…and we’re off! First injection complete!

So, yesterday my husband and I made our second trip to City Fertility for my baseline scan.  I had had my period since stopping the Pill so my womb lining was thin as it should be.  The scan was a lot quicker than my first one and was simply to have a look at my ovaries and follicles to gain a baseline figure.  The great news is that I had approximately 13 follicles on my right side and approximately 17 on my left!

The hope is that these follicles will mature into eggs and be able to be collected.  This is a great number to start with!  The greater the number of follicles, the more chances…. Although, it could be that not all follicles mature into eggs, not all eggs are good enough for collection, not all will be fertilised successfully and not all fertilised eggs will survive long enough to be put back into the womb.

But…it could also be that all follicles mature into eggs, all are collected and fertilised successfully and then my couple will have enough little embryos to be put back into the womb and to freeze some for a later date!  So, let’s hope its the latter!

With everything looking great with my scan, it was time to finalise my treatment plan and get down to business.  With all of that done and a final blood test, we were free to go.  A quick appointment this time and wonderful to hear how everything is going so swimmingly so far.

6pm last night and it was time for my first injection.  I am on 175 units of Gonal F which is a combination of two hormones to stimulate the production of the ovaries. I will be on this for the next 10 evenings.  The Gonal F is a very easy injection to administer. It comes in a pen – similar to an insulin pen and all I need to do is dial up to 175 for my dose.  This is given subcutaneously so just underneath the skin with a very small needle.  The thought of injecting myself was never something that worried me but I know that this can be quite a hurdle for some people. I chose my upper thigh, simply because I have more fat there than on my tummy but either area is fine 🙂  I will endeavour to alternate my injection sites over the next few weeks, especially when I am injecting 2 each night!

So, for now, I will carry on with this dose, same time each evening until Monday when we are back at City Fertility again.  This will be for another scan to monitor my follicles and to review my treatment plan, probably adding in the next drug which will be to stop me releasing these eggs too early.  The whole process is absolutely fascinating! 😀

For now, I can carry on as normal ensuring that I increase my intake of water which is quite easy to do in this heat!!  I know I have only done one injection so far, but no ill effects as yet which is great!  I will update again soon 🙂

Thank you again to everyone showing me so much support!  It really does mean a lot knowing that I have the support of my friends, family, colleagues and complete strangers through this blog!  Thoughts are with my couple as they now embark on the medical side of treatment too! ❤  It feels absolutely amazing to be embarking on such an incredible journey for my couple!  I will do everything I possibly can to produce the best quality eggs, I just really hope that when it comes to transferring the embryos back, that my couple have Mother Nature firmly on their side! xxx

…and so it begins…

So, after what has felt like an age ….I take my last Microgynon Pill tonight.  I should get a period in the next few days and my body will then be ready to begin the medical side of this process.  

On Wednesday, my husband (who is with me every step of the way – whether this is to guide me around London due to severe lack of direction, to keep me company or hold my hand and give me a hug when I need it) and I will be making our next trip to City Fertility.  There, I will have my next scan – my baseline – this is to check everything is good after having had the Pill, take pre-medication measurements and make sure everything is ready.  Following this, I will have another consultation to go through all of my medication regime….I will update on this later but I believe that some days I will be having two injections for 10-12 days leading up to egg collection. I will probably be starting these Wednesday evening!

A massive thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me on this journey so far.  I have been completely blown away by the positive response and incredible support I have received.  I am, and always have been, a very emotional person.  Some people are saying such lovely things to me that they have moved me to tears….the running joke at the moment is that this is only going to get worse when I start all the hormones! 😀  I hope you are all armed with a pocket of tissues!

