When my friend, Marie, offered to donate her eggs to us, I knew that the timing would be critical. There’s a strict sequence of events that must be followed for egg donations, starting with the hormone test, then the STD/genetic tests, then the in-person screenings with the geneticist/psychologist/President of the EU (maybe not that last one?…it’s all a bit confusing…), followed by a ‘try-cycle’ to see how my body responds to the new drugs, and finally the actual donation cycle itself. One of the genetics tests (the chromosome analysis) can take up to three months to get back, and the results have to be in before they’ll let me even start the ‘try-cycle’. To make things more complicated, Marie lives across a fairly large ocean, and we’re trying to get this all done over her summer teaching break, which starts soon and ends in August!
I was guessing the chromosome analysis might be something that Marie could get done slightly faster in the US, since privatized healthcare = more expensive = better customer service. Sure enough, after about a zillion phone calls, multiple in-person visits, and an appointment with a very sympathetic doctor, Marie managed to get a lab order for the test to be done there, and she was told it’d only take two weeks(!) This sounds suspiciously short, so we’re still not completely sure this is the right test — due partly to some translation issues with the original (Dutch) order from Belgium, but mostly just to how medical protocols don’t necessarily cross international borders. When Marie asked for the technical reason behind the surprisingly large timescale discrepancy between the US and Belgium, the secretary helpfully responded <cue strong southern accent>: “Well, that’s a different country.”
The next logistical hurdle was scheduling the in-person screenings with the geneticist/psychologist/Dalai Lama. The earliest appointments available weren’t until July, which would delay the donation cycle itself until at least September. Luckily, I happened to be in Belgium at the time for my last ‘natural’ IVF cycle, and the egg donation nurse was kind enough to see me without a pre-scheduled appointment. She took pity on our predicament, and she managed to convince all the various doctors/world leaders to see us on a much shorter timescale (“Her donor is coming from America.”) I left her office with six back-to-back appointments scheduled for this coming 16 May, and a prayer that Marie would actually be available.
Marie was available, luckily, as was her husband, who also has to come for the screenings. (I really wish I could go back and tell my 21-year-old self that it would eventually take four adults, a team of doctors, and multiple international flights to get me pregnant.) Marie checked that their passports weren’t expired, and we bought the round-trip tickets for their whirlwind 2-night trip to Amsterdam. What she didn’t notice until several days later was the name on the passport…her maiden name. What followed were a bunch of frantic texts referencing travel.state.gov and the expedited passport renewal section.
All of this is to say that we currently have a plan, and hopefully in 8-10 working days, we will also have a passport.