A big week: egg donor screening

Last week was a big week. Our egg donor, Marie, flew all the way from the US to Europe with her husband. His mother flew to their home from a different state to watch their kids (along with her mother) while they were away (because apparently it takes a village for us to even have a baby). And directly after meeting them at the airport for their evening arrival, my husband, Marie, her husband, and I rented a car and drove the 2+ hours directly to Belgium to get a quick night’s sleep before our marathon schedule of donor egg IVF screening appointments the next morning.

Given the potential for complications, I think it all went relatively smoothly. Maybe it’s because they have two small children, but Marie and her husband were champs even with so little sleep. After flying all night and going to sleep after midnight the following day, they were up by 7:30 and we were checked out of the Airbnb by 8:15. We got everyone checked in at the hospital, where my husband and I had an appointment at 9am with the psychologist and Marie and her husband had an appointment with the geneticist. We then met with the egg donation nurse while they had appointments with the psychologist and fertility doctor. Finally, we all had a joint appointment with the egg donation nurse. Just typing it all out again is making me tired.

All of the appointments went quite well, at least as far as I can tell. The psychologist didn’t bring up anything that we hadn’t already considered in detail. I had already mourned my fertility (for the most part), and I also already knew about ‘early telling’, the recommended method for telling your kid they are a donor egg baby. Marie said their appointment with the psychologist was also quite pleasant, and thanks to the detailed emails she and I have been sending back and forth, there were no surprises in their appointment with the fertility doctor.

The geneticist was the big wild card, as we had been warned she could be quite strict. However, Marie said that appointment also went very smoothly. She seemed happy with the lack of major hereditary diseases in Marie’s family tree, so the in-depth medical history Marie’s mom had done proved unnecessary. And we even got some good news: although we had previously been led to believe that Marie would be unable to donate if she was a carrier for cystic fibrosis (CF) or spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the geneticist clarified that it would only be a problem if my husband is a carrier too (which makes soooo much more sense).

After Marie got her blood drawn for the CF and SMA tests, we all met with the egg donation nurse, a miracle-worker by the name of Bernadette. She’s the one who had arranged for us to come in May for all this, as the earliest opening they had at the time was not until July. She also ends all of her sentences in ‘voilà!’ For example, “And then the needle punctures the ovary, and voilà!” Obviously we love her.

Figuring out the timeline with Bernadette proved the trickiest part of the day. There are a bunch of things that need to happen before the actual donation cycle, so it’s sort of impossible to predict when that might occur (assuming Marie gets approved, which we won’t know until her latest blood test results come back and the various doctors present their findings at the bi-monthly staff meeting). One of the biggest uncertainties is where I am currently in my cycle (which, thanks to my condition, is less of a “cycle” and more of a random walk). Here, Bernadette once again saved the day by arranging a spur-of-the-moment ultrasound, then whipping out a needle and drawing blood from my arm right there in her office. Voilà!

After the appointments (and 4+ hours at the hospital), we drove directly back to Holland so we could return the rental car on time. Marie and her husband then had <24 hours at our house before their flight back home. All-in-all, they were on the ground for 48 hours and in the air for 20. It was a whirlwind trip, but despite the intense schedule and lack of sleep, I think we can call it a success. In her classic straight-shooter fashion, Marie even texted me from the airport:

“Can’t wait to return! Vaginal procedure and all!”

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