“When I was 23, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis after emergency surgery for a ruptured ovarian cyst and was told I would likely never be able to have children. The only thing I had ever truly wanted was to be a mom. I was that kid who carried baby dolls everywhere, babysat constantly, and spent hours planning out my unborn children’s names. I could think of nothing worse than not being able to have children and was absolutely devastated.
I had always had horrible periods and had gone to dozens of doctors where I was repeatedly told there was nothing wrong with me and ‘Have you tried taking ibuprofen?’ After years of being ignored by doctors, I finally had an appointment to do an ultrasound to see what was going on. With my crappy insurance, the first available appointment was in February, and 2 days after Christmas, an orange-sized cyst burst resulting in emergency surgery where they would remove one and ½ of my ovaries and the endometriosis diagnosis. I spent the next several years having more surgeries and finally ended up taking Depot Lupron putting me into chemical menopause in my early twenties.
Fast forward to 2008 when I met my husband Spencer. We were 30 and 31 when we met and I told him about my endo history and having children would likely be impossible without assistance. He reassured me he was along for whatever that meant and knew I’d be a great mother, no matter how we got there.
We were married in June of 2009 and went to the fertility clinic for our first appointment a few weeks later. We were told, due to the severity of my disease, IVF would be our only option. They gave us a 5% success rate using my eggs and an 85% success rate if we used donor eggs. I had always wanted to be a mom and didn’t care how I got there and for $30,000 a pop decided to go with the donor egg route. We had people ask why we didn’t ‘just adopt’ and there is a serious lack of understanding of how time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally challenging adoption can be.
The next step was picking our donor. It was a very strange process – we’d read about these young girls and it was like we were on a dating site. ‘She’s cute, she has a weird nose.’ We were looking for someone with similar physical characteristics to myself. The donor coordinator emailed me, ‘I think I have the one’ and sent me one adult photograph and a description and we knew instantly. She said yes to being our donor on my 31st birthday, which I took as another sign.
I started the gazillion medications and shots and finally, it was time to get started. We decided to transfer two embryos (the maximum allowed by our fertility clinic) and freeze the remaining 12. On the embryo retrieval day, I had flowers waiting for our donor and a thank you card, which didn’t seem like nearly enough. We were successful on our first attempt and 9 months later our beautiful twins, Silas and Lucia, were born.
3 years later, we decided to transfer one of our frozen embryos and again, it was successful on our first try resulting in the birth of our son, Nico, completing our family.
All three of our kids are in grade school now and we’re busy with all the things having young kids brings – soccer games, birthday parties, playdates, homework, and driving to practices, I rarely stop and think about our infertility days anymore except during things like National Infertility Awareness Week where I pause and remember how close I was to not having this life I dreamed of and count my blessings. I found this letter I wrote to our babies before they were born the other day and know this is the exact family we were meant to have.
As I write this, I’m struggling with decisions of what will be best for you during the process we have to go through in order to bring you into this world. This isn’t something most people ever have to think about and I’ll tell you, it isn’t easy!
I want you to know during this entire process, you have always been my first thought. I want to do what is best for you – not what is best for me, your dad, the donor, our family, or friends. You are the one who is going to have to live with the decisions we are making for the rest of your life. Big decisions like what clinic we go to, if we use an agency, if we register on the donor sibling database, what type of donor – anonymous, semi-anonymous, family member or friend, who we decide to tell, and how much to tell – huge, huge decisions. I pray you understand we are doing the very best we can with the resources, current laws in place, accessibility, and knowledge we have.
I feel it is my duty to become as educated as I possibly can for you. I have done tons of research to find out what is best for you and will continue to do so throughout your life. I hope you will trust me that I have always had your best interest at heart. I understand that by choosing an egg donor, we are making the choice for you (before you even get here) you won’t have ties to half of your genetic background. It may appear selfish of us to have made that decision but I want you to know we thought long and hard about the drawbacks and benefits.
You are so wanted and will be so loved, in our hearts, we believe it is the right choice. We have so much love to give you and all of the tools to provide you with a wonderful life. We believe families are created by love, commitment, and responsibility, that parenting requires active involvement and nurturing, and those relationships are far more important than genetic ties as the force that holds a family together. You will grow in my belly and I will be your biological mom. My body will nurture you and we will always have a connection.
Even so, we will always acknowledge what an important role the donor played in your life because without her incredible, compassionate gift, you wouldn’t be here. We would hope you come to share our same views on how our family came to be but we also want to raise you as an independent thinker and will respect your views, even if they are different from our own. I always want you to know you can come to me with whatever questions or feelings you have and you will not be judged.
Because of the unique way you came into the world, you will be a very special person who can always know how badly you were wanted. You will be appreciated, loved, and cherished more than any child has ever been. I know without a doubt as soon as you are born and placed into my arms, you will be the exact baby we are supposed to have. I believe everything happens for a reason and the reason I have endometriosis and we are creating our family through donor eggs is so you can be born as our child.
I love you,
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Andrea Woods from Ravensdale, WA. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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