Egg Donor Diary: Logistics

Life

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To read part one of my Egg Donor Diary series click here.

by Deanna

The first thing you need to know about being an egg donor, are the logistics. Because there is so much info; to read, to understand, to approve. So i’m going to do a basic rundown of a timeline in this post, and focus mainly on the logistics. The emotional side of egg donation is huge, and not to be underestimated, however the legal / practical side is just as big. So far, this is what we have been through.

A few months prior we planned a whole day to ‘nut out’ all the details. This gave me a chance to get the information from the professionals and to let everything sink in before I made any final decisions. In my eyes, and my heart – the decision had already been made, I was going through with this. I was certain of it. Until that first doctors appointment, that was. Here’s what happened:

Specialist Appointments

Meet with IVF specialist to firstly discuss what is entailed, physically. We talk about: Syncing our cycles as we are going to be doing what is called a ‘fresh transfer’, Hormone Injections, Trigger Injection, Blood Test, Internal scans, Side Effects, having to go under general anesthetic for the egg retrieval surgery etc.

I had a MASSIVE meltdown in this appointment, when the doctor chose to lead with ‘Worst case scenario, you can get Ovarian Hyperstimulation – which can be fatal’. Cue; tears. Lots and lots of tears. Tears from me because my immediate thought to be honest, is ‘Why am I putting myself through this? Why risk my life when I have two beautiful sons, and a wonderful husband?’ Also tears from my cousin, (all four of us are at the appointment when my meltdown occurs) and I know what she’s thinking ‘Why am I putting her through this, it’s too much to ask’. She confirms to me those exact concerns straight after the appointment. Later that day we have counselling sessions planned, and just to throw craziness in the mix (because we never do things by halves) my husband has two job interviews in between. We were living out in the country at this time and wanted to move back to the coast, so this was the best day to get it all done. We spend the middle part of the day running around the city, to and fro, this time alone, and to let everything sink in. I’m not questioning whether or not I will do it. I’m just scared. Shit scared.

Counselling Sessions

Three counselling sessions are done: one with just myself and my husband (via Skype prior to this day), one with my cousin and her fiance, and then a final session with all four of us. During these counselling sessions we discuss: What is your gain / reason for doing this? How do you say thank you? Do egg donors get paid for their donation? Will the child know they were conceived via egg donor, and if so, at what age? What happens to the eggs if the receivers no longer want them?

This session was AMAZING. We were A+ students – even the counselor told us at the end. She watched us discuss options and scenarios and was impressed that there were moments that a conversation would start with each of us having certain opinions, but that our opinions would change during the conversation without one person being a ‘mind changer’. Bravo to us. I feel great about this session.  My one big question (Will the child know?) is answered the way I had hoped. And I walk out feeling clear.

Here are the answers to those all important questions:

What is your gain / reason for doing this?
I mean, the answer to this is pretty obvious. But a counselor needs to ask this, and open the discussion, because it needs to be for the right reasons. For me, the thing that hit me the hardest was seeing my beautiful cousin, a woman I grew up admiring and spending alot of time with, struggle to do the one thing that we all always knew she would be amazing at. Becoming a mother. She deserved it, and wanted it, and I was over here with my healthy eggs, completely able, and very willing. There was never really a question about it. It saddens me to see a world where people can have children easily and mistreat them, and then at the other end of the scale, see people who would be amazing parents, unable to conceive.

How do you say thank you?
Thank you was the last thing I needed to hear. I just wanted to see results. If we were to all go through with this, I just wanted everything to work out as positively as it could. But the direct answer to this question is – you can’t, and you don’t – because doing what we are doing, is immeasurable. Especially for someone we know, we already knew how grateful they would be, and when they hug you, and you feel it – well, that’s enough. I never wanted or needed a thank you.

Do egg donors get paid for their donation?
In Australia, no they don’t. Medical costs are covered, and that is all. In other countries – they do. And people pay ALOT for eggs. It seems so backwards to me that people are being paid to give life. If you want to give life, you do it via your heart. Not because your wallet is empty. The gift of giving is more than enough, and I really wish all monetary compensation for egg donation could be done with in the world. It just doesn’t seem right. End rant.

