The most precious baby girl in the whole world....

While I am writing this story, I have our precious little baby girl, 4 months, next to me. She is lying in her cradle, giving me a splendid smile every now and then, as I frequently bend over her to assure myself that she is real! She is a little miracle, so perfect, so beautiful. We are deeply thankful for the skilled help and support from Dr Olga Zaytseff and her colleagues at AVA Peter Clinic, for making our dream come through. It is difficult to express our feelings in words and how grateful we are.  

Though as in a different world, I can clearly remember the situation 1.5 years ago when our little baby-girl was not here. I was very tired and disappointed after several unsuccessful IVF treatments in our native country. Family and friends were telling me to stop hoping, and rather accept a life without my own children. But I was not ready to give up…. and I was reading similar stories to this, from other couples who had succeeded. That gave me hope and desire to keep trying, though I did not dare to believe I would become one of them… but here I am. We want to share our story to try and give some hope to others in our situation, and also to warmly recommend AVA-Peter Clinic and Dr Zaytseff. We want to stay anonymous as we have decided not to tell anyone about the special origin of our little miracle.

I am a medical doctor, and I met my husband about 6 years ago, I was then 39. He had children from a former marriage, but I had none…. And I soon realized that I very much wanted to have my own children. Not surprisingly, my husband needed some time to think it over… Almost a year passed before he said yes, another year passed while trying to get pregnant, and yet another year passed during several non-successful IVF treatments in our country. Suddenly I was 43 years old, very tired, and with very low chances of getting pregnant with my own eggs. During this process I had spent quite a lot of time searching for alternative possibilities to become a mother. At first egg donation seemed out of the question for me, but as time passed I felt this alternative could be acceptable after all. My husband and I had to discuss it thoroughly over and over again. If we succeeded, how would I feel during pregnancy and after birth? Would I feel it was my child, or would I feel as if it was a little “alien”…? Is it ethically acceptable? Would we tell the child? To us it was very important to consider these questions openly and carefully, and in doing so my own scepticism waned and I became more and more convinced that this was the right thing for us to do. As egg donation is not available in our country, I had to search the internet for clinics abroad…. I spent many hours in search for a clinic where I would have reason to believe that we would get treatment of the best quality. To me this was very important, not only to optimize our chances of getting pregnant, but also to be able to live with the result if we did not succeed. AVA-Peter  St. Petersburg turned out to be our choice. This was based on several factors, including that the clinic is ISO-certified, which I found reassuring.

We are very happy to say that our experience with AVA-Peter  the clinic and Dr Olga Zaytseff in particular, is the very best. After contacting the clinic by mail, we got a quick answer, with suggestions about how to proceed. From the very start and throughout the process we have had easy, personal and quick email correspondence with Julia Reutova and Dr Zaytseff. Dr Zaytseff recommended an appointment in St. Petersburg before starting the treatment. We immediately felt that this was a good idea, being able to “check out” the clinic and the doctor in advance ! Only a few weeks later we travelled to lovely St. Petersburg for the first time. Our impression of the clinic was very good: professional, modern and clean. Our appointment with Dr Zaytseff convinced us that we had made the right choice. No question she was an experienced and updated specialist, in addition she spoke excellent English so communication was easy, and she seemed very focused on the outcome of our case. I was very eager to get started as soon as possible, and I did not have to wait for long. Firstly Dr Zaytseff worked on finding a suitable donor, then I started some medication, and after only about 2 months we were back in St Petersburg for treatment. Except for the heat during the summer-days we spent there, the stay was very pleasant. The treatment involving all three of us; the donor, me and my husband was carefully scheduled and turned out “according to plan” without any problems. All information was given clearly and written down. I was a bit anxious to feel “left alone” after coming back to my own country, with my doctor “all the way back” in Russia…. But I did not have to worry; all the time I have stayed in close and personal contact with Dr Zaytseff - even “closer” and better than with the clinic we used for IVF in our own country !

After 2 weeks at home I took the pregnancy rnd_test – which was positive! I could hardly believe it, so I quickly sent an email to Zaytseff who answered immediately:  “Congratulations! You are very pregnant!”. From that time we had 9 wonderful months with our little miracle growing inside of me ! I must admit I was quite anxious too, afraid that something would “go wrong”, but after the first 3 months had passed, I became more relaxed and could enjoy more. Our little baby girl was finally born in springtime this year 2011. She cried vividly the moment she saw daylight, and was in excellent condition from this very beginning ! We stayed in the hospital for 4 days. At first it felt quite unreal, but after 2-3 days I suddenly and completely fell in love with her – and have been so ever since ! 

