MicroblogMondays: Clinging to the Positive

Microblog_Mondays

Last week was such a rough week.

Because of our donor’s cocaine debacle, both of us were extremely distracted from work and from life.  All the phone calls and emails with all the professionals, family, and friends were taxing our attention, time, and energy.  One day everything was going smoothly.  The next day, our life was turned upside down.  So many doubts, fears, and worries surfaced.  One person’s selfish act, lack of concerns for others, and lack of integrity wreaked havoc in our lives.  We were exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Extra courage and strength were desperately needed on those few days for us to function.

Amid the chaos, we see the love, beauty, goodness, and positive that were poured over us.

God is teaching us to hang on to the positive despite walking through the valley.

We see how truly beautiful our gestational carrier Annie is.  That morning I called her to tell her about our decision to continue our donor egg cycle despite our donor’s breach of our trust and contract, Annie was so calm, gentle, and full of reassurance.  She not only took care of me and my emotions that morning, but she also thought of taking care of Bob’s.  That night, Bob came home and told me that Annie’s husband Kenneth called him on his way to work that evening just to chat.  Bob didn’t recognize the phone number but saw that it was from Annie’s area, so he picked it up.  For someone who usually doesn’t pick up unknown phone calls, that was definitely a divine intervention.  Bob said that they had such a good chat about life, their work, family life, and a little about the donor’s choice.  This 20-minute phone call with a brother in Christ reflects the thoughtfulness and caring nature of our gestational carrier and her life partner.

We are so blessed to have them in our lives.

And then, there was my friend Jo.  She has been there every single step of the way in the last few years of our journey.  She knows the ins and the outs of our struggles.  The day I returned to work after taking a day off to take care of the mess that was caused by our donor’s positive drug screen was extremely busy with clients and a presentation.  Jo was so sweet.  She took care of me by ordering dinner and having it delivered to our house so that I could take a break from cooking.  And bless my husband’s heart.  He knew exactly what I had been craving so he clued Jo in on the type of food to order.  The sushi that night was truly a treat after a few long days of emotional exhaustion.

And surprisingly, I don’t feel anger towards our donor anymore.  Instead, my heart has been prompted to pray for her and for her salvation. This definitely is not my own doing.  The Holy Spirit is once again doing something that is so unexpected but beautiful.

And then, we also see how God has sustained us through all this.  After the decision was made to continue with the cycle, the peace that I have felt is unparalleled and is such a confirmation that this has been the path that aligns with God’s will.  Although we don’t know how this cycle will turn out, I no longer have that gnawing pain in my heart.  I am amazed at how quickly we bounced back from being at the bottom of the pit, but it is no coincidence or accident, and it is not our own ability or doing.  Nothing that we did could take us to that place of peace.  It is solely the Holy Spirit that took us to that space.

Later today we will know how many embryos are still in the running.  Fear comes and goes in my heart, such as the possibility of the embryos growing poorly or not having any blastocysts to test.  Fear is normal, but I have to remind myself that fear does not come from God.  Seeing the positive that God places in our life helps us move away from the space of fear and worry.

Despite this path to our baby that has been lengthy and grueling, it is a blessing that we can cling to the God-given beauty and positive in life as we wait expectantly for our journey to unfold in front of our eyes.

28!!!

This was the number I had been waiting for all day!

Today was our big retrieval day.  We got up super early for the 8am semen collection time.  I slept quite well last night, but this thought kept coming back to my mind: what if our donor decided not to show up for retrieval?  I guess once the trust is gone for something, it is harder for me to trust her to hold up her part of the bargain, although she had been showing up for every single monitoring appointment.  But you know, my mind was doing tricks and it wasn’t a lot of fun to have that anxious feeling.  This is exactly what my dear friend Elisha was talking about, the enemy trying to distract us from Jesus and steal the joy from us.  When I woke up in the middle of the night, I prayed on and off for God to give us peace and take away that doubt and fear.

We were happy and excited on our ride to the clinic.  I was the chauffeur so Bob could relax in the car as he had a very important job to do.  Upon arrival, the lady who checked Bob in had a quizzical look on her face when she was trying to locate his appointment in the system.  I should clarify that Dr. E is an independent reproductive endocrinologist who has privilege at different local clinics for procedures and the lab.  This clinic is the main one that Dr. E uses.  So it is quite possible that Bob’s name wasn’t in the system because we weren’t seeing one of the doctors there.  The lady turned to me and asked for my name, which she also couldn’t find because I wasn’t the “patient’ per se for the procedure today.  She finally checked him in and asked him to go to the andrology lab.

