At age 24, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As treatment, I underwent chemotherapy and radiation to my chest. This was before egg freezing was used as a fertility preservation method, so instead I had an ovary removed and cryopreserved in the likely event the chemo would affect my fertility. Fast forward to my early thirties—I was feeling healthy and happily married to my husband, Phil. We began trying to conceive naturally but knew the odds were not in our favor. We had known for a long time that having our own children was something that might never happen, and it was something we discussed early in our dating relationship. Having a family was always a part of our plan for our life together, we just did not know how it would be created.
About six months after we began trying, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer, which doctors think was a result of the radiation treatment I had for my lymphoma. Before beginning chemotherapy for the second time, we decided to try an egg retrieval and to freeze the embryos to use after my treatment ended. But the retrieval was unsuccessful. My reproductive endocrinologist told us that even through IVF we were unlikely to conceive.
We revisited our options after I finished treatment. We still had my frozen ovary and found a doctor in St. Louis who was successfully transplanting ovarian tissue resulting in healthy babies conceived naturally. We traveled for the transplant procedure in February 2017. The transplant proved unsuccessful, which did not come as a shock. We began researching adoption.
We started on the road of traditional adoption, but after discovering embryo adoption, we knew that was the right path for us. We would hopefully be able to experience pregnancy, and the joys (and pains!) of that unique process.
When we found the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program, we grew comfortable with the process and realized this was the right organization to help us on our journey to start our family. One of the reasons was because of the focus they put on the placing families’ experience, and they consider how our relationship will develop with our matched family. In our home study education about raising a child through embryo adoption, we grew to think of them as family even before we were matched. Their unique and wonderful story is a part of ours and our child’s lives.
We have been on a long journey to expanding our family, and it is our greatest joy to have brought home a perfect baby girl in November 2019. We waited six and half years since my second cancer diagnosis to hear the news that we would be parents. And, funnily enough, she extended her debut as long as medically possible, entering the world 13 days past her due date and after 46 hours of labor! She was worth every second of that wait. We are in the process of planning our next transfer very soon and cannot wait to continue adding snowflakes to our family!
Do you have an embryo adoption or donation story? Send your story and photos to us! Post them yourself via Facebook and Twitter or email us your story and we will make it available on our Family Stories page, found on our website.
Email Paige@nightlight.org and help another family build their embryo donation or adoption story.
To learn about embryo donation and adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.