Once upon a time in 1994 there was a woman who had just turned 31 and had three amazing little children, all under the age of six. She knew Baby #3 was her last, and she was more than a little sad about that fact.
For the first time in her young adult life, she didn’t have a job outside of the home. She lived very close to major universities with top-notch medical facilities. One day, she saw a flyer in her GYN’s office asking for healthy women under the age of 35 to donate eggs to couples who would like to attempt donor conception. At the time, this was a very new and relatively uncertain way to offer people a chance to have a child or children that they might otherwise have had no chance to experience.
I can help with that, she thought. My babies are very beautiful and very smart and very healthy and I seem to be very fertile. She loved her babies so much, more than she ever imagined she would be able to love anyone. Other people should be able to have babies like that! Let’s give them a shot!
Maybe that sounded “conceited” or “boastful,” but what’s true is true, she thought. Let’s do this.
So she called the number on the flyer and she made an appointment at the hospital only 2 miles down the road. She filled out lots of forms and took lots of tests, some of them psychological, some genetic, some purely medical. She had to sign other forms saying she would not ever try to contact the donee (?) family, and that she understood they would not know her true identity. There were lots and lots of legal forms. She signed them all.
She was accepted as an egg donor, and she had to start giving herself shots. Lots of shots. She had never given anyone a shot before, let alone her own self. Every day, there was a small hormone shot. She had to learn how to stick herself with a needle. She pretended she was diabetic and had to do it. Toward the end of the cycle, she had a huge needle filled with Lupron. It needed to be injected in the buttocks. Fortunately, there was a female doctor living next door who was willing to help her out with this. Her husband had most likely started to think she had lost her mind. He may have been right, but probably not.
A little more than a day later, she went to the hospital and had eggs retrieved. She made chicken jokes. She thought there were thirteen eggs collected.
She always wondered what happened to those eggs.
She went through the donation process two more times. Both times, about a dozen eggs were retrieved. (Ironic?)
The medical center began to receive a bit of negative publicity when the question of long-term risks to donors was raised. They told the woman she could no longer donate.
Shortly thereafter, a package arrived for the woman. Or maybe she had to go pick it up at the hospital. Either way, it was a tiny music box that played “When You Wish Upon A Star.” There was a note thanking her for making the anonymous couple’s wish come true. It was then she realized, there was at least one “egg baby,” and she was so happy.
She always wondered about the “egg babies.” What if her children grew up and married one without knowing? How many were there? What did they look like? Is it wrong to call them egg babies? What should she call them, then?
And then along came DNA testing, two decades later.
The woman bought a testing kit. A few weeks later, she got a message that she had some new DNA relatives. This is the first message she saw.
Possible range: Parent, Child – immediate family member
Confidence: Extremely High
But her parents were both deceased, and had never taken any DNA tests to her knowledge. What does this mean then, she thought? (OK, it was late and she was tired.)
Holy crap. These are the egg babies.
She sent a message to one of the matches. Do you know anyone in your family who participated in egg donation?
To be continued. Because the woman was me, and my husband and I met one of the “eggs” tonight along with her parents. And I’m still trying to decompress a little, and get this nice smile off my face. Nice to meet you all. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.
Photo credits to Chuck Nellis.