Unselfish donation of life leaves its mark on ‘mum’

GROWING up, I had a fairytale version of becoming a woman.

The "perfect" version - get a good job, find Mr Right, marry, buy a house and have the pigeon pair of children to complete the "happy ever after".

But at 29 years of age, I found this version had been altered to a reality that many women before me had known - a path of infertility and IVF.

While the plight of women undergoing IVF has been told before, my wish is that this is a "pay it forward call to arms" for all fertile men and women to consider egg or sperm donation.

Despite having one of my ovaries removed as a child, it was never thought I would have fertility issues.

However, after recently being diagnosed with Kallman syndrome and undergoing an AMH "egg timer" test, I discovered I would have to act fast before the chance of becoming a mother slipped away.

As I had not yet found Mr Right, my first IVF stimulation cycle was to retrieve and store all viable eggs.

This has allowed me to keep my options open so that if I one day find my life part

ner, I can have a child that will be biologically his.

Despite advancements in technology and science, the survival and quality rate of frozen eggs is still not as viable as the usual IVF embryo process.

After much deliberation, I decided I would not put all my "eggs in one basket" and underwent a second stimulation cycle to retrieve more eggs that would be fertilised with anonymous donor sperm.

I had just one week to read a long list of profiles - detailing everything from physical attributes to mental aptitude, and including hand-written messages - and choose the potential father of my child.

Family and friends pitched in to help in the decision-making. Let's just say that many bottles of wine were consumed during an online shopping expedition I don't think any of us ever expected to be involved in.

With a consensus finally reached, I now have embryos - "embabies", as they are affectionately known - frozen and stored away in case I still don't have a partner when the time is right to become a mum.

While I was lucky enough to discover my "fertility decline" in time to act on what I like to call my "motherhood insurance policy", others are not as fortunate. This leads to many people needing to acquire donor eggs or sperm.

Having been immersed in the IVF world and its process, my eyes were opened up to the real need for egg and sperm donors.

For example, the only anonymous sperm I was able to select was from American donation supplies, as fewer and fewer Australian men are donating.

If you are a female needing an anonymous egg donation, the outlook is even more bleak. I have heard the wait can be up to six years.

It seems if you are undergoing a fertility struggle, the most logical path forward is still a "known" donor.

For many, the obvious choice is to have your child with some level of dual genetic comparability to yourself or a family member.

However, this "known" donor process has its own set of rules and regulations, including a psychological assessment and cooling-off periods.

But what if you need to purchase eggs or sperm from an unknown source? This still has its formalities to endure and a whole new set of limitations. There are the costs involved, as well as the rigours of the selection process, but it also has the added reality your child will have a genetic component you will never truly fully comprehend.

While it may seem daunting or strange to not truly understand all aspects of your child's genetics and thus some of their "quirks", the desire to be a mother becomes the overwhelming concern. So while I have used anonymous donor sperm and accepted these aspects of future parenthood, what I am most thankful for is the opportunity it has provided.

I am truly grateful that in today's society someone has unselfishly donated a part of their genetic make-up to allow my dreams to one day become a reality. This generosity has touched me so much that I have vowed to donate any of my remaining eggs once I have finished "cashing in my motherhood insurance policy".

I would also donate any of my remaining "embabies", but since they are a by-product of donor sperm it is against the law to "on-donate" them.

My struggle with infertility has highlighted the need for us as individuals to always remain humble and try to "pay it forward" when humanity offers us a chance at what would otherwise seem unattainable.

Since I am a firm believer that a community shapes a child - many people within society will impart some qualities on our children - it would be nice if maybe we as a collective could start this process at the genetic stage.

While many may find the idea of donating some form of your genetic make-up abhorrent, if reading this sparks one person to take up anonymous egg or sperm donation, my message of "paying forward" with the gift of genetic life will have been successful.

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