Diary of an egg donor - 23 Tiny Chromosomes
23 TINY CHROMOSONES:
THE JOURNEY OF AN OOCYTE DONOR.
*A JOURNEY BEGINS – 28TH MAY 2015
So... this is the start of a new journey - for me and for someone else out there that will be tied to me and my family through the tiny thread of DNA for the rest of... my life, eternity... wow.
I should probably start at the beginning. I am a 34 year old Nurse/Paramedic, married for almost 11 years with two kids, a boy and a girl, a beagle, a cat and a goldfish. One day while working in the ED I had a conversation with a colleague that would set this course of my life in motion. My colleague had found out she would need an egg donor to help create the tiny life her and her husband so desperately wanted. I was floored by this very brave thing she was going to do and decided almost instantly that it was something I would like to do for someone else one day.
When I was 24 I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis - while I was glad to have someone confirm that my pain was real and there was a cause, it was to become a nightmare of multiple surgeries - 5 in total now (including a hysterectomy) and two C-sections - makes 7 abdominal surgeries in 10 years. Thankfully we were blessed with two gorgeous, crazy little monsters.
After having my kids I was thinking again about donating when a friend of a friend popped into my radar and by coincidence needed a donor. The first cycle was not a huge success so we halted early and tried again. After the second cycle we ended up with 7 frozen embryos. This was 3 years ago.
This time is a little different. I am going forward with IVF and egg donation and it will not be a personal donation. I met with the clinic Dr and nurse today and the nurse asked me if I would consider keeping a diary that they can use as a tool to help other women considering donation and I thought it was a great idea. I will be linking this to facebook as I want as much exposure as possible. I don't want to do this so people can tell me how amazing I am (my husband is there for that) I want to generate conversation... good and bad.
I am sure most of you reading this will not have thought much about egg donation - some of you may not know anything about it or even that it is a "thing." It is certainly not for everyone and is a very personal thing. I am aware that this child or children will be half mine. I am aware that this child or children will be my children's half brother/sister. I am aware that the branches of my family tree will be forever entwined with those branches of this other family. I am aware also... that I am offering hope.
So, here I am, sitting in front of the fire typing my first blog - I have always wanted to write a blog but didn't have anything that I thought people would be interested in reading. So, the first question was what is the title... probably the hardest question they could ask - I don't know and everything I came up with - apparently someone else came up with first! I have finally settled on a title, called all the people that I needed to call and tell personally before they read it on facebook and started with this. In the next few days I will endeavor to bring you all up to speed with where we are at in the process so far... this is simply an entree and the start of my next journey.
UP UNTIL NOW 28th MAY 2015
Wow, I am really surprised by all the positive comments I have had on facebook and even more so from those of you who have reached out to me privately to tell me about your own experiences. You know who you are and you have touched me deeply.
Last night before I wrote my first blog I called my dad. He was the hardest to tell. When I first brought up the idea of donating - years ago - he was quite opinionated about it. He was concerned for my wellbeing and for any future concerns regarding the legality of giving up your DNA. He was aware of the last donation but he knew the couple to whom I was donating and that changed things significantly. We never talked about it but he was supportive in his quiet non-argumentative way. He started off almost argumentative last night enquiring as to whether it was the best thing to do with regards to my own health but cut himself short and told me that if it was what I really wanted that he hoped it went well.
The one person I wish I could talk to is my mum. She died over 6 years ago from metastatic breast cancer - I know she is around and I know she knows what is going on and deep down I know she would be proud of me (I think) but it's not the same as sitting down over coffee and talking about it.
My husband is awesome - last time round he made it clear it was my body and my choice. He is very supportive, joining me at counselling sessions and helping me psych myself up when I had to give myself my first injection - although I think he secretly wanted me to wimp out so he could stab me! I have asked him to think about it from our children's points of view in case I am missing something about the way they might view things.
