Edited to add:
Right now is Monday morning. Just got a phone call an hour ago from our donor agency director with some bad news. After meeting with us last week, Iris was supposed to have her first appointment with our RE on Thursday. Apparently she canceled that appointment citing work related reasons. Our agency director has been trying to reach her since that day with multiple emails and phone calls, and she has not returned any of them. So guys, it sounds like whatever we experienced last week at the meeting with her doesn’t matter anymore, because it sounds like she bailed. I will update more with a new post.
It’s interesting. I chatted with quite a few people about their preference regarding meeting with a donor. Some did not need egg donation to build their family. Some did. Many of them said that they would not meet with their donors. Some of them fear that they would learn something about the donor that they do not like. Some other ones would just want to move on with the process without any extra contact. I can see their point of view and understand their preference. In this highly emotional process, it is natural to just want to get to the end point without making it even more emotional. Like I have said before, my intention is to make this process as open as possible so we can paint a complete picture for our future children about how they were created.
Last week was a crazy week. I was majorly short on time for everything else so going into the meeting I didn’t really have a free moment to think much about it ahead of time. I didn’t prepare a lot of questions. I just wanted to get to know Iris, our donor. From what the agency director had told me, I knew we would have about 45 minutes to an hour of time with Iris. I did wonder what we were going to talk about.
The meeting took place in the living room of the agency director’s house/office. Upon arrival, Iris was already sitting in the living room. When we walked in, she got up and gave us both a very firm hand shake. I went to the bathroom leaving Bob by himself with Iris. When I returned, they were chatting about Bob’s birth city and the city where he grew up. I sat down and listened to the conversation quietly.
My first impression of Iris was that she looks just like her photo. She was actually prettier in person. She looked a lot more Asian than Caucasian, with dark eyes and dark brown hair. Her hair was tied up. Her thick eye liners made her eyes pop. She was wearing a black T-shirt, an oversized sweater, casual pants, and canvas shoes.
Iris came across as a very open person. From her strong hand shake to the confidence in her voice, she presented as somebody who was mature for her age. I didn’t sense any awkwardness during our conversation. The donor agency director told us to just ask each other any questions we wanted. It was mostly me asking questions and her answering. Bob mostly listened and made an occasional comment. Iris told us why she became interested in egg donation (her friends who struggled with infertility finally got pregnant and gave birth through embryo adoption). We were the first couple she had ever met, despite having two prior donations. She was surprised that we wanted to meet with her and actually arrived early to talk to the agency director about the meeting.
Out of respect for Iris, I am not going to go into details about her life. We talked about her current work situation, living situation, where she grew up, her siblings, and her relationships with her mother, her father, and her sisters. She talked about her father and what he does. It was nice to hear that she has a good relationship with her father, just like I do. She shared about her childhood and what she was like. Apparently she was an easy baby and was able to sleep through the night. She preferred the outdoors when she was growing up, digging dirt in the yard and not being afraid of getting dirty. She was also the oldest among her siblings and was often the leader of the neighborhood kids when it came to expeditions in the neighborhood. It was lovely to be able to have an image of her childhood.
Iris was also very kind to show us the photos of her father, mother, and two younger sisters. Her dad is fully Chinese. To my surprise, her mother is blonde with blue eyes. Her sisters are both gorgeous and look more Asian than Caucasian. It seems that the Chinese genes are very strong in this family. We discussed about how she felt being an offspring of a mixed couple and she said that she sees herself in both her mother and her father. The interesting thing is her father is over 6 foot tall and her mother 5’10”. One of her sisters is 5’10” but both she and her other sister are 5’4″. You would expect tall parents to have tall kids. I guess it’s not always the case.
