By Rachel Trozzolo
My little boy will have a little baby sibling this summer. He will be a big brother and I will get to witness the ups and downs of their relationship from the start. They will share a room and toys and our attention. They may be best friends, or not. They will have similarities and they will have differences and I will catch myself comparing and contrasting them daily, I'm sure.
The thing is, there is a third. There is a little boy out there who is their half-brother, and they may never meet him.
He's the child that resulted from my egg donation in 2008. He is nearly five years old now and the only glimpse of him I've had is a phone picture of a phone picture taken when he was about six months old in a snowsuit. I know very little about him aside from the fact that he has parents that wanted him more than anything. They know quite a lot about me, and I know nothing about them.
After years of interest in the idea of egg donation, I saw a classified ad in a local publication of a couple looking for egg donor. I matched their expectations: I'm Caucasian with dark hair and light eyes. I am tall and university educated. I have an array of interests, I'm healthy and have a healthy family line. I went for the preliminary health screening and questioning at the couple's clinic and then was moved along for an info session and psychological screening.
At the time, nothing fazed me much -- but I think back on the screening often now. I was asked a lot of questions that didn't seem to matter much at the time.
I was asked things like how I would feel if I donated to this couple and they had a child, but then I was unable to conceive in the future? At the "mature" age of 22, I had no interest in having biological children. I was already married and my wife wanted children, but we were both comfortable with the idea of adoption, or she would carry our children. At 22, I was quick to respond that this was not an issue for me; having biological children was not important.
When my body was pumped full of hormones to stimulate my ovarian follicles -- matured for the purpose of giving another woman a chance to be a mother -- part of me changed as well. For the first time in my life, I had a desire to be pregnant. I started to think about carrying a child and being a mother in a very different way. Dialogue began between my wife and I about our plans for future parenthood took a different path. She was relieved that I would be interested in carrying because, while she was willing, it wasn't exactly topping her lists of interest. I donated four more times in the next few years and in those years, my desire to bear children solidified: I wanted a baby with my genes.
At 26, we embarked on the journey to conceive. We had decided to use one of the doctors at the clinic where I'd cycled as a donor. We made our picks from the sperm bank. We decided to go ahead and do medicated cycles because we figured it would increase chances and be more cost-efficient (fertility drugs are covered by my benefits plan).
I responded well to the drugs, I had high quality eggs, I was young. There was no answer, but there were a couple options. We could continue on the road we were taking or we could try IVF. I wasn't scared of IVF because I had been through the worst of the procedure as a donor. We decided to go for it. Again, it failed for some unexplained reason.
At this point, that my mind was racing. I feared exactly what I had discredited just a few years ago: what if I had a biological child out there born from my eggs, but I would never have the option of raising a biological child of my own?
What if the fact that I helped another couple make it so that I couldn't help myself?
Why wasn't karma on my side?
Shortly after the failed attempt, we were successful at home with a "fresh donation" from a friend of a friend and self-insemination. I don't have to necessarily worry about fertility and other questions anymore, but I have different ones.
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.
I wonder if I will get over my curiosity about his personality and facial expressions. I wonder if he will face similar challenges as my own children will. Will he excel in the same areas?
When the child is older, he'll be able to access my contact information -- that is, if his parents tell him he is donor-conceived. If he ever wants to reach out, he could get in touch with me. My questions may be answered some day, but it's just as likely that I will never know and my children will have missed out on the opportunity to know the person who shares half their genes.
Note: This blog post was written in 2014. Rachel's son is now the proud big brother to a baby girl. Photos courtesy of Rachel Trozzolo.
This article originally appeared on the We Are Egg Donorsblog.
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