One of the greatest parts about me writing this blog is all the interesting people that reach out to me. Most recently, a colleague of mine came forward to tell me that she had been an egg donor.
We are both business owners in the wedding industry and have known each other for about a year or so. We've shared business knack, and that sort of thing, and are always finding new things that we have in common. We are very, very similar.
I still remember the first time I met her. I remember thinking - there is something about this girl. Her vibe. Her aura. Her energy. I knew there was a reason we met. A reason much more meaningful than just "biznass".
She's very open and real. And has always taken me as someone who would be an open book about almost anything.
I knew I HAD to talk to her! Ever since we decided to use donor eggs, I've constantly wondered what it's like on the other end. What goes through her mind? What made her decide to be an egg donor? Is she emotionally connected to the process like I am? Will she have regrets? Does she have curiosity about where her eggs are going?
So I asked for a date with the Egg Donor, and I got to ask her all of these things.
She said YES! I got her reply and instantly jumped into my most aggressive "Drop down and get your eagle on" dance. Needless to say, I was excited.
We scheduled our "date" and I counted down the days. I could NOT wait!
I got to the restaurant a little early, ordered my glass of delicious sangria and pondered about what I was going to ask her. I had so many questions. Soooo many thoughts! I have been waiting for a moment like this. OMG! I'm sure I looked like an excited puppy frantically wagging her tail while staring at the door waiting for her owner to arrive. I had to remind myself not to attack her when she arrived. Or hump her leg.
OMG I have issues. Calm it down Victoria. Calm yo-self gurl!
She walked in, sat down and ordered the same thing I did. Seriously, we are so similar.
She looked at me and I could tell she was ready to cut right to the chase. No f*cking small talk about weather or traffic. GAWD I love her. We were both so curious to hear things from the "other" perspective. She had just as many questions as I did! We shoved food in our mouths quickly so that we didn't have to stop talking. I remember at one point I had short rib hanging out of my teeth, but I didn't give one flying f*ck. My eyes were glued on her.
We just kept going. More talking. More questions. We didn't see or hear anything around us, we were so damn focused on each other.
Her name is Alli. Ain't she perdy?
At the young age of 21 she decided to donate her eggs. She is 29 now.
Like most donors, she needed the money for college and thought it would be a nice thing to do for a couple who needed help. She remembers her mother being an egg donor when she was a young girl, so her decision wasn't too far-fetched and was easily accepted by her family.
She signed up with an agency and went through a vigorous interview process, photo submissions, blood tests, urine tests, the whole gamut. She was placed on the agency's website and was picked up by a couple in Colorado within a week! Apparently, her eggs were quite the hot commodity! I've seen donors sit on websites for months and months and sometimes still never get picked.
AND, this couple was going to have extra expenses for all the traveling to SoCal from Colorado. Clearly, they were confident that Alli was "their girl".
She was excited to be selected and ready to get started.
What I know about Alli is that she is the type of girl who doesn't accept failure. She embraces challenges with a fierce determination. She ain't no basic bitch, if you know what I mean.
Right from the start, she put a lot pressure on herself to produce the best, most plentiful eggs. I mean A LOT of pressure. She was determined to be successful for this couple. Failure was not an option.
She was emotionally vested in a way I would have never expected. Still today when she told me the story, I saw her emotions bubble up. She cared about the outcome. She cared about that couple. And she still does.
She felt like that couple's happiness rested on her shoulders. She felt that it was all "on her". And she was NOT going to let them down.
She followed the instructions to a T. She took the meds on time, she didn't drink, smoke, or have sex. She gave herself injections in the tops of her thighs. She couldn't wear shorts for a while because her legs were completely black and blue. She could handle the bruises, that was the least of her struggles. She had 17 fully grown eggs sitting inside of her. She looked 4-5 mos. pregnant because her belly was protruding of all the over sized eggs. It hurt. Bad. She was in so much pain she couldn't even walk. Her emotions were running wild. It was hard to sleep. Hot flashes came and went.
Quitting was not an option for Alli. She needed to come through for this couple.
The surgery to remove the eggs finally came and she was excited to not be in pain anymore. However, the next day she became very sick. She was rushed to the emergency room. She was diagnosed with ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), a condition that causes the ovaries to swell and become painful in about 25% of women who use inject-able fertility drugs. (OHSS generally goes away after a week or so, but in severe cases it can cause rapid weight gain, abdominal pain, vomiting and shortness of breath.)
Alli wasn't telling me any of this to complain. I needed to know what she went through. I needed to know how she felt. I needed to know she was okay with it all and didn't have any regrets.
"No regrets" she said, without hesitation. "None".
I smiled at her with my biggest, fattest Cheshire Cat smile. What a relief! Those two little words gave me a world of happiness. (Is this when I hump her leg?) No Victoria, snap out of it!
She paused for a minute. And looked at me with tears in her eyes. She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me a little closer and said...
"Being an egg donor was seriously one of the best experiences of my life".
And she meant it. She really, really meant it. That experience is a part of her today and always will be.
To most, it probably sounds like a f*cking nightmare. She experienced some really scary, risky moments. She endured severe physical and emotional pain. She put her life in danger.
But Alli is proud. Very, very proud.
She knew that this couple desperately needed her to complete their family. And that was important to her.
I told her that I admired her. That what she did was admirable.
You would have thought I called her baby ugly, because she snapped back so quick at me and said "NO! Not admirable".
She was clearly not comfortable with that word. "Admirable."
I was so confused. How was this act not admirable?
And she said to me...
"What I did was not admirable. If I had done it for free, it would have been admirable."
But, I couldn't disagree more.
There are many things in life you get paid to do that take guts, courage and heart. Think about the people that do jobs you consider "admirable". They are getting paid, but they are still doing a job that not many people would do, right? They are putting their lives at danger, but sure, they still receive a paycheck.(Note - egg donors certainly aren't rolling in the dough. In most cases, the agency actually collects more money than the donor does.)
Yes, I'm serious.
She told me about a really thoughtful gift the couple sent her to say thank you. A beautiful butterfly figurine that symbolizes transformation and joy. The note says "We wanted to thank you for your most amazing gift. Your generosity is bringing us closer to our dream." This still sits on her bookshelf at home today.
She plans to keep that butterfly forever. She looks at often and thinks about the couple.
She still wonders if their prayers were answered. The only information she was given by the agency is that the intended mother (yep, that's what we're called) got pregnant. She will never know if an actual baby was born. All she can do is hope. And believe.
As I'm sitting there, listening to Alli, something was triggered in me. Something that needed to be triggered. A different level of happiness. A new level of comfort in all this.
She gave me an even deeper appreciation for our egg donor. She took me to the place I needed to be.
I just let the happy tears roll. F*ck it.
Yes, I know Alli is not my egg donor, duh. But I'd like to think that our donor will have the same sort of compassion that Alli did.
My doctor told me the other day that I picked a "great donor" because she could tell that she was in it for the "right reasons". Of course I knew this was a good thing, but I wasn't exactly clear on what she meant.
Thanks to Alli, I now know what that means.