So... up until now I have had a set of blood tests and started my "stand down" time. They took about 5 vials of blood - pretty much a general warrant of fitness and testing for blood borne illness, hepatitis, HIV etc. Then you are put on stand down for 3 months. This is to allow time to repeat the blood tests and confirm negative status for blood borne illness. This time I don't need to be stood down for 3 months super strictly as they have semi recent tests from the last donation. So I have had the blood tests, filled in a health declaration and a donor profile - which is a bit like doing an interview for a job but on paper - what's my personality, what do I do for a job/previous jobs, what do I do for fun. The hardest part was when it came to questions about mum - what colour were her eyes... I just can't remember...
Yesterday I saw the Dr who had a casual chat about my health since the last round and what we might do differently this time. For example the trigger injection that you give 36 hours pre collection made me sick as a dog last time. Nauseated, vomiting and aching - I felt like I was 8 months pregnant and then found out it was Beta HCG the pregnancy hormone that was in the trigger (no wonder I felt terrible the whole way through both pregnancies!). This time round they have a better, safer trigger that won't make me feel like that - so bonus - no vomiting at work this time!
Then I spoke with the nurse who asked me about who I might or might not like to donate to... this is hard. I have to decide who is and who is not "worthy of my donation?" I get that they are my eggs and I get to decide but HOW do I decide?? Do I care if they are Catholic or Muslim? Do I care if they are 49? Do I care if they already have a child and this is an attempt for a second one? What if they need sperm donation and a surrogate too? What if they are an interracial couple? What if this is a second marriage? What if they aren't married?
It is really hard to think through all the potential options/combinations and what is and is not important to me. I feel a little bit like I am on the bachelorette... who is going to get the rose and who isn't? Luckily it's not like that - I get given a profile to view that they think will be a match (the recipient is not made aware there is a donor looking at their profile) if I like them I say yes and then they get to see my profile - I don't know much about Tinder but typing this makes me feel like the process is a little more "Tinder" than "Bacherlorette." At this stage I am churning through all potential possibilities and trying to work out if there are any deal breakers. In the meantime I have asked the nurse to try to choose the profile of a recipient that is likely to struggle to find a donor and then I can work backwards.
I believe that nature is only part of the equation and nurture plays a huge part. "I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are" (unknown).
I believe I am only providing one ingredient for the cake... If the donor took my eggs home in a tupperware they would not end up with a baby - it takes a hell of a lot more than just my 23 tiny chromosones...
GO WITH YOUR GUT 23RD JUNE 2015
Yesterday I spent some time driving around with the boss. I casually mentioned to him that I was doing this thing to which he had one question - why would you do this for someone you don't know?
This morning the hubby and I met with the fertility counselor - a mandatory part of the process and she opened with the same question. I had some time to think about it between my boss asking and the counselor asking - but I still struggled to find the words. Now, if you know me at all this would likely surprise you - I never struggle to find words, they are my thing - the challenge is trying to shut me up!
The answer I gave my boss was "because not everyone has a friend that will do it for them." I also think that it is probably easier if the person is not a super close friend. As pointed out to us by the counselor - at some point we are all going to be in the room together and the awkward truth will be that I created a child with another man who just happens to be married to my good friend... this reality could change a friendship and it would be a shame to lose something special.
So, I am going on to forge a unique friendship/relationship/thing with someone I don't know currently. There is no denying there will be a very special bond but at least if it gets a little weird it will be possible to take some distance without feeling like I am abandoning a good friend.
I had one question for the counselor - "How do I choose someone?" In my career I am constantly making a concerted effort to NOT judge people - it is not my right to judge and in fact it makes my job easier if I can keep judgement out of the picture, especially if my patient did something stupid! (Oh did it again). I know it is my gift, my eggs, my DNA - but a very small voice says who are you on your high horse to judge that person, to determine if they are good enough? have been through enough? want it enough? The answer from the counselor was "Go with your gut." Read the profile - if instinctively straight off the mark something doesn't sit right - say no. If it all feels good instinctively say yes. Don't over think it - don't try to convince yourself - go with your gut.
So I have in my hand a profile. Hubby has seen it - and he seems real positive. I haven't looked at it yet. My dad always taught me not to go with the first thing you see - survey your options and make the best choice - that is the way I have tried to live my life but it doesn't really work in this situation.
