Our infertility story began back in 2006 when we started trying for a baby. A year later in March 2007 my husband and I made an appointment at the Ava-klinikka, now known as Ovumia. This is our shared story, but I’m writing this from my own point of view. As the heading shows, this is only the outline of my story. This outline holds so many things that can’t fit into this space and so much that is impossible to put into words.
We had several treatments using my own eggs. First came the inseminations, then IVF where none of the eggs became fertilised. That was followed by ICSI. There were few eggs and they weren’t very high quality. At some stage, after several unsuccessful treatments, we had a discussion with our doctor about where to go with our treatments. I said straight off that I’m not sure I’ll be able to make the decision to stop and that I hoped the doctor would be honest and tell me directly when there’s no more point in trying to get pregnant using my own eggs. And so it happened that we had a discussion with the doctor treating us that resulted in our decision to try donor eggs.
We went to see a psychologist to talk about it before the first treatment. After that, a donor was found for us and the treatments began. The fresh egg donation treatment cycle didn’t produce the result we wanted, but the first frozen embryo transfer started a pregnancy, which led to the birth of our firstborn, a beautiful boy, in October 2010. Physically, the pregnancy was “easy” and the birth also was quick and without problems. Our second child, a beautiful girl, was born in February 2013. My pregnancy with her began with the first fresh transfer. Both children have the same donor, so they have exactly the same genetic heritage.
All that is easy to write. It tells a very clear story in a very practical form. What happened in my heart in those years was something completely different. It was far from easy and straightforward. The ache of my empty arms, the longing for what had never been. It’s impossible to find words for that.“Pain dies by screaming”, sing the Finnish band Apulanta. It didn’t. You see, there were moments, plenty of them, when I lay on the floor screaming out the hopelessness of my empty womb. The weight of those years was hard to carry, and still is sometimes when I think about it.
I’d like to tell you everything about the darkness I travelled through then, as peer support for those of you who are walking such paths right now, and as my truth for you who are only just taking your first steps. Because it isn’t easy. But I’d also like to tell you about the hope that filled me when we were given the opportunity to try donor eggs. Of the love and joy that flowed to my every cell when I held my babies for the first time. And every single day when I look at my children who are genetically another’s but more my own than I could ever have imagined.
It’s easy to shower flowery words of gratitude on the woman who made this possible for us. But even if I found the most beautiful words and the most enormous gratitude in the world, they would be nothing compared to what I really feel for the woman who gifted me with this possibility. She made our family possible.
There’s also no end to my gratitude to the staff of the clinic. The support the doctors and nurses gave us was an invaluable help in those difficult times. Still, today, I’m touched by the memory of how they lived through our every disappointment, spark of hope and our successes along with us.
If someone were to ask me now, was it worth it, would you travel the same path again, would you suffer all that pain again? I’d answer in the blink of an eye: Absolutely!
To you who are reading this now, if you are wondering whether you have the courage to travel this road, I give you words of encouragement. To you who are already on your way, I wish strength for every day of your journey. To you who have already travelled your path, whatever the end result: I truly hope you are happy. To you who are a member of the nursing staff or a friend or family member of someone struggling with infertility, I wish you the wisdom and warmth to be there for everyone who feels the pain of empty arms. To you reading this for no particular reason: I hope you are grateful for your life. Because life can’t be taken for granted.
The writer Essi Sivula is an Ovumia client who, after a long journey of fertility treatments, gave birth to two children with the help of treatments using donor eggs.
With grateful thanks to Essi and her blog on her treatment experiences with us:
Candido Tomas, Kati Pentti, Päivi Virta, Anna Pulkkinen, Ninni Wäre, Mirka Haukkamaa and Pekka Sillanaukee