Session two with my therapist was very productive, as usual. She started out asking me how I had been feeling. Honestly, I thought that I would be more sad than how I have been feeling. I am very surprised that I can carry on my life like usual. I don’t think I am being avoidant by brushing aside my feelings. My therapist wondered if my calm feelings have to do with my mental and emotional preparation for egg donation since last July. I have had so many months to get myself ready for it. Now that the time has come, maybe the shock is not as great? That may be the case. I just know that I have been feeling good in general. I am still not ready to contact the donor coordinator at my clinic. I still have not written an email to donor agencies. I haven’t even asked for our money back from the clinic. I am not ready for these steps yet, but I feel good in general. My therapist did mention that some women may feel periodic sadness during the egg donation process because it would start to feel real. I will wait to see if that is true in my case.
I still feel a need to be distant from Chloe, my friends who said some hurtful things to me. When Bob and I talked about plans for the summer, driving up north to visit with her and her family was one of the options. After our little incident, I am not ready to see her. Hence we decided to go to Chicago instead. I told my therapist that I really don’t want to risk being there with Chloe in the middle of a egg donation cycle. I don’t want to hear anything negative about what I am going through, although I believe that she’ll be very careful from now on when she talks to me about my fertility journey. I just don’t feel like taking a risk. My therapist told me that it’s okay to guard my heart and protect myself. I somehow feel a little guilty for not going to see my friend, but then I really feel the need to take care of myself.
My biggest question right now is how to go about choosing a donor. Given the few choices at our current clinic, do I have to venture out and check out donors at agencies? One night Bob and I were lying in bed looking at all the choices at my clinic. Now that he has to pay for the cycle for real, he is vetoing all the choices. I don’t know if he’s joking or not. But he has his criteria. At the same time, he also brought up doing what Aramis did, which is to cycle at the Czech Republic, purely for the more affordable cost. The only problem is that, it’s going to be even harder to find an Asian donor all the way in Europe. That would leave us with non-Asian donors as an option. I actually thought really long and hard about it. We not only have to think for ourselves and our lives, but also our future child’s life. We are accountable for creating his/her story. One day, we are responsible for telling our future child how and why we chose our donor. I do not want to tell the child that the only reason why we chose to find a donor in an European country is because of its low cost, especially when we have the financial means to cycle here in the US. It’s another story if we don’t have enough funds for that. I am really mindful of the impact our choice has on our future child. So I am going to try in all my power to decide on someone who has some connection to my ethnic background.
My therapist gave me some good points to think about. She asked me to whom I feel the most connected out of the three potential donors. Setting aside how “Chinese” these donors are, I feel the most connected with a first-time donor who is currently cycling. I like her looks, her age, and her educational background. The most important thing is that I love how she answered her questions in her profile. Her responses are so thoughtful. I want to be able to tell my child in the future the specific reasons I chose a particular donor. I want to be able to say what I loved about her. Of course I know that not every single donor would work out but I want to let the child know that we take this selection process very seriously and it has been done with love. My therapist said that this is exactly how she wants me to start thinking about it: the reasons why we want to choose a particular donor. She wants me to be able to tell my future child the story of choosing a donor with confidence and the particular quality that we find appealing about the donor.
My therapist asked me to think about how I usually make my decisions in life: with many choices, or a few choices. Thinking back, we usually had three to five choices when we tried to decide on a fertility clinic both the first four rounds and the last four rounds. Any more than that, it just felt too complicated and dizzying for me to process all the information. If that’s my pattern, then my therapist thinks that having three potential donors to think about is a very good first step. She said that some people bring in a whole spreadsheet of donor choices to show her. To her, that will make it even harder to make a choice because the information of different people may get mixed together. I am not someone who would create Excel spreadsheets for choosing a clinic or a donor, although there is nothing wrong with that if it’s your style. So I will stick with the three potential donors that I have right now. My therapist told me to continue to use my own intuition as I am quite in tune with my feelings. She said I would know if I want to venture out to find more choices.
We also talked about transferring one vs. two embryos in the future. I feel strongly about avoiding carrying twins because of the higher chance of premature birth and complications for both mom and babies. I would rather do eSET repeatedly until we get pregnant. Although Bob really wants twins and supports transferring two embryos, my therapist told me that it’s perfectly fine for me to be firm on my stance because I will be the one carrying the child. I am afraid of the chance of an embryo splitting into two. A single embryo transfer is the safest way to go.
Finally, we discussed about my fight with Bob the previous weekend. I forgot what exactly we were fighting about. But it seems like every fight comes back to the struggles of infertility. Bob is still trying to resolve his feelings regarding the failed cycle and all the time and money that we have spent cycling with my own eggs. During the fight, he asked why we did not consider adoption or egg donation sooner. It sounded to me that in that moment, he regretted spending time and effort on these own egg cycles rather than focusing our energy on the other means to get us a baby. I don’t think he truly regrets it. But he has been angry with not being able to have a baby and it’s natural to think back and wonder about all the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens. I do not regret a single thing that we did. I reminded him that we made the best decision given the information that we had in the moment. I would not change a thing about the past. It was the past that brought us to this moment. We prayed and we had peace about every single step. I believe that we’re led down a path that will eventually guide us to our baby. However, it was tough to emphasize on this point when he was angry. My therapist said that it seems like Bob just wants a sense of control, because this process does not provide him (or anyone) with any control of the situation. This is why he finds comfort in striving to reach our financial goals, because they give him back the control that he can’t have with the reproductive process. However, it’s not good to have regrets. So it’s important for him to work on getting over these feelings. In terms of what means we use to have a baby, my therapist said that she usually asks if carrying a baby is important to the couple. If it is, she would suggest egg donation or embryo adoption. If it’s not, the adoption would be a logical choice. I have been feeling strongly from day one about two things: being able to be pregnant and carry to term and having at least the genetic links to my husband. Since these things are so important to me, egg donation is the logical choice for me. Then we should focus our energy on grieving the loss of my genetic links and our effort on pursuing egg donation. I know that Bob has the fear of failed cycles after spending all the money on egg donation. We have to have faith in God for carrying out His plans, whatever they may be. A couple of days after the fight, I asked him how he felt about egg donation, he said that of course we would proceed with it when we are ready. So we are still on the same page about the next step.
At the end of the session, I felt a lot better about my ability to navigate the world of egg donation in the very near future when I am ready. I also felt that it might be beneficial for Bob to come to a session once with me so that we could both talk about our feelings. Unfortunately, my therapist is about to go on maternity leave and doesn’t have any early evening time for us. She gave me the names of a few therapists in town that also specialize in infertility. I am sure I will seek help if I need it. But I’d rather not go with Bob to see these new people as they don’t really know me. I do feel equipped to move forward when the time comes. I just have to wait for the right moment. I hope that moment comes soon.