After learning that her chances of conceiving a baby of her own were close to zero, Anna Dunford made a decision that brought her the gift of love
Anyone who puts themselves forward to be an egg donor is undoubtedly a good person, says Anna Dunford, from Plymouth.
Anna, 36, who gave birth to her first child Maddison in June, said: “It tells me a great deal about what kind of woman she was.
“To put herself through the donation process to help another woman that she will never know shows such kindness of heart and selflessness.
“The gift she has given us is beyond riches.”
Anna, and Plymouth Theatre Royal front-of-house manager, Ross, welcomed baby Maddison to the world six weeks early on June 5 at the city’s Derriford Hospital
It was the culmination of a journey that began a year after the couple married in 2014 and decided to try for a baby.
“I stopped taking the pill, but nothing happened,” added Anna.
“Then, out of the blue I started having menopausal symptoms and knew something wasn’t right.
“I kept going to the doctors and getting told I was too young for that which was really frustrating.”
It took two years for Anna to be referred to her local fertility unit only to be told she had just a 2% chance of conceiving through IVF using her own eggs.
“Having seen Ross with his baby nephew and knowing what a wonderful dad he would make; it broke my heart that I couldn’t provide that.
“To be told you are not going to be able to conceive a child naturally and your only option is through IVF, is the worst feeling ever. I was completely blindsided.
“It’s one of those things that you think is never going to happen to you.”
After talking with their respective families, Anna, and Ross, 34, decided to investigate oocyte donation, which is the donation of an immature egg cell.
On a recommendation from a work colleague, the couple contacted the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM).
They booked an appointment with the unit’s fertility specialist Dr Alex Price.
“She was upfront with us, but in a gentle, respectful way; I can’t even put into words how amazing she was at that appointment, and every appointment after.
“When Ross and I walked out of there, we both looked at each other and agreed this was the place for us and decided to transfer to BCRM straightaway.”
The couple underwent counselling which Anna says helped allay her fears about whether she would be able to bond with a child from a donated egg.
Two weeks later the couple were matched with a donor, with physical traits that matched their own in terms of height, build and eye colour.
Sadly, the first IVF transfer resulted in a miscarriage. Anna returned for another round in October 2020 and achieved a pregnancy with baby Maddison.
“Throughout the pregnancy, Ross really looked after me but without suffocating me. He was always there when I needed him and happy to support me.”
Anna went into labour early after being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and Maddison was born via caesarean section, weighing just 4.6lb.
“Before I’d worried that I would feel differently because she wasn’t mine, but it was simply not the case.
“The moment she was delivered and placed on my chest I was in love. She is mine through and through.
“It’s been tough and there have been tears along the way, but I am so thankful for what we’ve gained from little Maddison.
“Being a mother is a love I can’t even explain. I’m so glad we went through with it; it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
The couple have no immediate plans for more children but have six embryos frozen in storage at BCRM should they want a brother or sister for Maddison.
Anna is putting a book together about her pregnancy journey for her daughter for when she older so she can know more about how she came into being.
“I don’t want it to be a secret, or something that is taboo in the family.
“Even though she is not related to me by blood everyone has accepted her as if she were, she is very much loved.”
BCRM supports private and NHS patients from across the South West and Wales, offering the full range of fertility treatments or visit: www.fertilitybristol.com or call 0117 414 6888 for more information
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