Once upon a time…..I was an egg donor….(well, a few times actually)
Hands shaking, voice cracking and entire self-awareness of all bodily systems - the feeling was worth it as soon as I realized that I had connected with my audience. These people, both men and women, wanted to hear what I had to say. My experience as an anonymous egg donor made a priceless difference to people that I did not know and shaped my entire professional future. I wouldn’t change anything about sharing my story and what led me to become an egg donor. Because of it, I found my passion and path in the fertility field.
Read on to hear the speech that had the power to make me tremble with fear and bring others to tears.
Good morning. Although public speaking is not my forte’, I am pleased to be here to share my thoughts, feelings, and experience about being an egg donor with you.
First, I want to say that as with every situation, being an egg donor is subjective. Each donor is an individual with her own unique motivations and perspective. I can only speak about what I’ve been through and how those experiences shaped me. I first learned about egg donation through a college friend. She mentioned that she had done it and I was intrigued.
The idea of earning money for this was what caught my attention; at the time I was trying to put myself through nursing school. Though it was not what compelled me to continue with the process, the compensation is what started me on that path. It does make me feel a bit guilty saying that, but it is the truth. I am always skeptical if I hear other donors say differently.
There is a significant amount of time and physical investment that goes along with being an egg donor. School and work, as well as my personal life, were all affected when I committed to doing each donor cycle. Of course, the money came in handy, but as trite as it may sound, the feeling of satisfaction in helping a couple have a child was priceless. That good feeling far outweighed the impact of the check I received and it is what stays with me to this day.
Each person has a different experience, but for me, being a donor really wasn’t a difficult process. Because I felt that egg donation was a positive thing, I did not struggle with the question of “Should I do this?”. It was more a matter of “Where do I begin?”. After I looked around the internet, I filled out an application, sent in some pictures and really didn’t think much about it until I received a call one afternoon. I was a bit surprised at first that someone had chosen me, but then after the surprise wore off, I was focused. I had a job to do and I wanted to do it well.
The IVF cycle wasn’t too much trouble for me. I was in nursing school and with my whole family being medical I was familiar with needles and syringes so the injections were easy for me. The egg retrieval was painless (aside from minor menstrual cramping) and even with a complication that I experienced the first time, I felt so good about what I had just done that it really made me want to do it again.
For me, it was a very simple process, but it is not right for everyone. I would not suggest it to women I knew to be needle-phobic or who felt nostalgic about their eggs. It was an extremely gratifying experience to have donated my eggs to give a chance for someone to complete their family. The fact that they were strangers to me did not diminish my hopes and wishes for their success. I never found out the outcome of my donor cycles, but I still worried and hoped that I did a good job so that they were successful.
Whenever I tell someone that I was an egg donor, a myriad of questions follows. The first of which is, “ What does that mean?”. I explain that it took a few steps: I filled out a lengthy questionnaire about my physical, educational, and genetic history. Then I went through an extensive psychological exam. I was selected and matched with an anonymous recipient to cycle at a clinic (in another state) after our menstrual cycles were synchronized with birth control pills. I took daily injections, went in for blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor the progress and followed all of the instructions given by the nurses and physicians leading to egg retrieval.
I’ve been asked, “How can you do that?” with shock. Others look at me with amazement at what a gift it is to be able to do that. A common question is, “Don’t you worry about having kids out there running around?”. It is a simple answer for me: I don’t view it that way.
I just see it as donating a cell so that another woman can have the chance to become a mother to what will be her own child. An egg is not something that is tangible; I don’t think about my eggs - they don’t do anything other than cause a period every month! On the other hand, that egg could mean the world to someone else. It’s an indescribable feeling to be able to help another woman to have a child.
I am often asked if I ever want to meet future offspring. For everyone, there would be a unique answer of course, but for me, there is simply no desire to have contact with any possible child. I don’t see any connection at all other than the DNA I donated. I firmly believe that in no way am I a mother to any child that may have resulted. The woman who loved that child into being, who protected, cared for and nurtured them is the mother. I am just a donor. Barring any medical necessity, I personally choose not to have any contact with the recipient family.
I have donated my eggs both before and after I became a mother myself. The experience of having my own child actually increased my dedication to being an egg donor. I feel so blessed to have my daughter and from the bottom of my heart, I felt honored to be able to help another woman have the family she has wanted for so long.
Coming from the perspective of both a donor and a fertility nurse, I think that it’s often forgotten that there are two women involved in a donor cycle. I tried to be conscious of the fact that there was another person directly involved. I was aware that she might be anxious about whether I was taking my medications correctly and if I followed the doctor’s instructions. I understood that there was a feeling of lack of control on their part. Because of that, I made every effort to do each injection on time and follow all instructions to a “t”. I wanted this to work for the recipient.
There is absolutely no way for a donor and a recipient to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, but I tried to. And I always appreciated it when I heard through the nurse that the recipients were worried about my health or hoping I wasn’t too uncomfortable through the process. It was nice to be acknowledged in that personal way.
I truly believe that things happen for a reason. Because of my experience donating my eggs and the nurses I’ve encountered, I just knew this was the right field to be in as a nurse myself. I am so thankful for my experience being an egg donor, for what I gave and for all that I received.
Thank you very much for your time today. I truly hope that I have been able to provide a worthwhile perspective. I wish everyone here the best of luck as you pursue your dreams of parenthood.
While I focused on making eye contact, in between reading my notecards no one could have pried out of my grip of death, I began to feel something besides the crippling fear of being the center of everyone’s attention. I was so grateful that my words were actually reaching and having an emotional effect on my audience. At first, I couldn’t believe how captivated they were, then I let it sink in. They really wanted to hear what I had to say - which made me feel so lucky to share my experience and perspective with them.
Giving the gift of possibility in return gave me the priceless gift of knowing I gave another soul a chance to have what they want most in this world. As much as I absolutely dreaded with my entire being each and every time I gave this speech, nothing can ever replace what I got out of it personally by touching so many with my thoughts and experiences.
Learn more about my story and how Embrace Fertility can support your fertility journey here.