Why I’m considering donating my eggs
(and what’s holding me back)

Until recently I never knew that altruistic egg donation was a ‘thing’. The act of donating some of your eggs to somebody/a couple, in order for them to have the fertility treatment they need to conceive a much-longed-for child.

Donating to give them hope.

Donating to give them a chance.

Not for any financial gain.

Or in return for something else.

Donating because it’s a kind, selfless thing to do.

I’ve been following the story of Jules and Amber over on Channel Mum (Amber has donated her eggs to Jules, who is currently in her Two Week Wait after her embryo transfer!) And ever since I heard about Amber’s donation, I keep thinking about whether or not I, too, could donate my eggs.

Why?

I feel so lucky to have two beautiful daughters. My own journey to motherhood had it’s fair share of heartache and frustration (due to an early miscarriage and months and months of trying to conceive). And because of that, I often think of those who have been treading that path to parenthood for far longer than I had to. Years of hoping to see two lines on a test but instead facing fresh heartbreak each and every month. My story ends happily, with two healthy babies and for that I will be forever grateful. But without egg donation, there will be many who will never get to experience parenthood and that makes me so very sad. Surely then, donating my eggs is a no brainer?

Or is it?

I’ve been doing my homework, reading up on all things egg donation, and I do feel it’s something I want to do. But I’ll be honest, there are a few things holding me back. I love using my blog as a sounding board – a way of writing down all of my thoughts and feelings that go into making (what could potentially be) quite a big decision.

Here’s a few reasons why I’m not ready to go ahead with egg donation right now…

Time and travel involved: 

This is an aspect of egg donation I will have to look into more but from what I’ve read, there’s a fair bit of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ involved. There’s the initial screening process (which can involve several interviews, counselling and some medical tests), scans, egg retrieval – all involve travelling to a clinic. I don’t currently drive so depending on what clinic I use, it could take hours for me to travel to and from these appointments. As a stay-at-home-mum I’d have to consider how these appointments would fit around looking after my littles – who’d look after them? Who’d pick them up from nursery/school?

I’m sure other arrangements could be made to ensure the girls are looked after, so this isn’t a huge issue but definitely one that will require plenty of planning if I do go ahead with a egg donation cycle.

Oh and I should mention, that whilst there is no payment for egg donation in the UK (payment is illegal, in fact) there is compensation available of up to £750 per donation ‘cycle’ to cover costs (childcare, travel etc.)

I’m needle phobic:

This seems like such a silly issue when you remember that the end goal of all of this is to help somebody grow and carry a baby. But egg donation does require daily hormone injections (and then there’s the egg retrieval procedure too) so silly or not, I am scared of needles and it’s something I need to consider. I’m not as phobic about needles as I used to be. Regular blood tests, flu jabs and whooping cough vaccines through two pregnancies has meant I’ve had to get used to needles. That said, I’ve never had to self-administer drugs so I’m not sure how I’d fair with having to inject myself. Of course, the obvious solution is to make sure there’s somebody (i.e my hubby) on hand to do it for me. I’m sure he’d take great delight in jabbing me with needles daily! ;)

Egg donation is not as anonymous as I first thought:

The person/couple receiving your egg donation would only recieve non-identifying information about me. A little about why I wanted to donate my eggs perhaps and other background information such as my interests and education. Which, I’m sure, is really helpful to know when looking for a potential donor. I’d have no issues supplying this information.

But in the UK, at aged 18, donor-conceived people have the legal right to know who their donor is. (Source)

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this and for reasons I can’t fully explain, it’s probably the main reason I still have my reservations about going ahead with egg donation.

I guess, the thought of the my donated-egg-conceived child turning up at my door 18 years from now, seems a little scary. Although, I doubt that rarely happens to people – if ever?!

I’m definitely going to do more research and from that make an informed decision.

In the meantime I’d love to hear if you have ever donated your eggs? Or received them? What was your experience like?

Or, would you consider egg donation yourself?

