My egg donor journey

My Egg Donor Journey

I was born to a very LGBTQA+ heavy family. Because of this, I got to see first hand the hardships ‘queer’ people face in creating a family the ‘traditional’ way, and faced some of my own issues. So, when I stumbled across an ad for an egg donor agency that boasted helping LGBT families, it made me curious. While part of me wants more people to adopt, I know there are still many organizations that make it harder for same-sex couples to adopt. So creating a biological child is sometimes easier-as it really only requires money.

In 2015 I graduated from a state college year early, but I soon felt the overbearing weight of school loans. So I hopped on Craigslist looking for a second job (as one does) and found a listing titled something like “BECOME AN EGG DONOR, EARN $60K! and so my journey began!

You may be interested in reading: Egg Donor Banks Worldwide Directory

I applied to the agency from Craigslist and provided them with every known scrap of health information for my family. Since I come from a traditional Irish family with a ton of members, so that made this a big ordeal. After this, providing tons of pictures from different stages in my life, and doing an interview, I was accepted to the agency. I also ended up doing a psych evaluation, a genetic counselling session, and a hormone check. All of this, but I didn’t get picked by a couple until nearly two years later. What they don’t tell you is the egg/semen donor process is a lot like online dating, you just sit and wait until someone likes you. I should add that this is my experience from my first donation, as of August of 2019 I’ve completed 3 donations and am in the beginning stages of doing a 4th!

I was finally matched in the beginning of 2018 with a couple that wanted to do an anonymous donation. This means I will never speak to them, I will never know the outcome of the possible children (besides if embryos are created), and I will never have contact with the family in the future. This was all extensively outlined in the legal agreement I signed, along with my compensation rates and the understanding that I was putting my life, and my ovaries on the line.

After being matched I was set up with a travel coordinator. My IP (intended parents) were in the North East so I was actually being shipped out to Connecticut to do my initial testing, and then my actual procedure was there as well. The week of ‘monitoring’ appointments was done here in Scottsdale, AZ.

The trip to Connecticut for initial testing was super quick. Somehow they managed to squeeze a blood test, a urine test, a verbal interview with the doctor, a psychological exam, an online personality test, and a second round of genetic counselling all into a 7 hour period. I felt like a mix of a wild animal being probed and questioned constantly, and a human under alien observation. This was the toughest day of the entire process.

In comparison, the rest of the process is pretty simple, just time consuming. Luckily for me I work for myself, so my boss is pretty easy going. I had to give myself daily shots, morning and night. I just told myself that the gauge of the needles used for the shots was smaller than my nose piercing! It didn’t make it hurt less but ya know…whatever gets the job done.

Every other day during the shots period I headed to my Scottsdale monitoring for a blood test and ‘probing’ as I called it. In reality it’s a vaginal ultrasound and was more awkward than painful. Then a few days later I shipped off to the North East.

I was minorly uncomfortable, but much less than I expected. Just some general bloating and tiredness. However, my biggest complaint from the entire medication process was from the trigger shots. They made me feel horribly drunk for about 12 hours after, and then I had horrible motion sickness for about a week after doing them! I have to apologize to all my sisters for making fun of them for motion sickness in the past.

Through all of my donations, one of the things I’m most thankful for is that these experiences have provided me the opportunity to explore with my loved ones. My first donation my boyfriend and I went to NYC after my retrieval. My second retrieval my best friend and mom came out to hangout with me by the beach. And my third donation allowed me to take my boyfriend to an amazing guitar store in Houston, TX that he never would have seen otherwise.

Why the shots?
Well I’m not a doctor, so ask them the real questions. Here’s my down and dirty version. Your body starts to cultivate multiple eggs before you actually ovulate normally. Then your body picks the best one (or two if you’re extra cool), and ships those out. The shots basically tell your body to not get rid of the ‘extra’ follicles/eggs, and actually make more! You also do shots to delay ovulation. The trigger shot(s) are actually just an amped up version of the hormone your body uses to induce ovulation. That’s why it is so specifically timed before your procedure.

The actual retrieval was easy-peasy. I was very nervous, but more because I don’t really like anaesthesia. They strapped me into some pretty severe looking stirrups and pointed a light where I prefer lights not shine…but ya know I signed up for this so there I was! Luckily in the US egg donors are put to sleep, so I felt nothing, and the procedure was done in under 45 minutes. I was sent home and had a nice nap!

Two of my donations I have been ‘triggered early’, which basically just means I was ahead of schedule but doesn’t hurt the follicles at all. Because of this my travel plans have been rearranged a lot. The donor agency takes care of all the travel plans, a food stipend and a hotel for you and your companion. You have to have someone present for the actual retrieval since you can’t drive right after. This is also how I was able to share my experience with so many people, and see some cool things!

The Why
Overall if you’re thinking about donating eggs, know that it’s really not as scary as many people say! That being said; there are health risks and it’s very important to be your own advocate throughout the process. I even go to an outside doctor, no affiliated with the process, to get a check up after every donation.

There are a lot of variables depending on you and your IPs. I actually didn’t know my IP’s were two males until about two weeks before. Coming from a LGBTQA family it made it that much more special. I won’t ever meet my IP’s or my egg-babies, but I’m glad I got to help them create a family! In fact, my second egg donation was also for a Gay man who was planning for the future. Both of these families wrote me the sweetest notes after the fact, and they mean the world to me.

You’ll go through talks with lawyers, doctors, nurses, coordinators and so many other people. It’s a whirlwind, but it’s one what is very rewarding. I’m very outspoken about my experiences. 1. Because they’ve all been very positive and 2. Because the more we speak up about families that aren’t the normal “heterosexual, 2 kids with a white picket fence” idea, the less people will be confused and ask questions. Families come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and I’m just thankful that I was able to help couples that I KNOW will love their children, be able to become families.

Picture of Mariah Riney
Mariah Riney

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