Our Donor – what matters and what doesn’t matter when really it ALL matters.

Our clinic emailed with news of a donor this week. Let’s call her…..donor A. Or, because she’s in Spain, let’s call her Ana.

Ana is:

  • 19 years old
  • Slim build
  • Dark blonde hair
  • Blue/green eyes
  • 5ft4
  • About to start a degree in Economics
  • A first time donor

Sounds good right? Right. Except she hasn’t donated before, and she doesn’t have any kids of her own. In donor-world, she is not ‘proven’. This is not a particularly good thing.

So, we went back to the clinic and explained that although Ana sounds great, we were really hoping for a ‘proven’ donor. So they emailed about donor B. Let’s call her Betty.

Betty is:

  • 21 years old
  • Slim build
  • Light brown hair
  • Blue eyes
  • 5ft4
  • A proven donor
  • a high school graduate – she works as a nursery nurse

So now we have a proven donor and Betty sounds great. Except – she doesn’t have a university degree. This bothers us. It particularly bothers DH, who doesn’t really believe in nurture versus nature. He gave a good example of his own (adopted) brother who sucks at maths, even though they were both brought up by the same parents (DH is good at maths, even if he does say so himself). We’re both smart people. If our child turns out to be ‘average’, would we blame Betty? I know how ridiculous that sounds.

So I emailed the clinic again….feeling whiny and high maintenance. My mum and DH reminded me that we are paying for this and that it’s ok to want someone who ticks ALL the boxes. We have a small element of ‘choice’ in this matter, even though this person is a stranger. I don’t know what to think. What is more important? Education? Height? Weight? Hair colour?! Is there a priority list? Should we make one?! What matters most when really it all matters?

The whole process feels very strange indeed. This person is the future biological mother of my child. European law does not permit us to receive photographs or too many details of the donor. We’re trusting the clinic to do their bit. I’m feeling rather meek and thankful for Ana and Betty when really I need to be strong and hold out for (hopefully) donor C – who will be perfect.

Normal FISH

Our Spanish donor egg clinic insisted that DHs sperm be ‘FISH tested’ – basically something involving fluorescence and DNA. We were worried about this because A. Hardly any UK clinics bother with it and B. If it came back positive, could it have been to blame for our last 5 miserably failed cycles? Is this clinic trying to frame us for a side helping of PGD?

Anyway. We handed over 500 euros and went for it. I also had a blood test for toxoplasmosis – 10 euros – bargain. I have a vague recollection that toxoplasmosis has something to do with cat shite.

Everything came back negative today – normal fish, no cat disease. All good. I guess they aren’t trying to fleece us, they just want to make sure we have a full MOT before getting on the donor bus. Ok then.

Fed up/bored/annoyed/over it?

Sorry I haven’t posted for ages.

A wave of ‘something’ has come over me over the last couple of months. What is it? I’m not sure, but it seems to be one or some of the following:

  • annoyance
  • irritation
  • boredom
  • anger
  • lethargy
  • fed up-ness
  • over it -itis
  • poor-me-ism

It’s a weird feeling. I’ve spent the last 18 months  in a blur of IVF-fuelled enthusiasm. It’s like I’ve been on an enormous infertility bender and I’m coming down from it all. I’ve just woken up in a soggy field after an all night infertility rave and I have no taxi money and no phone.

ANYWAY. I’ve had a month of feeling sorry for myself. I’ve given myself a kick up the arse and a stern talking to. If we pack everything in now, the last 18 months will have been for nothing. 5 cycles! Litres of drugs! Miles of needles! Several arguments! Many bruises! Thousands of pounds! Hundreds of panty liners! (I exaggerate). For nothing. Despite everything fertility related annoying me at the moment, we need to keep going.

So, we’re forging ahead with the Madrid fertility clinic. It’s a good place – we visited last month and it went well. It’s a very zen, Ibiza type environment. The staff are good looking and quietly glide about in white tunics, smiling all the time. Everyone speaks good English. Two donors came in to sign some paperwork whilst we were in the waiting room and they were both very nicely dressed and slim, with great hair and designer handbags. Weird, right? Well, probably not weird. I (wrongly) have it in my head that all egg donors must be toothless crack heads. I need to stop thinking that way. The clinic assured us that they have several blue eyed donors of my height/weight and they are sure they’ll find someone by December (when we want to do the transfer). So – muy bien.