Jenna xx

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Life Lately: Elowen turns one, putting down roots and school applications…

Oh my goodness, it seems like such a long time since I did a ‘catch up’ kind of post on this here blog of mine. Even though I’ve massively stepped back from blogging (due to lack of time, mainly), this evening I’ve had the writing itch. In years to come, when I sit down and look through my blog, I’ll wonder what the heck I was up to during the massive gap between my posts. It’s also quite nice to have a bit of ‘brain dump’ every now and again, isn’t it?

So in no particular order, here’s what been happening in my life lately…

Elowen turned one:

My littlest lady celebrated her first birthday last month and it’s felt like the fastest year of my life. I did a cake smash photoshoot in our back garden which was a bit of a disaster, to be honest. The wind kept blowing my decorations down, it started to rain and Elowen was more interested in throwing her cake on the floor for the dog to eat. Now I know why people pay a lot of money for cake smash photo shoot sessions with a professional photographer! ;)

Shortly after her first birthday, E began taking her first wobbly independent steps. And now, just a few weeks later, she’s a bonafide toddler, stomping around all over the place.

E’s determination to grow up at a million miles an hour has left me feeling ridiculously broody. I keep thinking I want another baby (or 10?) but I’m sure the feeling will pass!

Settling into our new home/town:

We’ve been in our new house for over six months and I feel like we’re relatively settled here now and we’ve adapted to the changes – Stephen working from home, Jasmine going to a new preschool, etc. etc.

Stephen working from home is tricky at times – especially as he often spends a lot of the time on conference calls with clients – as you can imagine, a one year old and 3.5 year old make a LOT of noise. In the summer I would just take the kids out to the park when Stephen was on calls which made life easier. I still try to get us out of the house as much as possible but it’s much harder in the winter when the weather is bad.

I’ve found people here, other mums particularly, a lot friendlier. People weren’t unfriendly in Suffolk but those who lived in our old town had usually been born and bred there and were less fussed about making friends outside of their family/social circle. People didn’t really talk to each other. It’s different here. Whether I go to the park, playgroup or soft play, there’s always someone willing to have a chat – it’s made my life a lot less lonely.

We have a massive list of things that need doing to the house, a lot of which require a fair amount of time and money. It feels a bit overwhelming sometimes but I try to remember that we’re planning to live here for 10 years or so (at least whilst the girls are at primary school) so there’s plenty of time for us to get things done.

Our most recent project was the living room. The decor that we inherited when we moved in was not our style at all but because it was only cosmetic, it got put on the backburner. Until we got so fed up with the ugly wallpaper, we started tearing it off one evening! We repainted the walls, added photos and art to the walls, we (ahem, I) went a bit mad with fairy lights (I’m obsessed with fairy lights) and got a new dining table and chairs. It’s now one of my favourite rooms in the house. It still needs a few finishing touches but I’m really chuffed with how it’s turned out.

School application made:

Our primary school application for Jasmine has been made and I can hardly believe my big kid is starting school next September. *sob* We’re very lucky in that we’ve several ‘good’ primary schools in our catchment area so it was a case of visiting them and deciding which one we felt would be best suited for Jasmine. There were things we liked about all of the schools we visited and I’ve no worries about any of them but we do have our heart set on one in particular. Fingers crossed J gets a place there. :)

Back to education: 

In my last ‘life lately’ post, I talked about wanting to change careers and become a Doula. Well, I’m pleased to say that I start my NCT access course in January which is my first step on the ladder. It’s a 6 month course which will help me not only get back into education but also let me dip my toe in the water and decide if I want to continue on this career journey before making the big commitment of doing another degree.

Last month I met my tutors and fellow course mates at an ‘expression of interest day’ and I am SO excited to get started in the New Year. I am eager to learn and get stuck into something that’s just for me.

Looking forward to Christmas:

We are in full Christmas mode here and we’re loving the build up towards the holidays. I’ve already watched The Grinch (my fave festive movie) and cracked open the Baileys! ;) We’re having Christmas at home this year, with Stephen’s mum coming to visit, so it should be a relatively chilled one. That said, I’ve still got lots to do over the next week and a bit.

