It had to be early in the morning—your trigger injection, at exactly 9:45pm, insisted upon it. Lorelei fetched you from the B&B on time, and you drove twenty minutes to the downtown clinic.
You were punctual, of course. Overly so. You waited over an hour to be escorted to your room, where you stripped down and donned a backless cotton garment, a blue hair net, and little blue footies to cover your socks.
“Can I confirm your birthday, since there’s no last name on your bracelet?” your nurse asked. No last name ensured anonymity in the egg donation process.
You confirmed, and then your nurse briefed you. “You’re basically just going to have a little nap. The procedure will take about 20 minutes, and then we’ll bring you back here for recovery. When’s the last time you ate something?”
“Ten o’clock last night.” Your cheap ass made a dinner out of a can of garbanzo beans, plain. You feared the gas, which was pressing uncomfortably in your bowels and fighting for space against your swollen ovaries.
“That’s great,” she said, making a note on her sheet. She asked a few more particulars, confirmed that you had recently used the toilet, and then asked you to follow her to the operating room.
You nearly laughed, but settled for a “whoa!” when you saw the huge leg stirrups attached to the operating table. Of course. This was gynecology. And for your transvaginal ultrasound aspiration they’d upgraded from classic plastic heel stirrups to full-on, blue-cushioned leg supports.
“Okay, Maria. This table is long, but I’m going to need you to scoot so that you’re seated all the way down here,” an assistant said, indicating to a little pad just above the line of the leg holsters. You did as you were told, and then held your knees together in a rare act of modesty.
Your anesthesiologist was a swell guy—gay seeming—who was into ultra-running. You talked animatedly to him about the minimalist shoe movement and exercises he could to do open up his hips, and you watched as he administered your IV.
The assistant took each of your legs, lifted it into the holster, and secured it. You were officially in the La-Z-Boy of OBGYN. They covered you with a fresh-out-of-the-dryer blanket and then…
“I’m administering something that’s going to put you to sleep. You’ll meet your doctor briefly, and then we’ll get started,” said your anesthesiologist.
The drugs kicked in fast and strong. You imagined a huge, padded hand—like Mickey Mouse’s—pressing down on your forehead and eyes. You asked him to turn it down.
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.
You tried to keep talking to him about running, hearing the cadence of your speech slow and sometimes slur.
You don’t recall meeting your doctor.
You just fell asleep. Dreamed about barefoot running, then dreamed that four people were lifting you from the table and onto another one…
…and woke up.
“Feeling alright, Maria?” your nurse asked.
You missed your neat little barefoot dream.
Eyes looking about groggily, you muttered, “Yeah, I feel fine. How many eggs did we get?”
“You’re all done. Nice and quick.”
You lifted your head a bit, tested your extremities.
Some kind of steel-toed boot had a firm place deep in your pelvis, and it pressed and twisted, and then sharp, stabby sensations lit up in you vagina.
“Oh wow…” you said, dropping your head back down to the table. “That’s not a nice feeling.”
Your nurse quickly dosed you with something through the IV. “This should make it better.”
She instructed you to lie back, take it easy, and eat something until you felt well enough to dress yourself. She removed the IV, then gave you a bag of animal crackers and a baby can of Treetop apple juice. You smiled warmly at feeling like a five year old again—only with a moaning hoo-ha.
“So you have a ride, and you will stay in bed and relax for the rest of the day. Drink plenty of fluids, and continue on with the protein powder and the Gatorade. It’s important. Most women find that the symptoms of bloating are worse after the extraction. Here’s a pad for you to use. You should expect some blood—like spotting—but if it’s more serious than that, let us know immediately. You should not bathe or go into a hot tub or swimming pool for at least two weeks, and no intercourse until you get your period. Nothing goes into the vagina until then.”
You asked again about the egg yield, and learned that they had yet to count them.
Oh well. You scarfed down your snacks, gingerly gained your feet, and marveled at the small puddle of blood where you’d been lying. You wobbled like Bambi, trying to thread your legs into your pants.
