I went through menopause in my twenties but didn’t realise till I was in my early thirties and ready to start a family. They took a good look inside and when I came out of the anesthetic, our doctor in London broke the news by saying, “you have the ovaries of an 80 Year old. Do you have a sister?” ‘We tried four rounds of IVF but nothing. My sister Anna was back in Australia and knew what was going on. I don’t think I asked. She just offered.
Our first try using one of her eggs and my husband’s sperm ended in an ectopic pregnancy. Once I recovered, we decided that because we had gotten so close, we would try it one more time.
The second time we tried with two eggs and two sperm and the result was one baby. I was madly excited during the pregnancy. That I had my sister’s egg, I didn’t even think about it like that. Anna had once put it nicely that she had donated one cell and I had grown the rest myself. Because I was actually pregnant, it was my body that was changing and holding the baby. Jerome felt completely mine.
We told him from the second he was born. I used to tell him these little stories, always ending up with: “And Anna gave the egg,” - so he can’t even remember being told and I can’t remember when it first sunk in for him because we’ve been open about it the whole way through.
When Jerome was in prep, he was going to a play date at a friend’s house and the mother who was driving asked: “So tell me something interesting about you?” and Jerome said: “I’m a donor-conceived child and Anna gave the egg.” He then proceeded to tell her the whole story and the mother rang me up afterwards and said: “I don’t know if this is meant to be public knowledge” and I said: “No that’s fine, everyone knows.”
The odds of me falling pregnant were like 10 million to one after the ectopic pregnancy. So it was like a miracle baby, a total miracle baby.
I remember standing in the kitchen of mum and dad’s and talking to Victoria on the phone. Deciding to give her my eggs was an instantaneous thing. I already had two children and I wasn’t planning on more. So from my point of view there was no issue.
I told my boys about what was going to happen before we began the process. One day I was driving them to childcare and one of them said: “So which bit are you giving, the egg or the tadpole?”
Vic needed continuity of care because of the ectopic pregnancy the first time around. So we decided that this time I would fly across to London. However the process started here in Australia. A mum at school who was a GP did all my jabs. I had to have the jabs at pretty much the same time every day. I remember being jabbed at Melbourne airport literally before I walked onto the plane. Once in London, Qantas fast tracked everything. I was off the plane, in a car, out of the airport and straight to the clinic in London to get my next jab. Two days later they did the egg collection. I flew back to Australia not knowing if Vic was pregnant or not.
It was a pretty amazing phone call to get, to hear Vic was pregnant and all was okay.
The first time I met Jerome, I said: “He doesn’t smell like my two boys.” And I was surprised that I didn’t feel a stronger sense of attachment to him. It was the same feeling I had towards my nieces. My two boys get on very well with Jerome. When they are together it’s like watching a big pack of puppy dogs. There’s lots of boyish rough and tumble and wrestling.
When the boys were younger, if Jerome was with me and my boys, people would say they are lovely boys, all three of them and when Vic has been out with them, people have also said to her, “What lovely boys, all three”. There’s bits and pieces of Jerome that make him look like one of us and there’s other bits that when you see him with his Dad, he looks so like his Dad but that’s normal for kids, there’s no boundary about it.