D-Day

And so yesterday was the Big Day. Donation Day. D-Day, if you will.

Getting there

I was scheduled to go under at 12pm, so that meant no food or drink from 6am. I set my alarm for 5am to manage to shove a banana and some water into my mouth before going back to sleep. I also popped two paracetemol tablets as the Lucrin (the two trigger injections) tend to make me very crampy by D-Day – and this time, I hardly felt anything at all.

I had organised to do some work from home to keep my mind off things, and I still ended up bathing and then blow-drying my hair to kill the time. All of that, of course, was a waste when you consider how hot and dry the wind was in Cape Town yesterday – and the fact that I ended up taking the train didn’t help. By the time I arrived in Claremont I looked like I’d tried out (and failed) for a terrible 80s glam rock band. I was also wearing my neon yellow sunglasses – which added to the illusion 🙂

Exhibit A. R30 at Mr Price, for N’s “Neon” 21st.

I love taking the train, though I don’t do it often enough – although my immense need to be entirely self-sufficient (Read: I’m not good at trusting people to do things properly and am even worse at asking for help when I need it) – means that I get bizarrely stressed out about taking public transport, especially when I need to be in a specific place at a specific time.

Still, I got to the station, purchased my ticket and ended up chatting to two military women who were in full cammo (I nearly passed out when they addressed me, all the semi-illegal things I’ve ever done popped into my head at once!). All they wanted was to look at my phone – the Galaxy S3 (I’m in love). I got onto the train, plugged in my earphones and cranked up the new Taylor Swift album (wonderful train music, don’t judge me) and by the time I got to Claremont, I was much calmer. I’d given myself time to kill, so I wandered off to Cavendish and looked at coasters.

Then, bizarrely, I thought that if I died while under anaesthetic and they had to go through my belongings, they would have found coasters. Which would have been weird. So I didn’t buy them. (Hey, I have never claimed to be sane).

In the Clinic

I love waiting rooms. I love the Clinic waiting room so much, I think, because it’s filled with Hope. I managed to catch the wonderful Heidi before I went in, who wished me luck and thanked me for being so wonderful to work with. Then, just around 11.45am, Florence – the nurse in the procedure and recovery room – came to fetch me. She’s looked after me each time, and this being round four she’s now christened me “Candy” – and I love that. She pretty much left me to my own devices – led me to the corner chair where I could undress and climb into the gown and what not.

I had managed to shed my clothing and get the gown on when Dr H stuck his head in – and was promptly greeted with my naked (thankfully more toned than in previous months) ass. He came in to say hi, check how I was, and tell me we were good to go – normally the first time you see the doctors is in the procedure room because they’re so busy, so I was quite touched that he popped by. Then it was the usual questions from the nurse – when did you last eat? are you allergic to anything? – my admission tag and the consent form, before the anaethetist came in (the same one who did my first donation, and told me I was getting Propofol – the drug that “Michael Jackson liked too much”) and asked me her usual questions.

Then, another nurse – a new one, and I’m sad I didn’t catch her name because she was so bubbly – who noticed my tattoo as she helped me re-tie my gown. She asked what it meant (“Brave”) and what language it was (“Arabic”), and asked why I got it (“A tribute to my father,” I said). She draped the blanket around my shoulders and led me through to the procedure room.

Going under

I shuffled up onto the bed, careful to place my bum squarely on the linen saver. I lay back and let them fuss – they were in quite a rush, so I had my blood pressure taken while one of the nurses fixed the monitors to my chest and thumb and the anaethetist inserted the needle for the drugs (on my left hand, which is where I prefer it – weird that I have preferences now!).

Dr H came in and asked me to guess how many we were aiming to retrieve – at last count, he’d found 15 follicles so I said “Heck, let’s go for 15!”) And then the anaethetist wished me good night and I listened to her and Dr H banter about how old she was (it was her birthday last week, I gathered, before blackness descended).

And then I woke up. Surprisingly, not in much pain – and normally I do cramp quite badly. Florence stuck her head in, took my blood pressure, and offered me a muffin and something to drink. I always ask for juice because I’m so thirsty when I wake, so she brought me a hot, gooey chocolate muffin and some peach and pear juice (“It’s new!” she trilled). After I’d eaten, Dr H popped through the curtain to check how I was, and put his hand on my arm. They managed to retrieve 14 eggs, he said – “You had a good guess!” he said – and he thanked me for doing what I had done.

And then, after a pain pill, I was moved to the chair to recover and get dressed, then I was released. Florence walked me to the door and wished me a wonderful festive season, and said “And we will see you then in the New Year”.

And you know what, they probably will.

Send light, love and positive vibes…

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again – I will do this as many times as I’m allowed to. I can give no greater gift, at this time in my life, than this.

And now that my bit is done, we wait for the eggs to be fertilised and implanted in my recipient – in the next three to five days – and hold all fingers, toes and thumbs that the embryos take.

