Turning birth tragedy into hope
A labour of love
I can clearly remember my first 'proper' assignment at school, we were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up.
The blonde-haired, bright-blue-eyed, freckly little creature that was I, put an abundance of effort into that beautiful little drawing.
There was no in depth thought involved, no whispering between friends, I knew exactly what I wanted to be without question or hesitation.
According to the teacher though, my apparent lack of understanding when it came to a 'career' let my drawing down. She tried to explain that being a 'Mum' wasn't really classed as a job.
Luckily for me, as well as those striking eyes that got me through my younger days with a lot less effort than most, I also inherited a strong will and stubborn 'I am always right' attitude, so my teacher's efforts to persuade me to choose a more noteworthy career that day were wasted. Mum was the word.
My interest in children never faded and, to fill the void before I felt I was ready to have my own, I studied and worked as a preschool teacher. There was something about the babies, those tiny little fragile beings, that put their absolute and utter trust into you, to meet their needs and keep them safe.
I was enthralled by them, and everything in life revolved around the day I would hold my own. I was so fortunate to meet the man of my dreams at 15, and by the time we were 20 we were in our own home and had decided that it was as good a time as any.
Being so young and fertile meant we were lucky enough to become pregnant within a couple of months. That feeling, gosh, that absolute feeling of pure excitement, anticipation, and the impatient longing - knowing that although you have succeeded at this part of the journey, it was still a long road ahead.
Family were elated, especially being the first grandchild for both sides, friends were excited, although a little less interested being that we were all still so young.
Their days were still happily filled with parties and socialising, where ours would slowly morph into nappies and coffee groups.
Mixed in with all those feelings somewhere though, was an obvious nervousness. I guess a feeling that all mothers experience, but right from the word go I felt this went far deeper - there was an almost too real 'knowing' that this baby wasn't going to be part of our family.
I tried to ignore it, but it was hard, and I felt so sorry for my midwife - all the questions and over the top stressing every time something didn't feel right.
Unfortunately, it was right about the time I finally started to relax that things began to go horribly wrong. At 17 weeks my waters broke, and just short of 19 weeks our beautiful baby boy was born into this harsh world, sleeping. I thought it was hilarious. Everything was funny, it was all a joke, I was living someone else's life and this couldn't possibly actually be happening to us.
People would visit, I would make jokes, smile, tell them it was OK, that I was OK. It wasn't until about day two, when most of the sympathy had faded, and the supports had backed away a little that it all hit home.
There were no kicks, no podgy belly, and no baby. No baby! There were baby clothes, and plans, and dreams, but just no baby. It hit like a tonne of bricks, and boy, was it painful.
Being so young, and so inexperienced, I really didn't understand what this meant. I was worried this would happen again, and just to add to my worry, my equally if not more inexperienced friends would continuously question if maybe I couldn't have children. Question after question "surely losing a baby so late wasn't normal", "maybe you just can't carry them", "maybe you can't have boys", "at least you're young and can try again".
They grated at me until my feelings were worn down to a stub, and I managed to block it all out. Lock it all away for a better time in life.
That feeling, devastation, that not only did I have empty arms now, but I could possibly have empty arms forever, was one I never wanted. It was a feeling that I suddenly realised millions of women around the world felt, every day, every week, every year - year after year, and I felt shattered for them.
At such a heartbreaking time, I found myself thinking of others, and I quietly promised myself that if I was fortunate enough to achieve my dream I would somehow try and give back.
Eight years on I have three beautiful children, and they are everything I could have wished for. All happy, healthy, blue-eyed angels that fill my heart. Even on the bad days, the days where you wonder what on earth you fed them in the hours prior to make them so feral, I count my blessings that we got off so easy compared to most and we have what we have today. My hurdle was one that my husband and I jumped together, and managed to land on our feet on the other side.
For some, that hurdle is a lot higher. Sometimes they take that leap of faith, and just don't quite make it, only then to stand back and see the hurdle has grown even higher. With each unsuccessful attempt, that dream slips further and further from their hands. Imagine for a second facing a lifetime of fertility issues, miscarriages, bills and heartache, all the while trying to stay hopeful of one day seeing a mini-you, and then being told that it can't happen without an egg donor.
So for me, the way I could give back was simple! My eggs were something that I no longer needed. After some research, I was happily able to detach from the thought of them being 'mine'.
I am currently cycling for my sixth round of egg donation for a beautiful couple who just need that last little ingredient to achieve their family.
Donors that choose to donate in New Zealand and Australia do so purely for altruistic reasons because, unlike some other countries, it is illegal for us to receive any financial compensation, and because of this there is a massive shortage of donors even though 1 in 6 couples experience infertility. The wait is between 3-5 years for most couples.
If egg donation is something you have never thought of, I highly recommend you look into it. You could change someone's life forever, create a family, and fulfil someone's dream of filling empty arms.
If I had needed a donor, I would have hoped with all my heart someone would have been generous enough to help me, as I can imagine you would too. Donors are rare, so if you are reading this thinking: "what an amazing thing to do", then why not?
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