It didn’t take much consideration to agree to a process that could change not only my life, but a random stranger’s life as well.
At first I thought, easy enough—make a little cash and that’ll be the end of it.
So in early 2013, after seeing countless ads for egg donors in the San Diego area, I started researching fertility agencies. The agency I ended up choosing had a good feel to it. And their application process was lengthy, as it should be. I filled in the “About Me” sections, submitted a plethora of photos from birth to now, chose who I was and was not willing to donate to, how involved I was willing to be, and hit save.
But I didn’t send it just yet.
How involved was I willing to be? You mean in these children’s lives? Was that even an option?
No way, I thought. What if I’m chosen? What if my eggs actually work? How could I be open to knowing that this child is half of me, but that I would essentially be nothing to him or her?
I let a few days go by, really giving that last question thought. What would the harm be in receiving updates? Nothing, I guess. I slowly clicked the button for an open involvement. Then, before I could change my mind, I submitted my application.
Almost two weeks later, I received an email that a family was interested. I couldn’t believe it at first. A wave of panic swept over me. I read through the email, which included only three details about the intended parents: their initials, their sexual orientation, and the country they resided in.
The email asked for a quick decision: “Do you choose this family?”
I took a deep breath and slowly typed my response: “Yes, I would love to donate for this family.”
After that email, everything happened so quickly. Doctor’s appointments were made, appointments for genetic and I.Q. testing, and finally, medications were dispersed. For one month, I had to be on birth control to sync my cycle up with the surrogates’ cycle. After that month, I then had to inject myself with two medications per day for 10 days, and on the 12th day, I gave myself the trigger shot, which tells your body to release all of the eggs your ovaries have brought to the surface.
The egg retrieval process was not a difficult one. I was placed under anesthesia and roughly 25 minutes later it was all said and done.
From that moment on and for the next nine months, the only piece of information that I heard from the agency was that my eggs “stuck,” and that it was a set of twins.
That was all it took for the process of egg donation to become anything but an emotionless journey for me.
These children who weren’t growing in my body had beating hearts. I felt a connection to them. Who will they be? What will they look like? Will they have my eyes? My stubbornness?
Will they resent me?
It was made clear early on that this would be a closed case, meaning, I would not receive updates or photos. I knew that I no longer had rights to that information when I signed on the dotted line. I longed for it, but I had to accept what was.
In June of 2014, after I had moved back home to Colorado, I received a card in the mail. It was from the intended parents. I’m fairly certain I felt my heart drop through my butt. My hands were shaking as I held the card tightly in my grip and read on: twins, a boy and a girl, their names, birthday, and then, an invitation.
I stopped and read it again. They were inviting me to come meet the children. I contacted them that same day and booked my flight that night.
I flew out to San Diego the first week of July. My mind in a blur, hands shaking, heart pounding.
When I arrived, one of the dads met me in the hallway with him. He was perfect. I walked inside to meet the other dad, who was with her. She was perfect.
Every photo I had ever seen of me as a newborn came to mind when I looked at her. She was me—the tiniest, most perfect version of me. She had my eyes, my ears, my hands, my feet, and even my belly button.
I just wanted to be near them.
I spent two days holding and kissing them as much as I could. When it came time to leave, I cried uncontrollably. I think their parents realized in that moment how much I loved them. How could I not?
I didn’t want to leave them, but I knew that they were not mine to keep. I could see the love in their parents’ eyes and it gave me peace, knowing that these babies were in good hands, and more than anything, they were deeply loved.
They were a family.
The parents made it clear that they wanted me to remain a part of their lives as the twins grew; they wanted them to know their story. They promised to send photos and updates, and even invited me to their beautiful country—Italy—to visit. They’ve held true to their word, and so have I.
Exactly four months after I donated, I was asked to be a donor again, this time for a family in California. I hesitated a bit because after my first donation, my ovaries hyperstimulated (became huge) and started spilling fluid into my abdomen—two pounds of fluid to be exact—taking up space and making it difficult to breathe. I called the doctors to let them know, and when I went in for the ultrasound, they immediately put me under anesthesia to drain the fluid. A day later, all was well, but needless to say, I was nervous about doing it again.
From the beginning of this second donation, the intended parents made it clear that they wanted me to be a part of the child’s life. I was even invited to go to the first ultrasound! And…two beating hearts. (Another set of twins? I probably shouldn’t have children if I only want one!)
Time passed and I received updates and ultrasound photos. After 20 weeks, I found out the gender: one boy and one girl. I met them when they were a month old. The girl has my eyes, my hands, my feet, and my belly button.
That day, I fell in love with two more humans.
I wondered how this could be an emotionless process—and for me, it couldn’t.
I understand that my scenario is rare, and a large majority of people don’t get it. Most egg donors don’t have the opportunity to be a part of the child’s life, and from those I’ve spoken to, wouldn’t want to.
Is it weird that I want to be in their lives? Is it weird to feel so connected to them? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Our stories are forever connected. Our hearts are bound together on this journey called life.
Four years have passed since this wild adventure began, and watching all four of these children grow has been incredible for me. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think about them. I’ve seen them a few times, sent gifts on their birthdays, and the pictures never stop. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve always believed that each person we cross paths with, we do with a purpose far greater than we may ever be aware of. Now I know that’s true.
Author: Kelley Hageman
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Taia Butler
Social Editor: Callie Rushton