Egg Donations: A Honolulu Woman's Story
A Good Egg: Why one Honolulu woman has donated her eggs, six times.
(page 3 of 5)
It's Not Just Physical
I am no longer with the man for whom I left the orphans, but with someone I lived with and loved nine years ago, before I left for the Peace Corps, before donating my eggs was something I considered. I came back to him bruised from all the doorknobs of life I’d fallen into since I was 23. We love all the things we do together, but having children will never be one of them. I know he wants children, and he doesn’t understand why I’d put myself through the emotional and physical stress of donating to strangers, yet will never have a child with him, someone I love. As much as possible, I keep our love wandering the borderlands of my heart, fearing that he will only keep me until he finds a woman who wants the family he wants. (I don’t do this well; love sneaks in, flips on the projector, teasing me with the trailer from our unreleased future together.)
In my personal relationships, it has been inevitably devastating to not see sperm to ovum. Of course I wish my glass were half full with babies, extra-cute ones, so I could Instagram their precious dimples and Photoshop rainbows coming out of their heads. In some ways it would be easier not to question the rightness of having children, and to just have a baby bump of my own, so I could turn sideways and fit perfectly into the Escher drawing of my pregnant friends.
I have donated more than 150 eggs, and have at least five offspring in the world, despite my belief that we shouldn’t have children, shouldn’t take the risk of bringing new lives here, exposing their hearts to ache, bodies to disease, dreams to crushing. I see a pure logic behind nonconception: Our species destroys its environment, murders its own. Our species has millions of children it can’t feed. I donate my eggs so I can live a less-strained life, my own kind of selfish survival. Still, I feel the toss and turn of dissonance, my greatest guilt knowing that, because of me, my need for fast cash, there are new versions of me out there, forced to avoid pain from the second their lungs need air.
The Needle and the Damage Done
It’s never easy, even on a physical level. There’s a moment from my 2010 donation I’ll never forget.
I am weeping, the kind of weeping one does when waking from a nightmare, caught in those dangerous minutes between asleep and awake. Don’t worry, the nurse says, coming to my side of the curtain, it’s just the anesthesia.
Better to lose control of my emotions than my bladder, I reassure myself with something not so reassuring. That’s how I roll.
The nurse tells the woman behind the curtain next to my gurney, “Six, the doctor retrieved six follicles.”
My follicle count? 32.
On my other side, behind another curtain, I hear the anesthesiologist preparing another woman. Donor or woman trying herself to get pregnant, our procedure is the same, transvaginal ovum retrieval.
Transvaginal: how the needle enters.
Ovum: a mature oocyte, an egg cell containing genetic information and potential life.
Retrieval: the ovum leaving my womb through a needle.
How close we are in the waiting and recovery room of this country’s most prolific fertility clinic; how polar are our stories, women struggling with fertility, desperately seeking offspring, and a woman who is a hot, fertile mess (me), desperately seeking, period.
I keep weeping. I’ll never know the source of this preconscious crying. I do know what’s coming next: the pain scale. The pain scale and its euphemistic emoticons that symbolize absolutely everything about why I will never directly procreate, because this world has a pain scale, zero to 10, happy face to sobbing face. Lying here, 32 eggs lighter and $10,000 richer, I tell the nurse my pain is an eight, even though I know it’s a four, because I’m scared the eight is coming.