Personal Story

The Seventh Cycle: A Conversation With A Very Experienced Egg Donor

FertilityIQ: How many times have you donated your eggs, and where were you in your life?

Donor: I’ve done it seven times. I first started doing it when I was 22 or 23 years old. I'd finished undergrad, I didn't have like an actual job. I was doing marketing gigs, and you know babysitting, and just trying to figure out what I was going to do next.

FertilityIQ: Can you recall what you were paid for each cycle?

Donor: Yeah, so they paid $8,000 for an egg retrieval but that is only if you had gone through the whole process and they successfully retrieved eggs. If you went through the process but they retrieved no eggs, you might end up with nothing.

FertilityIQ: Is there anything you bought with the money that you still have and treasure?

Donor: Absolutely not. It was completely frivolous spending, mostly shopping and travel. I couldn't tell you for the life of me what it was spent on. It was here and then it was gone.

FertilityIQ: There's a recommended cap of how much a person donating their eggs should get paid, are you aware of that?

Donor: Yeah, I think it's $10,000, and that’s probably a good idea. If you’re approaching 21 year-olds, who live in a big city, who are paying insane rent, if the incentive is too high, they may do something they’ll regret.

FertilityIQ: Did you ever wonder, or visualize, who these people were who were getting your eggs?

Donor: Yeah, actually. I’m Jewish, and it's much harder for Jewish couples to find donors that are also Jewish. When it comes to becoming a donor, there are people in the Jewish community who have hesitations about going into a process like this. And so the chance to help a Jewish couple was pretty interesting for me.

FertilityIQ: Why wouldn’t Jewish women do this?

Donor: I was raised in a modern orthodox community, but my parents were not orthodox. In the Jewish religion, people kind of view their eggs as something they shouldn’t get rid of, because they see each egg as a possibility to be their own child.

FertilityIQ: Did you tell your folks?

Donor: I think I mentioned it, in passing, to my mom after the fact.

FertilityIQ: That makes sense. Did you tell anybody else while you were doing this?

Donor: My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time.

FertilityIQ: What's it like being in a relationship while you're donating your eggs to someone else?

Donor: I mean it was super helpful having somebody help me with the shots, because I think at that time I was a little more nervous around giving myself the injections. So I think I was very fortunate to be with somebody who was super open. And, obviously, you can't have sex while you're doing this.

FertilityIQ: Huh, I can see how that might come up. How did the treatment go?

Donor: There were two issues. First, was just the effect of the shots. I went through hormonal changes and felt pretty bloated and uncomfortable. Second, after the fourth or fifth time, I got Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which is really uncomfortable. I also learned that every time I did a cycle thereafter, I was going to get OHSS again.

FertilityIQ: So you’ve done a few donor cycles. Seven, is that right?

Donor: Yep, seven cycles total. Typically, you do only 6, max, which is the guideline they put in upfront. But, they had me come back for a seventh one.

FertilityIQ: Why did you come back for a seventh, when the medical limit was six?

Donor: After the sixth one, I thought I was completely done. It was at least a year or two later and I think I was already engaged by the time I got called back for the seventh cycle. I met with the head of the department because obviously there was a little bit more hesitation coming back. I kind of came to the conclusion they called me back because one of the women who had received my eggs previously, had success and specifically had requested to have me as the donor again. I did a lot of research, I felt it was safe, and my thinking was, “if I'd already done six cycles, what really is the difference if I do a seventh one?”

FertilityIQ: By the seventh cycle, what was the OHSS like?

Donor: It was a couple of days, maybe a week, of me kind of just crouching and whimpering in pain on the couch. Thankfully, I had a very, very supportive boyfriend who was willing to do everything, because just standing up was really painful.

FertilityIQ: By the seventh cycle, which mattered more: the money or the ability to help somebody?

Donor: Definitely the latter. By the seventh cycle, I was in a place where the money was such an after thought because I had already been working, I was getting married, I was in graduate school. I was in such a different place in my life at the time. For me, the seventh cycle was really about helping another woman have a genetically similar sibling for a child I had already helped with.

FertilityIQ: Would have done an eight cycle?

Donor: Honestly, I promised myself by the time I was married, the next time it would be for me to get pregnant.

FertilityIQ: Is there anything, in hindsight, that ever worries you about the process?

Donor: So I'm pregnant with a boy and, I mean, there's always just the thinking, “what if one day, my son meets his biological half-sister and falls in love with her”. That's super creepy. So that's it. Nothing like, “Oh my god, I'm so attached to my eggs I can't believe I have these children walking around”. Nothing like that.

FertilityIQ: In a world of services like Ancestry.com and 23andMe, do you ever wonder if someone will find you and pronounce you their “real mother”?

Donor: I don't believe I am their mother at all. I think the woman who was pregnant with them for 40 weeks, and then gave birth to them, and then raised them, that’s their mother. I mean, I would feel sad if somebody came reaching out to me, and said, “I have some similar biological make up to you”. That would upset me because I honestly believe being pregnant with a child, giving birth to child, raising a child, that's what makes somebody a mother.

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