We’ve just had our first counselling session and we’ve started the process towards DEIVF (donor egg IVF)! I was pretty nervous going into the session, scared that we might not connect with the counsellor, anxious as to what they would say. I guess I was also a bit worried that she might declare us unfit parents even though I know that a) that’s not at all what she’s there for, and b) we will be good parents, or at least no worse than anyone else. Turned out I had nothing to be worried about. The counsellor made us feel comfortable at once, and the 45 minutes session flew by in no time at all. I feel like we covered so many topics I almost wish we’d recorded the session so that I could remember them all.
We talked about where we were at in the infertility process (she’d actually done her homework and knew why we were there!), how we’d dealt with our IVF failures, and how we felt about using donor eggs or pursuing adoption. We mentioned we’d had two people offer to be our donors and she asked whether we were happy with them (of course we are – we’re so lucky!) or wanted to look for someone else (no thanks). She asked what we would tell family and friends (most already know we’re looking at donor eggs), and what or whether we would tell our child (of course we will and from a very young age so that it is just a normal part of life instead of some great secret). I came out of the session feeling like we were on the right track, that as a couple we’d already talked through most of the potential issues, and that our beliefs about disclosure were consistent with what’s currently considered best for the child. I came out feeling good!
While I did come out of the session feeling like we were already doing the right things, she also highlighted some points to think about, such as the reaction of the donors family to the process and to the child should we be lucky enough to have one – would they be ok with accepting the child as that of a friend not a relation (e.g. not viewing the child as a grandchild)? She also mentioned that some donors get quite upset if the process doesn’t work, feeling that by giving a couple a healthy egg, they’re giving that couple 100% chance of having a child. While it would be nice if that were the case, life just doesn’t work like that and while the odds are slightly higher than normal IVF, the success rate for DEIVF in NZ is still just under 50%.
Another thing she mentioned was that she’d seen relationships between the donor and intended parents go bad (both with known and initially unknown donors). A common theme for this was that the donor didn’t feel like they were appreciated enough, a tough thing for an intended parent to hear as, should we be lucky enough to have a child at the end of this, our donor will have literally changed our life. How to show enough appreciation to the person who has made your dreams come true? How do you show this without it dominating lives or overly glorifying something you want your child to see as normal. It’s hard, but we have a few ideas up our sleeve.
We talked through the pros and cons of donors, the basics of legal rights and donor/child registration, as well as some of the things she’d seen in her thirteen year experience at our clinic. She told us about some helpful websites (and later sent through the links), and showed us some helpful books for telling your child (whoa whoa whoa! We need to get there first!). She helped us to come to a decision about the best donor for us, and mentioned a few of the other steps in the process – another session with her, counselling for the donor, and counselling for both parties together if we want it (I like the idea of this as the dynamic is so different with someone facilitating, you talk through things you wouldn’t have thought of by yourself).
Lastly, she told us to go home and email the donor coordinator at the clinic to ask for a timetable of what needs to be done and when, and how much time we need to allow for the process and for our funding. She gave us some handouts of things to think about with known donors, and an article about families created through donation (she also sent through a link to another article via email too – she rocks!). And then it was done. 45 minutes just like that. Off we went to digest all the information and to contact the coordinator. The DEIVF process is in progress, and we’ve emailed the donor coordinator….now to chat to our potential donor, I hope she hasn’t changed her mind!