Will the child know they were conceived via egg donor, and if so, at what age?
Yes! They strongly suggest that it is discussed with the child from an early age, newborn even. The counselor told us to picture this: my cousin is changing her child’s nappy, and I will be at her house shortly for a visit. She casually and lovingly says ‘Deanna will be here soon, and we can’t wait to see Deanna, because she helped us make you’. Isn’t that beautiful.  It is a new world, and IVF is such an open subject and often used path, that now it’s no big deal. In our case, this is a cousin who I see multiple times a year. My biggest fear would be seeing a child that was ‘genetically’ mine, and the child growing up, knowing me, but not knowing that fact. Talking to them about it from a young age means it’s not as big of a deal to them, and as they grow older, they become more inquisitive and ask questions that are educationally in line with their age group. Maybe at five years old, the child will say ‘What do you mean she helped make me?’, and at ten years old they’ll say ‘But, how?’. And their parents can respond to their question and their age group, so that it is easy for them to understand and they aren’t bombarded with this giant secret as they become an adult.

What happens to the eggs if the receivers no longer want them?
Three things. One: they can be thrown away. Two: they can be given to science for research. Three: They can be donated on to another couple. The first two options are totally up to my cousin and her fiance. Once the eggs are retrieved from me and fertilised, they are no longer ‘legally’ mine. The third option, all four of us need to agree on; because (and this is where things get crazy genetically complicated). If you go around giving out loads of your eggs, and two of those eggs end up meeting as adults and create babies, there can be major genetic problems. Given, this is a very extreme circumstance. But apparently it has happened before. So this was an interesting question for us all to discuss.

Later that day …

We drive back to my cousins house after a huge day. We have all said that we’ll let everything sink in and they just want me to think about things for a week or two, and there is no rush with a definite answer. While they run out to get some dinner for the evening I quickly talk about how i’m feeling to my husband and my mum (who has been watching my two little ones for the day while we go to the appointments). I tell them, as scared as I am, I still want to do it, and i’m sure of it, and I decide there is no point waiting to tell my cousin and her fiance. I don’t want them on edge for the next few weeks wondering and waiting. We sit down to have dinner, and I decide once the boys are asleep, i’ll let them know. I will never, ever, forget the hug I received from my cousin. She cried, and hugged me so tight, for so long. And in that moment I knew I had made one of the biggest – and best – decisions of my life. I was going to help them make a baby. I was so proud of myself, and so grateful that they chose me. Being an egg donor is not as selfless as people say. We both stood there holding each other for what felt like an eternity.

Now we just needed to wait until the time was right.

A timeline of the egg donor process looks a little like this:

Months prior:
Meet with IVF Specialist & Counselor, get blood tests done.

One month prior:
Sync menstrual cycle between donor and receiver, meet with nurses to discuss timeline, sign paperwork.

Day 1 of period:
Call IVF specialist to plan process.

Day 4 of period:
Internal scan, check follicles are healthy / strong / present.
Begin hormone injections, administered by nurse, but shown to husband to begin doing at home.

Day 5:
One injection, administered at home.

Day 6:
One injection, administered at home.

Day 7:
One injection, administered at home.

Day 8:
One injection, administered at home.
Second injection to delay ovulation, administered at home.
Meet with IVF Specialist for scan to check things are going according to plan.

Day 9:
One injection, administered at home.
Second injection to delay ovulation, administered at home.

Day 10:
One injection, administered at home.
Second injection to delay ovulation, administered at home.

Day 11:
One injection, administered at home.
Second injection to delay ovulation, administered at home.

Day 12:
One injection, administered at home.
Second injection to delay ovulation, administered at home.

Day 13:
Trigger Injection to start egg release, administered at home.

36 hours after trigger injection:
Egg Retrieval operation (a 20 minute operation under light general anesthetic).

That’s it. That’s my part done.

Day 1 – 5 after egg retrieval, the egg is fertilised, hopefully grows, gets put back into my cousin, and 12 days after this – with all the absolute hope in the world, she takes a pregnancy test and sees those two little lines, that we have been working towards for the last year. If this round is unsuccessful, they can continue until it works.  And it will.

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