In all seriousness, many of my friends have asked how I am feeling knowing that everything gets started next week.  Am I scared? Am I nervous?  Am I going to be pain?  Actually no to all three.  I am not scared, I have done extensive research and am pretty sure I know what to expect.  Am I nervous?  No, the only thing that worries me is making sure I have all of my treatment regime straight in my head so there is no room for error.  Seeing the great pile of injections in my fridge was a little daunting at first but I will make sure we do not leave clnic until I am happy 🙂 

Will I be in pain? I am not expecting to be!  Of course, it has crossed my mind that this may cause some discomfort with my Endometriosis but since I got a glowing report at my last scan, I am a lot less concerned about this now.  I am, however, expecting to be bloated and perhaps a little tender on my abdomen in the final days before egg collection….this is nothing to be worried about, it just means that my body is responding well to the stimulating drugs and my eggs are almost ripe and ready to make some magic.

I am actually really looking forward to getting started.  I am ready now.  

My thoughts are constantly with my couple.  People have asked me (knowing of my emotional personality) how I will deal with this being anonymous and will I be able to just let it rest?  Of course I will.  This is not something that can be entered into without a great deal of thought and emotion.  People may be concerned about me emotionally but please, please don’t be.  Yes, I am emotional and I know this is going to be an emotional journey, but I never have in my life, and hope I never will, undertaken anything without giving it all my emotion, passion and dedication. I am not scared of emotion, why enter into something if you don’t want it to effect you as a person?  I am one of life’s ‘criers’ and I am not ashamed of that.  I will always be thinking of my couple, and yes, if they are fortunate enough to get pregnant, of course, there will be times in future years that I will wonder and think about them all.  But that is all it will be, give them a thought and a smile and hope that they too are smiling when they think about me 🙂

So, this weekend, I am making sure all of my paperwork is in order, my consent forms are signed and delivered to my local clinic, and our London congestion charge is paid.  

We are all set and ready to go…..just a few more days to wait…

Dispelling the myths.

With the green light to go-ahead, we are now in the process of setting dates, organising the treatment plan and booking in my scans. I have now started the Pill to synchronize my cycle with the recipient woman.  In a few weeks, I will be starting injections which will start to ripen my eggs ready for collection.  I have received my big box of medications, including my sharps box for safe disposal of the needles and we will soon be ready to go!  I am so eager to start, although my thoughts are constantly with my couple.  I should think that they have such a wide spectrum of emotions going on right now – excitement, anxiety, fear….

The thought that the word ‘mother’ could possibly soon apply to her, after wanting this for so long must be quite overwhelming.  And a mother is exactly what she will be….

I just want to take this opportunity to write about a few things that people have asked me about.  I certainly welcome people’s questions and will do whatever I can to help people understand a bit more about egg donation.  

I am donating eggs, which are sets of genes – genes that need to be paired with another set from a man to make a baby.  What I am donating, will not make a baby alone.  I will not suddenly become a mother, I will not have a ‘child’ out there somewhere, there will not be ‘little me’s’ running around,  for I can only donate half of what is needed – and that is purely from a genetic point of view.  The woman who is going to receive my eggs, will (hopefully) become a mother.  My part in all of this ends after egg collection.  From then, the fertilised eggs will be put back into the recipient woman.  She will grow this baby for 9 months, she will give birth, she will be the first to look into the eyes of her beautiful baby and create the mother/baby bond.

Matching a donor with a recipient is quite a complex process.  They not only match us on looks but personality, hobbies, likes and dislikes as well.  We probably have the same hair and eye colour (so there could be a chance that the resulting baby has these things in common with its mother) and I already know that we have very similar personalities.  So if the baby develops a love of (lets pick anything….Art)….would that be a genetic link to me or have they developed that love through watching their mother love art?  Of course, there is always the chance that the male genes may be more dominant and the baby will be very similar in looks and personality to its Dad 🙂

I am a great believer in nurture versus nature.  Yes, my couple need help with eggs so I am doing what I can with that part.  It takes a lot more than my set of genes to raise a child and turn them into well rounded, nice, compassionate, caring person.  There are so many factors affecting the growth and development of a baby – mostly the love and environment it is bought up in.  A baby, no matter where its genetic roots lie, needs unconditional TLC and in return, that baby will grow up loving the people who taught them how to love!

