As soon as the words “donor eggs” left my doctor's mouth and hit my ears, my whole world came crashing down. There was no way I was going to do that.
After my husband Michael and I got married in 2012, we started trying to have a baby. We found out quickly that Michael had male factor fertility challenges, but we never suspected I would have fertility issues as well. After four intrauterine inseminations (IUI), all of which failed, we were referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist.
During our visits, we discovered that I had low anti-Mullerian hormone levels (AMH). AMH is a hormone that is secreted by follicles in the ovaries. At a basic level, the higher the AMH levels, the more follicles, or potential eggs, you should have. My AMH levels were indicating that my egg reserve was very low, especially for my age (I was 31 at the time).
Our doctor wasn’t overly concerned by my levels and recommended that we start IVF. After two back-to-back cycles followed by two embryo transfers, we were still not pregnant and we had no embryos left to freeze.
The next step in our fertility journey included a conversation with our fertility specialist where she explained that the issue was egg quality. We were retrieving eggs, but the poor quality meant that although they were fertilizing, they were not making it to the blastocyst stage. She said we could keep going with my eggs but it would probably take 6-8 more rounds of IVF before we got one that would work, and then she asked, “Have you considered donor eggs?”
At that point, my whole world came crashing down. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I could hear our doctor speaking, but the words were not sinking in. All I could think was, “I’ll never be a mom” and “My hopes and dreams of having a family of my own are over.” We left the conversation with the instructions to give it some thought and to let her know what we wanted to do next. Honestly, we left the clinic completely shattered and with little direction to actually know what to do next.
Your Doctor Suggested Donor Eggs; Now What?
If you’ve experienced this conversation, there are three things I want you to know.
1. Give yourself time to process the news.
Hearing that donor eggs might be the best option for you can be crushing, devastating, and even mind-boggling. Most people don’t expect to hear this news, and even if you had considered it, hearing it for yourself is a whole different experience.
We learned quickly that you don’t have to jump into donor conception right away. There is a lot to consider when thinking about using a donor. We required time to allow ourselves the space to feel our feelings, consider all of the implications, and decide if this was the right option or not.
2. Grieve the loss of your genetics.
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The dream of having a child who looks like you, acts like you, and shares your same traits or those of your partners was deeply rooted for us. When we were told that donor eggs were an option, we felt a lot of pain, grief, and loss. We typically associate grief with losing a loved one, but there is deep grief and loss when it comes to considering creating a child not using your own, your partner's, or even both of your genetics. In order to grieve this loss, I had to allow myself to feel the feelings and to get the information we needed in order to understand what having a baby using a donor could look like for us.
3. Find Support
Donor conception is a big deal. There are a lot of things to consider, such as how to find a donor, what kind of donor to use, how to pay for it, or how to talk to future children about being donor conceived. It’s important to do your own research and have a support team that champions the decision. It can also be helpful to find a therapist specializing in third-party reproduction support, signup with a coach who can help you navigate this process, or join a support group of people who have used donor eggs, donor sperm, or donor embryo(s).
Meta Getman is a fertility coach who works with families who are at a crossroads in their fertility journey and trying to decide what their next steps will be. Get her free PDF, My Doctor Said Donor, Now What? here.