I asked her if she wanted to know anything about us. She didn’t really ask us questions per se. She went on to tell us that she didn’t know what to expect at this meeting. Since she’s still young (24), she wonders about the future and how it would be like if she bumps into us on the street in the future. She said she doesn’t know how she will feel about her decision about egg donation in the future, but she currently feels that it is the right thing to do because she finds it fundamentally fulfilling to help out couples who can’t otherwise have a child. She said that she sometimes sits across from couples in a fertility clinic and wonders about what these couples have gone through.
In response to what she said, I expressed my sincere gratitude to her for her and other young women’s willingness to give a part of themselves so couples like us have a chance to have a baby. I felt a bit emotional when I told her a bit about our history and how long this process has been for us. I didn’t cry. I was just glad that we got to meet her.
About 30 minutes into our meeting, the agency director asked Bob to initial a part of our agreement with our donor to indicate whether we wanted anonymous donation with a meeting or non-anonymous donation with a meeting. She had my initial next to the item that said anonymous donation with a meeting. I was puzzled about that because I had indicated non-anonymous donation. However, because there were so many things happening at the same time, I failed to question that part.
Ahead of the meeting, I emailed the agency director to get an okay to ask our donor if she was willing to take a few photos with us. By the end of our meeting, the agency director brought it up and Iris was totally up for it. She moved over from her chair to the spot right next to me on the couch. She also took off her oversized sweater and mumbled something about being warm. Then I saw the tattoos on on arms. I didn’t say much but I think she was a bit self-conscious about showing her tattoos to us, the recipients of her eggs. She didn’t have to be because we have absolutely no problem with her tattoos. I now have a few digital copies of Bob, Iris, and me together. We all had a big smile in the photos. It was very nice of Iris to be willing to share her face with our future children. The agency director said that she could forward the digital copies of Iris’ photos on the profile to us. Iris then said that she can also give us a few more clearer photos of hers.
By the end of the hour, the agency director ended our meeting. She said she would walk Iris to the door while we waited in the living room. Iris got up and gave both me and Bob a hug each. She wished us luck and just turned around to leave, forgetting her purse. She returned, got her purse, and said bye to us again. When her sweater was left on the chair, I realized that she must have asked to borrow a sweater from the agency director.
We stayed for a little longer chatting about the rest of the process. Iris will meet with my RE this week. After that, we will be able to get a calendar. Depending on Iris’ cycle, we should be able to finish with our cycle with a transfer before Thanksgiving, if not sooner. It seems like a long time from now so we’ll see how it all works out. We also went on to talk about transferring one vs. two embryos. It seems like the agency director is a proponent of transferring two embryos if the total number of embryos is fewer than six. She showed us some statistics for our clinic and another Bay Area clinic. The fresh transfer rate with an average of 1.4 embryos per transfer is 70% pregnancy rate. However, the frozen embryo transfer rate is about 35%, half of that of the fresh transfer rate. We only get one chance for a fresh transfer. She said that she has seen couples who transferred one embryo at a time and exhausted all of their 4 to 5 embryos without getting pregnant. She wanted us (mostly me) to think long and hard about that. So yeah, it is something definitely to discuss with our RE again.
I emailed the agency director about the agreement the next day. She then told me that Iris was originally willing to have a open donation, but prior to meeting with us, she indicated that she would like to remain anonymous. The agency director said she could ask Iris again if we would like. I told her that we don’t want to push Iris if she wanted to remain anonymous, but we would like to have a way to contact her in the future if a health-related issue comes up for our child. We will see if she will accept that.
Overall, the experience meeting with our donor was positive and wonderful. Iris is no longer just on a profile with words and photos only. She has become alive for us as an integral part for our fertility journey. We like her as a person and are very grateful for her willingness to donate. We know that she is serious about this process and will follow through with the required injections and the rest of the procedure like she did in her first two donations. Now that we have met, Bob and I have good memories of this encounter and can share with our future children about the time when we met with the nice lady who helped us make them. My hope is that one day this dream of sitting next to our children looking at a book that details our fertility journey including egg donation will come true.
I hope, pray, and believe that this dream is not too far-fetched.