Guest post: My decision to donate my eggs (Part 3 – It begins)

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Day 1 of my period arrived. Injections start on day 2. So last night I had to take my injection to work (it needs to be given in the evening) and did my 1st injection in the staff bathroom. It felt very naughty! But I didn’t have time to think about it as I was so busy at work. No time to get nervous!

When I met the couple we exchanged contact details but in the few weeks that had passed we hadn’t contacted each other. I knew they would probably be waiting for me to make the first contact. So I took the opportunity on day 1 to email them. Not surprisingly I received a wonderful excited email back. They get updates from the clinic too about how things are going but its nice to share with them also. I have a mixture of excitement, anticipation and nervousness going on and its nice to share that with them.

I started injections one morning later. Now its injections twice a day. I’ve been getting a headache, felt nauseated the other night, and my skin looks awful. I also think I can feel my ovaries. But hopefully this means things are going the way they should be, and I should find out tomorrow morning!

A few days later I had my first scan and blood test to see how things are coming along. And apparently everything is going like it should. The doctor doing my scan missed the part about me being a donor, and asked me something about doing a fresh or frozen embryo transfer. I must have looked horrified. NOPE! I really really don’t want them back thanks! But we had a laugh about it and everything went well with the scan. I had to get a quick blood test done too and pick up some more injections. I’m now continuing with the same injections twice a day until my next scan and blood test on Saturday morning.

The final days: Today was my last scan and blood test. It turns out my ovaries are the size of oranges which explains the pressure and uncomfortable feeling I’ve got. But it means everything is going well. I then had to wait for a phone call to give me instructions about taking my trigger injections (to trigger ovulation 36 hours before harvesting). I got my call in the afternoon. Harvest day will be Monday morning at 10am. Which means an injection at 10pm Saturday night. I also got my instructions for Monday morning, what time to take Panadol and when to arrive. I already had dinner plans for a friend’s birthday Saturday night so knew I would have to inject myself while I was out! So for the first (and only) time in my life I drew up drugs and injected myself in the bathroom of a bar. I could have gone home earlier but my friends said I should stay! I’m kinda glad I did now because it makes for a great story!

The following morning, I had to have a blood test. 9am on a Sunday. It feels too early. But I’m sitting in a waiting room full of people (there’s been no one in the waiting room the other times I’ve been here) and I can’t help but wonder about the other couples stories. There’s a couple looking nervous, another couple with a young child, what looks like a mum and daughter. I wonder if they are thinking the same thing about me? It feels like a sad place. But one of hope also. It’s nice to see kids in a fertility clinic.

Tomorrow is the big day, I’m starting to get nervous. Or maybe the medication made me nauseated…..

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@katiepie_NZ



Guest Post: My decision to donate my eggs (Part 2 – The Right Couple)

Just a few days after that I was given another profile to have a look at. Instantly after reading it something just felt right. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. You know that feeling when something just feels right? I had that feeling, and it hasn’t changed.

They were contacted after I said yes, and were surprised and very excited and didn’t hesitate either. I mean, I sound pretty great on paper right? And it was the kind of reaction I would have expected. Hey, this woman wants to give you her eggs, she’s young, healthy and a nice person. What do you say to that when you’ve been trying to have a baby for over 6 years? Heck yes!

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So after an appointment with my GP for some swabs, a script and more bood tests I was ready for my next appointment with the clinic. Everything up until now been annonymous, but I had the option of meeting the couple if we both wanted to. For a number of reasons I did want to meet them and like the idea of having contact with them in the future.

The day I met them I had an appointment with the counsellor first before they joined us. I was very nervous, but figured not as nervous as they would be. I had a brief moment of panic too, what if I didn’t like them? What do I do then? But all of that disappeared when they walked in the room, with a huge gift basket for me. I was completely overwhelmed! It was wonderful to meet them. I was able to hear more about their story, what got them to this point (6 years of trying to have a baby, including 3 failed IVF apptempts), and why they needed an egg donor. That feeling I mentioned before about something just being right? I still had that feeling when I met them, but stronger. I was excited to help this lovely couple.

I briefly had to see the clinic nurse for a drug teach. Basically how to inject myself. It didn’t take long! After years of injecting other people the hardest thing would be sticking the needle into myself.

Then we were all set to go. It was just a matter of waiting until my period in July. The way things work is I had to start a course of injections once my period started. More waiting! After all this time I was just pretty keen to get going and get things started.

Through all this I’ve told friends at various stages. Some times its come up in conversation, or others I’ve wanted people to talk to. Everyone along the way has been so supportive and very encouraging. I mentioned it to my Mum back in January when I was in the early stages, but hadn’t mentioned it again to my parents. I was most nervous about telling my Dad. I had no idea what he would say or what his reaction would be. So I told my brother first! That went really well. Then I phoned my parents. I’m glad I waited until I had met the couple, as I was able to give more specifics and answer questions. My Dad’s reaction? “Oh well that’s nice, typical of you to help people out isn’t it? Good on ya, Right, I gotta go have a shower.” So much for being nervous! I’m very thankful to have my parents support, and also the support of wonderful friends and work colleagues. No matter what happens in the next couple of weeks I know they will be there for me.

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@katiepie_nz



Bon anniversaire

It’s my birthday today. I say so not because this day 27 years ago I was born (that’s in March) but because today one year ago I was re-born. Exactly 365 days ago I was in hospital sleeping off the anaesthetic they’d used to keep me asleep while they removed 80% of my stomach. I didn’t know it at the time but the next 12 months of my life would be a rollercoaster journey of learning and discovery interspersed with harsh lessons and realisations and some rather cutting home truths.

