I began my egg donor journey June 2015. I started looking in to donating after hearing a friend was donating. This was actually the first time I ever heard anything regarding the donor side of the fertility process. I found it intriguing, and I love that I found something that I can do to help other women. Now that I am a parent, I empathize so much with the women that are not able to conceive without assistance. I remember after Branden and I were married, we eventually had that overwhelming desire to have a family. Imagine wanting something so so bad and not being able to have it.
Since I have friends that did/do not have the luxury of fertility, something so many of us take for granted, I understand the hurt and SHAME that they go through. Nobody looks down on woman that can’t conceive; however, they feel shame. They feel like they are to blame for their infertility.
So just in case anyone doesn’t know, I’ll tell you a little bit about egg donation. I’ve been asked so I’d like to clear things up that I am NOT a surrogate, the woman will still be able to be pregnant just with my eggs instead of hers. Women choose to use eggs from an anonymous donor due to a number of circumstances, including a history of failed IVF cycles using their own eggs and other medical conditions that have made using one’s own eggs unfavorable, such as premature ovarian failure, early menopause, recurrent miscarriage or chemotherapy for cancer. For those that don’t know, IVF stands for in vitro fertilization which means the fertilization of eggs with sperm is completed inside a glass. This is completed outside of the human body and in a laboratory setting. Isn’t the fact that this is even a ‘thing’ pretty amazing?!
Typically, there will be extra embryos following an ova donor IVF. At this point it will be up to the recipient on the eggs on how the remaining embryos will be used. Based on my research and knowledge, assuming they get pregnant following with the first embryo transfer, they can choose to use the remaining frozen-stored embryos for a second pregnancy at a later time.
If they choose not to use the embryos themselves, then they can anonymously donate them to another infertile couple who would adopt the embryos. Lastly, they could choose to donate the embryos for research or they can expose the embryos to air and let them naturally stop growing in vitro over 2 or 3 days.
This has been such a great experience for me. I have learned so much, and I feel like I have more life experience, education, and more empathy. It’s been hard, and it’s A LOT of work but I know that it’s worth it. I’m thankful to share my personal experience with my friends and family, so thanks for reading.
First, I had to complete an 18-page application. If you can think of a question, it was asked. Took hours to complete. All while knowing you might not even be selected. It may just all be a waste of time.
Types of questions asked on the application:
Shape of your mouth to the shape of your lips.
Are your eyes round, almond, or hooded? The spacing of your eyes-wide set, deep set, or close set? Uhhhhhhhhh. I had to google these.
Favorite Childhood memory. Happiest and Hardest moment that you have experienced in your life.
Family History. Age if living. Age at Death. Cause of death. Height. Weight. Eye color. Health problems. This took me forever because I don’t even know how much my husband weighs, never less, my grandma.
Now that the application has been completed. You wait. Forever.
Something that you need to know about being accepted in the program is that there are strict guidelines.
Before being accepted, you will need to meet their BMI requirements, be between the ages of 20-29, have a good family history, cannot use implanon, and pass all bloodwork tests and other testing.
Once approved, I had to go to D.C. for my first appointment which consisted of a physical exam, sonogram, blood draw, question and answer session. Interview with the doctor. Audio Questions are asked and recorded so the recipient can hear your personality and learn more about you. Also have to submit 10-15 pictures of yourself. No one else can be in the pictures and they need to be of all stages of your life.
Wait again for bloodwork to return. As long as bloodwork is good we move on the wonderful hour long psychological evaluation. Nothing better than going in and having all those old emotions stirred around.
Then you get to sit down for over an hour and take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) personality test. 556 questions later, you really start to wonder if you are psychotic. Examples of the type of questions are: 1. I like mechanic magazines. 2. I wake up fresh and rested most morning. (Naw, I’m a mom, does that make me psychotic? If so, can I go to the insane asylum to take a nap?) 3.I think I would like the work of a librarian (what? Uh. Ok.)
