My Aging Eggs: How the Secrecy of Egg Donation Impacted my Pregnancy

September 22nd, 2015
My Aging Eggs Donor Egg

I recently read an article that highlighted the taboos associated with using donor eggs. In general, egg donation is still “hidden” and many couples wrestle with deciding if they will tell their offspring, let alone tell their friends and relatives. As I read this article, I thought back to my days of blissful, successful pregnancy, and I began to reflect on how the “hidden” portion of egg donation really impacted me.

My husband and I have had a long history of infertility, enduring many unsuccessful attempts at IVF treatment. We moved on to adoption, and thankfully we were successful in bringing home our son. But to attempt a second adoption, only to have it fail after 6 long years of trying, was truly heartbreaking. As a matter of fact, to say we were broken from the process is really an understatement; I didn’t believe I had the emotional resolve within me to try again. But then I considered using donor eggs.

"I recognize now that my aging eggs and the fact that I was toying with ‘last resort’ options had left me feeling like I had failed."

While I knew about donor egg IVF and how successful it was, it took nearly a year to convince me that it could work. I finally relented, and we moved forward in selecting a donor who we believed would be a good fit for our family; one who would help us create siblings for our son that would mirror his Hispanic heritage. Luckily for us, and our doctor, we were pregnant on the first cycle.

Despite the amazing news, however, I didn’t immediately run out to set up our nursery or to buy maternity clothes. I didn’t shout in triumph from my rooftop or even whisper the news among close family and friends. I recall being very fearful of losing yet another pregnancy; the early days were so scary, with some blood loss and frequent trips to my doctor to make sure everything was OK. But there was another reason that I withheld the news from the world that cuts a bit deeper.

"Egg donation is sometimes considered a last resort."

It is the alternative to adoption that typically guarantees at least ½ of the genetic material is related to a member of the family. Egg donation gives the female the chance to be pregnant and to deliver her own baby. It also affords the male partner the opportunity to share a genetic connection, and because of that genetic connection, it gave us the ability to choose to tell or not to tell.

I recognize now that my aging eggs and the fact that I was toying with “last resort” options had left me feeling like I had failed. I was over 20 weeks pregnant before we told any of our friends. Of course, no one dared ask us, given our long history; it was so much easier for my friends to think I was just putting on a bit of weight. But when we did finally tell, we avoided the details of exactly how the miracle occurred, only telling our closest friends the full story.

"Inside I was squealing with glee at the thought of being a new mommy, and yet, I allowed my unfounded fears to devour my inner joy."

I’ve heard individuals say that some women feel ashamed by using an egg donor. I don’t believe that the word “shame” quite describes my feelings; it was more a combination of failure, fear and age. I was having children at a time period in which my high school friends were picking up driver’s licenses and prom dresses for their children. I did the math in my head: our children would be in college when I would be in my sixties.

When I finally did buy maternity clothes, I found that I chose clothing that “hid” my pregnancy rather than flaunted it. I was still uncomfortable with celebrating my success, and I was fearful that the worse could still happen.

I was also thoughtful of how others might judge me if they knew. I didn’t know anyone else who was pregnant and over 40. I anticipated the tough question, “Why did you wait so long to have children?” --the implication being that we were too selfish in our perceived “yuppy” lifestyle to want to settle down to be parents.

Inside I was squealing with glee at the thought of being a new mommy, and yet, I allowed my unfounded fears to devour my inner joy. Given the chance to do it all again, I would definitely do it differently. I would flaunt my pregnancy – I’d wear those cute belly-hugging shirts, buy some great maternity dresses. I’d pose for baby belly photos and ensure we planned an amazing baby moon trip.

Being pregnant was a true privilege and a joy, and I want everyone to see egg donation as the priceless gift that it is, without diminishing the hard work that couples go through to get to success. I achieved my dream of being a mom, because I persevered through the darkest times in my life. Overcoming the challenge of infertility is a huge accomplishment, and one that we should celebrate and be proud of at any age.

About The Author

Heidi Hayes

Heidi Hayes is the CEO of Donor Egg Bank, USA. She has more than 20 years of healthcare experience, having worked in the fields of pain management, physical therapy, dialysis and reproductive endocrinology. In addition to her understanding of the business of assisted reproductive therapies, she has personally experienced it. Heidi and her husband are the parents of three children and have built their family through adoption and donor egg treatment.

Comments

Heidi, you really get to the heart of the matter--not shame, exactly, but "failure, fear and age." I wasn't ready to have children when I was most fertile, and when I started being ready, my relationship to my now-husband wasn't in the right place. I still worry that people will think me selfish for wanting to give birth rather than adopt, but I really did want that, and I also didn't want other people being the judge of whether or not I was fit to be a parent, especially since biology sort of already had. I'm still worried that my son will feel some kind of disconnect and somehow mourn not being with the woman who provided half the architectural drawings of his very being, but I'll deal with that when it comes. For now, the absolute delight he brings to me, and the sense of fulfillment I have at having my very own son (okay, well, I share him with his dad!) sees me through my anxiety.</p><p>Sincerely,</p><p>Antonia

