Tears of Sorrow, Tears of Joy: Struggles and Victories with Infertility

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From Toni:

In 1997 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I wan’t married at the time, but my doctor was quick to tell me that when I did get married,  if my husband and I decided to have children one day, we could run into some problems with infertility. I can’t really decribe the emotions that followed  other than to say it was all surreal. I knew that I wanted to have children, and being told so prematurely that it would be diffificult to conceive was difficult for me to hear.

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Here’s a photo of me with newborn baby Tyra when she was about 3 weeks old in 2001.

I was one of the lucky ones.

My PCOS did not prevent me from having children, but for many women who live with the condition, it can. PCOS is definitely not the only cause of infertility, but it is one that can make women explore other child-bearing options. Heidi Hayes is the CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA and wrote this post about the egg donor process.

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Take Action Facts About the Egg Donor Process

Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate when it comes to having a baby. Many couples struggle to conceive for various reasons. Sometimes infertility is caused by disease, an infection, endometriosis, or another reproductive issue. Fortunately, couples who may have had no hope just a few short years ago now have many different infertility options to explore. 

There’s nothing more disappointing for a young woman than after years of heartache, hope, grief, and an overwhelming feeling of self-blame, that she is unable to naturally conceive a child.

The good news is, there is hope with the modern medical advancements with infertility and the egg donor process.

It’s important to understand that there is more than one route to parenthood. Egg donation has become increasingly popular particularly the past few years.

My partner and I were high school sweethearts and always planned on having a nice big family; I wanted 3 and he wanted more. You can imagine the pain I felt being unable to get pregnant after 3 years of trying. After undergoing extensive testing, I was diagnosed with infertility – in other words, my eggs were no good…

I went through a tidal wave of emotions; disbelief, grief, fear, anxiety and disappointment. I felt broken. But I immediately started researching alternative routes, which gave me hope again.

It was actually a doctor friend of mine that explained the process of the donor egg IVF: the infertility solution that gave me the opportunity to be a mother.

My advice to you is get counseling before you begin the process. It’s a big climb…

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 16,000 in vitro fertilization attempts involve egg donors. And did you know this process has the highest success rate out of any of the fertility treatments offered?

Be wary…there is still a stigma attached to using an egg donor where many women, including celebrities, keep this secret, even from their children.

Another probable truth – You will at some point have a meltdown under the stress of it all. Not being to have your own child naturally and having to depend on modern science and the medical world to have a baby is an emotional experience. Keep your mind open. Gather as much information as you can. And keep your thinking positive and you will get there.

A huge plus for me with the egg donor process is that both my partner and myself could be a part of our child creation. I would provide the womb and my partner the sperm.

Step 1 – We decided to move forward with egg donation and started looking for a donor. After a consultation we learned we had two options: either find a donor on our own or go through an agency. The process of agreeing on a donor took 2 months but we finally nailed it.

We decided not to meet the donor. That was our choice.

Step 2 – My partner and I met with our therapist and she assured us many couples choose not to meet the donor. We also went over some of the emotional aspects of using a donor egg to conceive, such as grief over the loss of a genetic connection.

Step 3 – Next we signed the contract and began the actual process. We opted for frozen eggs because the cost was lower and the option was available to us. (On a side note we were told to seriously consider telling our child at an early age about the frozen egg donor process, because this would keep it positive and give them the opportunity to weave their own story. Makes sense.)

Step 4 – Pre-Cycle Evaluation is where we had a physical consultation, disease testing, and uterine cavity evaluation.

Step 5 – Now it was time to get my uterus ready for the embryo transfer. I took the birth control to stop my ovaries from releasing eggs and I took an oral tablet to stimulate my uterine lining growth. Five days before the transfer I applied a vaginal progesterone gel to prepare my endometrium to accept an embryo.

Step 6 – Egg Thawing and Sperm Processing involves thawing the eggs to ensure they are viable and analyzing the sperm provided by the partner.

Step 7 – In vitro fertilization (meaning fertilization ‘in glass’) happens immediately after the eggs are thawed. The sperm is injected and the fertilized egg is monitored for about sixteen hours.

Step 8 – Embryologists will monitor the embryo as it grows and develops over the next few days. The transfer usually takes place on day 5, after the embryo has developed into a blastocyst.

Step 9 – Post Embryo Transfer Procedure and Follow-up. The estrogen and progesterone therapy are continued to increase the chance of a successful conception. After 15 days, a pregnancy test is performed to see if the results are positive. Eight days later another test confirms that levels are rising, and about 3 weeks later an ultrasound is performed to confirm a heartbeat.

I was so excited to get a positive pregnancy test on day 13 with elevated growth hormone levels. We were pregnant with twins and went on to have two healthy baby boys later that year.

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Frozen donor eggs made our dreams of having a baby come true.

For more information about egg donors, visit the Donor Egg Bank USA website.

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