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Karen Zakarian, a new mom at 49

There was a time when I thought I would never want children. Now, I can’t imagine a life without the two beautiful boys I had in my 40′s.

When I was younger, I didn’t expect to need help conceiving. I started trying at 28, but after a year nothing had happened. My husband and I went for all of the necessary testing and I was finally diagnosed as having “unexplained infertility”.

 

Getting pregnant was a “crap shoot”

Our fertility specialist, who was an OB, suggested Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Since we didn’t know the cause of our infertility, we figured it was a crap-shoot as to what would finally bring us a baby!

While our first IUI was a success, it turned out to be a blighted ovum—a fertilized egg that implants but never turns into a baby. Devastated doesn’t begin to describe the feeling I felt when I received the news!

We tried again…and again…and again. We must have blown through eight or nine more IUIs before I realized that I was turning 31 soon. At this point the OB suggested we go for an IVF consultation with a Reproductive Endocrinologist.

 

The doctor told me my eggs were shot

After the consult, we decided we would proceed with an IVF. We were, like most newbie IVF’ers, positive it would work the first time! Well, it didn’t. The second attempt was a bust as well. This is when the doctor unceremoniously told me that my eggs were shot, and that I had to use donor eggs.

I just couldn’t fathom not using my own eggs, not seeing some part of me, or my family, in this wee little face. We decided to go to another RE, and two IVFs later I received the same news at the age of 33, though this time it was with a bit more compassion.

 

Suddenly I was labeled “Advanced Maternal Age”

That’s when I made some life changes. I took a few months off from cycling just to wrap my head around everything that had transpired.

I rearranged my life, got a new job in a different field, and tried a few more IUIs just in case there happened to be that one stray good egg in there! But I was about to turn 36 years old—and labeled as “advanced maternal age” (AMA).

To give birth to another child, I would have to accept and embrace the changes my body had gone through, and decide the best and most acceptable course of action. I was now filled with a new and exciting sense of hope!

 

Our egg donor even looked like me

Karen, her husband, and first-born child

We began our search online, and met with several donor agency coordinators. It was a difficult search, and finally we came upon a wonderful woman who seemed to fulfill everything we were looking for in a donor. She even looked a bit like me and had a similar background!

After the legalities, we started a cycle. She and I both followed every instruction from the clinic, and 3 months later, the phone rang, I nearly fell off my chair! It was the doctor with some wonderful news…I was pregnant!

I think I held my breath the entire nine months until my little baby came out healthy and beautiful! And I was 3 months into my 41st year!

 

We wanted a sibling, but needed a new donor

But it wasn’t over yet. Three years later we decided to try for a sibling. We had a few frozen embryos left from the last cycle, and two had survived the thaw, so we had them transferred. Unfortunately they did not implant.

Worse, our first donor was now unavailable. It took a couple of years, and two more donors who failed the criteria, before we found the perfect donor who had passed all of her screening tests. With greatest fortune we conceived our second child when I was 49. He was born just 3 months shy of my 50th birthday!

 

Being “AMA” made me a better mom

It’s funny, but despite a fertility journey lasting more than two decades, I can’t imagine anything I would do differently! It took all of those experiences to become the mom that I am today!

I am so filled with love for my beautiful family—calm, collected, and fulfilled. For me, being “AMA” is just what I needed!

 

Notes for this blog:

Karen Zakarian was a full-time Mammographer in California for 11 years until 2011, when she decided to become a full-time SAHM.

She’s a member and supporter of AChildAfter40.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com). Click here for joining info on our online forums or local groups.

 

 

 

18 Responses to Why I Became A Mom At 49 Via Egg Donor

  1. Marna Gatlin (http://www NULL.pved NULL.org) says:

    Simply simply beautiful :)

  2. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    I agree with you, Marna! I admire how steady and committed she was to being a mother, and how wonderfully optimistic! A great role model for other women over 40 experiencing similar fertility challenges. Thank you for sharing your story, Karen!

  3. Donna Santos says:

    Wonderful. Perhaps there is hope for me. I keep thinking and about egg donation and thinking and thinking…

    • Susan says:

      I have 13 year old triplets by egg donor and they are the blessing of my life. Thanks God I didn’t let this pass me by! I am now 56! They all know and have told me they don’t care! That is love!

  4. Ketty says:

    Donna I know how you feel. Im 44 and my husband turns 50 today. I tried everything herbs -potions – massage you name it. Now Im told I should consider a donor egg. I feel so conflicted. Someone close to me suggested that I view it as getting a transplant. Yes it is not originally mine. But becomes a part of me. I’m like you …thinking about it but going to see the MD next week and learn more.
    It seems strange but if it works why not?

