Egg Donor Regret, and what I didn’t know at the time
This is likely going to be a book, as once I start writing, it will probably all come out. I’ve been holding a lot of this inside, as it’s very hard for me to confront and admit how my thinking on my egg donations have changed so drastically over the past 5 years.
In my mid-20s, after having recently gotten married, I started to feel the urge to have children, yet I knew that my new husband and I were not ready yet financially. So I began looking into egg donation. It sounded like such an amazing thing to help out other couples and to give of myself in such a way. I took a lot of time to research egg donation and to really make sure it was something that I was prepared to do (I also wanted to make sure that my husband was fully on board). It took a little while to be submitted and accepted into a couple egg donor agencies and then wait to be matched as an “unproven” donor. But when I was finally matched at age 27, I was ecstatic and so excited to be doing something so significant with my life.
I ended up doing three back-to-back egg donations at age 27. Though it’s something that I wouldn’t have admitted at the time, because it sounds so harsh, even though it is largely true – that year my greatest worth was as an EGG FACTORY. I learned about REs and egg donor/IVF protocols quickly. I learned all about my different hormone levels and what different numbers meant. So when I was “stimmed” to the point where my estradiol levels got to a dangerous 12,000, I was aware that a women in a normal IVF cycle would NEVER be allowed to get her levels this high, or their cycle would be cancelled for fear of extreme OHSS. However, I was not a normal women going through their own IVF. I was not the one paying for the drugs being put in my body. I could afford to suffer OHSS if I developed it. After all, I was just the donor. I was not going to have to transfer embryos back and possibly get pregnant and risk worse OHSS.
I was just a donor.
But I was ok with this. Because, again, I was so excited to have the chance to help another couple conceive. At the time, I didn’t care what my body went through.
I produced 50 eggs. The next cycle I produced 65. The third cycle, with a different doctor who finally lowered my dosages, I produced a slightly more normal (though still high) number of 34.
Then I decided I was ready to get pregnant with my own children. My husband and I tried for awhile, found out we had some male infertility problems. We were told that WE’D need IVF to get pregnant. I independently matched with a couple online who was interested in splitting a cycle with me, where I’d get half my eggs for my own IVF instead of any momentary compensation. As I was also desperate for my own child and would do anything to get it, I agreed to the split cycle with the couple. However, the doctor advised us against the split cycle and being indecisive, confused and exhausted, and since I’d already somewhat committed to the couple, I decided to do one last egg donation for them. I was 29 at the time.
We worked with a doctor in Las Vegas at a well-known fertility clinic there, where I was treated horribly unprofessionally and negligently and hope that this doctor does not get away with something like this again with someone less educated about the process who cannot stand up for themselves.
Everything was fine with until the very end of the stimulation meds. At an appt. he said that he wanted me to trigger my ovulation that evening, but I (very politely) pointed out my follicle sizes and estradiol levels and mentioned that my previous three cycles I had waited one extra day before triggering with excellent results. He immediately dismissed my concerns and said he wanted to do it his way. I was taken aback by this, as this was my 4th donation cycle and I was very familiar with how my body responded to the drugs and shocked that a doctor would not listen to their patient, especially a patient like myself who was rather educated on the process.
Because it was an independent match, I was able to contact my recipient parents and express my concerns. She was also concerned, and as the paying party who had a much larger say in things than I, she tried numerous times to contact the doctor directly to ask about me waiting an extra day to trigger. The doctor ignored her and flat out refused to call her back. The recipient and I had a very difficult time trying to decide what to do, but at the very last minute, decided to follow doctor’s orders (even though we didn’t agree with them), and I did my trigger shot, though it was about 20 minutes late.
While a late trigger shot may be slight inconvenience and delay the retrieval surgery process by 10-15 minutes, it is not something that would be detrimental to the donation process. I knew this. My recipient knew this. Anyone who’s ever done an egg donation or IVF and who understand how it all works knows this.
First thing the next morning, the doctor himself called me and told me that because I had refused to follow orders, that my cycle was being cancelled and he was refusing to do my retrieval. I assured him that I had in fact done the trigger shot (he could bring me in for bloodwork to prove this if he desired), but he continued to claim that because I had failed to follow orders he was cancelling my cycle. I informed him that he was leaving me in a very medically precarious situation, as once the trigger is done, and without a retrieval surgery, I was getting ready to ovulate 25-30+ eggs ALL AT ONCE. He said that I should have thought about that before I refused to follow orders.
Furiously, I started making phone calls and I thankfully was able to find an RE who had worked with me in the past who was willing to take me on at the last second and still do a retrieval on me. The recipient couple did end up getting pregnant, but unfortunately miscarried at 8 weeks.
After this horrible experience with donation #4, I knew that I would never do another donation again. While I knew that I previously was just being used for my eggs, I had been able to accept it before. But after donation #4, and knowing that I still had not yet provided my OWN husband with a child, and had instead had shared my fertility with other couples to have families and biological offspring that I’d never get to meet, it began to really affect me. My supportive husband said he was ok with how things had turned out in life, but even still, it bothered ME. One of the reasons I married him is because I wanted HIM, my husband, to be the father of my kids. I’ve never even shared the “marriage act” with anyone else other than him – yet I completely and willingly allowed my genes to be mixed with a stranger and someone else to be the father to my biological offspring.
It just hit me very hard and I didn’t know how to handle these new regretful feelings about my donations. When I originally did them, I honestly and completely did them with sincerity and I fully thought that I was doing the right thing. All throughout my donations, I was told that what I was doing was so noble, and I believed that. I went through a psychological evaluation before being able to donate and was cleared for being in the right mindset to donate. I must have given all the right answers, because at the time, those were all the right answers that I had read and been led to believe were my own as well.
It is very difficult for me to now admit that I regret doing my donations. I regret that I have biological offspring with men I don’t know. That I have children out there that I don’t know. I can’t say that I regret having created lives, because I mean, how could anyone say that? I don’t regret that. But I do regret how it happened.
I have my own daughter now. After donation #4, my husband had found another doctor who was able to treat an underlying issue that he was facing so that we could conceive without IVF.
Now that my husband and I have our own child, I also regret my donations because I have forced my daughter to have half-siblings that she will never meet or know. When doing the donations, I never thought about this part, about how I would explain my donations to any future children I might have. I just didn’t think about it. I was living in the excitement of the “now” and the flurry of shots and Dr. appointments and of feeling significant. I didn’t fully think of the long-term complications this would cause.
I know that I at least have 5 biological offspring out there somewhere (possibly more if any of the couples chose to do sibling cycles afterward). While right now they are all under 5yrs old, I know that someday, they are going to learn the truth of their creation and they are going to wonder who I am. I wish I could reach out to them and explain who I am and why I did what I did. I do hope that someday in the future, that some of them reach out to me so that we both may be able to fully comes to terms with this very unique biological lineage that I was not aware of when I created.