The Greatest Gift: Lacey Part II
Even before I heard the happy news that my first donation had resulted in a healthy twin pregnancy, my agency called to tell me that there were other couples interested in securing me for another donation. I was open to a second and knew that after a successful first donation, it was easier for couples to look at my information and consider me a serious candidate without question. I now had established health records which detailed my response to medication, therapy and protocol, and of course the lovely proof of two little growing lives as a result!
Deciding to do another donation was easy. In life you have few opportunities to do well for others and change their lives. And while the compensation for the donation was helpful in my post-divorce rebuilding stage of my life, it was much more than that for me. I stood by my choice to be anonymous to the couple other than my photographs and first name, and to keep the fact that I was a donor a secret from friends and family. It was difficult keeping a secret like this-sneaking meds into the refrigerator at work when I needed to inject during my workday, finding a way to explain the bruising from injections on my abdomen if someone saw (although one piece swimsuits solved most of that!), and pretending to take a vacation from work while actually undergoing a surgery and recovery, and keeping the secret was difficult because I was afraid that friends and family would judge me and not understand the process as it was such a foreign concept to them! However the pro's far outweighed the con's.
This donation was especially significant because the intended parents wanted me to know their story. The intended mother was not much older than me, and had developed cancer before she and her husband could begin their family. Freezing her eggs was not an option as it was vital to begin her treatment immediately upon discovery of her illness. After her health was restored, they set out to build their family. This was the first donation that I had ever received details on the parents, including a heartfelt letter from the mother thanking me for considering being their donor, how life had surprised them in ways they could not have imagined, and telling me what a baby meant to them.
It was important to them to know my grades, SAT and ACT scores, and that I physically resemble her. They also were thrilled that not only one, but two babies, were growing and coming soon into the world from my previous donation! It no doubt helped their confidence that I was a viable donor. They were also very open about how they planned to raise the babies, that she was going to stay home and proudly hold the position of stay at home mommy!
After flying to the clinic for my initial visit, I was very impressed with the professionalism and integrity of the professionals working in this clinic. When I met the Dr. he was very open to listening to my concerns regarding my treatment protocol, as I was hyperstimulated and somewhat uncomfortable during my previous donation. I understood that my first donation was a learning experience for the health professionals, and gauging my sensitivity and reaction to the drugs for the first time understandably was a part of the process. Luckily I responded well, however so well that my body needed less of the drugs in the end. So the clinic for this donation did an excellent job of monitoring and took me on a slightly different path with different drugs and lower, gradual doses.
The day of my surgery, as I checked into the ground floor of the hospital I was told that there was a package waiting for me. I was stunned, and knew exactly who it might be from! I was already nervous; surgery is not my favorite pastime of course! I was also putting pressure on myself to have a good surgery with ideal outcomes to please the intended parents and make this journey worth their while. I began to tear up when I opened the bag and read the card. A beautiful card, with a handwritten note from the woman who would be taking care of my precious gifts in the future, was inside. She told me that she would never forget me and that I was the ‘key’ to beginning their new family, and told me that the babies would be their dreams come true, that a host of aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and friends were anxiously awaiting their arrival and already love them, although they have not yet come to be. And inside, a Tiffany&Co. gift box contained the most treasured gift I have received, a silver necklace with a charm the shape of a key. Inside the box, another note from the intended mother, which said that she too was wearing this exact necklace, and we would forever be connected by them; that I should wear it now, and know that I was and would forever be in their thoughts and prayers.
My sister, the companion I chose and trusted to be with me on the trip, was on hand with tissues for my tears, a hug, and helped me collect myself and make our way toward the surgery wing! While waiting in the preop room after my IV was started, she helped me slip the necklace on, a tear in her eye as well. That was the moment that she decided that she, too, would become a donor someday. When you see and experience, firsthand, what an impact you make in someone else’s life by something as rare as this, you cannot help but want to do more.
I was and still am anxious when it comes to the actual procedure. So that I could steer my mind away from the needles, the heart monitor, tubes, machines, and discussion around me I was allowed to take my headphones and music with me. My sister hugged me as they wheeled me away to the OR. I felt such a good energy, with the wonderful people around me, and my music, of course, and as they injected my anesthesia and I drifted off, I know I was nervous but happy. This was a smooth surgery, the recovery staff was amazing and kept me longer as I had fainted when leaving my last donation so every precaution was taken! So much so that I even felt well enough to go out to dinner with my sister the same day! There was very little discomfort, a testament to the attention to my medicine levels and careful adjustments throughout my medical care.
I love telling this story, to the few people who are aware of my decision to donate, as well as to women considering donations with my agency that ask me for advice. It is the epitome of what it means to be human, extending good will. A love between two people, a tragic illness and the loss of fertility, the hope of a future family, absolute trust in an anonymous donor, expression of gratitude and connection for the rest of our lives through the little children yet to be born, and the symbolic key necklace which binds me to a woman I have never met, but somehow feel that I know and love dearly.
The family has contacted my agency over time with updates on the subsequent pregnancy and bouncing baby girl! They have always told the agency that they would like to share their photos with me if I ever wished to see them. However, as with all of the couples I have helped, I choose to remain happy with the knowledge that the babies exist, but without need to keep informed beyond that point out of respect for our collective privacy. I have been so rewarded, by the level of positivity it has brought to my life and to theirs, and knowing we have truly changed each other’s lives. Not to mention that I will forever wear a cherished memento which is a sign of a secret good deed!