I donated anonymously. After constantly hearing about sperm donation on the radio, I was curious to find out what women did to help out those in need and that’s when I first learned about the “Egg Donation” procedure. As I googled, it became more and more fascinating. I remember having conversations with my physician and my friends in medical school about the process and what it could do to a woman’s body and although there were risks involved like in any medical procedure, nothing seemed too alarming. That is when my interest piqued.
I found myself having endless conversations with my husband and constantly feeling that I wanted to make a difference that’s when I knew this was my calling.
In my heart, I knew I wanted to do it but I didn’t know how everything would work out especially because I did not want my family to find out. Desi families can be a little overwhelming, especially with The execution was the problem because once you get in it, it’s emotionally draining to get out of. After researching day and night, I casually told my husband that I wanted to go through with it. I would be a biological mother if things worked out and that was huge.
It didn’t take my husband very long to explain what I already believed
“Well, she will grow this baby, birth it and raise it, it will be hers. You will provide the missing ingredient to help someone on their way and they do all the hard work. I will be there no matter what you decide to do.”
I was scared but his support helped me tremendously.
In my defense, the process is so difficult that I thought I would never even pass the interviews. So, I just randomly found myself filling out the applications. One after another, an in-depth profile about my WHOLE life. My physical characteristics, my likes, dislikes, education, detailed medical history, my views about different things, pictures of me through my childhood till present… literally everything you can think of was on that application.
It took weeks for me to complete applications with many different agencies, and all out of curiosity. I wasn’t even sure at this point what I was signing up for. Soon after submitting my applications, I started hearing back from the agencies, welcoming me to this journey. It didn’t take long for them to even match me with the intended parents and I thought of myself keh itni asaani se kesay hogaya?
Apparently, South Asian donors are rare and high in demand.
Surprised? I bet not. It doesn’t seem like something many Pakistani females think of doing, or maybe even many South Asian females think of doing, especially if you belonged to a conservative family (how would you even hide it? Lol.)
After my match with the intended parents, I had to go through Skype interviews, psychological interviews, multiple intensive medical screenings, drug testing, etc. There was so much, to the point where I was almost sure there was something that would disqualify me from moving forward.
I passed everything.
It didn’t take long for the agency to email me with the news and the most heart-warming message from the intended parents about their journey and how thankful they were. This is when I realized the magnitude of the situation. My life was going to change and I was going to change someone else’s life. This was serious.
At this point, most of my friends knew and none of my family did but I was excited!
The process had officially started. I started receiving agreement forms along with phone calls with my attorney. Spending hours reading the document that notarized that “all embryos will try to be used to conceive AND unused embryos will be donated to an embryo adoption bank, OR they would be donated for stem-cell research OR they will be destroyed.”
Signing the final papers made “it” even more real.
The next step was to get on birth control pills for a few weeks. This was also given to the intended mother, to synchronize our menstrual cycle for the day of egg retrieval. I was then scheduled a baseline appointment at the fertility center near my house, in which they did blood work to monitor my hormones and vaginal ultrasound of my ovaries.
Then began the real deal. INJECTIONS.
Getting medications in the mail was my biggest concern. “How would I even pull this off?” were mainly my thoughts. Let me tell you, it’s a big box. The medications were expensive so it needed to be signed off by whoever received it at the door and usually you’re given a date of when you would receive it, but not the time. It was a weekday and my family was home. The most nervous as one could be, I was waiting for the bell to ring so I could quickly run downstairs. Around 4pm the bell rang, I frantically got up and ran and just beat my brother by a second to open the door. I quickly signed, grabbed the box and walked upstairs. As I was walking, he asked, “iss mein kya hai??” and I just had to pretend I didn’t hear him. How shady is that?
It doesn’t end there, though. These medicines were perishable. I had to refrigerate them. “What do I do now?” I kept asking myself. I hid all the boxes and trash under my bed which I threw out later that day. I put the small vials into a Ziploc bags and decided to hide them under the dry fruits my mom had stored in our “extra” refrigerator in the garage. No one ever opens that drawer so it was the safest bet! And guess what, it worked.
After five weeks on birth control and a year since the agency contacted me, I started giving myself shots under the skin of my belly at exactly 10 PM every night. The injections were of a follicle stimulating and luteinizing hormone which helps healthy ovaries to make eggs.
It was not easy. I was asked to follow instructions by watching videos sent by the agency explaining the procedure. I was nervous. I repeated the videos as much as the time allowed me to and I still didn’t feel confident, who would at this point? I just went for it! Not to exaggerate, this was the toughest part of the process. However, I caught on to it fast and I was surely a pro at it by the 12th day (last day).
During the 5 days of my injections, I went in everyday to have my blood test and ovaries monitored at the fertility center.
These hormones usually increase the size of the follicles in the ovaries, which made me extremely bloated. I was not allowed to workout or be very active. Blood tests everyday were no fun. You switch your arm everyday but that does not help them from bruising. When my follicles had grown >10mm, they had me schedule my flight to San Francisco, where the Intended Parents and their clinic was based. They monitored me there for another 6 days. My appointments would be at 8 am everyday for an hour and then I had the rest of the day to explore San Francisco with my husband. San Francisco was a big city that kept us busy and excited even during my bloated times. It was amazing. Day trips to Big Sur, Monterey beach, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz and so on, we had a blast!
On the 7th day, I was asked to inject a trigger 36 hours prior to the retrieval, which essentially makes the ovaries to ovulate and eggs are then ready to be retrieved.
Thirty-six hours later, I went to the clinic with my husband for the procedure.
It felt different. I was excited and scared. This was it. A year-long journey had just comes to an end. This is what I was looking forward to. The possibility for a couple to become parents was just a few minutes away and it was all because of me. I made it possible for them to have what they dreamt of.
I was given an IV and was asked repetitive questions by different nurses to make sure I had taken the trigger exactly 36 hours prior. I was then rolled into the operation room where I was given anesthesia through my IV, while the docs were joking around with me I fell asleep with in 5 seconds. I woke up about 30 minutes later to find out that the procedure was successful and that 23 eggs were retrieved (more than expected). The moment was surreal. I don’t know if I had even processed it fully. It was truly a gratifying experience. I was then sent back to hotel to rest for the day and flew back home the next day. It didn’t take me very long to recover, however, I still had to be cautious of not being very active for another two weeks.
The intended parents conceived a week later and were to welcome a baby into their lives in January 2018.
It was their New Year’s Miracle baby.
Cover image via huffingtonpost.ca