I had a baby using donor egg treatment, here are my 5 most important pieces of advice
In 2012, Cork-mum, Niamh Mulhall-Smyth, welcomed her baby boy, Cillian, who she conceived with the help of an egg donor.
To have her baby, Mulhall-Smyth underwent treatment as part of a collaborative programme with the Waterstone Clinic here in Ireland and the renowned American clinic, Shady Grove Fertility.
We had a chat with Niamh about her experience, and asked her advice for those considering egg donation treatment.
1. Choose the right clinic for you
"Just as paper never refused ink, now the Internet never refuses content. What people feel is the best clinic for them, and rave about on online forums, may not be the right or best clinic for you. Their baby is not your baby. Their experience of a clinic may not be yours. Certainly look at clinic reviews, but do so from a disconnected head space rather than being drawn into the ravings of a few. The right clinic isn't always the one that is easiest to access, or the cheapest, or the one who promises the quickest donor."
2. Do your homework
"Decide on what you need from a clinic. I found that the best clinic will be your partner, your advocate, your mentor and your support. Contact several, and the best will quickly emerge. Look for ease of communication, a dedicated liaison person, proven birth rates as opposed to pregnancy rates, and a money-back guarantee if there isn't a live birth. The clinic should also be proud of their work and encourage prospective patients to speak with former patients. Trust your instinct — it’ll never let you down."
3. It’s not as daunting as you may think
"Think of all the trips abroad you have planned that have worked out perfectly. Honestly, travelling abroad for donor egg treatment is as simple as that. A good clinic will know your fears and apprehensions before you even know them yourself. They will have every feature of your cycle planned to the minutest detail including medical and practical. All you have to do is arrive at the appointed time."
4. Decide what you'll tell your kids
"You have travelled a long journey emotionally and physically to have a child. Be proud of what you have achieved. I know I am, and I wanted our son to know how much he was, and is, wanted. For that reason we choose to tell him about his conception. We are so fortunate to have 12 pages of information about our donor — photographs, medical and educational and social history. When he is a hormonal teenager (and hating us) we have this to show him, how much he is loved and wanted."
5. Take time for yourself
"Stop, breathe and stay connected to positives in your life, whatever that may be. Turn off the computer, put down the phone, laugh a little, eat well and stay healthy. You will have the child you were meant to have. For us, it’s been a long journey. However, despite 11 previous attempts with donor egg embryos in clinics in Spain and Greece, and before that, trying with my own egg embryos, we now have Cillian. It might take time, but it is possible."