By Sue Ann
I have always wanted a husband and a family but wasn't worried about getting there in a hurry, my mom had me when she was 38. Her mother had her when she was 39. It could wait. I wanted it to be wonderful and I wanted it to be right.
At 38, I married Rob and with him came two wonderful step (bonus) children who were then 6 and 12. We had talked about another baby from the beginning. We were planning to get a jumpstart on our honeymoon and I hoped to come home pregnant - which we did. But we miscarried shortly after.
The following summer, we got pregnant again.
We miscarried. Again.
I could get pregnant but couldn't stay pregnant. I started to feel “broken” and “too old” to have a baby. I was devastated and mad. It was then that we were referred to OHSU for fertility help.
From the first time we met Dr. Lee, we both just loved him and felt totally comfortable with him. We felt really cared for as a couple and as people. We weren't just another number coming through the door and everyone we worked with was willing to connect with us and give us the help we needed.
But the news wasn't good. Tests showed my FSH was over 15. Dr. Lee told us our chance of a baby with my own eggs was less than 1%. He urged us to save ourselves the heartache and expense of unsuccessful IVF and consider using an egg donor.
He couldn't tell us exactly why my body wasn't producing good eggs but offered several possible explanations. It was frustrating to have incomplete answers but helpful to have as much information as possible.
At first, I couldn't wrap my head the idea of using an egg donor. It was not something I had ever imagined and I didn't know anything about it. I have a large network of friends and I didn't know anyone who had done anything like it - or so I thought.
That fall at a work convention, I noticed a friend wasn't feeling well. She pulled me aside and explained she had just donated her eggs to a sister's best friend. My jaw dropped and I asked her to tell me all about it.
Soon after, another friend shared that she had donated eggs twice - first for a family friend and then for a stranger.
Suddenly a potential egg donor didn't seem quite as scary. I had once imagined an egg donor as someone young and reckless but these friends showed me a whole other side of it. I understood egg donors were regular people. They were my friends.
Dr. Lee's words about egg donors started to sink in. “No woman who has ever used a donor egg has had the baby and wanted to give it back. Trust me - that baby will be yours.”
After working with a counselor and weighing our options, we decided to move forward.
The first donor we chose rejected us because they were donating eggs elsewhere. Another heartbreak. It all seemed endless. I was so angry.
But then I go a call from Terri Lynn.
“What are you doing?” she asked
“Sulking.” I said
“When you get done with that, why don't you come down here? I've got something that you've got to see.”
When I got there, Terri handed me a photo and my heart leapt. This woman looked like me. Terri said she even sounded like me. She could be The One. We called immediately to see if she was available.
When we found out she said yes and was ready to go, I cried and screamed for joy in my car. Rob and I, the clinic staff, and the donor were all thrilled about the match. We were on our way.
From there, it went pretty smoothly. We heard over an over that our donor was enthusiastic and excited to make our dreams come true. I was assured she was fully on board, getting great care, and doing her part as best as she could.
And by this time, I had good relationships with the doctors and staff at OHSU. I felt personally cared for and confident about my care.
Nine months later, we gave birth to my beautiful girls, fraternal twins, Vivian and True. They may not have my DNA but, I can assure you, they are ALL mine. I simply cannot imagine my life without them. They are all that I ever wanted and more.
Know as “2-41 MRY” on her file, we call our donor “Mary” and she, in her own way, is part of the family. She will always be part of our lives. We plan on telling the girls all about her some day. Now, at 30 months, they know mommy and daddy had special help to get them born. Someday they'll be ready to hear more.
Her photo - that I looked at often when I was pregnant, wondering what my daughters would like - is kept in a special place, waiting for them.
Some words of wisdom
Talk to others about what you are going through. When you are on the outside looking in, it looks like everyone is getting pregnant so easily but it isn't so. I am still amazed at how many friends of mine opened up to me about their own miscarriages after I told them about mine. I never knew - I would still never know - if I hadn't talked about it.
Our family and friends know what we have been through and they have offered help and support - every step of the way.
Seeing a counselor really helped though the whole process. I needed to vent my frustrations and process all that was happening. Not having a baby with my DNA was a big deal and it doesn't just go away. Having to rethink what it means to be a “mom” is a monumental task. I'm so glad I found the help and support I needed so now when a woman in the line at the grocery store line tells me my baby looks just like me, I don't feel a twinge. I feel absolutely confident that everything is as it should be. And it is.