The lady at the andrology lab window also seemed to look very confused as she shuffled the lists of names to locate Bob’s.  I had this sinking feeling as I watched her.  Did they not know that he was coming and that his sperm was to be used with our donor’s eggs?  I took at peek a the lab order and saw that the collection time was supposed to be 9:30am.  Why in the world were we asked to arrive at 8?  After some confusion, it was finally declared that everything was fine and Bob headed down to his little room to do his business.

Feeling uneasy about the little drama, I called up Dr. E’s office to speak with the nurse.  She reassured me that the clinic knew what they were doing but told me that she’d get on it to clarify everything with the clinic on the phone if need be.  A few minutes later, Dr. E’s nurse called me back and said that everything was fine.  Apparently we were supposed to arrive at 9:30am so the lab was a little confused about our arrival time.  But Dr. E’s email clearly said 8am.  I guess it didn’t matter as long as the semen was collected and it wasn’t too early for that.

But this little drama kind of threw me off.  What if they couldn’t match the sperm with the eggs.  Then I was reminded to trust God’s plan.  If this is going to happen, it is going to happen.  So I took a deep breath and settled in with my book.  Bob came out in a little while.  He often had a look on his face after his semen collection.  I asked him what was up.  He said he often wonders if he had produced enough sp.erm since the quantity of the semen didn’t look like a lot.  I told him I wouldn’t worry about it because he has been performing every single time.  I don’t see how this time would be any different.

I waited in waiting room when Bob was in the bathroom.  Dr. E came into the clinic and saw me.  She gave me a hug and said that everything was going to be great.  Then she pulled me to the side and said, “Your donor is due for her check in right now, so you may want to hide somewhere.”  Oh okay.  I grabbed Bob who just came out of the bathroom and we quickly exited to the parking lot.  I wouldn’t want to accidentally bump into our donor like this.

I don’t know why.  Maybe because of the little drama, I was still feeling a little anxious about the possibility of the donor not showing up, which does not make sense at all.  If she wanted to be compensated, she’d show up.  She had already gone this far.  And it wouldn’t be fun to have all these enlarged follicles inside one’s ovaries.  So I vacillated between feeling calm and a little anxious.  I was thinking, if our donor didn’t show up for retrieval, Dr. E would have notified us in the morning.  The fact that there was no phone call or update was a good thing.

My friends were asking if I wanted to write Dr. E for an update.  I guess I wanted to just hide in the sand.  I was still treating no update as a good sign.  Dr. E’s email came at 3:17pm.  She had “28!!!” in her subject line, and said that “Retrieval went beautifully.  Just wanted to let you know.  Next update is tomorrow!”  I immediately praised the Lord for answering our prayers!  Bob sounded happy but also cautious as we don’t know how many of these 28 eggs are mature and fertilized.  I think he is still wondering if his boys performed.  But I am grinning from ear to ear!  This is such fantastic news and today couldn’t have gone any better.

You know what got me through today?  My happy thought of the day, which is “today is the first day of my future child(ren)’s existence”.  I truly believe that one or two of these eggs will help make our child(ren).  Although our donor had made a mistake and breached our trust and contract, I am still feeling super thankful for her, her willingness to donate, and her super high-performing ovaries.

May this news be the first of many happy moments before we finally meet our baby face to face.

Praise the Lord!

Even and Steady – Donor’s Follicle Check

You know, because I am a little crazy, I sometimes have this fear that our donor Serena is not doing what she is supposed to be doing, such as forgetting her injections, administering the wrong dose, etc.

But fortunately, that fear only creeps in my head once in a while.  The rest of the time I am quite confident that she diligently does her part correctly.

Today is her first follicle check after four days of stimulation.  Quite amusingly, a few of my friends messaged me this morning asking if today was our donor’s monitoring appointment.

It takes an IVF veteran to know which day the follicle check should fall on.

This morning, I had all sorts of thoughts in my head.  I am not going to list them here, but they were all sorts of things that could go wrong with our donor.  I know, crazy, right?

