'An incredible gift': Mum's dreams come true thanks to donated embryo

Picture: Nicole and her son Nate, who was conceived using a donor embryo
Picture: Nicole and her son Nate, who was conceived using a donor embryo 

Nate is like most babies his age – fighting nap times and getting into mischief. But his journey to conception didn't take your average course.   

Conceived using a donor embryo – a donated egg fertilised with donated sperm of couples going through the IVF, the little boy is the 'miracle' his mum Nicole had longed for her entire adult life.

"I'm 45 years of age, I have a baby thanks to this gift that I wouldn't have had if these amazing families didn't say 'we've finished our family and know how hard this is, we're going to donate those embryos to other women and families so they can have a chance at a miracle'," she said.

Nicole had always wanted to be a parent and, like everyone, she had hoped to find right partner. As she began to approach 40, she started to think it may not happen.

Nicole also has the BRCA II gene, a mutation which puts her at a higher risk of developing certain cancers, including ovarian cancer, and was nearing the time she needed to undergo a preventative hysterectomy.

"When I reached 40 I kind of accepted that I wasn't going to be the mum I've always wanted to be," she said.

Exploring her options, Nicole checked her egg reserves, which were very limited and was told her chances of a successful pregnancy using her own egg were slim.

Her fertility specialist at City Fertility suggested using a donor embryo as a possible option, something Nicole had not been aware of.

Told the donor embryo would put her chances close to 40 per cent, reluctant to put herself through the emotional roller coaster of IVF, and fearing she could pass on the BRCA 2 gene, she decided to go for this option.

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Within a week of being given the green light she was told two embroys were available and handed donor profiles detailing family dynamics, a brief of why they donated the eggs, their story and medical history, as well as likes, dislikes, to base her decision on.

Following counselling sessions on the complexities of carrying a child not genetically her own, and Nicole's own research on the experiences of both donor parents and donor kids, she felt ready to begin.

Two weeks after the transfer, a blood test confirmed she was pregnant. But she spent the whole pregnancy in disbelief.

"A friend said that even to the day Nate was born I didn't believe it was real'," she said, "Because I'd kind of made peace that it wouldn't happen."

Despite trying to stay positive, knowing it was her last chance, she was also nervous.

"In the back of my head part of me was thinking 'this isn't going to happen, you did it once and that doesn't happen in IVF'," she said.

"I threw it out into the universe that it was my last chance and if it was meant to be it was, but at least I'd know I'd done everything I could have and I could be OK with that.

"Did I ever think I'd be a mum at 45? No, but I am and I got my miracle and I know how blessed I am."

Nicole said she will be forever grateful to the families who donate their embryos, especially considering what many may have gone through to create them, describing it as an incredible gift.

"I can only imagine how emotionally attached they are to those embryos. They're a potential baby."

Nicole said she expects Nate will have questions when he grows up and she's conscious of finding the right wording to explain his journey.

"You're making a family different from how you normally do, so you have to get an insight into that, about how people navigate that," she said.

"It's helping him to understanding his journey is a little bit different to biological children and being mindful of that and that some kids may at some point have issues of their own from that."