An egg donation story through mum and daughter's eyes

This is the exciting story of Sylvia that at 50 years old decided to give herself the last chance to make her dream come true. When she discovered that egg donation in Spain was anonymous, she decided to go in that direction. Today, after 9 years from her daughter’s birth she decided to show her the clinic and the lab so she can see with her eyes where the magic has been created.

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[00:00:09.600] - Barcelona IVF

IN Fertile-CAST, the Barcelona IVF podcast.

[00:00:13.980] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Hello, everyone. I'm Michaela. I'm from Barcelona IVF. Today, we want to share with you this amazing story about egg donation. We have with us Sylvia and Sophie. Sylvia is Sophie's mum that undergo a treatment nine years ago and since the beginning, she made aware her daughter about the way she's been conceived. Let's welcoming them.

[00:00:34.380] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Hi, Sylvia. Hi, Sophie. Thank you for having accepted my invitation to be part of this special podcast. Sylvia, tell us about your story before the treatment. What brought you to take a decision to undergo necessary reproductive treatment?

[00:00:50.600] - Sylvia

Well, I spent most of my 40s trying to make a baby, and with my partner, we had several miscarriages. We then started to look at the possibility of egg donation. We went first of all to South Africa to where we had three failed attempts at [inaudible 00:01:13] with egg donation. Then I turned 50 and I didn't feel it was something I could do. It was the saddest birthday I've ever had, my 50th birthday. But my partner was still very keen to have another go. It was he who found ECN IVF. The summer that I was 50, afterwards, he brought me here to Barcelona to meet the team at this clinic. Oh my God, I was so not wanting to go through it. At Barcelona Station, I had a meltdown. I can't do the disappointment anymore. But something about the people that I met here convinced me to give it one more go. That's how I got to this clinic.

[00:02:08.030] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

That's great. You made the right decision, right?

[00:02:11.720] - Sylvia

Well, I was very lucky. They could have turned a different way.

[00:02:16.430] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Great. Sylvia, tell us about the thoughts you had before the treatments. You had more worries or more hope?

[00:02:26.800] - Sylvia

Well, every time you find you're pregnant or tried for some help with conception, you are full of these, the hope, the expectation. You see this bright future where there's a child in your life that you can help to nurture. But then every time it doesn't work, there's terrible disappointment. I suppose sitting in the waiting room here, I had both in my heart of the fear of disappointment, and yet despite that, the hope that maybe this one last roll of the dice would bring us a family. I think I tried not to let myself build my hopes too hard because I couldn't face more disappointment.

[00:03:26.030] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

It's totally understandable. Why did you choose Barcelona? Because of the age, right?

[00:03:32.540] - Sylvia

Yes. This is, I think, one of the very few places that would still see me after the age of 50. In fact, my first attempt here with two embryos implanted didn't work. By that point, I'd passed being 51 and they allowed me to come back two or three months after my birthday to have the last two embryos that they stood in the freezer. They extended it by another couple of months.

[00:04:03.260] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

That's great. You've been double lucky.

[00:04:06.920] - Sylvia

Very, very lucky.

[00:04:09.290] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Barcelona gave you the hope to make your dream come true. How were the people during the process? Did you feel supported?

[00:04:17.100] - Sylvia

It was marvelous. There was a woman here, Maria Redondo, who welcomed us so warmly. She was the one who first made us both feel we were in a good place and in good hands. Then we met team and the doctor who just... She took one look at me and she said, "I have two matches for you." She already could think of two donors who she thought would look like me. I just felt very relaxed. I already knew the ropes from having tried it in South Africa. But I wanted one of the things that I think might have made it more successful here was the fact that they take fewer eggs from the donor. Maybe that is more effective. But also, when you feel like you're in good hands and you're relaxed, maybe that also makes things more effective because you're less anxious.

[00:05:21.580] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Being relaxed always helped. It's very psychological sometimes, and you can have an impact for sure. When did you decide to tell your daughter about the way she's been conceived? Do you ever have any doubts about telling her the truth? How did you approach her?

[00:05:42.650] - Sylvia

I think at the beginning of when I found out I was pregnant, I imagined that it was a conversation that you have when your child is an adult. I didn't imagine really that you started much earlier than that. I met a pediatrician who gave me the advice. He said, "Start telling your child when they have very, very young before they even speak so that it never becomes a surprise to them." I started telling her the story that a very kind lady had given us an egg. I think I probably told her that even when she was the baby and didn't understand language. Then I built on the story, and she asked me questions about it. I think it was probably never a time when she didn't know.

[00:06:44.270] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

That's amazing. We all know that egg donation is anonymous here in Spain. How this has influenced your decision and what you told Sophie?

[00:06:57.110] - Sylvia

Maybe it made me less concerned. I suppose there is in the back of your mind that if your child finds out that there is effectively another mother around, that they might have less connection to you or less affection or something like that. If there's the idea that the child could find the mother, is there a nightmare scenario where your rebellious teenager turns around to you and says, "I hate you, I don't love you anymore. I'm going to find my real mother"? But the truth is that I feel very bonded to Sophie. I actually don't have really any concerns. I hope that she's been turned into that kind of [inaudible 00:07:58] teenager who won't reject me. Perhaps with this story comes the idea also of the importance of communication and connection between mothers and their children that you should always stay in good communication with your child so that your child never turns around to you and says, "I hate you. You're not my parent."

