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Any insight to help my wife out really, really appreciated(30 Posts)
Brand new to this forum, pretty desperate for some help on things I hope some people can relate to.
We (my wife and I) were told with as much certainty as possible that we'd be unable to conceive. It's an issue on my side, we've tried everything (including 2 attempts at surgery to extract etc.).
We suspected it might have been the case but when we found out for certain, we started on the sperm donor route. We got as far as choosing the donor, and then decided it wasn't right for us. Something didn't feel right about it (I won't go into it for the sake of keeping this post brief as poss).
Then we started on the adoption route, for one reason or another had to put that on hold. And the relief my wife felt from putting on hold caused concern. We felt comfort in not having to face the fact or go through it, we got to box it away and get on with the other aspects of life.
This is kind of why I need help. We're really busy with various bits, we're career driven, we have great social lives etc. we're really, really lucky in all other aspects of life and so we have all the distractions we need to effectively box this grief away and not have to face it. But the truth is we can't do that forever, we will run out of time. And it's not healthy (as far as I know to box it away). But my wife doesn't feel there's any other way to deal with it. I am incredibly supportive and I appreciate how we could be in different places with this, I just want her to be happy and hate the idea of her finding this too tough to deal with.
We are of the age were a lot of our friends and family are starting announce pregnancies and it brings about a lot of emotion, particularly for my wife since she suddenly has no choice but to face it. The problem is that not facing it seems to be the only route for her, since neither donor or adoption are 'the answer'. I think adoption sat a lot easier with us, it's something we're going to resume but I want us to be in a good place before we pick that back up. It's important for us and it's important for the child that's placed.
So a few questions, first of all I hate seeing her that way - is it possible anyone has experience with feeling that incredible amount of grief and feeling it impossible without a solution, but somehow feeling better later on in life?
How did you feel when you had your children by other means? Was it always there in your mind and made you sad forever? Or are you so occupied with the love you have for your 2 or 3 children that it hardly crosses your mind? Be honest please, I'm happy to hear the truth no matter how tough.
If you've been in this situation before what advice can you give? How does it (or could it possibly) ever get better?
I have my own feelings to contend with, the guilt etc. but I want to stay focused on how my wife feels for now since she needs the help. I am booking in with a professional this week but I think a lot of good can come from hearing from you guys that might have been in this situation too.
Sorry for the big post!
I was told quite early on that I wouldn’t be able to have children and I kind of just got used to it. There were points were every single tv commercial was about nappies etc.. and I used to turn it over. When I met Dh on our first date I even told him I couldn’t have children and he was fine about it.
Six months in I had an eptopic pregnancy. I was bowled over by it as I was in my thirties and it had never happened with anyone else.
It set the baby bug off it head and we pressed on with IVF. We’ve had two girls from it.
My cousin who is in a sane sex marriage had IVF through donor eggs.
Can I ask why you won’t use them?
Could this be the reason she is unsettled because deep down she does?
It's a good question, maybe I should've explained more detail in the OP. I am equally for donor as I am adoption. I want whatever will make my wife happier and fulfilled as possible. I've tried to have a preference but quite honestly I am very much open to either.
What about embryo adoption? Could that be an option?
Thanks for the replies so far. The issue is with me really, I've been diagnosed with azoospermia there's no issues with my wife.
Embryo adoption could give your wife and yourself a chance to experience pregnancy without the strangeness of the baby being genetically one of you and not the other. We are considering it alongside regular adoption if our fertility treatments don't work (also male factor infertility) as then it's either completely genetically both of us or neither of us. I know a lot of people in the US do embryo adoption and the channel This Gathered Nest on YouTube has some amazing videos on it. They had twins via embryo adoption after IUIs and a round of IVF as they had secondary infertility.
Thanks for sharing. We have no issue with sperm donor, happy for the baby to be my wifes biologically and not mine
Apologies. I thought you'd said in the OP that a sperm donor wasn't for you so I thought this may be of some help. Maybe I misunderstood. I hope seeing the professional and hearing people's stories helps you
No apology necessary! I really appreciate your reply
But why did you stop going down the donor route? What didn’t feel right?