If I say no - the recipient is none the wiser and I get another profile to look at. If I say yes - the donor gets a phone call tomorrow to say that they have found a donor and they get to see my profile and decide if in fact they want me to be their donor. That is another thing... what if they don't like me - I have some medical history that may not appeal - the endometriosis, my mother's breast cancer and my post natal depression. How do they decide if my genetics - my 23 tiny chromosones are good enough? How do you make the best decision and advocate for a child that you are yet to create?
I am off to read my profile and follow my gut... it blows my mind that somewhere in NZ there is a couple who are going about life at the moment with no idea that maybe tomorrow they will get the call they have been waiting for... or not...
THE DECISION 25TH JUNE 2015
So.... we said yes. I knew as soon as I was part way through the first page of non-identifying profile that I wanted to say yes. On paper this lady seemed a lot like me and because we are donating to a couple there was info about the future dad too. I wanted to say yes before I had finished reading but I finished and then read it again. I asked hubby about specific points - were they an issue - in any possible light or way of looking at them - were they an issue...? No. Nothing at all and now I can't wait to meet them.
It was my intention to call the clinic as soon as it opened yesterday, but a busy 6am to 6pm road ambulance shift pushed it completely out of my mind and as I drove home it suddenly resurfaced and I was really annoyed at myself. There was nothing I could do about it until the morning. In the fast paced internet society we live in I could book flights (a whole holiday in fact) order groceries, pay bills and sort emails all on the spot - but this had to wait until the morning. I didn't want the couple to wait. It feels like they have been waiting too long... despite the fact that they didn't know they were waiting for my answer I didn't want them to have to wait.
So this morning between skype interviews and meetings I dashed out and left a message on the nurses line at the clinic hoping that someone would clear the message today and that this couple would get the message that we choose them.
And I don't even know her name.
Luckily the message was cleared and I got a phone call from the clinic to say thank you and that they would get my profile on Monday... but that wasn't quite soon enough for me. I couldn't bear the thought of them having another weekend without knowing so I managed to convince the lovely nurse to call tonight, just to let them know.
I wonder if they know yet and I wonder how it must feel. It must be a little exciting but also nerve wracking. Now they have to decide if they like me. Three sheets of non identifying typed A4 sheets of paper. My height, weight, eye colour, hair colour. The things I like, the things I love, the things I have achieved and what I hope to achieve.
My mum was into genealogy and her work has passed to me as I was the one in the family with the most interest. I have realised that I don't know how or if I even enter this on the family tree - I know how to enter a stillbirth, a miscarriage and an adoption. I know how to record a birth, death and a marriage - a divorce and a second marriage. Do I document a child who is not a part of my family but still a part of me? Does it become a foot note? And will they want me on their family tree? Do I want to be on their family tree?
I am thinking about this woman a lot... What is her name? What does she look like - we have similar characteristics but does she look like me?
I can't wait to meet her - if they choose me.
WE HAVE A MATCH – 6TH JULY 2015
I am sorry to leave you all hanging but life got in the way a little this last week. Just over a week ago my recipient and her partner said yes. They have chosen to accept my offer, my 23 tiny chromosones. Now sh*t gets real!
I have a million little things to do - swabs and blood tests and another health declaration. Hubby has to do bloods as well. We have an appointment to meet the recipient couple at a combined counselling session and I am so looking forward to it. We get an hour - but that doesn't really seem like very long to get to know someone and I am thinking of semi clearing my schedule that day so that if they want we can maybe go and get a coffee afterwards and continue chatting.
I am interested to know about how you get to the point of choosing to go ahead with an egg donor. It is a reflection of the immense desire to have a family I think. I never really had that maternal desire, if I had been with someone who didn't want kids I don't think that would have worked for me but I was never "champing at the bit" to do so... We didn't get to choose when to try and get pregnant - that decision was taken away from us by my endometriosis and a surgeon who said if it's going to happen it has to be now... both times. In hindsight this was probably a good thing as I am not sure I would have ever felt that the time was right. In saying that - I love my kids... not in the rainbows and glitter and happy kittens kind of way but more of a "I love you but you are driving me insane - mummy needs a wine" kind of way.