I guess with this being our last shot, and with our history of getting bad news, I just can’t help it but anticipate the other shoe to drop.  But at the same time, I am quite confident that this will turn out fine.

Can you understand that dichotomy?

I pray for her safety during her drive to Dr. E’s.  I pray for her health and for her eggs to grow well and evenly.

Emotionally I have been doing quite well.  Not too anxious.

This afternoon, Dr. E’s update came with a smiley face in the subject of the email.  It’s always a good thing when your RE writes you with a smiley face.

This is what she reported:

“She looks great.

Estradiol just under 500.

Scan report below
IVF TREATMENT DAY #5: FOLLISTIM 150IU/MENOPUR 75IU/GANIRELIX
S: no c/o.
O: TVUS:
em: 6.73mm trilam
RO: 12 total: 10, 11.5, remaining <9
LO: 10 total: 10, 11.5, 10, 11, 10, remaining <9″

 

Looks like Serena is doing great.  The follicles seem to be growing steadily and evenly.

But me being me, even though Dr. E said that she looked great, I still had to email her and ask if our donor is looking good.

Dr. E’s response?  “I’d say great :)”  Another smiley face.

Well, I will take her word for it!

This is so different from when I was using my own eggs.  When we stimmed for my own eggs, we’d have two follicles, three follicles, or at most five follicles.  This is a whole new ball game.

For this particular cycle, I almost didn’t want to know the details of the stimulation.  But Dr. E included all of that.  I don’t know if it is or is not a good thing to have that knowledge.  I almost just want to hide myself under the blanket until day five or day six of fertilization.

But all in all, it is great news.  So now I can breathe and enjoy my weekend.

Beginning of Our New Donor Egg Cycle

I have been writing about our gestational carrier Annie, and I seem to have neglected to talk about our donor.  We’ll call her Serena.

I’d say Serena is my favorite out of all the donors that we have come across.  I feel very fortunate that we have found her, and we have Dr. E to thank for her.  Dr. E has worked with her twice in the past and highly recommends her.

About a month ago, Dr. E contacted me regarding Serena’s calendar.  Dr. E had to be mindful of Bob’s sper.m situation and Serena’s timeline.  Apparently Serena can’t do a retrieval from the first week of September to December due to work-related trips and other things.  And we have to allow Bob to take his supplements for two whole months before we use his sper.m to fertilize the donor eggs.  Finally Dr. E came up with a calendar with August 31st as the tentative retrieval day.  August 31st does not work for me due to a presentation that I have to give.  I know I am not needed in this whole procedure because I don’t contribute to the eggs or the sper.m, so technically I don’t need to go to the clinic on the day of the retrieval.  However, I still want to be included in the process and to accompany Bob to give his sample.  Dr. E pushed the calendar out one more day.  The new tentative date is September 1st.  Serena was to stop birth control pills on August 17th, and her baseline appointment with Dr. E was supposed to be yesterday, August 22nd.

I emailed Dr. E over the weekend to ask if Serena was still on track for her baseline appointment.  Somehow I had some irrational fear that her period didn’t come after she stopped birth control pills.  Dr. E confirmed that yes, Serena was all set for her baseline appointment.  When I went to bed on Sunday, another irrational thought came to my mind.  What if she had a cyst? If she did, then we couldn’t move on with this cycle.  Since she can’t do a retrieval after September 6th, we’d have to wait until January.  I guess it is easy to let the mind go to dark places when we are so used to not-so-good news.

I woke up and prayed.  I prayed for peace and for Jesus to take hold of my mind.  Most of the day I was calm.  My mind did go back to that fear of something going wrong, but I could mostly think about God’s plan and His sovereignty and to focus on work.  I didn’t hear from Dr. E at all throughout the day.  I knew that Serena probably had her scan done in the morning, but the estradiol results would not be back until the afternoon.  Dr. E emailed me regarding Annie’s blood work and urine sample but didn’t mention about Serena.  That was late afternoon.  I didn’t want to ask any questions because if there was bad news I would have been told already, right?  But Bob wanted to know.  So I emailed Dr. E about the donor.  I think we were emailing each other at the same time because I got her email right after I hit “send”.  This is what she said, “Donor looked awesome today.   Estradiol 45.  She’s ready to start!”

