My husband, Liam, and I had always planned to have three children. Two boys and a girl was a perfect idea of a perfect family. We had known each other for quite a long time before we got married; I was in my late 30s and Liam in his mid 40s. I got pregnant almost immediately with our first son Aaron, and three years later our second son, Lucas was born. It was always our plan to try for the third, no matter how, and no matter the circumstances, and because our first two had been carefully planned, we saw no reason to think that our third, our precious girl, would be any different. We tried unsuccessfully for about two years before realising that perhaps we had left it all too late.
Liam could see that I was growing unhappy, that I wasn’t ready to give up on our dreams. His own disappointment was making him unhappy as well, and we had started to be a little more distant with each other, a little less willing to share how we felt. We had both so desperately wanted to give more to our family. In the end, we made the decision to visit a fertility specialist to find out exactly what we were up against.
Given our ages, I was in my mid 40s and him his 50s, and the fact that we had difficulty conceiving, the doctors we spoke to suggested a battery of tests, so that we could have a fuller picture. Liam’s count, motility, and morphology came back as good. The results of my AMH, on the other hand, suggested strongly a reduced ovarian reserve, and the results from my ultrasound Antral Follicle Count all but confirmed this. We moved onto a course of FSH, and, as you know, the endless appointments, but, ultimately the endless disappointments and frustrations.
The decision was clear. It was never even up for discussion. Egg donation was the way to go.
We did a lot of research online, and realised two things: firstly, the whole process would be best handled with the help of an intermediary agency, there was just too much to organise. And the second thing, something we hadn’t realised before, was that we could fulfil our dream of having a girl. One problem though, in the UK selecting the sex of the embryo is restricted, unless there are real medical reasons, for example, medical conditions that are passed down to either only girls or boys, it is illegal to choose the sex. This I understood perfectly, for some cultures it is preferable to have a boy, but that wasn’t our case at all.
Whenever we discussed the issue, whether it was with friends, our parents, or even health professionals, we both were left with the feeling of being judged for our decisions. Many thought what we had wanted to do was in someway wrong. It came to the point where we avoided all conversation on the topic, even between ourselves. That is not to say that we had given up on our dreams, but rather we felt that other people didn’t want to share our happiness.
So, we took it online. We joined a few programs and forums, read a lot of reviews, and requested a ton of details from clinics, but it was eggdonationfriends.com who seemed to understand our problems more than any other.
The consultant specialist there was sympathetic to our plight and send us through information about clinics in Cyprus, Russia, in Ukraine, where there are fewer restrictions on sex selection than in the UK.
Throughout the whole process, we did our best to include the boys in all the decision making and planning. We had always wanted, as a family, to be inclusive, and to make sure but we kept no secrets, making sure that everybody was comfortable with all the decisions that we took, especially with something as important as this. And so we decided to make the whole process a family holiday, two weeks in the sun, me, Liam, Lucas and Aaron, going through everything together. That was one of the reasons we chose Cyprus, but talking to the people from the clinic we just felt that it was a good fit. We checked out success rates, the quality of care, and the experience and expertise and training of all the doctors. We had read all the reviews, we watched the testimonial videos, and spoke at length by phone and by Skype to the doctors and nurses in Nicosia. On top of that we contacted the dedicated health promotion board there, and were able to check out all the references and accreditations of the clinic that we had chosen.
Price was not really a factor for us, and we had no real idea of what the final costs would be, so when the price of €7000 was quoted, we were quite surprised, we had thought it would be much more. The price included all diagnostics, all tests and all procedures. Of course, that didn’t include the cost of getting the family there, the hotel, and all of those expenses.
We made the decision to go ahead, and the clinic was able to suggest a date and to organise medication for me to be able to synchronise my cycle with our projected date of arrival in Cyprus. We were able to select the donor, and were told that there were six ova ready and waiting for our arrival. There were further tests for Liam, at a local fertility clinic, where it was determined that only 38% of his sperm was “X”, in other words female producing. Once again it was back to the daily injections, this time with a higher guarantee of reaching our goal. We took the short flight to Cyprus, booked into our hotel. The next day we left the boys with the hotel’s nanny service, and took a taxi to the clinic. More tests showed that we were able to proceed as soon as possible. Samples were taken, screened, sorted and then double checked.
From the six eggs, two viable embryos resulted. Preimplantation genetic profiling showed one embryo to be male and one to be female. Needless to say, we were delighted, but knew that we were far from a certain outcome. The embryo was implanted the next day, and the whole process had taken less than a week, a week to transform our lives. On top of that we still had over a weeks holiday left. The boys were thrilled to find that they might have a baby sister soon, far more thrilled by the days at the beach with their new friends from the hotels kids’ program. So much for a family holiday! This gave Liam and I a lot of time together to reconnect and plan for a more certain future.
10 days later, the day before we were due to fly home, we went back to the clinic, this time dragging the boys away from the beach, to have a preliminary pregnancy test. It was positive. Our baby girl was a reality.
Nine months later, Leiah, our dearest daughter, was born, so sorely longed for, and so dearly loved. For us all, strangely, feels more then a culmination of all our dreams and plans. It feels like a new start, a new life and a new vitality in our family.