Saturday, February 25, 2017

My donor

I've said before that she's pretty.  She is, really pretty.  Some of her adult pictures had the gloss and sparkle of a beauty pageant contestant.  What drew me to her first were her childhood photos - I'll be honest, they resembled me.  Big brown eyes, brown hair, smaller lips.  One of her baby pictures looked so much like the Nibble it took my breath away.

But what sealed the deal for me was her artistic ability, and a general gut feeling that she wasn't an alien.  A skilled violinist, from a musical family.  She painted all of the artwork that hangs in her house.  She loves reading and going to antique stores.  Yes, this is the stuff of internet dating nightmare, and I'm surely not the first person to note the absurdity of reading online profiles.  But yeah, when she came on to my clinic's website I had the intense urge to swipe right.

Her willingness to go through the legal hurdles, and frankly, the emotional intelligence of some of the questions she raised with her attorney made me even more convinced that well, as far as choices go, I made the best one for me.

The other day my clinic's coordinator messaged me:  Your donor was so touched by the card you wrote her... would you allow her to know whether her eggs result in a pregnancy?  This isn't something we ordinarily do with anonymous donors, and it is up to you.

I didn't hesitate.  Yes, you may let her know if her eggs result in a pregnancy for me.

I spent a good eight hours a couple of weeks ago absolutely panicked that my donor would change her mind in the future about being open to contact from her genetic offspring. Well, I think I'm over that fear.  I feel deep in my gut that whatever the future holds, we've got the foundation for something.  I don't know what to call it. Trust, maybe?

Viking and I had a long talk last night.  He admitted never really getting why I thought I had to click with an online donor profile.  And honestly, plenty of people do anonymous donor egg ivf where the clinic's doctor chooses their donor, so it's not that farfetched for him to feel this way.

I am sickeningly aware that this woman's eggs may never result in a living baby that could ever reach out to her.  It's a cold stark reality for me.  But however this crazy train rolls along, I feel very very calm right now.  In this, at least, we made the right choice.

As far as I know, as of tonight, all eight of our fertilized balls of cells have made it to day 3.

Lightening doesn't just strike twice

I don't believe I wrote much about our latest visit to a new genetic counselor.  She was by far my favorite (third time was the charm I guess), because for once I sat before someone who didn't roll their eyes everytime I tried to get a word in edgewise.  She also referred to Celine as "your daughter."  Thank you so much for that GC number 3.

I asked if she *ever* had a patient before her with a history like mine, and she said, "sadly, I have."  And she didn't elaborate.  But she absolutely believed that given the near impossible odds of experiencing a partial molar pregnancy and a Giant Omphalocele something else was going on.  And thank god, she understood the severity of our daughter's, what a difference that made, no judgement at all for your heartbreaking choice justonemore.  Unfortunately, it's not something that can currently be tested for, and I am making the right decision - in her eyes - to take my genetics out of it.   "AMA women are at higher risk of aneuploidy, and some of your losses reflect that.  But something isn't right even at 40 to have a loss history like this.  And I don't actually believe bad luck is all that's happening in your case.  You're right to turn to donor eggs to try to take whatever it is out of the equation."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I guess I forgot to mention

Our donor had her retrieval earlier this week and the Viking went in to give his fresh semen sample.  We were given a batch of 8 of her eggs.  So far, using ISCI, they all fertilized.  Now we wait to see how many make it to PGS.  In other words, we wait to see whether I will have any embryos to work with.

I'll be starting birth control soon.

We're all in from this point on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How do you thank someone for hope?

Below is more or less the note I wrote to my donor, to be given on the day of her retrieval, rewriting from memory.  It took six drafts to say properly, in a way that wasn't mawkish, in a way that wouldn't scare this lovely woman from us in the future if we ever reached out.  I could write endless pages to her, why we chose her, how we ended up needing her eggs..... but I chose to leave it simple.

From what I see, lots of donor egg recipients offer tokens of their appreciation.  After a lot of consideration, I decided against jewelry - even though I found a really cool tree of life pendant -  and went with two small items, both in the comfort category:  a set of really beautiful handmade aromatherapy soaps that I got at a craft fair, and a set of drawing pencils with sketchpad.  The donor had noted in her profile that her favorite downtime activity was painting, that all of the art work in her house she painted herself.

This is a difficult note to write, because there aren't words to express the gratitude that we feel for your generosity.

The road for us to get this point has been long and hard.  I want you to know that regardless of the outcome, you have given us an enormous gift:  Hope.  Thank you for giving us hope.

