This is IVF... I didn't plan to build my family this way - Monica Bivas

This is IVF… I didn’t plan to build my family this way

Jun 18, 2022 | This is IVF...

Words by Sheila Lamb | @fertilitybooks

After six years of trying to conceive with a diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’, an unsuccessful IUI cycle and ICSI/PGS cycle, and now I was forty-two, we were advised to consider donor eggs. This wasn’t something we were willing to look into at the time, and continued trying to get pregnant naturally, making changes to our lifestyle, nutrition, I had a hair test to see if I was lacking in essential minerals (I wasn’t), and a few alternative medicines such as acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, kinesiology, and hypnotherapy. We even bought a 2-seater car because someone told us they knew someone who’d done this and they promptly fell pregnant. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t.

Back in the early 2000’s no one was sharing about the emotional toil of dealing with infertility and fertility treatment. I was depressed, felt very little joy in my life, thought about getting pregnant all day every day, my hopes raised each month only to be dashed every.single.time. After another three years and still no positive pregnancy test in sight, I happened to read an article in a magazine about egg donation in Spain.

Another subject no one was sharing was that they used a donor to get pregnant. The article was informative but it was by a fertility clinic so of course they were selling it. There wasn’t any mention of if, or how, we should tell any children that they were donor conceived, how any children might feel about this, how they would feel that they couldn’t ever meet the donor. Nor did I share my fears – would I bond and love any children; I thought I definitely would but supposing I didn’t? How would I really feel that my children wouldn’t look like me? We didn’t know that these were questions we should be asking.

I was forty-five now and after three years of egg donation being in the back of my mind, I was at peace that the only way I would become a mum, which I desperately wanted, was not using my own eggs. But I would experience pregnancy, I would grow the baby in my womb, nurture it with my blood and give birth. I never doubted I wouldn’t love it.

This is IVF... Giving My Ovaries a Pep Talk!

Going to Spain was a revelation! Our clinic in London was huge, so busy and you rarely saw the same member of staff twice. At the Spanish clinic there was one doctor, one nurse (who was English, which was reassuring as we didn’t speak any Spanish!), it was very small and personal. The doctor did a trial transfer and was glad he did as my uterus is retroverted, which means transfer could be a little more difficult. We felt very reassured that we were in good hands.

We weren’t told much about our donor – only her height, weight, hair and eye colour, age, job and interests, but the nurse said they would match us to a donor who closely resembled me. One thing I was sure about was the donor had to be a kind woman to go through taking all the hormones and going through an egg collection, and if my baby was going to be biologically related to her, I was happy with that.

I had a Day 2 transfer of two four-cell embryos, and seeing them on the screen prior to transfer brought tears to my eyes. I was PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) and got through the two-week wait as best as I could, spending all the time either convinced I was pregnant or convinced I wasn’t, whilst trying to relax. Impossible!!

My blood test result was an hCG level of 27. I was just pregnant! Repeat blood tests showed slow rises, not doubling, but I was pregnant! We were overjoyed and already making plans for our life with our baby. We were so excited that we would finally get to see our peanut at our six-week scan. But there was no peanut. There was no baby, just a lot of blood in my womb. We were devastated as we hadn’t ever thought we would have a miscarriage – or technically a chemical pregnancy – we were using donor eggs. I’m sad to say that when we told people we had miscarried most were not very supportive. I’m not sure if it was because they hadn’t had the joy of hearing we were pregnant, so to them there never was a baby, or if it was that they didn’t know what to say.

I immediately researched ‘implantation failure’ and ‘early pregnancy loss’ and came across the book ‘Is your body baby friendly?’ by Dr Alan Beer. Maybe it wasn’t, but no one had ever suggested this before. I found a miscarriage consultant in the UK who did the tests the book suggested, such as thrombophilia, NK cells, Factor V Leiden. All my results came back within normal ranges (damn, I so wanted to have something wrong with me), but he agreed I could do take the medication – steroid, aspirin and Clexane – for our next cycle if the Spanish clinic was happy with this. They were.

So, we started preparing for another cycle as I was now forty-six, and we were matched with a new donor. Again, we had two, Day 2 embryo’s transferred, both four cells and very much our babies when we saw them on the monitor. There isn’t much that’s good about doing IVF is there, but that moment of seeing your future children right at the beginning of their development is priceless. I did feel more positive during this two-week wait, I can’t put my finger on it but my gut instinct was that these drugs would help.


I went to our local hospital for the blood test and then we waited for it to be the afternoon so we could call the doctor’s surgery for the result. But the Spanish clinic rang before we got our results – the day before was test day! I’m sure I’m the only woman who not only never peed on a stick (I was too scared to), but also tested one day after test day!! The result was an hCG of 528 – we were very pregnant!

My miracle rainbow baby is now eleven years old; a beautiful, kind, funny, clever young lady. She’s a miracle that only happened because of science and a very generous, anonymous woman who donated her eggs. I wouldn’t change a thing about how our family was made, though to be honest, it certainly wasn’t how I’d planned it.

My worries were unfounded – I couldn’t love her more than I do and people who didn’t know we used donor eggs used to say when she was a toddler, that she looked like me! ‘She has your mouth’ one person said. When they said this a little smile would touch my lips and I’d hug her closer.

We have told her that we used the eggs from another woman, she wasn’t that interested. It comes up in conversation every now and then – mainly when she has a lovely tan in the summer and I’m still so pale! But she did recently say she was a third of Dad, a third of me and a third of the ‘donor woman’. She’s never asked if she can meet her or if she donated her eggs to someone else, maybe these questions will arise, maybe she will be interested and maybe she won’t. Like us, our children are unique; some will want very much to know more, for others it won’t be important to them. However my daughter chooses to feel, I’ll be there to help her and support her. Because I’m her mum and she’s my daughter.

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