Shared from Fertility Planit, written by Founder/CEO: Diana Thomas
One in seven women have difficulty becoming pregnant. This is a devastating problem that affects many people and crosses all socio-economic lines. Yet, because women and men are ridden with fear, sadness, and even shame, it largely remains a ‘private matter’ and couples often cope alone.
I was 25 years old and unable to conceive. After 15 years of infertility treatments and creating debt, I ended this painful phase of my journey without a baby and with a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility.” At the time I wasn’t aware those two words would have the biggest impact on my life, maybe even more so than hearing “you’re pregnant.”
At this point I was almost 40, I had lived a life full of love, loss, extensive international travel, and had a great career, but something inside me still felt empty. And I’m not just talking about my womb – but my heart and wanting to carry a child and feel whatever a mother’s love is supposed to feel like. Some people are able to find resolve and comfort in their decision to be childless, I was not one of them. I tip my hat to people who can choose to be or remain childless, because I truly believe that is the right choice for them.
My entire 20 year journey has mirrored the growth of the nascent field of IVF in the U.S. It was in the mid-1980’s when I began. When I was told my most hopeful path to take home a baby, was to ‘find an egg donor,’ I was in disbelief. I swallowed hard and felt like the prior 15 years had been one long experiment. I had to re-calibrate my entire way of thinking, let go of the past and reevaluated my financial, physical, and emotional capabilities to start over with yet another uncharted option. My chance to obtain a pregnancy with donor eggs in the 1990’s was 12%. Could I do this? What would my family think? Should I tell my child, IF successful? I decided to forge forward as my desire for a child outweighed my exhaustion.
I was very fortunate. At 40, I had my first son with donor eggs, and he was one of the first 100 babies born with donor eggs in the US. I learned a few things while traveling this emotionally consuming path, that I share with women today. The idea of building a family with donor eggs has grown exponentially in terms of broader acceptance and understanding, but a few things to keep in mind that may help are:
- I learned to follow my heart and understand that the advice and opinions of others was irrelevant. It was my life, not theirs.
- I had to dig deep and find compassion for people who offered unsolicited advice because they just didn’t understand what it meant to struggle with infertility. “Relax, go on vacation,” or “goodness my husband just has to look at me and I get pregnant.” You’ve all heard them.
- I decided that I had to be true to myself, and my natural inclination toward openness meant for me, that I was going to tell my child. Children are smart, and I didn’t want them to sense a secret when I felt there wasn’t any reason to keep one anyway. Many countries require that egg donors release their identity for the benefit of the child later in life now – they did not at the time I found my ‘open identity’ donors.
- I began looking at families and realized that each child was a unique individual, and often did not ‘look like’ either parent or their siblings. What really made a family was anchored in our relationships, not our genes.
Did I know at 25, sitting in my first infertility clinic, that I was helping infertile women worldwide? No. As cliche as it sounds, sometimes you have to go through those dark moments in life to see the light. To be sad is to truly know what happiness means. And to me that is my 3 sons all born through egg donation, having the option of using donor eggs become mainstream, and the successes of The World Egg Bank helping those who strive to build a family a simple reality.
My own experiences allowed me to transform egg donation into a viable, safe, and effective option for women everywhere when I opened the first state of the art egg bank. The World Egg Bank medically, genetically and psychologically screens egg donors; we have world renown team to retrieve and freeze donor eggs, and we ship them worldwide. The World Egg Bank has earned a reputation for excellence but our proudest accomplishment is knowing we offer our recipients the best chance possible to have a child.