And Now We Wait
After the letdown of our failed egg retrieval, it took a few weeks of grieving before I was ready to join the egg donation program. Some days I was good to go—let’s find that donor!—other days I dissolved into tears—like that ill-timed breakdown at a two-year-old’s birthday party.
After returning home from vacation, it was time to move on and start the process. I booked the federally-required psych consult, left a message with the business office to transfer funds from the Early Embryo Banking Program to the Donor Program, and dug through my massive stack of paperwork to find our egg donation information.
Today was our psych consult. To say I was nervous is an understatement. My stomach was boiling and my anxiety was mounting. I can teach grammar to multiple classes of 18 college students, I confidently lead work meetings, I’m completely in control in interviews, but waiting for this phone call was torture. As the clock on my phone counted out the minutes 10:00, 10:30, 10:42, 10:50, 10:53, 10:55, 10:56, 10:57, 10:58, 11:03, my nervous energy built and built and built. While the likelihood of us being rejected for the program from the consult was probably non-existent, I couldn’t help but feel that we were being judged for acceptability as parents. What if I said the wrong thing? What if they didn’t like our answers? Finally, my phone rang.
Our psychologist was friendly and sympathetic. She clearly understood the mixed emotions and stress of the process. She explained what our consult would include and then began asking questions. They were mostly general background questions about our personalities, hobbies, education, etc.
“How long have you been married and where do you live?”
“Tell me about the process that has brought you to egg donation. When did you start trying to conceive? How have you arrived at egg donation?”
“How would you describe yourself?”
“Where were you born and where did you grow up?”
“What is your ethnic background?”
“What is your religious background?”
“What kinds of things do you like to do?”
“What’s your career and educational background?”
“Do you have a history of mental illness or is there one in your family?”
“Do you smoke or have you ever smoked?”
None of these questions were particularly surprising. Most of them we’d already answered on some form one place or another. At the end of the call, I felt much better—like we’d “passed.”
In addition, to the psych consult, today I submitted our recipient profile and pictures. This form included a section in which we indicated our physical characteristics: eye color, hair color, body type, height, weight, skin tone, etc. as well as a section where we identified our desired characteristics in a donor. This section is harder. Of course, we wanted someone similar to me. However, how realistic is that expectation? We don’t want to wait forever for the “perfect” donor who may or may not exist. We knew from looking at the database months ago that my physical characteristics were not typical of the donors. I had to remind myself that ultimately we choose our donor and the nurse matches our physical characteristics, regardless of what we put on that form. We also had to send in pictures, we used the photo above for our couple photo and these two for pictures of me in my early twenties.
Since completing these steps, we have the ability to “reserve” a donor from the database. Unfortunately, egg donation is not a booming business with women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities lining up around the block. In addition, our clinic has a stringent screening process for donors; approximately 90% of women who apply to be a donor at our clinic (both recruited by our clinic and those from donation agencies) do not qualify. This morning there were three women in the database, no matches.
So, for now, we wait and check the database every Thursday evening, looking for our children’s mother.