Thursday, 27 March 2014

The long overdue donor egg post

I don't quite know how to explain what's been going on with me lately.  First off, I'll be totally honest and say that I have not felt AT ALL like blogging.  Or reading blogs.  Or commenting.  I've been checking my reader every day, of course, and chiming in when there's drama and I want to offer congratulations or support, but overall I've been a pretty shitty blog friend.  For some reason, blogging has felt like work lately.  I find myself thinking, "I should write something" instead of "I want to write something", and it's not supposed to be that way.  At least it never was before.

This is also the exact same attitude I've had towards starting our donor egg process, which is worrying to me.  Shouldn't I be thinking "I really want to figure out this donor egg thing" and not "Welp, I guess I should start looking into this donor egg thing"?  Obviously, this ambivalence and ennui is all connected somehow.  I usually pride myself on being pretty self-aware, but I honestly can't figure this one out.  It's not that I don't want to have a baby anymore...I just feel like I don't want to have to go through all this work to have one.  To those of you that have made the transition to donor eggs before: did you go through this?  Is this normal?  Or, as I wondered in the past, do I just not want it bad enough?

Despite all of this, I've slowly managed to do my research and talk to a bunch of people and figure out our options.  Here they are:

1.  Donor egg at a US clinic.  My clinic has recommended one clinic that they've worked with a few times in the past.  But it ain't cheap.  There are a number of options that could reduce our cost, including sharing a donor with one or two other couples, but the cheapest we're looking at is $17,000 for a single cycle or $35,000 for a guaranteed program, which promises a live birth within six fresh cycles or our money back.  Nice, but yowza.

2.  Frozen donor egg in Canada.  My clinic has recently partnered with a frozen donor egg bank in the US, and is now able to bring frozen eggs to Canada for local patients.  I'm not sure how this gets around the legalities I mentioned in a previous post, but it's even more expensive than the US option ($19,000 for a single cycle, $44,000 for the assured refund program).  That's OK though.  We can live in a cardboard box, right?  

3.  Donor egg in Europe.  I don't know if we would ever have seriously considered this except for the fact that we know a couple who did it.  They've given us a ton of information that's really reassured us, and quite frankly it's the only option that we can actually afford without cleaning out our savings and putting ourselves into serious debt.  Prices are pretty steady at around $7,000 per cycle, with a number of clinics offering various guarantees such as a third cycle free if you're not pregnant after the first two.  Plus, there's the bonus of having a week's vacation in Europe.  In the end, it really wasn't much of a competition.  If we're gonna do this, it's gonna be in the Czech Republic.

Get used to this joke.  I have a feeling I'll be using it a lot.

Deciding on the Czech Republic wasn't all about finances, though.  As I alluded to in my last post, there were two major issues regarding donor egg in general that I had to work through mentally before we could really proceed.  If you'd asked me a few months ago what I thought about these topics I would have told you they didn't matter, and yet I surprisingly found myself dwelling on them a lot.

The first is donor anonymityBy law, Czech donors are anonymous.  We would be told her age, hair colour, eye colour, height, weight, and education level, but that's it.  The clinic will attempt to match my appearance as closely as possible if I want, but neither we nor our child will ever be able to find out who the donor is.  On one level, I like this.  There's no potential complicating factor down the line of another mom on the scene.  And I'm sure part of the reason the Czech Republic has a booming donor egg business is because the donors don't have to worry about some Canadian kid tracking them down 18 years later.  But I have seriously wondered if this is fair to the child, to not know anything about one whole half of your heritage.  Will he or she always wonder about this part of their identity, or feel incomplete?  I might feel better about things if I could be assured that we'd have twins or the chance for a full-blood sibling down the road, since at least then they'd have each other.  Unfortunately there's no way around this (even in many US clinics, I've learned), so an anonymous donor is just something that I'm going to have to get used to unless we can find a way to afford another option.

The second issue that's been nagging at me is the general idea of "fertility tourism".  God, I hate that term.  It implies that there's something fun and frivolous about needing to ask a woman in a foreign country to give sell you eggs so that you'll be able to have a child, which is something the majority of the human population can do without even thinking about it.  There are more than a few academics who have even compared the phenomenon of fertility tourism to sex tourism, which infuriates me on a number of levels.  Not the least of which is the fact that one of them involves travelling to a foreign country to take advantage of lax laws and corrupt law enforcement to have illegal sex with people you shouldn't, like sex slaves and minor children, and the other one FUCKING DOESN'T.

That said, I take their point that unless properly regulated, fertility tourism risks falling down a slippery slope leading to donor exploitation and general social inequality between those who can afford to pay for such services and those who provide the means to do so.  I started to get really hung up on the idea that I would become a (comparatively speaking) rich white Western woman who would be taking advantage of someone who needs to sell parts of her body to make ends meet.  Now, I'm not all rainbows and unicorn farts.  I know that anyone donating eggs anonymously is likely at least partially in it for the money.  But I'd like to think it's an informed decision on her part, fuelled by the extra warm fuzzy feeling she gets from helping someone, rather than an act of financial desperation.  

Unfortunately, without meeting the donor this is something I'll never know.  But the results of this study make me feel a little better.  There's also the fact that the Czech Republic is a European Union country, and as such is subject to pretty rigorous health and human rights legislation (as opposed to places like the Ukraine and Russia, neither of which is someplace I'm eager to visit right now).  Most clinics won't promise you more than 6 to 8 eggs per donor, leading me to believe that they're genuinely looking out for the health of the donors as opposed to overstimulating them for the benefit of the recipient.  They also have limits on how many times donors can donate, although whether those are respected are anyone's guess.  It comes down to needing to have a little bit of faith in the system, and a little bit of selfishness.  If I want to have a baby, this is the only way it's going to happen.  Either I'm OK with that or I'm not.  And I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out which it is.  I'm still not sure I know the answer.

