Egg Donation

I am an egg donor, and here you'll find details of my donation cycles. Go to the beginning of the blog for day-by-day details of each cycle. Questions or Comments? Email

Thursday, September 30, 2004

6 Days Post Retrieval: Checkup

I went in to the fertility clinic today. Everything looks good. My ovaries are still pretty big, but they're behaving as they're supposed to. The yeast infection is also non-existent. I just have been getting paranoid when things feel the slightest bit weird down there.

So I continue on the birth control. This is basically it for the cycle. I will go in for a sonogram on the 3rd day of my period and that will start my 4th egg donation.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

5 Days Post Retrieval: Yeast Infection?

As I've mentioned, this is my third egg donation. I developed a yeast infection after both of the previous two. That confounded me until, on this cycle, I asked the doctor. I thought it might be because of the fertility drugs and fluctuating hormones, but it turns out you also get a big shot of antibiotics when they finish the actual egg retrieval. That makes sense and also explains the yeast doing their thing. I had a false alarm earlier this month, so I'm going to wait until my followup appointment tomorrow before I do anything about it.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

4 Days Post Retrieval

Half a week after I completed the egg donation cycle, things seem to be going pretty well. I've lost all but one pound of the water weight I gained, and the ovaries are a lot smaller. I can still feel them when I lift heavy things (like my 90 lb dog), but if I'm just moving or sitting I don't notice them.

I go in to the fertility clinic Monday for my followup. I'm really hoping to run a half marathon next weekend, so we'll see if I can talk them into it.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

2 Days Post Retrieval: About Hyperstimulation

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is one of those big fears of egg donors. It's very rare - my information says it happens only 1-5% of the time. Of those people who do develop it, it is much more common on the first time through the drugs than later times.

OHHS happens when you are *too* stimulated, and is basically just fluid buildup around the ovaries and (in moderate to severe cases) other places in the abdomen.

I was one of those people who developed OHHS on my first donation (it hasn't deterred me from doing 3 more). A couple days after the retrieval, I noticed that I had some pain when I laid in bed on my left side. The next day I had gained about 3 pounds and was having a little trouble breathing. If you've ever worn a corsett, you know the feeling. It's like you can't get a full breath in. That really is what's happening. Your ovaries are really big and they're surrounded by fluid that is taking up space where your lungs would expand.

That evening I called the doctor. He wasn't too worried, but told me to call if it got worse. That night I couldn't sleep on my right side or my back - I had to lay on my left side. Any other position created this sharp, stabbing pain. The following morning I had gained another 5 pounds. I went into the clinic that day for an ultrasound which showed me with mild OHSS.

Unfortunately, it got worse. After 2 more days I had gained a total of 17 pounds. That is nearly 2 GALLONS of extra fluid in my abdomen. My ultrasound at this point showed moderate OHSS with fluid up around my liver.

I was completely freaked out.

I couldn't breathe, none of my clothes fit me, and it hurt to move. I was now going into the clinic every day to be checked with ultrasound, weigh-ins, and measurements of my abdomen (I don't even want to report how many giant inches around I was). At one point I just started crying uncontrolably during an ultrasound because I felt like my body was rebelling against me and just maybe I might die. That was quite an overreaction, but I'm used to my body doing what I want it to.

There is no pill or shot they can give to fix this. The best advice is to eat protein and salt that will help draw out the fluid.They recommend V-8 which makes me gag, so I started mixing tablespoons of salt with gatorade, followed by a pure gatorade chaser. That is nasty. I became a salt monster, reading sodium content on nutrition labels, and obsessing for 3 days until I discovered the soy sauce. That stuff has MASSIVE amounts of sodium, so we went out to PF Changs. I had crispy tofu and rice with like half a bottle of soy sauce. The next morning I lost 3 pounds, and was going to the bathroom constantly. Over the next 3 or 4 days I lost all of the 17 pounds I had gained.

