Let me fast forward a little bit now. It took us about five years to finally make the decision to use an egg donor. During those five years I tried to learn a lot about POF, but not much was known. One thing that helped during that time was a website, www.POFSupport.org. It was an online support group with women just like me. Doctors had told me that POF is rare, but on the website I learned it couldn’t be classified as a rare disorder because so many women have it. I wondered why no one was doing any research. There’s still so little known about POF. Most doctors treat you as if you’ve gone through menopause, but it’s not the same. No one really knows whether it can be prevented or reversed. It’s terribly frustrating.
I tried acupuncture and herbs, and the ladies on the website and I all got together and decided to up our own estrogen doses. That helped us feel a lot better. When I used twice as much estrogen as the doctors told me to, then I felt normal. Women with POF need more estrogen than women who go through regular menopause, because we’re younger. But even though the estrogen made me feel better, it still couldn’t help me have a baby.
I spent years trying to decide what to do. My husband wanted to adopt. I did consider that, but I felt that after going through what I’d gone through with my body, not only would I love to have a child, but I’d love to feel like a woman again. I had been feeling so unsexy, so unfeminine, and I felt that carrying a child would make me feel better. So I told my husband that it was important to me to try the egg donation first, and then if that didn’t work we could adopt or do whatever we needed to have a family.
We went to an egg donation center in Dallas, and they asked me what I wanted in a donor. I wanted someone who was similar looking to me, with similar facial features and coloring. I also wanted to get someone with a really good health history.
We found our donor, and in April of 2004 we did IVF (in vitro fertilization) using my husband’s sperm with the donor egg. The doctors had already told me that my uterus was perfect, and there was no reason I couldn’t carry a child. Thank god for that. And because I had no uterine issues, and my donor was 21 or 22 (as young as they would take them), the doctors had predicted that I had an 80 percent chance of getting pregnant. And I did, the first time!
During pregnancy I had to take double and triple my usual hormone doses. I actually felt fantastic because of all the estrogen. (I did have to have shots of progesterone in my butt every day for the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, but I hardly remember it now—like mommy amnesia.)
There were a few scares. When I was just about eight or nine weeks along, while I was working as a school nurse, I went to the bathroom and noticed I was bleeding. Then there was a large gush of blood, and I was heartbroken, convinced that I was miscarrying. The baby was fine, but I was diagnosed with a chorionic hematoma, meaning the uterine lining was separating. I had to have a daily sonogram after that until the bleeding stopped.
Then I developed an antibody problem called “warm antibodies” that could have caused my blood to attack the baby’s blood and make her anemic. At that point I had to have a weekly sonogram to measure the arterial flow in the baby’s brain. The nice thing about the sonograms was that I got to see my baby every week.
The doctors decided to deliver the baby a couple of weeks early to be safe, because of the antibody problem. Vivian was six and a half pounds when she was born on December 29, 2004, and she was healthy and beautiful. She looked just like her father. In fact, the look on her face when she was born was exactly like her daddy’s when he wakes up grumpy in the morning!
I don’t tell everyone about the egg donation. Most of the people I do choose to tell have been supportive, but some people don’t know how to handle it. Before I had Vivian, when I was still thinking about doing it, I had talked to one woman who said, “That would be so weird; it wouldn’t be your child.” And I thought, “How can you be so insensitive?” I’d been through so much in the past five years to have my beautiful little girl. I didn’t want anyone to say anything bad.