Dani Shapiro
February 4, 2007

Egg Donation Story

I’ve been writing about some of the deepest aspects of my personal life for as long as I’ve been writing–and at this point, it doesn’t seem strange to me (at least most of the time) to have some of the intimate details of my life be available to people I don’t know. One of the reasons why it doesn’t seem strange is that the act of crafting a story turns it into something other than “my life”. I am not interested in the confessional. Confession is almost always boring and certainly its details don’t feel universal. Nor am I interested in catharsis. Writing memoir is quite the opposite of cathartic. If anything, it creates an even deeper river of feeling. Sometimes I’ll meet someone at a dinner party who has read my memoir, Slow Motion, and he/she will say: I feel like I know you. And I always feel like responding: no, you don’t. You read my book. My book isn’t me. Not exactly.

I have an essay in this month’s Elle magazine that is highly personal, about my journey through the strange, strange land of reproductive technology in a quest to have a second child. I write about choosing an egg donor and then–ultimately–changing my mind. My husband Michael and I spent the better part of a wacky year involved in this world, and once we decided not to move forward, all I wanted to do was to write about it. The going through it, the writing about it, and ultimately the publishing of a piece about it–all are completely different experiences. I’m glad the piece is out there–even though of course it makes me feel exposed. As soon as the piece was published, I got angry calls and emails from the heads of certain egg donor agencies. Just the other day, a friend called from L.A. to tell me that the reproductive endocrinologist we had been seeing there, Vicken Sahakian, M.D., was on the front page of the L.A. Times because he had inadvertently gotten a 65 year old woman pregnant with twins. Inadvertent!