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]

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“Secret Ingredient” Pizza Sauce (GF & V)

Friday night is Family Movie Night! Boy-O says the highlight of the evening is our Pizza Picnic. We were given an awesome picnic mat that is tightly woven and easy to clean. Little One takes her job of rolling it out very seriously, it has to be just right so everyone can see the movie. Boy-O just wants to get to the eating part, and I don’t blame him!

We don’t eat just any pizza, it’s homemade! Sometimes on fresh crust, sometimes on sliced bread from the local bakery – but regardless the crust used, everyone knows the sauce is the most important part. Through the past year I have played and tweaked my sauce recipe, and it wasn’t quite right until I added the “secret ingredient” on a whim. It was just what was missing! What is this miracle pizza sauce enhancer?

Pure Maple Syrup.

I know what you are thinking. Syrup? With tomato sauce? Try it, I promise you will not be disappointed.

“Secret Ingredient” Pizza Sauce

1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes (Sub Tomato Puree for a smoother sauce)
2 6oz cans Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
2 tsp Minced Garlic (Double for Garlic Pizza Sauce)
3 Bay Leaves
1 Tbsp Basil
Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once heated through turn on low and simmer, covered, for an hour, stirring occasionally. The sauce can be refrigerated and keeps for weeks! Makes enough for 2 to 4 pizzas, depending on how saucy you like it.

DIY All Purpose Cleaner

Boy-O loves to clean the bathroom. Believe me, I know how lucky I am! He started at 4 and hasn’t stopped.  What Mom wouldn’t let their kid step in for this decidedly icky chore? The problem, of course, is the chemicals involved.  Moderation certainly isn’t part of his vocabulary.  He follows the “more is better” philosophy of cleaning.  If I am not worrying over the long-term effects of the chemical exposure, I am fussing over the bleach spots on his clothes.

One of my friends introduced me to this simple homemade cleaner and I can’t help but share it! It cleans toilets, sinks, mirrors, counters, tables, ovens, microwaves, and whatever other non-porous surface you can think of.

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Supplies:

1 TBSP Borax

4 TBSP White Vinegar

1 TSP Liquid Dish Detergent

Water

32 oz Spray Bottle (I reused one from an old cleaner that I washed out)

 

Put some warm water in a pourable container (I used a liquid measuring cup) and dissolve the Borax in it. Stir in the vinegar and liquid detergent. Fill spray bottle halfway with water than add borax mixture.  Fill the rest of the way with water – The less you have to add at the end the better, it can get bubbly. Swish around until combined and VOILA! You are ready for cleaning.

Chicken & Vegetable Soup (The Get Well soup)

So, it happened.  We made it to February before all four of us got sick.  Little One gets sick every other week, thanks to her thumb sucking and daycare. But the rest of us have been pretty good this winter.  Well, today that changed.  Little One and Boy-O both got fevers, coughs, and sniffles – the whole works! Hubby got the cough and I got the sniffles.  Days like this need chicken soup, Pronto!  I love this soup because it is easy to make, nutritious, inexpensive, and warms you right up.

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Excuse the yellow-y picture – my nice white light went out so I used the regular kitchen light and it does take a funky looking picture, doesn’t it?  Look instead at all that good stuff in there, the chunks of chicken and veggies mixing together in a sea of brothiness. Yum!

Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Olive Oil

1 small onion, diced

1 Tbsp minced garlic

2 – 16oz bags frozen mixed veggies

2 – 4oz Chicken breasts, cooked & shredded

6 cups chicken/turkey stock (I make my own stock, but feel free to use store bought or even bullion)

3 bay leaves

2 tsp basil

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1. In soup pot, Saute onion and garlic in oil until onion is translucent

2. Add frozen vegetables and heat until thawed, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in Chicken, Stock, and Spices

4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes

That is it – 4 steps!  And that 30 minutes simmer is just enough time to whip up a batch of biscuits to go with it, like the cheddar/ranch biscuit pictured above.  It has a secret ingredient, but the recipe still needs some tweaking.  Maybe it will be my next post?

The Fastest, Easiest, Most Versitile, Crustless Quiche you will ever make – seriously!

Fastest, Easiest, Most Versitile, Crustless Quiche you will ever make - seriously!

