Hello – I am JR Silver and am the UK-based author behind the illustrated children’s book, “Sharing Seeds”, a donor sperm story for mummy, daddy and children, with more titles in the pipeline. I have been asked by SellmerDiers Sperm Bank to write about my wife’s and my fertility story, culminating in the birth of our two donor sperm conceived children.
My wife and
I were married in October 2012 and we started our fertility journey in 2013:
this was shortly after my older sister and I had both tested positive for the
BRCA1 cancer gene and several months before we also discovered I had a severe
underlying fertility issue – what were the odds?! We initially visited CRGH
(central London) as potential PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) patients
in late 2013, looking into possibly creating BRCA1-free embryos.
We opted to
do nothing other than continuing to (mainly!) enjoy trying to conceive
naturally. 8 months passed, taking us to the Easter of 2014, and so far no
immaculate conception. My wife and I both had fertility tests and, a few weeks
later, were stunned to learn of my infertility diagnosis.
The next 12
months saw my stomach receiving bi-daily testosterone injections and lots of
healthy eating (a walnut heavy diet!), before my testicles were operated on, in
a desperate bid to retrieve healthy sperm: the first operation failed but a
second operation was scheduled for June of 2015, in tandem with my wife’s first
embryo collection, more in hope than expectation that some of my sperm could be
extracted for embryo fertilisation.
sperm were somehow retrieved and these sperm battled on, paired with 9 of my
wife’s finest eggs, 6 of which combined to form tiny embryos: it appeared my
wife’s eggs and my seeds were compatible after all. 2 of these embryos
soldiered on to reach the blastocyst stage (i.e. be suitable for implantation
in my wife’s uterus).
A few weeks
later, armed with the first of many future pregnancy tests, we waited the
3-minute wait that so many couples have had to endure. Sadly there was no
second black line after the 180 seconds passed, nor any happy smiling faces.
And yet, whilst this final setback was hard to accept, it was something I had
always feared at the back of my mind, never the alpha male in the pack,
especially once my wife and I struggled to conceive naturally.
this sense of foreboding had long started to prepare me for dealing with this
outcome but I have also been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by close family,
friends and counselling. And, I think most crucially, I had perspective
acquired from the recent loss of my beloved sister, greatly appreciative of
simply waking up every new day. And, of course, not being able to use my own
sperm came with the huge bonus of eliminating the dreaded BRCA 1 gene.
by these positive thoughts, we embarked on the intriguing world of donor sperm.
This was not the first time we had considered it but it was only when we knew
my situation was irretrievable that we were ready to accept and embrace it. And
what a wonderful opportunity it presented and quite good fun along the way,
with us opting (at my insistence!) to see pictures of potential donors before
making our selection.
dilemma was whether to proceed with an anonymous or non-anonymous donor: it was
important to us to be transparent and honest with any children we were lucky
enough to have: in particular, we are fortunate to live at a time that is
mostly accepting of everyone’s differences and, for us using donor sperm, we
did not want any stigma or shame attached.
therefore, really bought into the modern ethos that parents should tell donor
conceived children of their very special origins from a young age, rather than
hiding it away as a murky secret. So we gladly embraced the non-anonymous
option, albeit I appreciate the same decision may not be reached by other
forward now 5 years and ours is a truly blessed picture but that’s before
glossing over the many rounds of fertility treatment, my heroic wife repeatedly
putting her body on the line, enduring lonely train journeys, long waiting-room
waits, gallantly self-administering injections galore, suffering a miscarriage,
a dangerous ectopic pregnancy and a nasty reaction to IVF medication.
So now we have two children, boy and a girl, conceived via the same sperm donor and both equally loved by mother and father, each day bringing so much joy. So yes, we had to sacrifice to get here, time and money, body and soul but it was so very worth it. I am also conscious that not every story has a happy outcome, as my own personal fertility issues could not be directly fixed and I also lost my older sister.
a golden moment from last summer’s lockdown: looking for suitable reading
material for our oldest, I decided to write something myself, and then
partnered with an illustrator to bring the book to life. I have now
self-published “Sharing Seeds”: it is approximately 500 words long, with 21
colour images and I genuinely believe the story is a fun and informative read
for parents to read to and with their children, whether conceived via fertility
treatment or otherwise. I have in mind to produce a series of children’s books
under the “Sharing Seeds” name, as there are many different fertility
stories that are out there waiting to be told and hopefully help others.
Thank you to JR Silver for sharing his and his wife’s fertility story. You can take a look at his work on his website here, follow along on Instagram and Twitter or leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback below.