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We wouldn’t have the life we have without donors

Essi

When I look at my children, it makes me laugh to think how similar they would probably be if they’d come from my own eggs. I don’t really think about them not being my biological children at all anymore.

For them, it’s been a perfectly normal thing right from the start. They don’t think it’s a big deal that they were created with a donor egg. We talk about it openly at home and have mentioned it at school and day-care centre too to avoid any awkwardness if the children happen to mention it.

I think people should talk about it more, as there are lots of misconceptions about the treatments. Myself, I’d be happy to talk about it publicly under my own name and share what donor egg treatment has meant for me.

As the children grow, it’s become more and more clear to us that we want to let them decide themselves who to share their biological origin with or if they want to share it at all. We want them to have the right to do that.

The idea of using donor eggs developed gradually

We had been trying for maybe a year when we went to the Ovumia clinic in Tampere in 2007, or AVA-klinikka as it was known then. We had several treatments using my own eggs. I was 29 and my husband was 36 at the time.

We had decided that if we can’t get pregnant using our own gametes, that’s OK, we’ll try adoption. The treatments resulted in two pregnancies, but both ended in miscarriage. No clear reason for our infertility was ever found.

I remember telling the doctor that I want them to tell me honestly when it’s time to stop trying. I would not be able to make that decision myself. When you want a baby that much, it’s hard to see when it’s time to give up.

I give top marks to the clinic staff in this regard too. They were completely honest with us. They didn’t give us false hope but they also didn’t crush our hopes. They were warm and gentle, yet honest. I felt they genuinely had our back.

When it was time to try donor eggs, we were mentally prepared. We went to see a psychologist to talk about it according to Ovumia’s practice. It was a very important discussion.

The treatments were successful, while emotions ran hot and cold

The first donor egg treatment was a fresh transfer but it wasn’t successful. However, the next was a frozen embryo transfer and resulted in our firstborn.

By then, I had already begun to accept that we wouldn’t have a child. When the treatment was successful, I was scared it would end in miscarriage again. When it didn’t, I started thinking “what are we going to do now, we’re really having a baby!”

I remember being in the delivery room, worrying that I wouldn’t recognise the baby as my own. That was the last time I ever thought that. As soon as I had my baby in my arms, I knew I’d never worry about that again.

My pregnancy went well and so did the birth. Our firstborn son was born in 2010, and we asked the same donor for a sibling donation. Our daughter was born in 2013.

When I was expecting my first child, I wished there was approachable peer support I could turn to. That’s why, after giving birth, I told the clinic they could give my email address to anyone who needed that kind of support from me.

One person who had a child using donor eggs contacted me a couple of years ago. We still keep in touch today. It wasn’t just that I was able to help her. I feel it was just as important for me to talk about it with someone.

Infertility leaves a mark

A lot has happened in my life that has had a profound impact on me. My parents died when I was young. Although they passed too early, I have precious memories of them. I was able to mourn them.

But when you’re mourning your childlessness, there’s no one to grieve. It’s changed me, my husband and our relationship a great deal. Childlessness is a big part of our lives, even now that we’ve had children. I’ll never forget the pain it has caused us.

Childlessness is considered something everyone is allowed to talk about and ask, “when are you having a baby, shouldn’t you be trying by now”. I’ve had to answer prying questions like this myself.

It’s made me more aware of the problem. Today, I might ask someone if they have children. If they say “no” I leave it at that.

When a child comes of age, they can find out about their biological origins, and our oldest is not far from that age. If he decides to take that opportunity, he’ll probably tell his sister about it too.

This will require self-control from me because I’d love to meet the donor and thank her. I won’t mention this to my children because I don’t want them to find the donor because of me but for themselves – if they decide to do it at all.

We will support them, no matter what they decide.

Grateful beyond words

I’m so lucky to have met some donors at Ovumia’s donor evenings. They have shared their experiences as a donor, and I have shared mine as a recipient of a donation. It has given me the opportunity to express my gratitude in a small way. It’s been a very emotional experience, and I’m filled with emotions as soon as I think about it.

Of course, we’ve never met our own donor. We wrote her a letter both times, and the clinic delivered it to her. But I feel that there aren’t enough words to describe our gratitude.

It’s not just that I was able to become pregnant and have a baby. Without her, we wouldn’t be living the life we have now. She allowed us to see our children grow and maybe even have grandchildren some day.

Without egg donors, we wouldn’t have a family. Thanks to them, our lives have been completely transformed. This is a gift that will last a lifetime. It’s huge.

Essi is a mother of two who became a parent through donor egg treatments and has written this under her first name to protect her children’s privacy.

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