Friday, November 6, 2009

The Donor Discussion

I started writing this post a few weeks ago as a way of putting this idea to rest.  I thought that if I wrote it down, I could release it.  That's sort of how writing works for me.  I file it away here so that I can start to process it in the scope of the rest of my day/life/journey.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  This time, it's still haunting me.

From the beginning, long before we ever knew for sure that we were dealing with IF, back when we just knew that the odds were high based on family history, we said that all options would be on the table.  We've always been open to adoption, if it came to that, but it was always imagined as the last option on the journey. 

I had never really thought or considered donor sperm until we got the official IF diagnosis and I started reading blogs and message boards.  I brought it up once then.  In the beginning, before the full scope had set in for Hubby, he had indicated that it was something we could consider.  In his mind, it was the option before adoption.  After all biological means failed, we'd try donor, then adoption. 

That made sense to me, too, for awhile.  But, when it came time to actually start seriously moving toward IVF, I couldn't help but wonder if donor sperm was a "better" choice for us.  At first my definition of better was comprised mostly of the fact that it was so much cheaper.  I brought the subject up again after our trip to the RE last week.  Hubby pretty quickly said that he'd like to try IVF first.  So be it, I thought, and I wanted to file the though away.  Thought considered and rejected.  Move on.  After all, it wasn't my biological link we'd be foregoing.  How far could I really push it?  Biology trumps cost any day.

But, I haven't been able to file it away.  It's sort of lurking in the outer recesses of my thought patterns lately.  I can't process it.  If it were just the cost differential, I think I could lay the thought to rest.  To be honest, Hubby and I haven't always spent our money as wisely as we should.  If there were any place to overspend, this certainly seems like it.  There's more to it than that, though.

Remember in this post when I talked about the moment when my mother-in-law vividly remembers hoping beyond hope that her sons would never have to experience the pain that depression had caused her and my father-in-law?  I know that there's no hard evidence that depression is genetic, but Hubby's family may be the case study.  Looking back, my in-laws are now fairly certain that Hubby's grandpa suffered from chronic depression.  My father-in-law, brother-in-law and, of course, Hubby do, as well.  Clearly, there's a prevalence of depression on the male side of the lineage. 

And, this isn't the "pop a Prozac" and it's gone kind.  This is the "take multiple anti-depressants and still suffer" kind.  This is the "deal with it everyday" kind; the "sometimes depression rules our life" kind.  I talked in that same post about both the toll the depression takes and the strength we gain from it.  But, the bottom line is that I still wouldn't wish it on anyone, let alone our own son.

I feel like we have an opportunity to end the cycle.  I don't want us to have to wonder if our future son will have to battle the same internal demons or if his future wife will have to carry the same burden.  I know there's no guarantee.  The donor could have a similar prevalence in his family.  But, if we have the opportunity to try, shouldn't we take it?

So, I feel like I should bring up the subject again with Hubby this weekend.  I feel like I should lay this new wrinkle out for discussion.  I struggle with how to bring it up, because it's one thing to say that it's a cost factor.  That's something we can work through.  It's something entirely different to point out that his very biology is the problem.  And, the thought of pointing that out, though it will be more of a reminder than a surprise, pains me. 

Then, I struggle with how we compromise on this.  It's not my genetics, my biological link, at stake.  If he still says he'd rather not, at least not now, am I ok with that?  I feel like I can only push it so far.  But, how far?  And, what are the ramifications of choosing donor?  I can't even begin to imagine all of the issues that we'd have to consider, both now and later. 

I'm not even sure how ready I am to put that option on the table, but it seems like something we should consider before moving to IVF and I'm sure we haven't given it its fair share of discussion time yet.  Here's the running list of pros and cons in my head:
Chance to end the cycle of depression
Lower cost

No biological link to Hubby

That con is a huge one.  I just can't process it.  Biology may trump cost, but when biology is the issue, we find ourselves back at square one.

So, blog friends, I need your help.  I know that many of you have considered, conceived, or are moving down the path of using donor sperm.  How did you decide?  How did you broach that conversation with DH?  What did your pros and cons list look like?


Marla.z said...

Hmmmmm, very intersting thoughts, Lin. I can't say I blame you for wanting to have your child not suffer through depression.

Donor sperm is not an option for some, as you know - it's a necessity. If those couples ever want to have children, that's the only way it would ever happen. And those couples learn to accept it. However, the fact that your DH may have a child that is not biologically related to him may only worsen his depression. So while using donor sperm may seem like the best way now, it may have detrimental effects in the future. But, it's really a guessing game. No one can predict the future.

That's a super-duper tough decision. I'm not sure what I would do in your situation. I'm guessing I'm not helping with my scattered thoughts. Sorry. *hugs*

VA Blondie said...

For men, the biological link is a big one. We considered donor sperm for a while for financial reasons, but Hubby had a hard time getting past the biological link. When the opportunity arose to do IVF, we jumped at it.

The depression issue is something to seriously consider, though. I would not try to push hubby into anything, just maybe give him something to think about.

Wishing you the best as you work through this.

