November is usually a anxiety-producing month for me. Sounds crazy, I know, but a lot of the bad things that have happened in my life (parents’ split-up, illness, betrayals, and the death of my great-grandmother whom I was very close to, more so than either of my grandmothers) have happened in November.
But I usually love Hallowe’en. I secretly believe in ghosts. I love supernatural thrillers. I’m a wee bit obsessed with zombies. I love dressing up. And any excuse to stuff my greedy little face with chocolate! But after the Hallowe’en swan song comes November 1st, and each week in November there is an anniversary-of-something date notched into my heartache belt.
This year has shown me that there are plenty of things that can go wrong — some actually have happened, others have not — and I’ve been a bit woe is me recently, but I’ve decided it’s time for me to remain hopeful. As I found myself texting to a friend the other day, Resilience doesn’t mean never breaking down: it means picking yourself up again and again. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up on my dreams just yet! (This goes for motherhood, as well as my career goals and finding a new place to live.)
All we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, so my goals for the day are simple: get up, brush teeth, feed dog, take vitamins, eat something, shower, and try to do something nice for myself–whether it’s a piece of chocolate, a new yoga class, lunch with a friend, or reading something for fun.
Today I woke up, though, and thought, Today is going to be a good day. I had two irons in the fire and had a good feeling about both of them. And when I realised that, my next thought was, If I can get through a miscarriage, and say goodbye to the possibility of ever having a genetic child, well, in a sense I’ve hit rock bottom. The only way is up, surely!
And, lo and blimmin’ behold, I may have proven myself right.
Chances are you’ve heard of Return to Zero, a new film about pregnancy loss starring Minnie Driver and Alfred Molina. It’s the first Hollywood film that tackles the sensitive subject of pregnancy loss, and the film’s producers are galvanizing the public to speak up about their own losses to convince the distributors that there is an audience for a cinematic release. As part of this effort, accompanying the film is a book called Three Minus One, a collection of short stories and artwork from people who have experienced miscarriage and/or stillbirth.
Back in August, there was a call for entries and I figured by entering I had nothing to lose but my pride. Fast forward to this morning, I got the official news that my submission, based on my Dear Little Mizuko Bean post, has been chosen for the anthology! Mine was one of 75 entries selected—there were over 600 submissions, so to have been chosen is a huge honour! Although it won’t be the first time I see my name in print, it will be the first time that I’ve poured my broken heart and aching soul into something has been judged on such a large scale. I am delighted, shocked, humbled, and excited to have been selected! Although I won’t receive any compensation, I will get a copy of the book, which will be published in May 2014.
Most importantly, my voice is now one of many that is part of something greater and more meaningful than I could achieve on my own. Won’t you join in the chorus? If you would like to learn more about the Return to Zero / Three Minus One project you can do so here. Please spread the word about the project if you are so inclined, and pledge to see the movie / buy the book!
This past Tuesday, DH ad I met with a therapist who specialises in reproductive trauma. Even though we feel like we’re doing a good job of processing our news (and so quickly — it’s only been 5 weeks that we found out I am a freak!), we figured it would be good to see someone who has experience navigating these unusual waters. The therapist encouraged us to think about what is most important to us in an egg donor, and what we can compromise on.
I must say, going through half a dozen databases of fresh and frozen egg donors made me feel like a pervy old man. Then I felt like the world’s most judgmental perfectionist as I rejected one fresh-faced girl after another. Too short. Too pretty. Too dumb. Ugh, she won’t donate her eggs to a same sex couple?? Fuck her! That’s a dumb movie to put as your favourite. I hate her heavy makeup. She looks the exactly. the. same in every picture. Lovely personality but I don’t like her chin… The first donor I picked was a hard act to follow — and let’s be honest: if I am going to choose someone else’s genes to use instead of my own, she has to be someone I like. A lot.
