Egg donation. Something that a lot of people may find taboo to talk about or didn't even know existed, however it is something I went through recently and if it wasn’t for the blog articles, YouTube videos, and testimonials from actual women who had been through it before I may not have been able to make an informed decision for me, which was in my best interests to do it or not. I am bringing light to this not to ask for praise or criticism either way, but to simply inform. For women considering doing it, or for people who simply are curious who didn’t even know it existed, this is for you. For those wanting to criticize my decision please stop reading now.
As I grow older I start to hear more of women struggling with fertility, or LGBT couples needing an egg donor, and when I would hear couples’ stories as they teared up or talked about how frustrating it was I wished there was something I could do to help them. While I am not and have never been a “kid” person, (I am more of an animal person) I know, at least for now, I am not reproducing or using my eggs any time soon. I am single as a pringle and have no desire to have or raise a child on my own, at least not yet. If it happens for me great, if it doesn’t, I really won’t be THAT distraught about it. At least for now, it is not on my list of priorities or things that I think will make me happy. I came to a point where I figured, why not let someone else who really really needs or wants them have them, to help create a life!? If my body isn’t going to be creating a life anytime soon, cells from my body can! After this process I have realized just how amazing our bodies are and what they can do!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 10% of women in the US have difficulty getting pregnant, or staying pregnant. It could be due to a number of things, poor egg quality, premature ovarian failure, diminished ovarian reserve, etc. There are also many LGBTQ couples needing sperm or egg donors to begin to build a family. I learned that there are many reasons a couple may need an egg donor and there are a number I had never thought of before. The potential to transmit a genetic disease to the child is a big one I had never thought of before. When you go through the donation process, they do a bunch of genetic testing on you that can detect whether you are a carrier of any genetic diseases. You don’t have to have symptoms of these to be a carrier, but if you were to say, have a child with sperm from an individual that is, the baby has a higher risk of being born with that condition. It was nice to have this testing done to know that I am not a carrier of those.
The whole process from when I first submitted my application to the end was a good 6 months. It starts with a VERY thorough application process that both the agency and fertility clinic I worked with went over. You have to know and provide a lot of your family background, health, blood type, etc. Once my application was reviewed, I was contacted by the agency to go over the process in detail, what would be asked of me, how many doctor’s visits it would take, etc. This was very important, as I had to make sure my job schedules would work as well as any modeling opportunities I had coming up.
You start with an orientation at the fertility clinic, an ultrasound, to make sure your ovaries are able to handle the process, a couple rounds of blood and urine tests, the DNA testing, as well as a meeting with a psychologist. They want to make sure not only your body is ready to go through something like this but that you are mentally able as well. They want to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, and not completely crazy. A history of severe anxiety, depression, etc. may hinder you being able to participate.
Once you are cleared as completely healthy enough to go through the process, the hard part begins. You start on a few weeks of birth control to “prep” your ovaries. You then start the hormone injections after a few blood tests to make sure you are ready. I was on the injections for a bit more than the usual 8-10 days, and originally being terrified of needles, let me say that if anything this process has definitely gotten me over my fear of needles. You have to give yourself multiple injections daily during this process and they have to be at a specific time each day. Many women say they have a lot of issues with the injections causing mood swings, depression, etc. and have just had a terrible time with them. I really was not affected much mood wise, I did cry once, but that was mostly because of the uncomfortable bloating and not being able to work out. I did gain a bit of weight, as you aren’t supposed to work out or do anything strenuous. I couldn’t ride horses or lift weights at all, I could only basically walk. You will most likely get bruises on your stomach, like I did and have to photoshop them out of images! Haha (yes that happened) and you may feel fat, bloated, and uncomfortable, but for the most part it wasn’t complete and utter hell.
The last couple days before the retrieval were probably the worst. Getting that last ultrasound while it feels like your ovaries are double their size is VERY painful and you just want them to get it all over with! The day of the retrieval they give you a valium to relax you and it is very early in the morning. My mom came with me and drove me there and back. They sedate you enough to where you are semi-coherent. I remember clouds painted on the ceiling and asking if they were real or not, and a lot of pain/pinching during the process, but for the most part the anesthesia caused me to forget most of it shortly after. They tell you to request off work the whole day after your procedure, which I did. It was nice to just relax the rest of the day. I did it on a Friday so I also had off Saturday and Sunday to recover, which was nice. The pain afterwards and the time it takes to recover all depends on your body and how it responds to the procedure, medications, etc. I felt pretty back to normal within a week or so, minus the bloating.
I am back to being able to resume normal activity and feeling back to normal, with the exception of the weight gain, but what everyone is probably wanting to know, was it worth it? All in all, for the amount of compensation (even though I wish it was more) it was not nearly as bad as I anticipated it to be and I would probably do it again. If you are someone who doesn’t need the money or will freak out about the idea of your DNA creating another human being, this won’t be for you. It is tough on your body and involves serious time, energy, and commitment. Also, if you have a legitimate fear of needles you don’t think you can get over this is also not for you. It was a very empowering experience, and I hope my experience helps another woman make a decision to do this. They need egg donors. The clinic is already asking me to do it again because of the low number of healthy and willing donors and the high demand in recipients.
In the end, even though the money is nice, it is also comforting to know you did something compassionate and selfless for someone out there. They got 22 eggs from me, 15 of them viable, which will most likely go to a couple different recipients to create life for a couple human beings. It is a crazy process, but very rewarding. Not only financially rewarding, but personally rewarding as well. There is a quote I came upon recently that says: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” I am at a point in my life where I want to do as much good for as many people as I possible can. I want to go through my life knowing I have positively impacted as many people as I can with my time on this Earth. Going through this process helps me believe I am taking another step in that journey.
If anyone has any questions please let me know! I am here for informational purposes to educate anyone who is curious! I have not released the name of the clinic or where I went publicly (this is to help me be as anonymous as possible to potential recipients) but if you would like to know details, you are more than welcome to message me personally.