After a bathroom break to check for signs of hemorrhaging, you were escorted back to your clinic, where you were met by two of your doctors, and the front desk girl. “We have this bag for you. There’s a present in it, as well. Our way of saying thanks for helping an infertile couple.”
Are you kidding me?
Seriously. When, ever, has a doctor—let alone two of them, plus the front desk girl—given a gift to thank you for undergoing medical treatment?
There was something warm and fuzzy about fertility doctors, though. They were so… well… maternal, and considerate, and invested in the process.
The card was generic, but you couldn’t expect much else from a two-week-long relationship.
Lorelei drove you home, and you went straight to bed at 11am. You slept for hours, woke to eat at around 6pm, and slept again. Woke again at 3:30am, ate some more, fell back asleep. Woke again at 10am, ate, back to sleep. Woke again at 2pm, concerned by the amount of sleeping you were doing.
Slept something like 20 hours.
Your pelvic region was unhappy. Your felt inflated like a balloon. The pressure was particularly unkind when you coughed or sneezed, and it made any kind of forced elimination impossible. Your farts, trapped uncomfortably, gurgled their disfavor.
Imagine the urgency of diarrhea with the hindrance of constipation. Unpleasant, to say the least.
You learned later in the evening that your doctor had extracted 27 eggs, 22 of which were mature and usable. A ton.
You were a downed, recovering, superhero—Fertility Girl!
You’d been congratulating yourself on a completely successful donation cycle, and thought–with great relief–about how happy you were to have an additional $7,000.
See… Team Katie & Maria had busted ass to save money and be sure to leave the country with $20,000. Enough to at least cover the cost of food and general entertainment expenses for two years of travel in Europe, let alone in other cheaper parts of the world.
You’d told Katie that the prospect of financial gain through the egg donation process was a nice one, but that neither of you should in any way rely on that money, should something go wrong. Egg donation is a long and complicated process–totaling, on average, about 60 hours of the donor’s time.
“If we get this $7,000, that will basically change the entire scope of our trip,” you told Katie. “That money will cover the cost of plane tickets and visas to numerous other countries and continents.”
Your Intended Parents knew this. You had considerable motivation for that money. Given the drop-out rate of egg donors–that is, the flakiness of them, once they learn how much time it takes–the parents felt reassured that your motivation, which was not primarily out of the kindness of your heart, was a compelling-enough one to lock you into the process.
From the Stanford page on egg donation, “A recent study found that donors who undergo the procedure primarily to earn money face a higher risk of postdonaton regret and psychological problems than women who donate primarily to help other women.”
When asked whether you anticipated having any difficulty parting with your eggs or having no rights to the potentially resulting child, you replied, “Let’s put it this way. I have not stayed in one place for more than a year in my entire adult life. I’m really good at moving on and not looking back. I wouldn’t say I have attachment issues.”
Your wealthy sister/aunt Lorelei said, “Seven thousand? That doesn’t sound like very much.” Maybe not, when that’s like… your bi-weekly budget. “Wouldn’t it have been easier just to work for it instead?”
Let’s do that math on that.
- Between your many jobs, and considering taxes, you can safely say you averaged about $30 an hour. You worked 20 hours a week, totaling to a meager $600 a week, or $2,400 a month. So it would have taken you 3 months to earn that money, but that wouldn’t include cost of living–so call it four months.
- And what is four months of your time worth, at a bare minimum?
- According to your travel budget, four months of your time is worth a maximum of $1,600.
- $7,000/$1,600 (4 months of your time) = 4.375, or 17.5 months of travel time.
- Repeat. For a 60-hour time commitment, you obtained 17.5 months of travel time. That’s value.
You’re a tight-wad, for sure. That’s why your blog is entitled Fred Mertz. But if there’s one thing you’ve learned prematurely, if the difference between price and value.
To the parents, $7,ooo is a price irrelevant to the value of what they’re about to obtain: a child. And that money, which might cover the average woman’s cost of living for 3 or 4 months, has given you an opportunity to more freely travel the world for two years. Value.