Monday, July 2, 2012

Return of the Donor Bump

Day 4... Yes, it's back already. I wasn't expecting to be back to feeling rather... large... so early on, but here we go. It's obvious to see and feel that the Gonal-F and Menopur are doing their job. Yesterday I woke up feeling like I have two tangerines hanging out in my stomach, and today I'm squeezing into my jeans that were loose a few days ago. I've been taking the same doses for the last three days: 5 units of Lupron in the morning, Menopur (1 vial) & Gonal-F (225 units in the evening). I had my first monitoring appointment today to check out the O's, and my Gonal-F is being increased tonight to 263 units. So far the eggs are looking good! Next appointment is on Thursday...

Shot count: 22

Side Effects: Nausea!, Headaches, Loss of appetite, Fatigue (took a three hour "nap" today), Donor Bump (looking about 5 months)

People who have asked if I'm expecting: 0 - This might change soon...


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cycle 2!

I got the green light today after my FDA panel results came back great! Had my first ultrasound to check on the O's... looking good ladies. I've been taking 10 units of Lupron for two weeks now, and will continue for a couple more days at 5 units. Tomorrow begins Day 1 of taking the "real" shots: 225 units of Gonal F and one vial of Menopur. I'll be taking these dosages for 3 days, and have my first monitoring appointment on Monday :)

Shot Count: 14

Side Effects: Loss of appetite, bloating (no donor bump yet!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lupron and Antibiotics

I have been taking 10 units of Lupron in the morning for about 7 days now, mostly side-effect free! The only change I have noticed has been mild nausea in the morning on occasion. I am using insulin needles which are so tiny I barely feel them... No bruises at my injection site (stomach!) or donor bump in site - yet. Now at day 8, I'll take my last birth control pill and continue Lupron shots once in the morning. Lupron is a gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), and basically prevents your brain from sending signals to your ovaries to tell them to make estrogen. The result is a significantly lower level of estrogen in the body, suppressing the natural menstrual cycle. From what I can understand from my own research, it allows the Dr's to better control and sync donor/recipient cycles. It also helps to prevent premature ovulation, which would be a MAJOR catastrophe!

Next week I have my FDA panel again, and then the Menopur and Gonal F shots will be added to the loop. Reminder: The FDA Panel is required by law for all egg donors prior to donation to test for STD's, AIDS/HIV, Hepatitis, and drug use. I think it also involves another ultrasound just to check on the O's.

I was a little concerned the other day when I got a bad case of tonsillitis, and had to start taking antibiotics. (Side note: I LOVE the CVS Minute Clinic... in and out in 15 minutes with Rx in hand. I'll never go back to Patient First if I can help it!) Because antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of The Pill, I nervous that they might also affect my hormones & cycle as a donor. I would feel so guilty if getting sick meant that I would have to restart my cycle so early in the process. Thankfully my doctor assured me that the amoxicillin would NOT affect my Lupron or my cycle!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Round 2

WOW I didn't think I would be announcing this so soon... I am officially starting my second cycle as an egg donor! I am looking forward to being able to post throughout the entire donation process this time, since I wasn't able to write during my last cycle. I'm pretty shocked that this is all happening again so quickly, but I feel like I'm prepared for round 2.

Now is the easy part. I'll be taking birth control pills normally until my baseline appointment, which will be about a month away. I believe this appointment will consist of the usual - blood work, hormone testing, and ultrasounds. I'm also taking prenatal vitamins for an extra healthy boost. I'll meet with my donor coordinator next week to go over all of my medications and refresh on taking shots. Tentative retrieval date is early July!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A New Nest

A few days after the break up I started searching for new opportunities as an egg donor. There are plenty of fertility clinics in Maryland, but I had trouble finding one that didn't lead me straight back to Shady Grove's donor application site. I felt as though I had been blacklisted in the entire state. I decided to apply to a clinic in a nearby state, and have had great luck working with them so far. I am officially on their database!

The application process was pretty similar to that of SG, but with a few interesting additions. I went through the typical blood work, ultrasounds, interviews, social worker visits... the works. I also had to get professional photos done - Glamour Shots!! (Paid for by the clinic.) Probably a little excessive, but the donor coordinator assured me that the girls who have them done typically get picked sooner. The most interesting part of the application was the audio interview. The questions were pretty basic - Who is your role model in life? How would you describe your personality? Goals in life? etc... After listening to my tape, and maybe a few from other donors, I realized how much you can really learn about someone just from listening to their voice. What a great idea...

After spending a few months working with the new and improved clinic, I feel a little cold towards SG. I never really felt like the doctors there truly cared about my well being... Saying that I felt exploited might be a little much, but I definitely feel like Clinic B has my interest and the recipient couple's interest equally balanced. During one of my first ultrasounds with SG, Dr. Yazigi noticed a small cyst on my right ovary. Laying vulnerably on the table and hearing this was both scary and shocking. Before I had an opportunity to ask whether I should be concerned, and whether I would still be going through with the donation, the Doc's were pretty much out the door and shooing me off. After doing my own research, and contacting my own OB/GYN I learned it was nothing to be concerned about.