I started birth control pills yesterday to regulate my cycle. Probably won’t have much to do for the next month or two so I am going to try to  stay positive and not slide back into the pit of ‘don’t care’. It’s not easy. But if I really don’t care anymore, there will be no more fertility treatment. And no baby. And I definitely don’t want that.

In Madrid

….our first appointment with the donor egg clinic is tomorrow. Strangely nervous – I’ve been eyeing up all the young women in the neighbourhood wondering which one could be ‘the one’. Definitely more Penelope Cruz -a-likes than pale English roses but that’s fine by me.

Anyway, more tomorrow. For now we are enjoying the 26c sunshine, the tapas and the cerveza. Hasta mañana.

An update

So my period arrived yesterday….exactly 21 days since my last period. 21 days?! What’s going on? Officially my shortest ever cycle. Does this count as an AF PB?

I’m usually 27 days, nice and predictable. Could this be related to the IVF? Hopefully I’ll revert back to normal next month. I don’t like it – makes me think of the M word (Menopause! Menopause! MENOPAUSE! ).

Anyway, I know I need to get a grip. In other news, I am officially still not pregnant despite hopeful fornication around ovulation this month. In addition to that, we need to get retested for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis (hey, a new disease!) before our trip to the Madrid donor egg clinic next month. Imagine if, all this time, rampant syphilis has been to blame for our infertility. That would definitely be one for the Wandsworth Guardian (local newspaper).

DH also needs to find out his blood type. I’m B positive, in case you were wondering (I discovered this only recently). Apparently this makes me artistic, sensitive and prone to colds, according to one crackpot website I browsed. Sadly it didn’t mention that it may also makes me prone to pregnancy.

Plan B(aby)

I’m feeling better this week. Dare I say (cautiously) optimistic, (quietly) hopeful and even (a bit) excited? It’s time for plan B.

Farewell own egg IVF, you cruel mistress. Hello donor egg IVF, you beguiling temptress.

After 5 miserable rounds of IVF we have decided to try something different. Well, ‘decided to try’ is a bit coy; we HAVE to try something different. We have two options at this stage – donor eggs or adoption. I want to be pregnant. I want the morning sickness, swollen ankles and stretch marks. I want to give birth. I want to be one of those people who post annoying bump photos on Facebook (no I don’t). I want a baby which is genetically half ours, and will hopefully get my husband’s smile, eyes, killer bod and BBQ skills. Maybe I’m a bit selfish but I would love to experience motherhood and birth in the ‘traditional’ manner. We are both keen on the idea of adoption and that will certainly be plan C, but I think donor eggs are the way forward for now. If it doesn’t work out then at least we’ll know that we did everything possible to make pregnancy a reality. I know adoption could work for us, but I’m just not ready for that yet.

So – we’re off to Madrid! There are lots of highly regarded clinics in Spain and no waiting lists for donors. It’s cheaper than the UK. Our hospital consultant in London has given us his blessing and recommended a couple of clinics. I’ll be able to have scans with him in London and just fly to Madrid twice – once for the initial consultation in September, and then later on for the egg transfer. I won’t need to do any injections or rely on my creaky old ovaries. I just need to make sure that my womb is ready to receive 1-2 nice embryos courtesy of our young, fertile donor and husband’s sperm.

That’s the weird part I suppose. No getting around it – after our first meeting the clinic will match us with a donor who is blue eyed, blond’ish, slim and about my height. They’ll check that she is healthy and of sound mind. We’ll never find out who she is or see a photograph. We just need to rely on the clinic to do their part (and this is where the wonderful world of internet reviews come in….Madrid is a good place for blue eyed donors as there are plenty of international students from Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and other blonde countries).

Anyway, I’m less concerned about physiological factors. I firmly believe that if we’re lucky enough to get pregnant the baby will be ‘mine’, hair colour or otherwise. The study of epigenetics has shown that much more goes into ‘building a baby’ than DNA. Our (imaginary, at this stage) baby will be loved and cared for, and we’ll tell her/him about the helpful donor when he/she is old enough to understand. I think that’s all that really matters. Who knows if we’ll make it that far? We just want to give it our best try.

Our first appointment will be on 21st September. In the meantime I remain (cautiously) optimistic, (quietly) hopeful and even (a bit) excited.

