I’m Becky, founder of ‘DefiningMum’ and Mum to three precious girls…something I never thought I would be able to say. After turning 28 and learning that I was entering early menopause, with prematurely aging ovaries, I believed that I had been robbed of the chance to ever have children.
When we’d first started trying for a baby in 2014, I figured we’d fall pregnant in the obvious way just like everyone else seemed to do– we’d have sex at the right time and BAM, a baby! Easy, right?! Who imagines that something that seems so natural, so ‘normal’ might not happen? Unless you’ve been close to someone experiencing infertility I don’t think you give it a second thought; after all, no-one seems to talk about it even if they are having problems. I never expected 5 years on to be sat writing a blog about failing miserably in making that baby!
I now speak openly and honestly to share my story of early menopause, infertility, numerous IVF cycles, loss, and the path to donor egg conception; all in the hope that it will make others feel less alone and break some taboos. Donor Conception seemed like such an ‘alien’ concept when it was first suggested to me, I just didn’t know how to even start processing the idea. I realise now that I’d struggled to find many ‘real’ positive stories out there, which is why I launched my blog and social media accounts – ‘DefiningMum’. My aim is to help encourage understanding and change perceptions but, most importantly, give hope.
My story began when something had started to niggle away at me, something just wasn’t quite right. My periods were irregular whilst at the same time greeting me all too often every 12-20 days. Every time I was thinking I had just ovulated I would then experience some suspicious spotting. Always the optimist, I would think, ‘maybe it’s early implantation bleeding?’ but every single time I would be proved wrong. I decided to get help. After several push-backs from GP’s, saying that there was nothing to worry about at my tender age of 27, I finally succeeded in having my day 3 FSH tested. A result of 17.9 sent alarm bells ringing and, after enlisting the help of a private consultant, I found that my AMH was low at just 0.74 – it was then that Premature Ovarian Failure was diagnosed.
Devastated but determined, we were soon fast-tracked privately to IVF after being told we didn’t have time to waste with my dwindling egg supply.Just 6 weeks later we started our first round of IVF. Amazingly on our first attempt, with our one precious embryo, we were overjoyed to see our first ever positive pregnancy test. Sadly, this wasn’t to be and I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage at 7 weeks. Over the next 18 months we tested FSH at the start of every cycle, not wanting to miss any opportunity, and endured 4 more rounds of IVF (2 natural cycles and 2 stimulated). All ended with either no embryo to transfer or a negative result. During this time, I was all-consumed by my infertility and felt that my dream of having a child was slipping further away…something had to change.
It was at this point, after many conversations, we made a momentous decision. We looked at the odds, our emotions, our finances, whilst I thought deeply about what it meant to me to be a Mum. Thinking about what actually defines a Mum was a huge turning point. I realised that genetics weren’t everything – what was important was having a healthy child, being a family and making lifelong memories together. It was then, 18 months from diagnosis, we decided to take a leap of faith and try donor eggs abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. We were incredibly fortunate to fall pregnant on our first attempt using an egg donor – with 5 great quality embryos in total, one was transferred to me and 37 weeks later our beautiful girl, Mila, came into the world in July 2016. The following year we returned to try for a sibling and (with two embryos being transferred this time) we found out I was pregnant with twins – Mila is now big sister to Eska and Lena, who arrived in February 2018. Today, I’m an incredibly grateful Mum to three gorgeous girls and I wouldn’t change them, or how I came to have them, for the world.
It sounds relatively straight forward when I condense our story down into just a few paragraphs, doesn’t it? It really wasn’t! I can completely empathise with anyone having to face this difficult and daunting decision. The leap from simply trying to conceive naturally, to being told that you need to use IVF in itself is incredibly difficult to process. Then follows an even bigger leap, the mind-boggling decision to use a third party to help conceive your child. This is why I believe in the power of sharing, giving the opportunity for those in the position I was once in to see our reality and the amazing gift that donor conception can provide. I will be forever grateful to our donor and have found comfort in knowing that she provided half of a blueprint, but it was me who built every cell in their bodies.
I now know that accepting the loss of not being able to have a genetic child involves grief, which needs to be acknowledged and understood as a perfectly normal feeling when faced with this decision. It was only when I started my blog and connected with Jana Rupnow (author of an incredibly helpful book called “Three Makes Baby”) that I realised what I had experienced was compounded grief. After this, I suddenly felt my feelings were validated and I began to understand that the grief was real and that it was ok to have struggled emotionally – I want you to know that it’s ok if you’re feeling that way too.
I’m learning that even beyond becoming a mum through donation there are still challenging emotions and fears to face. As I gratefully face the typical challenges of parenthood I am learning that some of these will inevitably be more complex than your ‘conventional’ family. It’s been a journey in itself just sharing my story on a public platform, personally I’ve faced many questions that I had previously pushed to the back of my mind, mainly about what the girl’s reactions might be when they learn of their conception and the decisions we made. It’s by sharing my thoughts and feelings that I’ve started to become more confident in how I am going to handle these challenges in the future – learnings that I share with my followers. I’m also passionate about understanding different perspectives, including the views of those that are donor conceived themselves. My hope is that by opening up these conversations, not only am I preparing myself for supporting and understanding my children’s needs in the future, I can also help others prepare for when their children learn about their story.
Over the past 9 months through the power of social media, I have been astonished by the positive response from those who have found comfort in seeing my reality of life as a mum after using donated eggs. I’m most active on Instagram, a place where support in the online TTC (Trying to Conceive) community is truly inspirational. Larisa is one of many inspiring leaders within the Instagram fertility world, using this platform to help even more people facing fertility struggles. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Larisa and I am very grateful for her support with one of my online initiatives – Fertility Support Saturday. Through many online collaborations such as these, I am hoping to open up some new and diverse conversations about infertility and specifically donor conception.
I’d love for you to come and follow me in my journey of discovery, understanding and personal learning as I reflect and share my past experiences, whilst navigating my way through parenthood as a Mum to my donor conceived girls. If you are still on your infertility journey, know that this doesn’t have to be your end destination – there is hope. Even though it felt like a huge loss at the time, closing the door on my own genetics wasn’t the end for me…instead it was the start of something truly amazing.
You can find me here:
Blog – www.definingmum.com