If you are an avid reader of Haute in Texas, you may remember several months back I handed over the mic to my sister, Kelsey, to let her tell you the story of her egg donation process. I wanted to give her the stage once more to describe for you all what’s it’s been like since then, and how she’s handling it emotionally, spiritually, the whole bit. I am so proud of her for bravely sharing her story, and I think you all will agree.
I’ve been fortunate to be called a lot of things in my life…
I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a wife but one of the most precious and meaningful titles I’ll ever have is Egg Donor.
A year ago I didn’t even know what being an egg donor entailed and as of two short weeks ago I completed my second egg donation cycle to two amazing parents in Michigan. Some of you may have read my first post that I wrote prior to even starting my first egg donation. I wrote that blog post when I was just weeks away from starting the roller coaster ride of egg donation. I was a willing volunteer, but I was scared and apprehensive. I had no idea what was in store for me…
Once the months of preliminary medical processes were complete I was cleared to begin my egg donation cycle and that started with daily shots. My husband, who I should refer to as Saint Jeff, loaded up a syringe each night while I iced my leg to numb it. Once the shot was loaded he would find a funny YouTube video for me to watch while he gave me these devil shots. He did that every. single. night. for 15 days straight. I would lay on the floor laughing stupidly until the pain started. I had been warned about the reaction I would have from the shot he gave me but it still felt like a shock every time. Every injection was in my thigh and as soon as he starting injecting the medication it would feel like my thigh was starting to catch on fire. The burning would continue for about 15 minutes afterwards and the skin around the injection site resembled a bee sting with a red swollen center and red splotches all around. Each of those shots left a bruise the size of a quarter on my thigh and I was as spotted as a leopard by the time we were done.
Those nights weren’t fun for me but they were quite possibly worse for Jeff. Not only did he have to inflict that pain on me in the first place but he had to wipe the tears from my face when it was done. We were about 6 days into the shots before I had my first mental breakdown. I just didn’t want to do another shot and Jeff didn’t want to give me another one. I cried on my living room floor and told Jeff that I felt like I had an obligation to the parents that I never met, that they were my partner in all of this. I didn’t want to let them down but I would have turned back 5 days ago if it had been up to me. That was as close as I came to breaking but I came out of it with a renewed sense of conviction. The intended mother had been through months of hormone treatments and shots and if she could do it, I could it. And she needed me.
As the days went on my belly became more and more swollen as my ovaries started to mature lots of eggs. I was required to see my doctor every other day at this point to do an ultrasound and blood work to make sure I was safe. Constant monitoring determined I was finally ready! I had been so overwhelmed by all of the shots and the constant doctors’ visits I had practically forgotten there was a surgery waiting for me at the end. If I’m being honest, I was very excited that surgery meant I was finally done. I didn’t want to see another needle for as long as I lived.
For the egg retrieval surgery I was under heavy anesthesia. During surgery the doctor uses a large, hollowed out needle that pierces through my uterine wall to reach each ovary and extract the eggs. During my surgery the doctor discovered the first signs of a longer road to recovery for me. The greatest risk of egg donation is a temporary side effect called hyperstimulation and I had it. Because I was hyperstimulated I had a dangerous amount of fluid that had leaked into my abdomen. The surgeon drained this fluid during my surgery but I would be prescribed a slew of medications afterward to help reduce it. I was tender and sore but the recovery process as a whole was bearable.
I had never planned on doing a second donation but 24 hours after my surgery the representative I work with called me with some (at the time) hilarious news. Another couple had just picked me. I was their perfect fit and out of all the egg donors out there they wanted me to become a part of their lives. I immediately felt like I had to help them. They chose me, I couldn’t tell them no. Jeff wasn’t exactly pleased. He never wanted me to do another donation, especially after witnessing me fight through the effects of hyperstimulation. But I did it anyways! As soon as I was medically cleared, I began the process all over again with Jeff by my side. It’s been a little more than two weeks now since my surgery and my body is thriving again without any sign that I ever had surgery.
Now that I’ve completed my second, and final, egg donation I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what it means to me. Some women report feelings of regret or a general discomfort with the entire process after completing their cycle. Some go on to have children of their own and then feel very differently about egg donation. So far I’ve experienced nothing but curious excitement. My favorite thing to imagine is that I could walk by a (very) curly haired girl one day at the grocery store and actually wonder if that’s her. Or what if 20 years from now I see a basketball player on tv that looks like me? It could be him. It’s amazing to think about.
As much as I think about that baby that’s out there somewhere growing in their mother’s tummy, I think about the intended parents a million times more. I pray for them and I still start to cry when I think about the journey they’re on. I would give anything to be able to witness their happiness first hand but instead I pray that they can somehow sense my love and admiration for them. For now my relationship with both parents has been kept anonymous but I wanted them to have access to my personal information. So it will stay with their lawyer until one day they decide they want to know the person behind the multiple choice questions and medical testing.
Being an egg donor means something different to everyone. For me, it means I gave a piece of myself to someone that I can never get back but I believe with my heart and soul that I was meant to share that with those parents. It is one of the greatest purposes in life I’ve ever had. Egg donation isn’t glamorous. There are no parades held in your honor or even a thank you from the parents. But in your heart you know that every day those parents look at their happy, healthy child you’ll be in their hearts too. Forever and ever. And for me, that was enough.