Egg Donor, Part 2: Save the Cheerleader, Save the world

Published May 3, 2014 | By Greg Hodgson-Fopp

Probably best to read part 1, first.

In Part 1, I covered my moral descent from good parent to eugenicist, where I found that when faced with meaningful life choices about which egg donors to pick, I quickly became the flag-bearer for a new designer super-race. A position in which I was a little uncomfortable.

Ruling out the obvious, the less obvious, the ones with bad vibes, and the ones with dodgy answers, we were still left with more than a small pile of profiles for which we could find no valid reason to reject.

So ultimately, once we’d skimmed down to the basics (and we’d been e-mailing each other back and forth a bit with the same profiles attached), we made a pretty human decision.

The Gynaecological Hot-or-Not

Each profile had between 3 and 10 photographs attached. And they did vary quite a lot. There’s something so much more human about skimming photos, than there is about reading massive attached medical histories. Even before we had thinned the ranks, I had started using the photos as instant-reject/accept criteria. It was like a gynaecological Hot-or-Not, like some of the dating apps.

Like the photo? Swipe left.

Not a good vibe? Swipe right.

Not a good vibe? Swipe right.

We were literally ‘screening’ these candidates based upon how they smiled, how they looked at the camera. We were also screening them based on their choices of photos.

Published May 3, 2014 | By Greg Hodgson-Fopp

Probably best to read part 1, first.

In Part 1, I covered my moral descent from good parent to eugenicist, where I found that when faced with meaningful life choices about which egg donors to pick, I quickly became the flag-bearer for a new designer super-race. A position in which I was a little uncomfortable.

Ruling out the obvious, the less obvious, the ones with bad vibes, and the ones with dodgy answers, we were still left with more than a small pile of profiles for which we could find no valid reason to reject.

So ultimately, once we’d skimmed down to the basics (and we’d been e-mailing each other back and forth a bit with the same profiles attached), we made a pretty human decision.

The Gynaecological Hot-or-Not

Each profile had between 3 and 10 photographs attached. And they did vary quite a lot. There’s something so much more human about skimming photos, than there is about reading massive attached medical histories. Even before we had thinned the ranks, I had started using the photos as instant-reject/accept criteria. It was like a gynaecological Hot-or-Not, like some of the dating apps.

Like the photo? Swipe left.

Not a good vibe? Swipe right.

We were literally ‘screening’ these candidates based upon how they smiled, how they looked at the camera. We were also screening them based on their choices of photos.

 Not our egg donor

Not our egg donor

A donor who chose to send us her modelling portfolio, complete with semi-topless shots? Straight to the rejected pile. Then again, she was the one who also said her biggest regret in life was not being taller, since she was unable to be a fashion model. Someone whose biggest regret is not being a model isn’t going to be someone I want to spend 20 years raising the miniature version of.

A donor sending us frat-party photos from her facebook profile? Um. No. Shows a tendency to make poor life choices right there. Not the frat-party, that was probably a great life choice, she certainly looks like she’s having a GREAT time. But the choice of sending those particular photos without cropping the beer and cigarette?

A donor who sent a dozen photos, all selfies. Sorry, but the Me-me-me generation and I don’t really get along that well, so I am afraid her profile and her dreams hit the trash as well.

Also in the reject pile were more interpretative elements that are harder to describe or quantify. Matt didn’t like the way one girl smiled, so she was rejected before we’d even read a line of her profile. Ultimately though, we had to make some sort of screening so we could wade through the volume and get to the details.

And ultimately, we chose based on that

There was one candidate in the very first batch of profiles sent to Matt and I, who had registered on both our first skim-reads. I liked the way she smiled. It was a genuine, honest, smile. She included about 5 photos in the application that were all cropped photos taken straight off her facebook page, I assume, as they were all casual social occasions.

In all of them, she just looks genuinely happy. She was also fairly fashionably dressed, beautifully made-up, and adorned with a very tasteful sprinkling of jewellery and a healthy sporty tan.

I’m a firm believer in reading facial expressions carefully. People will often tell you things about what they’re thinking without realising that they are doing so. It’s not as easy in a photograph as it is in real-life, but you can still get a read off of people in some ways. For her photos, what I read was confidence and happiness. She was comfortable in her own skin, and you could tell that straight away.

