Egg Donations: A Honolulu Woman's Story
A Good Egg: Why one Honolulu woman has donated her eggs, six times.
(page 4 of 5)
On Gaining a Larger Perspective
I have always said, I don’t want to know. Strip all my Googleable information, let no parent or child ever find me. But this time, I know who’s getting my eggs, and simply, surprisingly, this makes me happy. This is my first nonanonymous donation, the first time I’ve sat down with the Intended Parents to discuss their intentions.
When I review the 14-page Egg Donation Agreement between myself, Intended Father No. 1 and Intended Father No. 2, I am quietly ecstatic. Meeting in San Francisco for dinner, sharing food, Intended Father No. 2 eating my cheese, taking photos, learning of their individual pasts, their many years together, what I imagined would be surreal and strange feels very familiar. It feels like reconnecting with college acquaintances, finding them more charming and brilliant than any of us were at 19.
Only when talk turns to freezing embryos do I remember my role in their lives, an incredibly important role, but one that ends after the impending procedures, after which I will most likely never see them again, or their children.
Turns out, this is all very weird for them, too. It used to take a village to raise a child, but, for many couples, it takes a village to create one.
As Intended Father No. 1 explains: “The complexity and cost of a gestational surrogacy, the search for an egg donor and surrogate to work with, the difficult conversations with family, agencies and medical providers, the need to explain the process to everyone ... the list goes on and on! I feel that if we could have had our own biological children, we would have done so years ago. It has taken me a while to get used to the whole concept of what we’re doing, and to normalize it in my mind.”
Intended Father No. 2 wrote to me: “Although I was nervous at first about meeting you, I felt it humanized our situation, as well as making me very grateful for what you are doing for us. I also feel that, when the time comes, it will be easier to explain the process to our children, having met you in person.”
What do they want? Says Father No. 1: “We have both always wanted to be parents for many reasons: to have a home life filled with more than two people, to know the joy of helping to develop another human being, to leave a legacy and contribution to our neighborhood and society (we hope), and, selfishly, to know the joy and contentment that we see in almost all parents’ eyes.”
For the first time I feel the reward, more than financial, of knowing I am helping wonderful people, accepting that my angst is mine alone, and my genes are just suggestions, their children blank slates for their love and nurturing. Sympathizing with their struggle to have children, something they find full of meaning, helps dim my own dissonance between believing we shouldn’t bring people here, and being an accomplice to multiple births. I often wonder if my own partner has gay-baby-daddy jealousy, because I give other men this joy and contentment, this legacy, and not him.Maybe it’s the hormones that have the words of men I barely know moving me; maybe it’s my own version of maternal instincts, wanting to take care of people, even strangers, even children in remote Third-World villages. Maybe, more than anything, I want to package up the past five years of donation-related guilt and stamp it with “Made Peace.” Maybe my ova are just another thing I put out into the world, like my words, and my food. Regardless, meeting the Intended Fathers, filling in the blanks with faces, hearts and aspirations instead of anonymizing numbers (Donor No. 5421), has, indeed, humanized the experience.
As the procedure day neared, I couldn’t help but feel lighter, despite my bloated belly. I laughed as a girlfriend cussed and panicked under her breath behind me, about to give me an intramuscular injection into a small target drawn with marker on my rear hip, even though she had never administered an injection in her life. I giggled at three complete strangers huddled around me as I lay with my feet in stirrups in the operating room: an anesthesiologist staring at my face, a nurse at the ultrasound monitor and the doctor at my crotch, all waiting for me to go under. I smiled when I woke up, and my travel companion was there to take me under her watchful care for the next 12 hours, which included, of course, taking photographs of me next to decorative sperm art in the clinic hallway.