  5. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    HI Donna & Ketty,
    I can well imagine how deep and emotional this process is, and so very personal. I know that Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) have excellent online forums and resources for women considering this option, but not sure how they feel.
    We’ve partnered with them recently because so many women over 40 who are TTC are considering the option of donor eggs.
    You can read more here: http://achildafter40.com/egg-donation-over-40/.
    Marna Gatlin, the founder of PVED, is a really fabulous and understanding person, who became a mom via egg donation herself. Definitely worth reaching out to!
    I wish you both every happiness and fulfillment on your motherhood journey!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, ladies , for your nice comments! I have to tell you that I was initially very hesitant about donor egg (DE). I thought that somehow this child would not be “completely” mine, that I would always see someone else in him/her. This notion turned out to be so far from the truth! I could not love these children more…they are mine in every way! Friends, family, and even strangers, have commented on how they look like me, sometimes more than my husband! Once your heart makes that decision to move forward and you see that baby’s little face, your fears melt away! At least they did for me!!
      I’m also a member of PVED, and it is a wonderful place to go for understanding support and information. Marna Gatlin is great!!

  6. missy says:

    I was told i needed to have a egg donor. conceived 2x at 42. Third time at 43 and delivered a healthy HAPPY baby boy after turning 44 this year:) I am from florida and now there is donor egg banks!!! awesome idea and i would have used it if i did not conceive again by 44

  7. Katy Encalade (http://www NULL.EggDonorSolutions NULL.com) says:

    What a wonderful story Karen has! DE can be such a blessing no matter when it comes in your life. I loved reading how Karen’s journey to motherhood as made her “calm, collected, and fulfilled” what an inspiration!

  8. Cindy (http://www NULL.fertilekitchen NULL.com) says:

    Love your story, Karen!! Thanks so much for sharing it! You are a beautiful family!

  9. Melissa says:

    Thank you for publishing this story! I gave birth to my son at 41 via ivf, and my husband and I would love to have a sibling for him. We had an embryo remaining and were planning to transfer it. Unfortunately, my first pregnancy was a difficult one and I was told it would be dangerous to carry another baby. It was then that we decided to use a surrogate. We did the transfer and were beyond happy when we heard she was pregnant. Our elation was short lived, though, when we went to the first sonogram. There was no fetal pole or heartbeat. We were completely crushed! It was our last embryo. Now, at 44, we have decided to use donor eggs. I have the same feelings that Karen discussed – that I would always see someone else in the baby and not me. This article has helped me to know that my love will be just as complete as it is for my son. :-)

  10. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    Hi Melissa, it really gratifies me to hear that this story helped you in any way along your motherhood journey. It can be a really tough road and it is our intention to provide some support to women who need it along the way. I wish you every happiness and blessing as a mom! :)

  11. mia says:

    Wonderful story. We will be using a donor in December and will be going international to get it done. Cancun to be specific. My eggs went bad around 45 and I am now 47. We had no problems until this last attempt. So my husband and our 4 and 6 year olds will vacation to do donor egg/IVF. No regrets!!

  12. Helen Bird says:

    Congratulations on your two kids! I, too, became a mother via egg donor three months shy of my 50th birthday. I am about to turn 52 and the last two years have been the best two years of my life. My beautiful little boy brings me such incredible joy every day, and I know that I am a good mother to him, much better than I would have been 20 or 30 years ago. And the donor egg issue is so tiny compared to what I thought it would be. Children belong to themselves, and to those who love them. This is not just a pretty thought, it is truth that I have discovered living with my little boy every day.

  13. LI says:

    Beautiful story and an inspiration for all.

  14. Diana R. says:

    I love this story! Thanks so much for sharing it. God Blesses us in so many surprising and wonderful ways.

  15. Amanda says:

    Karen,

    Thank you for sharing your story and the pictures. I kept looking at your face and your elder son’s face in the pictures you posted and I couldn’t believe how much he looks exactly like you in both the pictures that you posted: same eyes, same expressions. My heart warms with your family story and I really appreciate the pictures that go with the story, which make the story much more powerful. I have a biological son who I had at age 40 but due to life circumstances, did not have another child. At age 46.5, I am now looking for a donor to have a 2nd child. I am looking forward to meeting others who are having or had babies via donor eggs for support and wisdom they have gained through their experiences. Thank you for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Oh, Amanda, thank you so much for the kind words! I am so happy for you that you are trying for a second child! I wanted to wish you the very best in your search for a donor, and I know that this journey can be difficult at times, but you really have to follow your heart! It’s funny, but most people who meet my family say that my eldest looks more like me than my husband. Such a compliment to me since his inner beauty shows so brightly through his eyes! I just turned 51 and my baby is now 14 months, and I am having so much fun!! My best to you, Amanda, and perhaps we will meet at some point along your journey!!

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