I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am!  We have been waiting for this moment for quite some time.  We booked this donor back in March.  We thought that we could start legal paperwork with her in May.  Then one delay after another with the condition of my uterus and Bob’s sper.m issues.  In the mean time we were trying to find a gestational carrier.  These few months were very eventful and difficult for us.  To finally get to this point of starting meds and looking at a retrieval in a bit more than a week, it is very egg-citing (as my friend Jane Allen puts it)!

I didn’t ask anything about the details like how many antral follicles or whatever.  I will just be ignorant about it and focus on the end goal of making some great embryos and having a baby.

What a great start of a new beginning!

MicroblogMondays: The Last Two Months, An Abridged Version

Microblog_Mondays

There is something called one step forward, two steps back and we are very familiar with it.

In the last few months we have been going through a lot of soul searching about me carrying our baby vs. a surrogate carrying our baby vs. doing both.  The more I pray about it, the more the surrogacy route sounds like the right path.  The thought of potential complications with my own pregnancy is just too much for this moment.  When I think about what is more important to me, I’d definitely vote for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  I know there is no guarantee.  But the likelihood of a surrogate carrying a healthy baby to term is a lot higher than a pregnancy in my womb.  My therapist asked me to consider this: if we decide to do a simultaneous transfer with a surrogate transfer and if we both get pregnant, how I am going to handle the surrogate’s pregnancy (namely having the emotional and physical health/energy to tend to her pregnancy and birth) if anything bad happens to my own pregnancy.  That is really worth exploring.

While we haven’t ruled out a Lupr.on Depot trial and a transfer to me, we have been actively figuring out the financial aspects and logistics of using a surrogate.  So here is what has happened in the last couple of months:

  • An online friend of mine offered to carry for us as a gift.  We were emailing back and forth for a couple of weeks about the logistics.  She has young active children of her own and has two more embryos she’d like to transfer.  Since she is not quite done with her family building, the conclusion is that it is best for her to not be a gestational carrier so that her future pregnancy is not compromised.  We were obviously bummed out about it, but Bob and I totally understand her situation and are very thankful for her thoughtful and selfless offer.
  • In the mean time, I have done a lot of research regarding surrogacy agencies in my state as well as in other states.  I have contacted several agencies in California and the complicated fee schedules and the sheer high cost make me very hesitant to even consider interviewing any surrogates with them.  I had phone interviews with two surrogacy agencies in another surrogacy-friendly state.  I like both agencies.  We reviewed profiles from both agencies and liked some of the potential surrogates.  One particular agency’s fee schedule is more reasonable and the owner sounds very knowledgeable.  Communication has been great.  I asked for a reference for a parent who had worked with this agency before.  We connected and this parent has very high praises for this agency.  Because of the research, I have a good idea of the compensation a surrogate would receive in each state.  A first time surrogate gets a particular base pay.  An experienced surrogate often gets about $10,000 more.  And first time surrogates in California gets about $10,000 more than a first time surrogate in this other surrogacy friendly state.
  • Originally Dr. E told us that our donor was going to be ready for a retrieval for us in September.  She then notified us that the original intended parents next in line can’t work with this donor due to their own medical reasons.  So the donor will be available for us for a July retrieval if we want.  We were very happy about it and wanted to start the process so we could make some embryos in July.  I’d feel better that way so that when we find a surrogate, we can move forward with a transfer.
  • A good friend of mine moved out of state five years ago.  I spoke with her about the possibility of needing a gestational carrier.  She informed me that a friend of hers in her town has been interested in becoming one.  She gave me her friend’s contact information.  When a surrogacy arrangement with my online friend didn’t quite work out, I reached out to this friend’s friend.  I wrote her about our situation and asked her about her idea of a gestational surrogacy, her idea of the couple for whom she wants to carry, and the compensation.  She asked to speak with both of us via video conferencing.  The chat happened last week.  About 45 minutes into the conversation, I asked about the compensation that she was looking for.  We were a bit shocked by the number that she gave us.  What she was asking for is equivalent to the compensation for an experienced surrogate in California, and is double of what a first time surrogate will get paid in the surrogacy-friendly state that I mentioned about.  She herself had never been a surrogate, is in her late 30s, and her last pregnancy was 7 years ago.  I told her very honestly that the amount was beyond our budget.  We ended our phone call respectfully.  We still appreciated her time but we just don’t have the funds to work with her.
  • Bob sent in a sample for the sper.m DNA fragmentation test.  We just received the results before the weekend.  We didn’t expect anything to be wrong, but the results showed his numbers being borderline abnormal.  Dr. E thinks that we could move forward if we wanted to, but if we want to optimize our chances, Bob can be on supplements for two months before we retest and proceed with the donor egg cycle.  Needless to say, I felt discouraged that there could be potential problems with the sperm, and my fear is that the embryos we make would not be of good quality.   The ultimate fear is that we won’t have any good embryos to transfer.  Dr. E said that his DNA fragmentation level could be fixed with this technique called PICSI.  You can google it to learn more about it.  Nevertheless, it was a bit discouraging as I thought that we could cycle in July.
  • One piece of good news is that with the out-of-state surrogacy agency I mentioned about earlier, we really like one of the potential surrogates’ profile.  We actually had a phone interview with her yesterday.  It was a trying day yesterday as Bob and I continued to sort through our feelings about all these roadblocks.  I would say that the phone call was a saving grace and turned our day around.  After learning about her reason to be a surrogate and her ideas about a bunch of important topics regarding surrogacy, both Bob and I like her a lot and feel that she is a good match.  She is sincere, down to earth, ready emotionally for a surrogacy pregnancy, and has support from her family and friends.  She is in a stable relationship and has been considering this for quite a few years.  We like her a  lot and would love to work with her.  If we decide to work with her, we’d have to complete medical screening and other tests.  I will write more about it in the future.

