I was debating whether to write about this or not. It's a very personal matter, and I know that many people are divided about the issue. I'd love to hear your opinions on the matter, positive and negative.
It started with a simple conversation; Sulli and I were discussing a possible career change (for her), she is currently an environmental micro biologist but was thinking about applying to a medical facility that deals with fertility problems.
She told me that it was a very stressful position, as it was very easy to make a mistake that held great consequences (i.e mixing the wrong sperm with the wrong egg, accidentally throwing away embryos etc...). Along the way, we started to talk about egg donors. I was fascinated with the subject and spent the following few days researching what it was, the process, then interviewing friends about how they felt about it. As well, I did some soul searching; Could I donate my eggs, how would I feel having a genetic offspring I knew nothing of? Then, I called a clinic and arranged an information session.
Before I continue, I know many of you live in the states where the regulations on egg donation are very different from those in Canada. In the U.S, egg donors are compensated an average of 5-10 000$. Many times, if they are 'exceptional' donors, such as of a rare ethnic background or with high IQ and athletic skills, they can be paid 15-25 000$. Most egg donors in the states are cash strapped university students, who see this as an opportunity to clear up their debts. For this reason, egg donation is criticized; there is a consumer 'shopping' mentality when it comes to selecting eggs. In many cases, there are agencies who match up donors and intended parents.
In Canada, a law passed in 2004, that banned any compensation for egg and sperm donation. It likened to donating organs , which should be done altruistically. SO, egg donation in Canada has dropped 70% since then. Women must wait from 2-5 years to have access to an egg donation; it is a harrowing experience as many of them are in their 30's, 40's and the longer they wait, the slimmer their chance to get pregnant.
As well, this has created a medical tourism wave; Canadians seek eggs in the U.S, pay the donor and go back home. As well, some couples have resorted to finding their own donors through ads and compensating them for their 'time', and not their egg.
Now let me tell you, egg donation isn't easy, it is a 1-2 months process where the donor (i.e me) must self inject fertility drugs in her stomach or thigh, for a period of a week or two. In a normal cycle, a healthy woman will produce one egg, the drugs induce egg creation, so you will produce 10-12 times that amount. Then, you come back to the clinic for follow ups, and finally, to retrieve the eggs. This is done through a minor surgery that lasts 15-20 minutes. The fertility drugs do have side effects; imagine being on your period for an entire month. You can be bloated, moody, sensitive. It is time consuming and physically demanding. Not many people would go through this for a stranger, if there wasn't a compensation for the time (trips to the clinic, the tests etc...)
It is a mind boggling experience but having had a miscarriage in the past and spending time with my ex' daughter, I know that NOT being able to conceive and start a family must be heartbreaking.
I am still thinking very hard about this, but my belief is simple; a woman becomes a mother when she is pregnant, a man becomes a father when he sees his child.
I believe that donating my eggs (to a nurturing, loving family) isn't like giving up your child for adoption. I don't feel the attachment to my ova, and I won't feel like I have a child that belongs to me. Currently, I am e-mailing with a woman (she's had multiple failed IVF's and a miscarriage), her fertility has been compromised by fibrosis. She's a career woman, she sounds like a very strong person. She's of mixed ethnicity, like myself, and she can't wait to start a family.
I don't know what will happen from here on; there's so many medical tests to take and I might have a predominant gene that makes it impossible for me to donate, or maybe I will wake up and feel like I can't go on through the process, it's just too much.
No matter what, I learned there are a lot of women out there that are hurting; they have their careers, they are in love, they are healthy but their bodies won't co-operate. We take pregnancy for granted, God knows that I have sighed out of relief when I finally got my period after being late. Many of my friends have had abortions, I don't judge them as I believe that abortion is many times a viable option.
So many of us take our capacity to bear babies, nonchalantly, whilst too many of women have to fight for their motherhood.