Only after we’d both agreed she was a prime candidate did I even start to delve into the copious amount of details that we had about her. Which, as it turned out, were all pretty good too. She was healthy, sporty, had a big family. All her brothers were over 2 meters (6’4″) tall. All had green eyes and blonde hair. She was pretty much the Egg Donor for the ‘Great White Baby’ that everyone dreams about.

Four words on her profile ended up settling it for me as well – “Head Cheerleader” and “Homecoming Queen”.

Now I actually have no idea how American schools choose these quaint titles, but I’ve watched enough American TV to know that they denote some sort of popularity contest. Why would that attract me?

Well, I think it says “Charisma”, something almost impossible for photos, medical profiles or psych profiles to really measure. I liked the level of leadership they implied. That she wasn’t just a member of these things, but when participating in things, she gravitated towards leading them.

Then again, perhaps it was the glimpse of cold-hearted evil manipulation that I saw (am I picturing Diana Agron’s character in Glee). Or maybe it’s flashbacks to the TV Series “Heroes” – Save the Cheerleader, Save the World?

Not our Egg Donor

Also not our Egg Donor

 

I showed her photographs to a couple of the guys at work, and they agreed that she has exactly the assets we were looking for. One or two of them asked if I would contact her and ask if she was interested in making babies with them as well.

“Traditionally”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be

By the time we contacted her via the agency, she was already committed to being an egg donor for another couple. We were told she was ‘in cycle’ and unavailable and so we went back to the profiles and started our skim read all over again.

We were a bit gutted. It had felt like such a good match for us.

We picked out our second choice and arranged for her to be sent to Doctor Ringler. She couldn’t go to see him straight away, so it was around a month later when the visit actually occurred. accepted our terms, and duly arrived for her medical screening, and sadly was “washed out”.

Doctor Ringler determined that she would not be a good candidate for egg donation, due to having follicles that were not very large. I wasn’t even aware this was an issue, but I suppose it’s one more thing that we can attribute to supply-and-demand. Follicle size probably isn’t relevant in normal IVF, because you’re going to always try to use a particular woman. But when you’re doing Donor Egg IVF, you have these dozens and dozens of applications, so you can afford to be a bit biologically choosy as well.

We were a bit gutted by this, and the clock was truly ticking now. A couple of months in total had passed, and Doctor Ringler wanted to start synchronizing the cycles of the Egg Donor and Natasha (who we had already met by this stage).

So we reluctantly turned back to ask for more Egg Donor profiles from our agent.

The first one Matt sent me was…. the Cheerleader.

He pre-filtered the initial list, and the first one he said “I like this one” about was actually the identical profile to the original cheerleader who we had selected and then were told we were unable to use. She had different photographs the second time around, but I put them up side by side with the original PDF that I still had, and it was most definitely the same woman.

We never asked (since she’s an anonymous donor) whether her first cycle didn’t go ahead, or whether she finished it and was available a second time.

All we did was make a swift, definite offer to ask her to be our Egg Donor. And since she’d already had the medical clearance, we were able to move fairly swiftly into the first cycle.

It was a weird coincidence, to see her profile again. Matt is more fatalistic than me, and he said “It was obviously meant to be”.

I’ll go with that.

I sometimes pull up the pictures we have of her (which I won’t share, because her request was to be an anonymous donor, and we have no intention of someone ever stumbling across them here by reverse image search). If anyone is really curious, they’re welcome to ask me and I’ll be happy to show them off, I just don’t think it’s appropriate to post them here.

I look into her features and I try to imagine them on a little girl, or a little baby.

I’ve been doing this a lot since we discovered we were having twin girls. I am trying to fix her features in my mind, so that when one of our girls develops a certain cleft in the chin, or a certain arch of an eyebrow, or turns out to have her green eyes, then I can see it for what it is, the true genetics of their shared biological donor.

Along with their names, picturing them like this is helping to really make them seem real.

Addendun – Natasha told me today they’re kicking constantly. Fiesty little girls, apparently.