I hope that you have an easy recovery from your retrieval.  And I truly wish for you all of the best in anything you choose to do in the future.


Intended Mother

Friday, February 17, 2017

Time for some laughter

Scene:  Walking out the clinic's office into the parking lot, Viking  - a giant bear/lumberjack of a man for your visual - has just done his part....

V: "(In hushed tones) That was crazy."

J: "More insane than the last time you contributed to this operation?"

V: Yeah."

J: "Was the porn at least good?"

V: "Well, this time there were magazines.  And there was a cute girl with a gap in her teeth on one of them"

J: "I'm glad she was there to help."

V: "But the room was SO SMALL.  It was, like, a bathroom.  And there was a robe in there, but there was no way I was gonna put it on.  And it was tight in there.  I could barely move.  Seriously, I know I'm big but who could fit into such a tiny room?  And there were all of these empty specimen cups on a shelf, and I took off my messenger bag, and of course I knocked them all over, and had to pick them all up, making a huge racket.  And the guy outside was probably like, "Wow, he's really going at it in there"'

...And there was a CD player in there, why was there a CD player?"

J:  Mood music?  Maybe people bring their own CDs?  Like Barry White?"


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"We've done what we could"

Legal agreements have been signed with our donor - who remains anonymous and is currently open to future contact by her genetic offspring, if they so desire, on her terms.

As Viking said, "we've done what we could."  From what I've seen, clinics have far fewer options for open donors that don't require shelling out $30K for an agency to find the donor for you.  We felt lucky to find the donor pool we've found in our clinic.  At this point we have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

It's not airtight.  I worry about the future - the possibility that if I was able ever to bear a healthy child, they might hit a wall in a search for their genetic family tree.  But then I remember that our DNA will be on Facebook in 20 years, given where genetic testing and is heading.  Then again, maybe I'm just a natural-born worrier who can worry her way out of a pot-of-gold.  Fuck, unicorns trouble me, with their pointy horns that could poke your eye out.

I'm wired this way.

Now I can go back to worrying about producing 8 embryos with Viking's sperm, PGS testing them, and finding a few healthy ones.  Because surely I will miscarry one of those suckers.  It's what my body knows how to do, right?

We head to the clinic tomorrow, to deposit a sperm sample, talk to a genetic counselor about DOOM and then lay out $14,000 for a package that includes 8 eggs.


Maybe I'm due another trip to my therapist.

Monday, February 13, 2017

And then we move backwards? Maybe? (Updated)

The donor is now unsure about future contact.  Reviewing the terms of the legal agreement I've had drafted up - with her attorney who I am paying for - she is now, I guess, realizing that the contract is being put into place to ensure that she allows any future offspring to contact her (when they reach adulthood).  She's also struck out the language about registering on the Donor Sibling Registry because it's too much of a lift to update her medical information with them and she's "worried she will forget."


A little bit of family law for y'all.... so, she is definitely willing to execute a clinic's consent form to be contacted in the future, BUT, that particular consent form also allows her to back out of the agreement if she changes her mind.  THIS is why I had a lawyer draft a separate contract with the donor in the first place, because that form is not enough to protect the rights of any child to identify where they came from.

This is hugely worrying.

And believe me, I am trying to be empathetic to her qualms.  It IS a huge mental leap to agree to contact with your genetic child (if THEY request it).  It's also a huge mental leap to know how you will feel about something in 18 years,  God, I get it.  I thougt that because she wasn't a young woman fresh out of college (she is in her later 20s) that she would be a surer bet for agreeing to put it in writing.

ETA: it's also understandable from a legal perspective, that she doesn't want to be held liable for breach of contract if some event in her life makes her want to not disclose her identity. Viking also noted that she could be in breach of contract if she merely forgot to update a donor sibling registry medical questionnaire. Which could be frightening on her end. We are sympathetic.

You have to know why I am so intense about this: After meeting with our counselor, Viking and I were so on the same page that "open to future" contact had to be on our list.  Not that we cared about future contact for us.  It's for the child.  Yes, to a great extent, it's me projecting "what may be" on a kid that isn't born, I know.  But the counselor we met with functioned as a sort of proxy for this child, and their rights, and believed so strongly that like cases of adoption, the child has the right to know where they come from.

Jesus.  This is a nightmare troubling development.  What I want is to cycle, to be a mother.  But once again, OMG, I am being put in a position to roll the dice on the comfort on my potential unborn offspring. What if moving forward with this donor means that they may never be able to learn where they came from if she changes her mind?

