Mum & Author of the Fertility Books, Fertility Books
Advanced Maternal Age, Emotions and Support
We didn’t actively look into donor eggs at this time, but I think it was something that was always in the back of my mind. In April 2009, I was now 45, so time was getting on, and we had a consultation with a very well-known fertility specialist in the UK called Zita West. I had my vitamin D levels tested, and they were very low, so I started taking vitamin D, but she was also very much of the opinion that we ought to start thinking about egg donation if we wanted to be parents and we wanted to be parents through me getting pregnant we didn’t know anyone who’d gone through egg donation.
I don’t know why but I didn’t mind either way at that point, it didn’t worry me that if we had a child, they would want to contact the donor because I always knew that I would be that child’s mum, but because my husband did have a preference for anonymous and it is quite difficult when you’re not on quite the same hymnbook if one of you has stronger feelings towards a way of carrying on with this journey that can be quite a difficult conversation to have but again at our appointment with Zita and she did speak about egg donation in Spain it wasn’t very far for us to travel, and it was quite cheaper at the time, and we were aware that the donors were anonymous over there so we just carried on bumbling along for a few more months still not able to make that decision still hopeful that I’d fall pregnant naturally, but finally, we contacted the clinic.They were matched with an anonymous donor, and they were given information on the donor’s hair, eye colour, weight, height, age, job, and interests. The whole process started, Sheila had scans in the UK, and the information was sent across to the clinic, and in November 2009, they went over to the clinic in Marbella, and 2 embryos were transferred, and after 2 weeks Sheila’s got a positive pregnancy test.
It was surreal, and we were in shock that it happened, we have booked a scan at roughly 6 and a half weeks, and when we went through that scan, the doctor thought I was having a miscarriage, and unfortunately, it did end up in an early miscarriage. To say we were devastated is an understatement because we couldn’t understand why, we’d used eggs from a younger woman, we just couldn’t get our heads around it. I immediately started searching implantation failure and miscarriage, and through the wonders of Google, etc., I came across a book called: Is your body baby friendly’ by Alan Beer and what I learned in there, I firmly believed.
I was extremely worried that I would miscarry again and I would lose the baby. I didn’t have any pregnancy symptoms, so I knew that being in my mid-40s, now I should have every problem going, and that’s what the midwife told me at my appointment, you know the age you are, don’t be surprised if you don’t have all sorts of problems. I had no pregnancy symptoms, I didn’t even have any cravings, so it was worrying, especially in the very early stages of pregnancy because I didn’t have any nausea, so I didn’t know if I was still pregnant.Sheila stopped the checks and injections at 34 weeks. It was just a regular pregnancy, and a week after she turned 47, her daughter was born via caesarean section.
I have to say it was a love at first sight, I would go through it all again because she’s amazing, it didn’t matter that we used the donor egg, I was a mum, and that was the main thing. I don’t know whether it was because I was older than I was more tired than a younger mum and the recovery from the C-section was quite slow. I now know that I had Postpartum depression (PPD), but I didn’t seek any help because I didn’t know. I don’t want anyone else to feel that they can’t seek help from other people because you’re not ungrateful if it’s a struggle. I was anxious a lot of the time. I often dreamt that something bad would happen to her, and I know now that that’s common after going through infertility and going through a miscarriage and the loss of perhaps having the biological child.Sheila was always open that they used donor eggs, even with people she met through having her daughter. She mentioned that she used to say that it took them a while to get pregnant and that they used a donor and somebody was very kind and generous and donated her eggs and that’s how Sheila became a mum. That didn’t affect her relationship with any new mums. As they didn’t have any frozen embryos from either cycle, they knew that their daughter would be an only child, so Sheila made sure that they spent a lot of time with other children because they didn’t want her to be lonely and to be shy.
I think it’s quite important that people know that not everyone falls pregnant at the drop of a hat and I know it’s not even then it wasn’t unusual for people to get pregnant in their late mid to late 40s and I used to chuckle when someone used to say to me out of the blue that my daughter looked like me because I knew we’d used to join an egg they might not have known and I still do if we meet new people wherever and they say she’s got your eyes or she’s got your mouth it makes me laugh because that’s what I used to worry about that’s what I know a lot of people worry about when they think of donor egg conception or men think about donor sperm. A child doesn’t always look like one parent or the other or even a mix of both.Sheila’s daughter is now 11 years old and knows that her parents used a donor egg, they sometimes have various conversations about that but they do not talk about it all the time. Apart from being an author, Sheila is also involved in supporting people trying to conceive or experiencing a miscarriage or struggling with their own IVF journey. Sheila decided to put her series of books that are collections of short stories about infertility but also on Two-Week wait as well as pregnancy loss to raise awareness outside the community and also support in the community. RELATED READING Pregnancy After 40 Reproduction for Women Over 45