For many people, donor conception is not something they think about. They may be faced with it in a movie, a joke, or on a TV show but most people are not walking around talking about donor conception.
However, donor conception and the donor conceived people who are created through this type of assisted reproduction it is something that is thought of often.
And donor conception impacts all different types of people and families.
International Donor Conception Awareness day was established in 2020 and officially became a recognized awareness day in 2021. According to the website,
- The day is intended to shed a light on families made in different ways due to medical infertility, chromosomal impairments, childhood or young adult cancer, and various other reasons and lifting shame and secrecy around the topic.
- The day is about raising awareness about donor conceived individual’s experiences across the lifespan, including the topic of access to genetic information, (including health information) and lifting shame and secrecy around the topic.
- The day is intended to raise awareness about LGBTQ family building
- The day is about raising awareness about egg and sperm donor’s rights to receive accurate medical and psycho-social information and education on how their donation impacts donor conceived individuals throughout the lifespan.
In honor of International Donor Conception Awareness day, I wanted to share three stories of families who need to use a donor to have a baby. Their stories are shared in their words.
Leslie, Donor Eggs and Gestational Carrier
I have lupus and because of that, it was medically recommended that i use a gestational carrier if my husband and I wanted a biological child. We came out of two egg retrievals with only one normal PGT-Tested embryo. Our transfer to our gestational carrier was a success, but we suffered a miscarriage at six weeks.
My husband and I already agreed with my very low AMH and egg retrieval, not to mention the stress that IFV had on my mental health, I would not do another egg retrieval.
At the end of the day, potentially doing another round or two of IFV was not where we wanted to be. We want to be parents, and donor eggs will move us toward that dream. We are currently in the process of securing frozen donor eggs.
After a failed egg retrieval and later a miscarriage, I think the fear remains the same: What if we do ALL of this and still end up without a baby? Also, more so than any other part of our journey--even finding a gestational carrier--I have decision fatigue when it comes to our donor conception journey. Fresh donor or frozen? How can we be conservative with the number of embryos we create (while also creating enough), knowing that we only want one child? If frozen eggs, should we get a batch of 8? 10? There are so many choices you have to make and there are no clear answers or outcomes.
Donor conception, like surrogacy, is a beautiful thing! Another woman out there is able to give to me what my body cannot do for itself. And as a result, we will be able to have some biological connection with our future child through my husband. It's a special and unique gift to be able to give a couple.
I'd like others to know that for many heterosexual couples, the decision to use donor conception and to get to this point does not come lightly. More than not, it is preceded by loss and grief. Before judging or asking questions, take time to listen to the intended parents' story and experience. Ultimately, there is no single narrative for how anyone chooses to grow their families. I hope other people listen to our stories with open hearts, free of judgement.
Being able to even consider donor conception and surrogacy (and all reproductive assistance for that matter) is such a privilege. I think in the donor conception realm, that privilege becomes a bit more stark. It took some time for my husband and I to find a donor who met our specific preferences, even going outside the banks that my clinic worked with. As a woman of color (Filipino) I was a little disheartened by the options available to me on some donor agencies and egg banks. Even though I may not be biologically connected to our child, I want to be connected in ethnicity and feel connected in that way. For black and brown women, there's a bit more of a search than I had anticipated. You can follow Leslie on Instagram @schwarz_stories.
Melissa, Donor Egg Mama
Hi, my name is Melissa, 43, and an Orthopedic Nurse Coordinator. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and married for 5. I am currently a fur mama to our Danes, Nala and Roscoe and Siamese kitty Nikita, plus the best Auntie to so many nieces and nephews.
I love snuggling with my dogs, reading, crocheting, wine tasting and getting outside weather permitting.
We have been trying to conceive for 4 years.
A year into our journey, my husband was tested and we learned he had 0% morphology and low sperm count. He started Clomid. I did not have any testing done for 6 months. When they did m, they said everything looked good and I should do great with the medication they placed me on Letrozole. Seven months later we started IUI with 5 failed cycles before we had that WTF consult with our RE.
She immediately said donor egg or embryo would be our best chance of conceiving. We still wanted to try with my own eggs and underwent 2 egg retrieval cycles which neither resulted in any blastocyst embryos to test. It was time to move on to donor conception because these two cycles showed that there was an egg quality issue at play.We picked our donor in November 2021 and she cycled for retrieval in January 2022. We have had one cancelled transfer cycle since the retrieval due to ovarian cysts and ovulation through the estrogen injections. As a result, we had our first transfer through a natural FET cycle in mid-April 2022. We are waiting for our results! I love this community and all the support and I hope I have helped many others in their journey too. You can follow Melissa on Instagram @becomingnathparty_3
Itzy, Future Donor Egg Mama
Hi! I am Itzy Neveau, future egg donor mamma (hopefully!) through anonymous donation and DOR infertility warrior. My husband and I have been married for almost 6 years now and trying to conceive for 5. In March of 2021 we had our first (and last) IVF round with my own eggs after 5 failed IUIs. After finding out all my follicles were empty and only being able to retrieve one single egg we made the hard decision to follow a new path to growing our family, egg donation.
When we first started our donor conception journey I stumbled across a couple donor conceived instagram accounts that terrified me and made me second guess if we were doing the right thing. At first I couldn't handle those conversations as I was also dealing with my grief and consuming this content was not helping with my mental health. Once I felt I was in a better place and emotionally stronger I dove back into those accounts and started listening to the hard topics and point of views. I am now so thankful for DCPs as well as current DC parents as I have learned so much about how a lot of donor conceived people feel and what I can do with my children to make changes and make things easier for them.
This journey has been far from easy, accepting the loss of my genetics was hard and the grief comes in waves but I have found myself filled with hope and excitement on how our new future looks. I have no doubt that my kiddos and I will share a special bond and so much love. Of course, I can't say there is no fear of the future. Outside of the usual doubts parents might have, donor conception adds a whole other layer to parenting and I can't help but wonder if my children will ever be mad at me for using an anonymous donor.
When clinics suggest using a donor they go over what this really means, their goal is to get you pregnant and get you a healthy baby, that's it!. I learned what it really meant to have a DC child on my own through the community. Something I didn't learn until later on in my journey is that the work doesn't end once your DC baby is born, that's when it really starts. As DC parents we need to be open and supportive of our children’s feelings, always be truthful about their conception story, and basically be comfortable with the uncomfortable parts that this journey brings.
I don't regret one bit anything about our new path to parenthood. We have 4 healthy frozen embryos and will be transferring one in a couple of months (crossing all my fingers). I love these embabies so much already. You can follow Itzy on Instagram @infertilitytales