In my own words - My experience of being an egg donor
It was not long after our daughter was born that I began to think about becoming an egg donor. Our son was two, and my husband and I decided that our new daughter made our family complete and was starting school soon”.
After seeing a friend like an egg donor page on Facebook I checked it out and read advertisements about couples desperate for children and needing an egg donor. I discussed the idea with my husband and we agreed it was something worth looking into. I knew how amazing our children were, and it was heartbreaking to imagine people desperate for babies and not being able to have them. I contacted Fertility Associates on their website and completed their enquiry form. I was 35 yrs old at the time and still breastfeeding, so we decided we would get the information that we could and then come back once I had finished breastfeeding to continue the process then.
The Donor Egg Co-Ordinator emailed me an information pack – BOY there was a lot of information, and I found it a little daunting. However, I decided that I didn’t need to learn all the details straight away, so that took the pressure off. They did tell me everything I needed to know at every stage.
Once I had finished breastfeeding I contacted them again and I received the initial screening letter and the blood forms to do with my next period. I emailed them to let them know I had done the blood test and was contacted again to let me know what was next.
Everything was fine so we discussed who we wanted to receive the eggs. When you donate eggs, they all go to one couple and they mix them with his sperm to fertilize as many as possible. The fertilized embryos are then checked by embryologists in the lab and healthy looking embryos are either implanted or frozen for future IVF cycles for that couple. This would be so that if the first embryo didn’t take there was more chances or for future siblings.
Although matching donors and recipients is obviously an important decision, my husband and I decided we did not want to list conditions for the parents. Instead we felt that the staff at the clinic who actually knew all the potential recipients were in the best position to decide on a good match. Our only preference was that they did not already have children (as at the time, right or wrong, we perceived that to be a greater need) and that they were nice! We were emailed a profile of a couple who sounded lovely, so agreed on the spot, and they were also happy with my profile. We also said that we would like to meet with them, not as an interview, but as an opportunity for them to ask questions and to make it feel open and friendly.
My husband and I attended a counselling session to discuss the whole process of donating eggs. Although we felt there were no issues, we actually found the session useful as gained hints of how to discuss it with our own children. The suggestion was to mention it from the very beginning, and this worked very well for us. When we told our son that “mummy was going to give a lady some of her eggs” he said “she might eat them”, and when we suggested that she might have a baby with them, he said “or a baby chicken”. Now he is very matter-of-fact about the whole thing and not particularly interested.
We met the couple who were very nervous, but we all relaxed and have a lovely chat. I don’t know if I really believed it would all lead to a successful pregnancy, but felt really positive about trying!
Now it was getting to the actual nuts and bolts of egg donation.
I started taking the contraceptive pill with a period and was on this for about a month.
During this time I went to the clinic to pick up my “drug pack”. I was going to begin to inject myself every day, so I did the first injection in the clinic that day after being shown what to do. The needle is very fine and tiny, and the process pretty simple. I continued to do the injections every morning and this was a drug to switch off my ovaries so they could “take over”. I did dread them a little, which was silly as it got easier and easier and were usually painless. Funny how we make these things feel worse than they really are. I initially had headaches as my hormones “switched off”, but after a few days I had no side effects at all and life went on completely normally.
I did a blood test on a set morning and was called that afternoon to tell me that I was “down regulated” and ready to add in my night time injection to “stimulate” my ovaries to grow some eggs. I did these in the evenings. Again, 2 injections a day sounded a little daunting, but was actually fine. Towards the end of the week I had a sore lower back (like a dull ache) which I think was due to full ovaries, but was otherwise fine.
A few days later I had another blood test and a scan. The scans are vaginal which I was worried about as was probably expecting it to be like a smear, but it was absolutely fine. Absolutely painless and over in about 5 minutes! I saw the nurses afterwards and was told I would be contacted later that day with my trigger instructions and I was given my final injection to take home.
That night I did my trigger injection at the set time so that my eggs could be collected two days later in the morning – nearly there!
Egg collection! This was the last thing to do, and I had heard a range of comments and opinions about this and was starting to get a little nervous. Personally, I found the process absolutely fine. The sedative stopped me getting too uptight, and the worst pain I got was some discomfort at the end, but definitely not bad at all. Of course, I guess it is different for everyone.
The Outcome - they retrieved 8 eggs, 6 of which were mature enough to be put with the recipients sperm and 4 fertilized. The chose to put back 2 embryos and Fertility Associates called me the day after to check that I was okay and not too sore. As agreed with the recipient couple I was kept informed all the way along. We were delighted to get the call that their pregnancy test was positive and we then had an update when they were 19 weeks PREGNANT with one healthy fetus!
They were obviously over the moon, and we met up with them before they moved to be closer to their families. Emotionally, I felt very excited for them. I didn’t feel that she was carrying “my baby”, as my babies are also my husbands and this new one was not. Also, for me, the woman who is carrying the baby for 9 months is also going to have a biological impact on the baby, simply by what she eats/listens to/does. I did feel very interested and attached to it though, but it was probably similar to how I have felt about nieces/nephews/good friends babies. I hoped we would stay in touch but I left it with them as it was their choice as it was their baby.
After this donation I decided I wanted to do one more as a clinic recruited donor. The process was really fine for me, and if I could help one more couple to have a baby, then I couldn’t justify not doing it. It does make me feel good thinking that all it takes is a little discomfort/inconvenience and you can help people to become parents! I still cant really believe that this simple process has given them a baby they couldn’t otherwise have had.