Would I give my eggs away? It’s a bit of an academic question really. After all it’s not like I’ve got loads of them to spare, or a brood of kids and no need of them. And given my advanced years when I froze them, I’m not sure anyone would even want them, but it’s something I started thinking about because of Katie Glass’ column in yesterday’s Sunday Times Magazine. (Yes it’s paywalled, but just bloody pony up the cash and read it, because if you don’t newspapers will die and we’ll have to get all our news from Twitter and Wikipedia which, much as I love them both for various reasons, would be totally fucking horrific.)
Anyway she basically said (for those of you too tight to pay for it, and because this post won’t make any sense if you don’t know, but please do pay for it) that although she doesn’t want kids at the moment, she would give her eggs away to a gay friend who wants kids, and it wouldn’t preclude her from having her own later if she wanted them. Which is all true. (She also said a lot of other quite interesting things about motherhood and femininity that aren’t relevant to this post but are worth paying to read. OK I’ll stop now.)
Her argument is that “giving eggs is no different from men donating sperm” – and apart from the fact that one involves weeks of injecting hormones, regular internal scans and a procedure under sedation, and the other is well, just having a wank, she’s right. I just don’t think I could do it.
Maybe I’d feel differently if I had kids of my own – or didn’t want kids at all. But, while, if I don’t go on to have my own kids, egotistically I like the idea that my DNA will be passed on to a new generation, that my brilliance won’t die with me, given my insatiable curiosity, I don’t think I could bear the idea that I had biological offspring out there that I didn’t know about.
By the time I got round to freezing my eggs, I was too old to be considered for one of the egg-sharing schemes that are run by some clinics. Basically if you’re healthy and under 35 and prepared to let couples who can’t use their own eggs have some of yours, you can have free, or subsidised, IVF/egg-freezing. Even if I had been eligible, I don’t think I’d have done it.
It’s not that I’m not altruistic (which is a bit like those people who say “I’m not being rude but..,” and are then really rude) – I give blood regularly, I’ve got a donor card, and when I signed all the paperwork about egg-freezing, I said that if I died, or I didn’t want them, they could use my eggs for research. But that research doesn’t involve those eggs being made into embryos which go on to become children.
Perhaps that makes me one of the women who, as Katie Glass says are “maintaining this obsession with motherhood” – and not being a man, I can’t tell you how I’d feel if we were talking about my sperm instead of my eggs, but I really don’t think that I’m “obsessing over the idea that eggs are somehow more precious than sperm” – Glass again.
I’ve always wondered what went on in the heads of men who donated sperm. I suppose a part of me blithely assumed that they were simply hard-up students who wanted to make a quick buck from their bang, as it were. But having read some of the profiles of men on various sperm donor websites (and that’s a whole other post for another time) I know that that’s not the case. Men do it because they have friends who have struggled with conceiving; gay men do it because they don’t want children of their own but they want their DNA to survive; men do it because they’ve read about the shortage of sperm donors and want to help.
I am genuinely in awe of them all. Especially now the rules on anonymity have changed in the UK and any child born from donated sperm or eggs has the right to contact the donor when they turn 18. Obviously the donor doesn’t have any legal or financial obligations to the child, but you’d have to be pretty hard-hearted not to wonder if, in 18 years time, you’re going to get that call, not to wonder what might have happened to that little bit of you.
Obviously I’m delighted that not everybody thinks like me – not least because I haven’t ruled out using donor sperm to try to get pregnant should Prince Charming fail to appear. And I’m not going to judge anyone on whether they decide to give away their DNA or not – if Katie Glass wants to donate her eggs to her gay friends, good on her, I applaud that, but – perhaps unsurprisingly, given what I’ve done – I’d probably suggest if she does, she might want to freeze a few for herself.
Because while I’m never going to be that twat who tells women who say that they don’t want kids that they don’t know how they’ll feel in the future, or the twat who tells you that you don’t know what the future will hold, I am the twat who invariably has spare Tampax/hair grips/paracetamol/phone chargers/safety pins/stamps in her handbag “just in case”; and the twat who thinks I “might as well” buy an extra printer cartridge when I eventually get round to buying one; and the twat who goes to Ikea and picks up another 100 tealights because really “while you’re there”, why not?
So, it’s not really surprising that I’d suggest that if anyone’s going to the trouble of having daily hormone injections, scans every other day and sedation while your ovaries are repeatedly stabbed with a needle, that “while you’re there” you “might as well” put a few on ice “just in case”.