I have been putting off writing a blog post about all this because I have been very overwhelmed with the information.  Some days I just feel like hiding myself in my blanket so I don’t have to face the world.   Meeting with my therapist has helped, but I think what helps the most is prayers.  I often start praying for peace and strength from God even before I open my eyes in the morning.  Without prayers sustaining me, I think I’d be a much worse shape.  I hope that you can all join me in praying for us that things will go smoothly for us from this point on in regards to the sperm, donor, and surrogate, if it is in God’s will.  I want to trust and have faith, but some days are harder than others.  I hope that after the two steps back, we can finally go forward without a hitch.

MicroblogMondays: Dealing With Worries And Sadness

Microblog_Mondays

I have been trying to digest and accept the news we received last Thursday.  Admittedly, I haven’t been doing a good job.

Since that day, I woke up every morning confused about where I was and when it was.  Once I realized that it was Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, and that our quest for a baby is once again going to be delayed, sadness overcame me.  This sadness has been intermittent.  Sometimes I feel fine.  Sometimes my heart hurts.

This four-year journey has been so tough for us.  Even before we started to try for a baby, an abdominal myomectomy was necessary to remove over 50 tiny fibroids from my uterine wall.  They were not in the cavity but the sheer number and volume of them pushed on the uterus and altered its shape.  Recovery time for this open surgery was six weeks off work and three menstrual cycles before we were advised to start trying for a baby right away.  My FSH was elevated already.  I knew that we should try quickly before the fibroids grow back.  Well, we all know how that has been going.  Despite how much we want to get pregnant, it just hasn’t happened for us.  We watch people who try with their own eggs and donor eggs get pregnant one by one.  We miss the train every single time.

In the meantime, a new fibroid has been growing in the back of my uterus.  A couple of years back, it was much smaller.  In the last few transfers, nobody had ever said anything about it interfering with implantation or pregnancy.  I felt fortunate that no one had told us that we had to remove it.  Until last Thursday.

I have been trying to avoid another surgery at all cost.  Being cut up and recovering from it is not easy.  Plus I just don’t want to weaken my abdominal wall any further.  I know plenty of people have two or three abdominal surgeries but I didn’t want to be one of them.  I didn’t want another surgery to delay any fresh cycles or transfers.  But, as we have learned time and time again, it is not in our control.

All of a sudden, I am worried about things that may or may not happen.  Of course we want things to go smoothly and according to our timing.  But our history shows that things don’t often go the way we want.  I am worried that the surgery would be scheduled at the time my in-laws are in town.  My surgeon told me that after the surgical consultation (on 4/20) it takes about a month or two to schedule the surgery, and I’ll have to be off work for two weeks.  Can you imagine being home with my in-laws while I am trying to recover?  I so desperately want the surgery to be around the time my own mother is still in town.  I am also worried that somehow my donor has traveled to an area infected by Zika virus and my clinic deems her ineligible to donate until a much later time.  I feel that somehow with our “luck”, bad things that are unlikely to happen will happen.  And, my biggest worry is that after doing the surgery and spending all the money, we still won’t have a child we can call our own.

