This is going to be an extremely difficult blog post to write.
My husband is often skeptical when things are going well on our fertility journey. He often feels that he needs to save up every penny to add to our fertility fund because he is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am often the overly optimistic one who thinks that everything is going to be fine. On Sunday he told me that he was waiting for the other shoe to drop when we sat down to discuss our finances.
The next day, the other shoe actually dropped.
It is still hard to believe that I am writing this post.
Our donor Serena has been doing extremely well in her stimulation phase of this process. You know how I had that fear that she wasn’t doing her stims right? Well, that fear isn’t warranted because she’s growing some crazy follicles. She returned on Monday (two days ago) for her second follicle check. I was anticipating an email from Dr. E for an update. Instead, I received a phone call from her.
We all know that a phone call from your doctor is not a good sign. Sometimes it’s very bad. This was one of those very bad ones.
She asked where I was, what I was doing, and if I could find a place to sit down and talk. I panicked hearing her questions. So I found a private place. She went on to tell me the following.
This is a donor that she has worked with twice. Once in January and once in April this year. She is really familiar with her. But Dr. E sometimes throws in a drug screen during donor cycles randomly just for the heck of it. No rhyme or reason. So on my donor’s baseline appointment on August 22, Dr. E also ordered a drug screen. The results didn’t come back until Sunday August 28th. Dr. E usually doesn’t check lab results on the weekend. However, she was checking on someone else’s so she thought might as well check on Serena’s. The results shocked her. Serena’s test came back positive for cocaine.
Dr. E immediately called Serena on Sunday night and confronted her. Serena denied using any cocaine. When Dr. E saw her on Monday August 29 for her third follicle check, she told Serena to tell her the truth. And Serena still said that she didn’t. After her scan, Dr. E had to leave to do another procedure, but her physician’s assistant sat Serena down and asked her again. It was then that she kind of made up a story and said that it could have been from a party that she went to and it could have been second-hand smoke from a cocaine pipe. Afterwards, Dr. E consulted with a toxicologist at Lab.corp who said that it is nearly impossible to have that level of cocaine in one’s system if it was not ingested or snorted. So basically she was lying and did not own up to her mistake.
When I heard the news, I was immediately devastated. Everything had been going so well. Why do bad things always happen to us? Has our journey not been crazy and difficult enough? I thought that because of the positive drug test, we couldn’t use her eggs anymore. The thought of starting all over yet again and possibly losing our gestational carrier due to a longer wait was paralyzing. But Dr. E actually said that she doubts that the eggs will be affected. She thinks that our donor will still make beautiful eggs that will turn into beautiful embryos. But to her, it is more about the character of the person. She asked me to talk with Bob and think and pray long and hard about whether or not we wanted to proceed knowing that this person breach our trust and the contract.
Honestly, I was relieved to know that the eggs are still going to be good to use. But what does one do in this situation? Do we cancel the cycle and start all over again losing A TON OF MONEY that we had already paid out (agency fees, monitoring fees, legal fees, insurance, medication), or do we move forward knowing this piece of information. I told Dr. E to call Bob and explain to him what she found out and let him ask questions.
I was standing there not believing what I had heard. Dr. E said that this had never happened before in her years of practice, that a known donor that she has worked with multiple times would fail a random drug test. What are the odds? And here we are, encountering this problem that truly dampens the joy and the excitement at this stage of the game.
Bob spoke with Dr. E for 20 minutes. After understanding about Dr. E’s take on nature vs. nurture and drug use and drug addiction and moral values, he told me to speak with our attorney (the one who did the donor contract for us) and the agency owner. I so appreciate him that he was calm. His calmness helped calm me down as well. That Monday afternoon Dr. E called me at 1:15 or so. I was scheduled to see clients at 2, 3, and 4pm. Since this was an urgent matter (as we had to decide if we would move forward or cancel), I saw my 2pm client, but switched the other two to another day. My mind was going to all sorts of places during my 2pm appointment and it was so difficult to concentrate. But I pulled through. Following that, I called the attorney and the agency owner but couldn’t get a hold of either one of them. The attorney returned my email. He basically said that if we had professionals (our RE and the toxicologist) to back the claim of cocaine use, it is a breach of contract. However, it is often difficult to seek damage from donors who don’t have much financially. Basically, the so-called contract is a guide and you hope that people with good nature would voluntarily follow through with it. Unfortunately this is not the case. We could take her to court. But do we have the time and energy and the money to do so?