In the meantime, I finally started researching Czech clinics.  There are plenty, so narrowing them down took a lot of reading and, quite frankly, the list got put to the side a lot.  After coming home from a long day at the office, the last thing I felt like doing was researching and emailing clinics.  It wasn't until this week (I'm out east on vacation, visiting my family) that I finally took the time to email the ones we've chosen as final contenders.  We'll pretty quickly have to make a final decision.  I just wish I didn't feel so damn ambivalent and disconnected from it all.  

So, there you have it.  My donor egg brain dump.  If any of you are even still reading!  It's a lot, which probably at least partially explains why it's taken so long for me to put it into words.  I feel like I should reward you for sticking with it.  I offer you this happy baby elephant.  Enjoy!

Little trunksters make everything better!

Monday, 10 March 2014


So there's a whole bunch of stuff that I should probably be blogging about.  My donor egg research.  The options that we currently have on the table, the ones we can afford and the ones that would likely send us to the poorhouse.  All of the unexpected issues that I've discovered are surprisingly important to me.  But honestly, I don't feel like it right now.  I'm procrastinating.

Instead, I present to you a video that I saw online the week after my chemical pregnancy that actually got a chuckle out of me.  While it's not specifically aimed at infertiles, I think it's got a lot of sentiments that we can appreciate.  Hint: make sure you read the fine print.

Bonus marks for anyone who goes further and can actually make it through the comments section on the YouTube page.  It's honestly infuriating.  They're about evenly split between people shouting "Yeah, don't have kids, it'll ruin your life forever!" and "If you don't want kids you're a selfish pathetic waste of space who will never know what it means to be human!"  Sweet Christ, do people not get jokes anymore?  Morons.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

BS tolerance level: Zero

Yeah, I've been a pretty shit blogger lately.  It actually has surprisingly little to do with the aftermath of my chemical pregnancy or my mom's breast cancer diagnosis, and much more to do with the fact that I've been having a crap time at work.  But more about that in a sec.  First, some nice things that have happened in the last little while:
  • I would be incredibly remiss if I didn't thank the wonderful Jane Allen of Mine To Command for the lovely flowers she sent me to cheer me up after my chemical.  How could I not smile coming home to these every day?  Thank you so much, Jane.  You rock.
Bloggy friends are the best friends!
  • I booked a trip home to see my family.  I haven't seen them since this past summer, and with all that's been going on it just felt like a good time to go.  The best part is that I'm keeping it a secret (my dad is my only co-conspirator) so it will be a great surprise for my mom, sister and niece.
  • I did one of those stupid quizzes that keeps popping up on my Facebook page.  You know, the "Which X movie/TV show character are you?" ones.  Except this one was "Which Joss Whedon heroine are you?" and I got Faith from Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  Which is fucking awesome, because everyone knows she's the best one.  No, really.  You got River Tam?  Bitch, please.
Now, back to ranting.  Face it, you know you come here for my rants.  Over the past couple of weeks, my bullshit tolerance level has sunk to an all-time low of zero.  I chalk it up to the fact that I'm dealing with a lot of pretty heavy stuff in my personal life, so I don't have a great deal of patience or sympathy for things like stupid drivers and workplace politics.  Sorry not sorry, but all of my emotional resources are tied up.  Looking for someone to give a fuck?  Look somewhere else.

Work in particular has been testing my resolve not to spontaneously punch people in the face.  Coinciding with this past FET cycle I was working on a project that was micromanaged to within an inch of its life, resulting in all members of the team (not just me) ending up feeling incredibly disenfranchised and disgruntled.  It was a struggle just making it through the day without a) yelling at someone or b) bursting into tears.  Often, both happened anyway.  Unfortunately, this also resulted in me being a terribly inconsistent commenter on other blogs.  On good days I tried pretty hard to still be there for my bloggy friends, but on bad days I literally did not even have the emotional energy to churn out a "good luck this cycle!" and for that, I apologize.

Anyway, earlier this week things came to a head.  First of all, because I now give absolutely zero fucks, I approached one particular problem at work in a somewhat reckless manner that could have blown up in my face pretty badly.  Lucky for me things worked out and we achieved the result we wanted, but it was a decision based purely on the fact that I was in a horrible mood when I made it.  The reason I was in said horrible mood had to do with the fact that earlier in the day, I had attended a meeting where I basically gave voice to all of the negative feelings that had arisen on the micromanaged project.  And by "gave voice to", I really mean "spewed my displeasure in a Pompeii-like flow of vitriol at the very people who did the micromanaging".  It wasn't well received (read: stunned looks and dead silence followed by change of subject), because no one likes to be told how much they suck.  But a number of other employees made a point of coming to me afterwards and thanking me for my comments because they agreed that, even if they don't change anything, they needed to be said.

I've been dying for a reason to use this gif

In all seriousness, the past few weeks have highlighted to me that for me personally, the "anger" stage of grief is the one that I tend to get stuck in the most.  It's weird because I feel as if I've genuinely reached acceptance of the fact that I can't have a biological child, but I keep backtracking to anger on the stupidest things regardless.  There's a lot here that I should probably just save for a separate post, but suffice it to say that it's probably no shocker that I came out as Faith on the Joss Whedon quiz.  Which I still think is awesome.  But yeah, girl's got anger issues.