How to “get” pregnant

So much research is out around how much easier it is to fall pregnant when you are younger than when you are older.  Young ladies are also put under much pressure to procreate when they are young.  What do you do if you are an older lady wanting to fall pregnant?  What do you do if you have chosen your career over having children in the past but suddenly wake up one day and have an urge to become a parent over the age of 45? What happens if you have waited too late and your eggs are no longer viable to produce a healthy baby?  Is it really too late to have a baby?


The answer is not really, all you really need a an egg donor and you can still carry your own baby in your late forties or fifties or even sixties!


We have a case of a doctor where he saw a woman in her later ages who first got pregnant seventeen years ago, and because she was not married sadly had to have an abortion. She went on the birth control pill for many years’ and finally fell in love and had a happy and stable marriage. She had been trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant in that marriage for over six years. They did several IVF treatments with her own eggs, but were not successful. When the doctor suggested using a donor, she couple immediately felt happy with the idea, as this would give them a chance to become parents.


If a couple receive a donor egg, the genes of the baby will be a combination of the husband’s genes and those of the woman who donates the egg, even though the “mother” will carry the baby for nine months and deliver it.


What are the psychological consequences of your carrying a baby that is genetically not your own? The pregnant mother’s body is responsible for the growth of the foetus. The foetus takes its required fluids and “food” compounds from the mother’s blood via the placenta for the 40 or so weeks of its development. It is the mother’s flesh and blood that results in the baby’s flesh and blood. She is the child’s biological mother and the child is her biological son or daughter. Carrying that baby for nine months results in a solid, loving bond between the mother and the child, regardless of the genetic origin of the donated egg.


How to select an egg donor?  The criteria with which recipient parents select a donor is as varied as the recipients that we meet and deal with daily. It is also completely natural to have anxiety over and during the selection process. Couples often express a “sense of relief and relaxation” once this important decision has been made.

It is important to remember that there is no rush in choosing a donor.  It may take time to find the right match or it may be almost immediate – there are no rules.  Whatever you are looking for as intended parents; try to get as much information as possible from your egg donation agency regarding the donor, while also trying not to ‘over-control’ the situation.

After consideration of race, In our experience, recipients tend to select their donor based on one or more of the following criterion:

–          Physical:  physical match looking at eye colour, hair colour, skin tone, height, body frame and adult facial features.

–          Intelligence: final school year grades and tertiary education. Bear I mind that some egg donors may have the aptitude to have studied further but not the financial means.

–          Baby pictures: looking at the similarity of baby pictures. Given the South African legislation, only childhood, and not adult, pictures are permitted to be shared with recipients.

–          Personality: Some recipients are interested in the personality that comes through in a donor’s profile.

–          Reason for donating: Recipients may be interested in the reasons a donor wants to donate and ask whether altruistic or financial motivations have motivated her decision.

–          Gut feeling: Some recipients start out looking at some or all of the above factors and end up selecting a donor saying “she just felt like the right one when I read her profile.”

A note for Jewish recipients: After consultation with Rabbi’s we have been advised that the status of a child born is based on whether or not the birth mother is Jewish. The religious orientation of the egg donor is of no consequence in determining whether the child is Jewish.

Once a donor is selected the challenge needs to shift to “letting go” and allowing the medical team and egg donor agency to drive the process forward.

There are no guarantees in life, all of us who are parents usually begrudgingly learn that a lot more of life is out of our control than we would like.  Parenting is about being able to handle all the imperfections that come with a child, whether you have your child through an egg donor or not.  When couples do have difficulty containing their anxiety during this process therapy can help.


What is the process? You could be pregnant 3 months from today!

The first step would be to choose an egg donor. When you find a donor that you would like to approach for egg donation we ask that you write her a simple, short letter requesting that she donate for you. Your agency will forward your Donor Letter to the donor and await her response. Donors are given 48 hours in which to revert…however most donors revert instantaneously at the chance to give the potential Gift ov life.


Once the donor has accepted, your agency co-ordinator will then contact the clinic of your choice and make the necessary appointment for the donor to be seen by the doctor, where after she will have her blood tests. You and your partner are also required to have blood tests, the details of which will be communicated to you. All egg donors undergo an extensive screening process prior to egg donation, both before and after selection by a couple/ Recipient.  From the time you choose your donor until she has had her first doctor’s consultation and we receive the results of her blood tests (as well as you and your partner’s blood tests) usually takes 2-3 weeks.


The next step is the cycle co-ordination: The doctor and the IVF co-ordinator of your preferred clinic will make direct contact with you to discuss your and the donors treatment plans, your and the donors cycle co-ordination and the time line for donation and embryo transfer. The time required for this part of the process varies from one donor/recipient to the next, depending on your cycles and whether or not the donor is on the Pill. Allow 6 weeks.


Then following this would be treatment and egg retrieval. On the 3rd or so day of the donors co-ordinated cycle she will begin her hormone treatment, designed to stimulate egg maturation. You will also be advised on medication treatment to prepare your womb lining. The doctor will, by way of a scan, determine when the donor eggs are ready for aspiration/ removal. The day of egg removal will follow and you will be advised of the number of eggs retrieved after the procedure.  This process takes 2 weeks.


Fertilisation & Embryo Transfer: On the day that the eggs are removed they will be fertilized with your partner’s semen. You will be contacted each day thereafter with an update on how the embryos are growing! Three to six days after fertilisation the embryo/s will be transferred to your womb in a simple, quick and pain free procedure.


Are you pregnant!? You will have to wait approximately 2 weeks to find out, via a blood test, whether you are pregnant!


This waiting is the hardest part of the procedure!  10 to 14 (long!) day

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