Sometimes I just want to hide in a hole and quit it all.

Irrational.  I know.  But these are real fears and worries.  I usually try to deal with worries by taking it one day at a time.  But this time I just can’t seem to focus on the positive .  My brain these few days is filled with these worries that I can’t seem to shake.  We skipped Easter breakfast at church because I didn’t want to deal with people.  I avoided meet and greet time.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with babies.  Seeing all the matching outfits of kids and families of two, three, or four kids, I was once again reminded of the void in our life.  Bob was amazing though.  Being a helper at the nursery today, holding all the babies gave him the resolve to become a father of his own child in the future.

I continue to pray for peace.  After having peace on Thursday, I don’t seem to have it these past few days.  I know it’s up to God to answer my prayer.  I desperately want God to take away these worries and give me the peace that surpasses all understanding.  But again, I can ask but this too is out of my control.

Fortunately, although I am a mess this time, Bob is not fazed by any of these potential problems.  He has been my voice of positivity, logic, and rational thoughts.  He consoles me and tells me that it’s okay for me to feel sad, but he doesn’t want me to stay there for too long.  He acknowledges my fears, but is also firm in his beliefs that although our timeline is delayed once again, we will eventually move forward with the next cycle with a uterus that is healed.  He believes that the donor will be fine and will give us the embryos that we need.  He believes that I will get pregnant and we will be parents in 2017.

His unwavering belief is exactly what I need.  I am grateful that one of us is doing well.  Our patience is once again tested.  I hope that soon I will get over this sadness and this state of worries so I can be back to being calm, happy, at peace, and patient again.

And I hope that none of my worries comes true.

MicroblogMondays: We Booked Our Donor!

Microblog_Mondays

After last week’s confusion, we booked the donor that we like!

This is our fourth donor.  The first one was an in-house donor that never responded to the donor coordinator’s inquiry, so we couldn’t work with her.  The second one disappeared after we booked her and met with her.  The third one was an in-house donor who had frozen eggs that resulted in two so-so blastocysts and failed transfers.

I just hope and pray that this new donor will be our very last donor before we finally have a child we can call our own.

I really thought that this donor was booked by another couple already and wouldn’t be available to start legal paperwork until August.  That was from reading Dr. E’s email.  The donor agency lady clarified with this: “That was the cycle that is in front of yours.  She will be finishing a cycle in May and then would be available at the end of May to start working with you. This is what I meant about legal being done at that time.”

I wrote her again trying to get a clarification: “Oh I was a bit confused about what Dr. E said.  She told me that she just matched this donor with a patient of hers this weekend.  When I asked her to clarify, she said that this donor is in cycle now with a patient of hers.  Then the next cycle in May with a patient of hers too. So next cycle she would be available for is August.  I would love to work with this donor if I get to start a cycle with her in May.  But I will have to think about it some more if I have to wait until August.”

Donor agency lady: “Yes, she is finishing next week with her current cycle. Then she is cycling again and will be done in May. She can start working with you at that time and should retrieve around July most likely but the doctor will be the one to calendar it for us. It depends how quickly the donor gets her period again after that retrieval. “

From my understanding of her response, Dr. E was talking about two patients of hers, one is finishing up a cycle with her now.  The other one will start her paperwork and finish her retrieval in May.  So I will be in line after that to start paperwork late May. I just wanted to make sure that there is not another person in line to start paperwork in May which pushes me to start paperwork in August.  So all of this is correct.

The next five days, I asked a ton of questions about the whole process and to make sure that we are next in line to cycle with this donor and not having two more people before our turn.  This donor agency owner answered all of my questions promptly with a lot of patience.  The donor was not employed at the time she filled out the profile.  The agency owner helped me ask and responded promptly with the donor’s employment information.

