A story of sibling egg donation

Why do you want to share your story?

I’m interested in increasing the diversity of in vitro fertilization (IVF) stories out there, so women on the fence can make decisions that suit them no matter if they go somewhat against the grain.

What led you to the Fertility Centers of Illinois?

FCI was referred by a friend. Follow up research supported the idea, and interactions with FCI sealed the deal.

How would you describe your experience with your physician?

Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron was ever informative, upbeat, and supportive. She did not shy away from direct questions or left-field ideas.

What helped you get through treatment?

This was all a family affair – from the realization that my eggs would likely be insufficient, to my sister volunteering her eggs, to the entire family gathered around for Thanksgiving as she took her first stims, to financial support when insurance denied coverage last minute after saying otherwise for months, to shoulders to virtually cry on when I was too sick with hyperemesis gravidum to even get out of bed and shower, to my dear heart-family trusted friend who will provide trusted daycare for the little one. A network of friends and co-workers offering advice and support. And FCI as an organization addressing questions and concerns as they arose.

Do you have any words of wisdom for others?

Your decision is your own, no matter you may buck the norm. Single? Advanced maternal age? Mixed race family in the making? Or maybe LGBT? Male? Minority? Disability? Do your research, align your supports, gather your resources and don’t let the naysayers get you down. The curveballs will come (I’m looking at you, body. And you, insurance. And you, pandemic.), but mental/emotional flexibility and a backup plan (or two!) will see you through.

Tell us about your little miracle!

I am a SMBC (single mom by choice) though I waited long enough. It wasn’t until a 20+ year relationship ended in my 40s, that I realized my time was consumed by all my little besties. I thought, “now is the time” and began my research, checking finances, support networks, my family’s opinion, work options, the SMBC experience and kids raised solo, etc.  Intention, however, was not enough. My local clinic (Maryland) determined me to be a lost cause.

Luckily, I recalled a long ago toss-away chat with my sister about the likelihood, I’d inadvertently waited too long for kids; and her reply that she wouldn’t mind donating a few younger eggs to the cause. A tearful phone call later and apparently she was not joking – my dear sister was all in.

Eventually, she and her partner visited for the holidays and the family was all there for the start of her stims. When all was ready, I flew to Chicago, and, on my grandmother’s birthday, did my transfer. Which makes it seem deceptively quick and easy. In actuality, I tried at first with my own eggs with time consuming failures.

Then, switching gears to a known egg donor meant starting from scratch with testing and extra layers of bureaucracy. Then, COVID-19 shut down fertility centers nationwide for 3 months. Suffice to say, to my dismay, my maternal age kept advancing.

But here I am, only a few years past intended – preggers. Wearing my bustle backwards. Gravid/in bloom/springing/hosting a parasite/in a family way. Also trying to get through each day without puking in someone’s shoes or keeling over, but that is another story. I hope to confuse a few birth attendants by bearing a child who remarkably resembles her adopted-from-Korea aunt and looks nothing like her Caucasian mother.

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