The clinic was amazingly supportive. Over the 2 weeks from retrieval to back-to-normal, I was in there almost every day. It was definitely scary, but even while it was happening I knew I would donate again. In a weird sort of way I thought of it as a mini medical adventure.

So, to sumarize: It probably won't happen. If it does happen, it will probably only happen your first time. And if it DOES happen, get some soy sauce. Kikoman is your friend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

1 Day Post Retrieval: Recovery

The ovaries are a bit sore today. This morning I was about 4 lbs heavier than usual, which is normal for me at this point. They pumped a lot of fluid into me yesterday and combined with the water retained, it accounts for those few pounds. I've been in the bathroom a lot today, getting rid of a lot of that fluid, and this is apparently quite normal. There is some discomfort, crampy type feeling when I move in a certain way, and when I stand up or sit down. I'm not really bothered by it, but I'm glad I got to just stay home and work today.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Retrieval Day

Today was the day!

My husband and I got up at 5:45 to get dressed and to the clinic by 7:00. I just went in my PJs, though, since comfort is important on this day.

We got there, settled into the prep room. I got into the ultra fashionable hospital gown, footies, and shower cap thing. The anesthesiologist came in, had a talk with me about allergies, and thoroughly explained the process. He started an IV and saline drip.

About 15 minutes later they brought me into the operating room. The setup is sort of like you would normally have for the sonogram. Your feet go into stirrups, but from the feet to the mid-thigh there is padded nylon fabric that wraps all the way around each leg and velcros into place. This keeps you from falling off or twitching.

They got me strapped in, put a nice warm blanket on me, and started the anesthetic. I went out right away, and woke up as soon as they finished. Apparently, I complained of some cramping before I was really awake (I don't remember this) and they gave me a little extra pain medication through the IV. I remember thinking that they hadn't started the retrieval yet and I was worried that I was awake. When they told me they finished I asked (like I always do) how many eggs they got. This time they retrieved 16, which is pretty good. The average is about 12.

They moved me over onto a recovery bed and into the recovery room where I got to sleep for a while. One of the nurses gave me a can of ginger ale. I don't usually drink ginger ale, but it's SO good after 8 hours of nothing to drink and a retrieval. After a little time, another person from the clinic came in and gave me the birth control pills that I have to start today and the payment for the retrieval.

I have to say that I always feel ridiculous taking a check after the procedure. As a poor student saving for a house, it comes in very handy. However, that is not at all why I do this, and if it suddenly happened that they did not pay for the egg retrieval, I would keep doing it without a moment's hesitation.

My husband drove me home and I slept in the car and for about 4 hours once I flopped into bed. When I woke up I felt pretty good. I ate a couple sandwiches - I was starving after not eating for like 14 hours. My ovaries were a little sore, but not really much worse than they've been for the last couple days. It wasn't bad enough to keep me down. I actually went to campus and met with some people this afternoon. I'm not sure that was the best idea. I felt really tired when I got home, and not quite up to being there today. I got home, made dinner, and have basically laid around on the couch all night. I'm looking forward to bed.

Some people have spotting after the retrieval. I've noticed a little blood when I use the bathroom, but haven't had any spotting. My ovaries are definitely sore now, but it's not bad. I haven't felt the need to even take ibuprofen or aspirin or anything today.

So that's pretty much it for this cycle. I go in next week for a follow-up sonogram and then get my schedule for the next cycle. I have already been picked for my 4th egg donation and that should happen around Thanksgiving time. No fear, though. There will be more posts here on hyperstimulation, and also on the post-retrieval recovery process.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Retrieval Eve

Today is the day before the retrieval. It's a nice break from the sonograms, shots, and blood work. My ovaries are huge, and a little sore. I'm looking forward to the retrieval tomorrow morning.

Here are some general things to know. There is standard surgery protocol to follow: no eating or drinking after midnight or in the morning. My doctor also says no ibuprofen until after the retrieval.

Tomorrow I'll focus on whe actual process you'll be awake for. But while you're asleep, the good stuff happens.

