Fighting to get pregnant

Just like many other women, I myself decided only very late that I wanted to become a mother. The sensational reports in the media and the midlife moms in your circle of friends lead you to believe that a pregnancy later in life is no problem at all nowadays. Unfortunately, you only get to know the truth about pregnancy and older women when it’s almost too late.  

Sure, there are excellent graphs illustrating an increase in chromosomal abnormalities in the egg cells and a decrease in the pregnancy rate of women aged 35 years and over. But you only get to see them when you’re already sitting in the offices of a specialist in reproductive medicine. Hardly any woman who has had a child later in life will actually tell you how difficult it really was to get pregnant at all.  And so the fairy tale of an easy pregnancy after the age of 40 years lives on persistently.

As far as your personal timing is concerned, you also need to remember that a long time can go by before ovulation restarts and the menstrual cycle becomes regular again if you’ve taken contraceptives over a long period. So, if and when you consult a specialist in reproductive medicine once your 40th birthday has passed, all you want is to get pregnant fast. Unfortunately, I followed the advice of my attending physician in Germany much too long: his strategy was to generate as many eggs as possible through high-dose hormone therapy. The lining of the uterus affected by the hormone treatment became progressively thinner, which was evidenced by a decreased menstrual flow. An infertility treatment using pre-implantation diagnostic techniques and my own egg cells, which was done at a hospital abroad, was not successful anymore. This type of diagnostics is being offered in many foreign countries and, fortunately, it also seems as if people were beginning to rethink their position in Germany.  

I had come across the infertility clinic in St. Petersburg (Russia) and the German-speaking physician Dr. Zaytseff on the Internet. I felt that I was in good hands right from the beginning. She took very good and highly personalized care of me both as a patient and a human being. But the quality of my egg cells was declining steadily so that no genetically normal embryos were developing any longer after several cycles of infertility treatment with IVF.  

 In a last defiant struggle I decided on treatment with donated egg cells. But even so, it didn’t work out in the first attempt. Only adjuvant measures including acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy enabled successful implantation of a healthy embryo. Therapy with herbal teas boosts the regeneration and optimum build-up of the endometrium and acupuncture supports implantation, for example. If this more holistic approach had been taken two years earlier, fertility treatment with my own eggs might have been successful as well, but you can’t turn back time. All I can do, is recommend that you obtain sufficient information on these treatment methods and, if need be, move on to another specialist or infertility clinic should your current attending physician reject this type of adjuvant therapy.

Why did I decide to use donated eggs?

After some 10 IVF-cycles with embryo transfer over the course of more than two years, I had to face the fact that fewer and fewer embryos had developed from my own egg cells and that I hadn’t gotten pregnant. This is when you have to grapple with the question: where do I go from here? I had two choices only: Adopt a child or try an egg donation. However, only an egg donation will let you capture the experience of a pregnancy as well. You can feel the baby growing inside you and live through all the ups and downs of being pregnant. And pregnancy is a special, irreplaceable time – for you, for the child and the future family as well. The bond with your child is built up at this stage already and nowadays we know that maternal hormones also have an influence on the child’s character, similar to the influence of genes.    

In retrospect, looking at things from the perspective of a happy mother, all I can say is that all the doubts one had beforehand vanish as soon as the result of the pregnancy test is positive -  or, at the latest, once you hold your baby in your arms after giving birth to it. Nobody cares about that slight genetic difference any longer!