Thursday, April 28, 2011

The reluctant egg donor - part 3

Quick recap: While still partly under anesthesia, I signed away what turned out to be 2 eggs which were then fertilized and transferred to another woman

After many nights of wondering, imagining what she/he/they would look like and be like, I decided that I was ready to know either way.

I made the call to the clinic, explaining the story, telling the nurse all the details she needed and asking whether I could leave my agreement to be reached in the file. She wasn't sure, but she said she'd get back to me in an hour or so.

I picked my kids up from school & my cellphone rang just as they were getting out of the car. I gave them money to get pizza (we'd just pulled up at the pizza place) and sat in the car to talk. She'd been able to look up the information and she told me that there was no pregnancy.

No pregnancy. No kid (or kids). No unknown siblings for my kids... No people to meet who might want to get to know me just because they share some of my genes... No fancy 'breaking it to the kids' talk either.

People I've told since have said that it must have been a relief to hear that. It wasn't really. I actually felt very slightly disappointed, but mostly ambivalent. What the knowledge has done is freed me from wondering what ever happened. I do wonder how I would have felt had there been a child (or children) and either we never made contact or it took a very long time...

Is it what I hoped for for many years? Definitely. Is it easier this way? Also definitely. Is this the best way things could have turned out? I'm not sure...


Monday, April 11, 2011

The reluctant egg donor - part 2

Had it been a terrible mistake to donate eggs? Was I putting my own cycle in jeopardy? When I called the next morning, 4 of my eggs had been fertilized and I remember the nurse telling me that of the 3 eggs I had donated, only 2 had been usable.

I had 4 embryos transferred on the third day post-retrieval. I've told the story before (see here), but I'll tell it here in brief again. At around 17 days post transfer, I started to feel bad, like I was getting the flu. I was supposed to wait to test until 20 days post transfer (that's how they did it then in Hadassah), but I'd been going in for tests every 4 days and I'm sure that they'd secretly tested my beta-HCG and not told me. So, at day 19, the nurse told me to go in for a test and that evening I found out that I was pregnant. (I actually had to go downtown to pick up the results by hand - and then take the vial of blood to another lab a few buildings away so that they could do a quantitative test - totally insane, if you think about it). After what the doctors suspected to be an early miscarriage of one embryo that implanted but never developed, I went on to give birth to Hadas (now 17-1/2) at 42 weeks.

Early on, I must have asked what ever happened with the eggs, but no one could or would tell me. And then, as time passed, I was both convinced that I would never know what happened and not sure that I really wanted to know.

There were nights that I would wonder if it would be better for me to know or not to know. At the different ages, I would imagine other Hadas-like people who had a part of me in them and didn't even know I existed. Mostly I came to the conclusion that the knowledge that it had succeeded would be unbearable - that it would be so hard for me to know that there were other kids around who looked like me, who were my kids' half-siblings (biologically), so I decided I would probably be better off not knowing.

Later on, as Hadas grew, I could imagine her running into half-siblings who she didn't know existed (especially when she started going to IASA - the top rated school in the country)... and even later, I imagined myself meeting the kid(s). I tried to figure out whether they would be interested in knowing about me, how my family would accept the whole story... it was clear to me that they wouldn't be mine in any way, just perhaps have some sort of interest in me and maybe feel some sort of connection to my other kids.

I found that imagining little kids as people you can't meet is much more difficult than imagining big kids in the same way. Kind of like once they're their own people it would be OK. I tried to get information on the laws concerning egg donors in Israel, but couldn't find any information. Would it be possible for me to leave information saying it was OK for them to get in touch with me once they turned 18 (only 1/2 a year from now)? Would there be any chance that they actually would? In a way, I felt obligated to leave that type of message, if at all possible, because I thought of myself in a similar position - not knowing who my biological parent is - and thought that if I decided that I wanted to know, it would be awfully nice if I knew that my bio parent wanted to get to meet me too.

- to be continued

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.