My recipient has access to my blog which kind of puts us in a bit of a unique situation - most of the time the only contact pre meeting would be the non identifying profile from the clinic. I think it is good - I hope that it helps for her to get to know me a little better and if she is reading I want to say "Hi." I want to tell her not to worry about the blog - that I have no desire to identify her or make this about her or her partner and their journey.
Mostly, I just want to say thank you - thank you for being brave enough, to love the idea of your family enough, to give this a go - I am only providing you with some of the ingredients to help make the cake - a cup of sugar if you will - you will have to provide the love and the care.
Thank you for being brave enough to put all your hopes and dreams on the line.
Thank you for choosing me to help you - I cannot wait to meet you.
I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE GIVING HERE – 29TH JULY 2015
Sorry, it's been a long while since an update and you have all been waiting patiently - some of you less patiently than others! In truth nothing exciting has been happening - life as usual but nothing eggy related at all, until today.
First I want to start with yesterday - I finally got to catch up with my best friend face to face for the first time in ages! Now this best friend is a little more like a sister than a friend... brutally honest, drives me insane at times (not often and I am sure that I do the same) but I love her to bits! We talked about the donation stuff and she asked me the tough questions. We talked about my medical history and some of the nitty gritty stuff... but it was her analogy that was perfect. I am giving the nails to a couple to build a house. Not all the nails are perfect, some won't be perfectly straight, some bigger than others etc etc. I don't help with the design of the house or choose the location - although the type of nails will have some impact on the limitations of the house, I don't help with the build of the house either. I do my part and then it's up to the people building the house - in this case I want to refer to them as Mum and Dad (not my mum and dad - but a title that they hope to have one day) because that is really the whole point.
So today hubby and I sat in the waiting room at the fertility clinic and.... waited. There was one other couple in the waiting room and I wondered - is that them? I was self conscious and acutely aware of everything I did and said wondering if how I was being would make them not like me. As we went to the counselling room I asked hubby in whispered tones if maybe it was them... his answer was to the point - "no... he had too much hair, the profile said he was going bald." Good point.
We chatted with the counselor - was there anything we weren't prepared to discuss, was there anything we really wanted to know about the recipients and I say recipients now because the gift is very much to the couple - not just the mum to be... Then she went out to get the recipients, and we waited. It was weird. I felt like I was on a blind date - nervous, hoping to make a good impression. For the first time, at the age of 34 I am on a blind date and my husband is sitting next to me... weird!!! Would she look like me, would she like me, would I be what she wanted me to be?
They were lovely - very much like us. We stood up and did the handshake - joking about the infamous John Key awkward 3 way handshake - I wanted to hug her, but wasn't sure if she was a hugger - so settled for a handshake. She admitted she felt like she was on a blind date too and even wondered about what she should wear. It tore a little at my heart that it matters so much to them that the wrong outfit might make me say no. We talked about hope - about how I realise that they really can't afford to allow hope to creep in until pretty much they have their little bundle safely delivered whole and healthy into their arms. We talked about family, we talked about children - our little monsters and their nieces and nephews, siblings and parents. We talked about work and we talked about food. We talked about contact between us in the future and agreed that we would navigate this as we go. That we can't really predict how we might feel as the months and years go on and that open, honest communication that came from a place of wanting that contact rather than feeling like we owed each other anything was best.
We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and finished... with a hug. I like them. I like her. She is like me in so many ways. I am totally invested now and feel so strongly that this is the right thing to do.
But about the title of this post. Tonight, while curled up with my little man - in his snuggly superman pj's in front of the fire reading "The Lorax" (a personal favourite) I had a moment where it was crystal clear that I am getting something so precious from this experience too. I am able to see the blessings that I have in MY life, MY little man and MY little princess. I don't see them as a blessing often - life is often very busy and hard and my life view is often slightly clouded by post natal depression. I am not a bad mum or an uncaring mum, I am probably completely normal...
...but today I had a moment of clarity where I realised my blessings for what they are - thank you "mum and dad" for this gift for that is what it truly is.
I’M ON THE PILL – 12TH AUGUST 2015
So the last week I have been pretty busy! My little man started school yesterday - I now have both kids at school - yay! One drop off in the morning and one pick up and while the first day wasn't super emotional for me - he has been at daycare pretty much full time from the age of 4 months - it was a little strange. It is the end of an era, the end of daycare (8 years of the most amazing daycare and early childhood education you could want) the start of a new chapter and a big routine change for all of us.
