WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A MOTHER?
Honestly, this came later in life for me. I was always one of those women who said I was never going to get married, or have kids. I was going to be a "career woman". I never really felt like I could connect to babies. I didn't understand how to communicate with them, like why can't we just talk about the latest episode of the Bachelor? Why do people use "baby talk" it's weird. But, now I'm the queen of baby talk, I get that a high pitched voice is easier for babies to engage with. No one ever told me this! But anyway, I met my husband, fell in love by accident and married his sweet ass. He is the reason I wanted a baby. Not just because he wanted one, but because he was my family and I wanted that love to grow. I started to see myself as a mother for the first time in my life and really want that for myself. He gave me that, and I have him to thank. I had no idea I wasn't going to be "able" to do give him a baby (on my own).
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PREGNANCY JOURNEY?
Five years of fertility treatments, 5 IUI's, multiple try's at IVF with full stimulation, which led to one retrieval with only 2 eggs (the most I ever got on any cycle). One failed egg donor, and finally our miracle was made with Egg donor #2! I have endometriosis and low ovarian reserve. Long story short - my eggs are rotten.
FOR SOMEONE WHO MAY NOT KNOW OR UNDERSTAND – WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR EGG DONATION?
I think a lot of people think it's like sperm donation, where they have a bunch of Easter baskets laying around in a freezer with eggs in them. It's vastly different. With egg donation you are agreeing to terms with a young woman to donate her time. There is no guarantee you will get any eggs, I actually learned this the hard way with our fist donor. Once the legal documents are signed, she starts her doctor’s appointments, her meds, her stimulation drugs, etc. just like I did when I was preparing for IVF. The difference is that she's the one going in for these appts, instead of me. Once/if you get to the retrieval process, her eggs are retrieved and then put together with the sperm you are using (in this case, my husband) and then frozen as embryos (egg + sperm). A lot of RE's are doing genetic testing now on the embryos and then only freezing the genetically normal ones. We did this. Then, it's my turn - I start the transfer prep - meds, shots in the ass, etc. We schedule the transfer and the chosen embryo gets implanted.
HOW HAS MOTHERHOOD CHANGED YOU / YOUR PERSPECTIVES OR YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?
I just see life a different way now. I see it through her eyes, and it makes me slow down. The list can wait. I used to spend my weekends hustling around getting things done on my "list" and now we go for walks, we sit on the floor and play with blocks or sing sill songs dancing around the kitchen. It's a really nice change of pace and has made me enjoy the little things more. I've definitely gotten closer to my own parents since she was born. I now know how they love me, because I have that same love for my daughter. It's truly unconditional. No one can prepare you for this type of love, it is mind blowing!
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOUR OWN MOTHER ABOUT HER MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY?
How did you raise me to be so independent? My parents did such an amazing job at raising both me and my sister to be strong minded women. We always did well in school, were involved in a ton of sports, activities, and have successful careers. I think about this a lot. My gut reaction is to run to Flo's side every second she needs me, but I have to take a step back and think about what's best for her. How I make the right steps in raising an independent, strong woman, but still making her feel loved beyond belief. It's a struggle!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO OTHER DONOR MOTHERS THAT YOU WISH YOU HAD RECEIVED?
Take the time to grieve your eggs. Don't rush it. It has to happen. I didn't do this the first time. I jumped into an egg donor, and chose the one that looked most like me. I chose her for all the wrong reasons - I needed her to be as much like me because I was in denial that my child wouldn't look like me. Unfortunately, she ended up losing the majority of her eggs during the process and we had to cancel the retrieval the day before it was scheduled. I was devastated. We took a year off, traveled the world and I went through the emotions I need to go through. With the second donor, that gave me Flo, I had a totally different frame of thought. I needed someone FERTILE, and healthy. Sure, I picked someone with similar background, but she wasn't my twin by any means.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE / REWARD?
The biggest reward was becoming the woman/mother I am today. I learned how to live through a very dark depression and rise above it all. No one knew I was depressed. No one knew that I cried almost every night before I went to sleep, not even my husband. As many woman who struggle with infertility know, it's a constant battle against yourself. You end up carrying a lot of shame around with you. Through the journey I learned to be prideful of my disease and speak out for others that can't. I have finally found my purpose, and that's advocating for other women struggling with infertility and reminding them how strong they are. Infertility ain't for the weak! And most importantly, Flo gets a mom who is so incredibly grateful. So patient. So loving. And so present. I don't take one second with her for granted.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR JOURNEY CAN SERVE AS INSPIRATION FOR OTHER WOMEN?
It's a story of perseverance. A story of not giving up on your dreams, despite what doctors tell you. To be open to avenues that weren't part of the plan. I never expected to have a child via donor eggs, but by golly, I'm glad I did. This girl was ALWAYS meant for me.
HOW DO YOU FEEL WE (AS SOCIETY / WOMEN) COULD DO BETTER TO SUPPORT WOMEN DEALING WITH INFERTILITY (or) NEW MOTHERS?
Have compassion for both. As a woman struggling with infertility for so long, I had a hard time empathizing with new mothers. I thought - they got what I fight every day to have, how could they need any support! But, being a new mom is really emotional. I cried every day multiple times a day for the first 3 months. Shit, I still cry every day! It gets lonely. It's scary. The hormones are out of this world. The anxiety is like nothing I've ever felt. New moms need a lot of support, just like my infertility tribe does. We are all women trying to figure shit out, let's find ways to lift each other up!
IN WHAT WAY DO YOU FEEL OUR SYSTEM IS FAILING NEW MOTHERS?
Our maternity leave is bullshit. Our jobs expect us to go back to work 2-3 months after pushing a human out of our vaginas, or being cut open. It's not right. We need more time to heal, to give our babies what they need. To put ourselves back together.