As an independent woman, I spent my 20’s focused on establishing my career and positioning myself for financial success through hard work. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that I met “the one”. Two years later we married and quickly began trying to conceive.
During each annual exam with my OB/GYN in my 30’s I asked if it was possible to know if I would have trouble conceiving. Each year I received the same answer: “We won’t know until you start trying” or “Don’t worry, lots of women have babies into their early 40s.” Although the answers didn’t sit well with me, I never asked for any testing to assess my fertility. I had a period like clockwork every month and had no reason to believe anything was wrong.
A few months into our journey to conceive, I pushed for bloodwork to assess my fertility and was completely shocked after my doctor shared the results. At the age of 35, I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve after my bloodwork showed an undetectable anti-mullerian hormone, or AMH. My doctor explained it would be difficult to conceive without reproductive assistance and recommended intrauterine insemination (IUI). We followed her recommendation and tried IUI while educating ourselves on the diagnosis and what this meant for our future. After one failed IUI, we decided that we didn’t want to spend any additional time pursuing additional rounds of IUI and left my OB/GYNs office for a Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI).
After a discussion with our REI on our best options for conceiving, we began the process of IVF–the long, expensive, isolating, powerless process of IVF. We went through 2 egg retrievals and only retrieved 1 egg each cycle, but our 2 eggs did result in 2 embryos. As with many IVF cycles, complications occurred along the way. My husband and I tried to hold onto hope as the months passed by, remaining optimistic that we at least had 2 chances of pregnancy. The first embryo transfer was unsuccessful. The second embryo transfer was successful, but the pregnancy resulted in a heartbreaking miscarriage.
We spent time grieving our loss and trying to wrap our minds around the fact that we had to start over. Given the low quantity of eggs retrieved each cycle of IVF, we were not convinced we would ever be successful with my own eggs. To make an already stressful situation worse, we were paying for our treatment out of pocket since our insurance didn’t cover the disease of infertility. My husband and I weighed our options and did a lot of soul searching. We decided that egg donation would be the next step in our journey.
Saying goodbye to something you never had is a grieving process; one with many stages and periods of acceptance. The loss of never having a genetically linked child of your own is very difficult for people to understand unless they’ve been through it. However, as I navigated through those feelings, my husband and I felt a renewed glimmer of hope in our chance to have a family.
I am immensely grateful to women who donate their eggs to allow other women the chance to not only become mothers, but to be able to carry a baby themselves. Fortunately, the gift of egg donation was the answer for us. We were successful with our first transfer and incredibly proud to now be called Mommy and Daddy!
Through the years I spent going through fertility treatments, I was fortunate to have found a Resolve (The National Infertility Association) support group in my local area. Through the group, I met women who were there for each other during the times we needed to cry, needed words of encouragement and every moment in between.
After I became a mother, I wanted to give back to the infertility community that was there for me during every step of my journey. Years of infertility struggles inspired me to become an infertility volunteer and advocate by lending my voice to help the 1 in 8 couples who have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
We love to read in our home and as parents through egg donation, we sought books to help introduce the concept to our child. We were unable to find a book that told the story in the way we wanted. As a result, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of writing and publishing a book, “Happy Together, an egg donation story”. Happy Together is a heartwarming book to help parents introduce the concept of egg donation to a young child. It is a story told through clear language and cheerful illustrations, comforting children with the assurance of being very much wanted and loved. I am thrilled Happy Together has received positive reviews from parents, physicians and therapists!
I am an infertility advocate and motherthrough the gift of donor assisted reproduction.I believe in being open and honest with childrenof their genetic origins, beginning with sharingthe family building story when the child is youngand telling the child often.It is my hope that Happy Togetherwill provide a heartwarming story for parentsto begin the conversation.
Follow Julie on Instagram @happytogetherchildrensbook
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