Tuesday 27 September 2016

Irish mum who conceived using donor egg after five rounds of IVF: ‘Every day with Clodagh is like Christmas because we feel so lucky’

Published 20/07/2016 | 16:24

Pictured (left): June with her husband Tony and their daughter Clodagh, (middle) Baby Clodagh, (right) June and Clodagh
Pictured (left): June with her husband Tony and their daughter Clodagh, (middle) Baby Clodagh, (right) June and Clodagh

An Irish couple who welcomed a baby girl after years of struggling to conceive have said that every day since she was born feels like Christmas because they feel so fortunate.

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June Shannon (45) and her husband Tony Curtis went through four unsuccessful rounds of IVF before deciding to go down the route of choosing a donor egg.

“We got married in 2006 and for a few years we tried, but it just wasn’t happening for us,” June told Independent.ie.

“In 2009, our GP recommended we begin to look into IVF, and we were referred to a fertility clinic in Dublin.

“Over the years we went through four unsuccessful cycles. On our first try, I became pregnant but unfortunately I miscarried at nine weeks. We went through four more cycles without any success.

Read more: The IVF survival guide: Everything you need to know about IVF

“The truth was time was running out, money was running out and I was getting that bit older at 43,” she said.

“Our infertility was unexplained, which made it that much more difficult to cope with. At this point we had already spent €21,000 because all we had ever wanted was to be parents.”

After four rounds of IVF, the option of using a donor egg was brought up by the couple’s doctor. June and her husband had inherited a small amount of money from her late mother and the couple felt like this was their last chance at having the family they always dreamed of.

Read more: Couple welcome ‘miracle’ baby after being told they’d never have children- 'God had a long term plan for us'

They began the process of choosing a donor egg from Czech Republic, which was fertilised with Tony’s sperm. The fertilised embryos were then returned to Dublin and used in IVF.

“In 2012, I lost my mum and she left Tony and I a little bit of money. With this we just had one more shot at IVF, it was our last hope.

“As I was 43, the path of using a donor egg was suggested to us and it was something we talked a lot about. It’s an option that’s becoming more and more popular. Our egg was donated from the Czech Republic. Usually you have to go abroad, but with our clinic we didn’t, which really cut out the cost of travelling.

“It was a strange process because you’re looking at profiles of different anonymous women and the only details you have are their hair colour, eye colour, height and their educational status. You’re choosing your child’s biological mother and that is strange.

Read more: Irish couple's unexpected joy as they conceive twice with IVF: 'I tell my babies that they're my little miracles'

“Ahead of the deciding to go the donor route, many clinics insist you go for counselling because it’s such a big decision and one that you have to be very sure about.

“For me, I feared that I might not bond with the baby but I needn’t have worried. I’m completely in love with her.

“We really wanted a family. It was all we ever wanted. We didn’t feel complete,” she said.

After undergoing her final IVF procedure, June waited in hope that she had fallen pregnant, only to discover on Christmas morning that she was expecting.

Baby Clodagh, now aged 11 months with her mum June Photo Credit: June Shannon
Baby Clodagh, now aged 11 months with her mum June Photo Credit: June Shannon

Read more: Meet the Irish mum who has THREE sets of twin girls –‘When I found out I was expecting twins again we had to laugh’

“In December 2014, I took a test and discovered I was pregnant. It was the best Christmas present I could have ever received. There was a bit of worry of course, because I had miscarried in the past but we were so happy.

“Our daughter was born on August 20 and we named her Clodagh after my mum,” she said.

June, who is a journalist, admitted that although IVF is extremely tough on a couple, it was all worth it now that Clodagh is in their lives.

“With grief I have learned that time does help you heal, but with infertility, every month, every year that goes by without a baby only intensifies the sorrow. It’s heartbreaking.

Read more: Irish couple who welcomed baby Leo (1) after 12 year fertility struggle announce they are expecting a second baby

"Men can often be overlooked in this process and I do know it’s just as difficult for them. They’re wish to be a father is often just as strong as a woman’s. I’m lucky that my husband Tony is so wonderful and has always been so supportive. It’s brought us closer together..

“IVF is tough, there is no doubt about it but it’s not that bad. I would tell anyone not to be put off by the stories they hear. If you are successful, it’s all worth it,” said June.

The mum-of-one said she and Tony plan to tell Clodagh about her biological mother in the future as they feel it’s important to be open with children.

Pictured (left): June with her husband Tony and their daughter Clodagh, (middle) Baby Clodagh, (right) June and Clodagh
Pictured (left): June with her husband Tony and their daughter Clodagh, (middle) Baby Clodagh, (right) June and Clodagh

“When Clodagh gets older we’ll definitely tell her about the donor egg and how she came into the world. I think it’s so important to be open with children. Unfortunately the whole process in the Czech Republic is anonymous, so she will never get to find out who her biological mother is, but it’s important for her to know how she came into the world.

The couple said they are very aware of how lucky they are to have been blessed with Clodagh, and June says her daughter often stops her in her tracks.

“We are fully aware of how lucky we are to have Clodagh. It’s amazing and every day is like Christmas with her.

“We never imagined that we would have her but we always hoped. Sometimes I look at her and she just stops me in my tracks.

“Sometimes, I never thought we’d get here,” June said.

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