Facing Difficult Emotions: One Couple’s Decision to Use Frozen Donor Eggs

Like so many little girls, I always wanted to grow up to be a mom someday. I would keenly watch my Mama as she baked cookies, tended to my baby sister, and decorated the Christmas tree every year. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to have two girls and a boy. Or maybe two boys and a girl. Sometimes there were no boys at all, but I always knew that I wanted to have three. Little did I know that instead of choosing how many children I would have, I’d be faced with choosing egg donation.

I’m a firm believer that God has a plan for each and every one of us – but after nine rounds of failed IVF treatment, I struggled hard with my emotions. I couldn’t help but feel angry and cheated. My husband and I had been through so much, and yet God was testing us even further. As any woman who has struggled to conceive will tell you, when you’re getting back negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, it seems like everyone around you is magically getting pregnant. Facebook is full of happy pregnant friends, acquaintances, and couples who “weren’t even trying.”

But as any Christian also knows, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Just when we had hit our lowest point, my husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to adopt our beautiful baby boy. I’d never seen anything as perfect as that little bundle of love snuggled up in my arms. Even when he started sleeping through the night, I would wake up just to go and watch him for a while in his sweet slumber. But I had always wanted three children, and still felt an ache deep inside of me.

You hear so many amazing stories about couples who give up trying and then get pregnant after choosing to adopt. I know that I was deeply holding onto that hope, even after all the unsuccessful IVF attempts. I don’t know why finding out that my eggs were no longer viable came as such a blow; you’d think I would have been prepared. But nothing can prepare a woman to deal with such disappointment.

Before even contemplating the idea of using donor eggs, my husband and I went through a lengthy (and healthy) period of dealing with our emotions. I personally had to identify my feelings of grief over the child that I would never have and admit to these feelings before considering alternatives. We were both afraid about how we would broach the subject with our children when they were older, and whether or not they would actually feel like ours.

All these feelings are completely normal when considering using donor eggs. Sometimes, I still wonder what it would have been like if my children shared my DNA. But those feelings wash away when I think of all the joy that my twins (conceived using frozen donor eggs) bring me, and how a world without them in it is something entirely impossible to contemplate. When they’re old enough to understand what’s physically and emotionally involved in the process of using frozen eggs, I hope that they will only appreciate us even more as parents and understand how much we love them and wanted them.

I know it seems daunting, but the truth is that the process is now as simple as ever. In fact, you can start as soon as you’re ready – without having to synchronize your cycle to that of the donor – by using frozen donor eggs that are already prepped and ready. All donors are thoroughly screened and background checked in areas ranging from occupation to physical features. We picked a donor who had the same hair and eye color as me. Then, we went to the clinic where I received estrogen and progesterone shots to prepare my uterus for embryo implantation. As soon as my body was ready, I underwent embryo transfer.

It’s every woman’s right to have a child of her own, to settle down and start a family. Infertility used to lurk over me like a shadow, but today I am nothing but grateful. I thank God every day for the beautiful children He has blessed me with, and that I’m lucky enough to live in a world where this was made possible. Our road to having children may have been bumpier than most, but I wouldn’t trade the family I have now for anything in the world.

-Heidi Hayes is the CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA. She has more than 20 years of healthcare experience and has worked extensively in the field of reproductive endocrinology.