So today’s entry takes us back to an issue that I previously discussed: the wonderful and bizarre science of creating and freezing embryos. It is, trust me, an amazing and most weird world.
Recapitulating, the chemotherapy could potentially affect my fertility. When you undergo treatment your period can become very light or disappear altogether, but it can also become heavier or not change at all! After treatment, there is a 10% chance that I will become infertile. So there is a 90% chance that I will be able to naturally conceive, which to me seems like a very healthy probability chunk. However, lets not forget that there is that 10% lingering on.
It is that 10% that got me into the embryonic chapter of my illness. At the beginning of it all I was offered the opportunity to go and see a fertility specialist to discuss what to do about it. I thought that eggs could be frozen by the nhs as my consultant had mentioned in passing the words “egg freezing”. But then I found out that they couldn’t, something to do with the nhs not having yet the right technology. This was a big blow. The only option was to freeze embryos and to do that you need sperm, as what is being frozen is a fertilised egg.
What’s a single girl to do when she needs sperm? As it turns out, you can buy sperm online (I spoke about in another post). Here is where the potential father of my children comes from http://www.europeanspermbank.com/. Plenty of people wondered whether I could use a friend’s sperm, cheaper and easier, right? apart from the many moral and ethical and future related concerns, when you use someone other than your partner their sperm has to be frozen for 6 months prior to being used. This is because any donor, whether he is your partner, a friend or your neighbour, have to undergo HIV and hepatitis tests. With your partner they can proceed to do embryos straight away as, in theory, you should know whether he is HIV positive or has hepatitis. With non-partners however, they need to make sure that that is not the case. So they do the tests once, freez the sperm, and then do the tests again in 6 months time to double check if it’s all clear.
I could not and would not go down the friend route, or the ex-partner one (who they would have treated as a partner) and thus a donor seemed the best, and only option. As it was meant to be around 500 euros I was ok with it, what another 500 euros to add to my student debt? Well, well. Second blow of the process: there was a 1,000 pound fee that I was completely and utterly unaware of. And so was my fertility specialist (but who can blame him? it is not his job to know these things!). And you may wonder, what is this 1,000 pound fee? basically, by paying that money I am booking what they call a “pregnancy slot”. Lets unravel this further. Only 10 people/couples can buy sperm from each donor, I suppose to avoid in-breeding and the chance that half-siblings end up meeting and getting together,without the knowledge they are genetically related! The “pregnancy slot” is basically your 10% right to the donor’s sperm.
Once this was decided the next step was to see the fertility counselor, just to talk things through and make sure that I was ok with what I was getting myself into! one of the things she pointed out, which I thought was very useful, is that I should try and buy as much information as possible about the donors. I am not sure I mentioned this in my other post, but for 100 euros I had unlimited access to all the donors profiles, including a toddler photo, an audio interview as well as a written one and their whole family health profile. The reason to buy the information, she said, is that it would come in handy if I ever had a child with the embryos that I created. You see, the child may start asking questions about his dad and if you have all the info that comes with it, then you can answer questions or let them know things about his dad. This I never considered, but it is so so true. I will be able to tell my child what her or his dad did after A levels, what he studied at uni, which was his favourite color and animal! amongst many other things. Having all the info also helped me make a decision about who should be the donor. I have to say that I actually like the one I chose, he sounds like a nice guy. The staff (you get the staff impression of the donor when you pay the 110 euros) said he is blessed with a sunny nature. He says about himself that he wants to do a job in which he helps people, hopefully the UN. I like the fact that if one day I have a child with one of the embryos created today, I can tell him or her that their dad sounded like a really respectable young man.
So what next? I was given a whole lot of hormones to inject and pills to take. I did this myself, but the needles were so tiny that you didn’t really feel them! I was relieved to find out as I was hesitating about whether I could inject myself. My ovaries created 12 follicles, each containing an egg. Of the 12 eggs, 9 were mature enough to fertilise. And guess what? they all did!!! I got 9 embryos!!! I am so happy about it!!!. They are now going to freeze them, so fingers crossed this last bit of the process goes well. I am feeling relieved, but also very tired, bloated and tender all inside me. Weird.
My question is, today is the day that the child was conceived, right? so it is like a become a mother, but I am delaying the pregnancy for a few years…right? it is all so bizarre. I can’t believe I have tissue that would become my babies stored somewhere in Homerton hospital.