We love a tale of fertility success and this one is certainly one. Becky Kearns is mum to three daughters under the age of three. Her inspirational story has helped her to create a fantastic blog entitled Defining Mum. Here Becky tells what she has been through to realise her dream, along with her husband, Matt to become parents…
A shock premature ovarian failure diagnosis at the age of 28 meant I would need an egg donor to realise my dream of becoming a mum. This moment was life-changing; the start of an incredible rollercoaster of heartache and emotions over the following years.
During the time, my husband and I completed five rounds of IVF using my own eggs, both stimulated and natural cycle methods. Only one cycle resulted in a pregnancy which devastatingly ended in a missed miscarriage. Eighteen 18 months after diagnosis, we decided to take a leap of faith and try donor eggs abroad in Prague, Czech Republic.
Success first time around
We were fortunate enough to fall pregnant on our first donor egg cycle. We had five quality embryos safely created and one transferred. At 37 weeks I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Mila, in July 2016.
In 2017 we returned to try for a sibling and with two embryos being transferred this time we found out I was pregnant with twins – Mila is now big sister to Eska and Lena, who arrived in February 2018.
When I condense our story into one paragraph, it sounds relatively straightforward, doesn’t it? It really wasn’t. I can honestly say that infertility, as well as the prospect of early menopause, was the most difficult, lonely, life-altering experience. It is because of this I now want to help others who are facing the same questions, doubts and fears that I once did and so I launched my blog DefiningMum.
Sharing my story
In November 2018 I started sharing our story, initially to raise awareness of infertility, IVF and donor conception through my blog DefiningMum Through the power of social media, I have been astonished by the positive response from those who have found comfort in seeing the reality of life as a mum after making such a huge decision.
My main aim was to show that being a parent is not solely defined by genetics – over the past few years I’ve learnt there’s so much more to being a mum than DNA. By speaking openly, my hope is that both IVF and donor conception within society will become much more open and accepted ways of starting a family.
Social media is a great platform to change perceptions and encourage understanding
I’m most active on Instagram. The community is truly inspirational, providing an opportunity to share and learn while being able to retain a level of privacy about fertility struggles from your usual social media network.
It’s through these connections I’ve discovered that, not only do people want to hear about the success stories, they also want to hear about what to expect when it comes to emotions and fears that are inevitably part of this huge decision-making process.
Accepting the loss of not being able to have a genetic child involves grief, which needs to be acknowledged and understood as a perfectly normal feeling when faced with this decision. It was only when I started my DefiningMum account and connected with Jana Rupnow that I realised what I had experienced was compounded grief. After this, I suddenly felt my feelings were validated and I began to understand that the grief was real and that it was ok to struggle emotionally.
I first listened to Jana speak on The Fertility Podcast, after which I reached out to her through Instagram. Jana is a fertility counsellor in the US with both personal and professional experience of infertility, donor conception and adoption. She is the author of an incredibly useful book – ‘Three Makes Baby’, which I would encourage anyone considering donation to read. Jana and I recently collaborated to record a series of ‘InstaLive’ videos.
Opening up new and diverse conversations when it comes to donor conception
Using my personal experience and Jana’s professional skills, we discussed different topics such as ‘grief and making the decision’ and ‘parental attachment and bonding’ as part of a live conversation led by questions our followers had posed. These conversations can still be found on my IGTV channel through my Instagram account.
I’m learning that even beyond becoming a mum through donation there are still challenging emotions and fears to face. As I gratefully face the typical challenges of parenthood I am learning that some of these will inevitably be more complex than your ‘conventional’ family. It’s been a journey in itself just sharing my story on a wider scale, personally I’ve faced many questions that I had previously pushed to the back of my mind, mainly about what the girl’s reactions might be when they learn of their conception. It’s by sharing my thoughts and feelings that I’ve started to become more confident in how I am going to handle these challenges in the future.
As part of Defining Mum, I’m keen to not only discuss the perspective of the donor parent but also explore different perspectives of donor conception, an incredibly important viewpoint being that of the donor conceived child.
My hope is that by opening up these conversations I can prepare myself and others for supporting and understanding their children in the future when they come to learn about their story.
I’d love for you to come and follow me in my journey of discovery, understanding and personal learning as I reflect on my past experiences and navigate my way through parenthood.
I’m also delighted to be a volunteer for Fertility Network UK, a fantastic charity.
As well as the blog, I have a Facebook page ‘Defining Mum’ and will be launching on Twitter soon.