Fertility Blog

Patient Odyssey - Donor Deliberations

After three failed IVF attempts, my partner, whom I'll call "Sam", and I decided to go the egg donor route. The choice actually reduced the degree of frenetic attention we had been paying to our "baby project". All along, we had been racing against my biological clock as I went from age 38 to 41 with only disappointing results, including one early miscarriage. Curiously, our decision to use a donor evoked a peculiar calmness as I realized that as long as we chose a young egg donor, I could be almost any age! We then spent some time looking at the various donor databases, yet weren't truly happy with any of the candidates. Not that we could define the perfect donor profile, but none of the women felt just right. So I let our "baby project" sit on the back burner as life moved on, thinking autumn would be a good time to resume. Given that the entire process can take up to three months, this past July, without too much expectation, I casually made a 2nd appointment to view PFC's binders, which contain photos and essays of each egg donor. I was fully prepared to go through the motions and leave without finding the "right one" but one particular donor's profile just leapt out. Her photographs revealed a woman who just beamed with exuberance and yet seemed grounded. Other positive indicators included a completed college degree and a job in a field that interests me. Her intelligence, focus and motivation were good signals. I also noticed we shared the same favorite color, and had both played the flute and piano at one point. A second woman, with a closer ethnic background also emerged as a good candidate. At age 21 she already had a child but no college whatsoever. I decided to return home with both profiles so that Sam could have some buy-in on our choice, although I had quietly decided on my favorite. When Sam wholeheartedly chose my favorite, I felt an enormous wave of relief. The process started feeling less like an abstraction and I posted her portraits on my bulletin board and looked at her face on a daily basis. Her smile was actually encouraging and I grew increasingly comfortable with the notion of using her eggs and having her genetic material in my body and baby. After all, I am in a sense fusing with her. We then had to decide whether to meet our donor. Sam opted out but I reluctantly decided yes. No doubt, the meeting would be awkward and my biggest fear was that I might change my mind after discovering an undesirable trait! But the mediated 45-minute meeting went well and felt relatively natural even though there was a drastic limitation to our conversation. Imagine making small talk and not being able to say much about work, home and so forth! Her quiet and reserved demeanor offset my nervous energy, and she just let me babble on. I enjoyed hearing her mention a few anecdotal points about her own childhood, giving me a good sense of her family past. We agreed that it would be a good idea to meet again at some far-off point, if a child indeed developed. I definitely got the impression that she would respect boundaries and she affirmed this. Soon we'll know if our donor relationship is truly successful and results in a pregnancy. Sam and I have high expectations. He likes the favorable odds and I like the donor, so we hope for the best. -- JMT / San Francisco (name withheld upon author's request)

Posted on August 18th, 2004
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