This week’s blog is another Donor Story, but this time it’s a two part story. Donor “TY” has donated twice now and had different experiences both times. Part 1 this […]
This week’s blog is another Donor Story, but this time it’s a two part story. Donor “TY” has donated twice now and had different experiences both times. Part 1 this week follows TY after her first donation in which she discusses her experience, particularly as an Asian egg donor. TY is from Southern California. She likes soccer, The Office, and sushi. TY is interested in theater and film, and hopes to one day have a production company that focuses on stories from underrepresented groups.
Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and what brought you to egg donation?
I grew up in Southern California in a Christian household. My family and I aren’t close anymore, because I came out to them a few years ago. My Dad’s a pastor – it didn’t work out well. But then the whole idea of family opened to me – what does that mean, and how to define that.
I started watching some shows, and nowadays they talk more about an open style of family. I’m not sure what show it was, but there was one about a family having difficulties with pregnancy, and for whatever reason that really resonated and connected with me. It sucks that there are people who have those kinds of challenges. And for me, growing up having all been told certain things like, “Oh you’re so tall for an Asian girl”, or that I rarely have to worry about my skin or certain things – I realized that these were things that people were looking for in a donor. At that time in my life, I thought, I’m not going to be using [my eggs] so maybe somebody else might want to. Obviously, I think my reasons for donating have changed over time. But initially when I signed up, that was kind of it; I was just like, I don’t foresee myself having a traditional family, so there was really no need or use for my eggs.
So, being someone who came out to their parents did the idea that you might be helping a gay couple enter your mind at all?
That was definitely a big thing later on down the line, especially now with politics and all the different states that are not allowing adoption or challenging that idea. That there are so many different ways to go about having a family, that this was something that I could contribute and be a part of, was really fortunate for me. My first donation was something I was really excited for because of the couple I was working with. I didn’t even ask or expect that but it made me really happy to hear.
Can you tell me about any fears you had about becoming an egg donor, and the egg donation process, prior to donating?
For me there weren’t really any technical issues in terms of the hormone injections or the actual retrieval. That didn’t scare me so much as the emotional state, wondering maybe am I going to change my mind, or maybe want to have a connection – that was my biggest fear, that maybe I would regret this at some point, which is crazy now when I look back and think on it. Leading up to it was a fear, like maybe I didn’t actually want to do this. A lot of that was instilled upon me because I ended up telling my mother and she put a lot of those thoughts in my head. But before that I was very certain. And I was happy that I got to know the couple that wanted to raise a child, and they sounded like they wanted to be parents so much. I think about the plans that they had for this child – what more could I ask for than somebody who wants children so badly! You know?
And you have sort of a unique connection with them too don’t you?
Yeah, yeah, they just texted me yesterday! (laughs) They are keeping me up with the process, we have an open donation, so I’ve actually met with them in person, we text and everything. It’s been really great.
Have you met the child then, or are they pregnant now?
Actually, they are about to try another embryo, so the first two didn’t work…
So they are trying again, so that’s where they are in the process? Did you guys discuss that perhaps you could meet the child in the future if they did have a pregnancy?
Yeah, that was definitely something we discussed. They are like come over, stay at our place… you know, yeah very generous, very kind, which makes it even better, all of it. They are a very loving household. They want this child to be as open and loved as possible. They are even remodeling the home right now for future children. They have a whole plan for all of that. I think that’s amazing.
And having the experience with this couple and being willing to donate again, how do you feel about your choice of contact, and would you do the same thing, or do it differently? And if this next family isn’t willing to have future contact, how would you feel about that?
I think, for me originally, I was open to whatever the intended parents wanted. And I was just fortunate that the first time they wanted to have an open relationship with me and that was really great. It definitely opened up the door to understanding their mindset as intended parents. So, I kind of feel like I can be hopeful that regardless of whether or not I get to communicate with future intended parents or not, that there is definitely a lightness inside knowing that they want the best for their child. If they are going through this process, they want the best for the child. Whatever they want and however they want the child to grow up, and what they think it’s in the best interest of the child, I want to respect that relationship too.
So you already mentioned your family, but I am curious were your other friends or loved ones supportive?
Yeah, my partner, she was very supportive of all of this. She was there for the retrieval and helped me with the injections and everything like that. My family, unfortunately being Asian, we don’t really talk about things very much unless they want to voice a concern that they think is imperative, which is usually my parents. It’s like some sort of hierarchy. My parents feel they can say what they need to say. Other family members just don’t talk about it. Like my sister knows about it. My sister asked, “Is it safe?” And I was like “yeah”, and she was like “okay.” Nothing really more about it. No questions about like, will this count as my niece kind of thing? No questions about it. Unfortunately, culture kind of made it so that we just don’t say anything. All of my close friends know about it and they are all very supportive. They think it’s a really great thing. I have other friends who unfortunately are not Asian, and couldn’t be a part of this program, or not viable donors in other ways, so for them, they wish they could do something like this to help others.
So how did you, and your partner go throughout this experience?