Ok - it was a little emotional - my little man is growing up. I couldn't wait for Charlotte to grow up, she was so ready, and so is my little man, but I feel a bit like I am missing my little boy who somehow seems more grown up overnight. Hubby and I "reminisced" the other night about what we were up to five years earlier and in retrospect it was a much harder time that I realised and that I really wasn't in a good place mentally by the time he arrived into the world and for the first few months. I didn't realise it at the time but I was pretty traumatised and in the grip of a horrible depression. Thankfully I got better, and despite the depression I dearly love my little monkeys - both of them.
It made me think about this journey I am on at the moment - maybe in 6 years or so my new "friends" will be standing in a schoolyard watching their little person hang their bag on the peg, kiss them on the cheek and tell them "see you later mum, you can go to work now." It hit me that the end point hopefully is not just a baby, but a child, a teenager (god forbid) birthdays, Christmas days, family holidays and road trips and then potentially grandchildren. This gift is the gift of life - not just one but maybe a continuing family tree-full and after having met my lovely recipient and her partner I can see that family is so so important to them. They are surrounded by family and it will be awesome to see them complete the picture with their own family.
So, I am on the pill. I had a blood test this morning to figure out where my hormones where at. It's a bit of a gamble otherwise as I don't have periods having had a hysterectomy. My understanding of the science is that I am now in a hormonal holding pattern - going round and round above the airport while we wait to figure out when the best time to land the plane is... I have a few dates to work around with work but I am keen to get on as soon as possible. Once we have the dates sorted in the next few days things will start to get a little more interesting.
In the meantime, I am hoping for lots of eggs, lots of embryos, a successful implantation and a pregnancy that is like a dream - as smooth as silk. A quick, safe labour, a beautiful baby that sleeps through the night from 6 weeks old, kids movies and cuddles, stories tucked up in bed, 5 years that don't pass too quickly and birthdays with cake like the superhero one we had last night and a first day of school in which happy happy tears are shed.
Most of all I hope for life and for love for what is the point of all this without life and love.
WE HAVE DATES – 24TH AUGUST 2015
So.... I am a bit slack with this whole blogging thing - but time has really crept up on me. And yes - I am typing this on my lunch break! I got a call from the clinic on Thursday - 6 days ago (I know... sorry for the delay). We have a start date of the 16th September - which means I start my hormone injections on the 16th September. That is the evening injection - and then on the 20th I start the morning injection - yes this time I have to give two injections a day! Morning and night...
Luckily I have had 2 c-sections in the past and the surgical scar has some numb areas around it where the nerves were damages - so bonus for me - if I get the spot right I don't feel the jab!
The first scan will be on the 23rd - this will tell us how many follicles are developing and how many eggs we are likely to get - so a measure of how successful the treatment appears to be going.
At this stage the collection is due the week of the 28th September.
I met with my recipient for coffee over the weekend - we wanted to catch up without the formality of the clinic and without the rush of a weekday appointment. I wasn't sure how it was going to be - again it felt a little like a blind date. What were we going to talk about and would we have anything in common to talk about apart from the obvious elephant in the room. It was great. The food was great. The chai latte was great. And the company was really great. We had no trouble chatting and had to check our watches and say goodbye or we would have still been there hours later I think. We talked about food and baking. We talked about hormones and hubbys about nieces and nephews and we talked about her journey so far. We talked a little about how she may be pregnant by the end of October and how that was such a bitter sweet thought. About how when something is so close in reach it can actually feel so freaken far away. I was acutely aware of all the children that were in the cafe with us and wondered if she was aware too.
Lastly we talked about pasta. Her partner - who is not "good at buying flowers" sensed she was not having a great time of it at the moment and she came home to a shiny new pasta machine. We laughed about how excited one can get about a new "toy" and I am wondering as I type how her first batch of pasta and the mushroom ragout turned out.
