Denise Steele describes her personal experience with infertility, her choices and whether she regrets not freezing her eggs.
Elective egg freezing is now readily available to women. Women can put their fertility on hold so that they may have their own biological children when they’re ready.
I was unaware of this technology when I was in my 20s. Even if I had been, many OB/GYNs were not promoting the benefits of the procedure nor was it not readily available in the US.
I married later in life, became pregnant in my late 30s and learned when I was 37 that I would not be able to have my own biological children due to my poor egg quality. Ultimately, my husband and I had three boys in one year thanks to an anonymous egg donor cycle and private domestic adoption.
The obvious question is, “Do I wish I would have frozen my eggs when I was younger so that I my children could all share my DNA? The short answer is, “No and Yes.” The yeses may surprise you.
The process of going through an anonymous egg donor cycle, for me, was very difficult and complex. I’m sure everyone else who has had to use a third party feels the same as I. The two main issues that I had with using an anonymous egg donor were: I didn’t want to carry another pregnancy for fear that I would have to suffer another loss, and the anonymous donor and I, and ultimately my potential children, would not have a personal connection or relationship.
In my situation, we used an egg donor bank. We had access to a database of donors who offered data such as their age, weight, blood type, where they resided, ethnic background (as much as they knew or will willing to offer), medical history, educational background, whether they had children or not, marital status, number of siblings, light medical history of their immediate and extended family members and one or two photos. Outside of that, they remained anonymous. During the process, careful measures were taken to assure that we would never come into contact with our chosen donor.
Personally, I wanted the donor to bear a resemblance to me, share my blood type, and have a similar ethnic background. We chose an egg donor that met those criteria but were told that she had been reserved the day before by another client. Frankly, that has happened to so many other people I know who have used a donor and it is SUPER frustrating once you feel that you have found the right one. Our other choice was someone who was attractive but didn’t look much like me, did not share my blood type but did have a similar ethnic background.
The donor we chose only produced one egg during her cycle. As an aside, we also were pursuing adoption at the same time. The week we chose and contracted with our donor, we matched with our oldest son’s birthmother and ultimately put the egg donor cycle on hold. Our same donor worked with another family and produced 20 eggs. That cycle did produce a pregnancy. When she worked with us, our Reproductive Endocrinologist felt it was a failure and would not result in a pregnancy. That was not the case, however. When the egg was transferred, it split and I had identical twins.
When I compare and contrast the experience we had with our oldest son’s adoption, I was so thankful that we were able to get to know and build a relationship with his birth mother and meet members of her immediate family. She was able to provide us with so many answers to the questions we knew he would ask later in his life. I loved being able to study her face and hear her voice. Our son’s birth mother shared stories and tales that we have and will continue to pass onto him.
Now that we have our three healthy sons, I don’t ever wish that they shared my genetic background. I love them with all of my heart.
What bothers me is that I will never be able to answer questions that my twins may have about the other half of their genetic makeup. As an example, my twins run so fast that they could beat the Road Runner in a race. My husband played sports but he is not a runner. I wonder if that trait came from our/their donor. Maybe not but maybe. I also feel a sense of inequity for them because I don’t have any tales or experiences to share like I do with their older brother. They haven’t begun to ask yet but I know that they will some day.
In closing, had I frozen my eggs, I wouldn’t be the mother to my three amazing boys. I’m perfectly happy about that. Sadly, I do harbor some guilt about not being able to have the answers to so many questions that I know our boys will have one day.
I am a proponent of elective egg freezing, however. To all the future moms who wish to establish themselves in a career path or haven’t met “the one” yet, the biggest benefit I see for you and your family is that your children will have access to their full lineage. In my opinion, it’s less about genetics but rather the family histories and stories that may be passed down from generation to generation.