are not alone
- To make the subject less taboo
- In order not to be ashamed of this choice
- To talk about it openly without secrets, with relatives, friends and with your own child.
- Because it is neither a fault nor a shame if we cannot conceive naturally.
- To raise awareness in society on an issue that is rarely talked about through real stories and testimonies.
When will our IVF with Egg Donation process begin? Which Clinic Did We Choose And Where?
After months of research and endless emails, on January 7th we finally officially started our IVF with donor eggs process at the UNICA clinic in Prague .
For those who follow me on Facebook and Instagram ( Travel Account ) you already know that at the end of September 2020 we were lucky enough to have a wonderful experience of a week in Slovenia with the Campervan, thanks to BalkanCampers who hosted us.
As I write this, I am living in Germany with my boyfriend, so we took advantage of the proximity to make a stop in Prague starting from Ljubljana during our return to Dresden.
With all the necessary precautions in the Covid Era, we made an appointment with two renowned clinics and decided without too much doubt on the UNICA clinic.
Why UNICA Prague?
In our case, choosing the Czech Republic (And the UNICA clinic in Prague in particular) instead of the usual destinations – Spain in the first place – was an almost automatic decision for several reasons:
- Proximity: We can reach the clinic by car in less than 2 hours. And from Italy, there are direct and inexpensive flights.
- Costs of Treatment: Definitely lower than in Spain, Greece, and other countries.
- Success Rate: Similar and sometimes higher than in Spain.
- Very homogeneous donors: Many women from Italy go to Spain for egg donation because of the similarity between the Italians and the Spanish. In the Czech Republic, there is such diversity that it is easy to find donors with traits similar to the Italian or other races. So the problem does not arise. If you think they are all blondes, tall like Eva Herzigova, as I thought too, that’s not the case 🙂
- Reliability and cutting-edge technologies: nothing to envy of Italy or other nations, I was able to see their laboratory and instruments and I was impressed.
Having said that, the path is hard, so the clinic suitable for us had to be serious, competent but above all human.
During the stop in Prague I found myself in front of a doctor (in the clinic which I then obviously discarded), who used these exact words “Oh yes my dear, the problem is only you and your eggs, come on, you are lucky enough to have a young boyfriend at least “, With a flirting smile and a wink.
I was speechless for the lack of professionalism but above all for the not very delicate way of approaching a patient who, among other things, has decided on her own mind to skip the attempts that are still possible, with her own eggs. For me, this doctor could be the wizard of assisted fertilization, but the rejection was inevitable.
At the UNICA clinic, they were courteous and professional. No low-level jokes. Indeed, during the consultation to clarify doubts about the choice of donor, they asked me why I did not want to try at least once with my eggs. Also going against their interests, since it would cost less.
Last but not least, the consultation with their doctor in Prague a few days ago was fabulous. Dr. Frgala is an incredible person both professionally and humanly. We asked (as an exception) to be followed personally by him, despite the fact that he mainly operates in the Brno clinic, but after listening to one of his online seminars we were convinced that he was our doctor. And until now I have to say that we were not wrong. Update on 29th of April 2022: We are still of the same opinion 🙂
We also briefly met Dr. Cepelak (who works in Prague on a permanent basis) and he will probably be the one to transfer the embryo when the time comes, and he seemed very kind and professional to us.
It’s nice to come home with a smile on your face, knowing that you are being looked after by a serious clinic, with people who don’t treat you like a number, and with a trained and very patient doctor (he answered dozens of questions), he is so nice that he would make you want to have a coffee together to have a laugh 🙂
Not a small thing, given the heaviness of the path that awaits us.
What awaits us now (and what we have already addressed).
For us the road is already uphill before starting: I have several hepatic angiomas that I have been keeping under control for years and which usually do not give me problems but that could, under the effect of pregnancy hormones, grow and in rare cases even break.
I also have two genetic mutations for thrombophilia which, although minor, may require the use of Heparin (a common blood thinner) and which unfortunately is slightly risky to use with my liver angiomas. So I am awaiting advice from a hematology specialist and from a hepatologist. The doctor is making sure we do not miss anything and that my health and safety always come first, which I appreciate.
This obviously would have been a problem even if we had conceived naturally, but using IVF requires a series of in-depth examinations to avoid possible complications.
They range from genetic, immunological tests, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, blood values for organ function, tubal exams, uterus check via internal ultrasound and hysteroscopy, and depending on your medical history, also other additional tests. In short: They turn you upside down like a sock!
During these visits, I had several unpleasant “surprises”. Except clearly confirming the closed fallopian tubes and genetic mutations.
The Pap smear resulted in a small lesion, which remained grade CIN 1 after colposcopy (CIN1 is a low-grade lesion in the cervix that may go away on its own).
In October, during a hysteroscopy, they discovered a little polyp and for the first time in my life, I had to go under the knife under general anesthesia to remove it.
At the mammogram, they found a suspicious “gray” area so, scared to death, I went to get yet another ultrasound, where fortunately they confirmed only a minor cyst.
In July, the thyroid value was slightly high. We found a doctor in Germany who didn’t ask for a kidney to run a blood test, I start taking (and then stop) a thyroid medication because the value has now dropped too much, I repeat the tests, and pay everything out of my pocket because if I had waited for the national health system, I’d be now too old to even be a grandmother 😀
After all these visits, trying not to lose patience, we sent the results to the clinic coordinator, in my case Pavla, always very punctual in her answers, with whom I speak more frequently than my mother :). After a review, they booked the first visit with the doctor: we were officially starting our journey with IVF!