I’d look at this again.
Does she want a baby? Because normally when women really want children they literally have a detailed plan of all the routes available. ‘We will try this first, then this next..etc..’
What’s making her (or you) pull away at the last moment?
Please don’t feel guilty about your infertility
This is really tough for you both.
I was also wondering what about sperm donation didn’t feel right? And to whom? Both of you?
When did you and your wife find out about your fertility issues? And how long ago were the attempted spent extractions, considering donor sperm and starting off down the adoption route? I’m asking as I am wondering how long have you and your wife had to come to terms with all of this. I also wondered whether your wife has had any counselling to help her process all of this? Either on her own or with you? And is there any counselling she could access through the clinic you had the attempted sperm retrieval’s with?
You don’t say how old either of you are? It may not be relevant at the moment as if you’re both relatively young, then your wife has plenty of time to deal with her grief and there is no need to take any action imminently.
I was wondering why people were suggesting donor embryos and egg donation as that didn’t make any sense to me and I thought maybe I’d missed something in your original post, but I clearly haven’t.
Thanks so much for the replies! Really appreciate you taking the time to get back to me, makes a difference honestly.
Some really good questions and points. I'll try and answer all of it and see if I can shed any more light on it.
We're both 32. When I was 19 I had testicular cancer and 3 months of chemo as a result. I had some fertility tests at the time that indicated a problem, but it was left a bit inconclusive since I had a lot else going on that could've influenced it. So it was always on my to-do to get a test again once I'd got a bit older and recovered from chemo.
I met my wife about 6 years later. I told her straight away when we met that there was potential for a problem there. We kind of didn't explore it, but I felt like time was probably going to become a factor so (long story short) started really trying to lay our options out by further fertilitiy tests. No luck in finding anything in the samples. I found a doctor that was performing micro-TESE procedures luckily. I had that done (probably when I was about 27/28) but still nothing found. A few months later we booked into the sperm donor clinic. After turning away from that (5 or so months in) we started on the route to adopting (a long route, postponed a few times for various reasons like wedding etc.), which we recently dropped out of.
The dates may not add up there but my memory's really bad, that's the general jist.
The sperm donor route was invasive, itself as a process - it's not particularly pleasant, especially for my wife. But we got over that since it was what we had to do. What made us turn away from it was because we had the letter through to pick the donor. We tried to make it a bit of a 'thing' and celebrate it like it was our next step but something just didn't feel right about it. After questioning it more and more I expressed how open I was to it and really honestly no preference from my side, I just really want what comes with having a family. My wife (after much, much, much deliberation (months worth)) decided that her fear of the confusion/issues it might bring our child pushed her away from that process and towards adoption. Think her concern is mainly that the child would have questions and issues with who they are.
So we started on the adoption route. But, quite frankly, her desire to be pregnant and have her own babies seems almost too much for her to the point that, when exposed to the reality by someone else's news, she goes to bits. I hate to see it. And genuinely I would fully support us going down the donor route.
We've had another long but great conversation tonight, and we seemed to be moving more towards donor. But her concern is that she'd feel selfish because she's doing this for her, leaving the child with questions.
We're incredibly lucky to have each other, and in some sense we are lucky we are both so open, but the choice is also a curse in many ways.
Again, thanks for the replies.
I guess those concerns what we have around the donor route might be the crooks of the issue. In all honesty I would like to adopt at some point, I think it makes me feel a sense of purpose I think is important to me. But when I picture us having babies that are even a little piece of my wife, it makes me happy.
Dzoo sorry for being so inquisitive bit just trying to understand the procedure you have been through.
When you say you didn’t have any luck in finding anything in your samples do you mean their was no active sperm or they were all immobile? OR they couldn’t see what any issue could be why your wife wasn’t getting pregnant?
