It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

There’s a saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” In our case, it took a village to create a child. Well, maybe not a village but a team of dedicated medical professionals whose one goal was to help us create our child.

I’ve wanted a child of my own for most of my life. After my first love died too young, I thought through the pros and cons of having a child on my own but decided against it, thinking at the time that I was giving up on my dream. I embraced other people’s children: my nephews, godchildren, and honorary nieces and nephews to fill the void. When I was in my early 40’s, I met the man who is now my husband and it was important to both of us to create a family of our own. Following a miscarriage at almost 10 weeks in early July 2003, I got a lot of advice and referrals and ended up with my “village” – my wonderful OB/GYN, a fertility specialist, and the team at Acubalance. For a year, I followed a regimen that included western and Chinese treatments to improve fertility. In the end, I had to face the fact that if I wanted a child, I needed to consider donor egg IVF or adoption. Donor egg IVF would give me the opportunity to carry a child and give my husband a genetic child of his own so we decided on that route. I set a time limit for myself to get pregnant on my own before proceeding down the donor egg IVF path and in Dec 2004, we started down that path.

One of my big concerns with donor egg IVF was getting around the idea that the child I would carry would not be genetically mine and whether that would make me feel as if the child wasn’t mine. My other concern was for the health and safety of the donor, who was doing this to fulfill my dream so I was desperately worried about the process for her. I was somewhat calm during our initial meeting with our IVF doctor and his team. They had good success rates for pregnancy and low rates of complications arising from the process. I also learned that the gestational mother has some bearing on some genetic traits as the “turning on” of the genes is somewhat dictated by the conditions in the womb — which is why cloned sheep don’t look alike. A small detail maybe but it was huge for me.

We proceeded with the IVF process and at the beginning of May 2005, I was implanted with three embryos. And two weeks later, a blood test revealed I was pregnant. An ultrasound at five weeks showed one beating heart and one unsuccessful implantation which I miscarried at seven weeks. The rest of my pregnancy was routine (supported by Lorne and Reaghan at Acubalance) and I was induced at 39.5 weeks (pre-eclampsia) our boy was born two days later via c-section.

That was five years ago and our boy is our pride and joy and we cannot imagine our lives without him. He looks like a mini-version of his father although he wrinkles his nose the same way I do. When he was a baby, I used to be taken aback when people told me “oh, he looks like you” because I thought it wouldn’t be possible. But as time goes by, the only time I think about our genetic differences is at medical appointments. I may be deluded in thinking that because I carried him, and my mum carried me, that part of her lives on in him. But for the most part, I don’t think about those things. I just think that we are so blessed to have our funny, smart, independent, truck-mad, friendly child. And I give thanks to my “village” for playing such a huge role in his birth and to the donor who made it all possible.