Amy Knowles isn’t ready to have children of her own, but she’s already helped to start multiple families. Hear her personal story of egg donation.
“Isn’t it weird that you have kids out there?” “Will you have any eggs left when you’re ready to have a baby?” “Does it hurt?” These are just a few of the questions I have been asked since the beginning of my journey as an egg donor. I began donating in 2006 and have done so five times now. The experience has been eye opening and great in many ways. I learned the true meaning of family and how so many couples struggle to create it. When a couple goes from being just a couple to a couple with a child, it’s the start to creating their family. When I started donating, it was to help pay my college loans and get myself out of debt, but now it has more meaning. I recently received a card from one of the couples who thanked me for giving them a child and helping create their family. It isn’t about the money anymore, I mean, the money is great, don’t get me wrong, but how grateful the couple is makes my heart smile.
The overall journey was a learning experience as well. From the details of the application to the psychological analysis to every health test you could imagine, you learn a lot about yourself and your family background. Once selected by a couple, the process is about a month long. The selection process is based mostly on the characteristics of the recipient women. The fertility clinic tries to match as much as possible to my physical traits, personality, hobbies, and family background. From start to finish, the process is time consuming but not painful at all. Once you are on the same menstrual cycle as the recipient, you start the hormones, which you inject two times a day for eight to 10 days. The hormones actually help your ovaries generate more than one fertile egg; this is to guarantee that the recipient conceives. During that time, I can maintain a normal lifestyle minus sexual relations. It tends to shock people when I explain that they actually have you sign a consent stating that you will refrain from sex. Because you have multiple eggs fertile at once, there is a large risk of multiple pregnancies, and if insemination were to occur, the eggs would obviously no longer be able to be donated. The most eggs I had fertile at once were 16, so definitely no sex for that month. Though I don’t know the exact amount of eggs I have available for my future family, I do know that this experience will not affect my chances when I do decide to conceive.
It truly has been a great experience. I couldn’t imagine all that the couple has to deal with. It’s only a month out of my life, but for the couple, who knows how long they have been trying to conceive on their own or even doing hormone therapy before deciding to go with a donor. Not only can some women not produce fertile eggs, some women can’t even carry a child. I can’t even imagine how that would make a woman feel. I did experience this during one cycle. The woman couldn’t produce or carry so I was the donor who donated to the surrogate who then carried the couple’s child. Just another amazing experience and story in helping a couple become a family.
As I start my sixth and final cycle, I think of all the couples I have helped and how they helped me. Due to the unknown long-term effects of the synthetic hormones, the fertility clinics don’t recommend a woman doing more than six to seven cycles in their fertile lifetime. I have never experienced any of the risks associated with donating, never felt pain, and I will be able to have my own children one day if that’s what I decide. My eggs are only a small piece of the puzzle that it takes to create a child, so I don’t refer to the eggs I donated as “my children” out there somewhere in the world. The recipient woman carried the child for nine months and fulfilled the nutrient needs the child needed to grow. That child is 99% the recipient’s child, but I am grateful I could be that 1% in helping create a family.
If you are thinking about donating or know anyone who may be thinking about it, go to the fertility office and ask questions, don’t be afraid to help others who cannot conceive on their own, it’s empowering!
Amy Knowles is the current Client Happiness Director at Dr. Patty’s Dental Boutique in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You can find her beachside, boating, and jogging, with a bit of dancing and karaoke on the side. As an egg donor for the past six years, she loves how she can help other families and appreciates her family that much more.