While applying to Clinic B, I requested copies of my entire medical record from SG. Almost 50 pages of paper work documented every phone call, every email, blood test, ultrasound, etc. I knew from a previous blood test that I had high cholesterol, but it had been a few years since I got an updated test. Apparently SG had tested my cholesterol 5 times throughout my time with them, and each time it came back high - I had no clue. Not once was I ever told that I should be concerned by my test results. This was not the case with Clinic B - every time a test result came back good or bad, my donor coordinator emailed me an update with genuine concern.

Needless to say, I am glad I have found a better clinic to work with.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Break Up

After my donation, I was definitely eager to get back on the donor database. Women who have successfully donated before are deemed "proven donors," and are typically chosen quicker than first timers. I contacted my nurse a month after my retrieval, and she said she would speak to the medical directors about my interest in donating again. Apparently no one can just get back on the list... Waited a few days and no response. So I called back to the main office... and I waited... and waited. Finally a week later I got a call from one of the staff members at SG thanking me for my donation, but that I would not be back on the donor database at Shady Grove. I was shocked to say the least, but their justification shocked me even more.

In one of my previous postings I described Shady Grove's "Shared Donor Program." Basically up to 3 couples can share a single donation from a single donor. In my case, I donated 14 eggs to two couples (each couple got 7 eggs). As a first timer, I was told that this is a pretty good number. However, if I would have been involved in a shared program between three couples (each receiving 4 or 5 eggs), each couple has a slimmer chance of getting viable eggs. Remember that the couples can freeze unused embryos, so they next time they want to try to get pregnant there is no need to call back in the donor... which costs more money. The bottom line is that SG makes more money per cycle when multiple couples are involved, and each couple gets many many eggs. I was told by the staff member that SG wants girls who can consistently produce 20+ eggs, and I just didn't meet the cut. (She worded that a little nicer...) Did your jaw drop too?

Still wanting to donate again... I was back to square one.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Donation

I got a call one day from the donor coordination at Shady Grove to let me know that I had been finally matched with not one - but two couples! I think I had been on the donor database for about 4 months at that time. I was emailed my medication protocol and very detailed instructions on my dosages. I got a package in the mail with all of my medications, syringes, alcohol swabs, prenatal vitamins, and a sharps box to safely dispose of my needles. Overnight my refrigerator looked more like a  pharmacy... I started out taking my birth control normally, adding a prenatal vitamin once daily, and 7 days of antibiotics. During this time I was being cycled with the other two recipient mothers. This was definitely the easy part... After 18 days I went to SG for blood work and an ultrasound to make sure all was going to plan, which it did. For 7 days I took two shots a day in my stomach. It was definitely difficult to mix the medications at first, and to get the courage to stick myself. I took 225 units of Gonal F, and 75 units of Menopur. I can't remember which - I think it was the Menopur - burned like hell when injecting. Otherwise it was no big deal. As the days passed I started to feel physically a little different. I experienced no emotional/mood changes, but I started to get bloated.... VERY bloated.
I had heard about other girls getting an "egg donor bump" as the egg follicles grow... I definitely looked a little pregnant until the donation. It felt like someone had stuck two heavy oranges in my ovaries. As the days passed and I took more shots, I definitely had some mild bruising as you can see. Since fitting into my jeans was out of the question, I spent about a week living in sweat pants. You think sitting in a 2 hour lecture hall is uncomfortable? Try adding a few extra pounds of water to your belly. Sitting in class was definitely miserable for a few days. After day 7 I added a third daily shot of Cetrotide in the morning. I continued taking 3 shots a day, feeling very very huge, for about 4 more days. Finally, the day before the retrieval I took my trigger shot of Lupron (intramuscular... in the bum. Thanks to the friend who helped me with this one). Although the Lupron shot was HUGE, it was pretty painless. The next day I had a friend drive me to the clinic in Rockville where SG does all of their retrievals, and got ready for surgery. The whole procedure took about 15 minutes under anesthesia, and I don't remember a thing. I woke up feeling a little uncomfortable, mostly crampy, but was able to take pain meds. I slept pretty much the whole day, taking my Vicodin as needed. Over the next few days my bump deflated, and I was back to my old self!


So much has happened since I stopped blogging about my experience as an egg donor. I thought I would use this opportunity to answer some of the questions that I've been asked over the last few months.
So... Did you donate?
Yes - I was chosen as a donor by 2 recipient couples, and successfully donated my eggs. I produced 14 eggs!
Why did you stop blogging?
To protect my anonymity, SG asked me to stop blogging once I was chosen as a donor. They were receiving a number of calls from people who had read some of my postings - some of who were actually requesting my eggs. Flattering, but not what I had expected to happen.
Will you donate again?
Short answer is YES, I would love to. The shots were no big deal, the pain was minimal after the procedure, and overall it was a good experience. However, I was not invited back on the donor database with Shady Grove... more on that later.
Did the couples get pregnant?
I have no idea - the donation was anonymous, and I might never find out that answer to that question. I am comfortable with never knowing what the result of my donation was.
What now?!
I am currently working with another fertility clinic, and I am officially back on the donor database with that clinic. I hope to donate at least one more time with them. Now that my donation is done and over with, and my relationship with SG has ended I've decided to start writing again about my experience (and continue on with any future donations). Stay Tuned!