Thoughts on being a DE Mom: before the pregnancy
March 21, 2011
First of all it is wonderful to write that word: Mom.
After all the pain of failed IVF attempts....
I have thought about writing this post for a very long time. Since before the kids were born. I have never put my thoughts down on paper (or, rather, on screen) because I have always thought that I would be able to sum it up in a few neat, well-constructed paragraphs. As I think about this, and as the kids grow, I realize that my perceptions change. My feelings about having kids via DE change. Not dramatically---they just seem to drift slightly to the left or two the right. Like walking on sand. With every step you take you are still going in the same direction, but each footfall doesn't land squarely on the sand and stay there. You feel the sand slide from under your feet and you lurch ever-so-slightly as you regain your solid footing. This is more of a journey than a destination.
DE in the beginning....
We entered the world of DE after my third attempt at IVF. Notice the word attempt. At the end of 2007 my third try at IVF was canceled due to a poor response. The letter from my doctor to sum up the last cycle was full of phrases that included "poor response to stimulation" "most aggressive protocols tried" and "donor oocytes suggested." Not that I was too surprised by the letter's contents. I had been in the IVF forums long enough to see the writing on the wall.
After the final canceled retrieval, I started investigating DE. After the doctor suggested it, I readily agreed consider it. My husband needed more convincing. We spoke to a counselor at the clinic, we read the suggested readings, we talked, we prayed. To be honest, I just couldn't take another disappointment. I wanted something with a solid chance of working. DE gave me that chance, but at a price. The cost was my own genetic connection to my potential children.
For me, the choice itself wasn't hard. What was hard were the consequences of that choice: knowing that I wouldn't have any genetic connection to my kids.
The initial decision-making days were fraught with philosophical questions about should we tell the children? If so, when? How? What kind of donor are we looking for...one that is more like me in my physical traits? In my personality?
My husband and I thought a lot about how we felt when we were teenagers. About how we felt about our sense of self. We decided that we wanted to be as open about this with our potential kids as we could. It is hard enough to make your way in this world without adding layers of complications on it. We decided that we would like to choose someone who shared some of my physical characteristics and personality traits, but that in the end those weren't the most important issues. We had other somewhat intangible desires for an egg donor. We were looking for a woman over 25 (so that she has a better chance of understanding the consequences of her actions), preferably already a mother (again so that she can appreciate what she was doing) and -here was the long shot- someone who would be willing to meet the kids when they turned 18.
We didn't want to hide anything from them. We wanted it to be as shameless as possible. So in the beginning, it was focused on the kids. What they would need to feel emotionally secure with
our choices. I don't want to make myself out as completely altruistic. I mourned the loss of the genetic connection with my kids. I sobbed in the shower so that no one would hear me. My heart was heavy. But it was also filled with hope.....
In the next few days I hope to have up my thoughts on DE during and just after the delivery of the boys. And then finally to where we are now, 20 months into being a mom.
First posted on March 23, 2011
Thoughts on being a DE Mom: part 2, the agency and more
First off, let me say that I am so thrilled at all the comments that people left. I haven't had a lot of time to peruse others blogs recently, but I am absolutely going to visiting soon and I look forward to reading about where you are in your journey. And for those of you that signed up as a 'follower,' well, you made my day. You really did :)
Before I write about my thoughts on DE during and after pregnancy, I thought that it might be of interest to some of you as to how we picked our donor.
Picking a donor the Brenda way: picking an agency to work with
I wouldn't say that we took that long to pick a donor. It seemed like we took much longer to pick an agency. In the state where I live, the hospital does not give you a list of donors to choose from, you can choose whatever donor you like, but it is coordinated through an agency.
Since egg donation is mostly a self-governing field, there was a myriad of donor agencies to choose from. We could pick out agencies that were located in states far from our own, but would fly donors to our clinic (at our cost). We could pick agencies that were headquartered in another state, but had donors in our state. We could choose from an agency that was run by lawyers or those that were run by lay people. The costs seemed to run the gamut as well. When we were looking into DE (2008) the general recommendations were that a donor should only charge $10K or less for compensation for time. The agency fees were not established (nor do I think that they are now).
DH and I thought that we would like to pick a donor in our state, because really, if we weren't going to try to find my exact clone, then it wasn't really worth scouring the world. After talking to agencies, I created a lovely speadsheet complete with URLs of sites, passwords, info on how many donors in our area they had, what there cost structure was, etc. It was very helpful to have all of this in one area so that we could compare. We ended up talking in more detail to 2 agencies. One was run by a lawyer who touted that she followed the general donor egg guidelines (no more than $10K for compensation) and a privately run agency that was run similarly. Both were located in our area.
We spoke to both the women that ran the agencies and gave a description of what we were looking for:
features: dark hair, light skin; preferably of irish/english descent; Local to the area
We left open the age and contact availability for a later time.
