Kyra and Eli: Our surrogacy and egg donation journey
Starting the journey to parenthood via donor conception and gestational surrogacy can feel like a journey into the unknown. For Kyra and her husband Eli, that journey felt monumental. A landscape architect from Brisbane, Australia, Kyra and Eli had spent 10 years going through IVF treatments and eventually discovered a genetic condition that would make it impossible for her to use her own eggs or carry a baby to term. Eli was reluctant to move onto third party fertility, but after much soul-searching, they decided that finding an egg donor and a surrogate was the best way towards having children of their own.
I was very okay with the idea of using donor egg very early on. It was my husband that had reservations about it. Sometimes you know your body – I did so much IVF and I just knew I wasn't going to get a baby out of me and my husband. And I don't know, something inside me was just like, "It's not coming from you."
Kyra’s husband was reluctant to move ahead with egg donation and gestational surrogacy, but a chance meeting with someone from a surrogacy agency changed his mind.
We met with an agency contact. She just said, "What are you doing? I mean, how much more stress do you want to put your wife's body through. It's not going to happen.” I actually wrote her an email to thank her after that. I’d done 15 embryo transfers and no baby, and I was done.
The egg donation journey
Kyra came to Donor Concierge in 2013 after feeling overwhelmed by searching for a donor on her own. She knew what they were looking for in an egg donor, but she had no clue where to start.
There were a lot of wrong donors out there for us and I just had no idea how to filter all those agencies and profiles. We did want her to look as similar to me as possible. That's what we started out with. And as we went through it, our boundary widened a bit. We wanted height because my husband's family is quite short. We also wanted a donor with green eyes because I've got green eyes. I thought maybe if we've got the same color of eyes, it'll be good. And then I just wanted someone that I looked at and thought, "She looks like a nice person."
I really connected with our donor's story. She seemed very much like me. She loved her mom. Her mom was her best friend, and that's me and my mom. She loved dogs. I've got two dogs. I'm obsessed with them, and she was into sports and yoga and all of that, all the same things that I like. My only criticism of her was that she was into comedies, and I'm into crime.
Kyra chose a donor with blue eyes and both her children are brown-eyed, like their dad. They’d chosen 2 other donor candidates before, but none were approved by her fertility clinic.
One thing I keep saying to people who are going through this journey, and I talk to them here in Australia, is the donor that you choose will never be wrong because you get your children thanks to them. So don't don't worry about, "Oh my God, what if I choose the wrong girl or guy or whatever." It can't be wrong because you end up with your children. So I mean, if I had chosen one of those other donors, I wouldn't have my gorgeous children.
Her advice for other intended parents going through this journey?
Definitely going through this journey, even with surrogates, you need a degree of flexibility. You can't go in rigid. You've got to be fluid and be able to just open your mind.
The surrogacy journey
With embryos created, Kyra and Eli started the surrogacy journey, first for their son Jaxon, who is now 5 years old. They had a very close relationship with their first gestational carrier and wanted to work with her for baby number 2. Unfortunately she had a medical issue so they found a different gestational carrier who delivered their daughter, Skye.
With our first surrogate, she’d never done it before and because it was our first child as well, we went completely overboard. We spoke almost every day and Skyped every week and showered her with gifts and made her into the center of our universe, and she loved that. That was everything for her. The pregnancy with Jaxon was super easy and the birth was amazing! Jaxon’s birth was very easy.
With the second gestational carrier, the relationship was a little less involved.
This was her fourth birth and she was very business-like. She was friendly and we got along really well, but she didn't really want to interact as much until she fell pregnant with Skye. Then we interacted a lot more.
It was a completely different scenario with Skye, who arrived unexpectedly a month early. She spent two weeks in the NICU in a Southern California hospital.
I really wasn't expecting Skye to be premature because our gestational carrier hadn't had any other premature births. That was a real shock. We visited her every day in the NICU and to be honest, it was hard at first. She had some physical issues when she was born, so she needed physical therapy and special headgear. It was intense and very hard work, and I wasn’t expecting that. But she's come through it very well. So I found the transition from zero to one really easy, but one to two I did find difficult because of those circumstances.
We asked Kyra what advice she would give parents who are at the beginning of their egg donor or surrogacy journey. What should they know?
A lot of people ask me if I see the children as my own children because they're not my biology? And that thought has not ever crossed my mind since they were born. It probably played on my mind a little bit before they were born, but you end up in a completely different headspace. I can see myself in my children. I don't know how, but some people are just like, "Oh my gosh, she looks so much like you." Others are like, "Oh, I wondered where they came from," so you see what you need to see, I guess. My daughter's so much like me and nothing like her father. It's crazy. Environment plays a huge part in it, and seriously when the doctor hands you your baby and you've been through this struggle, there’s no doubt: this is your baby.
One of the big reasons why we did surrogacy in America was that my name is on the birth certificates. So when it comes to schools, hospitals, whatever, anything, there's no question about it unless I decide to tell them. My name's on the birth certificate and we're a family. They're absolutely, 100% your kids – they just came through a different route.
Is there anything that she’d change if she could go back in time? Kyra hesitates and thinks back to the years of IVF treatments and a missed diagnosis of adenomyosis which was discovered during a routine gynecology exam after her son was born. The issue had never been discovered during her years of fertility treatments.
I'm 48 and I've got a three year old. The one thing that plays on my mind is having children at my age, and whether I could have more time with my children if I’d been properly diagnosed by my doctors in the beginning. But if that had happened, I wouldn’t have the amazing children I have. As my husband says, "You end up where you end up,” and I’ve got these two gorgeous little ones who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our egg donor and gestational carrier.