The Egg Donation Proecdure

Of course I don't remember all of this, but the basic process involves taking the sonogram transducer wand with a needle attachment. The wand is inserted like normal, and the needle is extended. It pierces the wall of your vagina, goes through the abdominal cavity (hopefully not hitting anything along the way), and then into the ovary. It then basically sucks up each egg. They do this on the right side and left side.

I, for one, am VERY glad I can't feel that.

I found this picture. It's a little fuzzy, but you can see the needle attached to the top of the transducer (taken from University of Iowa Healthcare Center).

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Last Shot: Triggering shot before retrieval

Today I went in for the same sonogram and blood work. My follicles are big enough and hormone levels right to trigger the retrieval. I found this sonogram picture at the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago which shows about how my ovaries look now. The black spots are follicles, and the one with the markings is mature.

This is the time sensitive part of the egg donation. This last shot - different from the ones over the past week - has to be taken *exactly* 35 hours before the retrieval. That means I will take mine tonight at precisely 8:30 and have the retrieval at 7:30 Tuesday morning.

Unlike the other shots, This one has caused me some discomfort on my last two retrievals. The injection site gets VERY sore, and I've found that I couldn't stand to have anything touching it for about 3 days. On the first cycle, where I had Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), it was sore for about a week, and bothered me almost as much as the other OHSS symptoms. When you take this shot, my advice is to put it somewhere that the waistband of your clothes won't touch it. That will save you some aggravation.

At this point, my ovaries are really big. I can feel them all the time, and when I go to the bathroom or move in a weird way, I can feel them readjusting themselves in there. This will last for a bit past the retrieval.

Overall, though, I'm excited. I really enjoy this part of the process. I'm an anonymous donor, so I never get to know anything about what happens with my eggs. However, I bring a congratulations card with me for my recipient family and write them a little note signed "Your Donor" at each retrieval. One of the people at the clinic keeps the card and gives it to them if they have a successful pregnancy. I feel so happy for the families who have kids this way, and the card makes me feel like I can share my enthusiasm at their success, even if I can't know about it.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Stimulating Shots: Day 8

My ovaries are quite big now. I feel them in there any time I move, and I can tell they're there even when I'm just sitting down. Today's sonogram and blood work were good, and it looks like tomorrow will be the last day. Tonight I will take another stimulating shot and tomorrow looks like it will be the day I take the big final shot. I've gained maybe 3 lbs of water weight, which is typical for me at this point.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Stimulating Shots: Day 7

Sonogram and bloodwork today were fine. I can definitely feel my ovaries now. It's sort of like moderate cramps, but not really painful. Whenever I move, though, I can feel them in there. Today starts the daily trips into the office until we are ready for retrieval.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Stimulating Shots: Day 5

I went in for my sonogram and blood work today. The shots are going fine (though I was pretty irritated trying to stick myself last night). Sonogram looked good, and the blood tests show that I should keep going with my same level of stimulating medication until the next check 2 days from now. Tonight's shot was easy and I really didn't feel it. I am starting to feel my ovaries a bit but only when I twist around a lot.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Stimulating Shots Day 2: Last great workout

My first stimulating shot was last night. This morning, I ran a half marathon - my last long run until after the egg retrieval. Like I wrote yesterday, the ovaries are going to start getting big and workouts will present the danger of the ovaries twisting. Tonight's shot was about the same as last night.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Stimulating Shots: Day 1

Stimulating shots start today. I find that doing these is a lot like a cooking segment on one of those awful morning shows. You need to get all of your equipment and ingredients together first.

I'm not sure if all clinics use the same procedure. My shot includes lupron and sterile water mixed with three vials of powdered drugs. That's a total of 5 vials plus 2 needles (a long one for mixing and a short one for injecting).

