Posted on behalf of Joseph Anderson by Heidi Hayes of Donor Egg Bank
When I stood at the alter promising to love my wife through good and bad, through sickness and through health, I never imagined it meaning—will I love her through infertility?
Certain circumstances in life, however, are simply unimaginable.
As we sat in front of our computer researching egg donation one evening, I realized she needed my love and strength now more than ever.
This is what it’s like to support your wife during one of the hardest, and most unusual, experiences of your lives.
The Invisible Struggle of Infertility
I honestly thought I was prepared for the highs and lows of marriage.
I understood I’d end up fighting over toilet seats and empty gallons of milk in the refrigerator. I knew there’d be financial woes, health issues, and disagreements with the in-laws.
I couldn’t have guessed I’d one day wrestle with picking an egg donor.
The exact moment we learned her eggs weren’t viable for pregnancy is forever burned into my mind. I’ll never forget the crestfallen look on her beautiful face as her dreams of having a child came crashing down around her.
It broke my heart.
I felt the need to protect her; to take this horrible moment and make it better. To fix it. But my head was spinning—twisted with my own loss, and the extraordinary devastation my wife must have felt.
Amid my muddled thoughts, I barely heard the doctor utter:
“…recommend an egg donor.”
During that appointment, we were told egg donation was the only chance my wife had of carrying our child and experiencing pregnancy.
As we got into the car to leave the clinic, I muttered:
“Well, what do you think?”
If only the answer was so cut and dry. She shook her head and held her hand up, the universal sign for “just let me be.” Understandably, she needed time to mull things over.
Despite my instinct to protect, I knew she needed to steer the decision. After all, she was the one dealing with the biggest loss of all—a genetic connection to any of our future children.
Days turned into weeks of silent consideration, intense conversation, and a watershed of tears.
Finally, during a Friday night drive to Olive Garden for dinner, she told me she wanted to find a donor.
Reservations for Three?
More than anything else, I wanted a family—but I couldn’t deny my reservations.
I’d spent years creating this relationship with her. She’s the one I chose to spend my life with; she’s the one I wanted to start a family with. Bringing another woman into the equation, however innocent the circumstances, felt like an encroachment on what we’d worked so hard to build.
I knew she was right, though.
She’d taken the time to grieve the loss of a genetic connection to our child, and I was ready and willing to support her decision.
“We can do this, babe.”
Choosing an Egg Donor
Trying to pick our child’s DNA donor was one of the strangest experiences of my life.
It felt eerily close to perusing online dating sites for a new girlfriend, and I found myself feeling guilty if I thought a woman was attractive.
Once we’d finally chosen our donor—a bright-eyed teacher with a penchant for hiking and Italian food—it was time to start the process.
Donor Egg IVF: Conceiving with Science
A not-so-subtle close friend posed this question after we announced our decision to use donor egg IVF:
“So, it’ll be a test-tube baby?”
It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable—and angry, honestly. Is that what people would think of my child? That he or she was some sort of strange science experiment?
I already felt guilty that this baby would still have a part of me in their DNA while my wife was left out in the cold, but I’d never considered the way society would perceive our decision.
So, I started researching just how common the procedure is.
Know what I found?
To date, IVF has been a part of over five million births. That’s five million couples and their families who journeyed through this process, learned about the way it works, and loved the babies it helped create.
Simply put—we weren’t alone.
As expected, my friend’s inconsiderate comment wasn’t representative of society at all.
From Facts to Feelings
Here’s a fact for you:
One in eight couples struggle with infertility. Look around when you’re walking down the street and think about how many people that is.
Throughout our donor egg IVF experience, I found myself confronting so many different emotions: guilt, sadness, doubt, hope, anxiety, curiosity—just to name a few. It was a rollercoaster of ups, downs, stops and starts.
How my wife managed with her own is a true testament to her courage, perseverance, and inner strength.
Was It Worth It?
This isn’t what I imagined starting a family would look like. I didn’t think of donors, medications, and embryo transfers.
Remaining strong for my wife, while still mourning the child I thought would have her spectacularly green eyes, is what got me through it. Supporting her needs, both physical and mental, and seeing her own amazing strength gave me resolution.
As I sit quietly watching my incredible partner nurse our little girl, I know how much this path was worth.
It might not be traditional, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
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Photo provided by author.