While the lawyer proceeded to find us lovely women that were located all over the United States and would be willing to let us fly them and a friend to our clinic. The other agency found us lovely local women who could drive to our clinic. Since the second agency had clearly listened to our requests, we decided to go with them. In short order they had emailed us a list women along with ages, pictures and brief descriptions. We chose a half of a dozen of these women to find out more info about.
Within a few days, a packet was sent to our house which contained the profiles of these 6+ women, including pictures of them as they grew up and their medical histories. I must admit, it was really surreal looking at these women and knowing that we would be asking one of them to donate her eggs. I don't even know how to describe it. It almost felt like.....um...car shopping. I shudder to even say that. It is just that you don't know these women and you are picking a person who is going to help you achieve a dream and they are reduced to facts, figures and numbers. It felt sort of awkward and impersonal. We just prayed that we would make the right decision.
Picking a donor:
After resigning ourselves to the awkwardness of it all, I went through and made my top 4 list. DH did the same. We compared notes and found that we had 3 that overlapped. We inquired about the three, only to find that one was going through a cycle now and that she would likely not be available for a few months. That left 2. Two women of equal worth, either one of which could help us make our dreams come true.
Holly was in her early 20's; looked quite similar to me and was a proven donor.
Renee was in her late 20's; looked a little less like me, was a proven donor, was married and had two children.
We were really looking for someone that was in her mid to late 20's, preferably was a mother herself and would be willing to meet the kids when they turned 18. Upon discussing our preferred requirements with our social worker at the hospital, she told us that finding this woman was nearly impossible. Most of the egg donors are young and wish to remain anonymous. Keeping that in mind, we decided that if either woman was able to donate for us, we would be happy with whatever came our way.
I called the agency and talked to the director, telling her that we like both Holly and Renee very much, but had a couple of questions: 1) Would our donor be willing to meet the kids when they reached 18 and --a curve ball here---2) Would she be willing to meet us?
The director of the agency called back within an hour saying that Holly would prefer to remain anonymous, but Renee would be willing to meet with both us and any future kids! We had our donor!!
Next up: meeting the donor, DE pregnancy and feelings after the kids were born and now.
Also, do you have any questions for me? Are you going through the same things now? Please feel free to ask questions and I will answer them the best I can.
Thoughts during a DE pregnancy
First posted 4/25/11
I think that it must be odd for any one who is pregnant--knowing that there is a small human growing inside your belly. I know it was true for me. Being pregnant was a surreal experience for me. Something that I loved, and yet was so fearful of enjoying.
After so many tries with my own eggs and with nothing to show for it. I was completely taken aback when we found out we were pregnant. It was when things were quiet that I would let my mind drift to what these boys would be like when they entered the world.
And I'll be honest. Some of the things that seemed merely academic when DH and I were discussing DE, were a little more painful when I was pregnant. A little more real.
Ol' blue eyes.
I think that it is normal to dream what your kids will look like. At least I imagined that it was. There, in front of the fire, dreamily knitting the baby booties. It is strange when you know going into it that your childwon't have your hair, won't have your smile, won't have your laugh. Again, I KNEW that going into DE. I researched it. I spoke with counselors. But it was still there. As overjoyed that I was that I was pregnant. It was still there.
Because we were very interested in finding a donor who was willing to meet with the kids when they got older, we were willing to be more 'relaxed' in other areas, such as physical characteristics. While dark hair and fair skin were requirements, I didn't think too much about other attributes, such as eye color. After we got pregnant, I had this small nagging voice in the back of my head......'your children will have blue eyes.' See, I have very dark brown eyes. I come from a family with mostly brown eyes. My husband, however, has lovely blue eyes. The donor? Blue eyes.
And Blue eyes + blue eyes = blue eyes.
Although I would never would have admitted it to anyone at the time, there were moments in between all the joy of actually being pregnant of sadness of my loss of a genetic connection with my kids.
When I would feel sombered by this I would remind myself of....well....me. I would think of myself and say, "I'm a completelyindependent person from my mother, from my father. As much as I am like them, I am a completely independent person. I make my own choices, I have my own likes and dislikes." As rudimentary as that sounds, sometimes it was a revelation to me. I was my own person. And my children were going to be themselves. There was no guarantee if my husband and I were to have our own genetic children that they would be anything like us. They may love to play football, abhor school, hate art and music, detest science. Although they would share our genes, they were going to their own independent units. And wasn't that what we were hoping for anyway? Didn't we want to raise children who were self-assured. Who knew their own likes and dislikes? Who could make decisions independent of us, their parents?
The answer, of course, was (and still is) yes.
That, in the end, made my pregnancy easier. When those twinges of sadness would arise, it was this that I would focus on.
Coming next....thoughts on DE after having the twins...