ETA: On the other hand, for now, she has signed a clinic consent where she agrees to contact.  And our contract will have her be available for medical emergencies.

All of this has really driven home how important it is to review these clinic agreements with a lawyer, to really understand what you're signing.  I want her to understand what I hope for my child.  I want her to understand that she's not consenting to ever be the mother of this potential child.  It's really a predatory industry, isn't it? 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

It's happening

Viking and I are headed back to the clinic next week.  The donor we've chosen has started stimming.  Viking will be providing a semen sample, some blood, we'll be talking to a genetic counselor (futility) and we'll be signing lots of scary documents and locking down eight of our donor's eggs.

It's mind-numbingly real.  Viking will be headed back to the clinic sometime the week of the 20th when she undergoes her retrieval, to provide fresh sperm, because you guys, they will be making our embryos with fresh eggs and his sperm. 

Our embryos, yo.  This is insane.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


My pregnant best friend at work (PBFAW) is now almost 36 weeks.  Her first daughter is 16 months.  She has no idea that I've had two chemical pregnancies during the period where she's been growing a whole big new beautiful baby.

Today we hung out at the home of our mutual friend, the one and only woman who I have chosen to share all of this with.  Mutual friend has trudged through IVF (own egg) and from it she now has a beautiful son.  But she is the chosen one, because like me she didn't talk about it.  NO ONE at work knew what she went through, and I have chosen her as my sorta IVF spirit guide because that's the thing I get most hung up about.  Hiding this bullshit from the world, and particularly my nosy office.  Which wants my all of my fucking time.

(Full disclosure:  some of you, my readers, actually *know* me.  I am not an anonymous voice out here in the wilderness, but a living breathing person, with a face and a pitch in her voice, and a supposedly energetic laugh.  I walk through life assuming you read my words, and yes, you are welcome to discuss whatever you read here with me.  Just never around my daughter).

The Viking doesn't really appreciate what kind of emotional energy I spend keeping my shit together around pregnant women, love them as I may.  Or their babies.  When we visited the therapist together, he got a glimpse of it.  The therapist gently tried to get him to understand why I view all of my losses as babies, and how much grief I am immersed in.  He remained steadfast in saying something along the lines of:  I feel helpless dealing with my wife's grief, and I feel like if I grieve, we're both gonna be in a lot of trouble. So I'm not going to grieve.  He just can't do it, even though the grieving is an incredibly isolating part of my personal existence. 

Any way, back to brunch: PBFAW was in a lot of pain, and being a fitness wannabe yogi, I was able to give her some gentle stretches that gave her a lot of relief.  And of course all I could think back to was Niblet.  How pain free that pregnancy was, how fucking beautiful, how slender and fit I was, how the only time I really wanted her out of me was around 37 weeks, when I was a walking house at 5 feet tall and could no longer see my feet.

Those were good times, and the only way I can survive the next few months is to imagine myself maybe, just maybe, recreating myself again.  As a woman who brings life into the world.  I beyond sick of my body functioning as a living graveyard.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

never-ending wait

Time is slowing down in this alternative reality I live in, where my facebook feed is filled with breathless anxiety, while I am stuck.  Literally stuck.

Our attorney has drafted a contract with the donor, and I am waiting to hear back from my clinic on whether she will sign it.  We visited a social worker/therapist to get a required report on our understanding of all of the ways in which this process is well unusual and delicate.

Actually, Viking and I both found the talk with her surprisingly helpful.  I'll write more on that possibly in another post, because really, thinking through the details of how to unfold your child's origin story is an essay unto itself.  The main takeaway, for both of us, was that the origin story of our child should belong to them.  So it's critical for us be mindful about who we tell, who we don't tell, and how we allow it to unfold.

But other than that, I'm sitting here a little anxious.  After so many years, it could be happening, and I feel like the biggest pieces are in stasis:  Putting down the FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS we have scraped together for the eggs.  Getting on the fuckton of drugs that I will need to be on to eventually undergo a FET.  It's all a little more than overwhelming.

And then there's the fact that I am probably the most delicate snowflake imaginable right now.

Twins Bey?  Really, thanks, I needed that. 

Between George Takei presenting a heartwarming story a few days ago on facebook, featuring a "family who beat the odds" in choosing to carry their little girl who was struck with Celine's birth defects.... and the nice women in my support groups who are sprouting miracle pregnancies, I am wallowing in more than a little bit of unhealthy self-pity right now.

Who am I kidding?  I would probably be best off hiking into the wilderness for a few days.  I don't think I would be triggered by trees and squirrels, right?