I AM READY – 15TH SEPTEMBER 2015
Sorry it has been ages since I last posted but literally nothing (egg related at least) has been happening! Last week I dropped into the clinic and picked up my drugs - had my little demo on how to jab myself then demonstrated to the nurse how to do it. It is really no big deal to me - I stick sharp pointy things in people all the time and I have done it to myself before but it occurred to me how much of a big deal it is to "normal people" out there and again is testimony to what people will lay on the line in order to have the family they are dreaming about.
My nephew got Osteomyelitis in his femur (aka an infection in his thigh bone) a while back and my sister rang me in tears telling me that they were going to have to learn to give Intravenous antibiotics to him at home. Now my sister is not an idiot (and that is the one and only time I am ever going to say that out loud!) she is a registered physiotherapist - medical stuff is not mysterious to her - but getting her head around this new and scary skill was beyond her. I told her not to worry and that it wasn't as hard as she thought it was going to be and that it wasn't a hard skill to learn and in no time at all they were doing it pretty much in their sleep. It was a reality check to me that something so mundane and simple is actually a huge deal to people who don't do this stuff all the time.
I have been taking my contraceptive pill for a month now and I stopped on Monday, I am still taking my elevit (pregnancy vitamins) every day mostly for the folic acid in it. I want heaps of eggs but I want to ensure quality control - I run a tight ship around here!
So tonight I start the nightly hormone injections - it is a tiny needle in a pen syringe not unlike insulin pens for those in the know and the needle is very small - it is designed to deliver the hormone into the subcutaneous (or fatty - and yes I have plenty of that) tissue just under the skin in my tummy so it's only about 1cm long. In a few days time I will start the second set of subcutaneous injections in the morning and yes I will have to jab myself twice a day for a bit.
The way I understand it is that I have heaps of immature eggs just hanging around in my ovaries - waiting waiting waiting. Once a month hormones stimulate an egg to mature and then during ovulation this is released into the fallopian tubes in the hope of meeting a prince charming sperm on a white horse. When that doesn't happen I have a period and the process starts again. Given that I have no uterus or fallopian tubes they just kinda get released into my abdomen - no chance of meeting prince charming sperm thank you very much!! (and obviously no period). The hormone injections will enhance this process - last time round I was able to "grow" about 16 eggs that were then removed. It doesn't seem like a big deal but essentially in order to be big enough to be considered maturing appropriately means they have to be at least 1.5cm..... so imagine how massive my ovaries must have been!
I have my first blood test and scan on the morning of the 23rd to see how things are progressing - they should be able to see some eggs forming and get a feel for how successful the treatment is going to be.
Tonight I have my first injection - I remember standing in the kitchen last time - scared... nervous... struggling to find the bravery to jab myself. It seems silly now - all that my recipient mum has been through and to be honest it is not your typical story - it has been pretty much hell for her and for her partner - who has to watch from the sidelines feeling no doubt very helpless!
Right now I am not afraid, I am not nervous, strangely I can't wait - I feel like I have been waiting for weeks - with my dates on the fridge waiting to start.
I am ready to start.
I am ready.
ON THE HORMONES AND THE FIRST SCAN – 22ND SEPTEMBER 2015
So, I have been on the hormones for 7 days now and I could feel the effect of them after about 12 hours. I was going to post about the effects of the hormones earlier in the week - but I know that my recipient reads the blog and I really didn't want her to feel bad for me. In fact, I don't want any of you to feel bad for me because I had my first scan and bloods today and that makes up for everything. Anyway this is supposed to be an informative blog so I will tell it like it is... for me anyway.
