It was powerful to be back in the same room.
A few months ago I spoke for the first time as a parent at a RESOLVE New England (RNE) event on using an Egg Donor. It was the same space where I had sat four years earlier, but I was in a very different place. I was nervous, but really looking forward to giving back, to sharing our experience with people who were considering this option. To help me prepare, I looked through the journals I kept during my many years of trying to get pregnant.
IVFs – 3x
No pregnancy, but a lot of angst, sadness, anger, hope and frustration. It all came to an end (or so I thought) in a windowless office talking to my doctor who told me that IVF would not work for us. It felt like the end of the world. I remember wearing sunglasses to hide my tears on the subway ride home.
There was a baby shower invitation waiting in my mailbox when I got there.
So now what? After so many years of being moved along the fertility process through the medical system, it was jarring to have no “next step”.
Lucky for us, RNE was holding a seminar only a couple of weeks later on this very issue. It was a seminar on moving beyond fertility treatments – covering grieving your loss, adoption, living child-free, and using an egg donor. It was an informative and helpful event although we skipped the egg donor section; we were totally convinced it was not for us.
A wonderful woman, a therapist specializing in infertility issues, had spoken to our group about creating a ritual to mourn our loss. We took her advice and a few weeks later we sat by a lake in New Hampshire writing out a list of all that we had lost. We cried. And then we put our lists into a bottle, corked it and canoed out to the middle of the lake and tossed the bottle into the lake.
The ritual was helpful, but I still felt stuck emotionally, and I sought help from the therapist who had spoken at the meeting. For over a year she occasionally brought up the possibility of being helped by egg donation, but I rejected the idea as too strange, artificial and unbalanced.
Nevertheless when I saw RNE was hosting an all-day seminar on egg donation, I was intrigued and we decided to go and see what it was all about.
It changed our life.
There was a lot of information to take in – the medical component, the legal component, the logistical component – how do you even find someone? – but the parent panel was the most powerful. Listening to these people tell their stories, I kept thinking, “They are normal. They are like us. I know their stories.”
We got into our car and looked at each other.
“What do you think?” my husband asked me.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think we should try it.”
I can’t say the process was easy. Potential donors can change their minds, or get pregnant (yes, that really happened) or something comes up in a medical screening – a lot can happen. It took us almost a year and our fourth donor before we even went through an IVF cycle!
But it worked.
We couldn’t believe it. And we were having twins! After years of getting knocked down over and over, it was odd to have such a positive thing happening. We kept expecting the rug to get pulled out from under us…but it didn’t.
In September of 2010, we welcomed our daughter and our son into this big wide world. I often find myself calling them “gift” as an endearment – that is what they feel like: a complete and total gift.
While I hoped that sharing our experience might help people make the decision that is right for them, I didn’t realize how much I would gain simply from listening to and sharing with other people who are on this journey; because the journey didn’t come to an end with the birth of our children. Building a family in an unconventional way presents unique questions and decisions and it is good to be with people who also walked/are walking this road. It is good to remember how much we loved our children even before they existed. I know that love will guide us and protect us as we go forward.
For more information about donor conception and peer support groups offered during the decision-making process, please visit https://resolvenewengland.org/support/topic/. To learn more about our upcoming Connect and Learn Seminar on Adoption, Donor Conception and Surrogacy, visit https://resolvenewengland.org/connect-and-learn/.