No part of me regrets the decision I made to be an egg donor but I regret how I went about it and the contract I locked myself into. I regret not requesting an open donation. I did not understand the gravity of my decisions. I believed I was mature and now I look back and feel like I was just a kid. That psychological screening, many years ago, had "screened" a version of myself I could no longer relate to. I had no way of knowing that egg donation would impact my life the way it did.
You can safely assume by the fact that I had four children in five and a half years, that I did not have much difficulty conceiving. However, two of my very best friends struggled for years to get pregnant, so while I would not want to give advice to someone who can't conceive, I do feel qualified to give advice about what do to when your friend can't get pregnant while you can.
At the clinic I rarely met women, young or old, who understand their fertility and what happens during the menstrual cycle. They all know about the blood, although not always why they bleed. But few know anything about what happens between periods. No one has told them. Why have we kept this information from young women? Why do we tell them they can get pregnant any time of the month? If it's to encourage young people to use protection when they have sex, it doesn't seem to work.
Instead of accusing women of prioritizing career over family, perhaps we should acknowledge that it is simply more challenging nowadays for many women to find a life partner during their fertile years. For that reason alone, I applaud companies for providing women with the opportunity to expand their control over their fertility.
Fertility clinics with low or average success rates, and those not in step with the most recent scientific advances, faced a conflict of interest. Their patients would be more likely to become pregnant with the help of their more competent and cutting-edge competitors, but the clinics would be more profitable if they did not direct them there. With this new found insight, I no longer thought of myself as an IVF patient and began to consider myself an IVF consumer.
Because my cancer was hormone-sensitive, I need to take a drug called Tamoxifen that is proven to reduce the risk of the cancer returning and possibly spreading to another part of my body. The newest recommendation is to stay on this drug for 10 years. Great news, right? A drug that could actually help keep me alive. I am lucky to have that option. Unfortunately, hormonal therapy for cancer comes with a whack of side effects. The biggest one for me is that I've been told not to get pregnant while taking it, due to its potential to cause birth defects.
The recent news that actress Sofia Vergara is facing a lawsuit from her ex-fiancé over the fate of their frozen embryos is shining a light on the embryo freezing process. If a couple separates and fails to agree on what to do with their frozen embryos, a lengthy and emotionally taxing legal battle could ensue. However, if only eggs are frozen over the course of a relationship, and that relationship ends, there is no dispute over who the eggs belong to and who controls their fate.
Jaime you decided to come forward with your personal experiences and give a voice to all of those who found that trying for a baby didn't go as they planned. You didn't have to share this information, but you did. By doing so, you brought awareness to infertility and hope to women all over the world. You've given a ray of hope to those who needed it amidst the flurry of injectable medications, ultrasounds, and doctor appointments. You've brought encouragement to those who went through the "two week wait" with baited breath only to be heartbroken and disappointed.
For those who are trying to conceive, especially single women who may be trying to decide between becoming a single parent or choosing egg freezing, the holidays can be a tough time as it brings into focus family and resolutions for the future. Instead of focusing on your worries, think about the positives.
Egg freezing has sparked widespread media interest after Apple and Facebook recently announced they would cover the cost of the fertility procedure up to $20,000. This caused some serious debate. Some interpreted this as the tech giants' way of giving women more of a choice around career and starting a family; others saw this as a chauvinistic attempt to recruit and retain female employees. To further understand why this is such a contentious issue, here is some background information on the procedure and how it applies to Canadians.
The concept of egg donation is novel to many. For most women over 40, it is difficult to conceive. Some undergo infertility treatments with their own eggs but these days, many conceive through the use of an egg donor. Since it is a private matter, most women do not share the struggles of conception, making it a taboo subject. The invention of egg donation as a procedure was revolutionary in terms of helping couples, who for varying reasons would never have had the ability to create a family. Technology will continue to advance, creating new options for families looking for solutions. But in the meantime, we can all help by staying informed and sharing each others' stories in hopes that one day, fertility troubles will be an issue of the past.