I know many people find it very difficult to turn to donor gametes. It can be wrenching to accept the idea that your child won't have your physical features, or that your husband won't have blood descendants, or that your first child won't have a full genetic sibling. Some people agonize, both before making the decision and after. Other people have told me they simply knew it was time. The choice was inescapably obvious, and they never once looked back.
I'm pretty sure I belong to the latter group. During the last days of our last try — and how do we count those cycles, anyway, that never made it to trigger, much less to transfer? — I cried an awful lot. It was quite clear something was ending, and I couldn't yet see a new beginning. There was nothing solid to grab to anchor myself. So I cried all the time for days, while driving, while sleeping, while watching Charlie play. I cried hardest in the shower, where it was private, where the water washed the tears away as fast as I could leak them.
One day during that two-week stretch, I was stalling in the shower. Because I have a keen and questing mind, I was experimenting as I cried. Could I blow my streaming nose without using my hands at all? The scientists among you will be pleased to learn that the answer is yes. But the more important point is this: It was then that it occurred to me. We could use donor eggs.
It's not that the idea was new. It had been suggested to me back in 2003, after our third IVF cycle yielded one good embryo, one hideous embryo, and a small remainder of eggs that were too fragile and disfigured to survive ICSI. "Plan: 1) ? closure 2) donor eggs," the nurse wrote in my file. Paul and I had other ideas and went to Cornell instead. But we agreed that if our cycle there didn't work, donor would come next.
And then some stuff happened, and some other stuff happened, and still other stuff happened, and yet more stuff happened, and all of a sudden there we were, smack in the middle of 2006, fucked six ways from Sunday as we weighed would would happen next. We had to decide whether to try at all, a choice much harder than any we'd faced before. Once that was resolved, it seemed to make sense to use my eggs, since our own little bundle of "? closure" had proven it could be done.
In the course of that single shower, I was convinced. It was obviously over with my own eggs, something I acknowledged with a great deal of pain and no little mucus, but also with some relief. But we still had another option, one that I was surprised to learn felt...fine...to me. It didn't even feel like a compromise, as I would find adoption did. No fancy "getting to yes" was necessary; it just seemed suddenly obvious.
For Paul, it was certainly less so, agony versus epiphany. He's more open to adoption than I've been, and seems less inclined than I to wave away the risks of pregnancy with a casual flutter of the hand and a musical, dismissive little laugh. (Just as well, as his repeated attempts at a careless "Oh, fiddle-dee-dee!" sound flat-out ludicrous. Not like when I do it.) He was willing, just, to take the chance when it might have meant a child fully related to us and to Charlie, less so when less so.
But he understands, I think, why I'm not ready, may never be ready, to adopt. And while I'm sure he can't understand why another pregnancy is important to me — how could he, after all, when I can't truly say I do? — he's been willing to trust that it is. So he was a harder sell, but I'm happy to say that his own innate good sense, supplemented by my skillfully reasoned argument, persuaded him.
When you've found yourself facing a big reproductive decision, how did your choice become clear? Sudden or slow? Epiphany or agony? And what about your partner?