To become the mother of our little daughter is the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced – almost impossible to try to explain. It is just wonderful to take care of her and we are having the most wonderful time together. We feel so lucky. Thinking back, I remember my concern that I would not feel that this is “my baby”. But now, when my little girl is 4 months, I can honestly assure that I have only felt pure happiness. My little miracle is absolutely “my baby”, maybe even “more so” since it has required such an effort to get her…. Of course, I will always be aware that the egg she is made of did not come from my body, and that she will not inherit any of my features. But I feel completely comfortable with that. I will be the only mother she will ever have, and I will try to be the best mother I can. And I believe I will be as important for her as any mother can possibly be. 

To me, going to AVA Peter and Dr Zaytseff for egg donation is the most important decision I have made in my life. My little baby girl is the most precious baby in the whole world – we find her completely gorgeous ! I love her more than anything, and I am ready to do anything for her. I would love to be blessed with another little miracle brother or sister ….

1. Is egg donation ethically acceptable for me/us?

Yes, to me egg donation is ethically acceptable if necessary precautions are taken. 
Firstly, the donor must be chosen carefully. Evaluation of medical history is important, in particular testing for hereditary disorders, to avoid diseases/problems for the child. 
Secondly, the donor must be treated well, medically as well as emotionally. 

2. Is it safe?

Yes, being a medical doctor, I believe it can be absolutely safe as long as the treatment is performed in a clinic with high standard of medical quality. This also includes proper tests for contagious diseases.

3. How shall we choose a doctor abroad?

I believe that in this kind of treatment it is very important to have confidence in the clinic and the doctor. Not only to optimize chances of success, but also to be able to live with an eventual negative result. So, I invested quite a loot of time in search for a good clinic, and I sought information from 3 sources. Firstly, I consulted doctors and clinics offering IVF in my country, to get their recommendations. Secondly, I contacted the largest National organization in my country for people who have difficulties in having children. Thirdly, I spent time on my own searching the internet for home-pages of the different clinics. 

4. Will it be successful?

Of course, there is no guarantee for success. But, going through the process of selecting AVA Peter, I felt I had good reasons to believe that we would get high quality treatment.

5. Will I feel happy in pregnancy? 
6. Will I have maternal feelings for the child after birth? 
7. Will I feel it is MY child?

To me, these questions were the most difficult ones to consider. My decision to accept egg donation was a long process, taking about 1.5 years from the first time we thought about the idea. During this time it became clear that due to my age, it would be impossible for me to have children with my own eggs. I had to discuss very carefully with my husband the possible positive and negative aspects of egg donation. The positive thing is of course that we would get a chance to have own children. Possible negative things were more difficult to predict. To be honest, after having made the decision to go through egg donation, but before getting pregnant, I was a bit anxious what I would think of these questions if we succeeded. 

In pregnancy

Before I got pregnant, I was afraid that if we succeeded, I would feel that the baby inside of me was not mine. But I did not have to worry, I can honestly assure that all the time I felt that the growing baby was, and would become, entirely mine. I was very lucky to be in good health during the whole pregnancy, and thinking back these 9 months is a very good memory. Even before our daughter was born, I felt that we already had shared quite a lot of time and good experiences.

After birth: maternal feelings for “MY child”

The first couple of days after our daughter was born were quite unreal. However, after 2-3 days I suddenly and completely fell in love with her and have been so ever since. She is absolutely “my baby”, maybe even “more so” as it has taken so much effort to have her. She needs me, actually she is very dependent on me. It is so easy to love her; she is just beautiful, most of the time she is very happy, and I can not think of anything better than when she gives me one of her many splendid smiles. Of course, I am aware that she will not inherit any of my features. As long as she is a baby this is not so visible, but it may become more obvious as she grows older. I must admit that in the beginning this thought made me a little sad. But time has passed, and I am now more comfortable with it. Most children are not “look-alikes” of their parents either in appearance or in personality – and they don’t have to be! However, hopefully she will inherit some of my husbands features. I am eager to see what kind of person she will grow up to be. Hopefully she will become very much “herself”, but under more or less strong influence from us. I hope we will manage to help her developing her talents and skills so she gets a happy life. I will be the only mother she will ever have, and I will try to be the best mother I can. And I believe I will be as important for her as any mother can possibly be. 

8. Do we want to tell the child?

At the time being, we are quite sure that we do not want to tell our child about the egg donation. Therefore, no one else but the two of us and AVA Peter the clinic knows about it. We think that the only reason to tell her, would be if we believed that would do her/us something good. And for now, we are not able to see what “good” that might be. Having a child growing up almost certainly will involve episodes and periods of more or less serious problems and challenges. In these situations we believe that information about egg donation would be no good. Rather, such information may possibly affect the mother-daughter relationship in a negative way. However, if information about egg donation will become necessary for medical reasons, as in a serious accident and/or illness, we will of course tell our child. We will then do it as careful as possible, explain why we have chosen not to tell her before, and hope our child will understand. This is what we think of this question now, but of course we will reconsider it as time passes, and we can not say for sure that we will not change our opinion later.