I’ve talked a bit in a past Mom.me article about my thoughts and feelings on using an egg donor to get pregnant with Olivia. I think the thing that is hardest to cope with is that somewhere out there, there is a woman who shares part of her DNA with my daughter. My feelings softened a bit during my pregnancy and in the early days of motherhood. Because the truth is, Olivia wouldn’t exist without her. How could I not feel something for the woman who gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life?
I got a chance to sit down—virtually—with the blogger behind My Egg Donation Journey, who goes by the pseudonym, Amelia Abby. She’s appeared in YouTube videos, as well as in The Fertility Podcast and in print and has been making a name for herself in the egg donation community. Her blog is a wonderful resource to get a feel of what it’s like from the donor’s perspective. She’s inspiring. That’s what I think about when I talk to her. Like, it makes me wonder about my own egg donor and if we would be friends if I knew her. At the very least, Amelia’s story makes me not so freaked out about someday finding my own donor. Here is a bit of her story and her thoughts on egg donation.
After experiencing infertility myself, I decided to donate my eggs
My husband and I live in the UK and are unable to have children for a variety of reasons. Our main issue is that my husband has Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a lung condition, and does not produce any sperm. I have some complex gynaecology issues so am unable to carry a pregnancy due to an incompetent cervix. It took a long time to come to terms with this news. I always thought there would be some options. When my husband became critically ill with his CF, I was warned that he may not come home. It was closure for me as I realised that it would be unfair to bring a baby into our situation—even if we were able to. I also have a lot of friends with CF and general infertility issues, and I would see daily updates from them about their fertility struggles—many needing IVF or other treatments.
I began to get a burning desire to help, so I started to look into being an egg donor. I know how it feels to yearn for a baby, and knowing it will never happen. I had hoped I could spare another woman having to feel that.
The donor egg process
Initially, to become an egg donor, I needed to complete a profile which would be used to match me with a recipient couple. At the same time, I began the physical side of the screening process, which included testing for things ranging from genetic conditions to anything sexually transmitted. My husband and I underwent psychological testing as well. I had an internal ultrasound scan to check my uterus and ovaries, and blood work for different hormone testing. When everything came back clear, I was given the go-ahead to begin the actual process of producing follicles and retrieving the eggs.
I had to go on the birth control pills which would synchronize my cycle with the recipient’s. After I stopped them, and had a period, I began the daily hormone injections. These continued for two and a half weeks before my eggs were retrieved. I had internal scans every other day to check the growth of the follicles.
On retrieval day, I was heavily sedated while the eggs were collected. My second cycle was a bit harder to go through because I could feel what they were doing and had to ask for more pain medication. They were then fertilised later that day by the recipient couples’ sperm.
Needles, hormones, doctor’s appointments… Did I have any doubts?
I did endless research before I even asked for an information package, so I knew what I was getting into. Being a nurse helps because I wasn’t afraid of the needles. It was more my husband that got freaked out whenever I did my shots.
I never really saw being an egg donor as a sacrifice. To me, a sacrifice is giving something away that means something to you—that you will miss when it’s gone. That’s not the case for me. I’m not using my eggs, so someone may as well get some use out of them!
One of my egg recipients got pregnant
Two weeks after the egg retrieval for my first cycle, I received a lovely email from the clinic telling me that my recipient couple was pregnant! I was absolutely thrilled for them! It was an incredible feeling knowing that I had helped. Unfortunately, she suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks gestation. It was such heartbreaking news. I haven’t heard that there has been anymore good news for them. I’m unsure if there are still embryos left for them to use. They are always in my thoughts.
Some people were concerned about me donating my eggs
I had some people voice to me that being an egg donor wouldn’t be for them. The hardest thing to hear was people making comments about me having children out there in the world, which I don’t agree with at all. I wrote a long blog post about this very subject. As far as I am concerned, I just donated half of what is needed to make a baby—the raw ingredients, so to speak. My donated eggs could not make a baby alone. I am a big believer in the nature verses nurture argument. The babies may have been conceived using a donor egg, but it is the recipient woman who will ‘grow’ the baby, go through labour, look into their eyes and hold them as soon as they are born. She will bond with them and watch them grow into adulthood. It’s the mother who will be responsible for raising the child and teaching them right from wrong. She will reap the rewards when the child learns how to love and shows this to their mother—not the woman who donated her eggs.
That being said, if I had plans to donate again, I would love to have it be an open or “known” cycle. I think that would be amazing.
Some people were also concerned that I would be too emotional for the egg donor process—I’m an emotional and sensitive person, so I understood their concerns—but I am also strong and determined and knew I would be ok. I am not afraid of feelings and emotions, and a few hormonal tears has never hurt anyone. 🙂
I wish more people knew this about being an egg donor
I wish people knew it’s an option. It’s an amazing gift and I wish people knew how straightforward and life changing it can be for another couple. You have the ability to make someone’s dreams come true. I was able to donate twice. If I lived closer to the clinic, I would definitely do more.
I also wish others knew that to some of us, being an egg donor is not about the money. Especially in America, women receive large sums of money and I think it’s so wrong. Here in the UK, it’s not a payment, we’re just paid for expenses, about $800, mostly for travel, because otherwise I couldn’t afford to do it. I hear about these women getting paid upwards of $20,000 and how they go around to clinics, to see who pays the best. Egg donation is so personal to me. Accepting so much money just feels so wrong.
To the women who used my eggs:
I hope that you know I think about you all the time, that I long to hear your wonderful baby news, and to hear that you have your happy endings. I know how much it would mean to you, for I completely understand how it feels to want a baby. I hope I have helped you in some way and that one day, your dreams come true.
My couples are never far from my mind. I think of them as friends, and we have a special bond even though we have never met. It is something sacred, and something I will always hold close to my heart.
Images via Unsplash