Saturday, January 26, 2013

The decision to "go donor"

The decision to "go donor" was actually a very easy one for us (well, for me it was ... my husband went along with my decision).

Years ago, when my husband (I'll call him "B") started dating, I did NOT WANT CHILDREN. I realize, through personal analysis, that I was going through a very independent stage and also was scared to be a mother (my mother was VERY involved, hovered constantly, was overbearing and didn't let us grow up on our own so I had to really rebel to get anything). I couldn't even think or talk about childbirth without closing my legs tightly and getting goose bumps. My "not wanting children" caused lots of arguments between me and B. For some reason, despite this seeming deal breaker, B stuck with me. We got married and I still didn't want kids. I guess he either had tremendous faith in the fact that I would come around or he could see the future. I guess he knew I'd want kids and my declaration that "I'll adopt one or two if you really want to" was enough hope for him.

Because, right around when I turned 30, my biological clock started REALLY ticking and I wanted babies. My own babies. Like the kind I pop out of my womb! WHOA! Friends who knew me pre-transition still remind me that I said things like "I'll throw a party if I'm barren." (oh, yes I recognize the irony!)

We started TTC in early 2010. Over the next 2+ years, we had failure after failure. Our health insurance does not cover infertility so we paid out of pocket for absolutely everything. Including the one and only round of IVF we went through. It cost us just under $20,000 but we expected it would be the answer and this would all be over. We bit the bullet, paid the money and started injections.

It was a disaster. The cycle was almost canceled when I didn't get suppressed. Then they had to up my medication significantly to get my follicles to grow. In hindsight, both of these issues should have been red flags. We should have bailed on the whole thing and saved so much money. But we were desperate and hopeful and the doctors told us to keep going. Hindsight is always 20/20.

We got 15 eggs. YEAH! 14 were mature. YEAH! 9 fertilized. YEAH! And then only 2 survived to day-5 and they were a day delayed (they were the equivalent of day 4 morulae instead of day 5 blasts). Given what I know now about how embryos continue to develop the morning of transfer, I am quite sure my two were dead by transfer. We had no frozen embryos.

At our WTF appointment with our doc, I told her "I don't care about DNA." I always thought I would adopt (back when I was in high school and early college). All of my fur creatures are adopted so adopting a child seemed a good fit. Right before and during IVF, we attended two adoption seminars. We were so saddened by the cost of adoption and the potentially lengthy wait time. We were disheartened.

So, when I told my doc "I don't care about DNA" she suggested a few other options: ones we had never heard of or considered:

Donor Egg Bank ($7000 or $14,000 at the time)
Donor Embryos ($4000 at the time)

They are just like they sound. "Donor Egg Bank" is a bank of donated eggs. Meaning a donor has gone through the IVF process, the doc has retrieved her eggs, and those eggs have been frozen the day of the retrieval. "Donor Embryos" are donor eggs fertilized with donor sperm, and then frozen.

The Donor Embryo process is significantly cheaper than the other options. I was open to that option. The prior 2+ years of IF had shown me that I really would like to experience pregnancy. Donor Embryos would allow that. B decided if we are having a baby, then he'd like that baby to have his DNA. He's 100% open to adoption, but if we're growing a baby in my womb, he wants to use his DNA. Seemed fair. We settled on Donor Egg Bank.

(there is of course a fresh donor egg IVF cycle - which includes a donor doing a fresh IVF cycle and those eggs being immediately fertilized with B's sperm. My body is prepared along with the donor's body and then the fertilized, 5-day embryos are transferred into me. This costs upwards of $30,000)

We've been "at" the donor egg process a little under a year. We did a transfer with 449's eggs in July 2012 and I got pregnant. While I was pregnant, I loved my baby. I never once thought about it being donor DNA. Just before we learned about the miscarriage, B started worrying about how his family would react (which is kind of ridiculous because the baby would be as much "his" family as any other baby born into the family). We drafted a long email about our journey, the pain, the decisions and that our baby will be our baby and will be a part of the family like any other baby.

We never got to send that email. The day we drafted it (and stored it to send a few weeks later) we learned there was no longer a heartbeat.

We mourned a while and then decided to get back on the bicycle / horse / whatever one gets back on after a tremendous fall. We chose a different donor - this one is also a proven donor but is in her 30s - and bought 5 more eggs through the Donor Egg Bank process. Of those 5, miraculously, FOUR fertilized. We are awaiting transfer in early April 2013 (knock on wood).

Interestingly, the people who *could* care about us using donor egg do *not* care at all. My parents. It's their DNA that is not being passed on. My mother and my father (divorced) are both so supportive and want *nothing* more than for me to be pregnant. Neither of them seem to give a flying fuck that we're using donor eggs. In fact, when we had our first donor transfer, my mum printed out the embryos and stuck them on her fridge. Each ultrasound, she'd print out the picture we sent her and she'd add that to her fridge. She was so in love with her grandbaby. It was amazing and I feel so grateful to have such supportive family members.

I realize that choosing to "go donor egg" is not an easy choice for everyone. I quickly came to terms with it because I realized I need help achieving a dream. I would take a donor kidney, heart, eye if need be to continue living life to the fullest. So why not a donor egg? I *know* there will be issues in the future and at some point, B and I will (hopefully!) have to talk to our child or children about our choices. But for now, I am completely 100% at peace with our decision. And, I know about PVED if and when I need them.

B is getting there. We are in the final week of the cycle right before we start our Donor Egg Bank cycle. Meaning we are in the TWW period. I wanted to scrap this cycle (I took Femara) as soon as we learned about the 4 embryos. B said "I want to try. I'd rather have a baby with you than with another woman." So he is still having some issues about the whole thing. He's very communicative, though, and amazing at working through his emotions and hold ups. I have no doubt he'll get there and (hopefully!) when I pop our baby or babies out, he'll fall in love with his biological child and it will all be a distant memory.

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