I ask you to send all the positive vibes that you possibly can spare to this wonderful, brave, amazing woman – who I know only by an initial and an email, and feel so connected to.

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On midnight injections and other such fun

So, we’re officially in the Home Stretch now. I had my final scan this afternoon, and now I’m waiting to do my first of two trigger shots – which only happens at midnight (in other words…  one hour and five minutes from now).

I was booked in for my last scan at 12.45pm today, and the waiting room was positively packed. The Amazing Dr H and his equally amazing assistant – also H, for the purposes of this blog – were rushing up and down the corridors, and I only managed to get in around 12.55pm. Dr H says all is looking “beautiful” – there are fifteen little follicles ready for harvesting (“Strange things us doctors get excited about,” he said – but it’s not just doctors, I’m excited too) and I was booked in for retrieval at noon on Wednesday. He wrote out my instructions, organised my two trigger injections of Lucrin, and off I went.

Fast forward to about 3pm. I get a frantic email from H – “URGENT: CETROTIDE”, it read. Between Dr H and myself we had forgotten the second shot of Cetrotide – the drug that helps the eggs mature and prevents premature ovulation – and H had been trying to dial my old cellphone number. You can see how this could have been bad. So into my car I hopped and positively nailed the 20 minute drive into around 15 minutes. H shot me up – it’s my favourite, itchy and rashy medicine – and off I went on my merry way.

And now? Well, I’ve been playing DOTA to keep myself awake (it’s the excuse I’m using! Ha! Eight hours in and I’m only marginally less awful). And why am I awake so late, when it’s way past my bedtime? This guy.


Lucrin – also known as Lupron, says Captain Google – is used as the “trigger” medication before egg retrieval, and it’s pretty much my favourite one (yes, midnight shots aside, and the fact that it makes me WILDLY crampy). I think it’s because of the precision factor – the two shots have to be done precisely 36 and 24 hours before the retrieval. Cool, huh? Lucrin also helps to reduce the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – which is exactly what it says on the box. Over-excited ovaries, which causes ovaries to swell and fluid to push into the stomach/chest. Most cases of OHSS are relatively mild, but looking at what can happen is quite sobering. Bring on the Lucrin, I say.

And for now, I have 45 minutes to kill before the midnight injection. Another round of DOTA? Okay, if I must.

Weekend vibes

This weekend, I was in desperate need of some QT. Some nesting. Some time with new friends. Just a reminder that life, Is.

In pictures.

 

Coupled with a scan, waking up at 7am yesterday and today for injections – before going straight back to bed, roast chicken and a lot (a lot) of DOTA 2.

Brought to you from my brand new Desk

Yes, Desk. With a capital D.

In the interests of being a grown-up and things, I have been shopping around for a Desk for a few months. It’s been tough. I like a desk, it costs more than my month’s grocery bill. I go “Hey! Look, a desk I can afford!” and it’s made out of chipboard. On a whim, last night, I went into a shop (it was almost 8pm on a Friday night, I’m such a rock star) and fell almost in love. Like, I really, really liked it.

So now, I’m sitting at my new Desk with a cup of tea and an episode of QI in the background. It’s the small things.

Also, yes, I’ll be back to blogging about more interesting things than desks, soon. Like, I had my second scan today – all looks good. Also, have had another egg donation blog post brewing in the back of my mind for a few days – about the negative reactions I get (although, they’re far fewer than the positives!) – so I’ll try put that fingers to keyboard for that one, too.

 

“Where’s your other ovary?”

Not something one wants to hear from one’s doctor when there’s an ultrasound wand deep in you-know-where, I must admit.

As you may have gathered, I went for my first scan since starting the injections on Saturday. I generally get to the Clinic early enough to say hi to the staff and get rid of my “sharps” – used needles, leftover solution etc – before going in for my appointment.

This is now the third cycle I’m doing with the Amazing Dr H, so we seem to have this whole thing down pat. We chat for a bit before going into his examination room – bottoms off, on the table, blanket for modesty. We quickly located the right ovary, counting eight developing eggs, and then Dr H switched over to have a look at the other side.

“Where’s your other ovary?” he asked. Sorry, what? Not really a phrase you ever want to hear out of your doctor’s mouth. But, true enough, no ovary could be seen on the little monitor. After some exploratory prodding, Dr H asked me to shift my leg a little and poked my stomach, shifting the reluctant ovary into place. I said something to the effect of “Oh, good, so it didn’t disappear after all” – but as I was in a bit of a panic at the time, I can’t recall my exact words.

“Oh, don’t worry,” said Dr H. “I’ve never had that happen to me before.” Well, good, I thought – before scuttling off the table to put my underwear back on.

I suppose my ovary was just shy.

