Guest monologue: ‘Your only chance is egg donation’

A guest post by anonymous

I’ve always thought my life would involve a house, husband, children, maybe a dog, and the occasional holiday. This is not much to ask for, right? Just simple things, I thought. I never envisaged the rollercoaster of events and emotions that would be my reality.

My now husband and I had been together for a while. I wanted to get married for such a long time and always said I wanted to be married first before I had children. I put it down to the fact that I’m Indian and that is how it is. We were already living together, which was not overly common in our community, so I wanted to do things the ‘standard way’. Whatever that means. With hindsight, maybe I could’ve – should’ve – been a bit more carefree…

We got married two years ago and we wanted to start trying as soon as we could. My periods had been irregular since my father died a few years before. I’d always tracked them and although some of the cycle lengths were long, as they were still coming I assumed it was stress-related. I went to GP and asked for hormone tests before the wedding just to check everything was OK. I had three rounds of tests and as they were out of the ‘normal’ range they eventually referred us to the assisted conception unit.

We waited four months to be seen, which felt like ages. I was seeing an acupuncturist and she suggested a private ultrasound and an AMH test too, which some say is a good indicator of ovarian reserve. So I did that. The outcome was…not great. I felt so disheartened. I remember speaking to the acupuncturist about the results and she just said: ‘Don’t worry, you can adopt if you can’t have children’. I didn’t go back to see her again.

I’m sure she meant well, but it was not what I needed to hear at that time. I kept on fast-forwarding to my future life without biological children and whenever I did it made me feel distraught.

The appointment at the assisted conception unit came around and I prepared everything I wanted to discuss, including my cycle lengths for the last three years, and all my hormones test plotted against cycle day. It felt like I was preparing a pitch.

The doctor was brutal as she skim-read our paperwork and referral notes. We were told I possibly had blocked tubes, low ovarian reserve, and was likely to be peri-menopausal. She said our only good chance for conception was through egg donation. Pow…end of appointment!

Our world fell apart. Egg donation…my mind went to so many dark places. The thought of not having my own biological child with the man I loved – how do I get my head around that? Where would the egg come from? Would they be Indian (like me) or Mediterranean (like my husband)? How do you choose? I understood from reading forums that some people went abroad for egg donation treatment. Could we do that?

Then two-and-a-half months later I got pregnant. It felt like a miracle after everything we had been told. Sadly, I miscarried at 8 weeks as the embryo didn’t develop. It was recommended I had an ERPC, or Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception (awful term) as they wanted to test for molar pregnancy – this is where the embryo doesn’t form properly in the womb and abnormal cells grow in its place (for more information about this type of pregnancy loss, see here).

After another agonising few months of waiting, we got the all clear.

My darkest thought was that I felt so upset for my husband – that he had made a terrible decision marrying me. I had been pretty difficult to live with during this time and had pushed him away through guilt, sadness and anger. But we decided to forget everything we had been told and be positive and hopeful. It was coming up to January, so we decided: new year, new start.

A couple of months into the new year, we found out I was pregnant again. This time, we felt fully invested. This time, we heard a heartbeat at an early scan. I felt nauseous all the time and, mostly, just really happy this could actually happen for us.

Then I went for a scan a few days before my scheduled 12-week scan, as I’d had some spotting.

The heartbeat was no longer there. You start to know that it’s bad news from the sonographers faces. The lack of chat and, of course, when they go to get another person to check the scan. We were heartbroken.

The nurses at the Early Pregnancy Unit were so nice. They suggested we go home and think about how we want to ‘manage’ the miscarriage. I mean, no one ever really talks about this stuff so I had no idea what to expect. It started naturally two days later, as if my body knew. I remember my husband just sitting outside the bathroom watching me on the loo as he didn’t want to leave me on my own. It was strange, but actually quite nice we were there going through it together.

This time, I took a couple of weeks off work, which I hadn’t done before. We had a few days away and called it our ‘miscarriage holiday’. We even bought some ‘miscarriage’ art to make us feel better. We tried to find some humour and light in a pretty grim situation.

The miscarriage ended up going on for a month as it turned out there was still some tissue left. I ended up having all three types of management for it – pills when just waiting didn’t seem to be enough, then another ERPC when those didn’t work completely either.

Now I’m here, a year on. Everyone around us seems to be pregnant or has just had a baby. I am actually happy for them but just as sad for us. I am trying to leave my job, a job I have stayed in for too long for the hope of going on maternity leave soon. I do think: ‘Oh I was so close’.

I know my relationship has been tested and I hope we get through it. I know I have been tested and have learnt so much already about myself in this process. If I’m honest, it has made me quite needy for love and safety. I have heightened anxiety at times and still feel very up and down.

I don’t know what’s next. We haven’t even talked about it really, but I know looking for an egg donor is not an option. It just doesn’t feel right for us. We have explored adoption and although it seems like a good path, it has its own challenges that I know we need to be really ready for.

Each time I get my period we are caught between sadness that we aren’t pregnant…and also happiness that my periods are still happening. We’re both 36 and we do need to talk about what to do next as it feels like time is flying by.

For now, I’m just on getting on with life. Trying to look after myself as best I can. Who knows what the future holds, but I am hopeful it will involve the family that I’ve always hoped for.

You might also be interested in…

This post on how to choose how to ‘manage’ a missed miscarriage

These thoughts on what not to say to someone struggling to conceive/going through pregnancy loss

The three things no one really tells you about trying to conceive

And, finally, this post on the peculiar grief of getting your period 

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