Get comfortable because my story is a long one! Sean and I met later in life, and began our adventures in IVF when I was 40. We were lucky enough to create a lot of embryos, but unfortunately I didn't know about PGD, so I now feel we wasted precious months and years suffering negative pregnancy tests and miscarriages due to my older eggs. We gave up the hope of expanding our family, which consisted of one wonderful big kid from a previous marriage; us; and our beloved dog. As the months went by, I couldn't seem to let go of the thought that there was so much love between our family, and it would be a missed opportunity not to bring another person into the world nurtured by this positive energy.
I brought up the idea of donor eggs to Sean, but he balked. As time wore on, he came around to accepting it as our only option to expanding our family. His brother had adopted internationally, and he knew that had just as many pitfalls. So we stuck with the road we were on, to avoid a new learning curve. We found an agency online who represented a young woman I felt great about. She reminded me of myself at age 23. We paid her travel costs to our city and began the process of having her screened, as agencies simply represent the donors; but do not pre-screen them for health conditions. It was revealed that this donor carried the gene for cystic fibrosis.
Our RE was willing to work with her, but we would have to have Sean tested for the CF gene. The cost was steep so we decided to choose a different donor instead, as we had paid an agency fee and under contract this was allowed. The next donor we chose showed up at our clinic but we were told they had worked with her in the past and she had "compliance issues" so they would not work with her. This agency did not have other donors I felt were good matches. So we scoured agencies online to find a good match, which we did. But the next young woman lived far away from us and as a cost-saving measure, we decided to choose a clinic closer to her, and take an as-needed 4-hour car ride back and forth in one day ourselves.
The cycle was underway; and both the donor and I were on our meds. Unfortunately, on the day of her retrieval, a nurse called me to say that she had contracted an STD during our cycle, and never informed our clinic. Her STD medication had interfered with her stim meds and she had no follicles matured for egg retrieval. We were outraged, as we spent quite a bit on the agency, the donor's initial fee, the clinic cycle fee, legal fees, medications, and our own travel. We considered taking legal action, as the donor was in breach of a few terms of our contract. But for a few reasons, we decided not to. We just moved on, convinced that our unlucky streak had to come to an end. Next we chose someone from a new, third agency, because she appeared to be a great match.
We paid her and her companion's travel costs cross-country, and our nurse coordinator assured us this donor was emotionally mature and thrilled to be a donor. However, on retrieval morning, we learned her follicles weren't large enough to go to retrieval; and the doctor advised us to halt the process with her, which we did. Donor #5 was from the same agency as Donor #3, as our contract stated that we had up to a year to choose an alternative donor if for some reason the first one didn't work out. We flew her and her companion to our city -- again, knowing it was against all odds that we'd have more misfortune -- and this donor did produce a few eggs. Three to five eggs (can't recall exactly) after all we had been through! The ensuing embryos were of poor quality. All were implanted (in two separate cycles, one an FET) but none took. Then our RE suggested DEB USA to us. After our bizarre journey, we were very quick to sign on. And DEB was very quick to ship out our lot of eggs!
We were so excited about this donor, who really looked a lot like me. I was devastated to learn that my pregnancy test came back negative. After all we had been through, we decided to purchase DEB's Assured Plan. And with Donor #7, whom I felt a strong connection with.... I FINALLY became pregnant. When I answered my RE's phone call with pregnancy test results, I was so conditioned to hear bad news that I was incredulous at the good news. I honestly didn't believe the nurse coordinator! I sort of contested the news by saying I didn't feel pregnant, and was she sure? But 8.5 months later, our perfect, healthy, gorgeous, smiley little baby girl was born. I was 45 at conception and 46 at delivery! There were so many points along the way where the logical conclusion would have been to throw in the towel. I have not mentioned we are not a wealthy couple. But some force within me was so strong that this was the right thing to do.
My family of origin was never close; and my son's father was terminally ill, casting a sadness over our lives. Sean's parents passed away when he was younger. We three had each other, but expanding our family by one more simply felt very right and very wise. To read my own story, it really is unbelievable what we went through. It reminds me to never judge others, because you just don't know their reasons for their actions. We have no regrets about our choices and the money we spent. We feel so grateful to DEB for helping create our happy ending. Seeing our daughter's huge grins when my son walks into the room -- nothing in the world compares to this bliss! Our choice has remained our private, personal story. Only a few close friends know we used donor eggs. But with such a roller coaster ride -- and finally experiencing the joy of a new family member -- I want to be able to offer encouragement to others out there struggling with infertility, disappointment, loss, or big questions. Good luck to all!