Will you be my Baby Mama? No, this isn't a Tina Fey movie, or even Jerry Springer. I'm searching for an ovum donor.
So far, the IVF process has been... personal, challenging, expensive, uncomfortable, stressful, anxiety-ridden, and physically painful. It hasn't exactly been a fun few months. We are currently wrapping up a "mock cycle" that introduces my body to all the hormones necessary for a real implantation when the time comes. Said hormones have been, primarily, delivered by injection. Eric and I are pretty much terrified of needles. I'm betting we look quite ridiculous every morning as we work up the courage for each shot.
Next week, hopefully, the "mock cycle" ends with a "mock implantation". 15 minutes of quality time between my vagina and uterus, some male doctor I've never met, and a speculum. Wo0t!
Which brings us to the next stage: finding an egg donor.
If any of this process so far sounds weird to you, you ain't seen nothing yet. We are supposed to choose the biological mother of our child based on a 10-12 page questionnaire about their health, genetics, schooling, personality, and motivation for donation. Along with a half-dozen or so pictures. That sounds like a lot to go on, right? Well it's not. Whole pages of yes/no questions about diseases, limited data on relatives, their favorite foods... It's like a cross between picking a date and finding a thoroughbred stud - very dehumanizing.
I've developed a process for sorting between the "no"s and the "maybe"s: city, flip 3-4 pages in to check for a "yes" under the question about acceptance of complete anonymity, flip back to page one for hair/eye/height, a few pages in to check test scores, more pages in for motivation to donate, cursory glance at inheritable disease list, done!
So now what? I brought my 5 favorite candidates to Eric, to discover we have differing criteria. My ranking was based largely on personality, his was on test scores and academic record. My method isn't very helpful, because picking the one I like as a person the most has nothing to do with this. But Eric's method is too sterile, and ultimately has him scratching his head between 2 really smart candidates.
Because the donor rep people will only contact 1 prospect at a time, we decide on our #1 choice. I had this "feeling" about her that made me want to fight for her, so Eric went back and realized her academics were just as good as the one he had ranked the highest, so he moved her to the top of his list too. Success: brood-mare chosen!
Is it conspicuous that I haven't mentioned appearance as a factor? That's because it was the very first one - the listing page only shows you a headshot next to city and yes/no to whether they have donated before. What else can you do except choose to look at the files of the ones you find most attractive? But after that, it's just not very helpful. The top five candidates range from pretty to beautiful to stunning. There is no such thing as an ugly donor.
I will throw out a bit of advice to prospective donors about appearance: using your dating-site photo as your primary photo is a very bad decision. I want to see your natural hair color and a true smile. I take one look at a photo that focuses on your smoldering eyes and/or breasts, and I am instantly grossed out. I have already skipped down to the next woman not in full clubbing mode. There are a lot of women who choose this route, and it makes no sense to me. Are they trying to seduce the husband? Don't they realize how much sway the actual recipient-mother has in the decision? Don't they realize that we're looking for someone that was once a cute little girl? In this mindset, looking "sexy" is instantly off-putting. Grab a sweater and a friend who can make you laugh to snap a quick picture. Don't be afraid to look goofy - playful is good. You'll thank me later.