at long last, the post everyone has been waiting for! of course, my experience with egg donation is unique to me because my body is unique. the process for me may be different than someone else’s process, because every person is different! but i’ll tell you how mine went.
i initially signed up with my clinic, beverly hills egg donation, in 2014 (sidenote, if you do end up filling out an application, drop my name 😉). this was before i lived in california, but they were the one that a friend of a friend had used, so i trusted them. the application is basically a family history and lifestyle survey. they ask about your siblings, parents, and grandparents. i also sent in about ten photos. a few of the photos were of me at the time, but most of them were of me during childhood! they want an idea what a child with your genes could look like, so i also included some of my brother alongside me.
after my application was approved, it was just a waiting game. my profile was put into the center’s database as “active,” so i could be chose by a family to be their donor. a few families have been interested in my profile over the years, but none ever panned out until this one. i did have one really close call though, so i’ll take you through that before i get into my recent cycle.
most of the time, the donor and intended parents don’t interact. the center operates as a go-between and relays important information back and forth. but the IPs of this cycle requested to send me a letter, and i accepted. it detailed information about what they looked like, where they were from, and some of their interests. weirdly enough, though they lived on the other side of the world (!!!), one of them was from the same area i grew up in. after receiving the letter, i also got a package that was full of chocolate covered strawberries. i had no reason to take either of these as a red flag, but looking back, they should have been.
after we were matched, there were a few more tests that needed to happen. i had an initial blood test and drug screening, as well as a pregnancy test, at my home gynecologist. after that, i was flown out to the egg clinic to get an ultrasound of my uterus to look at my ovaries (i also went to disneyland for like six hours before i had to fly home). once i was medically cleared, i had a skype meeting with a psychologist. basically, they wanted to make sure that i wouldn’t freak out and try to take my eggs back, or try to contact the intended parents, or any number of things. but i guess i passed, because after that we moved onto legal!
this is where it got weird. the center sets each donor up with their own lawyer, who talks to the intended parents’ lawyer. they negotiate your contract, which lays out the timeline, medications, payment, and promises not to stalk any potential children that result from your donation. another important part is that if i ever develop a disease or disorder, anything that can be passed genetically, i will inform the clinic and they can tell the intended parents. as i was going over the contract, i came across something that gave me pause, and my lawyer agreed that it was weird.
the contact stated that i would take back any fertilized embryos for myself after the process was over. first of all, i don’t want a kid now, and definitely didn’t want a kid then, so what the heck am i gonna do with these embryos? but also, why on earth would i want a baby that was half me and half of this couple that had told me all about themselves? as much as they tried to woo me, i think it was also bait to get me to say yes to this clause. i told them no, and this was enough for them to end the cycle before it began.
i think now that they were pro-lifers, so to them, a fertilized embryo was a person. but even if that’s how they felt, why do they have to put that on me?! enjoy your twenty kids and leave me out of it. anyway, that was the farthest a cycle ever went for me until this april.
i got an email saying that we’d made a match, as usual. at this point i was a little jaded, because i had gotten several emails matching me with families, sometimes going as far as to do interviews with matches, but never actually starting a cycle. but as usual, i gave them my updated address and recent medical history, and then went for some more blood and drug tests and a new ultrasound (this time locally). once again i was medically cleared and i was contacted by my lawyer from last time! now, since i was married, jake had to read over my contract and agree to it as well (the patriarchy! he owns my body!) but it was pretty standard so we signed it quickly. and then we were off to the races!
the clinic sent me a box full of drugs and syringes and instructions. i was pretty nervous to inject anything myself since i had never done it before but it ended up being easier than i expected. i had two injections a night, between a four hour period. the injections got more and more painful as time went on, simply because i got so bloated and was running out of places i hadn’t already stabbed. i ended up with some pretty gnarly bruising that i kept to myself, but jake did take a picture of my first bruise one day because (in his words) “you just look so sad.”
then during retrieval week there were three a night to really get the follicles ready to harvest. this brings us to travel! for the retrieval, i was required to go to los angeles for a week, and i needed a companion because i would be under anesthesia during the procedure and therefore could not drive. i always intended on brining jake with me, but he couldn’t get out of work and i couldn’t think of anyone who would be able to tolerate me whining for a full week and also kind of take care of me… except my mom! luckily she works remotely so she could keep me company and not get behind at work. it was also mother’s day weekend, so everything went better than expected.
i know getting flown out to los angeles for a week sounds glamorous, but to be honest i spent most of it in a lot of pain. i was nauseous but starving (a lot of french fries entered and quickly left my body), sleepy and bloated, and didn’t want to move. i went to the clinic every morning for blood draws and ultrasounds to determine my retrieval date. basically, my follicles needed to be a certain size, but they had to grab them before they went too far and became overstimulated. we settled on friday, which meant that i had a few days where (aside from my morning blood taking) i had the whole day to do whatever i wanted.
one day, i decided to take my mom to disneyland. she had never been, so i was able to show her everywhere i worked in 2016. we only stayed for a few hours because i was frankly exhausted! and after being nauseous in traffic i was happy to be back at the best western plus, haha. but we had fun!
on retrieval day, we woke up early and went to the clinic, where they asked me if i had any allergies and reminded me that there was a chance i could die! a small chance, but still a chance. i quickly texted jake and told him lucy was allowed to destroy all of my plush in the event of my death, but not hooter. but she had other plans.
a nurse led me into an OR, where i met the anesthesiologist (who was the first person to calm me down all morning) and then she knocked me out! i woke up back by the nurse’s station, with my mom laughing at me because there was drool all over my face. i was very woozy, but otherwise fine. my main side effects after were a really heavy and awful period (which they told me to expect, but i’m still going to complain about it!!!) and i had trouble for three or four days going to the bathroom. i mainly had trouble “bearing down” (SORRY IT’S GROSS) so i had a lot of stomach pain because of that but it passed. i was nauseous for about the first week back as well, and kept throwing up in my mouth, but that eventually stopped too! and now i’m back to normal!
the clinic told me that they were able to retrieve 17 eggs. i don’t know if that’s a lot or a little, but it seems like a lot to me. i was told that sometimes donors do more than one cycle for a family so they can get siblings for a resulting child, but i think 17 will be enough for a whole family, haha, so my chances of doing that are low. i would donate again if they asked me though. the side effects sucked but ultimately it was worth it to be able to help make a family.
now, what i’m sure you all want to know is how much i was compensated for my eggs. truthfully, every single clinic is different and even within clinics the rate can change based on your health and education levels. i will say it’s enough to have significantly put a dent in my credit card debt, and seems fair to me. it is taxed, so i have a lot of it in a separate account for next year, but i was also able to buy a new couch, which is a big deal!!!
i tried to be as thorough as possible with this post, but if you have any questions feel free to drop them below! love y’all.