I recently had the pleasure of reading the book Two Eggs, Two Kids by Alicia Young. (She’s also written a book called The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Grace, and it’s on my To Be Read list!) With much compassion and intelligence, she writes about her experience donating eggs twice to couples experiencing infertility. (My full review is on Goodreads.)
Alicia began her career as a television journalist in Australia, covering local, national, and international news. She’s lived and worked all over the globe and has covered major world events. Now an award-winning author of multiple books, Alicia spoke with me recently about infertility, egg donation, and her book.
Tegan: Alicia, you demonstrate such incredible sensitivity and empathy for people dealing with infertility–thank you for that! How did your understanding and perceptions of infertility evolve through the process of donating your eggs?
Alicia: Thank you! That means a lot to me. As we went through the process, the practicalities were pretty much what I was expecting: the physical and psychological screening unfolded as it was explained. The real “take-away” for me was emotional. I was touched and inspired by the sheer resilience of the individuals and couples I met along the way—both to comes to terms with infertility itself, and then to draw on a deep well of inner strength to soldier on, month after month and year after year. Angela captured it beautifully: she and Steve felt they were working only to pay the medical bills, yet they felt propelled to keep their options open. They would not be dissuaded on their way to parenthood.
Tegan: As you correctly point out in your book, egg donation is a major decision that warrants a great deal of thought. As you moved through the process two times, did you ever have second thoughts? Why or why not?
Alicia: No, no second thoughts at all. And I think that’s because we talked it through thoroughly, researched and read up and in short, made sure all our questions were answered. This helped to demystify each step. Also, Angela and Steve gave us many chances to opt out, in the event either of us wanted to reconsider, but we both remained comfortable with donation. And of course, when I see Rachael and Sam and the joy they bring to so many, my heart melts. (Tegan’s note: Rachael and Sam are the two children who were born using Alicia’s donated eggs.)
Tegan: I really appreciated how you included the males’ perspective in your book. You share the thoughts and reactions of your husband and the husbands of the women who received the eggs. What message do you want men whose wives may be considering receiving a donor egg to take away from your book?
Alicia: That they count! That their feelings, opinions and concerns deserve equal weight in making any decision to use a donor, or in choosing one donor candidate over another. No one intends to do it, but so often the support and sympathy tilts heavily toward the woman. Yet the man also has his day punctuated by the peaks and troughs of tests, the limbo of waiting for results—and grieving in his own way.
Tegan: Rachael is the child who was born from your first egg donation, and she’s now a teenager. In what ways has the openness about how she came into the world helped shape her identity and sense of self?
Alicia: Rachael tells me that because she knew from a young age that we shared a special connection, there was no big revelation; it was just part of who she was. She happily “owns” the story of how she came to be, and has grown up seeing it not only acknowledged, but celebrated. We openly talk about our resemblance, and our mannerisms. The donation has settled into the background—a resource to be tapped if needed, otherwise not an everyday focus.
Tegan: Finally, what’s the most important message you have for women who are thinking about donating their eggs?
Alicia: Please: take it seriously but wear it lightly. Know your expectations, and how realistic they are, whether in regard to the process itself, any potential side effects, and your motivation. Whether compensated or not, a donation needs to have healthy boundaries. It’s not an IOU to cash in one day if you ever need a kidney, a job or bail money (only joking).
Top image via Flickr by NathanF
Photo of Alicia Young courtesy of savvylife.net