When you have seen the doctor we’re they private?
Have you been to an NHS doctor?
Because when we did our IVF we were offered ICSI because DH was apparently the sample he gave was ‘slow’ - (which is because he didn’t follow protocol) . It’s where they pick out individual sperm and inject it in to the egg.
Have you ever been offered this?
I’m not sure if I’ve read it right but it seems -
First fertility check came back inconclusive.
Second private test came back inconclusive
You went straight in to donor sperm?
IVF on a women is very invasive. It’s not 100% guaranteed either. But it’s worth it if it works.
Donor spent always come with the possibility of the child asking questions. It’s down to you as parents to navigate them through it in a coherent but safe way. Like I said before I have a same sex couple in my family that have used a donor and their son brings so much joy to their life I have every confidence he will be just fine because it will be all down to the delivery. I would imagine there is a lot of literature to help guide you through this.
Do you think or does your wife think that once the probable child starts asking questions about their identify, it is making them question whether they should have been born at all? That is quite an extreme view IMO. We all go through a time where we 'search ourselves'. Your child will most likely conclude that YOU are their father. If you're worried, you could start family therapy preemptively so that your child has a time and place to express their worries and fears about their identity. Your wife is overthinking it.
Your wife is 32?
I found as I got further into my 30's my need for a child grew ever stronger... Suspect it was nature's way of getting me there before time ran out..... But time very nearly did run out for me and I am incredibly lucky to have got my dc with the last roll of the dice.
I was not well informed about the declining odds of ivf. It is very hard to get pg after 35 in this way (look up the stats). I tell you this because if there is any part of you that thinks donor sperm might be something worth exploring do it right now. Adoption does not have the same time constraints. If someone had been clearer about the stats with me it would have saved me a lot of heartache.
Do you think or does your wife think that once the probable child starts asking questions about their identify, it is making them question whether they should have been born at all? That is quite an extreme view IMO. We all go through a time where we 'search ourselves'*
There was an ask me anything some time back about this IIRC. It was by someone donor conceived who felt it had had a huge negative impact on their entire life and wished their parents hadn't done it. Admittedly, I don't think the father that raised them did a stellar job of it, so it could have been handled better, but even so, I think it's definitely something to consider.
FWIW, OP, having a child by any means at all is inherently selfish. Look at the impact it has on the planet, for one thing. No one has kids for purely altruistic reasons, it's generally a mixture of biological drive and social conditioning, so your DW shouldn't feel guilty about choosing a donor- she's being no more selfish than anyone else.
I think you and your wife should go for a sperm donor, once you have confronted your anxieties and concerns regarding this. It sounds as though she wants to experience pregnancy and childbirth.
Adoption is a long road to travel, and you won't necessarily be offered a baby. My brother and his wife were able to adopt siblings, a 3yo and a 5yo - they had been looked after children from shortly after birth, but not put up for adoption until all attempts, at allowing their bio mum to care for them, had failed.
I wish you luck, whatever you decide
@EarlGreyT I suggested embryo donation in case something that his wife feels guilty or strange to come to terms with is that the resulting baby would be half her but not half him. Embryo donation would remove that issue by being genetically neither, but giving them the chance to experience a full pregnancy. Egg donation, of course, would make no sense at all in this situation, but embryo donation could provide these two with the chance of a pregnancy they can experience from start to finish.
I think your wife seeing a specialist infertility counsellor to discuss some of her concerns and fears (which are completely normal and understandable) would be of benefit as it would help her work through them.
I disagree with the poster who said she is over thinking it and think there is a lot to come to terms with. If your wife is 32, then time is still on your side at the moment so there’s definitely no need to rush into making any decisions at the moment and I think before doing so, you both need to be as comfortable as possible with whatever option you choose.
You don’t say where you are, but assuming you’re in the uk, would your wife feel more comfortable undergoing the donation process here (if that’s what you decide) so that any child born has the option of finding out who the donor is when they turn 18 and getting answers to unanswered questions.
