I remember clearly in 1978, when Lesley Brown made reproductive history delivering the first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization. I had become a mother myself in 1973. While good news of medical capability for a lot of infertile couples, never did I dream at the time that these developments would become significant in my own life. The technique raised moral and medical alarms 42 years ago but is commonplace today.
When my husband of 10 years wanted to have children, we diligently tried using ovulation prediction to enhance our chances. I was devastated to learn via a news report that our odds of conceiving were very low because I had grown too old, my eggs had aged along with me. I remember going to the witness tree where my husband and I were wed in 1988 and cried. He should have married a younger woman.
The nurse practitioner at my general practitioner’s office was counseling me about my cholesterol levels when I mentioned that we were trying to conceive. I remember her words clearly, “I’m not saying you are infertile, but at your age, you don’t have time to waste.” She referred me to her own OB/Gyn as a specialist in such issues.
We saw my very last “viable” egg on ultrasound at our first appointment with him. He tried a hormonal boost but it failed to produce a pregnancy. He also told us there was another way. I began to research that way. I found online groups for support and information.
When we discovered I was positive for hepC in a routine series of pre-conception lab tests, that doctor dropped me. However, my OB/Gyn said my co-existing with that virus should not preclude me having children (he had experience with hepatitis in Asia during his early intern training).
We found a donor for ourselves and she has been a gem for serving couples to become parents, participating in the conception of both of our sons. Happily, they are 100% siblings with common genetic foundations. It isn’t perfect, genetically she is their mother and I am not. That has taken some getting used to. No one else could be more their mother either as they grew in my womb and bonded with me there and during breastfeeding for the whole first year of their life afterwards.
Because of divorce and being a financially struggling single mother, I lost physical custody of my genetically related daughter to her father and step-mother to raise. I really thought of myself as a terrible person for not raising my own child. Because of my sons, I now know that is not the truth about me. Since learning about the trauma related to mother-child separations in adoption, I also realize what my husband and I did to overcome infertility was the next best choice for conceiving our family.