Egg donation IVF offers many women over 40 the best chance for pregnancy success. If you're thinking about using an egg donor, you're probably wondering what the process is like, and maybe even what it's like to be pregnant after 40.
Nancy Konigsberg, a pediatric occupational therapist and web author of Milestone Mom, shares her egg donation IVF story with About.com.
What Is Your Infertility Story?
I got married for the first time at age 44. I am a pediatric occupational therapist and consequently I had spent a lot of time working with infants and young children (ages 0-3). Prior to getting married, I discussed with my husband my interest in having a baby and he agreed. I actually got pregnant during the first month we tried to conceive. However, I miscarried in the first 7 weeks.
My doctor tested my hormones and said that the pregnancy was what they called a "partial pregnancy" - meaning that the fetus never would have developed.
We tried again after that and after about six unsuccessful months, my doctor gave me fertility medication. Again we tried. I believe for about a year. Nothing happened. My doctor then told me I should try an egg donor. He referred me to a fertility clinic in NJ.
How Did You Come to Choose Egg Donation?
The first thing that happens when you show up for your first appointment is that they ask to see your driver's license (they want to ensure no one lies about their age). We met with a doctor who indicated that, based on my age, options were limited. She told me I needed to have my hormones tested. As she said, it doesn't matter how young I look, or how fit I am -- my eggs were 46 years old.
The test results showed that my hormone levels were too low to opt for fertility treatment. An egg donor was my only option. I needed to think about it.
It took a while to adjust to the idea, but I warmed up to it after consideration. My husband and I were told we needed to meet with a psychologist to ensure we understood what we were getting into and to confirm that we understood the odds of multiples. Because they transfer more than one fertilized egg, there is a high chance of twins.
Once we passed muster, our names were put on a donor waiting list. The wait was about a year. The donors are anonymous with this clinic. All we got was basic info such as height, weight, eye color, hair color, and that she was a college student.
The clinic I used is very successful, but I did not like it. It was run like a factory and seemed very uncaring and impersonal.
What Happens During the Egg Donation IVF Treatment?
What happens once you have the donor is that they need to cycle you together. That is, the donor's period and your own are synchronized so that implantation is optimal. I was required to take a medication that thickened the uterine lining. I injected it myself. I forget frequency but it was minimally every day.
The thickness of the lining is important for the embryo implantation. The donor got fertility medications to increase egg production. My donor, unfortunately, was not able to produce a lot of eggs. Ultimately, I think there were only 4 usable eggs. So we had one shot. Otherwise, we would go back on the list and have to try again. Luckily, it worked and I got pregnant.
The clinic process is tedious and time-consuming. Because of my "advanced age", I had to undergo a lot of testing: EKG, blood tests and a hysterosalpinogram. There are medications and injections.
How Much Did the Treatment Cost?
The price was $7,500 for the donor, and about $15,000 for the clinic (in vitro, doctor fees, visits, etc).
And don't forget, I still had to pay for obstetric care from a high-risk doctor. I was 47 when I conceived. No regular doctor would see me, although the high-risk doctor constantly reminded me that I was only in his care because of my age.
What Was Your Pregnancy Like?
Once pregnant, I had to do intramuscular injections in my butt to prevent loss of the pregnancy. It is a very big needle! I ended up doing it to myself because my husband got too nervous. Some women will hire a nurse to do it.
I had to be seen weekly for an ultrasound. The clinic performed these before 8 a.m. I would leave my house at 5:30 a.m. to drive the 30 minutes to the nearest clinic and be first in line. If you weren't one of the first, it was a very long wait. Then I had to drive over an hour to get to work on time.
I worked until I got too big to do my job. I did home care therapy and worked in many walk-ups. I also carried equipment with me for treatment. I gained about 50 lbs, so toward the end it was too much to walk up and down stairs with all that stuff. I was getting winded. Plus, rolling over the therapy ball with my patients got awkward. I stopped working around the beginning of my ninth month. I did get gestational diabetes, which I controlled easily with diet.
No other issues. My blood pressure didn't even go up. No morning sickness.
I delivered my son vaginally. I was scheduled for a C-section because of my age, but at the last minute, the doctor decided to let me push. The delivery was a little comical -- not like in the movies.
How Do You Feel About Conceiving via Egg Donation?
Using a donor was my only chance to have the experience of being pregnant and to have a baby. That was all that mattered to me. My son is the world to me. I can't imagine that using my own egg would have made me feel different. He is my son, and the feeling I get when I see him is profound.
I would tell anyone that if this is your option, then take it.