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March 24, 2008 / Brittany Hendrick

Easter: A blighted ovum (oocyte)

I hate Easter.  This is a new thing for me.  I don’t hate Easter for the Jesus/high potential for hypocrisy thing– it’s way more under control than Christmas; nor for the commercial, overblown candy frenzy; nor because my mom asks me ten times what I want to eat for dinner– my answer never changes from 1 to 10, and she has two other children to ask at that.

I hate Easter because of eggs and what they represent: fertility.

And it’s not so much the springtime = ubiquitous eggs = fertility = babies and the fact that I am the only person in my family who doesn’t have children; I don’t feel that pressure. The associations are far more extensive.  Easter eggs make me think of fertility, which makes me think of my own eggs (ova, oocytes), which make me think of rejection on two levels.

Well, that’s kind of silly.  What do eggs have to do with rejection?

Everyone has faced rejection by a person of romantic interest whether it’s someone you had a crush on or someone you’d been in a relationship with. Sure, it’s disappointing, but you get over it.

Now, I have to add a little red herring here.  I don’t know how this always works in my favor, but every rejection I’ve endured miraculously evolves into validation for me; this usually happens after the guy gets married, hates his wife, hates his job, lives in the suburbs, hangs out at Applebee’s and pretty much becomes Mr. Boring Generic Average American Dude.  That sort of life may work for the guy, but that won’t work for me.  That scenario isn’t always the case, though.  Sometimes the guy’s insecurities that I could once overlook are now intolerable.  Sometimes the guy isn’t as physically attractive as I remember him; he hasn’t aged well, or flat-out looks like shit.  Sometimes the guy really isn’t that smart.  Every time, I am relieved.

 

I do not look back on one guy in my life and wistfully think, “Ah, the one that got away.”  One such man does not exist in my repertoire.  I think, “Ugh, thank GOD I didn’t end up with THAT guy!” Somehow, I am spared. Even though that outcome never really helps me with the next one… or the next or the next… and still, it gets to be tiresome.

But here is where my double dissatisfaction enters.  Have you ever been rejected on paper despite complete anonymity, despite that you’ve clearly passed the eugenics test?  I’m not talking about an online dating profile.  I’m talking about a medical file used for the purpose of donating eggs (ova, oocytes).

Last year, I decided to add another element of weirdness to my life and sell donate my eggs (ova, oocytes). There are at least five reasons why I did this and want to continue doing this, but the reasons are boring and unimportant. So I signed on with a fertility clinic (which I refer to as “The Hatchery”) and began the arduous process.

I filled out a ton of paperwork and collected my medical records. Then I underwent a series of tests:
Bloodwork (normal)
Genetic (I’m not a mutant)
Psychological (I’m sane)
Physicals (those go without saying)

Additionally, I had to write a bunch of stuff about myself in an intelligent manner and supply a photo so the medical staff knows what I look like. My name and photo would not be viewable to the egg recipients.

Many months later, the screenings were complete. All I needed was a recipient match. Searches are conducted based on my monthly reports to The Hatchery.  By Month Two, November, The Hatchery phoned to tell me they’d found a match: a couple who chose me especially for my musical ability.  Wow!

I imagined that I’d be thrilled about it.  But when I heard the news actually spoken to me, I didn’t anticipate that I’d be absolutely ecstatic.  And it really hit me: these people who want my eggs– they’re counting on me.  I can’t change my mind.  I can’t miss an appointment.  I can’t miss the egg retrieval window.  It’s not called “exact” science for nothing.

Soon after, there was a bit of bad news: the lady who wanted my eggs was backing out because her husband was ill, and he was having second thoughts about the whole thing anyway.  I was mildly disappointed.  That’s OK, The Hatchery said– they’ll just stick my eggs in the bank.

 

Time for the fun part: giving myself daily injections of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).  I don’t have a fear of needles, but sticking myself with one would be new territory.  Can I do this?  Of course, I’m the type of person who, once I put my mind to something, just does it without thinking— almost like a bit of madness.  So I administered my first-ever injection without incident.

Let me tell you about being pumped up on FSH.  It made me feel like a different person.  It made me feel more relaxed than I’d felt in years.  I was so relaxed, my blood pressure was even lower than normal: 90/50 or something crazy like that.  I was inhaling less deeply, yet the oxygen traveling up my nostrils felt so pure, my brain feeling every bit of it.

FSH also produces A LOT of eggs in the ovaries.  So much that I couldn’t stand up straight.  I could feel the fullness.  I craved red meat.  I was SUPERFERTILE WOMAN.  It’s a good thing I have no boyfriend, because I wouldn’t have been able to control myself.  If I so much as looked at a man, I’d have gotten pregnant, practically– and that’s the LAST thing that needs to happen when other people’s future is at stake.  FSH makes so many eggs, this conversation actually happened:

Doctor: You’re going to be wearing sweatpants.
Me: Hahahahaha!  I don’t own any sweatpants…
Doc: You may want to invest in some.

Well, if there is one thing I’ll never own in my life, it’s a pair of sweatpants.  No Hanes.  No “one step up” velour pants.  Never.  Please.  Why buy sweatpants as loungewear around the house when I can wear my regular pants/jeans unbuttoned; it’s what I’ve always done, and it’s always worked just fine.  I withstood the discomfort and stubbornly continued with my usual state of [un]dress.

Two weeks later, I felt like a fish ready to plop out its eggs.  Or a spider dragging ass with its sac.

 

My ovaries were killing me.  There was so much pressure!  Between five-days-straight blood tests and the FSH injections, my arms and abdomen were bruised.  I looked like someone with a “problem.”  At night, while in bed, I was paranoid that I’d stop breathing or suffocate in my pillow because my breathing rate was lower.  I’d eaten more hamburgers in those weeks than I’d eaten in five years.

Get these eggs out of me, Goddamniiiiiiiit!

Finally, my surgery day arrived.  Everything went along just fine.  Everything went back to normal.  I took December off and decided to jump back into it in January.  I am allowed to donate my eggs up to six times through this Hatchery.  Since nothing in my life is stopping me, I plan on doing this the maximum amount.

There has been a problem, though: I haven’t had any more matches.  Technically, I’ve had ZERO matches!  And I’m not getting any younger.  I’ll be 30 years old in November, and I believe 31 is the cutoff age for egg donation.  What the Christ is wrong?  Is it so hard to match a pale, blue-green-eyed, curly-haired girl?  OK, the curly hair might be problematic.  The creative parts of my personality may turn off people because they’d rather have a child that is more “normal” and able to fit in with the crowd.  I am gifted, which is great– but again, that is not “average.”  These are people who will do ANYTHING for a child, who will want the BEST for their child, for their child to have the BEST life.  This is BEST achieved through averageness and mediocrity.

 

Oh, listen to me needlessly rationalize and overanalyze this shit.

Yes, I know that all these people want is a healthy child, and anything extraordinary is simply incidental.  But I’m trying to make a point.

It’s bad enough when a guy doesn’t like you for whatever reasons (even though you get over it)… but to have people who are desperate to have a baby not like you for whatever reasons… that just compounds the issue.  I am certainly left befuddled.

The Hatchery psychologist asked me how I’d feel if there were little Brittanys running around that I’d never meet– she didn’t ask me how I’d feel if there WEREN’T any!  Needless to say, knowing that no one wants your eggs on a literal or figurative, physical or conceptual, sociological or biological level… yeah, it does not serve the ego well.  At least all the king’s horses and all the king’s men tried to help Humpty Dumpty.

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