Written by a RESOLVE New England volunteer and member.
At age 50, I am entering the era of bifocal lenses, AARP memberships and stretch pants. But, thanks to donor conception, I am also experiencing my dream of raising another child. My two-year old son, Andrew* (name changed) is helping me to straddle the worlds of motherhood and menopause. I have learned that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
Unlike many couples who are considering donor conception, I didn’t intensively research the procedure before embarking on my journey. My husband and I stumbled on the path of late-life infertility, trying IVF and other procedures with no luck. We sat before our clinician as she counseled us on the remaining option, donor egg. It seemed too sci-fi, far-fetched, improbable, not an option for ordinary suburban types.
We plunged into donor conception headfirst, with no intensive research or deep reflection, taking one step after another. The eternal pessimist, I figured it wouldn’t work anyway, so why invest a lot of emotion, even though we were definitely investing money. A young 20-something friend agreed to be our donor and before I knew it, I was pregnant on the first attempt, and yes, it was that simple.
And therein lies the first “what I know now that I wish I’d known then:” that yes, it can work, the first time.
What else do I know now that I wish I’d known then?
- Don’t worry about “afterwards” – questions about the baby’s genetic identity, disclosure, etc. etc. Focus on what’s happening today. And yes, you will love the baby as much as if it were “your own.” Nursing your child for at least a year or more can especially help with attachment.
- Talk to other donor conception parents. Whether it’s on chat boards or support groups, connecting with others who on the same pathway can help.
- If it will happen, it will happen. After the embryo transfer, I rested the first day, but on the second day, I resumed my usual jogging, working, and housework routines. I figured that pregnancy was a natural course of action, if the body “recognized” the egg and wanted it to “take.”
- When your partner has to produce a sperm sample in the clinic, if you’re wondering what material they have on hand, forget the girly magazines. Now they have videos, and they’re pretty tame but do the job – so my husband says.
- Don’t get intimidated or overwhelmed by all the paperwork, hormones, shots (shots!!), and medical procedures.
- Roadblocks will happen. I actually accidently threw away a $1,000 worth of medication for my donor when I thought it was an icepack. Other donor conception parents have had donors back out on them and other mishaps. Keep trying.
- If you decide late in life that you want a child, be aware that people might ask, “Is that your grandchild?” Hey, it goes with the territory.
The biggest “What I know now that I wish I’d known then” moment? No one told me how darn cute my second child would be!
About the Author
The author is a Boston area mom who remarried late in life and had a second child through donor egg. Her first child is going off to college this fall, and her second child, Andrew, is graduating to toilet training (one of these days, anyway.)
This article originally appeared in the RESOLVE New England Fall 2010 Newsletter.