A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is an egg donor. For a fee, egg donors donate their eggs to couples who are struggling to conceive a baby. Today, our subject takes us through three days in her life before she goes in for her egg donation duties the following week.
Here’s what her journey looks like:
Next week is going to be the third time I’m donating my eggs and I don’t know what to expect. I’m not scared or worried, it’s just that each donation episode is different. The first time I donated eggs, I could only take pepper soup for the first three days after I was done. The next time, I survived on Cameroon pepper mixed with warm water for two days. In both cases, it wasn’t until after the third day that I started eating solid food.
On Monday, I had better not encounter any surprises. But that’s a worry for next week because there are problems today that demand my attention.
I stood up from bed this morning with one question on my mind: “Where do I tell my parents I’m going to so I can leave *Delta to Lagos (where the egg retrieval clinic is)?” In the past, I told them I was going for job interviews but I’m sure they’ll soon start getting suspicious. It’s not like I can exactly tell them that I’m going to donate eggs because it can result in a fight. The last person I told that I donated eggs (for cash) used it against me in a fight. According to her, “at least she’s better than me because she’s not selling her eggs.”
So, since then, this egg donation business is strictly on a need to know basis.
Sometimes I sit down to ask myself why some Nigerians look down on donating eggs. I’m shocked because I thought we were all facing challenges and money problems. To me, I see this whole process as something wey person fit chop from and gain experience at the end of the day. I was introduced to this hustle because I needed quick cash and it’s perfect for me because I’m not the type of girl who’s comfortable collecting stuff from men.
Anytime I need money outside my 9-5, I just tell myself that the egg donation process takes only three weeks and I psych myself up for it. It’s not a perfect system but it works and so we move.
I woke up really early today to clean the house and complete all my chores. I don’t want a situation where my parents will hold anything against me and prevent my trip from happening. Not that I’ll hear, “you haven’t done x or y but you want to travel.” No ma/sir, I’ve done my work oh.
I don’t want any excuses pls.
I have to travel to Lagos because each hospital has its own rules. Some hospitals will tell you to first come for blood test screening before anything can commence. Other hospitals may first start you on hormonal pills for two to three weeks, depending on your body system, before they run the tests.
After this point, it’s time for injections. Some clinics don’t like stories because injections are expensive so they’ll give you transport money to come for daily injections for a few weeks. But, some clinics believe that you’re mature enough to choose a particular time that works for you to self inject at home. Last last, if you know say you need money, you go heed to their rules and regulations. Moreover, everyone signs an undertaking so you have to be serious about following the rules and regulations.
Apart from the occasional pain of injecting myself close to my pubic region, I don’t experience a lot of side effects. Sometimes the injections make me feel chubby or bloated but that’s the highest side effect I’ve ever experienced.
After you’ve taken pills, injections, and done scans for three weeks, you now have to face the main challenge: the egg retrieval process. Think of the aftermath as having really nasty menstrual cramp pains where you can’t function. You can’t walk and you can’t talk; all you can do is rest.
The pain makes sense because the procedure wan resemble when person dey abort pikin — the doctor will give you sleeping injection and then put a long needle inside of you to retrieve eggs. Even though plenty of girls dey fear, the procedure is relatively safe and doesn’t even affect your chances of giving birth in the future. But e no even concern me. After one incident happened to me, I don resolve my mind say whether I marry, born pikin, no born pikin, I’m okay with it.
For me, as long as I’m living life on my terms and not begging anyone for money, I’m fine with any outcome.
Today is shaping up to be a relatively good day. My parents have agreed to my “reason” for going to Lagos and I’ve finished packing. Now, I’m thinking of the next story I’ll give them when I need to go back to Lagos for donation.
Ideally, you should only donate eggs every six months so that your body can rest. But, as everywhere tight and girls need money, I dey run am every 3 months. I know some babes who donate six times a year, and that’s like every two months.
Clinics pay ₦100,000 – ₦120,000 for first-time donors. And by your second donation, this amount goes up by ₦20,000 – ₦30,000. The only caveat is that you must produce six eggs completely before you get full payment. If not, you’ll get only half of your payment. But that rarely happens. After all, you’d have been going for scans and weekly checkups to monitor your progress.
I can’t even lie, it’s that money that keeps me going in this job. The first time I got paid, I bought a new phone. The second time, I saved the money. This time, I’m using the money to move out of my parents’ house.
Being an egg donor is something I see myself doing for as long as possible. The procedure is relatively safe and I like the turnover time for making the money. As long as I keep going to reputable clinics and following the instructions of health professionals, I’ll be fine. And even if I’m not, I’ll still be fine. At the end of the day, I want to be catching flights and not feelings — and this job provides funds for some part of that lifestyle.
Editor’s note: Not all egg donors have it good. Here’s a report by Al-Jazeera on the other side of the egg donation divide.