Next Stop: Mexico?

So… yeah, after three years and enough money down the drain to put a down payment on a modest home, all we have to show for it is one miscarriage. The three IVF cycles did not go well, but it might have been because it was too close to the surgery, or I was too stressed out from travel. Two doctors have said I’m a good candidate to try again.

But I’m thinking… no. Including the two egg donation cycles I did when I was 30 (I was the donor in that case), I’ve done a total of five IVF cycles (the hard part anyway), and I’m just kinda done. Not because the cycles are physically hard (though they aren’t exactly fun) but because waiting at each step is so incredibly stressful, and failing is so incredibly painful. And because of having surgery on both ovaries, because of my endometriosis, because of my age (almost 37), my chances just frankly aren’t that good.

If I tried five more times, yeah, maybe I’d get lucky. Hell, I probably would. But I just can’t put myself through that.

Luckily there is a way to take my chances from 25% (or whatever they are) to roughly 70%: Donor eggs. Take my age, my ovaries, my endometriosis out of the equation, and suddenly the road looks a hell of a lot sunnier. (Studies show that transferring non-endometriosis eggs into a body with endometriosis gives you as good a chance as putting them into a non-endometriosis body. In other words, it neutralizes that factor, as well as age. Yay.)

Genetics have never been of prime importance to me, nor is jealousy that my husband might conceive a baby with another woman’s donated tissue. In fact, that main thing that bothers me about egg donation is the anonymous nature of it. Unless you find your own donor, most donations are closed to any kind of contact. Which doesn’t seem fair to the kid or the donor. I’d love to send at least a Christmas card every year to the person who helped us start a family. And I’d love for them to be available for any questions the child might have. So that part sucks — and I have a feeling it won’t be that way forever. It’s a beautiful thing, and in my opinion, it should simply be normalized — heck, celebrated.

Anyway, we can’t come close to affording egg donation in the US. It’s $20,000 at the bare minimum, and follow-up frozen embryo transfers cost at least a few grand more. I just can’t deal with prices in the US. It’s ridiculous and exploitative.

That leaves two main options (that I know about): Mexico and the Czech Republic.

The clinics in the Czech Republic are so cheap, it strikes me as odd. Something like $6000 for egg donation. Maybe it’s just a really good deal, but something about it smells weird. I also understand you don’t get to pick your donor — they pick for you, and you don’t even get to see a picture. That seems a bit dodgy as well. Plus it’s in a time zone far away, and I’ve learned that long international trips do not combine well with assisted reproductive technology, at least for me and my not-yet-a-US-citizen Turkish husband.

I’d be glad to hear about anyone else’s thoughts / experience

Mexico is a little pricier, but much closer to home, and also closer to beaches if you do it right. πŸ™‚ Egg donation “only” sets you back about ten grand (sigh…) with a FREE frozen embryo transfer if needed (you just pay for meds) plus a couple grand for plane tickets and an Airbnb place in town. They sent me a list of donors with pictures and a good deal of information. The donors are mostly Mexican with a few other nationalities mixed in, and with some of them I feel a comfortable connection. Some are university students, others are mothers already, a few are in graduate school.

I only wish I could meet them and cheer them on as they embark on the often thankless task of cultivating a few eggs to give to someone they’ll probably never meet. As I said, I did egg donation when I was 30. It’s a two-week process, and for me it was relatively easy (if a bit clinical and theoretical, since I was shielded from the whole point of the thing), and I was glad to do it. But it would have been so cool to meet the intended parents.

I never imagined one day I’d be on the other end of it.

If we do this, it will pretty much be the end of our savings. (The savings that were supposed to be for RAISING kids, not making them. Oh well.)

But it seems like our best shot. And, at the end of the day, raising kids will still be ridiculously more expensive than making them, so… there’s that.

I gotta be honest, though. My stomach seizes up at the thought of trying again. There’s been so much loss and heartache already, year after year, month after month. The thought of more piled on, plus more money down the drain, makes it hard to breathe when I think about it. Nothing in my life has ever been this hard or scary. Not even close.

But what else can you do? Make a decision, pick yourself up, move forward, do your best. That’s what you have control over. I’m not the first woman who’s gone through this, and I draw a lot of strength from so many women who have gone before and written about it powerfully and honestly.

But I’m feeling pretty weak and discouraged lately. Every single time, even trying naturally, I can’t stop myself from believing this will be it. By the time it’s time to take a pregnancy test, I’ve spun a big hopeful future around a positive test and a kid in nine months. Every month it’s like I’m kicked in the stomach, punched back to zero. I can’t keep living like this, and I can’t stop trying, and I can’t pretend I’m not trying and hoping and sweating every single time.