Then I have to do a phone interview with a genetic counselor to discuss my family history. Also, to discuss the results from my genetic screening where they tested over 200 medical disorders.
This is just a brief idea of the process just to get accepted in the program. This took months (June-September). During this process a crazy amount of blood was drawn, multiple trips to D.C. were made (1 ½ hour drive), sonograms, and lots of peeing in cups. Too many details to even try to go into.
Now that I have finally been accepted into the program, I wait. During this time, my profile is shown to potential recipients.
I do want to mention that there are two ways to donate, fresh and frozen. Fresh is obviously the preferred and more expensive method. If donating frozen, as soon as I was accepted, I could have begun donating. Fresh requires a family to pick you before the donation process is started.
In May, I was selected. I had to go in for an appointment for more bloodwork and a sonogram. I had to wait a month after removing my birth control. Then, I had to return to the office for a “teaching”. In this teaching, I was taught how to mix medications together, how to inject myself, and briefed on the schedule.
I came home with a huge box of needles, medicine, gauze, alcohol wipes, and more. Every night, I had to mix 6 vials together. I then injected myself in the abdomen or thigh. I took baby aspirin every day to thin my blood. On day 3, I began injecting with an additional medication.
I had to drive to D.C. for monitoring on day 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11. This consisted of a sonogram, consultation with a doctor, and drawing blood. Monitoring sessions are between 630 and 9 every morning. With these monitoring the past two weeks, I spent OVER 21 hours just in driving to and from the monitoring.
The medication made me feel so sick. Mostly nauseous, but one night I threw up so much and I was shaking and weak. I barely ate anything during these two weeks because the smell of any food made me nauseous including my two favorite things – Chic-fil-a and chips. The monitoring weeks are exhausting because I have to be up, showered and out the door before 5 to make it to my appointment and back before work. I have bruises on my stomach and arm from all the needles and my emotions were uncontrollable.
I was told two days prior to the egg retrieval on when the procedure would be. This is because it depends solely on my body. I then have to inject myself with a third shot.
The egg retrieval required me to be sedated so Branden had to drive me. He had to watch the kids because we didn’t have anyone to watch them so I went in by myself. The entire process was supposed to be three hours but I was in and out within 2. I had to be an hour early to begin monitoring then a 30-minute procedure. After the procedure, I was able to wake up pretty quickly from the anesthesia. I’ve had really bad cramping and bloating but it comes with the territory. Due to needing to fast the night before by time I was out, I was HANGRY. KFC saved people’s lives.
I didn’t really understand why the compensation amount for egg donation was so high (not complaining!). But now I definitely get it. Hours upon hours of driving, appointments, phone calls, and even mixing all the medication is time consuming.
Once your application and simple testing is completed- $50
Once fully accepted into the program and your profile is entered into their database- $250
Once the egg retrieval is made- $7,700 (and I just found out that this amount has increased to $9,700 so total $10K)
I am fully aware that this is not for everyone. It’s hard, and most people can’t get past the idea that there will be a child out there that you don’t know or have a relationship with. I, however, look at it as a way to give back. Branden and I do not plan on having any more kids. As such, these precious little babies are just sitting there going to waste. Why not share with someone that wants so desperately to be a parent?
Side note: The other day, Branden told me that he thinks whoever gets my eggs will be so lucky. He said he feels that they will really hit the jackpot and that he believes they will be so happy with who they have chosen. Obviously he made me feel so loved but, I’m also reminded that we are our own worst critics, the whole time I was thinking “what if the child inherits my big ears, the not so nice parts of my personality, or their daughter is hairless like Brylee and I were as babies, what if they are disappointed…”
I’m reminded that I am loved for exactly who I am. That child will be loved the same whether they get my blue eyes or my big ears.
If you have questions about the program, feel free to message me. I hope that you were able to learn more about the process. I wanted to share my experience so that the pros and cons of donating your eggs in hopes that someone else will donate, too.