What else did I do that help us make this decision?  I was trying to explain to Bob all the cost and different donors and different clinics.  He got so confused that he asked for a spreadsheet.  So Wednesday after work, I put food in my Instant Pot, pressed some buttons, and let the pot do its job.  Then I sat down and did a combination of different donors, different agencies, and different clinics (my current clinic and Dr. E).  Why do I have to do that?  Different agencies ask for different agency fees, escrow fees, travel fees for the donor, insurance for the donor, and other miscellaneous expenses.  Different donors are from different states and areas so travel fees will vary.  Plus they all ask for different compensations.  I compared proven donors with first-time donors, local donors with non-local donors.  I estimated the cost of travel.  I compared donors who have done the psychological and genetic screenings, and genetic testing in the past year with the ones that haven’t.  I compared the cost of each clinic with or without PGS testing.  There are so many variables.  I got it done in an hour.

When I presented the whole spreadsheet to Bob, he was so impressed with it.  I made some estimates on certain things but I think the figures weren’t too far off from the real figures.  After looking at all the figures, it appeared to the both of us that it would make the most sense to go with this local, proven donor and cycle at my current clinic.  The only disadvantage is that I probably won’t be able to do a transfer until some time in the summer.  If I go with a first-time donor I can probably cycle a little sooner.  But with a first-time donor, the risk is that she may not pass her medical screening.  Then we would have wasted money on flying her to the clinic and paying for the screening.  Like I said, there are all these variables. So it seemed to make the most sense to wait for the local proven donor.

Plus, both Bob and I really like her.  For the first time choosing a donor, I feel that I don’t have to compromise any of my criteria I have set for a donor.  With the previous three donors, I made a couple of compromises with the height, education, or personality type with every single one of them.  But this particular donor meets all of my requirements.  I like how she looks.  She is my height.  She is a college graduate.  And I like how she answered her personal questions.  She just seems really down to earth.  I feel that this is someone that I could be friends with in real life.  And she has proven fertility so we don’t have to guess how she’d respond to medications.  I know that every cycle is different, but her past cycles give us a good glimpse of what could happen.

After lots of talking and prayers, Bob and I felt that we had peace with moving forward.  We signed the agency agreement to book this donor last week and emailed it to the agency person.  We will pay the agency fee today.  We have been officially matched with this local donor!

As far as which clinic to go with, I was thinking that since this donor will have worked with Dr. E three times by the time we cycle with her, it’d make sense to work with Dr. E.  After all, she is familiar with this donor and knows how to stim her.  After emailing back and forth with her finance person, I was a bit shocked and actually changed my mind.  Without PGS testing, the difference between Dr. E and my current clinic is about $1500.  With PGS testing, Dr. E costs $4000 more than my current clinic.  How does one justify paying an extra $4000 for a cycle that may yield the same result?  Just for some extra hand holding along the way?  I am just not so sure.

Bob, who usually has a tight grip on money, surprised me once again.  I thought he would be adamant about not spending the extra money cycling with Dr. E. But I was wrong.  He lets me choose.  If I really want to cycle with Dr. E, he’s okay with paying that extra money.  I guess to him, we have already spent so much money.  That extra few thousand is not going to hurt.  But I think differently.  I just have a really hard time justifying it.  So we shall see who to work with.

Dr. E is great though.  I asked her a bunch of questions and she got back to me very promptly.  Here is her answer about cycling back to back and how that might affect a donor’s health, and the necessity to do PGS testing with a proven donor who performed really well:

“She (the donor) is getting breaks between cycles.  That’s why you’d cycle with her in August, not back to back.  I think as you know:  IVF doesn’t make you run out of eggs and IVF doesn’t cause poor quality eggs.  Therefore we can definitely use her if you would like.  Her embryos were 100% normal with her first donation for me.  Is it possible that could happen again? Totally. I’ll know very soon. Her second cycle with me will start very soon.  As far as genetic testing, it’s a personal choice. I ask all my patients to consider genetic testing regardless of whether they are using egg donor or not just so you have all the info you need to make the best transfer decisions possible.”

The last two days I was looking at other donors on some agencies’ databases.  I came across donors who ask for something higher than the ASRM’s suggested guideline of $5000 to $10000 for donor compensation.  Some ask for $14000, 15000.  I came across some that ask for $20000, 30000.  One even asks for $35000.  I don’t know how they justify asking for so much (Ivy league graduates, but so what???), but I am so glad that our donor adheres to the guideline.  If everyone does what these other donors do, then nobody will be able to use donated eggs to conceive.  For this, I feel fortunate that we found this local donor.  We have Dr. E to thank.

Now we shall see if we will be cycling while my in-laws are in town (early June to end of July).  *Gulp*