A story of hope – pregnancy with help from donors

When I look back on our long, hard fertility journey it seems miraculous that I have a baby in my arms today.

My husband and I decided that we would start “trying” ten years ago and although we took it lightly at this point, it was still super disappointing getting my periods every month, knowing for sure I wasn’t pregnant.

After a few unsuccessful years, we knew something wasn’t right and booked an appointment with a GP and got referred to Repromed. Waiting for that first appointment, I was nearly sick with anxiety.  I knew a lot of people that had been through fertility treatment so I had some insight and I was really scared of what we might have to go through.

We had to do the basic tests – my AMH (egg reserve blood test) results came back very low for my age and my husband had a sperm analysis; that’s when we found out that he wasn’t producing any sperm at all! I was absolutely devastated.  My husband was upset too as it made him feel like a failure… but I assured him it wasn’t his fault, and who knew what my eggs were like either!

We met a fertility specialist at Repromed to discuss our options. Of course, with no sperm production we needed a sperm donor.

We had the option of waiting on the clinic donor list, which could take ages, or we could look for a personal donor. We had already started to discuss different options and talked about using a personal donor; my brother in law, who is married with one child. We talked about this with the fertility doctor and got all the details so we were armed with information for a conversation with him.

This conversation was really hard and confronting – asking someone for a body part, sperm of all things, was interesting to say the least.  We talked to him on his own first, just to see what he thought about it. Luckily for us he was happy to do anything at all that we needed, and he talked with his wife. Then we all caught up and went over any questions and concerns.

My sister in law is Asian descent, so we had a few cultural considerations to discuss.  All the worries we both had were very valid.  We talked about things like:

  • Would they have any financial responsibility for the potential baby?
  • What are the legal requirements?
  • What does the process entail?
  • Time commitments for treatment?

We were thrilled – they were happy to be involved.  My brother in law had to have blood work, sperm analysis, and we all had counselling together. And then we were ready!

With public funding we were given two packages.  We had the option to try four rounds of IUI or one cycle of IVF (twice) and opted to start with IUI. I needed to track my cycle so was put on medication to try and grow some nice juicy eggs for it.  I was scanned regularly to check on egg health, had daily blood tests to monitor hormone levels, had trigger shots, and would talk to the nurses at Repromed daily who kept me up to date.

The day we went in to get the donor sperm was full of so much anxiety. On the way into the clinic we got a call to please wait a little bit longer! My heart sank. I knew there was a possibility of things going wrong with the thawing process… and it had. When we went to the clinic, I could tell things were not right, there was no ‘happiness’.

It appeared the sperm did not like being frozen and the quantity and quality both dropped dramatically. It was devastating. Our 1st try and already we had issues. We left the clinic broken, I was sobbing during the car ride home.

After this disappointment we decided to focus on the best quality sperm so chose to undergo IVF (using our second publicly funded package).  We used my brother in laws sperm again for this first round of IVF which resulted in 3 follicles and 3 eggs. I was on high dosages of all medication due to being a low responder and low AMH.  The next morning, we got the call saying that sadly, none had fertilised.

Again my world turned upside down, we were back to square one.

We weren’t giving up, we tried IVF a second time but this time with a donor sperm from the clinic, as my brother in law sperm hadn’t gone well for us. This was the first round which allowed us to have successfully fertilsed embryo transferred to my uterus. All I can remember is that the days spent waiting for those lab calls are awful. I would have a fast heart rate, sweating and I couldn’t concentrate at work until the phone call came; IVF is a true rollercoaster. This embryo lead to a negative pregnancy result, heartbreak again.

There was concern from the Repromed team around the quality of my eggs, so now our options were to find an egg donor and use a sperm donor… or alternatively, an embryo donor.  It felt very daunting and hard to know where to go next.

I was on a great Facebook private support group during this time.  I had actually put up a post in regards to our next step and during this thread someone mentioned that they had been thinking about donating embryos and they wished us luck.  I thanked them and left it.  Then a few days later I decided the only way to get help is to reach out and ask, so I did. Long story short, we got talking and started the process of embryo donation!

From our online chats, the potential donor and I seemed to get along well and had so much in common. She was on board, so we began the journey of completing paperwork and undergoing separate and then joint counselling.

Joint counselling was so exciting and scary at the same time. We are from different cities and we had flown to their city to make it as easy as possible for them, as they have children. Once we met and started talking, it got easier and easier.  We were all on the same page as we had been chatting online for a while now, it seemed so natural.

They had two embryos to donate… two chances to have a baby of our own!  We had been through so much already that I loved we were already halfway – there with a viable embryo to implant.   Unfortunately this embryo had a thawing issue so although we attempted implantation, the result was a big fat negative. So many disappointments over so many years. It was really exhausting.

We had one last chance, one last donor embryo. On the day that our final embryo was transferred, I put my back out and was in so much pain! I thought about postponing but decided everything was going so well that it had to be done. My blood work was perfect, the frozen embryo thawed perfectly – everything was perfect, except for me!

When the results came, we could hardly believe the news – we were pregnant!  We went for the scan and there was a little embryo with a flicker, it had a heartbeat. Our baby was there!  It was so surreal at this point.

We told our families when I was around 12 weeks, they were so excited for us. They knew we had been on this long rollercoaster for years, so this news was extra special. Everyone cried!

Pregnancy was hard for me. I had the normal issues of nausea, pain discomfort but I also had ten years of emotional baggage to carry with me. Every day I was worried I would miscarry. Every scan I worried there was an issue. I never really relaxed and got excited. Right up to the birth I mentally prepared myself to come home without our baby, preparing for the worst case.

But here we are almost 12 months later, with a gorgeous wee girl keeping me on my toes.  It’s taken time to recover emotionally, but we are all doing well, and I know the healing will take time.

It’s a journey I wish no one had to take, but it’s one that is available thanks to modern day science.  I’m so thankful for the support I received on our journey, and I think talking about it is really important. It’s often a silent pain we carry and for us, Repromed were amazing throughout the entire process, like a second family to us.  I knew I could count on them. The nurses are so welcoming and words can’t describe how grateful we are to the team for our baby girl.

Our Auckland based clinic offers ‘fertility excellence with heart’ and we are passionate about offering highly personalised fertility care. Our doctors will be transparent with information to ensure you are clear on the chance of treatment success.  It’s our ‘no sugar coating’ promise. 

Repromed offer a free 15 minute phone consultation with a fertility doctor.  If you wish to discuss your situation with a fertility doctor, please call 0800 483 105 or email to book a consultation.

 Individual results may vary dependent on your personal circumstances.

With thanks to our generous clients for sharing their personal story.