Updated: Feb 7, 2019
Yesterday we posted Part 1 of Maeve’s Egg Donation Story. Read here if you haven’t already.
For most of us, we don’t immediately jump into thinking ‘assisted fertility’ when we think of starting or adding to a family yet for an increasing amount of couples around the world and particularly in Ireland, IVF and similar treatments are on the rise. These topics are complex and delicate, handled by experts and executed with cocktails of drugs and specific protocols but all too often, we don’t talk about the emotional and psychological implications for those facing or undergoing such fertility routes.
Egg donation was never something our Feb Warrior Woman Maeve had even considered when she started trying for a baby with husband Marc but an option they arrived at after multiple failed cycles of various other treatments.
In today’s post, Maeve brings us on her personal journey and thought process in having to consider this as a last ditch attempt at becoming a Mum.
Undergoing Egg Donation. The Greatest Gift.
Ciara is my sister, she was 31 and I was 35 when she offered to become a donor for us. Ciara is married to Barry and at the time of donation, they had a 2 year old daughter Jessica. I don’t think Ciara knew what was fully involved when the concept of egg donation first came up.
To accept the donor eggs was a very difficult and brave decision for us to make. I felt that I would be a fool not to do it, as I felt so lucky to have this offered to me. Some days I would think that really, it wasn’t much different to using my own eggs, as both mine and Ciara’s were made by the same 2 people, but then other days I worried that Ciara would think of the child as hers and it would make her really sad not to be able to bring that child up herself, or she might feel that I took it off her or something. I also thought and worried a lot about the unborn child, trying to imagine what it would be like, if I was conceived that way, and how confusing their identity might be. I worried too about telling people, I made no secret of our struggle conceiving, but now, it involved this other element. I didn’t want other people knowing before the child existed or knew itself. All these thoughts went through my head relentlessly and gradually I talked them through with Marc, Ciara and Barry and began to really accept the idea and gain confidence in myself as a parent and as a person, who would guide and help the baby through these obstacles that might come up.
Ciara went for a consult at the clinic and got the all clear to be a donor. We had a 6 month wait between that first visit and when the egg collection happened. She was kind of annoyed at this long wait as she and Barry wanted to try for another baby themselves as soon as the treatment was over. All the appointments caused a bit of stress for Ciara too, she told her boss what was going on and that helped her feel less guilty about going out for an hour here and an hour there during working day. During this time, Jessica was getting lots of chest infections that wouldn’t shift with antibiotics, so her doctor wanted to test her for cystic fibrosis. This was very shocking to all of us and while the tests turned out negative, it brought home to Ciara the importance of genetics. I think she started to realise that there was more to the egg donation that just giving away something she was never going to use.
We went to counselling together and separately. We made it clear that this was a one time deal. We would let Ciara do it once, if it worked, great, if not, then that would be that and we would be adopting.
It's very easy to say... “one more time, let’s try it again” so I felt it was important to make it clear going into it that it would be a one off and stick to it. Another important thing we all discussed was what would be done with the leftover embryos, like how many times would we go again, if it worked. Would we keep having kids? I said if we had twins this time, I would probably go again, so it could be 4 max. Ciara clearly wasn’t comfortable with this idea, so we decided we would all sit down again and treat it in the same way, as a decision all 4 of us would make together to use any frozen embryos.
During this time, I was grieving a bit for the fact that I would never have my own genetic child. I felt that our family were all really excited about the fact we would give the egg donation a go and that no one really understood what it was I was losing. I had to accept it wasn’t going to happen for me the way it does for so many others, that I’d never have a child with my eyes, or my smile... it was very difficult at times but I also knew that I had to accept it and that I didn’t want to keep doing treatment after treatment, when something in the mix clearly wasn’t right.
So, we began the IVF cycle together. I was doing the injections too, so I felt we really were in it together. Ciara’s eggs went on to be stimulated and I prepared myself to receive them. Once treatment starts, it goes really quickly. It took 3 and a half weeks from that first injection to collection. I’ve only ever done the long protocol, so not sure what anybody else’s cycle involves or will be like. Ciara got pretty bad migraines from the meds, which was horrible for her, I never had any bad side effects and I felt really bad that she had to suffer on my behalf, but she was great. It was ok for her to take syndol, which relieved the headache’s and when she started on the menopur they eased.
All this time, I was very happy, I was preparing myself mentally for the transfer... but having had so many failed attempts it was ingrained in my brain that I should prepare myself for the treatment to fail too. I didn’t want to get too excited but I was quietly confident it would all go well.
Both of us responded well, we down regulated on time, all the eggs had matured very well, and my womb lining looked good. At each stage, I was waiting for bad news though, so it was a worrying time too.
Transfer day came, I took that whole week off work. Marc and I stayed with Ciara and Barry the night before, I drove Ciara in and Marc followed. I felt very protective of her but so very proud. She went in for the collection and I waited in the recovery room. I think Marc felt a bit lost that day, as he was kind of on his own.
The egg collection is weird, you are sedated but not knocked out, so it’s very emotional. Ciara came out of theatre and she was quite upset, she thought they only got 4 eggs, as that’s all they counted first. They had actually gotten 14 in total!!
12 Eggs were mature, 9 fertilised. We still had all 9 on day 3, i.e. none had died, so decided to wait for a day 5 blastocyst transfer.
Day 5 there were 2 lovely blastocysts to transfer, and 2 which they would check again on day 6.
I got the transfer and it went really smoothly. Next day the other 2 embryos had not moved on which meant we had none to freeze.
After transfer, I went about my normal life again, went back to work although I did take it easy in the evenings and tried to rest as much as possible.
2 weeks later was test day!!! I took the day off again, experience of a let down and having to go to work was one I didn’t want or maybe couldn’t even repeat. I really had convinced myself it was going to be negative. I woke up at around 6.30, peed on the test stick and couldn’t believe my eyes THERE WERE TWO LINES!!
Absolute shock followed, then absolute delight, I was SO happy. I rang all my 3 sisters, Ciara first of course. My parents were told straight away and everyone was delighted. Especially us!
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