Jasmine wrote to Santa and asked for sparkly blue shoes like Elsa’s. They’re sorted (thank goodness for eBay). And I’ve ordered her main gift – a beautiful pink retro-style bike. I cannot wait to see her little face on Christmas day!

As for E, she’s a little trickier when it comes to gifts – she’s just had a birthday and doesn’t want/need anything if I’m honest. Let’s face it, she’s one, she’ll be happy enough playing with wrapping paper and cardboard boxes so I’m not going to sweat it on that one.

And on that note…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2018!

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Is it too soon to come off the drugs?

Around the midway point of my pregnancy with Elowen, I walked into my doctors office and announced I was depressed. I’d been here before, depression wasn’t new to me. And there was no doubt in my mind that I was suffering with depression again. I also knew that the cause of my depression was largely situational. I was a pregnant, stay-at-home to a mum to a toddler, who for 8 hours a day, most days of the week didn’t speak to another adult. I was living 100+ miles away from my friends and family and I was incredibly lonely.

When the doctor asked me what I wanted to do about my situation I knew I wanted drugs. I believe my exact words were “I know why I’m depressed, I know what I’ve got to do to fix it (relocate back to Bristol) but right now, I need something to get me through the day.” I left that appointment with a prescription for Sertraline. An anti-depressant which I would take every day “for a year or so”.

Sure enough, after the side effects of dizziness and sweating died down, Sertraline got me through the day. I stopped crying all the time. I enjoyed being a mum again. I looked forward to having two children instead of dreading it. I felt like I could cope. But also, aside from the meds, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We were going to be moving back to my hometown.

We put our house on the market over Christmas and by April this year we were in our new home, located a short drive away from my closest friends. I’ve had more of a social life in the last 3 months than I have the 3 years that preceded our move back home. I feel better connected and supported. Not just as a mother, but as a person.

Which beggars the question, is it time to come off the drugs?

I don’t think anybody plans to take medication for mental health long term. And in my mind, it was only ever meant to be a temporary measure until our situation changed. I want to be able to feel happy without my little box of pills.

And yet, I still feel reluctant to stop taking them.

Whilst it’s now been well over 6 months since I truly felt like I was in the depths of depression. Those thoughts and feelings are still fresh in my memory. How sad I felt. How useless I deemed myself to be. How sore my face felt was from all of the crying I did. I don’t want to go back to that. Ever.

For me, it’s just easier for my prescription to keep dropping through my letterbox every couple of weeks and to keep taking the pills daily. Safe in the knowledge that they will keep those awful thoughts and feelings at bay. The drugs have become a psychological crutch, which is precisely what didn’t want to happen.

I’ve yet to register with a doctor here but I know my medication is something I will need to talk about when I do, which is probably why I’ve been putting it off.

I don’t want to stay on anti-depressants forever. But is it too soon to stop?

 

Jenna xx

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5 Ways to give up the old baby clothes
(even if you really don’t want to!)

When Jasmine was just 4 months old I wrote this post about how I was finding it hard to get rid of her outgrown baby clothes. As we had always planned to have two children I was able to justify hanging on to them for our next baby. Well, now our ‘next’ (and last) baby is here and is growing out of those clothes just as rapidly as Jasmine did. Despite the girls being born in different seasons (damn it) we’ve still managed to re-use lots of vests and sleepsuits for Elowen. Trouble with that is, now it’s doubly hard for this sentimental mama to get rid of them! We’re done having babies so I can’t use that excuse to keep them anymore.

In the next few months we’re going to be moving to our new home and with that in mind I’ve slowly been working my way through the house to declutter each room. I don’t want to take all of our old junk with us to our new house so I’m binning stuff, recycling it or giving it away to charity and so far I’m doing really well. But those teeny, tiny baby clothes? Well they’ve been a little harder to ditch.

