My goodness. It is taking me so long lately to write a post. I save it and save it and save it, and before I know it, the original date is a week (or two) old. We've been having some work done around the house, and our handyman hangs around during our "family time" to shoot the breeze, and it extends into our "me" time. It really eats into my blogging time, let me tell you. Or, recently, my time was eaten up because I was looking for presents for my mom and dad's FIFTIETH wedding anniversary. Yep, you read that right. Fifty years. How they ever made it that far is fodder for another post.
Anyway. I read a lot of blogs. Most of them are mommy blogs. My favorites are written by women who struggled with infertility before having their babies, but there are some really good ones out there without that focus. I read a few blogs from women who are trying to conceive, but not many, because it's kind of hard for me to go back to that dark place where I used to be. Once you've crossed over to the other side, the pain fades. I sort of want to keep it that way. And I hope that each and every one of them gets to the other side of the bridge.
Lately, I've been reading blogs by women who have moved on to donor egg (DE) or donor sperm (DS) and are trying to choose their donors. And it made me remember what that was like.
To begin with, I never, ever saw myself using donor eggs. Never. When the doctor suggested it, I completely dismissed the idea (and I was kind of p*ssed off that he would even suggest it). To me, the biological link was everything. For some strange reason, I didn't think I could identify with someone who couldn't link back through my family blood line. Not that we are that great. Really, we're not. And we have a lot of bad diseases on my side of the family -- heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, and diabetes, to name a few.
My RE (reproductive endocrinologist) brought up the subject after we'd been going through injections for a couple of years. (Before that, I'd used Clomid for a year, and timed intercourse before that.) I remember that he said that my clock was ticking with my own eggs (I was over 40), but if I wanted to proceed with donor eggs, time wasn't such a big deal.
I thought "not me." No f*cking way. Just no. I was going to have a baby with my own eggs or die trying. It just seemed so very important. I even wondered if I could love a child who was not "my own."
I kept trying and beating my head against the wall. I tried to keep my injection cycles back to back wherever possible, unless I had a leftover follicle that made me wait a month. Along the way, I had two miscarriages (ironically, both of the pregnancies occurred without any help from modern medicine). I lost one pregnancy at nine weeks (a blighted ovum), and the other at four weeks. I mourned those losses. I blamed God. I knew that He could have saved my babies if He wanted to. He just didn't want to. And that made me angry.
I don't want to go into all the blackness that engulfed me during that time. I've talked about it to some extent in previous posts. I remember talking with DH, and I asked him what he would do if it were him who was the infertile one -- would he hold onto biology? He said that he wouldn't. He just wanted the child. He didn't care how that came about. He considered open adoption. I couldn't go there either.
And then I came around to DH's point of view. I just wanted a child. And I wanted to feel what pregnancy was like. I finally realized that the only way that was going to happen for me was to use donor eggs. And it began to seem like a very good choice. With my eggs, there was a chance that my child could have genetic problems. With donor eggs, those problems are eliminated to a very large extent.
Our clinic used an "egg br*ker." That label still cracks me up. Our egg br*ker had a very Jewish name, and DH and I pictured a nice little old lady who helped people get pregnant. I kind of envisioned the matchmaker from "Fiddler On The Roof." As it turned out, our egg br*ker, M, was a nice lady, but she was a lot younger than we had imagined. I would guess that she was in her mid-30's. She had a Master's Degree in Social Work, and she worked with a couple of the local hospitals. She was awesome.
M said that she looked for donors who were motivated to help others. Anyone who focused on how much they would receive was rejected outright. Honestly, I can understand that, because the donors really don't receive that much considering what they have to go through. M would only allow her donors to donate six times. They received $2100 the first four times, $2300 the fifth time, and $2600 the sixth and final time. Having gone through an IVF cycle myself before coming to M, I can honestly say that the amount of money that we paid the donor was just not enough to compensate her for her time and risk.
We had no idea what we wanted, but after talking with M, we decided that the donor should share my ethnic background. M printed out six or seven profiles for us (no pictures were available). None were an exact match, but a couple were close. "CG" was someone that she almost didn't give us. She was currently in a donation cycle, and another couple had expressed an interest in her sixth and last cycle. But, on the off chance that the other couple didn't choose her, CG was included in our set of profiles.
DH and I are really quite different people. He is very analytical. I am more intuitive, a process which I have always argued is just as analytical as his way of doing things -- it's just not conscious. So, DH took his set of profiles, wrote down the things that were important to him, assigned a point value to each, rated all the candidates, and then he prepared a little matrix with a rank ordering.
On the other hand, I "experienced" the candidates. I read their profiles, and I put them in order based on the ones that felt the "rightest" to me. There were traits that turned me off, e.g., alcoholism in the family or severe allergies, and I will admit that I put those candidates toward the back.
And guess what happened? DH and I arrived at the same top choice -- CG. The traits that I recall off the top of my head are that she was 31, had four kids of her own, was an emergency medic, she was going to school for nursing, and she had good grades. She was 5'5" tall, had brown hair and hazel eyes, and she was of average weight.
As it turned out, the other interested couple went with someone else. When we said that we had an interest in CG, M said that she was pleased. Not only was CG a good producer in terms of the volume of eggs, M said that CG and I looked very much alike. I was glad to hear that. And I was even happier to learn that out of the five donation cycles, there had been four pregnancies.
And, the rest is history. I waited while they synchronized our cycles, and as I recall, CG gave us 23 eggs. We ended up with 12 fertilized eggs. We transferred three, and the other nine were frozen (three sets of three). Two of the embryos implanted, but I lost one a couple of weeks later. DD was born at 38.5 weeks by planned C-section.
Deciding on a donor is a very difficult thing to do. I had to decide who was going to be the genetic mother of my child. But I also know that without me, my daughter wouldn't exist. And for nine months, I nourished her inside my body. I've been nourishing her from my body ever since she was born. She and I are a part of each other, even though we don't share some of our genes.
And as for CG? I know that she's out there somewhere. The program was anonymous, so I will never be able to properly thank her for the gift that she gave to us. But I can say it in my heart. And I hope that she feels it in hers.