I suppose throughout all of it, there wasn’t really much to share about it, except to open up a conversation about having a family for ourselves in the future. I didn’t really have a lot of complications throughout the whole process. The only time in which it was really challenging was after the retrieval. They retrieved like 40 eggs so I had a lot of bloating, like just crazy amounts. So that week after was the most challenging because that was probably the most incapacitated I’ve been in our relationship. And me complaining all the time, for us that was the only thing, because usually I’m more mobile. I couldn’t sit up, I was constipated and felt like throwing up for a couple of days. And then after that, it felt like it never happened. But it was definitely challenging to have a thing like that, because I’m not usually the kind to complain.
So explain to me after your retrieval about how many days you felt that way? Just so other donors have an idea of what they might expect?
I had my retrieval on a Saturday and I think I flew back home on a Monday or a Tuesday. So during the first two days post-retrieval especially, I felt bedridden. I was incredibly bloated to the point where I didn’t feel like I could sit up – I had to do that roll off the bed, get up situation. I definitely would recommend stool softeners or something. Eventually I went to the extreme and told my partner, could you go get lactic acid at the grocery store? That was definitely uncomfortable, but… they checked me out and said everything was ok. It was just at times there was a lot of pressure.
And did you do your injections yourself or did your partner do them?
She did a couple. I did most of them myself because at some point there were so many I was like I can’t do it anymore, I can’t look, can you do it for me? But overall she was there to make sure I didn’t like fall over (laughs) because the first time I did it I felt sick, but that was just because the needle looked so big at the time. Other than the first two or three days of bloating, which the clinic had explained to me… it was fine – it was just out of the blue because nothing else had happened; I felt normal up until the retrieval process. So it was just like a shock factor. Because everyone had been warning me of side effects, but I hadn’t had anything so I was like, I’m sure this’ll be fine. So my expectations were set really low. The juxtaposition of the outcome was what was the most shocking portion of it. But it went away after a few days and the actual bloating was maybe two weeks and then I was back to normal.
Would you say that you would’ve liked to have had more time off? Did you go right back to your regular activities? What amount of time would you recommend a donor take off after retrieval?
I had to fly out for my retrieval so I was there until I got cleared, I think either a Monday or a Tuesday following my retrieval. I was able to go in and they cleared me so the first two or three days of what had been the worst part of it were over, so after that I was able to check out and catch a flight. So maybe three days after? And then I went back to work the following day if I remember correctly. Which wasn’t horrible, it really wasn’t after that. If you’re not a person who handles discomfort or pain very well, maybe take an extra couple days. For me, I was just a little uncomfortable at work but it didn’t prevent me from doing my job.
What was the best thing about being an egg donor for you?
I think I was really fortunate to have a couple that wanted an open donation and so that was probably the best thing for me. I still get to have a relationship with them and get to know the plan they have for this child in the future. For me, they already told me for the eggs they retrieved they want to have a girl and a boy and later on do something different to have either another girl or a boy with a different donor. That is really exciting. I got pictures of their dog. It’s really cool to see that they have this future life plan that I think is going to be really happy and full of love.
Has the compensation changed your life in any way?
Yeah it was good because I had debt and my partner is in school so it helped with that a little bit. It helped us through a trying time financially which was good because that kind of gave us a little bit of relief. It was in general a financial help. I was swimming in debt and now I’m kind of like treading in it! (laughs)
Do you have any tips in terms of what qualities prospective donors should look for in an egg donor agency?
Yeah, definitely working with AsiaWest has been the best possible thing… the intended parents also always told me how much they loved working with Amie and everybody so that was great on both sides of it. I felt like I didn’t have to worry about anything – flights, hotels – I just showed up! That’s all I had to do. The appointment is already planned out. You guys are great about communication, always getting back to me in a timely manner. Sometimes I felt like I had stupid questions but Amie would always answer them. If Amie couldn’t answer it she would redirect me. Kind of just creating more real expectations… the big thing was honesty too. Sometimes if Amie didn’t know the answer, it was great that she didn’t just tell me something without having any backing for it. So that was great. You guys are kind! Really generous with time. Amie said if there are after hours this is the number to call. I never felt like I was stranded somewhere which could’ve been something because I had to travel back and forth a few times… People should know that AsiaWest, you’ll never have hiccups from my experience at least!
I’m glad you had a good experience. Do you have any advice for someone thinking of becoming an egg donor?
Do some more research. Just know that a lot of the stuff people say, you can donate multiple times, you can still have kids, there’s not a lot of pain involved. The only thing you really have to offer is your time. Nowadays as much as people think they’re busy all the time, it’s so easy to just set aside even half a day from work to stop in, because you have to go to the appointments and check ups. It’s really not too challenging considering what you’re being a part of. At some point there’s going to be a life somewhere out there in the world. And hopefully it’s a life that other people will be bettered by. That’s something to really think about. It’s not so much thinking about yourself, but the family you’re creating. That’s what’s really cool about it. You’re doing a really great thing for someone who really wants it. That’s something you really have to consider is the families who go through this process don’t go through it light-heartedly. So if you’re a part of that process, you’re part of something that’s been thought of for a long time. People invested a lot into it so it’s not something to take lightly. It’s just something you can do to help. You’re offering your time and a resource you already have to help a family become a family.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of TY’s story coming up soon!
–AsiaWest Egg Donors
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.