Jenna and Lydia's Shared Motherhood
Shared motherhood helped Lydia and Jenna have a family of their own through the unique experience of intra-partner egg donation. Read their inspiring story, and learn more about their campaign work below.
"My wife and I decided way back in 2014 that we would love to build our own family. We'd recently got married (one of the first same sex marriages in Kent) and knew this would be our next step."
We were unsure where to start the process but figured our local GP may be able to help. Unfortunately this wasn’t particularly fruitful - we found out no treatment support was applicable to same sex couples - especially when requiring a donor in our area. A bit stumped we sought the advice of friends who had been in a similar situation and had fertility treatment at a clinic. After researching local clinics we came across Care Fertility Tunbridge Wells.
We started with an initial consultation and the doctor answered all of our questions. We were told due to our age, infertility shouldn’t be an issue and so we ran through the costs of IVF which included the treatment, scans and medication as well as Donor Sperm and any tests we may need to have.
We decided to have our initial blood tests done there and then - why wait let’s get the process started! After our consultation we went home for a chat and to look at our finances and whether the timings for starting would work for us.
We also discussed egg donation, it seemed only fair to look into this as we were relying on the kindness of a male donor to help us. Care gave us a list of online sites to begin the search for our sperm donor and to refine what sort of characteristics we were looking for.
My wife and I decided to try my eggs first. FSH test results came back quite low meaning I wasn’t growing as many eggs as we would have liked. We felt that with our age this would only get lower. We had agreed that each of us would have two rounds of treatment (should one not be successful) and set ourselves a financial limit.
We used the sperm donation site Cryos. We wanted us much information about our donor as possible and this was perfect. We got his baby picture, his handwriting, his reason for donation, a celebrity comparison from the nurses at his clinic, a comment from the nurses about the donor and background information about his family.
Due to a previous tumour in my wife's spine we knew I would carry the baby.
With trying my eggs first - our donor search focussed on finding someone with characteristics similar to my wife. We quickly made our choice and felt 100% happy. The donor sperm was sent to our clinic and I began the process of baseline scans, injections and pessaries. The nursing team at Care were amazing and we felt instantly at ease.
We made it to egg collection day – with just a handful of eggs. We prayed for them to fertilise. The next day Care rang to say not all had fertilised but reassured us they would be closely monitored hoping to get to a blastocyst at day five. Unfortunately they didn’t make it to 5 days. By day 3 we were back at the clinic for the embryo transfer and to start our TWW (Two Week Wait). Unfortunately none were viable for freezing.
A couple of days before we were meant to test I started to bleed. We were not feeling positive and so decided to test. It was negative. Swept away with the excitement, we were gutted. We knew it was a possibility it wouldn’t work and so we both said we would try again.
Second time round – Care adjusted my medication to try and increase the number of eggs and their quality. During the scans we were told it wasn’t looking great for collection and we could cancel this round of treatment because the egg collection may not be that fruitful. We decided to go with our gut and continue. We’d got this far and already spent the money so why not. This time the doctors tried ‘Embryo Glue’ in the hope this would make a difference.
On egg collection day we had even less eggs than the first time. Only a couple of eggs made it to day 3 - TWW again.
Sadly, it was the same again and I was bleeding before my period was due. Negative. I thought I was ok and dealing with the disappointment (a few tears in the morning) but went to work. However, I realised once there - how upset I was and swiftly went home for a cry and cuddles with my wife!
It took us a couple of months to recover before we decided to try again but this time with my wife’s eggs and I would carry.
My wife has polycystic ovaries meaning she could over stimulate and produce a lot of eggs. Whilst this was a worry, it was also wonderful to hear potentially how many eggs we would have after our previous treatments.
My wife did her share of injections and medication whilst I was getting into sync with her cycle -it was egg collection day! We had so many eggs we were over the moon! Even more amazing was that nearly all of them made it to blastocysts and day 5! With eggs to freeze! We felt so positive and excited it was just wonderful. We were ever optimistic that we’d made it this far so successfully. On day 5 - our embryo transfer was booked in. We just felt so different and positive and ready for the two week wait!
Three days later I had a funny feeling. I just knew I was pregnant. I can’t describe it but I knew. So we tested early! It was positive! We were so excited we just wanted to tell everyone. But we waited. That of course meant I would test every day until the clinic test just to make sure! It stayed positive for every test and for our clinic test. We were so excited to tell them it had finally worked!
By the time we got to 7 weeks, nausea had kicked in. It was constant but I hadn’t yet been sick - we were so hopeful this was a good sign.
The nurse turned the screen on our seven week scan to check herself before showing us. I think my eyes were shut with such nerves. Then all of a sudden we heard “All looks great” before hearing a very fast heart beat and seeing a tiny blob on the screen! I burst into tears and so did my wife. We were over the moon. It was just so unreal! We couldn’t wait to tell our closest family our news.
Our pregnancy went well and our surprise was a little girl born in December 2016. She was 2 weeks and 2 days overdue! But hey we had waited this long! She was a dream baby and we settled so quickly into family life. In 2017 we decided to try again with our frozen embryos!
Thankfully this time there were no injections or lots of medication but simply controlling our cycle and ensuring my lining was ready.
Our first embryo didn’t thaw as the embryology team would have liked, we thought ok we will try with another embryo…. second embryo - same again. We were assured how unusual this was but we could proceed with our last embryo to try again. Thankfully third time lucky, our little embryo thawed and was transferred and for the 4th time - we began our two week wait!
Unlike my previous pregnancy I wasn’t feeling as hopeful and definitely didn’t have the feeling of being pregnant. So we tested on the same day as we did in our last pregnancy (albeit earlier than advised!). It was negative. My wife reassured me I was just testing too early and to be patient! So we waited another couple of days. Then there was our pink line we had been waiting for! We were thrilled (and relieved) to let the clinic know and book us in for our 7 week scan!
We decided we’d find out what we were having this time at a private scan - another girl! We were so happy. The sickness then swiftly returned!
Our pregnancy went well up until the final couple of weeks where the baby decided to lay transverse and I had a lot of fluid! So after a two week hospital stay - our second daughter was born via C section in June 2018!
Both girls are thriving and ganging up on their mummies! Thankfully we both work from home and so we get to spend a lot of time together as a family.
During our first pregnancy my wife and I found there were no baby record books for two mummies that referenced us both as mummies, it was Mum & Dad and we would have to cross Dad out - or it was partner. Well we were both Mummy and so created Our First Story - baby record books for same sex families - including details of their pregnancy journey (no matter the route) their donors and surrogates for the daddies as well as the usual baby milestones. We now also sell other LGBT family books on our website -
Our book and more information is also at CARE Tunbridge Wells Clinic.
Our eldest is starting to ask some questions about her “two mummy” family. I have since written a book which will help her understand how we used donor treatment to get pregnant which we will be launching soon!