Yeah, I admit it. In my restless and all-consuming quest for pregnancy, I've become a Google slut, constantly on the stroll for links that will do me. Tonight I found me a stud: Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates > 2002 National Report > Section 4: ART cycles using donor eggs.
Some of the information therein amounts to stating the obvious: "Are older women undergoing ART more likely to use donor eggs or embryos?" Why yes, genius -- because we're old, and our eggs are poached. By the way, thanks for the reminder about that old thing. Love you too.
Of more interest to me was this byte: "Thus, the live birth per transfer rate for cycles using embryos from donor eggs varies only slightly across all age groups. The average birth per transfer rate is 50%."
Fifty percent? As in, heads-you-win-tails-I-lose? As in, I hope my uterus gets half full, but it might stay half empty, even after I give you $15K that I can't really afford?
Suddenly, reality bites.
See, here's the thing. Many of us who choose donor egg think of it as the safe harbor for our sinking infertility ships. When we get the Dread DE Speech from our reproductive endocrinologists, they hold it up like the Holy Grail: "With your own eggs, your chances of becoming pregnant are about three percent. And if you do get pregnant, the chance of miscarriage in your age group is fifty percent. But if you use donor eggs, your chance of pregnancy is...fifty percent! And your risk of miscarriage goes down to that of your young, nubile, robustly healthy, did I say young? donor! And you can drive it off the lot today!"
Okay, I added those parts at the end. But you get the idea. When they're throwing all these stats at you, "fifty percent" sounds so much better than "three percent." And they push the idea so hard and are so upbeat about it, versus the wrinkled brows and long faces they pull when you venture that you might want to try to conceive a child with your own crappy 39-year-old eggs.... You start to get the idea that if you can only bring yourself to accept it, donor egg is the Way and the Life.
But. Fifty percent. That's a flunking grade. That's an effing coin toss, and I am not known for my luck. Suddenly I am so freaking depressed.
And it gets worse: "For all ages, singleton live birth rates (average 29%) were lower than the total live birth rates (average 50%). Singleton live births are an important measure of success because they have a much lower risk than multiple-infant births for adverse infant health outcomes, including prematurity, low birth weight, disability, and death."
Waitaminit. What's this 29%? I am a very dim bulb when it comes to mathematics of any kind, and I hope someone, someday reads this blog and enlightens me. But it seems like they're cooking the books to get their holy fifty percent number. If twins count as two live births for one ART procedure, what's the real success rate per procedure? The report goes on to note, "In 2002, 4,195 pregnancies from ART cycles that used fresh embryos from donor eggs resulted in live births...slightly more than 42% of these live births produced more than one infant (about 40% twins and about 3% triplets or more)."
I am so screwed. But it's too late to choke on the digits now. I'm facing down Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum: "You've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky'? Well, do ya, punk?"
No, I don't, Mr. Eastwood. In fact, my uterus is notoriously unlucky. But then there's this one, by Benjamin Disraeli (a British statesman) and quoted by Mark Twain in his autobiography: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."