That said, I am still getting rid of the old baby clothes (even though I really don’t want to).

Here’s 5 ways you can do it too…

1) Choose just one item as a momento.

Babies grow quickly and before you know it they’ll be at school, college, moving out, getting married… having babies of their own. It will be hard to believe they were ever tiny enough to hold in your my arms. So, let’s allow ourselves one little keepsake, yes? I’ve picked one item of clothing for each of the girls (the sleepsuits they first wore when they were born) and I’ve put them into their keepsake boxes. That way I can still get them out every now and again, when I’m feeling sentimental, and marvel at how small my girls once were. Keeping a couple items of clothing made it much easier for me to get rid of the rest.

2) Turn them into something useful

If you can’t pick just one item of clothing to keep then why not turn that bundle of old baby clothing into something useful? A quilt, for example. Don’t worry if you don’t have a crafty bone in your body (although, props to ya if you can make one yourself) there’s lots of talented people out there who can make a quilt for you and it won’t cost you as much as you might think.

3) Give the clothes to those who need them more.

I always find it’s easier to give things away that I have a sentimental attachment to if they’re going to people who really need them. It’s hard to justify keeping bags full of unused baby clothes in the loft when they could be passed onto families who have nothing. Perhaps you could find out if your local Women’s Refuge are accepting donations of children’s clothes. Or give them to a charity shop which supports a cause close to your heart. Either way, giving your beloved baby clothes to those who need them will give you that feel-good factor. Hopefully it will dampen any sadness you have about getting rid of them in the first place.

4) Sell them… and then put the money towards making memories with your babies.

Part of the reason I find it hard to get rid of the girls’ clothes is because of the memories attached to them. But what about using them to help you make more memories? I’ve sold some of the ‘fancier’ items of clothing using my local Facebook selling page. With the money I’ve got from that I started a ‘holiday fund’. OK so we’re not going to be jetting off to Disney World any time soon but it’ll be spending money we can use on our holiday to Butlins later this year. So yeah, that few quid for an old dress might not seem like much but it’ll pay for us to have fish and chips on the beach or a couple of goes on a fairground ride.

5) Swap them!

As I mentioned earlier, my girls were born in two very different seasons so a lot of Jasmine’s old clothes aren’t appropriate for us to reuse for Elowen. But there’s gonna be plenty of mamas out there who kept their firstborn’s clothes for baby no.2 and also had their second baby in a different season. So scout them out! Ask around your baby groups or your local Facebook selling pages and find yourself a mama to swap baby clothes with. You might even be able to swap them for other items such as age appropriate toys for your little ones. Everyone’s a winner. :)

I really hope you’ve found this post useful. 

If there’s another way of parting with my little ladies’ threads that I haven’t thought of, I’d love to hear it? 

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You Baby Me Mummy

Life Lately:
Selling up, coping with two and a career change

Selling up:

If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve really struggled with being lonely and isolated over the last couple of years. Motherhood can be lonely at the best of times but living hundreds of miles away from my support network has been incredibly difficult. I think it was the main factor in me developing antenatal depression whilst pregnant with Elowen. I’ve been desperate to move back down to the South West, closer to my friends and family, for so long. Finally, at long last, the wheels are in motion. We put our house up for sale over Christmas and last week we accepted an offer. I’m trying not to let myself get too excited because I know that selling and buying houses is rarely straightforward, things happen – buyers drop out, sales fall through – but we’re on the right track. Keep everything crossed for us, please.

‘Coping with two’:

We’ve been a family of four for over two whole months and I feel like I’m getting into the swing of things now. Whilst pregnant with E, I worried so much about how I would cope with two children (probably because I was in such a bad place, mentally). I didn’t believe I was cut out for it. But you know what? I feel more capable as a mother than I ever did before. It’s as if, with the birth of my second child came this new found confidence and belief in myself. I wouldn’t just ‘cope’ with two. I’d thrive. I’ve come to accept that I don’t always get it right but I am, undoubtedly, always trying my best. And my best will always be good enough.