Submitted by Antonia Stephens 2 years, 1 month ago

Honestly, it's the best decision that my Husband and I made as there is an opportunity to choose a healthier version of yourself or someone completely different. I now have beautiful twin boys via egg donation and one looks like my Husband and one looks more like me, which you would think impossible...but no, it's the truth. One thing I'm mad about is that we didn't decide to do this sooner...It's noone else's business unless you trust those who you share this info with and when the time comes we will share this info with our boys because we want them to know and their blood type is different, so rather than make a big mystery over things, it's agreed that the boys will know in time. </p><p>The decision of receiving egg donation was easy once we found out that my eggs were probably destroyed many years ago, even before I met my Husband, so this was basically our only choice for me to have the experience of pregnancy and everything that comes with it. I must say that this was the best and happiest decision we've ever made as a couple and even though only two eggs survived the process, we have our family now and maybe, if possible, we plan to do it again. Good luck to you all and I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Submitted by L. Comfi 2 years, 1 month ago

I too will be using the option of donor eggs after years of unsuccessful IVF and I am over 50. Blessing to you and thanks as I understand.

Submitted by Shannon 2 years, 1 month ago

After 5 long years of trying for a baby with 5 miscarriages and 4 failed IVF cycles with my own eggs, I made an appointment with Dr. Steven Bayer at Boston IVF. On July 23, 2014 I had my first donor egg cycle and became pregnant right away on the first try. My husband and I of course were happy but at the same time very nervous that something bad was going to happen due to my unlucky history. We pretty much walked on egg shells the entire pregnancy. Being 44 at the time I ended up having a wonderful pregnancy with no complications. I gave birth via C-Section to my son on April 8, 2015. It was a day I will never forget and one of the happiness times in my life. </p><p>I had told everyone in my family and all friends that this was an egg donor pregnancy and all were so happy for us. We had gone down the adoption avenue too and were considering private adoption. Then I researched frozen egg donor options because my Reproductive Endocrinologist had mentioned it. I do want to say that I was not too happy about it at first only because I was still mourning the fact that my eggs were no good. I really wanted to experience pregnancy myself and this was the only way. Financially it was about the same it would of cost compared to Adoption and it came with a money back guarentee.

Submitted by Pamella Magliozzi 2 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, my first email got cut off. All I wanted to say was I am so glad I decided to do Egg Donor and my husband and I are planning on doing another cycle very soon. To me Family is not how it was created but how you take care of them. We have an adorable baby boy now and he is our little miracle.

Sincerely

Pamella Magliozzi

Submitted by Pamella Magliozzi 2 years, 1 month ago

We too used donor eggs. We have a beautiful baby girl.she is now going on 18 months. We are in our late 40's now and are getting ready to transfer again. We used a surrogate last time and will again this time..we feel so blessed and tho alot of times we here oh what a beautiful granddaughter we just smile and so no she is ours just one of those later in life things and then the people are like omg! You are so lucky to start over I wish we could. It's becoming more and more acceptable these days .and boy does our daughter keep us young. We have no regrets.

Submitted by Jody Hansen 2 years, 1 month ago

I've considered getting pregnant, on my own, since I was 30. I've dreamed of being a wife and mother since I was 5. I always talked myself out of it because I don't want to do it alone and I want my child to have a father. Then, at 45, I decided to have a baby with donated eggs and sperm. I'm a good person and would be a great mom. But the doubts crept back in. I couldn't tell anyone of my decision. What would they say about a fat, single woman getting pregnant at 45, by choice! I talked myself out of it, again. Now, a year later, I know I will forever regret that decision. So anyone who is wondering whether you should use donor eggs, please do it. It doesn't matter if your child is genetic, adopted, foster, step, or donor. He/she will be your child and you will love him/her the same.

Submitted by Jaye 2 years, 1 month ago

I am planning to have an egg donor IVF the first donor ran away and we are praying for the second to be back as she said she needs some time to think

Submitted by Eva Diane 2 years, 1 month ago

Thank you for this message. Planning to make my decision to use a donor to. This gives us hopes and dreams and opportunity to become pregnant. This is not what I or we were hoping for. Rather use my own too. Not so sure any more. Don't want to lose hope. Want get pregnant and have a baby and give him or her tender love and care and nurture. Just hope god bless me or us babies and children's. Gives encouragement. God bless you all. Hope and the best of luck. Thank you!

Submitted by Desiree D Riley 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you for writing about your experience. Your words about preserving through the darkest times really struck a chord and it really helped to know there are ladies out there who have been through this as it can feel so unbelievably lonely at times, even with the unwavering love and support of your partner. I am hoping to get pregnant with a donor egg in Spain in the next couple of months. Mostly it is surreal, a mixture of longing, impatience, fear, hope, mostly hope I think. It's the hardest most intensely private battle to submit yourself to endless experts and to hear clinical diagnosis of poor egg quality, age, AMH, FSH...things you never really knew or cared about but now you fight not to let define your very being and then you arrive at egg donation and you know it's a miracle, a chance and also a miracle you have made it so far with your sanity. That you simultaneously grieve the what ifs in quiet moments of reflection and feel like you can finally see a blurry finish line and you can't quite believe that it could be real and you just might get to be a mum. I wish everyone also on this journey the very best.

Submitted by Bonny 7 months ago

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