Since I couldn’t get a hold of the agency owner, I decided to leave work and go to the one person that I always turn to when we are faced with tough decisions. My sister-in-law was once again there to be my sounding board. Luckily I found her and met her at her house. We discussed about it and both of us felt that we could still move forward with this donor knowing that Dr. E said that the risks of using her eggs are very minimal at this point. She prayed for us and promised that she’d continue to pray. She said that if the Holy Spirit speaks to her in a different way, she’ll let me know.
That evening was very difficult emotionally for me. There were so many questions that we had to ask ourselves and answer. Didn’t we have peace when we prayed about this donor and decided to book her? How could a person be so arrogant and selfish to do this after committing to be drug free during this time? Are the eggs really going to be fine? Is my future child going to have a predisposition of addiction? Is she a habitual user or is it recreational and occasional? If we decide to move forward with her eggs, will they still be affected by her cocaine use? Has she been using for a long time? Am I knowingly putting my future child in danger? If we don’t proceed with her, how much money are we going to lose? How much more money do we have to shell out for a new donor? How are we going to locate a new Asian donor and have a cycle soon so we don’t lose our gestational carrier?
So many questions that we struggled to answer.
But God is good. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed for peace, wisdom, and discernment. Although our donor’s cocaine use really disappoints me, I have been leaning towards moving forward. Sometimes I had the urge the just start all over and cancel her and lose that money. But most of the time I feel that we should move forward. Bob has been strongly leaning this way from the get-go. Once he learned from Dr. E that it is highly unlikely that the egg quality is going to be affected, he doesn’t want to wait any longer and just wants to get this over with. But at the same time, he is okay with the decision to cancel the cycle if I felt really strongly about it.
I just could not believe that we had to make this decision two days before the trigger shot.
But, my gut tells me that we should proceed and everything will be fine.
I had a terrible night of sleep on Monday night. I truly could not go to work on Tuesday as I needed that time to process this news and think. I continuously prayed for peace. Throughout the day, I spoke with many people whom I trust. It’s very interesting that 90% of the people that I spoke with said that they’d feel comfortable moving forward knowing that the eggs are probably going to be fine if not still excellent. Some of my believer friends also felt that way. My dear friend Elisha spoke a word of encouragement to me. Basically, this is Satan’s way of distracting us from Jesus. Jesus is here with us in this storm so look to Him and Him alone. And if God gave us the peace when we chose this donor and we have peace now, then we should go for it. My therapist is so wonderful. I sent her an email asking her to speak to me on the phone for this emergency. She called me the same day. She basically said that if my gut tells me to go for it, even if it’s not 100% of the time, trust my gut. I told her that I was worried that this one piece of information would damage the narrative that we’d build around our future child(ren). She thinks that we have all the right to build this story with positive things rather than negative. This piece of information about our donor using hard drugs is one piece of the puzzle. It does not define our child. We are the ones who would raise our child the way we want to. She thinks that once we decide to move forward, we have to work towards an acceptance of this piece of information and continue to find the positive of this story. She thinks that drug use in the egg donor population is probably quite prevalent. We just usually don’t know that piece of information. Now we know it in our situation, what we are going to do with it is the most important.
Yesterday I also spoke with the agency owner who apologized about this situation. But there aren’t too many options for us. We either cancel or we move forward. It’s hard to recover the monetary damage. If we go to court, the judge would say that the donor has the right to do whatever she wanted to to her body, and she has the right to terminate the contract at anytime. Agency owner has known this donor and her sister for quite a few years. She said that it is quite out of the character for the donor to do such a thing. She also said that she had spoken to the donor prior to our phone call and the donor was still motivated to complete the donation.
