by Anonymous Contributor
When I found out my best egg from IVF was missing chromosome #2, I realized I didn’t want to throw more good money at more potentially bad eggs. Months later, that sentence still raises grief. But I knew then the practical decision on a financial and emotional level was to get a donor egg.
I talked to my doctor at Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine. We decided, based on a dream she had, my budget, and my strong desire to use my own genetics, that before going with a donor egg, we’d do one round of IUI and also do an IVF transfer with my one remaining, untested blastocyst at the same time.
Lo and behold, those processes didn’t work. I needed time to regroup. Time to grieve. While my doctor said we could try more rounds of IVF to find the good egg in the haystack, I knew I couldn’t handle more low odds at high prices coupled with devastating emotional tolls.
It took a while for my husband to consider a donor egg. We were shown a photo that Annie, the third party reproduction coordinator at Heartland, had chosen for us. The donor was blonde, and Annie thought she looked like she could be in our family. As a lifelong brunette, I didn’t exactly see it. But I felt so much gratitude toward this female in the photo, shown as a baby, young girl, and adolescent. I looked at my husband with hope, but I could tell he wasn’t interested.
We drove home a bit confused as to why she had picked this donor, who didn’t seem to us to be a good visual match with us. Weeks or maybe a month went by, and I scheduled another consultation with Annie where we could look at the book of their entire catalog. That Monday, we went in and flipped through about a dozen possible donors page by page. A Russian woman interested us intellectually but again was blonde. We couldn’t find your average white, brunette, 5’7” or above.
We were a bit crestfallen. We asked if there were more options.
Annie shared that Heartland has a contract with a clinic in Seattle. (She said they are also working on a contract with a California database to begin in 2020.) It was my day off, so while my husband went to work, I got the information for the Seattle clinic. I contacted them and left my information. I went to a therapy appointment. When I got out of therapy, I had voicemail. The liaison for the Seattle clinic contacted me, I called her back, talked to her, and the next thing I knew, I was talking to Kallie in Seattle, who was upbeat and positive.
Kallie gave me access to the database. It might have been 2pm.
I put into the database some very basic criteria: the race category closest to mine (White/Non-Hispanic); I checked all the shades of brown for hair; and to match or improve the height, I checked 5’7” and above.
In the entire Seattle database, my search yielded two donors. I saw the baby picture of the first one, and my heart melted. I wanted to kiss the baby with so much brown, wavy hair. My donor as a baby reminded me of one of my sister’s babies. She was so precious. Excitingly, Seattle also provided adult pictures. I found my donor very pretty. She was 23 when her eggs were frozen. I felt I’d be proud to call her my daughter.
I read every word of my donor’s profile. Beyond her beauty, which my sister later said could pass as one of our cousins, I was attracted to her heart. I felt connected to this young woman who, like me, gets lonely if alone for too long, and like me, is interested in Interior Design. She was altruistic, had been on the Homecoming court twice, and was clearly kind and generous. She didn’t want kids of her own, just to bring joy to those who really wanted children. She was speaking to my heart in a way that didn’t make it feel barren.
I made up my mind. And I knew my husband would say once again I had made another decision quickly. So I looked at other donors to act balanced. I read profiles of women who liked the same kinds of books and movies as me, some who even had more alluring looks. I tried to find a second choice, to reach for compromise.
And then I realized I didn’t want to compromise. I am already sacrificing my genetic pool. I wanted to choose my genetic contribution to my offspring.
But how could I fairly make this case to my husband, who had gone to work after our appointment with Annie? I texted him at work. When he wasn’t so responsive, I wanted to charge ahead with my enthusiasm. I texted his mom and sister and shared the photos. I texted my sister. My mind was made up, but I wanted to act neutral enough about what seemed the biggest mutual decision we’d ever make.
When my husband got home, and I excitedly told him about (and showed him) the donor I had picked, he wasn’t so keen, to my disappointment. He had pictured spending a few days in careful contemplation of a number of donors, and I was already sold on someone. The speed with which I had made the decision made him very uncomfortable. This difference in approaches was something we should have recognized would happen going in, because he likes to carefully weigh all his options, while I tend to make choices quickly and instinctually.
Fortunately, he later had a revelation: when two parents create a child, each brings their own genetic material to the mixture. Fifty percent of the genetic material would come from him; that was a given. The other half should come from me, and he realized that if I couldn’t have my own genetic material in the equation, I should have free reign to select the person whose genetic material would represent me.
I won’t claim that a big fight didn’t happen to get us to this realization. I won’t sugarcoat the fact that we sought therapy to resolve what didn’t happen so smoothly for us. I won’t say we don’t have questions about how this is going to work out. I will say that we have embryos. That we want a child. That when I picture my donor’s face, it is a woman I plan to be friends with someday, to at least say thank you to, when my child turns 18—if they want to contact her then, they can. I will say it feels good to have hope. To know that her loving eyes and smile will be part of this baby. To know we’ll have a baby to call our own makes me so overwhelmed I could puke.