As most moms will tell you, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It’s also the most rewarding. I consider myself to be truly lucky – I have four wonderful boys with my husband, Andy. Oh, and I also have a daughter – except she’s not mine. But she’s here thanks to one of the coolest – and most difficult – things I’ve ever done in my life.
As well as being a wife and mom, I run a dance studio and direct a dance team. And that’s how I met Chelsea – she started coming to my adult hip-hop dance classes back in 2012. She was great and ended up being part of Kalamity, the dance company I direct. The more we danced together, the closer we grew. We started working out together and before long she was one of my best friends.
Chelsea and her husband, Steve, had wanted a family for a few years. I’d done my best to keep her spirits up and help her through the disappointment when it still wasn’t happening.
Eventually, in 2015, they decided to try IVF. Chelsea learned her egg supply was low and her eggs were poor quality. They went ahead anyway but the treatment failed. The doctor told Chelsea she’d have a much higher chance of pregnancy if she could find an egg donor. Otherwise, he suggested they could look at adoption.
We were at rehearsal one day when my sister volunteered me as Chelsea’s egg donor.
We were at rehearsal one day when my sister volunteered me as Chelsea’s egg donor. She meant it as a joke, and we all laughed it off. Later, though, I got to thinking. I called Chelsea to say I really would be her donor if she wanted me to, as long as she was comfortable knowing her baby might not have the same skin tone as her and Steve.
We all talked about it – Steve and Andy too. That was only fair; I knew my friend desperately wanted to be a mom and I wanted to help, but they needed to be ok with it as well. One of the big pluses was that egg donation is usually anonymous – this way, it wouldn’t be. We were such close friends, it was kind of like keeping it in the family. Then I went off to start the process.
I got to experience first-hand what IVF couples go through – taking pills, having shots, doctor visits. My ovaries were swollen, my mood swings were crazy. Then there was the egg harvesting – the cramping, the post-partum feelings of doubt as to whether this was the right thing to do. (Apparently entirely natural, even though I really wanted to help my friend.)
And then, success. Chelsea found out in August 2015 that she was pregnant and would be a mother the following May. I got to be right there alongside her for the pregnancy and was the first person to know the baby’s gender besides the ultrasound technician.
I’d had a feeling it would be a girl and I got so emotional when I was right!
Steve couldn’t be there for the scan, and Chelsea was lying on the bed so she couldn’t see. I’d had a feeling it would be a girl and I got so emotional when I was right! I had to keep it a secret so that Chelsea and Steve could find out together later; I created a scavenger hunt for them to reveal the news.
Giselle was born in May 2016. At the time I had just my three boys – I got pregnant with my fourth son, Tazz, after Giselle arrived. It’s really special to watch my tribe with her. She might not ever have brothers, so it’s kind of nice they have that bond and play together.
And yes, of course the situation has thrown up a few questions. Let me answer some of them.
Do I find it strange to see this little girl who looks a lot like me but isn’t ‘mine’? I’ll be honest, it is a little weird. But I think it’s cool more than anything.
Do I ever wish Gigi was my daughter? No. She was never mine. I provided an essential ingredient, if you like, but I didn’t carry her or give birth to her. I’m not there when she wakes up or to kiss her goodnight. There were some rough times for Chelsea and me, as we adjusted to the situation and worked out where everything fitted in. I’ve learned to take my emotions out of the situation, and now our friendship is stronger than ever. I love her unconditionally and I love Gigi too – but as my best friend’s daughter, not my own.
Do I ever wish I had a daughter? Hey, I’m a boy-mom and I love my four more than anything. But of course there have been moments when I’ve looked at Giselle and felt my heart twist, wondering if any little girl I had would look like her. It would be odd if there weren’t. It’s just a momentary thing though.
This was something I did for a friend as a gift. It wasn’t easy. But it was so worth it.
I’d also like to be clear that this was something I did for a friend as a gift; I didn’t get paid and that was never a consideration. It wasn’t easy. It was physically hard and demanding, and I admire every woman that goes through it. But it was so worth it.
If any woman reading this is thinking about being an egg donor for a friend, I’d say this. Make sure everyone involved thinks it through properly. Make sure you’re all clear that any baby won’t be your child. Don’t underestimate how difficult the process is physically. And know that doing something so selfless, that means the world to someone else, will make you feel absolutely amazing.
To watch Chelsea be a mom to Giselle, to see them being a happy family and knowing I was part of making it happen just brings a smile to my face. I love seeing my boys and Gigi together. They know what happened and that she’s their little sister, but in a different way to other families. They just love her unconditionally. When she’s older, Chelsea will also tell Giselle the truth. There’ll be no secrets.
I’m so lucky. I have my boys, but I also get to watch this little girl grow up and become an amazing person. She’ll always have a special place in my heart. So I have to thank Chelsea, for finding my dance studio on Google so many years ago. For joining my class, becoming part of my dance group, for being my friend and in my life – and for giving me the chance to help you bring little Giselle into the world.
She’ll have a piece of my heart for ever – but she’s not my daughter.