[00:08:27.790] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

I think transparency… I mean, she, of course, appreciated the transparency and then how natural it was for you to talk about this topic. That was very important.

[00:08:39.460] - Sylvia

It did come up maybe a year ago. We were walking down the street and Sophie said to me, "So, mum, I have another mother. Am I ever going to meet my mother?" That's when I explained to her the idea, the anonymity in Spain, and how it's only because of this protection of anonymity that so many young women have come forward to offer their eggs for donation, and how in England where we live, because they took away some years ago the anonymity, overnight, the entire supply of eggs more or less dried up.

[00:09:26.560] - Sylvia

They had to find ways to attract anybody to donate eggs, which is not a very, in my opinion, attractive thing that people offer their eggs in order to have the cost of their own IVF basically paid for by the person receiving their shared harvest. The people who'd come forward to offer their eggs might not be the best egg donors anyway. Whereas in Spain, the motivation for the donors is very different because they don't worry about a teenager coming and knocking at their door saying, "I'm your child."

[00:10:12.340] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

That's very true. Here, the donation is very deep in the culture of the country. It's very normal care, donation in general.

[00:10:26.050] - M Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

What do you know about what your mum told you regarding the way you conceived?

[00:10:31.300] - Sophie

Well, my mum told me that a very kind woman gave some of her eggs so that a slightly older woman, a couple, could have a baby with her.

[00:10:48.040] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Good. How did you feel about that?

[00:10:53.510] - Sophie

Well, I felt like it doesn't really matter because it's fine if someone else can help you have a baby. Because they can help you in many ways. They can help you and support like my mum's sisters did. They can help you physically with eggs. Every help is good.

[00:11:22.090] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Is accepted. Sophie's very wise. If you could tell this kind woman something, what would you tell her?

[00:11:33.120] - Sophie

I would tell her that thank you so much because it was a really good match, and I'm very grateful to her.

[00:11:47.440] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Oh, that's nice. Did you have a talk to your friends about this topic?

[00:11:55.430] - Sophie

I would talk about it with them, but it's not really a topic which comes up. I mean, I would happily tell them. But no one really talks about that stuff at school about whose birthday party you're going to next and stuff like that.

[00:12:16.400] - M Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

It' doesn't matter, right? It's not a topic you talk with your friends. What do you think about the clinic? Did you imagine it like this?

[00:12:27.860] - Sophie

I did. I thought it's really a magical place. All the people here are so kind. Like my mum said, I bet it would be a very warm welcome.

[00:12:46.250] - Sophie

Did you feel welcomed here?

[00:12:49.400] - Sophie

Yeah, I felt really welcomed and just part of the family.

[00:12:53.720] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Oh, that's sweet. Can you describe your emotions for being in the place where the magic is being done?

[00:13:02.060] - Sophie

I'm just imagining all these rings, which one did mum go in? How different mum's setup was, how amazingly magical it is.

[00:13:15.880] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

I was very magical, I guess.

[00:13:18.520] - Sophie

Just all the amazing equipment.

[00:13:24.190] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Great. Thank you, Sophie. I would like now to introduce you Sophie, Sylvia's daughter. She's a very sweet girl. She's nine years old, and she's very aware of all the magic that has gone down in the lab. Let's ask her questions to understand more about her perspective.

[00:13:42.310] - Sylvia

We've had this amazing tour behind the scenes today because I wanted Sophie to see where it was that she was made. It really is incredible to see that the culture really… what did you make of it, Sophie?

[00:13:56.130] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

What would you tell somebody coming to the clinic about the experience of being donor-conceived?

[00:14:04.160] - Sylvia

People worry that they're not going to bond with their baby. They're not genetically linked, only biologically. But the fact is that the parenting instinct comes from a very different place. You're given this amazing opportunity to nurture another being to adulthood. Really, since I saw Sophie, it was all about her and really not about me at all. It actually has never even crossed my mind that there was anything different in the experience of parenting because she was donor-conceived.

[00:14:51.060] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Sylvia, today you had a chance to visit the clinic and also showed Sophie where everything started. Can you tell us about that?

[00:14:59.760] - Sylvia

What about you, Sophie? Is there anything you want to say to people coming here?

[00:15:05.820] - Sophie

Well, I totally agree with mum that, really, it's nothing to do with [inaudible 00:15:11] as long as you love them and care for them. Their childhood is a great experience [inaudible 00:15:19].

[00:15:23.520] - Sylvia

What about [inaudible 00:15:24] children don't ask to be born? You have no say in the matter to being created. How do you feel about the experience of having been created?

[00:15:39.570] - Sophie

I think I'm very lucky because what if I was the other one which didn't make it? I feel very lucky. I'm sure that all kids enjoyed to be alive.

[00:15:56.380] - Sylvia

What a great opportunity to get involved with this journey of being a human on this planet at this time.

[00:16:09.660] - Michaela (Barcelona IVF)

Thank you to both of you to bring so much value to this focus and for normalizing what for many families is still a taboo. Sometimes it's not easy to talk about delicate topics such as egg donation. It's really impressive to see how [inaudible 00:16:24] for both of you. Thanks again from Barcelona IVF. Thanks, Sylvia. Thanks, Sophie.

[00:16:31.690] - Sylvia

Thank you. Bye.

[00:16:42.090] - Barcelona IVF

IN Fertile-CAST, the Barcelona IVF Podcast.

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