REAL LIFE

Mum’s joy: strangers gave me their baby

A dream come true.
PHOTOADDIX PHOTOGRAPHY

After years of heartache, Di’s dream finally came true.

Here, Di, 45 tells the story in her own words.

Dialling the number, my heart pounded. While browsing the website of a local business, I’d spotted a photo on its staff page of my best friend from high school, Rob, now 44.

In the 12 years since school, we’d lost touch. I’ve missed him, I realised. So, I called the company. ‘It’s Di,’ I said. ‘Do you remember me?’ There was a surprised pause, but he did. We met up, and as the years melted away, I realised there was a spark between us. He’s such a nice guy, I thought. Hugging goodbye, I knew we were meant to be.

Quickly falling in love, we got married in 2006, and I fell pregnant soon after. In January 2007, we headed to our first scan to hear our baby’s heartbeat. Does it usually take this long? I wondered, watching the sonographer frown and unable to hear the ‘thump-thump’ of my bub’s heart. Fearing the worst, I felt myself well up.‘It’s okay to cry,’ he said. That’s when I realised there was no heartbeat. Devastatingly, we’d lost our baby. We tried again, but every month we were disappointed.

By now I was 35, and was advised to try fertility drugs to help us conceive. Sadly, it didn’t work, but tests showed there was nothing physically wrong. ‘You have unexplained infertility,’ a specialist told me, suggesting we try IVF. Longing to be parents, we agreed.

An embryo created from my egg and Rob’s sperm was transferred to my womb. This is it, I thought, full of optimism. A blood test two weeks later would confirm if I was expecting. But that Sunday, I started my period. ‘It didn’t work,’ I told Rob, stunned. Sadly, our heartache was far from over. After each failed IVF cycle, I racked my brains. What had I done wrong? Was it the cup of coffee I’d had? Had my shower been too hot? Had I moved around too much? It was torturous.

After 14 cycles, we had a glimmer of hope. Tests showed slightly elevated hormone levels, suggesting I’d been pregnant, but only very briefly. The doctor explained it was unlikely we’d carry a bub that was biologically ours. So, we could try a donor egg, or a donor embryo. With an eight-year wait for eggs, we signed up for the embryo list, which had a two-year wait.

Sometimes, couples who’ve completed their families still have embryos on ice and they can donate them to someone else. These precious children are known as ‘snow babies’ as they’ve been frozen, waiting for families. Rob and I didn’t mind if our baby wasn’t genetically linked to us. We just wanted a child to love.

Then, we spoke to our local paper about the egg donor shortage. To our astonishment, a couple with three children of their own offered to give us their eggs. Blown away by their kindness, we used the donor eggs and Rob’s sperm to create three viable embryos.And, in April 2012, the first was transferred.To our amazement, the blood results were positive. Is this it? Rob and I wondered, anxiously.

At our first scan, I finally heard the heartbeat I’d longed for. But it sounded strange. ‘Is it fast enough?’ I asked, nervously. Carefully, the sonographer explained we shouldn’t get our hopes up. Sure enough, soon after, we lost our bub. We were heartbroken when the other embryos also failed.‘Perhaps it’s me,’ Rob said.

After 19 exhausting and expensive rounds of IVF, a donor embryo was our last chance. In January 2013, we got the call we’d hoped for. Two embryos were ours. Please let this work, I begged. After the transfer, I noticed my tummy seemed bloated almost immediately. And when I got home and put my feet up, our cat came and snuggled on my belly. Was it a sign?

A couple of weeks later, I got our results. I called Rob and tearfully told him the news. ‘I’m pregnant!’ I sobbed.

Rob and me with our girl
Rob and me with our girl (Credit: PHOTOADDIX PHOTOGRAPHY)

Barely sleeping the night before my scan, I held my breath as I heard tiny beats.‘It’s perfect!’ the sonographer gasped in delight. We were elated.At 20 weeks, we found out our bub was a girl and chose the name Jasmine Faith. ‘Faith’ was to remember what we’d been through.

At 33 weeks, we discovered Jasmine was breech, and six days later, she was born by caesarean. When we first caught sight of her, it seemed too good to be true. But we weren’t out of the woods. Being a premmie, she was rushed to a nearby NICU.

Jasmine was a premmie
Jasmine was a premmie (Credit: PHOTOADDIX PHOTOGRAPHY)
Jasmine is the light of our lives.
Jasmine is the light of our lives. (Credit: PHOTOADDIX PHOTOGRAPHY)

Visiting the next day, I gazed at my tiny girl. You’re beautiful, I thought. Carrying her home two weeks later, the feeling was indescribable. She’s been the light of our lives ever since.

Fittingly, our gorgeous snow baby adores Frozen.Now four, she loves listening to music. After the happiness Jasmine brought us, we wanted to give that gift to another couple. So, we gave away the second embryo. At 16, Jasmine can choose to access the names of her biological family. But until then, we’d love to thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They’ve given us the greatest gift of all.

Jasmine is all we ever hoped for
Jasmine is all we ever hoped for (Credit: PHOTOADDIX PHOTOGRAPHY)

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