The Kingmaker’s Daughter Has Secondary Infertility

The Kingmaker’s Daughter Photo

In The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory the main character, Anne Neville, has secondary infertility.  This being the 15th century, she doesn’t have the option of IVF.  Instead she tries to get pregnant by drinking nasty potions and wearing smelly herbs around her neck.  She also contemplates calling on a wise woman with dark, magical powers to create a baby for her. A boy baby would be preferable to doubly insure her husband’s male line in case their three year old son dies.  My husband also wanted a male heir to continue his eight generation, unbroken male line from a famous Jewish scholar called the Vilna Gaon.  I didn’t know any witches to call on to cast the appropriate spell, but I did choose to use a donor egg inserted with my husband’s sperm in order to continue his illustrious gene pool and to provide me with a much desired infant.


I was traveling to the A Family of My Own Conference in Washington, D.C.  I was going to sign copies of my book Grade A Baby Eggs and distribute free Silly Putty eggs.  I was carrying one large suitcase and wheeling a box filled with 40 copies of my book.  I managed to wheel the suitcase and carton and arrive safely at Grand Central from my Metro-North station.  Then came the  journey up the majestic marble staircase to the main floor.  A chivalrous gentleman helped me by carrying the wheeler with the books while I negotiated the rest of the baggage.  Unfortunately, he tipped the box and the books fell all over the grand polished white stairs.  It was like the Marriot Courtyard commercial where the luggage contents spill out on the escalator.  We managed to stuff the books back into the box.  I vowed not to part with them again and then took two subway trains to arrive at the Amtrak station.  I finally collapsed into my seat sweaty and exhausted from my extreme weight lifting workout.  At last I arrived in Washington, D.C.  As I descended the tiny staircase, the porter reached for my books.  He pulled the box forwards and the books tumbled out.  They landed under the train and lined the track.  Luckily there was a 20 minute lay over before Virginia so the porter and I could crawl under the train and grab my books.  Next time I think that I will sell ebooks at the conference!


In the movie The Back -Up Plan  Jennifer Lopez uses a sperm donor.  She has given up on finding Mr. Right, and her biological clock is ticking. Her anonymous donor impregnates her with twins. The same day as the insemination, she meets the love of her life.  Since this is the movies,  he ultimately accepts the twins, stays with Jennifer Lopez and then impregnates her with his own child. In my case my biological clock had already stopped, and my eggs were too old when I tried IVF five times with my own eggs.  My back-up plan was to use an egg donor.


A new study discovered that women in their 50’s are physically fit for pregnancy.  Other than possibly a bit higher  blood pressure, there were no physical differences between 101 pregnant women in their 50’s versus younger women.  When I decided to use a donor egg in my 40’s, I had to obtain physical clearance.  The doctor had to find my body physically fit, and my EKG had to show that there was no risk of heart attack while enduring the rigors of labor.  I passed with flying colors.  Of course my 40- something-year-old eggs weren’t up to the task, but according to this new study at least I had the body of a 20 year old.



What if I delivered a donor egg monster baby? I had to journey toward acceptance of using a donor egg.  I rented a DVD called Blessed.  It featured an infertile couple who went to have an IVF cycle at a sterile, sinister looking facility.  Unbeknownst to them, the doctor switched the husband’s sperm for the seed of Satan himself.  The woman gave birth to two beautiful, angelic-appearing daughters who later made the face rot off of a bratty boy.  I too could have the next Rosemary’s baby. Once I became involved in choosing my egg donor, it alleviated my anxiety.  I felt that she would represent my side of the family, and I no longer felt that using a donor egg would be alien to me.

Pregnant by 50 or Bust


50 was my pregnancy cut-off. Afterwards I would be going against nature and my own body. Hospitals had IVF and donor egg recipient age restrictions for additional reasons. My doctor told me that they wanted the mothers to stay alive long enough to raise their children. The egg donor counselor warned me that I would be called “Grandma” when I appeared in public with my baby. My husband and I were prepared to take our child with us to the retirement home. Of course I didn’t want to look as old as the pregnant woman on the cover of New York Magazine. Apparently women in their 50’s are lining up in droves for their egg donor babies. Even though 60 is the new 40, I couldn’t risk having two of us on wheels-me in the wheelchair and my donor egg child in the stroller.



Both high-end egg donor auctions and  freebee sperm giveaways are banned.  There was a spectacular, red carpet auction of models’ eggs.  A fashion photographer was asking up to $150,000 for the donors’ eggs.  There was an outcry against the selling of exorbitantly priced women’s flesh on the auction block, and this 1999 auction was shut down.  eBay also took a stand and outlawed the selling of donor eggs on its site.

Fast forward eleven years later. The “Sotheby’s” of donor egg auctions never happened, and now the Starbucks sperm drop box is closed.  Men were ejaculating in the Starbucks restrooms to make their sperm donations.  One man was arrested for giving his sperm away because it was untested for communicable diseases. He already had 50 “encounters” by passing a cup, chock full of sperm, to the waiting woman who used a turkey baster method or cervix cup to transfer the sperm.  The man had altruistic motives, and he was willing to forgo direct pleasure with the sperm recipient.  Indeed the 36 year old man was still a virgin waiting for the right one before consummation.

Ideally one day there will be a middle ground solution.  There won’t be price gauging to pay for certain desirable genetic characteristics of the sperm or egg donors.  But on the other extreme, infertile women won’t have to resort to restaurant restrooms to obtain free sperm from men off the street.  Infertility is a multi-billion dollar largely unregulated industry that needs carefully thought out guidelines for how to enable infertile men and women to bear a child.



I was expelled from the fertility sorority.  I had proven everyone wrong when I first became a member.  The receptionist at the hospital was skeptical that my follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen levels would be low enough for me to do IVF with my own eggs.  At age forty-four, she told me that I could be perimenopausal.  But my levels were phenomenal, -6 and 28. I was a middle-aged woman in the body of a twenty year old!  In nine months I expected my baby to pop out.

Then the doctor unabashedly pointed out the decay in the room. My eggs were rotting. They might look and score great-a definite 10- but they were no longer the same quality, and they were probably genetically defective by now. My chances of having a baby with my own eggs were 9 percent or less. The solution: use an egg donor and increase my chances to 50 or 60 percent.

How could the doctor suggest a donor?  The whole point was to have my baby.  I would use my  own eggs!


Bring up the better statistics with a donor egg.  But also discuss that it is a journey toward acceptance of using a donor egg.  There is a grieving process to give up your own genetics.  Understandably, it is not emotionally interchangeable to substitute your egg with one from a donor. Sensitively state that donor egg might become a viable option to create a much desired baby.  Individual or group counseling to examine the donor route also could be suggested.