It is important to remember that I have endometriosis which long story short means that I generally have some degree of abdominal pain or discomfort every day. This is something that I have come to live with - a little reminder of my struggle in life - everyone has theirs - this is one of mine. I like to think that it has made me stronger, more resilient. Essentially it is like having inflamed insides permanently and the other thing it has left me with is scar tissue - which when inside the body is called adhesions - thick sticky scars that cause various bits of tissue that come into contact with each other to stick together. The adhesions are live vines that wrap themselves around the various tissues and organs in my abdomen. So it is no surprise that when you whack me full of hormones that cause my ovaries to swell and grow and produce loads of follicles with eggs maturing in them that I experience a bit more pain. To add to that I was involved in clinical teaching on Thursday and Friday - think very physical/active, playing the role of the patient and being strapped onto stretchers, being poked and prodded, laying on floor and carried around the place by newbies. By Friday afternoon I was unable to concentrate at the computer, I hobbled home, got into my pjs, put a wheat bag on my back and took up residence on the couch. I have been feeling a bit better since then - the pain hasn't been so bad but my tummy is now dotted with bruises, I have terrible reflux and I am so bloated I have had to go back to my "fat pants" for work. I am tired most of the time and I just generally don't feel like myself. It's safe to say that I am pretty sensitive to small changes in my body, I was aware I was pregnant in the past before tests would pick it up, I didn't feel in control during my pregnancy as my body was kinda doing it's own thing and this is definitely how I feel now.
But I am OK.
I keep remembering the big picture and I keep remembering that this is so, so temporary, that the pain and the bloating is awesome and that it is awesome that we as a species has figured out how to even do this.
I got to visit a friend from work who had her baby a couple of weeks ago - it was really nice. I have said several times that I am not very maternal and it definately didn't make me want more - but it did make me think of my recipient and of just how special life is and that when I held my babies for the first time it was just an unreal feeling.
Today I had my first set of bloods and scan. This is important because it is the first indicator of how things are going. I sat in the waiting room thinking how weird it is. We all go to the doctor and sit in the waiting room with other people wondering what is wrong with them. This is a specialist clinic and everyone there is having trouble getting pregnant. It is a sad waiting room - everyone is quiet with sad eyes and there are generally no smiles. It makes me sad and it makes me wonder about their stories. I wonder if they too are wondering about me and I feel a little like a fraud - there is no issue with me, I was one of the lucky ones.
The Dr quickly found my right ovary and was able to identify 5 follicles all with "really good size." My left ovary however was playing hide and go seek - this is the side that has been the most painful and also the ovary that was sutured into the middle of "no mans land" in my abdomen so it couldn't get stuck to anything with the sticky adhesions that formed as I was healing. She tried and tried but no luck - so we have no idea of total numbers of eggs or how my left ovary is doing - but the bloods and the number and size of the follicles on the right side all indicate that this is going to be a successful IVF cycle.
I have the next scan in two days time on Saturday - more to follow then - we are definitely on countdown now...
D DAY WE HAVE A DATE – 25TH SEPTEMBER 2015
It is a gorgeous day today - there are no clouds in the sky and the sun has some real warmth in it. Spring is on the way. The fresias and daffodils are flowering and the spring lambs are bounding around at Cornwall park. It feels like the weight of winter is lifted and the hope of summer is in the air. Spring - the earth comes alive with the promise of better, warmer days and new life.
I had my second scan today... Left ovary is still in stealth mode but we were able to see a few follicles there. On my Right ovary the follicles continue to grow - which is awesome news - my first cycle last time was stopped early because there were not enough follicles continuing to grow. We found 10 today and they think there are more because my stealthy left ovary just gave us a wee peak. More importantly the 10 are really good sizes - most around the 14mm - 16mm mark with a couple of 18mm and one monster at 21mm. They need to be about 15mm before they can be collected. So... I have one more day of ovarian stimulation with the hormone injections then I will give myself the trigger injection which prepares the eggs for release (in the real world) or collection. Tomorrow the clinic will call me with the time to give the trigger - exactly 36 hours before the collection - this is calculated based on pretty much when they can schedule an anaesthetist to knock me out for the collection. Generally you don't get completely knocked out but because I can't have the opiates they would use to partially sedate and provide pain relief I need a bit more sedation - so sleepy time for me.
Tuesday (today is Saturday) is going to be the day of collection. Sometime between 0800 and 1300 my part in this will be done. The eggs will be collected and allowed to rest before they are fertilised with "dad to be's" contribution. Then they will be allowed to grow. Quietly the cells will divide and the growth will be watched and documented. The "embryos" as they will now be called that grow and divide at the appropriate rate will then be frozen where they will wait until "mum to be" is ready to go. Maybe by this time next year there will be a very special baby in the arms of a very special mum and dad brave enough to take this step to have the family they have wanted so very much.