I love the love that my recipient couple already have towards the baby they do not have yet…..They are full of love and I just know that their baby will be cherished and adored.  What more could I ask then to know that my eggs are going to go to a couple that will shower their baby with love and adoration.  As The Beatles sang so wisely – “All You Need is Love!” 😀

….and the results are in…

The first thing we did after leaving the clinic was go for a celebratory meal.  After all, by getting this far and to come out with a big grin, was already a lot further than I thought I would get.  I am a positive person but I am also a realist and as I have mentioned before, I knew that there was a real possibility of my Endometriosis putting a halt to everything (after all, some women are infertile due to Endometriosis alone!).  So, my husband and I raised a glass to toast the occasion and I got busy texting the girls at Altrui while my husband studied the menu.

Just in case anyone is wondering, this was the last glass of wine I had and this was a month ago.  As far as I am concerned, I will now follow the same healthy lifestyle as a woman trying to get pregnant – no smoking (not that I do lol), no alcohol, regular light exercise, healthy diet and commencing daily Folic Acid.  I will do whatever I can to make my eggs as healthy and strong  as possible to give them the best chance of fertilisation, implantation and turning into a baby 🙂

We enjoyed our dinner and made the long journey home.  I sent messages detailing my day to the few friends and family I had confided in and tried not to count the days as I began to wait for results…..not so easy!

Luckily it was only a week or so until I heard from Alison with the first set of blood results – good news!  My HIV, Hepatitis and Gonorrhoea were all negative….well I already knew that anyway!  But also my hormone levels were brilliant meaning that there should be no problems stimulating my eggs.  This was wonderful to hear, as again, I didn’t know if my hormone levels would be too low due to having had the implant….I was warned that my ovaries may be a ‘little quiet’ for a while… but nope, they woke up from their sleep and are now bright and alert and ready for action.

But I still had to wait for the all important chromosome analysis and genetic screen!

Whilst waiting, I received a proposed treatment plan from City Fertility detailing dates to commence treatments, check up scans and potential egg collection….ooo does this mean all my screening is clear?  No, unfortunately it didn’t and my heart sunk.  I was told that plans were made with the assumption that screening will be clear.  If this is not the case, the whole thing would be cancelled and the search for a new donor would begin.

So I tried to stay positive again and spoke to my manager about these potential dates making it clear that I hadn’t had the official go-ahead yet…..the waiting was killing me!  One minute I wanted to tell everyone about the incredible journey I was embarking on as I am extremely proud of what I am doing and with my own infertility issues, raising awareness is something very close to my heart and very important to me…… but on the other side, my sensible brain was telling me to just bide my time until I had all my results and then tell more people, after all, what would I do if I then had to tell people that I couldn’t donate after all??!

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait much longer as I soon received an email from City Fertility in the third week after my appointment with the fantastic news that my final results were all normal!  😀  Woohoo!  Nothing genetic that could be passed onto a baby, including the Cystic Fibrosis gene.  I have many friends with CF, many who have been through fertility treatments themselves so knowing that I do not carry the gene for this heartbreaking condition is wonderful news!

I was absolutely overjoyed to hear all this, that was it, the last test we were waiting for and with it being normal, I was given the green light to go ahead with the donation!  I had a grin from ear to ear and could not wait to pass on the good news to the lovely ladies at Altrui.  I thought about my recipient couple and how they would be feeling when they get told that their donor is all clear and good to go. What an emotional journey for us all and I am so proud to be a part of it ❤

I now await further instruction….!

The rigorous screening process….

The first thing for me to do was to get my contraceptive implant removed…I’d had this in place for the past 3 years to treat the symptoms of my Endometriosis.  It was due for renewal anyway so now would be the perfect time to see how my body would respond without it.  Rewind 3 years and I had been in severe pain with this, having also suffered a perforated Ovarian Cyst, most days I was barely able to stand up straight!  However, I certainly didn’t want to not try to begin the process of egg donation just in case I got some pain.  Knowing the pain of infertility, my Endometriosis pain is a small price to pay if I could help a couple become parents.

