A couple who helped ten people have children by donating sperm were devastated after discovering they couldn’t conceive themselves.
Despite helping to bring eleven children into the world for others desperate to become parents, Danielle-Eve and Daniel Chittenden found out they were unable to have children of their own.
Now the couple are now crowdfunding for a round of IVF they hope will finally enable them to have their own child, after a decade.
“For the last ten years, we’ve not lived. I think we’ve gone on one holiday, and we’ve not gone out on many weekends,” said Danielle-Eve, 39.
“We’ve helped so many other families in that time. We’ve helped give life to eleven babies and we’d just like one of our own.
“For us to know eleven children have been born – six girls and five boys – it rests easy on your heart that you know another couple or single person is not going through the grief and heartache you’re going through.”
Danielle-Eve and Daniel, 42, had always dreamed of having a big family, but after falling pregnant, Danielle-Eve suffered six devastating miscarriages over ten years.
The couple decided to help other families conceive too, and Daniel’s sperm donations meant ten people were able to have a total of eleven children.
But it wasn’t until Danielle-Eve donated her eggs to help another family, who went on to miscarry, that she was told she would never conceive naturally.
The couple, from Whiston, Rotherham, have spent over £20,000 on IVF procedures over the past decade, only to be left disappointed every time.
They are now crowdfunding for a round of IVF with a donated egg through GoFundMe, and hope it will bring them their first child.
The pair first met on a night out in 2004 and decided to start a family as soon as they got married four years later.
“It was one of the very first things we ever spoke about. I literally helped raise my nieces and nephews so we have them over quite a lot,” said Danielle-Eve. “Children were just a big part of our family life.”
But after three years of trying with no luck, they knew something was wrong, and were referred to a fertility clinic in Sheffield for help.
“Back then, I blamed myself because my husband doesn’t have any health conditions but I have PCOS,” Danielle-Eve explained. “I felt very guilty.”
They had their first fresh cycle of IVF in 2011, but unfortunately it didn’t work.
Over the next ten years, the couple self-funded four more IVF and frozen embryo cycles, which all led to pregnancies that sadly never got past 12 weeks. The procedures cost them over £20,000 of their savings.
“The last ten years have just gone in the blink of an eye because we’ve not been able to do things other people enjoy,” Danielle-Eve said.
“We’re looking back and I just feel like our last ten years have been on hold because we always thought next year we’re not going to go on holiday if I get pregnant. At the start of every year we’ve not been able to plan what we do.
“Our hearts have been on hold and our wallets have been on hold.”
Danielle-Eve did manage to get pregnant twice in 2019, but those pregnancies also resulted in miscarriages – meaning she lost six babies over a ten year period.
“A little piece of you dies every single time,” she explained. “We knew that two of our pregnancies were baby boys – you’re glad to know, but it hurts that bit more.
“In 2011, when we were pregnant with twins, we saw and heard their heartbeats.
“It is especially hard looking back to know it didn’t matter what I did – eat the right things, get the right amount of exercise, it didn’t matter.”
In 2011, the pair made the decision to try and help other families by donating sperm and eggs. But when Danielle-Eve’s eggs resulted in a miscarriage for one recipient, it broke her heart.
“To know that me donating eggs has made someone suffer made me feel terrible,” Danielle-Eve said. “One, I wouldn’t have used them for myself, and two, I certainly wouldn’t have donated them knowing that they were not going to work.
It wasn’t until earlier this year that, with all the evidence gathered over the ten-year period, their doctor finally confirmed there was a DNA problem with Danielle-Eve’s eggs. She had to give up hope of conceiving a child naturally needs to use a donor egg.
“If we’d known it was an egg problem right back in 2011, we could have had IVF with an egg donor,” Danielle-Eve added. “No matter how long it’s taken, at least we know now.”
The devastated couple are now saving up for one more round of IVF with donated eggs, but it could cost them up to £10,000. They have set up a GoFundMe page and are asking for donations.
“We would like a family and we would be so eternally grateful even if it was just one,” Danielle-Eve said. “We’ve helped so many, we’ve helped give life to eleven babies, and we’d just like one of our own.”