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July 14, 2016

At 27 and not ready to be a parent herself, Laura Giddey made the decision to gift her eggs to a couple desperately hoping to start a family. She shares her story here…

“I follow a page on Facebook called ‘Kiwi Families’ and I saw a link saying that there were couples needing donors. That was the first time I’d ever thought about it. I’ve got friends who are going through IVF or who have different types of fertility issues so it resonated with me, having watched them go through it.

I’m 27 years old and I don’t have kids of my own. I’ve got my own business as a wedding celebrant and I do a bunch of different volunteering things so I keep my own hours, which helped with being available for the timing as well.

I talked to a few friends and my parents – just people whose opinions mattered. I think people can look at something like that and know quite early on whether it’s something they’re going to be able to do or not. I’ve got friends who have said they wouldn’t be able to do it and that’s totally fine. People can have their own views and different things that are important to them. I feel that if I have a child one day then it will be my child because of the relationship I have with it and it’ll be more about the nurturing. That’s more important in my mind than just DNA.

egg donor Laura

I think it was good that I wasn’t too emotionally connected to the idea as I think that might have got in the way of why I was doing it. Having that disconnect was actually quite helpful.

You can’t donate completely anonymously in New Zealand – they need to know certain information for health reasons. I didn’t realise when I responded to that ad that I was responding specifically to the couple who had put up the ad. At first when I looked at their profile it felt a bit like a match-making service. I looked at the couple’s profile and they looked at mine and then you meet with a mediator to see if you like each other. They seemed really lovely and they have lots of support around them, but it did seem a bit like a first date, sort of sussing each other out and trying to impress each other. We were then told to go home and sleep on it and let the counsellor know the next day if we wanted to go ahead. It all worked out for us.

The second time I met them was on the day I was doing my donation. They came in and wanted to see me and we were both quite emotional and we hugged. It was nice because you’re feeling all these things about it but you also don’t know them.

I had all the procedures explained to me. I’m fine with needles so it was more wondering about how I’d be affected by the hormone injections. You take them for 10 days so I’d blocked out that time in my calendar thinking I might just need to be at home crying or feeling bloated or sick. We’d done scans and blood tests to start with to check I’d be a good candidate. The whole physical side of it for me was really painless. I felt bad about that because I know for a lot of people with fertility issues it is quite a painful journey to go on but I didn’t feel any side effects. We did the scans and we could see the eggs were in there and could measure them but I felt very disconnected from my own body. I did the injections myself. The night one [injection] causes the eggs to  grow and the morning one stops them from being released until we’re ready for the extraction. The sedation is great. I didn’t feel anything. It felt like 20 seconds before I was in the recovery room, but it was more like 20 minutes and I couldn’t remember any of it. My mum was there so she could take me home and I stayed with her for a couple of days so she could check I was okay while I was recovering. My parents were really supportive of me doing it. I think my mum had a moment of ‘I guess that is a potential half grandchild’, but then she knows that if she does ever have grandchildren from my brother or me she will be invested in a relationship with them.

They say you should stay in bed for the afternoon and take Panadol and that there could be light cramping but it was only like light period pain. The next day I was out doing stuff as normal. There’s a bit of bleeding but nothing serious.

The clinic is going to let me know when and if there’s a successful pregnancy. Following that they will put me and the couple in direct contact if we want to be – at the moment we’re just going through the clinic. I’m happy for the couple to initiate any ongoing contact. I’m not doing this so I can have a child in my life. They’re the ones who will be doing all the hard work and I don’t want to make it uncomfortable for them.

They’ve been really open about things so I imagine they will tell the child that they needed some help getting pregnant when it’s appropriate. Then if they want a sibling for that child there’s a possibility that I could give to them again so there’s that genetic connection. I’d happily do it again. It’s made me appreciate how complicated fertility can be for so many people and how there are so many things that are unknown.

I’m also in awe of the fact that we have the technology to be able to do this. Whether I decide to have kids in the future or not, I’m not scared of the sad feelings that could come up or that it might be bittersweet. I’ll still be grateful that I was able to be part of that for someone else.”

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