Even though we’re not at stage where we’re looking for donor eggs yet, I have been looking through listings with private agencies. I’m a planner for sure, but really, this is my way of assuring myself that I have options. Perhaps when you get to the point of using donor eggs, selecting the donor becomes the one thing you can control. But somehow searching these egg donors’ profiles is leading to the strangest exploration of myself.
First of all, I feel compelled to look for someone whose DNA will be a stand-in for mine. So I’m not just looking for the smartest, healthiest, most educated, most beautiful donor with a proven donor history. Maybe I should be, but instead I seem to be looking for me, or rather, me with arbitrary “improvements” that reflect my deepest insecurities.
Finding me isn’t easy. I know all women looking for an egg donor face this challenge, but I’m really tall, I have the least common hair color in the least common shade in the world (most people think it’s fake), and I have a small nose. More on why a nose, of all things, would come into consideration later.
On one hand, finding some of these traits seem pointless because my husband is Indian, so our child will never have my hair or eye color, and isn’t going to be any shade of white, not ever. On the other hand, I still can’t help but want to find someone who can stand in for my genes. It’s not ego. I think it’s me trying to make something as close as it can be to something that it isn’t.
So, I have a favorite donor. She matches the superficial traits, and that alone is huge. Same blood type, she has 75% of the same ethnic makeup (a combo of 5 different kinds of white. I’m 25% Argentinean, non-European variety.) She has some of the same interests I do and describes her personality in the same way I would mine. Her features aren’t just like mine (and whose are?) but they aren’t far off. So many donors have noses that are much bigger than mine, and while that is fine with me, my husband has a super weird thing about noses, and I know he’d veto a lot of them. It’s so stupid, I know, and if you handed me a baby right now that looked like anything, we’d take it in an instant, but again, when you’re down to the very last thing you can feel like you have some control over, you want to be able to make some choices.
She doesn’t have a degree, and this is where I thought I would care more than I do. The thing is, I didn’t have my degree yet at that age because I took a break from college. Her grammar isn’t up to my usual English Literature degree standards, either, and I just kind of just don’t care, which surprises me. I guess I’m not worried by the little trivial things I sometimes secretly judge because I have faith and confidence that my husband would never raise a child who wasn’t extremely high achieving. He’ll be a father like his father.
The part that has caused me to really question myself, however, is that I think she is objectively prettier than I am, and more significantly, she appears to be naturally thin. The latter almost makes her DNA seem better than mine. I couldn’t help but think, if I could spare my child this one part of my genetic makeup, I’d feel better about the whole damn thing. You know? Here kid, you might have a chance to get through life without the naturally fat body of me and my ancestors. You’re going to be biracial growing up in a white town, you’re not going to know half of your gene pool and you may have some emotional issues to grapple over that, one of your grandfathers is already gone, one of your grandmothers lives overseas, and your other grandmother abandoned us all decades ago, but you might turn out pretty, and you might escape a lifetime of weight bias that I feel has shaped me and parts of my life in terrible ways.
I mean sure, I fully intend to raise my children to not eat their feelings and to enjoy moving their bodies, but I also believe in health at every size and I know my genetic offspring could possibly be very healthy and also be “overweight” and I would love them no less, but what if I also guilt over giving them this DNA?
In the four different databases I’ve searched, I couldn’t believe I could only come up with one I’d want to pursue if I were doing DEIVF at this point, so I expanded my criteria. I started looking for shorter women (i.e. average height) and women with brown hair and/or eyes. I filtered for college education and proven donor history. I tried to think of this search as purely for “best donor,” not for “best me.”
There were two profiles that made me want to stop and consider. The first one was you know, nothing at all like me. Her profile kind of read like she was looking for the money, which I’m okay with but it didn’t seem like there was a lot of effort, you know? Then I read that she had three abortions. My knee-jerk reaction was: wha-what? I’m very pro-choice and I won’t apologize for that. My reaction made me feel guilty, though. At first I thought, is she impulsive? Does she make bad decisions? I can understand one or two abortions, but three? But you know what, I can imagine why someone would have three, and questioning this puts me in a place where I don’t like the way I’m thinking. I have cherished friends who’ve had several abortions and I’d never question them. I know this is a divisive topic, and I’m not trying to push that on anyone reading this. Realizing the thought process I had when I read the profile, however, is really sparking some introspection.
The second profile seemed great. She had an interesting degree and several high yield egg donations previously. Then I read that she used to heavily smoke marijuana but not anymore. I quickly thought, “I bet you still do, is that bad for the eggs?” Now while I don’t like to smoke, I am not against it for recreational or medicinal purposes, but it was like my father’s constant warnings were ringing in my head, “Pot makes you lazy!” Side note: I’ve known two PhDs at an Ivy League university who smoked marijuana daily. I don’t particularly agree with my father on this one. Then I read on her profile that she drinks something like 5 drinks a week. Now, I also don’t drink, but I know people who have a drink a day and I’d never think anything of it, but here I am, thinking, how did the smoking effect the eggs? Does the drinking effect the eggs? What if she keeps drinking through stims? Her college GPA wasn’t good, which made me go hmmm. Then I read something to the effect of, “I don’t care how many people use my eggs.” Again, wha-what? Is that a good or a bad thing?
Then it occurred to me, what if my children had several genetic half siblings from several other parents? Is that a bad thing? This is such a complex subject that I am now interested in and I am sure is already being dissected by more experienced people but I wish I had people in my life I could talk to about this. But as it stands, I only have two people I am discussing my infertility with, much less the possibility of donor eggs.
The second profile is someone I’d probably be friends with if we were to randomly meet in real life, just because I tend to be drawn to the more open and free spirited. The donor I do like, I don’t think I’d particularly be friends with. Now let me be clear, I’d reject my own eggs if I saw my profile. My family health history is actually pretty good, but I don’t have the smartest life decisions and one may think my health reflects that. These women are just being honest about their personal health histories, and that’s a good thing. I didn’t want to think I am as judgemental as I am being. But is being judgemental when choosing an egg donor normal? On the other hand, maybe a too perfect profile is too good to be true.