Friday, October 7, 2011

Shopping for Eggs

For the past two weeks we've been trying to select an egg donor.

In some ways, it's not so different from shopping for anything else online.

The problem is I suck at online shopping. I love online looking, clicking through pages and pages of beautiful things that I imagine myself owning. I'll envision a life in which I strut around in purple suede thigh-high boots, attend garden parties wearing sweet embroidered frocks, and have a spare closet filled with unique knick-knacks so I always have a gift on hand when I've forgotten someone's birthday.

But as my mouse hovers over the "add to cart" button, I convince myself those boots are impractical, that dress won't work with my sallow skin and garden-party-less lifestyle, and trinkets crafted from old typewriter keys and Scrabble tiles are the kinds of gifts that only I would appreciate. The cursor meekly slides over to the corner of the screen and I close the window, buying nothing.

As it turns out, I'm just as ambivalent when shopping for DNA.

Our clinic has an in-house donor pool and strictly safeguards the privacy of everyone involved. Donor profiles are stripped of any identifying information; photos show them as babies or young children, not adults. They provide basic facts: height and weight, hair and eye color, racial and cultural background, personal and family health history, education and talents. It's all there to browse through, in the online database.

We have to assemble all these discrete bits of information and try to create an image of the young woman they describe. It's like doing a jigsaw puzzle without first seeing the picture on the box. You really don't know how the pieces fit or if you're putting them together the right way.

At first glance, I saw lots of potential. I envisioned healthy and attractive young women generously donating precious gifts of hope. I pictured the children that would result from blending their characteristics with my husband's. I fantasized about finger-paint masterpieces created by a child who combined Donor A's artistic abilities with Mr Wren's self-discipline and focus, or the easy friendships enjoyed by one with Donor B's outgoing nature and Mr Wren's winning smile.

But the deeper I delved into their profiles, the more I faltered. Donor A has a troubling amount of alcoholism and mental health issues in her immediate family. Donor B has other medical conditions that could combine with my husband's genes in a most unfortunate manner. Donor C, our last remaining option, is nothing - and I mean NOTHING - like me.  She's fair where I'm dark. She's an athlete where I'm an uncoordinated clutz. She's smart and motivated where I'm smart but a slack-ass. OK, so in some ways she's better than me and that's cool.

In all, Donor C is our top candidate.  But I keep getting caught up on her conspicuous lack of physical resemblance to anyone in my family. Her baby pictures show an adorable tow-headed toddler with bright blue eyes and a wide laughing smile. She looks like Mr. Wren's cousins and even though his hair is dark, his eyes are blue so a blond-haired blue-eyed baby could believably take after his side of the family.  But only his side.

And I don't know why it's so imperative that this child resemble me. Any resemblance would be superficial. Even if I could find a clutzy, slack-ass doppelganger of a donor and gave birth to a sallow  brown-eyed child, he or she wouldn't have "my" eyes so why would it matter? Maybe it shouldn't matter at all. The ONLY thing that really matters is that the baby is healthy. Obviously if we adopted a child it wouldn't look like me and I wouldn't care, so why do I care now?

I have a lot to think about.  I convinced the clinic to extend my access to the database by one more week.

To be continued....


  1. Thanks, Andra. Now you see the shape my "helicopter" has taken?

  2. There is a big difference between purple thigh-high boots and your egg. :) You are right to mull over these questions and take additional time. I know you will come to the right decision when you are ready. Best of luck!

  3. You're right, Belle. I can always return or re-sell the boots if they don't work out. Babies, not so much. :)

  4. As it seems like the devil is after me this holiday eve day, I caught your entry. I am so glad that you were able to get an extension. It seems like you've made so many concessions. If you don't have to make this one, better. Good luck.

  5. Jenny - know that whichever donor you pick, your child(ren) will be just PERFECT because he/she/they will be the beautiful child(ren) you carry and you and your DH raise together with love.

    My sister and I have the same bio parents, yet we look like we come from different countries. I am fair-skinned with hazel eyes, freckles and thin, brown wavy hair and she is olive-skinned with deep brown eyes, and thick, tightly-curled jet black hair. So, even if you were able to conceive "naturally", there's still no guarantees that your children will look like you.

    I remember when we picked our donor from the in-house pool, they posted new donors every Thursday. The one Thursday I looked, four donors were added and three were chosen within 15 minutes! All I could think was how could a couple make such an important decision so quickly?!

    With our donor, my DH wanted "time to think" and by the time he was ready, another couple had put her under contract - so we went with our second choice. In hindsight, it was lucky because our donor had a "bumper crop" - 42 follicles, 28 mature eggs retrieved 22 fertilized, and in the end we ended up with 17 viable embryos - more than we would ever need in this lifetime!

    Not sure if you are familiar with Epigenetics, but if not, Google "IVF Donor Egg Epigenetics". I think you'll fimd it fascinatimg and I am in the camp that believes there's lots of truth to Epigenetics.

  6. It is really hard to make that choice. My DH and I were opposite of the two of you. My husband is medium toned with a broad face, and I'm fair with a narrow face. Well, here in Philly there aren't many Scandinavians so we wound up choosing a light olive toned donor with widely spaced eyes. Well, my daughter’s facial features are the splitting image of my husband as child with a tan. Just today, one of the daycare providers said that Emily is starting to look like me…and she known Emily since 8 weeks of age. I just smiled because I knew that my daughter’s beautiful dimples and heart shaped face didn’t have come from us, but I also wouldn’t have changed them to mine. If I were to wish that...I'd be wishing away my Emily. All I can say is thank you donor.

    If it helps, I do think that your DH’s darker coloring is likely to dominate over a donor’s fair coloring. In addition, I think that people unconsciously identify and fill in similarities within a family. They will never be looking as closely as you do.

    Best of luck. I do think that choosing is one of the hardest parts. I found that it just got easier from there (BFP, heartbeat, knowing it's a girl/boy, feeling it move, holding him/her). The child/children go from being the donor's "egg" to being YOUR baby/babies. Thank you for your sometimes humorous but always heartfelt blog!