A Forest

Well, it has been a funny old week. I have had a Cure earworm for the last 5 days (earworm…where a song sticks in your head and won’t get out). It’s ‘A Forest’, which seems pretty apt at the moment. Not because I’m camping, or because I’m an 80s goth, but because of my current frame of mind:

I don’t really know what to do with myself. The last 18 months have been reassuringly organised. I’ve either been planning an IVF cycle or doing an IVF cycle. Now…I’m not, because I’m not doing any more IVF cycles, ever again. 

I’ve been crying rather a lot. Not in a dramatic fashion next to the coffee machine, but quietly and spontaneously, on my walk home, whilst listening to ‘Desert Island Discs’ or when I hug my husband. There’s a beautiful Christopher Wren church near my office where I go sometimes – I sit in an empty pew, close my eyes and enjoy the smell of polished wood and old Bibles. I talk to everyone in my head – family members here and departed, the ‘inner me’, God, although I feel strange doing that, like an imposter – and it just helps me feel better somehow. I went in there a few days ago for a quiet sob. The Vicar came over for a chat and I explained what has been going on. He’s a lovely man. It felt good to spill the beans to someone who knows nothing about infertility treatment. Maybe I needed that.

I do worry that I might have some sort of screaming meltdown at any moment. I’m doing fine on the outside – getting on with work, smiling, planning a family visit – but every now and again I’m gripped by the realisation that I AM NOT GOING TO GET PREGNANT WITH OUR OWN BABY. Our 5 cycles of IVF were a complete bust. I’m acting like a ‘normal person’ but on the inside I feel like I’m barely holding it together. What do people do in these situations? Quietly sob? Talk to a Vicar? Write a blog and get on with their lives? That’s what I’m doing. I think that’s probably the traditional British approach (perhaps minus the blog and the Vicar).

I’m also aware of the fact that I need to get a grip and remember there are people in far worse situations than me. I could be a disabled beggar in Kinshasa. I could be living in a makeshift refugee camp in Calais. I could be single and desperate for a baby. At least I’m halfway there.

So, what next? Well, I’m a hardcore organiser. I cannot relax. I must have spreadsheets. I am compelled to ‘do’. So it’s only natural that I’ve already started the quest for Plan B. More on that in the next post. For now, please enjoy the Cure.

11dp5dt – as negative as negative can be


….and that’s all there is to say about that.

There were no more tears this morning. I’ve started to process the fact that it’s unlikely we’ll have our own biological baby. Donor eggs or adoption will be the way forward for us. I think I’m ok with that. The baby may not have my dimple, left handedness or bloodhound sense of smell but he/she will be loved and ours. I know I should perhaps take time out to mourn this loss but I’m a ‘doer’ and planning our next move keeps me going. If I don’t keep moving forward I’m going to turn into a blubbering wreck. I’m just so desperate for this to work out somehow. I’m 38, husband is 40 and time is not on our side.

More to follow, I’ve emailed our RE with the news. Thanks to everyone for your support and kind words x

8dp5dt – negative

Tested this morning…. one pink line, not a hint of a second. It was an FRER so I’m pretty confident it would have picked up HCG if there was any to pick up at this stage.

I’m disappointed and sad. This is our last cycle with my eggs and really our last chance to have a baby that is biologically ours. It feels like a loss, maybe even a bereavement.

Thursday is my official test date so I’ll test again even though I know it’s a bust. Wow, I am thoroughly sick of IVF stuff.

7dp5dt – today is my birthday, tomorrow is my test day

….yikes. I’m dreading it.

My official test date isn’t until Thursday (10dp5dt) but I have the day off work tomorrow. I’d rather POAS without having to go to the office for the rest of the day, so…. tomorrow it is.

I’m not feeling optimistic. I wish I was, but I’m not. So today I am trying to put it all to the back of mind and focus on the good things in life, namely:

  • Today is my birthday and I’ve had so many nice presents, cards and good wishes from all over the world
  • My wonderful, funny, kind and handsome husband who I love very much and who loves me whether or not I am pregnant (ever)
  • My one-of-a-kind family including two grandparents who are still very much alive and kicking in their late 80s – and my extended family in New Zealand. I’m lucky to have them all.
  • My amazing friends around the world – all of whom I admire and am massively proud of
  • My job – which I love
  • My health – I’m alive! I’m reasonably slim! I still have all my own hair and teeth!
  • I live in London, one of the best cities in the world, and I never, ever get tired of it. Even when it’s raining and full of tourists.

I’ll report back tomorrow. Until then…..f*ck you home pregnancy test!