How to grow life in 8.5 millimeter of hope.


After years of being single I reached the conclusion that it was time to stop waiting for the”right” man. Men my age (then 40) were mostly engaged with younger women or were weekend dads with enough on their plates. I stopped looking for the man that was my equal and decided that I would be a mother on my own. I had been inspired by a good female friend of mine who was a few years older than me to look into IVF with a male donor. What had struck me the most about this proposition was all the hard work that I would have to do on my own and all the dependency on my family and friends that would follow. But as time passed after my 40 year old birthday I believed in my personal strength to grow and love a child. I convinced myself that the most important thing was to have a healthy child that had my genes and the care of my beloved. My career allowed me to take a break for some years if needed.

I engaged on a fertility journey that lasted five years and led me through 4 countries. In the first two years of this period I tried to become a mother on my own. After five IVF cycles I suffered from two miscarriages – one of them confirmed to be a Down syndrome fetus. I had come to a new milestone in my life. It was no longer about my wish for company of a child or the love from a man. It was a deep feeling of being lonely – an emotion that was deepened by my age and the fact that I was living abroad. Then I ran into love and found my boyfriend, and quite quickly did we both realize that we wished for a child.

Despite the fact that my boyfriend was eight years younger than me, he knew that his opportunity to farther could be low. After getting confirmation that his low count was not related to testicular cancer we moved into two unsuccessful cycles of IVF. My eggs did no longer respond to the FSH injections. No sign of pregnancy left fewer options to discuss. We narrowed these down to either egg donation or adoption.

My focus was on having a healthy child – a little individual of his or her own, who resembled us both in heart, brain and genes. This child would – irrespective of genetic mix – be an individual, nurtured by me and loved immensely by us both. I tried to project how I would feel when I would not be able to mirror my child. I tried to seek these feelings to check if they left me sad and unresolved. Having a child is in some ways a vain wish. I tried to face the fear of not belonging with the child. All of these processes ended at the same conclusion: I was too full of love to not trust the love of my child. I believed in that the child’s environment was of deeper importance than its origin of genes.


We started looking at different egg donation clinics on the web. We looked at clinics in Spain, Czech Republic, Greece and Russia. We knew no one who had been through the process. Our fertility clinic in Switzerland worked together with a clinic in Spain. We got attracted to a Russian clinic – Avapeter Clinic based in St Petersburg. We had read about the high number of donors in the clinic and their success rate. Coming with our Scandinavian origin we pictured that the people of St Petersburg resembled us more than the donors in the Southern European clinics. We had the initial very positive call with Dr Olga Zaytseff. We got a very good view on how the treatment would happen. The clinic operated after International standards and was used to greeting foreigners. We knew that very little would be disclosed to us regarding the donor. It would never be possible for us or our potential child to find the donor. Dr Zaytseffs approach was to find a donor that matched me and had my blood type. I tried to imagine the good doctor sitting with her big picture catalogue – maybe running a fancy facial recognition program to perfect the match. A process that would be an approximation seemed a bit unreal to me. The idea of the big cook book of life will remain a mystery. We got one donor suggestion – age, height, weight, hair and eye color and educational background. It was what was available. I think in the process of thinking positively about being successfully pregnant I did not need to know more. The more I knew about this donor – the more I would potentially diminish my own essential role in substantiating the birth of our child. The trust was very much placed with Dr Zaytseff as a person – that she had understood us and our needs. We decided to go ahead with our first attempt. Some months later we arrived in St Petersburg and did our first 10 day journey while getting to know the staff and the clinic procedures. We were not successful on the first attempt to insert two fertilized eggs, but we did get an overview of the process and the expertise of the clinic staff. When we came back home we got our Suisse clinic to re-evaluate us and we gave ourselves a break of eight months.

The coming back to the second attempt was much driven by me. We were aware of that each disappointment could be a harm to a healthy relationship. Our successful second attempt was a myriad of many things that suddenly were meant to be. We arrived the second time with more knowledge, a bit more relaxed – now living in a hotel further away from the city – close to the sea and wellness center. We had much more recreation in mind for this trip. We had brought a stack of DVDs to be able to do nothing. We had to walk around beautiful St Petersburg though. Also we went to the ballet. The donor resemblance with me was now no longer the search criteria for Dr Zaytseff – we were offered the “best performing” donor for my blood type. The donor with the most completed or on-going pregnancies. The lack of resemblance did not scare me – I was able to focus on that we may have a larger likelihood of having a healthy child. This time we discussed more in depth with Dr Zaytseff where the two fertilized eggs were to be implanted in the endometrium. Our two hopes were placed in 8.5 millimeter of hope. Then I was left some time alone with the calming music. I wished for all good powers to weave the eggs into my tissue. Then they would be my eggs and later our child.


The pregnancy was a first a little finger print – the sign seen as two weak marks on the sticks. I had to pee a lot on these sticks and with quite some tension locked in my mind. First there were only one mark, but when the stick was sitting for a while and a second very thin mark appeared. Then the blood samplings came out positive and then the doubling of HCG happened and the first week had suddenly passed well. And the weeks moved by and we could celebrate our joy at full when getting to week 12 without issues. My body was taking on the pregnancy well. My heart was on the little baby growing as seen on very frequent scans at my gynecologist, who wanted to be on the safe side of what he named ”your long fought for pregnancy”. There were photos with our little person sucking a thumb and drinking of the fluid. The baby was very peaceful and not kicking much, which troubled me at times. It was a very polite, but perfectly normal baby, the doctor said. Just a week and a bit before the planned cesarean I stopped my job. I had been busy finishing my stuff, but could now focus on the growing, insisting life that was to be operated out of me. We did not want to know the gender. We had many surprises the winter day that our boy popped out with a little but clear cry. He looked like his dad, but has the heart and persistence of his mother.


Our boy is a little individual, who now is a bit more than a year old. We are so lucky to have him, though chances were increased with egg donation, science do not comprehend the details of what makes a fertilized egg implant in the womb. The”song” between the endometrium and the”capsule of life” will maybe be part of our son’s text book in college. I have no regret of letting go of my genes for the sake of motherhood. Some days I have a feeling I do not seem to reach fully out to my son and I feel that we are still getting to know each other – that he can see right through me and knows our shared story. But this is all in my mind and I believe that some mothers irrespective of donation have felt doubt in their roles. It is a learning curve to be a parent. I am thinking as our sons vocabulary is slowly growing how we will tell him his story one day. This story will be suited for different stages of his development. I am thinking about making him a picture book, since he already loves his books. Openness is to me key and the point is that he is no different from anybody else. In the meantime we take turns in looking after our son – we have a wow of trying not to have him killed.... after all we have been through to have him in our lives, it makes a lot of sense ; )