My husband and I started trying to conceive a baby when I was 33 years old. After a couple of years of no pregnancy, we went to see an infertility specialist. My husband had to go through a specific surgery due to a large vein that was essentially “cooking” his poor baby tad poles…..
After the surgery, we became pregnant using just Clomid. Unfortunately when we went in for the 13- week ultrasound to hear the baby’s heartbeat, we got the devastating news that the baby we were carrying was no longer living. It was horrible. I had to have a very painful D and C – and spent many weeks emotionally recovering. That was October of 1998.
By spring of 1999 we were ready to try again. We did IUI insemination in May of 1999, and we were blessed with a baby boy in February, 2000. I turned 37 the year he was born. We had complications in delivery with his heart beat drastically plummeting, so I needed to have an emergency C-section. All went fine and we then had a healthy 9lb 14 ounces baby boy. Joy!
My son is a red head and as a baby he was fiery and spirited! So much so that we considered just having an only child…ha! But clearer heads prevailed, and I could not imagine my son’s children growing up without any cousins on our side, since I had 16 cousins I grew up with….so we attempted baby #2.
It was 2002 and I was soon going to turn 39…..we had better get cracking! We went back to the fertility doctor who put me back on Clomid for a few months…but he said it was important to think about IVF now since I was getting older…..the cost was shocking….$12,000 for one round of IVF…wow! But, credit card in hand, we went for it. After rounds of fertility drugs and shooting needles into my stomach…we “produced” eight healthy embryo’s….all with A quality if my memory serves me right. We gave NO thought to any left over embryo’s, because as you all well know…the goal is a baby…and that is the only thought and “goal” on your mind during those stressful times.
We transferred two fresh embryos in January of 2003. I got pregnant with a singleton…..overjoyed! Two weeks later the doctor called me back and said it was a ‘chemical pregnancy.” Again……destroyed. It took me a few months to recover, but then we went back and had three frozen embryos placed in May of 2003. Two of the babies “took”, but one baby was reabsorbed and we ended up with one healthy baby girl. We were thrilled when we learned we were having a girl!
Unfortunately, I was a “high risk” mother at my grand old age of 39, and I had several complications…..the worst of which was high blood pressure and heart problems. I was placed on bed rest -but I was not very good at resting….I also had to wear a heart monitor for the last two months of my pregnancy to track my heart and alert doctors if my heart was going to shut down or worse……
Thankfully, my daughter made it to her scheduled C-section delivery date- February 9, 2004. The doctor warned us that I should never again attempt another pregnancy…due the serious complications I had from my last one. He said another pregnancy could indeed kill me.
But we had a beautiful baby girl with matching red hair like her brother..which was funny because I have blonde hair and my husband has brown hair. At first we thought the doctor might have placed the wrong embryo/IUI combination inside of me…but later found out that red hair runs on both sides of our family….=)
So, its now 2004 and we had used five of our embryo’s and had three high quality ones left. What to do? We spent $500 per year to keep them in storage…all because we had no idea what to do…..do we donate them to science? Do we just destroy them? Do we donate them to another couple?
My husband is an engineer and thinks very logically…..his choice was to donate to science. I was not comfortable with that option. I liked the option of donating them to another couple, but I could not stomach the idea that a pregnancy might be achieved, and we would never know. The world is small……and what if my kids met this child one day…not knowing that he/she was a genetic sibling?
It was 2012 and for eight years we had been paying $500 per year to keep our embies in frozen storage. I was going to turn 50 years old in 2013 and I knew that my body could not handle another pregnancy, and our life was full with our two growing and active kids. Then an ad came on the radio about the Snowflakes embryo donation program. It mentioned open donation. Hmmmmm….of course I went straight to Mr. internet and researched the agency. Their promise was to match you with a couple who shared your values and coordinate an open donation arrangement.
I have to admit, my first thought was ok…if we go this route and no pregnancy is achieved, we have done no harm. That would of course be the simple route to go, but I secretly hoped that a pregnancy might be achieved, and that we could have a warm and loving relationship with the recipient family. My kids could be blessed with a full genetic sibling- and we could play a role of “doting aunt and uncle/grandparents.”