So far, all on track for Donation Day (D-Day, really!) a week from now. Dr H says that I am doing “great as always” and that he’s very happy with how things are going. So, yay! I was given a shot of Cetrotide at the Clinic to help the eggs mature – and to stop premature ovulation – and I’m back in for scan number two on Saturday morning. The IVF co-ordinator (not my usual one) left me with a bit of a bruise, a bit of a rash and a heck of an itch. It’s all for a good cause.

Speaking of good causes – and good things – I found out today that recipient number two gave birth to twins (a girl and a boy!) in October. Hooray!

Egg donation: Some FAQs

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So on Saturday morning – at the crack of dawn, mind you – I started my Gonal-F injections for my fourth cycle of egg donation. I say at the crack of dawn, and it really was – a few of us were doing a trail run in Stellenbosch, and I had to leave my flat at the quite ungodly hour of 6am. I’d forgotten the unparalleled ability of a needle in the stomach to wake a person up. Truly, I’ve probably done this whole self-injection thing around 50 times now – and I never fail to experience that rush of adrenaline that accompanies it.

As donors, our doses are pretty stock-standard: 225 for four days and 150 for two days before our first scan. (Mine is tomorrow, hold thumbs all is looking good!) This time, I’m already feeling a little discomfort from bloating – although that may be all the water that we are encouraged to drink, and all the wine that I’m not allowed to touch!

So, because it’s all early days and I’ve not got much to report, I thought I’d address some of the FAQs that I, personally, get.

1. Aren’t you scared?
I get this a lot, strangely. No, I’m not scared – always a little anxious that my body doesn’t co-operate and that I let my recipient down. But I’ve been through the process three times already and I know the team at the Clinic are exceptional. I’m in great hands, so no – not scared!

2. Does it hurt?
Look, I’ll be honest. Before you even get to Donation Day, there is a lot of poking and prodding. A LOT. You do daily injections yourself – once you get the hang of it, they barely hurt at all – and you have an internal ultrasound around four times per cycle, which – as I explained to my long-suffering brother last night – goes up and inside vaginally. And the Cetrotide – to stop premature ovulation – itches like a mofo.

The actual procedure, and the pain each person feels when they come around from anaesthetic, varies. I woke up after my first donation in a lot of pain, while the girl in the bed next to me pretty much skipped out of the Clinic. Now, while I’m out, they shoot me up with a fair chunk of painkillers… And I’m golden!

3. What about your babies? Aren’t you curious about them?
Not my babies. My eggs, yes – but the making and growing babies part belongs to the Clinic and the recipient and her family. Obviously I like to know that the babies are healthy etc – and I’m obviously curious about what they look like – but they were never my babies.

Update A: I actually have more of an emotional connection with the recipient, as a general rule.

Update B: It also comes down to your whole idea of “parenthood”. Is the child “yours” because its yourgenetic material? Is it “yours” because you carried it through pregnancy, gave birth to it? Or is it “yours” because you’re the one  awake at 2.30am for the sixth time this week, “yours” because you love it unconditionally, even when you’re covered in puke, and “yours” because you’re sitting in the front row for its first school play? For me, it’s the third option.

4. And… no sex, right?
Right. Abso-fucking-lutely no sex. Do you KNOW how fertile I am right now?? Thankfully – and I use the word “thankfully” quite loosely – I’m no longer seeing anyone, so the temptation has been removed, so to speak. I’ve actually never been dating anyone during a cycle.

5. What – and how – do you tell your partners?
Well, the only partner I’ve had and told has been J. Just after we hooked up, I was a little tipsy – which I think helped! – and I kinda just blurted it out. He was immensely accepting, though, and seemingly quite fascinated by the thought that there were little people with my genetic material out there. Which is quite cool, if you think about it.

Right, have typed this all out on my phone while waiting for my bro to finish playing soccer. And my fingers have cramped up a little.

But feel free to post any questions you may have and I will answer as best I can 🙂

Blog edited for typos and poor word choice. 

Oh god. A Justin Bieber sex doll.

I saw this on Hurricane Vanessa this morning. And am now in desperate need of brain bleach. But, of course, sharing is most definitely caring, am I right?

The promo blurb for the Bieber-inspired sex doll reads: “Meet Just-In Beaver, the barely legal boy-toy who’s waited 18 long years to stick his lil’ dicky in something sticky! When he’s not busy beating up paparazzi or beating off, he’s up to his high-tops in hot Hollywood tail! But the Beave-ster doesn’t have this effect just on women — he turns straight men gay faster than you can peel his skinny jeans off! So what are you waiting for, inflate this lil’ pricks’s ego even more and have your very own Beaver bash!”

(I feel mildly sickened after reading that. Wow.)

And the best is in the box:

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Brought to you by the well-classy people at Pipedream… Who just over a year ago made headlines with their Miley Cyrus sex doll. (Which, incidentally, is one of the Google search terms that brings the most traffic to my site.)