25 January 2020
My name is Cilla Holm. I am from Sweden. I am a therapist and I also have a podcast about longing for a child.
My own journey to become a mother started about 5 years ago: I had just turned forty, I lived with the man who had two children from before and we went on discussing it back and forth and finally I decided – I need to try to do this by myself.
At that time it was not legal in Sweden, so I had to go to Denmark. In Denmark I did 5 inseminations with the help of sperm donor and then five IVFs. None of these attempts resulted in any pregnancy. After that my doctor in Denmark and also my gynecologist in Stockholm, they both, independently of each other, recommended me to have a look at Dr. Olga Zaytseff.
So, said and done, in April 2017, the day after my embryo transfer within my tenth attempt, I sat at the seminar in Stockholm and I met Olga and the rest of the team. I listened to that seminar and I thought that I’d better be pregnant because this is not for me. It was a huge obstacle for me to go to a strange country I didn't know anything about and also to even think about giving up my own eggs. I was not ready for that. I wanted to try the method of PGT-A.
But I did learn four things in that first seminar. One is that I trusted Olga. She taught me more in that one and a half hour than I had learnt in one and a half year in Denmark. The second thing she taught me was about that it is easy to understand when a parent does everything for a child. Olga says that we, women, do the same for our IVF processes. They become like our children - we become mothers beforehand. We try and try and try. So you need someone else coming from the outside to say stop or to give you an idea about the smartest way for you to become a parent. I also learnt about the money back programmes. And for me that was very good financially because of my previous ten attempts and it was also for me like a security as if the clinic can offer these packages, they probably make most patients pregnant. And the fourth thing that I learnt was that a fertilizing process, or whichever process it is, needs to be individualized. You can't treat every patient in the same way.
My attempt number ten was not successful. I decided to take a break. I know that these types of processes require time for reflection: you need time to find the acceptance of the exact life situation you are in at the moment and you need that to be able to make difficult decisions. So I had a great summer without any hormone treatments. I just ate whatever I wanted and I did whatever I wanted. I had happy time.
Then in September I was strong again and came back for a second seminar and when the obstacles didn’t seem to me as high as it had been in April. I looked into a brochure of different examples of egg donors and I felt like one or three or even more of them looked sort of like I did when I was a child. So that impossible thing was not so impossible anymore.
A week later I had my Skype consultation with Olga and I, of course, still wanted to try PGT-A and use my own eggs. I had quite a high AMH, which I know now doesn't really matter. Olga told me that, of course, we can do PGT-A on you, but that means 5, 6, 7 or 8 egg retrievals to be able to collect the number of embryos that you need for the method to be effective and she looked at me and she said - "Why don't you just take a shortcut, because the fact is that I will probably have to recommend you an egg donor in that year anyway". And I thought: “Is there really a shortcut?” And when that thought sank in it was such a relief because I had been fighting and fighting and fighting.
A few days later I made my decision to go for an embryo adoption. I started my medications, I chose a Russian egg donor and a Danish sperm donor and I went for my first embryo transfer attempt in January 2018. That was a success. So in October 2018 I gave birth to my little daughter and she is now one and half years old. Her name is Liv which means “life” in Swedish and her second name is Olga, of course.
I want to say that for me the single best thing for choosing to trust Olga and her team was that they took away the weight from my shoulders. I had been carrying around responsibility of making myself pregnant, which is sort of crazy because I am not a doctor. So they took that responsibility away from me and I felt that they really wanted to make me a mother. They put a lot of effort and a lot of empathy into my process and it was great from start to end.
All difficult processes need time and acceptance and you also need to mourn what didn't happen the way you thought it would be. That is just as life in general is. So if you can work with that, if you can be gentle with yourself and give yourself a lot of empathy and love, everything will actually work out in the end. But don't carry the weight of pregnancy in your hands - give that to a doctor that can actually help you.
From the bottom of my heart I hope this year is the year when you get pregnant and when you get to keep your pregnancy and when you get to become a parent because it is a really great thing.
Story from Cilla's Instagram @jagvillhabarn:
On January 23, 2018, Cilla made her insertion of the embryo that became her daughter Liv. An embryo with an egg from a Russian donor and a sperm from a Danish donor
Cilla says about the transfer day:
My experience of how my daughter was created became memorable. It became my story (where many others have the story: we got married, went on vacation and then you arrived). Before the insertion itself, we went sightseeing for a bit in St.Petersburg and after the transfer my friend took me for champagne and Russian caviar, and ever since that day my life has been so much better than it was before.
The close-up picture of Dr. Elina Lapina is when she makes the embryo transfer. The years of trials and disappointments, failures and physical stress, now looking back on it, feels unmanageable.
Going to St. Petersburg and making an embryo adoption was not my plan A, nor was it plan B or C or D, but places further down... Of course, there is a lot of sadness in that. Wasted time and money, damaged body, mismanaged jobs and lost friendships. Things have definitely been sacrificed along the way. But it ended up so well, that it all feels worth it now:
And now, I have the opportunity to help others so that for them it may land as plan B or C... Do not put yourself in my situation, as I did because of naivety and ignorance! Teaching yourself and those around you about fertility should be as basic as sex education. Thanks to our donors. How amazing is their effort? I am so humbled by what they did for me! Thanks to my clinic and @dr.olga.zaytseff.
Thanks to all my friends for all the support. I had no idea there was this much support to receive. Becoming a parent via an embryo adoption is the best thing that ever happened to me and I am so happy that the actual insertion day was not a necessary pain, but a nice and fun memory worth celebrating again and again. Hurray!