Dr. E actually ran a repeat drug screen on Serena on Monday. She put it down as STAT but was told that she probably wouldn’t get the results back until Friday. When I spoke with her on the phone yesterday and told her that we were leaning towards continuing, she was very conflicted. We are like family to her. And she hates people who lie. To her, the cocaine is not the problem because she doesn’t believe that the eggs or our future child would be in danger. Her biggest problem about this is that the donor shows no remorse. Serena lied about this over and over again. Dr. E said that her urine sample on Monday came back very low in concentration, which means that Serena probably intoxicated herself with water from the time she got Dr. E’s call on Sunday to her appointment on Monday. She basically was trying to dilute her urine so that maybe whatever drug in her system would not show. She wanted to cover up whatever that might be remaining in her system. Dr. E is sorely disappointed with this person. She just wanted Serena to admit that she was wrong. But I told Dr. E, that this journey has been so long and hard for us, and we are so so close to getting embryos, that Bob is willing to gamble and take the risk of having the genes of this person knowing that we will raise our child differently. Dr. E said that even if the repeat drug screen comes back negative, she does not trust this person anymore. But her eggs will still be good. She supports us 100% if we decide to move forward with the cycle. We had the whole discussion about nature vs. nurture, susceptibility to addiction and what not. What a heavy duty discussion to have especially when I have never even smoked a cigarette in my life (I know I am an extreme). It is so hard to fathom doing drugs. It is also hard to fathom someone who wouldn’t admit their mistake even after being caught.
First our previous donor disappeared. Now this donor breached the contract. This is why it is very difficult for me to trust young people who are in their 20s. This is why I’ll never work with a gestational carrier under 30.
My sleep was better last night but still interrupted. I woke up in the middle of the night with a headache and feeling bugged that this has happened, but at the same time I felt like we were very close to making a firm decision to move forward. When we woke up at 3, Bob said that we should speak with Annie, our gestational carrier, about this new development and see if she would still be okay with carrying for us. I had an extremely full day today. I had to go into work early to see one client, then I had an hour-long presentation in Chinatown to parents of young children. I had a full afternoon of appointments at work. I only had time to speak with her at 7:30 when I started driving to work. I am just so grateful for Annie. She is such an amazing person. She picked up the phone, listened to me, and reassured me that she would have no problem carrying for us, and that she’ll provide the best environment possible for our baby to grow in. We spoke some more and she prayed for us as well as the donor before we hung up. I am just so full of gratitude that our gestational carrier shares our beliefs and we could speak so openly and honestly about our struggles.
In the morning, Bob and I both felt good to move forward knowing that we’d love our child in the future no matter how the story of his/her creation began. We love our friend’s adopted son regardless of his birth mother’s alcoholic history. We know that we will love our child unconditionally. And since we repeatedly got the confirmation from Dr. E that the egg quality will most likely not be affected (well of course she won’t be able to say 100%), we feel safe to proceed to retrieval. My presentation went amazingly well. I sometimes surprise myself that I could turn my personal life off and be very professional without a problem. Dr. E updated me on the donor. Her second drug screen came back negative as expected. I don’t know if she really didn’t have any cocaine in her system on that day or the diluted urine yielded negative results. But that’s beyond the point now. Most importantly, we decide to continue with the cycle and her scan today yielded excellent results:
RO: 11.5, 14.5, 10, 20.5, 16, 16, 15.5, 12.5, 11, 17.5, 14.5, remaining <8
LO: 14.5, 14, 17, 14.5, 18, 15.5, 17, 16.5, 14.5, 23, 13, 10
Of course another fear of mine is that Bob’s sperm won’t perform. Dr. E reassured me that PICSI is going to help find the best sperm. We are scheduled to show up at 8am on Friday for the semen collection at the clinic. We are very close to the finish line of making some embryos. This afternoon was the first time in a couple of days that I started to feel excited about the prospect of owning embryos again and the hope of having our baby in the very near future. It IS an exciting time. I hope that we are still full of hope and joy on Friday when we drive to the clinic.
Isn’t this a crazy twist? It’s more complicated and surprising than fiction. I am sure that if I ever wrote a memoir of my journey, nobody is going to believe me.
We don’t know why we are being put in this trial. And we may never understand why. But after two agonizing days, I have a new appreciation of us as a couple, how we handle ourselves in an extremely difficult situation, and the loving friends and family that we have. We are surrounded by love. I am very sure that no matter who contributed to half of my future child’s genes, our child will be positively influenced by the numerous people that are going to love him/her. And dependence on God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the lesson I have learned here. This was an extremely difficult decision to make. One of the most if not THE most difficult decision we ever had to make. I hope nobody who reads this will have to make this decision in the future. And I hope that there aren’t any more shoes to be dropped. However, even if there is more, I am quite sure that we will be able to pull through one way or the other, because we have God and each other.