Lauren said...

I don't have advice for what you should do, but here were the factors in our decision:

-We were using a mixture of donor and DH's sperm, so we still had a chance of having a full biological child, and we don't ever plan to find out which one it is.

-We couldn't afford IVF without going into debt

-I'm very money-conscious, and I knew that if we did an IVF cycle that cost $10 000 and it failed, I would be way worse off emotionally than I was before.

-DS is way cheaper than IVF

-We wanted a baby, and it didn't matter how it got here.

-We had been experiencing failed cycles and major disappointments for so long. It was detrimentally affecting us (as people, not our relationship) to such a degree that we decided we just needed a win. We just needed our baby. We decided if we just had one baby, we would be much more likely to have the patience and strength to try with DH's sperm for longer next time.

-DS was preferable over adoption for several reasons:
It was cheaper
It was less of an emotional roller coaster
It was more guaranteed
It would still at least be genetically related to one of us
We would get to experience pregnancy, birth, nursing, a newborn, etc.

One Who Understands said...

When we talked about this a few weeks ago I was amazed at how ok with it my DH was. He is our issue fertility wise, so doing DIUI really makes sense. He also suffers from ADD, although very mildly, and feels that would be enough to move on to DS. For him the struggle he faced as a child in school was enough for him to not want to put our own child through it. (Now let me also mention cost is probably the driving factor behind ALL of this. Yes, his ADD is something he hates, but he is an accountant. Money is always the driving factor.)

I think if you go in with kindness and genuine concern about the depression cycle continuing you will be fine. DH knows how much he struggles and I'm sure he will not want to inflict that pain on his own son.

I totally get the repercussions that can come from DS now and later. We have already decided that we would not tell a soul we were using DS. I am not really sure we would tell our children either. I'm sure lots of people would think we were monsters for not telling them, but what would telling profit them? I don't know. We are still kind of far off from making that decision since we are going to give IVF one shot before moving on.

Good luck.

Fertility Chick said...

Wow...really thoughtful posts and equally thoughtful comments.

When we entered the DS realm, it was because we were basically told that my DH's azoo was such that the urologist even recommended just using donor sperm. While there's still a very rare chance we could use DH's if we went to IVF/ICSI - we always have to have a donor on back up anyways.

All that said, I hear you on the cost concerns - and even the health ones. For us, our donor's (and his family - parents, sibs) health history was very important and part of why we selected him. (Just to clarify, we don't know him).

Since I bring my own IF issues to the table our plan is to attempt dIUI's as long as we can and hope that it works. Should we have to move on to IVF we will consider using DH's sperm...but with the knowledge that even then our particular case will probably require DS anyways.

I've rambled and probably haven't been helpful. My husband struggled a bit with the DS in the beginning but came around very quickly. We choose the donor together. We both want the opportunity (if possible!) for me to experience pregnancy and if DS is what builds our family, we're both at peace with that.

Good luck. Will be thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

I think that if you constantly think about it and it worries you that you should definitely talk to your hubby again about it. Just tell him your reasoning, that you understand that forgoes his biological input, but that it may help in other ways.

Jem said...

We have one more week wait to see if our IVF cycle worked. We have male factor IF.

When we started IVF, Mr. Jem had 500K count. A week before ER, he had zero. We panicked. We were praying that Mr. Jem would pull thru the day before or the day off. All the same we purchased DS, but it was very rushed. It was our Plan Z. We ended up getting sperm via biopsy right before my ER. We chose to go with Mr. Jem's sperm, because on a gut level, it was best for us to do anything humanly possible to get his sperm to work. We would have used the DS, if it was necessary. Mr. Jem said, "I wouldn't have liked it inititally, but I would have dealt with it."

Mr. Jem has polycystic kidney disease and depression in his family. I tried talking about the advantages of using DS to eliminate this, but his reaction was so adamant and emotional that I let it drop. "You have alcoholism in your side of the family." he countered. Gulp. Touche!

Your Hubby may have a totally different reaction. My advice is to leave no stone unturned. Just have the conversation with a lot of love in your voice.

Anonymous said...

I don't have advise b/c it's not something we've had to discuss, but I'm thinking about you and lots of ((hugs)) for you this weekend. If you decide to talk about it I hope it goes well.

Jendeis said...

We chose to use donor sperm both for male-factor issues and for genetic issues. While JD does battle depression, the serious concern for us was his Asperger's Syndrome (a disorder on the autism spectrum) and some other health risks.

We did do a pros and cons list (I believe I posted it about earlier this year). The thing with doing a P&C list, though, is that list-making is an essentially rational way of dealing with an issue, and thoughts about family-building are not rational by nature, they are completely emotional.

For us, there was a lot of discussion and a lot of prayer and a lot of tears and lot of thinking and coming back to it.

I wish you peace and strength in whatever you decide to do.

Hillary said...

There are so many big decisions on this IF journey, and this seems like one of the biggest. I hope you and your husband can come to a decision with much wisdom and thought at the right time. :)

For us, DS is not an option that we will consider. So I don't have too much advice, but wish you all the best!

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