Getting Pregnant

I Became A Mother At 44, and I Owe A Thank-You To My Embryo Donor

by Amy Armstrong
Originally Published: 
A mother holding her newborn baby on her chest while lying on a couch
Amy Armstrong

As a mother, or as a couple, you must think about and wonder every day what has happened to those precious embryos that you decided to donate back to your fertility clinic after your family was complete. It was a decision not taken lightly, but with contemplation and heartfelt thought for those embryos that were to remain frozen in the cryobank for years to come, as a loving gesture to not only the embryos but to other women hoping for a chance at motherhood.

For those mothers, for those couples, I want to say:

Thank you for giving me hope when two years ago, I, as a 42-year-old, looked down the barrel of several discouraging fertility test results revealing my almost non-existent ovarian reserve that had, sadly, left the building when I wasn’t looking, leaving no option for IVF.

Thank you for the option of embryo donation. It was an option I had never heard of or thought of when egg donation became financially nonviable due to insurance coverage also leaving the building. Little did we know that your uterus doesn’t age, giving an older woman the option to carry long after their egg reserve has been depleted.

Thank you for what must have been a heartfelt and heart-wrenching decision when you donated back already fertilized embryos to fertility clinics everywhere to be frozen, little souls in waiting, for couples’ love to claim them and love them, truly and completely, as their own.

Thank you for the now 44-year-old woman’s chance, not only at motherhood, but the gift of carrying and giving birth to a child.

Thank you for the weeks leading up to the embryo transfer when I learned what true fortitude and focus entailed, with the fertility shots, pills, suppositories, and the endless blood tests and ultrasounds, and for joining the quest of so many women.

Thank you for the loving moment shared between me and the love of my life, Joe, as the embryo was gently thawed and transferred at the fertility clinic as one of our favorite songs, “Clair de Lune,” played from our Bluetooth speaker. Tears would fall down my cheeks. That was the moment when we fully realized the meaning of hope.

Thank you for the life-defining moment when, last September as I sat with Joe, we heard the voice mail message that my embryo transfer was successful and that I was pregnant.

Thank you for the subsequent magical and nerve-wracking months as I bonded with this most precious life growing and moving inside of me. Our hands clasped tightly as we witnessed ultrasound after ultrasound of our growing baby.

Thank you for the experience of birthing classes, research, the bonding moments as the nursery was built, the baby shower was thrown, the celebrations were enjoyed, the dreams were realized, and the two deep breaths were taken as we slowly sailed out and away from the riskier earlier months.

Thank you for the earth-shaking experience of going into labor and birthing my beautiful baby boy, and for creating a moment that would have been impossible prior to the 1980s.

Thank you for the weeks that have followed, the moments each day, and the years to come of spending with our beautiful son, with the joy that he will bring, and the experiences that have changed me as a person and our lives as parents — forever.

Thank you for that moment when you decided to donate your embryos back to be cryopreserved so that a woman like me, and families like ours, could take that soul from the cold of the clinic and bring it down to earth to live in the warmth of the sun.

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