When I was 26, out of a carefree and thoughtless boredom and a desire to make some seemingly easy extra money, I filled out an online egg-donor application for a respected clinic in upper Manhattan. At the time, I was working full-time as an office manager, I lived with my boyfriend, and I was a month away from the publishing date of my first book of poetry. Sure, I was a few thousand dollars in debt from a more carefree time in my life, but things were for-the-time-being extremely stable in my life, and the single-page online application was uncomplicated enough to fill out in the middle of my workday without much thought: Yes, I have both ovaries; no, I don't have chlamydia or gonorrhea; no, I am not currently prescribed any antidepressants.
A week later, I received a form-like email that invited me to fill out a second application: a massive, 60-page questionnaire that asked detailed questions about my family history (how tall was your great-grandfather on your mother's side? What was his complexion? Is he dead, and how did it happen?); my personal goals (oh, I've always known I wanted to become a writer, except for a brief stint in the second grade when I wanted to become a squirrel); and what I would like to say to my future-child, if given the chance, though it was also made extremely clear that as a donor I would be completely anonymous. I would never get the chance to meet the future-baby, and the birth mother would never know my name or see the baby pictures that I included with the second application. The clinic wanted to know I was a nice young lady, even though I didn't actually need to be.
And then, I was in. Over the next two months, I visited the clinic for even more tests. These included: a 650-question true-or-false personality test that was filled with queries regarding whether I heard voices in my head before falling asleep, whether I became suspicious of my friends if they were being too nice to me, or whether I thought my dad was a good person. I completed a physical and multiple blood and urine tests to screen for drug use and any physical and genetic disorders. I met with the in-house psychologist who explained very plainly and repeatedly that even though I was providing my eggs to create a human, this was not my baby. I nodded along, signed some papers, and a couple of weeks later, I was matched with a mom.
We were both put on the same birth control to sync our cycles. While she didn't know my name or what I looked liked, she knew I was a college graduate, average weight for my height, and half-Korean.
Around this time, I noticed a shift in my emotional balance. I started crying almost daily at work and picking fights with my boyfriend. I couldn't tell if it was the hormonal birth control or if it was just me, in that moment. Then, after about a month on birth control and a particularly messy cry in the women's bathroom, I quit my job, to my and my boss's surprise. I told them my boyfriend had gotten a job in LA and that we were moving there next month. This was partly true — he and I did plan on moving to LA for new work, but not until the end of summer. The imminent payoff from donating my eggs led to a disregard for my finances.
After almost two months, I was taken off birth control, and I was ready to start the next step of the donor process. I was given three different hormone and hormone antagonists, Gonal F, Menopur, and Ganirelix, which all had to be injected into my belly fat at precise times every day. These drugs would temporarily shut down my ovulation and stimulate my ovaries to begin producing a high number of follicles. On the first day, I laid out all the various syringes, fluids, gauze, and alcohol pads on my desk at home, in disbelief that they trusted me to perform these injections daily for two weeks. I iced the injection site, my heart racing nervously; I was afraid. My boyfriend watched as I brought the needle closer to my skin. I pressed in, pushed down on the syringe, waited five seconds, and pulled out. It's in! I did it. I can keep doing this.