New mama and actress, Camille (from Prison Break, and Good Doctor), tells her years-long struggle with infertility and the many roads to becoming a mom. Here, from IVF to THE donor egg, plus pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the power of support, Camille shares the tale of conceiving her son and founding Foster A Dream. @camilleguaty @thefosteradream
Having come out on the other side, it’s interesting looking back on my path to motherhood. Before venturing down this road, like many women these days, my career was my priority. I never consider that my biological clock was ticking or that infertility would be my story until it happened.
When I was around 37 years old, we started dabbling in “the trying.” After spending so much of my life trying not to get pregnant, I fully assumed that once we did actually try, it would happen immediately. However, this was not the case. For a full year we attempted on our own, but by 38, when it didn’t happen for us naturally, we decided to go to a fertility clinic to test our levels. When our results came back, the doctor informed us that if we wanted to pursue parenthood, we needed to start IVF immediately. I remember his daunting words, “Your outsides don’t match your insides. You look young, but on the inside, your body is acting like it’s 50 years old.” That was the beginning of five failed IVF cycles. Throughout those five, we implanted 25 embryos, and nothing took. At that point, we were depleted emotionally and financially, but I wasn’t ready to give up. In tandem, we had started the conversation about fostering or using a donor egg; however, I wasn’t mentally prepared to do either of those things quite yet. I still had hope
“I never consider that my biological clock was ticking or that infertility would be my story, until it happened.”
On our final 6th round, we had to cancel the cycle after I failed to produce any follicles or embryos. When the results came back negative, my heart sank. Utterly destroyed, I knew we couldn’t continue doing this. Emotionally everything surfaced and all my “what ifs” popped up. I blamed myself and questioned, “What if I hadn’t waited so long?” and “What if I had been healthier?” and so on.
“When the results came back and the cycle was canceled because I didn’t produce any follicles or embryos, my heart sank. I was utterly destroyed.”
So began the beginning of a different journey. At the onset of this process, if you’d asked me about using a donor egg, I would never have considered it. I needed to morn the loss of the idea of having my “biological child” before I could wrap my head around using a donor egg. And, rightfully so. I think any woman that’s experienced something similar would agree that if you want to be a mother, you will be a mother. But, to be a mother, doesn’t mean the baby has to be genetically or biologically yours. The fact that I was able to carry was a beautiful thing, but even if I hadn’t been able to and we’d gone straight to adoption, mothering a child is more important then how you become a mother.
Leading up to accepting the idea of using a donor egg, I questioned if the child was going to feel more like my husband’s, or if I would reject the baby or if the baby would look like me. Mentally, I went through a lot, and there was a lot to work through. Now, sitting here with my son, I don’t regret any of it nor do I think any of those things. All this had to happen to get us to where we are now.
“The fact that I was able to carry was a beautiful thing, but even if I wasn’t able to and we’d gone directly to adoption, becoming a mother is more important than anything else and “the how” you become one is not.”
Around the same time, I began working with the foster care system. Financially trying for a baby took a toll on us, so we began considering other viable options. First, we looked at adoption but found it was costly, and there were no guarantees. Friends of ours have tried only to get to the hospital with their hopes high and have the mom decide she wants to keep the baby after they’ve paid for the entire pregnancy. We weren’t prepared to do that yet.
Meanwhile, a friend told me about the endless children in the LA foster care system. So, one night with a bottle of wine, I went down a rabbit hole on Google watching videos of unwanted kids living in LA. Horrified, I called my husband with the feeling that we had done it all wrong. Here we are, struggling to be parents, and there are children without parents. He wasn’t sold on the idea of becoming a foster parent and insisted we go the donor route.
Inspired by what I had seen and eager to make a difference, I started working with the foster care system and social workers. Initially, I wanted to help raise money and awareness, but eventually, this led to launching Foster A Dream. It wasn’t until after my first Foster A Dream event that I told my husband I was willing to give the donor egg option a shot if he was open to adopting through the foster system. I needed him to understand where I was coming from, and at this point, foster adoption was my only sure bet. He took that and sat with it for a while and came back to me with an OK. We agreed to one donor egg, and if it didn’t work, then we’d adopt a foster child.
“I called my husband with the feeling that we had done this all wrong. Here we are, struggling to be parents and there are so many children in the foster system without parents.”
Once we decided on the donor route, my husband and I started to have a little fun with it. We’d go out for dinner and jokingly say to one another, “Our waitress is cute. Should we ask if she wants to donate an egg?” We made up our minds to bring lightheartedness to the reality of the situation. While this was in jest and we never actually asked anyone, it warmed us up to the process. We began working with different agencies, although I found the options super limited in LA for Asian, Latin, or African American women.
I discovered an agency in Mexico with more to offer in terms of my likeness and background. We went through two different donors. The first didn’t do her IVF injections properly and ovulated all 19 of her eggs at once. Ironically, we received this news while I was on set of The Good Doctor playing a pregnant woman, and my husband was en route to the IVF clinic in Mexico to “do his business.” They FaceTimed me while I was in wardrobe, getting dressed in a massive belly for my scene. I answered the phone in anticipation of good news regarding how many eggs we retrieved only to hear that she messed up, and we had nothing. It was great for my dramatic scene and second season ark, but personally, it was another devastating loss and financial burden.
After we fought to get our money back, another girl popped up with the same last name as my mother! Suddenly, it felt like fate. However, while they had promised she was very fertile, in the end, we only got one viable embryo from her. After years of disappointment, it felt par for the course. With my plan in place to foster a child and the unlikelihood of this one embryo working, I wasn’t committed to this egg. With little to no hope, they implanted the egg. I felt nothing, which made me even more sure it wasn’t going to work. However, in the end, we only got one viable embryo from her. After so many losses, I wasn’t committed to this egg or the process working
A few weeks later, after taking a blood test, I received a call from the nurse with our results. She said, “It’s really early, but we got your test back, and YOU’RE PREGNANT!” I literally had her say it five times before I believed her! I collapsed in tears of joy, and the rest is history. That one embryo is our baby boy, the golden egg it turns out. His name is Morrison Rafael Kaye, and we call him Sonny.
Pregnancy, by no means, was easy. I went on bed rest for the first two months and was extremely sick; I had all the bad pregnancy symptoms. Nevertheless, I was over the moon to be pregnant. I’d waited so long for it and figured it might be the only time, so I cherished every moment. The years I spent dreaming of what my belly was going to look like, and finally, to have it, left me feeling nothing but gratitude for the entire experience, every bit of it.
That one embryo is our baby boy, our golden egg it turns out.”