So here's my process. Get all 5 vials, remove the caps. Open the syringe (which comes with the short needle) and the long needle. Get two alcohol wipes and open one. Remove the small needle from the syringe and put it somewhere that it won't roll away. Put the long needle on the syringe. Wipe the lupron and the water vials with the alcohol. Draw up the lupron you need, and then the rest of the water (I do .05cc and .45cc respectively). With the three vials of powder, wipe the top and inject the liquid gently to prevent bubbles. Swish it just a little bit and then draw every tiny drop back up. The needles are cut at an angle, so if you spin the needle you can find the opening. I find it's easiest to put the needle all the way into the bottom, press this opening along the side, and tilt the vial so you can get all of the contents that way. Once you've got everything, set this vial aside and move to the next one.

After you've done all three vials, tap the syringe to get all the air up to the top, and push it out. There's no need to tap the air out in between vials because you're just going to inject it into the next vial, not into yourself. The amount of liquid in the syringe should exactly match how much you started with (.5cc in my case). If it's too low, that means you probably have a tiny bit left in one of the vials that started with powder. Go back and make sure you have it all. Once you're done, put on the short needle.

Use the second wipe to clean a spot to inject and inject it. I find that these shots are less comfortable than the lupron there's more there and the liquid itself burns a tiny bit for me. I find that for about 10 minutes after injecting the area around it itches and is a bit red, but that goes away quickly (unlike the final shot - more on that next week when I take it).

Now, you can clean up. Throw away all your vials, wipes, and sharps. I tend to just put everything in my sharps container because I don't like to leave it in the trash.

This is where your ovaries will start getting bigger. These drugs stimulate follicle production. After a few days, you'll start feeling them. It's not really uncomfortable, just like you know they're there.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Lupron Shots Day 10: Pre-stimulating Sonogram

Today, I went in for my sonogram and blood work that immediately preceed the stimulating drugs. I start those tomorrow. There will be a long post then about the far more complicated mixing process that goes along with it. This also starts the series of frequent trips to the fertility clinic for folicle counts and lots of blood tests.

Everything was fine today, though, and all is progressing normally.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Lupron Shots Day 8: A little disappointment

The lupron shots continue. A slight disappointment today, though. There's a half marathon in Philadelphia that I really want to run, but it's 3 days before my scheduled egg retrieval data. Exercising at that point is a big no-no because your swolen ovaries can twist and cause serious problems. So no half marathon for me. Oh, well. I have one planned for 3 weeks after the retrieval which should go fine.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Lupron Shots Day 7: Shots Continue

I realized that I never mentioned that once you start the Lupron shots, you will take one every day. I haven't been blogging the "I took the shot again" each day, but I have indeed been taking them. I find it's best to take them in the evening because the final important shot - the one you take a day and a half before the actual egg donation - will have to come in the evening.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Lupron Shots Day 4, Last Birth Control Pill

Today I took the last birth control pill of this cycle and continued with the Lupron shots. All is going fine, though I had a sort of irritating time sticking myself today. It took me a couple tries to find a good spot.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Lupron Shots: Day 1 (Birth Control Pills Day 18)

Tonight was my first shot of this egg donation cycle. From what I can tell from my own discussions with people, the one of the biggest deterrents to becoming an egg donor is having to administer shots.

In reality, the needles are very small, and it's not bad at all. These shots are FAR less painful than having a blood draw. Some people believe that you should pinch around your stomach and then stick yourself there. My husband is a paramedic and he gave me a shot once. He stuck that thing in me like a dart and it HURT. I find that after you draw up the contents, just start by pushing the needle slowly against your skin. If it's in a good spot, it won't hurt at all. The needle will just go in, and then you administer the shot. If it starts to hurt, you can just reposition the shot and try again. During my first donation, I had a lot of sore places from shots until I figured out this method.

Other than that, there's not much to it. It sometimes get itchy for a few minutes after the injection, and sometimes the spot is a bit sore, but it's not bad.

Lupron is a hormone suppressant, so you won't see any weight gain or swelling of the ovaries while you're on these shots alone. That means you can keep exercising and doing things like normal. Once you start stimulants, things get trickier. I'm marathon training during this cycle, so I'll post more about exercise and shots when I get to that point.

You will take these shots every day now until 2 days prior to the retrieval (about 20 days from now)