It’s all such a mystery as to how or why things happen, but for us, it was miraculous. My husband was not a fan of the reams of paperwork we were required to fill out……we needed the health histories of our great, great grandparents if we could track them down. We had to state our desired requirements for our recipients….etc…..I used a long flight to New York to corral my husband into filling out the forms with me. His only request was that the couple matched his republican political views……wow. I had many more desires than that one….and besides, I was a democrat…ha!
We submitted our completed forms to Snowflakes in 2013. Almost immediately, they sent us a package with information about a couple who matched us. We loved them! They looked like us, and had the same Irish heritage..and they really wanted a red headed child. =) I was an educator and my husband an engineer….they matched us up with an audiologist and an engineer. They seemed genuine and kind. They had been through several stressful years of infertility, like we had.
We quickly agreed to donate to this lovely couple. I asked the Snowflakes counselor if we could talk with them first. She said that unfortunately, they had been previously matched with another family and built a strong relationship first…only to have all four of their embies not survive the thaw. They didn’t want to go through the pain of disengaging from another family……we respected their wishes.
We did communicate a little through email….so that was great. Long story short, they first transferred two embies, and no pregnancy was achieved. We were all heartbroken…..especially for them. By now I was really praying for a miracle. We were informed by the agency of their sad news…and they asked for some privacy to heal for a few months.
After some time, they decided to go forward for their one last “embie” to give him a chance at life……….and SUCCESS!!!! I remember getting the email about the successful pregnancy, and just staring at my computer……not really knowing how to react….! Just shocked and in a daze at first.
They sent us the picture of the “gender announcement” using blue balloons. It was amazing! We were still in complete shock and wonderment…and wondering what this meant for our lives now?? We were thrilled for them, but still trying to wrap our brains around this crazy new thing called Embryo donation.
Their beautiful baby boy was born in July of 2014. It has been wonderful ever since!
My kids were now age 10 and 14 in 2014. They were thrilled, but a bit confused, when we told them the story of their baby brother. We told our friends and family, and I would say 99% were incredibly supportive and amazed at this gift of life. The other 1% didn’t agree with our choice, but that is ok, it was our choice and we are the ones who are thrilled to have made it. It really was a life or death decision for us…do we destroy them, or do we see if we can give them a chance at life? Life won!
We live in California and our recipient family lives in Colorado. Far enough away to not complicate things too much, but close enough for a one hop plane ride. We were invited back to see them in April of 2015 – spring break. We were SOOO nervous! My mom, kids and husband and I flew back there and checked into the Hampton Inn. They had invited us over for a large extended family gathering..and about 30 people attended…..to meet the “genetic family”. It was nerve wracking! My son summed it up so nicely as we were closing our hotel doors behind us getting ready to leave for the dinner…he said with a high pitched, nervous voice….”Let’s DO this!”.
The evening could not have been more perfect. Wonderful, loving people, and a beautiful baby to boot! I instructed the kids to be very respectful and to not pick up the baby without permission….etc….but the baby took so strongly to his genetic siblings…it was amazing! We have beautiful pictures of the three of them together…..playing, laughing, and having the time of their lives. I felt SO very grateful for this gift that was given to my children….they now had a full genetic sibling to enjoy and embrace for the rest of their lives…and our recipients are the ones who brought him to life…we are so grateful!
Later that evening….. my mom kept an eye on me and asked me if I was ok? I truly was ok…I looked upon their child as their child, not mine. She raised him in her womb, and brought him to life when we absolutely could not. They were willing to share him with our family and let us be a part of his life. How more blessed could we be?
Our two families continue to visit each other once or twice a year. They visited us here in California last October and again this past August…we took the kids to a museum, the zoo, the beach…and just hung out with extended family and played with toys….it was such a joy! We plan to visit them again in Colorado early next year. My daughter now wants to live in Colorado…ha!
As for my emotions…..I did get a little teary saying good-bye this last time. “Our” little guy is three years old now, and he is talking and calling out my kids’ names with glee. He seems to have an uncanny way of recognizing them, even though months will go by without them seeing each other.
The tear I shed actually took me by surprise. My kids were concerned, but I just told them they were tears of joy and happiness, and that I never have been very good at “good-byes.” It helps to plan and focus on our next reunion with them. We continue to send pictures back and forth and presents for birthdays and Christmas. Our recipients are building a wonderful scrapbook of pictures and messages so that their son knows how he came to be, and that he has two families who love and cherish him to the moon and back.