IVF and Egg Donation

The Egg Donation decision

The Decision

The following book excerpt is provided by permission of the authors. It is edited and provided by New York Fertility Services in New York, NY.  Reference: Glazer, Ellen S and Sterling, Evelina S. Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation Perspectives Press, Indianapolis Indiana. The book is highly recommended. The services of these two wise ladies are available to assist in navigation of these waters. Their web site is www.fertility.com Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation is the first comprehensive book for people considering parenthood through donated ova. It takes readers through the decision making process, focusing on questions they are likely to be asking themselves, including: “Are we candidates for egg donation?” “Will it work?” “How much does it cost?” “How do we find a donor?” “Should we ask a family member or work with a stranger?” “How do we talk about our decision with others?” “How will we tell our children?” Ethical questions related to egg donation are also examined: “Can a donor truly have informed consent?” “Is it ethically correct for donors to receive payment, and, if so, is the payment for ‘time and effort’ or for their eggs?” Perhaps the thorniest question of all is “How old is too old?”
For readers facing the unfamiliar new terrain of ovum donation, Ellen Sarasohn Glazer and Evelina Weidman Sterling are wise and compassionate guides. In simple, clear, informative, and sensitive language, they address feelings that arise for individuals and couples facing egg donation decisions. Drawing from different and complementary areas of expertise – Glazer is a counselor and infertility coach, Sterling a public health specialist and medical ethicist – they provide readers with information and understanding needed for the journey, also, directing travelers to resources to further assist them. This valuable book draws out the range of issues to be faced by anyone involved with egg donation. Even when raising ethical controversies and medical challenges, the authors offer an optimistic and reassuring view.Carol Frost, LICSW
Co-author of Helping the Stork
Infertility Counselor in Woburn, MA

Deciding Whether to Pursue Egg Donation

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”
–    Robert Frost

Here you are at a crossroads in your journey toward parenthood. You can either travel down the road of oocyte donation or you can choose another path. Before you focus intently on whether or not to use donated ova, we encourage you to pause for a time and consider all of the possible choices that lie before you. Since most of you will be traveling as part of a couple, we encourage each of you to turn to your companion in this journey and to remind yourselves that you must come to decisions that will work for both of you and for your relationship as a family.

Elements and Influences, Some Reminders

Like all travelers, you should plan well for the journey. We’d like to begin by reminding you of some of the elements of and influences on decision making that we addressed in Chapter 1 and then offer additional suggestions.

Decisions Are Made Sequentially

If you have been struggling with infertility, you have probably already figured out that as your reality changes, so do your perceptions of your options. How many of you once thought, “I’ll never do IVF?” By now many of you are veterans of IVF cycles many times over. As you traveled down one path, you discovered that options which once seemed daunting or disturbing could actually have become attractive.

Never Say Never

You have probably figured this out as well. It is easy to ay you will never do this, or never do that, but as we said before, as your reality changes, so do your decisions. Remember also, that not yet does not mean never. For instance, your partner may say “Not yet” to something that you think you want to do. Listen carefully to your partner, talk openly about your concerns, and repeat after us, “Not yet is not never.”

Husbands and Wives Move at Different Paces and This Is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

Remember that we said, “Not yet is not never.” We remind you of this so soon because if you are like most couples facing decisions about using donated ova, one of you will be ready to consider this alternative path to parenthood before the other. When this happens, the person who wants to move forward is often upset and angry with the one who says, “I’m not ready” or “We need to try…again.”
You are perhaps puzzled by our saying that this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact we have found that couples have a way of balancing each other. One of you can sound – and feel – eager to explore options beyond conventional treatment in part because you know that your partner will slow you down and help insure that you make wise, informed decisions. Similarly, you who are trailing at the rear can afford to take it slowly because you know from past experience that your spouse is well prepared to take the lead.

Your History Will Inform Your Decision Making

Remember that you and your partner have different histories as well as a shared one. Inevitable, decisions about using donated ova, adoption and other options will be shaped by your past experiences. If your favorite cousins were adopted, you will have one set of associations about adoption. If the worst troublemaker in your elementary school was adopted, you will have different nothings about people who joined their family through adoption. If you were a birth mother and placed a child in adoption, your feelings about adoption will be influenced by this experience, and if your cousin’s daughter was a program-recruited oocyte donor, you will have her as a reference point for egg donation. Be prepared for significant loose to help shape your perceptions of each of these options.  This leads us to…

Loss and Grief Are Part of the Journey

Surely you will feel loss and grief along the way. After all, things are not working out the way you had hoped or expected.  However, if you may still succeed in having a biological child (or another biological child), you may not face the full loss and grief encountered by those who learn or realize that they will never fulfill their dream. Nonetheless, you are experiencing loss – loss of the hoped for spontaneous conception, loss of feeling tat you can plan your time (let along your family!), loss of money, loss of a great deal of emotional and physical energy already invested, loss of the perception that hard work always pays off. Be prepared for a journey – or the continuation of a journey – that involves loss and grief and ever unfolding new realities.  We hope that you, like others who have traveled before you, will discover the unanticipated rewards that come from being able to accept loss, to grieve, and then to celebrate your new realities.
Infertility researcher Dr. Stacy Ellender captures this in an essay she wrote about her own infertility experience and her daughter’s arrival from China inExperiencing Infertility (Josey Bass, 1998)

Ellender writes, “Someday, my daughter will learn that she was ‘forsaken on the street’, abandoned under unknown circumstances, and waves of pain may send her reeling. But I like to think that I will steady her, that we will share our stories of loss and redefinitions. I can hold her hand in mine and show her how to face pain with honesty, integrity and a deep wonder at its unexpected potential to shape our lives.”

Don’t Punish Yourselves

Remember that you have made the best decisions you could along the way.  Regret is a painful, poisonous feeling, and infertile people are often the maestros of regret.  It is so tempting to look back and second-guess yourself. “I should have been less focused on my career and we should have tried earlier.” “I shouldn’t have had an abortion when I was 22. It might have been my only chance to have a baby.” “I should have pushed my husband when he said we had time to wait.” “I should have met him earlier.” “I should have tried to marry a younger woman.” Although none of us make decisions expecting to regret them, sometimes the choices we make turn out to be the wrong ones. We wish we could tell you that you can be fully spared regret about future decisions, but you cannot be. It is almost inevitable that you will look back and contemplate how things could have been different if only you had made a different choice. All we can ask is that you try to be gentler with yourselves and each other and remind yourselves that in most instances, you did the best you could with the information you had at hand. As we know, hindsight is twenty/twenty, but in looking forward, all we can do is to try to see things as clearly as we can. Now is the time to look forward with hope rather than back with regret.