I am an Egg Donor, and Proud of It [PART 2]

(Click to read Part 1)

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A lot has changed in the 3 years since I started donating. The first donation required a month of shots before retrieval; while my fourth, and most recent, donation only took 10 days! With all the changes, I decided I needed to create a second post about this beautiful opportunity.

The biggest change was the medicine order and how much. Donation now starts with higher doses of Gonal (300 IUs*). For 6 days, this is the routine.

Measure out 300 IUs, administer shot, and done.

On the 7th day a second shot is added. My round last year introduced Cetrotide at 0.25 mg. This turned out to be an issue for me. My skin became swollen, hot, and painful. I was not a fan of the reaction, I’ll tell you that!

Luckily, there is another option! The coordinator was able to switch me to Ganirelix in a dose of 250 mcgs and there was no more reaction. The double shots continue for days 7, 8, and 9.

On the 10th day it goes back to one shot and this time it’s a trigger shot. Just as before, this super dose of Lupron (4 mg) triggers the eggs to release. They retrieve the eggs 36 hours later, so the timing is important. Mine was to be administered at exactly 9pm.

Both rounds were successes, with 15 eggs retrieved last year and 8 eggs this year. I don’t know if I’ll be asked again, but I hope I will. They haven’t told me I’ve reached my limit yet and I plan to continue until they do.

As these years have passed, I have grown more and more passionate about egg donation. It has become so dear to my heart. In fact, last year when I got a tattoo to represent my family, I added a twinkle for each egg donation.

Now I get to add another 🙂

Egg donation has become a part of my identity, it’s hard to explain the connection I feel to my anonymous recipients and the children I pray have been (and will be) born. What I can say is that I’m grateful I am able to share this with others, to help them know the joy of parenthood that I experience every day. God is good.

 

*For those, like me, who like to know exactly what everything means here is what the abbreviations stand for: IU = International Unit, mg = milligram, mcg = microgram

I am an Egg Donor, and Proud of It [PART 1]

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This post is different then what I usually write. I decided to write a post about my experience donating eggs because there isn’t very much information out there from a donor point of view, nor is it something you hear about very often. I am proud of my role as an egg donor and would encourage all the women reading this to consider it if you are able.

How does one get into Egg Donation?

It all started because I lost my job last summer. I was freaking out – we were going to Disney in two months and didn’t even know how we would pay our basic bills on Hubby’s inconsistent retail income. A friend suggested I apply to be an egg donor. Fairly easy money, and always needed.

Egg Donation? Me?

I hate shots. I cried, in fact, about every one until well into middle school. Could I handle who-knows-how-many injections…by my own hand?

I decided for my family, I could do anything. So I researched clinics that work with egg donors and chose CNY Fertility. They were not the highest paying, but the most respected and, I felt, most experienced. I applied at the end of June 2013 and passed all of the requirements. I was officially accepted as a donor. Unemployment came through, the summer flew by, Disney was a success, and I got a new job. (So did Hubby, Praise the Lord!)

In November 2013, I got an email; someone chose my profile as her donor. Was I still interested?

Well….was I? I mean, was I in it for more than money?

In the end, my heart won. This woman had looked at a number of profiles and chose me as part of her (potential) future child. How could I say no and put her back into the process? I said yes.

It started with blood tests to be sure I didn’t have any risky genes (I didn’t) and the pill to coordinate my cycle with that of my recipient. Two days after Christmas, the part I had been dreading began. First up, Lupron to suppress ovulation.

I mentally reviewed every step –

  1. Cleanse the vial and injection site, somewhere across my waist below my belly button.
  2. Open a new, sterile needle and insert into vial
  3. Turn upside down and draw liquid to specified volume
  4. Insert needle into skin at a 90 degree angle, dispensing medicine once in

For the first time, I was grateful for my Christmas cookie layer. You know, that extra jolly jiggle in your middle that inspires New Years Resolutions? I barely felt the needle. Success!

After 10 days, the Lupron was reduced and a second medicine was added -Gonal to stimulate the ovaries and increase follicle production. My body didn’t react as easily to the Gonal, so the dose was doubled, then tripled. While it added 4 days to the original timeline, it put it on a Saturday so I didn’t have to worry about a ride or who would care for the kids. Amazing how God turns obstacles into blessings!

Thursday I had one last injection; a super dose of Lupron to trigger ovulation (I have no idea how the same medicine suppresses and triggers the same process). Finally the day of my donation arrived.

The honest truth? I remember little of the donation. I met the head doctor and anesthesiologist, then the next thing I knew it was over. My husband picked me up and I proceeded to sleep most of the day. I do remember the nurse telling me they retrieved 13 eggs, and I felt proud. Donors can release as few as 3, and up to 15 in a cycle.

Now I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it was a piece of cake. Not all the injections went as smoothly and there were a few side effects. I experienced occasional headaches from the Lupron and was painfully bloated for about a week after the donation. The extended time on the Gonal increased my estrogen levels too high and I had to inject blood thinners to prevent issues as my ovaries returned to normal. Those injections felt like a bee sting every time and bruised.

Was it worth it?

A million times yes. I was able to truly help someone. My husband and I are done having kids, we are blessed with two beautiful ones and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. How could I not give my perfectly good eggs to help someone find the same joy?

Will I donate again?

Again, yes. In fact, I am at the end of a second cycle already. I was contacted a week after the first donation to say I had been chosen again. This time the Gonal was correct from the start and I am following the timeline perfectly. I donate in two days.

I don’t know if I will be chosen again, but I know I will say yes. I may never meet the children who share my genes, never know their names, but I will rejoice at every live birth and know God used me for a miracle.

4/18/14 Update: Round two went smoothly, other than my runaway veins leading to 3 separate nurses attempting to insert the IV. I went in at 8:30am this morning, was prepped and given anesthesia by 9:10, and was woken up at 9:45. This time I was able to donate 19 eggs! 🙂

The rest of my day will be spent snuggling in bed rotating between sleeping, reading, and drinking lots of water.

[Continue to PART 2]