It always seemed as though every time we suffered a set back in our journey, someone we knew would end up pregnant, or give birth. The summer we were trying our IUIs was no different. A co-worker and his wife were happy to announce that they were expecting a baby at the end of February. They of course had to fill us in about their "harrowing" experience trying to get pregnant. (Six months of trying only to discover they were pregnant the day before their appointment with a fertility doctor. I didn't have much sympathy.) This of course spurred us on to find an IVF solution sooner rather than later. Boston IVF had no open studies, so we were out of luck there, so I began researching other options. We could fly to India, where IVF was very cheap...but that didn't seem reasonable, or safe. Neither did flying to Russia, France or other countries where IVF is much more affordable.
I looked into low stimulation IVF, where you are given fewer hormones, causing you to produce fewer eggs, which means less monitoring and less pain during retrieval, meaning you wouldn't need anesthesia. This was cheaper, but the success rates were lower per try and it meant no anesthesia, which I couldn't imagine would be a pleasant experience.
I finally found a clinic in New Jersey that offered a shared IVF program. As far as I could tell, it was the only clinic in the country with the program, and I was very leery. I was also very desperate. So I called.
The program was essentially this: I would become an egg donor, and my payment for donating my eggs would be IVF. As the donor, I would pay for my testing and cycle monitoring and the recipient would pay for the medications, retrieval and a transfer for me. I would keep half my eggs and she would get the other half. In a traditional donor egg IVF cycle, the recipient would pay for monitoring, testing, medications, retrival and their own transfer, PLUS compensation to the donor. In the share cycle, the recipient would save money by not paying for monitoring or testing, but instead pay for two transfers, one for me and one for her, but no compensation. It was essentially affordable IVF for everyone involved.
It was not an easy decision to make. Giving away my eggs was a very conflicting idea for me. But, when we added up the cost, including a weeks stay in New Jersey, the savings compared to standard IVF was substantial. And if it didn't work, and we did have extra embryos, a frozen transfer was cheaper than a transfer at any other clinics in the area. After 3 years of trying to get pregnant, this became essentially the only option we had. The question became Do I want to keep all my eggs and possibly never have a child, or give my eggs to someone in need and have my own child? And so we began preparing for New Jersey...