Don’t get me wrong, adjusting to having two children is hard. There are days when I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve fallen asleep whilst sat upright playing dinosaurs with Jasmine (genuinely) or I’ve googled “Can you die from tiredness?” (genuinely). Some days, both girls will be crying at the same time and I still haven’t worked out who I should be dealing with first. Some days I want to lock myself in the bathroom and not have a 2-year-old ask me to fetch her a snack for the millionth time that morning. Or have my nipples yanked every which way by the mouth of a fussy baby. But they are just some days. The rest of the time I am so utterly besotted with my two girls and I could not imagine life being any other way. I’m embracing the chaos.

A career change: 

I’ve never really mentioned much about my work life before children on my blog before. But for those who don’t know, I’m a qualified Youth Worker and for a while that’s what I did for a living. When I moved to the other side of the country to move in with Stephen, I struggled to find paid work in the Youth sector and so I ended up bumbling through several dead-end (mostly retail-based) jobs before becoming a mum. I didn’t mind all that much, I liked going to work, doing what I had to do and coming home and thinking no more about it. I’ve never been particularly career minded. Work was a means to an ends as far I was concerned. As time went on I realised that actually, I wasn’t really missing being a youth worker. Yes it was rewarding (most of the time) but once I had children of my own, my focus was on them and I was less keen to spend my evenings being spat at and called unrepeatable things by a group of angry-at-the-world-and-all-who-sail-in-her teenagers (it wasn’t always like that but you know, it did happen).

I decided I wanted to be at home with my own children until they were both at school and that’s still very much the case. I’ve spent most of my adult life looking after other people’s offspring, I kinda want to take this time to be there for my own. And I realise that I am very, very fortunate to be able to do that. (I won’t say ‘lucky’ because my husband works hard to support us and allow me to be a SAHM – that’s not ‘luck’.) I’ve been very conscious of how quickly the time has been going and before I know it the girls will both be at school and that’s got me to wondering. What do I want to do for a job when that happens? I was worried I would never really feel that there was a particular career path for me – one that I’d feel passionate about. One that would have me jumping out of bed in the morning. I felt destined to continue going from dead-end job to dead-end job until I retired because it ‘brought in a little extra cash’. Which, in times like these, does make a difference. I think we’re all feeling the pinch and I suspect with Brexit and alike, things are probably going to get worse before they get better. But lately I’ve found myself wanting more for myself. I don’t just want ‘a job’ – I want a career. I want the opportunity to learn and grow.

This week I had a lightbulb moment. On the verge of turning 30 years old, I finally realised what I want to do ‘when I grow up’. It’s been staring me in the face for so long and whilst the thought of following this path had occurred to me the past, I brushed it off as ‘impossible’ because I wouldn’t be good enough at it, or be able to make it work around my family, or there would be people better at it than me… These excuses had always stopped me in my tracks. I was paralysed by self doubt.

A twitter friend, Nicola, recently recommended an audio book to me – ‘You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life’ by Jen Sincero. You’ve gotta love that title, right? Well anyway, I dutifully downloaded the audio book to my phone and began to listen to it whilst doing chores around the house. At first I found it a little cheesy. But by chapter six I had an epiphany, my light bulb moment. I stopped whatever it was I was doing, I paused the audio book and I just sat with happy tears streaming down my face. It’s at that moment I decided I wanted to become a Birth Doula and not only that, but I was going to do whatever it took to make it happen. 

Since then I’ve been researching courses, making contacts and coming up with plans. I don’t want to waste any more time talking myself out of this.

I can’t think of anything better to do as a ‘job’ than helping women through their pregnancies and labours. It wouldn’t just be a job. It would be a privilege. And an opportunity for me to learn and grow.

I’m sure I’ll be writing more about becoming a Birth Doula over the coming months and years. I’m thinking about maybe even starting a separate blog for that – it would great to record my journey.

But for now I am so very, very excited.

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