Karen had a very fertile history. Her first two children, now both young adults, were conceived easily in her 20s. But after her pregnancies, she was diagnosed with endometriosis.
A painful chronic disease, endometriosis is one of the most common causes of infertility.
Each month, endometrial lining found inside the uterus sheds from the body during a woman’s period. When endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus or in other places of the body, it is known as endometriosis. As it does in the uterus during menstruation, endometrial tissue breaks down and sheds in other parts of the body, causing inflammation and pain. There is no known cure for endometriosis, but symptoms cease when menstruation ends.
To eliminate the pain from her life, Karen elected to have a hysterectomy at 40 years old to remove her uterus.
When her marriage ended and she became a single mother, she found support in her longtime friend Jim. They had been friends for over a decade, and found themselves ending their respective relationships at the same time. Without even realizing it, over time they found themselves romantically tied.
Jim had always wanted children, and Karen knew firsthand the love and joy that children bring. They hoped to share in the gift of parenthood together.
Without a uterus, they knew they would need a gestational carrier.
Since Karen was now 42 years old, the chances of a healthy egg supply were unknown. Working with Dr. Joseph Osheroff at Shady Grove Fertility Center, Karen underwent egg retrieval. They planned to combine Jim’s sperm with Karen’s eggs through IVF, then transfer the embryos to the uterus of a gestational carrier.
Dr. Osheroff was hopeful when Karen's eggs produced good quality embryos for transfer. They transferred embryos to the gestational carrier, and learned that she was pregnant. Unfortunately, the pregnancy did not progress and the gestational carrier miscarried.
The miscarriage was incredibly painful for Karen and Jim. The loss also forced them to step back and reconsider their course of action.
Due to Karen's advanced reproductive age, using her eggs gave them a decreased
chance for a successful pregnancy and an increased chance of another
miscarriage. Karen and Jim were faced with a difficult decision – use Karen’s eggs or use an egg donor.
The choice was emotional and challenging, but after taking some time to reflect, they both decided the risks outweighed the benefits. They would conceive their child using donor egg.
When they told Dr. Osheroff of their decision, they were pleasantly surprised when he gave them a hug and shared the most hopeful words they had heard yet.
“Congrats, you are going to have a baby.”
Women over 40 have a five percent chance of pregnancy during any given month with natural conception. Doing IVF with frozen donor egg offers women a 45 percent pregnancy success rate at the age of 40.
After contacting Donor Egg Bank and reviewing donor profiles, they found themselves with a wide range of questions. They toiled over profiles, and considered their options.
Then Karen turned the tables in her mind.
If she was an egg donor and put her history down on paper, would she pick herself?
Karen and Jim decided that they ultimately wanted a baby, and rather than get bogged down with endless questions, they wanted to move forward. They decided on a donor who looked similar to Jim, and shared his Hungarian and Polish features.
Within three days of finalizing a donor with Donor Egg Bank, Dr. Osheroff had received eggs for treatment. The gestational carrier was prepared for her cycle as the frozen donor eggs were fertilized with Jim’s sperm. Dr. Osheroff recommended that they transfer one embryo to the gestational carrier. The embryo was transferred on December 3rd, and they were overjoyed to learn they were pregnant two weeks later.
Karen and Jim reside in Maryland, while their gestational carrier lived in Colorado. They were diligent in traveling out for every other doctor appointment. When they found out they were having a baby boy, they were even more excited. Jim was the last male in his family, and now his family name would be carried on.
Nine months later on August 15th, their son James Vincent III was born.
“In the stages of choosing an egg donor I wondered in that moment how I would feel. There is absolutely no difference,” explains Karen. “I feel the same way for Jimmy as I do my biological children.”
When Karen and Jim walk Jimmy in his stroller, they are regularly stopped by strangers noting how similar Jimmy looks to his mother. Jimmy also has a birthmark on the back of his head, a unique family trait that Karen, her children and her mother were also born with.
Karen doesn’t understand how Jimmy came to look like her or have her family birthmark, but she believes it is God’s way of telling her that Jimmy belongs with her.
Karen and Jim are grateful for the joy of life, and the opportunity to see life through Jimmy’s eyes. They are quick to state that they became parents in a different way, but it doesn’t take away from the wonderful gift they now have.
Want more inspirational success stories?
I have fell in love with someone almost a year agoand she had a hysterectomy and I was just wondering about the risks of having a healthy child if we decided to do so
Submitted by Eric 4 years, 6 months ago