Being told you may never conceive naturally is very hard to hear.
Being told you may never be a mum at all is one of the hardest things anyone can be told.
Being told you can carry a child, but they won’t be genetically related to you, is hugely complicated news to process.
Three different moments of my fertility journey, each with their own emotional challenges.
At the age of just 28 I discovered I had Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, self-diagnosed following a lack of interest and understanding from my own GP – based solely on my age. We went through five failed cycles of IVF and suffered a miscarriage with my own eggs before making the difficult decision to close the door on my genetics and use an egg donor. A decision which I’m happy to say changed our lives for the better as I’m now a proud mum to three beautiful girls.
Although egg donation was presented as an option that could solve my specific fertility problem and allow us to build our family in a biological way, what I didn’t feel was recognised was the emotional impact that infertility and the loss of my genetics might have on me as a person.
Feeling alone and confused, I navigated my own way through extreme conflicting emotions, whilst trying to make practical decisions around treatment, finding that there were few stories I could relate to and little emotional support on offer.
It’s not a simple decision, it’s not a one-time decision, it can be filled with emotion and needs careful consideration, especially as the story doesn’t end when you have your baby; another one begins. I now realise that support is vital when taking this path to parenthood and that building a family using donor conception is so much more than a medical procedure.
Reflecting back, I realise just how alone I felt, which is why I created DefiningMum to share my story with others. I want people to find hope in our journey, to see the joy and immense love that can be found on this pathway, but also to know that they’re not alone in the worries, anxieties and loneliness that can often come alongside it.
As DefiningMum has grown over the past two years, I’ve also realised that there is so much I wished I’d have known, which is why I’ve created Paths to Parenthub as a platform for people to find information, connection and support.
I hear daily from people who are feeling alone and confused by the simultaneous mixture of sadness and hope that this route can bring. Grieving the loss of genetics, worries about feeling like the ‘real’ parent, anxieties about attachment and bonding, concerns over how their child might feel and worries about what other people might think are just some of the common themes that require validation and emotional support. It’s important for us as future parents to have the means to recognise and process our grief, to understand the implications for our children and to ensure that we are prepared to tell them their story with honesty and pride, supporting them with what it means for them.
I want medical professionals worldwide to recognise that donor conception isn’t just a medical necessity, it’s a hugely emotional decision.
I want people on this path to know they’re not alone.
I want to celebrate different paths to parenthood and to break societal taboos on both infertility and donor conception.