So yeah. I’ve been in a low spot since the failed FET. I just knew at least one of those five embryos from last year would be our kid. Everything felt like it crumbled after the last two failed. I feel like I’m on this endless highwire and I can’t rest and I can’t go back and I can’t see the other side. I’m just walking and walking and trying not to fall, trying to have faith it will end some day.

Anyway. Just some thoughts. Glad to hear yours.

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7 thoughts on “Next Stop: Mexico?

  1. Oh wow I feel your pain here on so many levels. The cost seems so unfair yet for the ability to have a family I accept it. We have chosen the donor egg path and are doing it here locally ( San Francisco area) total cost is about 48k. Gulp. We have burned through savings and are on to loans now. I do feel differently about the anonymous part though. An egg donor is giving up genetics of course but it is to me an egg that would never have gone on to be a life if we didn’t have it. The anonymous part is ok with me although I am fine either way. I am sending my donor emails throughout the process through the agency. Anyway– just my viewpoint. I am happy to chat if you ever feel like discussing the donor process. Wishing you so much luck and love.

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    1. So sorry you’re going through this, too. Hugs.

      To be clear, though, whether a donation is anonymous or not — both legally and common sensically — once the tissue is donated, and especially if a child is created, that child is, of course, 100% yours. I just think it would be nice to acknowledge the person who was kind enough to donate the tissue. And a child of an egg or sperm donor might be naturally curious about where their genetics came from, or it might be relevant for health reasons down the line.

      But for sure — a donor is not a parent. The parent is the one who’s there 24/7 wiping bottoms and raising the kids. A donor is more like a fairy godmother / godfather who contributed one magic ingredient πŸ™‚ But even that seems to me within a kid’s right to know, if they wish to. I hope it’ll be more like that in the future, and this whole thing will just be normalized as the wonderful thing it is.

      I think at least as much wish for anonymity is coming from the donors, though, so they can just get on with their lives and not worry / think about what the parents are doing with the (hopefully happy) outcome of their donations. It just keeps things simple. Fair enough, I guess.

      All this is just my opinion as both a donor and a potential recipient.

      Luck and love to you as well!

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      1. You explained it beautifully. I think it would be nice for the child to be able to explore the genetic link. I also think any thoughts or discussions from someone who is as conscientious and seemingly empathetic as you opens up my mind to see this from the child’s perspective and soften my defenses. That is much appreciated. I eagerly await this IF hell to end for you. Xo

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    2. Sorry you are in the place to make these difficult choices. After an initial success with our first IVF, we needed to turn to donor eggs to grow our family. Our clinic has a shared donor program, in SF Bay Area, that proved to be much more affordable. We split the cost of the donor cycle with another family. The eggs are split down the middle after collection. We ended up with several embryos and I can only assume the other family did as well. You may have already looked at this option, but thought I would throw it out there! Good Luck with your process!

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  2. I came here via Don’t Count Your Eggs. I am so sorry for your struggle. Your past egg donation adds a layer of emotion and questions to process. One day it will make sense, or if it doesn’t, you will have accepted it. For now you have to decide what to do. Everyone has a different situation, but since you asked, I highly recommend embryo donation with the NEDC. They have excellent success rates, since – I hear you so well – you feel you can’t take many more failures. It also costs about $10k. Some donor couples at the NEDC created their families thanks to egg donation, so their embryos are of excellent quality, lowering the chance of failure further. (I’m sure you didn’t realize that could happen when you donated eggs. It’s such a complicated process, donor conception, with so many gray areas.) If you want to know more feel free to email me. Best wishes with your decision making. May you be on the other side soon.

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  3. I also think it’s sad that the donor egg process has to be completely anonymous as I think it could be nice for some of the women to know what happened to the eggs afterwards, whether they grew into children, maybe see a picture now and then. But I know it’s a complex area. Loads of Irish women go to Prague to do IVF, many with donor eggs actually. IVF itself is generally more affordable in Europe than the states. In Germany it’s 4000€ per cycle (half that with health insurance) and the Czech republic has a lower cost of living so it makes sense that it is even cheaper there. Many women on a facebook group i’m on have gone to Prague and had a good experience and combined it with a holiday. Anyway I wouldn’t rule it out as an option. This blogger wrote about it: http://www.irishbabyfairy.com/how-to-do-ivf-in-prague/
    I also understand your feeling like you hate the thought of going through IVF again, it’s such a difficult emotional process

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