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In the Beginning ...


a blog by Marna Gatlin, Parents Via Egg Donation, July 7, 2011

In the beginning, in a galaxy far far away (or something like that) I sat across the desk from a fertility doctor who was going to change my life in ways I couldn’t even imagine. Hearing the words “The best chance for you to have a baby is with the help of an egg donor,” didn’t register for several minutes. In fact, if memory serves me correctly I think the world completely stopped as I digested my doctor’s words.

    “The best chance…”
    “The best chance…”

I always knew I had a reproductive problem (or was reproductively challenged), but I never knew to what extent that problem was. I was one of these women who could conceive, but I could never carry. With one exception I never carried past the 11th or 12th week.

Like many others before me, I made the rounds from doctor to doctor with each doctor shrugging their shoulders and scratching their heads, leaving me, them and my partner completely puzzled, as well as sad and frustrated. It wasn’t until I met Dr. John Hesla, from Oregon Reproductive Medicine that I learned I suffered from diminished ovarian reserve, and most likely had an egg quality issue. Now I had a diagnosis and an actual ray of hope, and the real work began.

Before I knew it, our appointment was over, I was handed a large folder full of paperwork that contained information about testing that my husband and I would have to have, what an egg donation cycle involves, how much it costs, how long it takes, blah blah blah. All I could do right at that moment walking to our car was take a really deep breath. In fact, I think I took many deep breaths as I walked from the office to our car — this wasn’t supposed to be happening to me, after all I was only 35!

To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. This was mind boggling. The mere idea of attempting to wrap my mind around taking the egg from a young woman, fertilizing that egg with my husband’s sperm, creating an embryo, placing back that embryo into my waiting uterus, hoping to GOD that the embryo implanted and then carrying that baby for nine months — was it possible? I mean really!

This was like Star Trek, except this was 1999, not star date 2456, and there was nothing out on the Internet about this kind of assisted reproductive technology, and I realized that, for the most part, emotionally I was one my own.

The excitement was soon replaced with sadness. Huge waves of sadness rolled over me like thick warm molasses. My heart and spirit were just so heavy and sad about the prospect of never having the ability of looking into my son or my daughter’s eyes and seeing me in any part of them. The loss of my genetic connection was extraordinarily painful, and I realized that I wouldn’t be true to myself unless I honored that grief and acknowledged that it was normal to be sad. Thankfully I was smart about it and found a really great therapist who helped me through the grieving process, and I was able to wrap my head around egg donation and what that meant pretty quickly. I had no pride as I sat in her office and sobbed about my loss of genetics as I lamented and worried about the idea of my husband having a baby with another women. Oh my God, that would mean I was entering into some sort of weird Triad! Right!?

This was just so all-consuming that sometimes I felt that the very air I was breathing was being sucked out of me by the big elephant called infertility that was sitting in the room. So I did what I always do when I am faced with a problem — after I allow myself to freak out, I gather my collective stuff together and dissect the problem piece by piece until I understand it, and then I find a work-around.

And this time the work around was finding an egg donor. I thought that was going to be a piece of cake, I mean gosh how hard could it be to find an egg donor? After all, I just need her eggs; I don’t need to form a relationship with her, right?

Boy was I wrong.

Comments (1)


Your personal story is very touching. While I spend the vast majority of my time on the medical side, I try to not loose sight of the emotional issues my patients go through. With writing such as yours, I am certain that many patients will identify with your feelings and begin to allow themselves to go through the same steps as you.

Interestingly, I have found that infertility patient who are unable to conceive using their own eggs and sperm seem to undergo the same stages of grief that those with Cancer go through. These stages are commonly anger, bargaining, sadness/depression and eventual acceptance. Everyone seems to pass through these stages at different speeds. Some fly through the first two only to get forever stuck in sadness/depression. Seeking a mental health professional, as you did, is an excellent way to make your way through all the the stages with as little damage as possible.

I thank you and many others that are willing to tell their story helping others to begin to move forward to a conclusion that is best for them.

Craig R. Sweet, M.D.
Founder, Medical & Practice Director
Embryo Donation International

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