Joanne Hill, 35, and Sarah Childs*, 34, from Cardiff had their first baby, Finley, in August 2010 following insemination with donor sperm from the London Sperm Bank. Now, three years on, Sarah is only weeks away from a second baby, this time conceived with the same donor’s sperm and in an egg-sharing arrangement at London Women’s Clinic Wales.
When we decided to try for a baby the first time round, I don’t think we were quite prepared for what we were about to go through. There’s no denying the heavy disappointment when the treatment doesn’t work and you have to start again. But, all that goes out the window when you hear that you are pregnant. In fact Sarah was so convinced the test would not be positive that she disappeared off for breakfast without looking at the result!
For us choosing the right sperm donor was really important. At the time, a male friend of ours had offered, but we felt it was important that our child had the option of contacting the biological father. Furthermore, as I wouldn’t be biologically linked to Finley as we were using Sarah’s eggs, it was important that we found a donor with similar characteristics to me, so we were looking for someone with green eyes like me and also Sarah’s olive skin. We are both just over 5 ft tall, but our donor was 6ft, so it could be interesting when Finley starts to shoot up!
Sarah was in labour for a long 33 hours and Finley arrived kicking and screaming in August 2010 - it was just unbelievable that he was here. As Finley’s mum too, it was important for me to bond with him as quickly as possible and many of our friends have said how some of his facial expressions are just like mine. In some ways I could imagine how men must feel in these early stages.
It is now more than two years since then and we can’t wait for number two to arrive! Having another baby is something very special but we wouldn’t have done it without the same donor - we really wanted a biological sibling for Finley. Thankfully, our donor was still part of the donation programme, so for us we just felt that it was meant to be.
“ If we can give the chance of having a baby to another woman as our sperm donor has done for us then we feel we are giving back in some way, and that means a lot to us”
We are eternally grateful to this man and this gratitude has been a huge motivation to us in choosing egg-sharing IVF. If we can give the chance of having a baby to another woman as our sperm donor has done for us then we feel we are giving back in some way, and that means a lot to us. We didn’t know about egg sharing the first time round, but I’m pretty sure we would have chosen that route back then too if we’d been aware of it.
After a short while, a recipient match was found and Sarah went on to produce 23 eggs, 11 of which went to the recipient. All 12 eggs fertilised and one better quality embryo was implanted. And it worked!’
This pregnancy has been much easier than with Finley, other than that I also have a two-year-old to manage at the same time, but I guess it is good practice! I know that if it hadn’t worked we would have been devastated but we have Finley who is our world and so having him could never be a disappointment. And we appreciate that we have been very lucky that it has worked for us first time.
“ We are so passionate about being able to help someone else to have a baby they so want”
Unfortunately, the recipient wasn’t so successful, which Jo and I are really upset about – I have been considering doing it again purely to give her another chance, which might seem dramatic, but we are so passionate about being able to help someone else to have a baby they so want.
As a couple we have talked a lot through this whole process, you really have to because there are so many emotions flying around. But we also made sure we shared our feelings with friends and families too, as they could give us a very different perspective and help us see the bigger picture sometimes.
Since Finley was born we’ve also been mindful of making sure that he doesn’t feel out of place having same sex parents. Early on we joined an organisation called ‘Proud to be Mums’ so that we could meet other people in the same situation as us and Finley already has some playmates there, which is fantastic. We hope that these relationships carry through the years and so by the time he goes to school he will feel comfortable about having two mums.
In the meantime, we have a few weeks to go before Finley gets to meet his brother or sister and the three of us can’t wait. It has been an eventful and exciting three years or so and look what we have to show for it!
*Names have been changed to protect the couple’s identity.