The donor conception network might also help your wife in terms of processing her thoughts about some of the surrounding issues.
We used donor eggs (but not sperm) and this thought is much more at the back of my mind than it was when the child was theoretical rather than real. We still have 2 embryos frozen and although I have no genetic link to them (they’re my husbands sperm and donor egg), I feel ridiculously attached to them and definitely feel that they are very much ours.
So to answer your questions:
How did you feel when you had your children by other means? amazed that we actually had a child and although I can’t be certain (as we only have a donor conceived child) I don’t think I would have felt any different should the child have come from my eggs rather than a donor.
Was it always there in your mind and made you sad forever? no, it does not make me at all sad and it is very much at the back of my mind. It’s much more about who the little person we have actually is, rather about than their genetics or how they were created.
Or are you so occupied with the love you have for your 2 or 3 children that it hardly crosses your mind? yes and we only have one.
Be honest please, I'm happy to hear the truth no matter how tough.
Hope that is of some use. I worried a lot more about it before actually doing it than I have done since we made the decision to use a donor and went ahead with treatment. I did say before moving the goalposts that I would never use donor eggs, and it wasn’t a decision we undertook lightly, so I get where you’re coming from. I totally understand you have to do what’s right for you and your wife, but I hope that sharing my experience has been of some help. Good luck whatever you decide.
I understood that after your later post where you explained it, but couldn’t work out from your first post why you’d suggested it before that.
We are a same sex couple who used donor sperm to conceive our DS.
We had counselling via the fertility clinic regarding how best to approach informing any child about their conception before we even started the treatment and did a lot of research. We have books that we read to him about different families, different methods of conception, and we spend time with other families with donor conceived children. He's only young but we've been honest from the start and hopefully that will serve us well as he grows up. At 18 he will be allowed to discover the identity of his donor.
The only feelings we have towards his donor are extreme gratitude that he allowed us to have our boy. We rarely think of the genetics (and DW gets told DS looks like her all the time, despite the lack of genetic link!) or his conception.
We decided adoption wasn't for us at that stage because we were worried we would struggle to support a traumatised child. It's not something we would rule out in future but we had no real experience of childcare or parenting other than seeing our friends with children.
I would definitely recommend specialist counselling to help you work through both of your emotions and potential feelings of any future child(ren).
I have an older child who is biologically both mine and my husbands and a baby who is donor sperm conceived. I can honestly say that the baby is as much my husbands as our older child. He views her absolutely no differently and her being donor is not an issue at all. In fact, now that she’s here and is growing into her own little person, we wouldn’t change it for the world as she is who she is because of it and is absolutely perfect.
We had implications counselling before going down the donor route which helped us arrive at the decision and also on how to approach it with baby when she’s older. From much of the research I’ve done online, it seemed that most of the adults who had issues with the fact they had been donor conceived had not been told from the start.
We will be open and honest with our daughter and her donor is non-anonymous so should she wish to find out where she came from, she will be able to. I do think this is quite important. Obviously she is only tiny so I can’t tell you how she will react as she grows, but I just hope that she will see how very loved she is and desperately wanted she was.
You mentioned that your wife finds the treatment invasive. Is that IUI? I have to admit, that I found IUI more invasive than IVF, I’m not sure why! We had donor sperm rounds using both. Just thought I’d check that you know IVF is also an option using donor sperm? Although obviously more expensive.
Also regarding the suggestions of embryo adoption as an option - if you have concerns about the child having a sense of belonging in the future then in this instance, donor sperm may be better for you? As the baby would have a genetic tie to your wife. That said, we were going to go down the embryo adoption route if our final ivf hadn’t worked and I’m pretty sure that I’d feel the same way I do about our daughter to a double donor baby. I think you’ll find that once a baby is actually here, many of the worries and concerns just disappear.
I hope this helps a little. It’s a big decision and ultimately you and your wife will arrive at the right one for you as a couple.