When I was 21 years old, I graduated from college and went straight to grad school. My parents were generous and helped me financially with college, but they were done – no help for grad school. I figured it would be fine – that’s why they invented school loans! In retrospect, it may have been wise to wait a few years, save some money, and then go to grad school, but I highly doubt I would have made the plunge once I had the taste of real life income. So I went straight to grad school, took out a bunch of loans, got a couple part-time jobs, and tried to figure out how to survive while paying out-of-state tuition. I remember driving home one day after class and hearing an ad on the radio about being paid to become an egg donor. I had no idea what was involved, but I figured, why not?
As soon as I got home (no cell phones in those days…) I called the egg donation place to ask for more information. I asked a bunch of questions, they asked me some more, and then told me I wouldn’t make a good candidate because I was adopted and I didn’t know my medical history. I was disappointed because I wanted the money, so I hung up and proceeded to the local blood plasma donation place ($15 each donation, and I could do it twice a week! Good money!). I told my new friend about it, and she commiserated with me about how nice it would have been to make money doing something simple like egg donation – ah, how naïve we were.
Fast forward 16 years, and that friend that I met in grad school is still my friend, in fact my closest friend, my BFF as I like to call her. She recently has been told that at age 42 and going through multiple IVF's and finally PGD, her eggs are no longer good, and she needs to consider egg donation. She had talked with her husband about it, and they’re not sure what they’re going to do. Well I just threw a wrench in their plans… Last night I told her that if they want, that I would be an egg donor for her. Or if we get pregnant at our next FET using two of our embryos, then she and her husband can have our remaining three embryos.
I did not make this offer lightly. It was only after hours of discussion with my husband, and after thinking about it a few weeks, that I made the offer. I wanted to make sure that I was truly comfortable with this decision, and that I wouldn’t want to revoke the offer after giving it. And that my husband feels the same way. During this infertility process, I’ve thought a lot about my 21-year-old self, and how flippant I was about considering egg donation. I didn’t really think about it as giving up a potential child, or at least half of a child. I didn’t think about wondering what happened to my eggs and future babies, I only thought about the money I lost because I didn’t know my medical history! Later when I started struggling with infertility, I thought a lot about how naïve I was, and how important those eggs are. I also thought that there was no way I would donate my eggs, because I had such an emotional attachment to creating a child that was genetically mine. I was working so very hard to have a baby, and I had such a drive to be genetically linked to that child, that I couldn’t imagine giving up those genetics to someone else through egg donation. I also thought a lot about embryo donation. I knew that if we were so lucky to not need all the embryos we would make through the IVF process that we would need to make a decision as to what to do with those embryos. We even signed consent forms that if something were to happen to us, that the embryos would be discarded. I couldn’t imagine giving our embryos to someone else, having someone else raise our babies. I feel attached to those embryos, and it's hard to imagine someone else using those embryos. I really wasn’t sure what we would do if we had any embryos left after completing our family.
Until my BFF… She is now at the point where she and her husband needs to decide what to do, but it won’t involve her eggs. They can do egg donation to a point, but they will run out of sperm in the future as well (he had testicular cancer, and he has successfully gone through treatment, but their doc doesn’t want to use his sperm for at least three years). I know I used to think that I couldn’t give up my eggs or embryos, but now that I’m a mother to baby Alex, everything has changed. I look at her, and I can’t imagine my life without her. I want this for my friend. I know she wants to be a mother, and has gone through great lengths to be one, to no avail. I want to do everything I can to help her do this. It’s so weird, how easy this decision was for me, how quickly I became comfortable with the idea of giving my friend my DNA, and how it is now an even easier decision now that I am a mom. It was the same with my hubs – we talked about it at length, how bizarre it could be, and whether we would be comfortable, watching our friends raise a baby that started as our child, who is genetically our child, and our child’s sibling. It’s so strange what is possible now with science, but it feels so comfortable to make this decision.
I have no idea if my BFF and her husband want this, or if their doctor will advise it. Because let’s face it – I’m not an ideal egg donor. I’m almost 37, and I’ve had fertility problems. But we know I respond well to the drugs, and I have a perfect daughter that proves that some of my eggs work! I’m very interested to see what happens, and what she decides. She didn’t say anything last night, as I think she was very stunned and needed time to process this. I think it could be very complicated, donating eggs or embryos to a friend, but I’m confident that no matter what she decides, we’ll be able to muddle through this new element to our friendship. Stay tuned…