Nina (UK): Egg Sharing is Caring
It was always a no brainer for us that if (when!) we went through IVF, we would Egg Share.
For those of you that don’t know much about this process, you donate half of your eggs to a recipient that needs them to go through their own IVF procedure. This could be anyone from a lady going through early menopause, to a same sex couple. The list of people that you can help is endless.
In 2016 we were diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility,’ a phrase my acupuncturist wishes would be removed from the English language. In her opinion, it doesn’t make anything better for a couple looking for an explanation for their infertility; I have to agree with her.
Moving to a new county got in the way of starting IVF, so we started our official journey in January 2018. Our first appointment was so exciting. We met with the consultant, who explained absolutely everything to us. If we had questions, she answered them. The process entailed having an initial scan and some extensive blood tests. The scan was to identify (roughly) how many follicles were there and to show up any undiagnosed PCOS or endometriosis. After the scan, I had blood tests to identify any genetically transferable illnesses or diseases that could rule out my eggs being made available to a recipient. The wait time for the blood results was four weeks. Luckily, mine were all fine and we could proceed. The next stage was our GP completing some forms and a counselling session. The counselling is mandatory and we actually found it incredibly helpful. Once that is done and the counsellor is satisfied, the matching process begins.
The clinic had a list of recipients waiting for a donor that matches their characteristics and did an amazing job of matching donors with recipients. They put us forward and then our characteristics were looked over by potential recipients; if they liked what they saw, they would be sent our ‘pen portrait’ – our ‘about me,’ if you will. This is the sort of thing I always find hard to do. I’m not good at writing about myself and considering what this profile was going to do, I felt like the pressure was on. It must have taken me a good week to get down on paper what I felt was right. I kept re-reading and tweaking it to make sure it was right.
The matching process was the part I dreaded more than anything else. I didn’t fear the needles, the injections, the hormones and the bloating…the matching was the part that kept me awake at night. I knew I would be sat there watching the phone, checking my emails – and to an extent, I did just that. From what I’ve been told, we matched pretty quickly. It was a week: seven days. When I saw the email come through that read, ‘Good news! It’s a match’, I felt my heart leap up into my throat. We’d done it! We were good enough to help someone else that needed it more than we did. I couldn’t help but wonder what went through the recipient’s mind when they got my details and realised I was the one for them. That thought alone is the single most important reason why we wanted to egg share. Making something possible for someone who wanted it so badly. I hope that when that match was made, they felt some sense of hope, relief and happiness.
We will begin the start of the process in May. We have a provisional schedule that starts the stimming in early May, with a proposed egg collection date later on in the month. We are both just so excited to get started – we have been waiting a long time for this and it all feels so incredibly real! We’ve even done a rough calculation and if all goes to plan, we could become parents around Valentine’s Day! How incredible would that be? At our egg collection, the eggs are randomly halved. If there is an odd number retrieved, we get the majority.
To anyone that is considering doing egg sharing, my advice would be – DO IT! Helping someone that wants nothing more than to be a parent is quite possibly the single most rewarding thing you can do. Being in the position where you cannot produce a baby yourself must be utterly devastating. I know how I have felt in my lowest moments so the heartache that a recipient must go through must be that, times infinity. No one should have to deal with that and it’s thanks to egg donors and egg sharers that women who can’t create a baby themselves have the opportunity to carry a child and feel every emotion an expectant parent should. Financially, it can make sense too, with some clinics offering a reduced or even free cycle of IVF. Do your research and look for a clinic that has good success rates for shared egg cycles and you also can’t beat a personal recommendation. Initially, we went to one clinic but the match just didn’t feel right for us. The second clinic we went with have been the ones to help us on our journey. They feel like family and we get so excited every time we go there. That’s how it should feel.
I’d also suggest embracing the IVF community on social media. Through this medium, we have met so many wonderful people on their own IVF journeys and you build such a bond with people sharing the same experiences as you. I have often shed a tear when I see a positive pregnancy test for someone I have followed since their first injection. There are a number of great forums and Facebook groups where you can learn so much about this process and no question is off limits. It’s a huge comfort to know that someone can help.
If you wish to follow Nina’s story, please visit her on Instagram @teamb_becoming3