The choice of the donor in the Czech Republic and the ethical dilemma.
If you discard these preliminary issues, the path of IVF with egg donation is, in theory, relatively simple. At least compared to IVF with your own eggs.
Just a few days after our visit with Dr Frgala and the psychologist responsible for the donation, I was given 3 donor profiles, anonymous by law in the Czech Republic, in which only generic data will be shared to respect their privacy.
They will tell me the physiognomy, the color of the eyes, hair and height. The hobbies, if she has already donated or if she is already a mother, health conditions, and the main character traits. No picture.
The donors undergo a medical interview with related genetic exams, sexually transmitted diseases, etc., and a psychological evaluation to understand if they are aware of what their choice entails and to eliminate hereditary psychiatric problems whenever possible.
The donors are paid, and with due care, I find it right since they have to undergo hormonal stimulation, egg retrieval under anesthesia, and then make their bodies available, which is no small feat. I have been told that some girls are not considered suitable if the motivation is clearly only money.
Of course, we will never quite know what prompted these girls to donate eggs. But reading about online groups where donors and infertile women meet there are many who do it mainly to help.
As already mentioned, our decision to choose the eggs of another woman was also based on the questions we asked the clinic about the donors, among other factors.
Personally, I would have preferred that they were not anonymous, in case the future child wanted to know the person with whom he is genetically linked. In the US, there is this possibility and also in some – few – European countries such as Ukraine, which we too had considered, and then discarded for ethical reasons.
That said, anonymity or not wasn’t the main discriminator for us. In some cases, the donor wants to remain anonymous, or it has happened that even if the donor was not anonymous, over the years she has decided not to want to communicate with the women who received the eggs, creating unnecessary expectations and disappointments for the children. So it is not always a guarantee of protection for your children.
I find that donors do something extraordinary and despite the ignorance and taboos that still surround this topic, talking about it openly would greatly help children born this way not to feel different or to be subject to bullying.
Bullying, of any kind, is always the result of ignorance and if we stopped treating IVF with donor eggs as a shame we would all have, parents and children, far fewer problems.
For a child, the awareness that somewhere there is a woman who has helped his mother to bring him into the world, and to know that the mother, the woman who carried him in her womb, gave birth and loved him, wanted him to such an extent that she did not give importance to one’s genetics should make the child feel even more wanted. Certainly more than some children who were later abandoned by genetic/biological mothers.
On a psychological level, the choice of IVF using donor eggs brings with it many very personal and delicate ethical doubts and dilemmas, which must be resolved BEFORE choosing this path. We are talking about the future of our children after all, not just our personal decision.
My path of Acceptance.
I’d have a lot more to say about how I feel and how we are approaching this path of IVF with egg donation, and I probably will in the next updates, but talking about my story here has been tougher than expected. I would have liked to fully express what it feels like to be in this delicate situation, but I’m not sure if I have succeeded in my intent.
Anyone who knows me knows how open-minded and also very transparent I am, yet when I first approached women’s groups trying to conceive, (mainly naturally, not specific IVF groups) I remember that people were often asked about the age when they had become pregnant. And for women over 40 other questions usually followed:
“Naturally or with IVF?” but also: “With your eggs or as a donor”?
At the moment I didn’t notice it, only later did I realize that in these apparently innocent questions there was instead a sort of “discrimination” albeit involuntary and probably on an unconscious level.
Why else ask if the conception happened with IVF and using own eggs or not, in a group of women with fertility problems? After paying attention to other reactions and particular comments I understood.
The mothers of children conceived by assisted fertilization have “less importance” than those who got pregnant naturally, and mothers with children born with egg donation are, always unconsciously, considered “the poor women” to feel sorry for. Half women, despite having become mothers.
The true Rockstars of these groups remain, undisputed, those mothers over 40 who conceived naturally. No doubts about it. This is clear by the reaction in the group: enthusiasm for those who announce a natural pregnancy, and polite congratulations to pregnant women via IVF. The different level of enthusiasm is clear. For those who became mothers via IVF with donor eggs, there is not even polite enthusiasm (which is found only in groups dedicated to them).
And I realize that I was no less. Thinking back on my reactions, I too, without realizing it, turned up my nose to children not conceived naturally. It was almost as if the mothers had “cheated”.
Clearly, all of this happens on an unconscious level. So although now I am sure of my decision, I still had to go through that phase of inner “acceptance” that all women, more or less, must undergo if they choose IVF with donor eggs.
In my case, it was easier because I knew that my ovaries were still able to cooperate but I chose to go to the egg donation. So it was an ACTIVELY made decision not passively taken.
If I hadn’t had a choice, I think I would have had a harder time accepting having to use another woman’s eggs and would have needed more time to come to the decision.
All this to say that this has not been, and will not be, an easy path and that I, first of all, had to overcome my prejudices about it, and indeed I was very surprised when I told my parents and they did not blink an eye. They were just happy for me. Also happy and proud for wanting to talk about it openly.
I hope my story with egg donation has helped or will help someone one day. I honestly don’t expect to see messages in large numbers (even reading one would amaze me). I hope I’m wrong, and that the emotional energies spent on writing all this can finally lead to a dialogue on these delicate topics and dispel some taboos.
I should start estrogen therapy shortly to prepare the uterus to receive the embryo. Hopefully, the start date is the end of January, so very soon. Between the excitement and the worry, I will keep you updated.
See you soon!