Are you looking for a quick dinner that will fill you up and use ingredients you already have? Then this is it. My dear friend passed on her crustless quiche recipe to me a couple months ago, and I have made it weekly ever since. AND it is never the same quiche twice!

Start with whatever veggies you have on hand. We have used brussel sprouts, olives, spinach, tomatoes and cooked broccoli leftover from another meal. Chop them up small and put in a greased pan. My photo is in muffin tins, but I also love making them in my 2.5 qt oval CorningWare dish.

Next you choose a cheese (this step is optional, though I never skip it) The original recipe had 2 1/2 cups of cheese, but I usually only use 1/2 cup total. It is really up to your preference. My favorite cheese to put in is feta, but any shredded cheese you have on hand will work (we have even used a taco blend!) Sprinkle the desired amount of cheese over the vegetables.

Last is the eggs. Open up to a dozen eggs into a bowl and whisk it until all yolks are scrambled. If desired, add seasoning. My friend uses Mrs Dash to avoid the salt, I love Tastefully Simple’s Italian Garlic Bread Seasoning. If I am using feta, I tend to skip seasoning all together. Pour eggs over cheese & veggies and use whisk to blend gently.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until middle is no longer runny.

That’s it! Three steps and done! If you make them in muffin tins, I whipped each egg individually so I didn’t have to figure out how much each egg was when pouring in. You can use less eggs in a smaller container or more in a larger container. Regardless of what size, it seems to always take at least 30 minutes to cook.

Quick and Easy 6-Can Chicken Soup

A coworker of mine couldn’t stop gushing about a 6 can soup she discovered on AllRecipes.  After listening to her for three days, I decided to give it a try; and now I want to gush about it!  This is the perfect ‘beat my cold’ sort of soup, it is hearty and takes 5 minutes to make!  I can’t wait to make it again. 🙂

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Ingredients:

* 1 15oz can whole corn, drained

* 2 14.5oz cans chicken broth (I used homemade stock I had in my freezer)

* 1 10oz can chunk chicken, drained ($1.39 at Aldi)

* 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

* 1 15oz can diced tomatoes

Open all cans and combine in soup pot.  Heat until the warm.  And that’s it!

I made it 7 can by adding a can of sliced mushrooms, along with some green onion I had in the fridge to be used.  The original recipe had a 10oz can of diced tomato with green chiles instead of the larger diced tomatoes, but I had 5 minutes until Aldi closed and didn’t spot the green chile can, so I subbed for the other.  I loved it and bet the zest from the chile would be delicious as well.  My coworker served it with tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and sour cream.  What ingredients would you use? I would love to hear your ideas for mixing and matching the cans in this soup, so please comment below.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next post, I made my own dishwasher detergent and will soon be sharing the results of the adventure!

Chewy Granola Bars – No Bake and Super Easy!

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Thank you Lauren’s Latest for this wonderful recipe.  When I saw that I could make my own chewy granola bars, in a healthier way, I was all in.  BONUS: They are no bake!! Here is the recipe as she writes it and how I made it:

Yield: 10 bars

Prep Time: 2 hours including cooling time

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats {not rolled oats!}
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Directions:

In a large bowl, stir oats and rice cereal together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes. Pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan {about 12x8x1} and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness. {If your pan isn’t small enough, pack the mixture into one side. You really want to press them down so they stick together.} Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on a countertop to room temperature for two hours or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Recipe Notes: If your granola bars don’t seem to be staying together when you cut them, you may have not boiled the mixture long enough…you want it to make it just past the softball stage. OR you made them too thin or you didn’t pack them in tight enough. Stick them in the fridge for 20 minutes and that should help keep them together. {Be sure not to keep them in there too long or else they’ll become super hard!} The next time you make them, try boiling for an extra 15 seconds or so.

After making these I am filled with possibilities of where this could go.  I can sub peanut butter for the butter to make chocolate chip peanut butter granola bars, or stir in nuts/seeds/fruit to make a healthy breakfast bar, or use dark cocoa powder with coconut flakes to make dark chocolate coconut bars as a treat. And this is just the beginning of my ideas – think cinnamon raisin, or maple brown sugar, or so many more.  Please comment ideas for add ins and let me know what you make!

PS – I did use rolled oats, even though she said not to.  I got a huge container cheap at Aldi and decided to go with it – they tasted great and held together without an issue.