I am starting to feel a little better. I have accepted that fat pants and trackies make me feel much better and i am rolling with it. I am giving into the chocolate cravings sometimes (ok - most of the time) and consequently I feel better - and yes - I can lose any weight I put on later no worries. I am still sore and the bruises add to the tummy discomfort but I am not running any more and that helps - that was by far the most uncomfortable. The thing I feel the most is exhaustion - I am getting about 10 hours in bed at night - not great sleep but not awful sleep either. It is the kind of exhaustion that comes with being pregnant in the first few weeks when your body is working away, often secretly, using energy round the clock and leaving you with no energy at all. I feel like that. I also feel a little quiet and withdrawn - a turning inwards - which again anyone that knows me will be surprised at! This again is a feeling I have only ever had during pregnancy, in those last few days when again, the body is getting ready for something huge.
I am glad I am not pregnant and I am glad I am not about to give birth and I am glad that I have chosen to do this. It makes me feel like there is so much more to life than the things which sometimes are so big they overwhelm us.
C DAY – 29TH SEPTEMBER 2015
Yesterday was my egg collection. We were scheduled for egg collection at 930 am and had to be at the clinic at 9 am. I had given myself the trigger injection 36 hrs prior to the scheduled collection time and had been started for 6 hrs prior to the collection.
After dropping the kids off at school holiday programme and battling the traffic we made it to the clinic where we were met by the embryologist, the fertility specialist (who does the collection) and his nurse and the theatre co-ordinator. My recipient had organised a bunch of flowers to be delivered into the room that I would be prepped and then recover in which was such an unexpected and lovely surprise. Some consent signing, getting changed into gowns and a blood pressure check - all fairly routine. Then we went into theatre. I was given a touch of propofol (sleepy time drug) and the next thing I know it is 30 minutes later and all over. The procedure is normally done with some morphine for pain and a little sedation, a needle (along with the ultrasound probe) is inserted through the vaginal wall into the abdomen and then suction is used to remove the follicles from the ovary one by one. They pass along a little tube and into an adjacent room where the embryologist is sorting them out and counting them out loud. We got 14 yesterday which is a pretty good haul!
The eggs are allowed to rest for a couple of hours and then fertilised with the father to be's contribution. Once they are fertilised they are no longer mine and I have no say with what happens to them - they belong to the mum and dad to be - and only the mum and dad to be. Then they are watched. The progress is watched and documented for the first few days. We will lose some eggs/embryos at each step. Some of those collected will be too small, too big or of lower quality. Some will not survive fertilisation and some will not divide at the rate that they should as healthy embryos. Once the process is complete the embryos that are dividing correctly will then be frozen, waiting for the mum to be to be ready to have a transfer. I heard from my recipient on Monday - she has had a scan and her endometrium (the lining of the uterus) is looking good and thick - almost ready for embryo transfer and they will potentially look at doing this as early as next week. One little embryo is not going to be frozen for very long!
As for me - I had a wee snooze in recovery along with some toast and a cup of tea, then went and had a previously scheduled and long overdue lunch with my bestie (hubby came along because I was not to be left alone or drive for 24 hours) then home to put my feet up and rest on the couch for the rest of the day. Today I am a little uncomfortable but the exhaustion is better and I am looking forward to getting back to the gym next week. In the next few days I will have an update on the number of eggs that were able to be fertilised and how many were frozen as embryos.
A SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT START – 9TH NOVEMBER 2015
Today I got a phone call and it was good news.
My recipient mum to be had a blood test today - 10 days after one little embryo was transferred.... and she is pregnant. I have been waiting for the news today for 10 days - yet somehow for a moment I forgot about the news I was waiting for and her call took me by surprise. For a second I thought she was calling rather than texting me because it was bad news. Sad news. But no, it was good news, the best news you could hope for. Still, in a way this is bitter sweet. I can appreciate that the hope that comes with the news is a bitter pill to swallow as hope will give way to worry and I am sure mum and dad to be will not be able to rest easy until their precious bundle is safe in their arms.
Still, maybe just for tonight - until the next piece of good news comes I hope they can find a quiet moment of joy, knowing that ever so quietly a small life is beginning to knit itself together in what really is a miracle.