Monday, April 04, 2011

The reluctant egg donor - part 1

It was an interesting coincidence when my mom asked me a few days ago (rhetorically) if I could imagine what it might be like to have a child out there, somewhere, and not know anything about him or her. And although she didn't literally fall off her chair when I said that I actually did know what it was like, I think she was kind of surprised at my answer.

It all started back in January of 1993. I was going through my second IVF cycle (the first produced a lot of eggs, but only one embryo) and the ultrasound showed a large number of follicles, meaning they expected a large number of eggs. Egg donation was in high demand and the laws either didn't exist or were unclear, so the best way was to get them from women already going through IVF cycles. The only problem being that women going through IVF cycles want the largest chance of pregnancy & therefore don't want to give up any chance at it...

I was 23 and I knew I might never be a mom. Never. I mean, not ever. Never being pregnant and never having the chance to hold my very own newborn baby. Never being able to breastfeed or cuddle my warm baby late at night... Never being able to walk down the street with a stroller or play airplane and make the baby crash straight into my hug...

Now, if you knew me as a kid, you probably know that being a mom was the one thing I most wanted in my whole life. I think there's pretty much nothing I wouldn't have given up to become a mom.

So, when the doctor who was treating me asked me if I'd be willing to donate some of my eggs, being careful to promise me that it wouldn't hurt my chances of getting pregnant, I thought about another woman in my position and this possibly being her only chance of becoming a mom... and I told the doctor I'd think about it. [He also tried to get me to pay him a large amount of money so that he would be the one to do my egg retrieval, but I said no. He ended up doing the retrieval anyway. I bet he had his motives for that...]

IVF is an emotional roller coaster. One day the follicles look great and they tell you that your retrieval will be in just 2 or 3 days. The next day, they (the follicles) didn't grow as quickly as expected and it's put off. You're constantly calling the clinic to find out what you've got to inject - and when the nurse doesn't answer the phone, you forget you'll miss the clinic before the staff goes home and then have no idea... [I bet it works differently now, maybe you get an SMS with your daily dose or something] and the meds make you crazy and bloated. And the anticipation of the anesthesia for the egg retrieval makes you nervous. And you're so invested in the cycle that sometimes you think that if it fails you'll never have the emotional strength to go through it again. And then you realize that even if it succeeds and you become pregnant that it doesn't mean you're going to end up with a baby... [There's more, but I think you get the point.]

So, my egg retrieval day arrived. I was put under general anesthesia and I don't know what I had thought about before then in terms of the donation, but I know that I hadn't made a final "yes" decision.

I have a vague recollection of waking up with a clipboard shoved in my face. "Sign here." And in those few seconds that it took me to sign, I signed away 3 ova. 3 possible babies.


projgen said...

Wow. You just described my experience of cycling in one great (3rd-to-last) paragraph.

I'm sorry you weren't given a chance to be sure about your decision, but hopefully this means there's a mom out there who wouldn't be otherwise.

Jen said...

My heart goes out to you because I know the loss I feel just when I ovulate!

I have no idea what you must be feeling now or even what you felt then. It is incomprehensible to me how a doctor could take advantage of a patient. I know it happens every day but I'll never understand it.

Sara said...

Wow, that's quite a story. That doctor should lose his license for unethical behavior. I hope you've come to peace with the idea.

Do you have any information about what happened with those eggs? Would you want to know?