‘We started seeing a fertility specialist when I was 33-years-old. My levels were, as my doctor put it, ‘that of a 48-year-old.’ One egg was actually black in color.’

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“After 3 years of ‘trying but not trying’ we realized something might be wrong. We started seeing a fertility specialist when I was about 33-years-old and my levels were, as my doctor put it, ‘that of a 48-year-old.’ Lovely! We started with IUI, and did about five rounds, with the full throttle of stimulation, etc. I really only got a few follicles to fully grow after all the shots and meds my body could consume. After a laparoscopic procedure I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis and low ovarian reserve. More delightful news. Injections and meds for a few more months in preparation for IVF and when I finally got 2 mature follicles, we decided to seize the day. ‘All you need is one’ they say! Most people would never even consider doing IVF with only 2 eggs, but it was the best we had ever gotten and I needed to try. I needed to know. I woke up from my retrieval procedure to a grim look on my husband’s face. I knew it. This was it. The moment I was ‘expecting’ (no pun intended). One egg was actually black in color – I officially had rotten eggs. Neither egg ended up fertilizing. Shocker. Years of poking myself with needles and crying in my car at baby showers and this is what I get? This was the death of my DNA, but where was the funeral? I laid there on a cold table with tears streaming down my face. So empty. So hopeless. So broken. So alone.

Woman who struggled with getting pregnant lies on her back with image of implanted embryo on her stomach
Victoria Nino

Our doctor suggested we move on to donor eggs if we wanted a baby. It took a lot of time to understand and process what it would mean for our family. What it would mean for me. What would be my role exactly? I took the time I needed to grieve my eggs. My DNA. It’s a process, and you have to go through it, for everyone’s sake, especially for the child. But, I couldn’t wait too long. I wanted a baby and I wasn’t getting any younger. I was tired of losing. I was tired of grieving. I wanted to be a mom.

Woman who struggled to get pregnant lays curled up on her bed
Victoria Nino

To someone. Anyone. Anyone who would take me and call me Mom. Right before our last IVF cycle with my own eggs, I started thinking about what I would do if it didn’t work. I was mentally preparing for this. My egg quality and quantity was low, I knew it was our last go even before it started. I secretly started doing research, I didn’t even tell my husband. I learned that donor eggs had a high probability of working and also allowed me a chance to be someone’s biological mother. It was time. Time for me to let go of my DNA. It took a lot of kicking and screaming and crying my eyes out to get to this point, and I can’t say I was 100% passed the sadness when I finally decided to move forward. But I did feel a smile creeping in. I wanted to experience pregnancy, breast feeding, and giving birth. Was that too much to ask? Donor eggs were my best chance at doing that. I didn’t care what it would take, I didn’t care what I had to put my body through, or my finances, I just wanted to be a mom. I had already been through so much, I could handle it. It would be worth it in the end, they said.

After taking the time to grieve my eggs and the chance of passing on my DNA, we moved on to donor eggs. When we started down the route of using an egg donor, everyone made it sound like it was a shoe in. I remember our doctor saying our chances of success were around 90%. When you select an egg donor, you’re basically saying, okay, let’s just get pregnant already. You don’t really consider that it won’t work. It’s simple, you choose a young girl with a ton of healthy eggs, and then you get pregnant. No brainer. We chose our donor and she looked just like me, twinsies! She had a similar background, family history and overall vibe. I couldn’t believe it. We never met, but the agency provided a ton of information. Our doctor even commented, ‘wow, Victoria, she’s your perfect match.’

Husband and wife hug as they receive news that they have an egg donor
Victoria Nino

She started her appointments, meds and shots and our doctor gave us the play by play. It was strange to be watching all of this from the sidelines, but my doctor made me feel important and connected in the process. It was the day before her IVF egg retrieval, and I’ll never forget the phone call from our doctor.

Husband and wife cry in kitchen as they hear they news that they have an egg donor
Victoria Nino

She said ‘I’m so sorry Victoria, your donor really is like you, even her eggs are like yours.’ She had lost more than half of her follicles overnight and only had 4 that matured. 4 was not enough. I immediately felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness. But this time, my sadness wasn’t about me. My tears started to fall. All I kept thinking was – this poor, sweet, young girl. At 28-years-old, she is now facing a real life game changer. My heart hurt for her. My connection with her was so strong, I felt her pain like it was my own. And I don’t even know her real name. We didn’t know what to do next, but we knew we needed a break. We had avoided planning trips for so long – ‘just in case’ I needed to be local for a procedure or so my husband could be ‘on call’ to unload the swimming soldiers. We put other dreams on hold because our fertility treatments took all of our money. We missed out on life, and we needed to live. So, we decided to take a year off, to travel the world and focus on us for the first time in a while.

I had been grieving for a very long time. I had tried EVERYTHING. Podcasts, yoga, writing, lots of writing. Therapy. Drinking, oh the drinking. I ugly cried – A LOT. I created a shrine in my closet where I would go sit on the floor and pray, and I’m not a religious person. I don’t even know who I was praying to, but I prayed. With infertility, every day is a new battle. A battle against yourself. To stay strong, when all you want to do is cry. My strength has been tested to unimaginable depths. I wanted to give up so many times. I wanted to quit it ALL. The needles, the pills, the probing and prodding, the constant doctor visits. The procedures. The surgeries. The egg donors. I constantly asked myself – is it all worth it? The financial stress? The marital stress? I would often think – I just can’t do this anymore. But somehow, I did. Somehow, I could. I just kept going. It’s easy to dwell on how unfair and hard it is. But, at some point, enough is enough. I knew I couldn’t be sad and angry forever. I needed to find the good to carry on. And that’s exactly what I did. Infertility showed me a new version of myself – a woman who survived tragedy and became stronger from it. I realized if this is the only curveball I’m thrown in life, I’d consider myself pretty darn lucky. I have so much other stuff in my life to be grateful for. I have fallen in love with my husband in a deeper, more intense way. He has my back in a way I can’t explain. After all of this, he stills chooses me – an infertile woman. And yep, I FINALLY got pregnant.

Pregnant woman sits on kitchen counter holding husbands face who stands in front of her
Victoria Nino

After a long break, a lot of healing, a new doctor and a new donor, our miracle was made.

Woman kisses newborn who she holds in her arms in hospital bed
Victoria Nino

She came to me when she knew I was strong and ready. My beautiful rainbow after an ugly storm – Miss Florence Viola, born on our 9 year wedding anniversary, the perfect love story. And I know now, it was ALWAYS meant to be her. Had I gotten pregnant years ago, the easy way, or even with my own eggs, it wouldn’t be her. And without her, I wouldn’t be me. I used to ask myself – Why me? But, now I know why. She is why. She was always meant for us.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Victoria Nino. Follow her journey here and here. Submit your story here. For our best stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter.

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