The more I searched, the more disheartened I got. And the more I thought about what choosing an egg donor means, the more I realised that having a proven egg donor (someone who’s done it before, whose ovarian response to the drugs is known) is really important. Would I ever find anyone?
Sighing, I logged back onto the in-house agency for the IVF clinic we haven’t met with yet. Second from the top, I saw a face that immediately caught me interest. I clicked on it. DH was out running, so I called my MIL over. The more we read, the more we liked this donor. In DH’s absence, I emailed the Egg Donor Coordinator (EDC) and got an out of office reply. DH came through the front door and I told him I’d found someone I liked. The more he thought about her, the more he was comfortable with the idea.
But I didn’t want to get too attached. Not after last time.
This morning, still lying in bed, I checked my email with baited breath…
The EDC had kindly emailed me at 6am to say “[she] is available and beyond fabulous.” And, alakazam!, just like that, we were matched. MATCHED, I tell you!
Henceforth our donor (our donor!) will be known on this blog as ‘Nel’ (aka Nice Egg Lady) or ‘Nellie’.
Here’s what I know.
Height: At 5’7″ she is an inch shorter than what I wanted, but hey! I secretly gave myself some wiggle room.
Looks: We have a similar shaped face, strong jaw, similar nose, and the same fair olive skin. She has beautiful green eyes.
Ethnicity: Similar ethnicity to me–English, Irish, French, German, Italian.
Qualities: Artistic, kind, thoughtful responses. Good writer. Self-aware. From the little I know of her, I think we could be friends (and my best friend totally agrees).
Spirituality: Not religious.
Reason for Wanting to Be a Donor: She is a single parent who wants to give others the joy of parenthood. Not strictly altruistic, but DH and I feel comfortable with her reasons.
Fee: Don’t ask… gulp. But I have a feeling this one will be worth every penny.
Location: San Diego.
Bonus: she speaks fluent Spanish and is drawn to the part of Spain where I grew up.
Most Important of All: her fertility numbers are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. (compared to my crappy ones).
AMH: above 14 (mine is 0.17)
FSH: 5.6 (mine is 12.3)
Antral Follicle Count: above 40 (I have 6)
In addition to being a mother herself, Nellie has donated eggs seven times. In each of those cycles, she has produced between 30-70+ eggs (yup, more than seventy!!), of which 20-47 matured. In six of the seven cycles, the recipient couple either had a healthy baby or has a healthy ongoing pregnancy. (The seventh couple needs a surrogate and hasn’t transferred any of their embryos yet.) So with even just a smidgen of luck, we will have a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and maybe have a few siblings on ice for next time…
The EDC and I shared a few emails today. Here’s an excerpt from the one that made me smile the most:
“[She] is one of my all-time favorite donors in the seven years that I’ve run our program. Not only is she beyond devastatingly gorgeous, she has the kindest and sweetest spirit. She brought her four-year-old son to her appointment yesterday and he is just adorable, and she is a fantastic mother. I CANNOT say enough positive things about this young woman – and that has nothing to do with the fact that she is a rock star donor with a tremendous track record of success.
I… have let her know that she will be back in cycle in January. We are fortunately to have this donor in our program and I’m proud of you for identifying [her].”
Nellie knows about cycling in January. She doesn’t know anything about us, but she knows we need her, and she has said yes.
We’re still going to proceed with the genetic counselling appointment with Reprogenetics. DH feels more strongly than I do that we fully explore the option of using my eggs before reaching a final decision, but he’s right. We need to close the chapter on my genetic child/ren.
Winston Churchill said, If you find yourself in hell, keep going. I sometimes I have terrible moments, hours even, where I am a roaring black cloud of anger and then grief… but I know that allowing myself to experience these emotions is what pierces the membrane of hope. Though my grief may still be triggered by anything related to pregnancy, I know I am more resilient than ever. I know this because for the first time in a long time I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
♥ ♥ ♥ Because if we cycle in January, that means I might be pregnant by Spring. ♥ ♥ ♥