Natalie and her husband decided to start a family at the age of 27, but trying for 11 years and being unable to conceive, she was devastated. After consulting various doctors with no success, she consulted the Barbados Fertility Centre, changing her life forever. Here Natalie tells her story.
"Today is my first Mothers Day and I am beyond grateful to finally be celebrating this momentous occasion! My name is Natalie and I am 38 years old, pretty old to have only recently become a mother, a fact I have been reminded of on more than one occasion!
Let me tell you my story and then you will understand why today is the most precious day for me and why I am so thankful to an anonymous woman in Barbados who has given me the most amazing gift, my daughter.
Every year for the last 11 years Mothers Day has been a painful day for me, because I could not conceive a child of my own. My husband and I married when I was 27 and we could not wait to have a child, but we had to wait, and wait and wait a very long time.
We consulted Drs, they all told me I was young and that I had plenty of time. I can not tell you how quickly my 30th birthday came around and how often our families and our friends kept asking when we were going to have a baby. It was just awful, we did not want to discuss our private life with anybody else!
As a couple we concentrated on our careers and just prayed that eventually I would become pregnant, but after 8 years of marriage I knew we had to find out what was wrong with us. Tests showed that everything was normal with my husband, but my tests revealed I had premature ovarian failure.
I was totally devastated, my body had completely failed me, I was no longer releasing a monthly egg so had no hope of ever becoming pregnant. I cried for days that turned in to weeks and then those weeks turned in to months.
My whole world just collapsed around me. In all my years, all I had ever dreamed of was being a mother and it was a very harsh reality to face to learn this basic human function would never be mine. I became withdrawn avoiding friends and family because I was just so depressed, I felt I had nothing to offer in conversation and was just utterly miserable.
It took me about 6 months to get my head around this bombshell news and only after what felt like grief for the child I would never have, did I pluck up the courage to start searching on the internet to see if there was any solution to this devastating problem.
I could have kicked myself; I had spent so long feeling sorry for myself that I had not realized that we have an outstanding fertility clinic right here in the region in Barbados! I called Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) there and then and spoke with Anna Hosford, Clinic Director. That phone call changed my life! Anna was the friend that I could confide in, I cried, all the years of heartache and the previous 6 months all came out in that phone call and Anna with her soft, gentle tone reassured me that there was hope for me and that they could and would help me.
Barbados Fertility Centre operate a donor egg programme, Anna explained the procedure to me, which would involve retrieving eggs from an anonymous donor, these would be fertilized in their laboratory with my husbands sperm and then the embryo would be placed in my womb. As soon as my husband got in from work, I literally leapt in to his arms and cried tears of joy, we finally had a plan and we could not wait to get started.
Anna arranged a consultation with Dionne Holmes, IVF Recipient/Donor Coordinator at BFC, who got to work matching me with a donor based on my skin tone, eye colour and also level of education. They also arranged counseling for me to understand the implications of using a donor egg. That same day we also had a telephone consultation with Dr. Skinner, Head Clinician at BFC so that my husband and I fully understood the procedure. The whole team at BFC was so welcoming and friendly, for the first time in years, we were not alone in this nightmare and we had something that I had not felt in a very long time – hope.
Three months later and everything was in place, the donor had been sourced, her eggs had been retrieved, I had taken my medication to prepare my body for the embryo transfer and we were on our way to Barbados for the procedure of having the embryo placed in my womb. All I remember was the butterflies in my stomach, I honestly felt sick with excitement and fear in equal measures.
The procedure itself was painless, but the 14-day wait to take a pregnancy test was a constant roller coaster of emotion - my heart could have exploded with excitement at the thought of being pregnant and then my heart would sink at the thought of the procedure not working.
On October 3 2013, the day I had dreamt of for so long arrived, it was POSITIVE pregnancy test day! It was 5.30am and I apologise to my neighbours who I woke with my screaming and my husband shouting, we laughed and we cried all at the same time. I could not wait for Anna to get in to work at 8am to tell her the fantastic news!
I had a great pregnancy and proudly showed off my bump at every opportunity, gone was the woman who could not show her face at any family gatherings, now I was inviting people over all the time, I wanted everyone to share our joy.
On June 14 2014, our beautiful baby girl arrived and we cannot thank BFC enough. But there is one person who I have never met and never will, one person who I thank from the bottom of my heart, the donor. This lady gave me the most selfless and precious gift, the gift of donating her eggs to give me the chance of being a mother – whoever you are, you have made today possible and made my life complete and I will always be eternally grateful to you."