So, the day came for removal and to say I was nervous is a slight understatement.  The procedure is usually fairly straightforward, a little cut and they pull out the implant with forceps.  However, I had lost some weight since the insertion so it had moved quite considerably and kept moving away from the forceps.  Luckily, the local anaesthetic was very effective and I didn’t feel any pain.  I did have a nice yellow-green arm for a while afterwards though.

I tried to remain positive and not focus on the fact that my Endometriosis pain may well return with a vengeance.  Days turned into weeks and no sign of any pain!  Then quite unbelievably, one morning a few weeks later, I got my period, my first in 3 years.  It took me completely by surprise as again – no pain!   This was the first time in 15 years that I had had a period with no pain – amazed to say the least!  This also meant that my body was responding well to the implant coming out and was starting to get back into a cycle. This is great news for egg donation as sometimes it can take 4-5 months to get the effects of the implant out of the system meaning a delay in the treatment cycle.  So, all round, a very positive start!

The day for my first appointment at City Fertility in London finally arrived.  I had been feeling quite nervous leading up to it.  After all, if anything was not as it should be in this screening, I would not be able to donate.  I couldn’t help but keep thinking of my recipient couple throughout the day.  I would be absolutely devastated for them if I was not able to proceed and they would have to start all over again with finding a new donor.

My husband and I began the day with the train journey into London. After stopping off for some lunch, we arrived at City Fertility clinic.  First of all I was introduced to Jane, Head of Nursing, and we kicked things off straight away with the internal examination and ultrasound scan of my ovaries and uterus.  This is the part I was most nervous about – from a pain perspective and regarding my Endometriosis. After the initial embarrassment of explaining that I have a latex allergy so they couldn’t the normal latex sheath on the probe and then discovering that they didn’t have any non-latex ones so had to use a non latex glove over the probe!  Ah well, the giggles about that certainly broke the ice!!!  I was quite tense but not surprising since my last internal scan had been 4 years ago and was excruciatingly painful! This time, again I was amazed that there was no pain during this scan!  I was even able to sit up and look at the monitor.  I was over the moon to hear that everything looked lovely and healthy!  My husband and I have been following a very healthy lifestyle which seemingly has done me the world of good!  Hearing such wonderful news actually made me quite emotional. My ovaries looked good and very healthy and Jane seemed to think that I would get another period in a few weeks as my womb lining was thickening nicely.  This again is a good sign that my body is getting back to normal fairly quickly after my implant removal!  All in all and very successful scan!  Jane had no problem with me progressing 🙂

Next was the mandatory implications counselling session for both my husband and I.  Again, I was a little concerned about this due to my own infertility. But I had nothing to worry about at all.  The counsellor was very sweet and covered lots of issues.  We went into depth about us not having our own children and my reasons for wanting to donate my eggs.  She also said she has no problem with us progressing 🙂

Then we were onto all the nursing aspects.  I was given the Pill to start on the day of my next period.  This is to synchronize my cycle with the recipient woman.  Whilst I will be on medications to stimulate my ovaries ready for egg collection, she will be on medications to thicken the lining of her womb to get ready for the fertilised embryo to embed.  I then had 7 vials of blood taken…my poor little arm was going purple by the end!  All donors have to go through a stringent screening process to ensure suitability to donate.  Bloods include checking for genetic conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis and Chromosome Analysis ; Full hormone profile to ensure that there should be no difficulty in stimulating egg production ; blood group ; and other bloods cover making sure there is no evidence of any HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Syphilis or Gonorrhoea.   Oh and to top it off, a urine sample too!

So, after 3 and a half hours, we were free to go…. to begin the long wait for all my results.  If just one test came back abnormal, the process could not go ahead!  As much as I had no reason to think that anything would be wrong, I could not be entirely sure, anything could flag up on this screening!  An exhausting day but I came out feeling a lot more positive than I thought I would!

Keeping fingers and toes firmly crossed for good results…!