Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Guest Post: Making Me Mommy: Why I Chose Egg Donation

Becoming a mother was never something I expected to be hard. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the variety of emotions I would endure while facing infertility with my husband. Egg donation was not something I was familiar with as I began my pursuit of pregnancy, but thanks to the marvels of reproductive science, I can finally call myself a mommy. Here’s why I chose to use donor eggs to start my family.
Intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization did not work for me.
Like many other couples, we tried plenty of other methods to conceive, and they were not producing results. Each attempt had us boarding that emotional roller coaster again: apprehension, hope, positive thinking mixed with utter fear, and anxiety. After a while, I had to decide whether it was more important to keep trying to conceive with my own eggs or to move forward with an option that might finally allow me to cradle a newborn in my arms. 
In my case, I had a low ovarian reserve, which means that I did not have ample eggs left in my ovaries after 30-some years of working to achieve career goals and meet the right partner. For other women, egg donation might be necessary due to premature menopause or certain medical treatments that affect fertility.

A neighbor had used donor eggs.
Learning that a neighbor friend used donor eggs for her two children was a lightbulb moment for me. First, the fact that she was open about the conception of her kids through donor eggs helped me understand that lots of families use alternative methods to become pregnant – and that there’s no shame in that.  In fact, if more families openly discussed their challenges, then perhaps some of the stigma and loneliness of infertility would be mitigated. Secondly, this knowledge of my friend’s journey made the process seem like a real possibility instead of a science-and-lab-coats procedure that I’d heard of only in theory.
Taking back some control.
Even though my doctors were doing their best for me, it was hard to feel in control over my body while I was at the mercy of injections, appointments, and hormones--not to mention the failed attempts.  However, once my husband and I decided to move forward with a donor egg, we felt like we were taking charge again. We were able to select an egg donor who met our standards for education level, appearance and general interests in life. We were also reassured knowing that egg donors must pass genetic, psychological and medical screening.
Facing tough questions is a good thing.
The questioning of whether using donor eggs was right for us served to help me see that I was, in fact, cut out to be a mom.  My mom friends confirmed my suspicions that a large part of being a mom is making decision after decision in hopes of keeping your child safe and healthy while encouraging them to grow up to be a decent human being.  In that way, wondering about the welfare of my donor egg baby—whether the method of their conception will be challenging for them to understand, whether I would feel a strong bond to the baby, whether we should tell them about using a donor egg at all—actually showed me that my maternal instincts had activated.
Just like IVF.
With the exception of a few steps, using a donor egg is medically very similar to traditional IVF. In other words, I took comfort that I had done it before and knew what to expect.  In preparation for the procedure, I took hormones that promote a thickened endometrial lining in my uterus to encourage implantation. Once we selected our donor eggs, they were shipped to our fertility clinic within a couple weeks.  We used frozen donor eggs and made sure our clinic was experienced with thawing them. Then, my husband provided sperm so that the clinic could fertilize the eggs.  After a few days of culturing, the eggs developed into embryos and it was time to implant them into my body.

For me, ever since I peed on a stick that revealed a once-elusive plus sign, I knew that egg donation had been the right decision—a gift, really, that I would not trade for anything.

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