When I went for my first pre-op appointment at Auckland Weight Loss in February 2014 I had no idea just how much the surgery I was applying for would change my life. I knew it would help me lose weight. I knew it would dramatically lessen my risk of developing diabetes or dying of heart disease (something that runs rampant in my family). I knew it would enable me to run along the beach after my children one day, cutting the advancement of my early onset arthritis off at the toes (literally). I knew it would probably make me feel better and maybe make me a bit happier. I did not know how rocky the road would be.

Friends warned me of the trials and tribulations but always ended their stories with “but even on my worst day it’s still the best decision I ever made.” They couldn’t be more right: My life has been altered permanently. I have days where I struggle to keep food down and feel almost narcoleptically tired. And for all  that I wouldn’t make a different choice were I able.

The initial few weeks after surgery were undoubtedly the hardest. The first day I was allowed to eat I licked two teaspoons clean of pureed food, 20 minutes apart, and I was full for an hour. I struggled to drink any more than a sip of water every half hour. Two sips put me in danger of vomiting. Nausea was my constant companion and sleep deprivation an ever-present shadow. But I pushed on.

At home, I struggled with pureed meat and subsisted almost entirely on yoghurt and soup. Half an ice cube of food in a teacup was usually more than I could manage over a 45 minute period. I was sick and tired and miserable and my sole coping mechanism, eating, had been yanked out from underneath me. I cried often.

I transitioned from a puree diet to a soft food diet a week ahead of schedule and things slowly started to improve. Although I still struggle with tomato soup and greek yoghurt (bad associative memories – that nausea was a killer), the haloumi, baked beans and ham I began to eat were a far more nourishing and enjoyable experience. The nausea faded away and I began, ever so slowly, to start feeling human again.

10 kilos down after only a couple of months and I felt like I was walking on a cloud. My food intake was painfully limited and I was never free of the exhaustion and dizziness that accompanied my malnourishment but the emotional gains more than made up for the struggles. I began to feel empowered and strong. And slowly but surely I began to get my confidence back.

Having a supportive community around me made all the difference. My workmates, friends and family all knew my circumstances and understood my limitations. Morning teas and family dinners were made all the easier by people who were willing to accommodate my drastically reduced appetite and eating capacity. Taking 20-40 minutes to eat any one meal didn’t make things easy but the understanding of those around me helped immeasurably.

Christmas was the pinnacle of my efforts and struggles: A day structured solely around eating, amongst people I didn’t spend the majority of my time with, with meals consumed under time pressure. I was sick. Very sick. Miserable. I cried in the toilet of a relative’s house. But I managed and I learned. I know the next Christmas will be easier.

I hit my goal weight in February during a bout of extreme sickness. In hospital with a kidney stone, I dropped past 60kg (my goal) to 58. I was gaunt and my clothes hung off me. As I healed I climbed back up and settled between 61 and 62kgs. This is where I have chosen to stay.

When I moved to Wellington in May I gained nearly 2 kilos. To some this may seem miniscule but when you consider that 40% of people who have my surgery regain all their weight it becomes a matter of grave relevance. Increased exercise and a renewed dedication to what I ate shifted the extra weight in just shy of three weeks.

Today I weigh just 61.5kg (44.8kg less than when I started this journey). I am confident, happy, bubbly, and my depression and social anxiety has lifted. 12 months ago I couldn’t bring myself to move out of my parents’ house; less than 2 months ago I moved to Wellington alone and without a job. I credit the opportunities my surgery gave me with the landslide changes in my life and attitude. I took those opportunities and ran with them and it has made all the difference. I am re-invented and it is wonderful.

Here’s to another 12 months of happiness and success.

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Guest Post: My decision to donate my eggs (Part 1)

I thought about blogging this a while ago and never did. So now I’ll do it before I leave it any longer and there’s even more to write about. There is a bit to catch up on!

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Why? Why would anyone want to go through this process and donate their eggs to complete strangers? Well, my answer back has often been why not? I’m 28, single (have been for a while!) and not planning on using my eggs any time soon. If I end up having kids one day it’s still going to be a while away. So why not give the to a couple who want to have a baby?

I got asked at the first counselling appointment I went to if I was attached to my eggs at all (actual WTF?) No, I’m not, I get a period every month and it end up down the toilet.

So I started this process back in December when I first got in contact with Fertility Associates. I had seen a couple on the news who were looking for an egg donor and thought that was something that I could potentially do. I looked at all the information available and had a good read. I emailed my enquiry off. They emailed back with a bunch of information attached (what I had already read) saying someone would be in contact in a couple of weeks once I had read the attached information. Who doesn’t look into it first? Not me! So I emailed back saying that I would be happy to be contacted sooner. I got a phone call a day or two later and spoke to a lovely lady who is one of the donor egg coordinators in Auckland. After chatting with her I was sent for a bunch of blood tests. 8 tubes of blood later they were able to see I’m healthy, have normal egg reserve levels for my age and good news, don’t have any nasty diseases!

What next? The next step took me to see a counsellor and doctor at the clinic at the start of this year. They were there to make sure I was healthy physically and mentally. It was also a chance to make sure I understood the legal aspects, and everything the process involved. The doctor also scanned my ovaries, the best way to get a good look is with an ultrasound up my vagina. There is a TV screen at the end of the bed so I could see the scan at the same time. This, combined with the fact nothing like this bothers me, and doctors terrible hair dye job gave me the giggles! As a former practice nurse I have looked up hundreds of vaginas, I have no issues!

After this appointment I was sent a profile of a couple to look at. This was the same couple who had been on the news. I wasn’t necessarily looking to donate to them, but feel like I was kinda talked into potentially donating to the since I was one of their best options in terms of age and egg reserve levels.

So way back at the beginning of March this couple had my profile (which I had to fill out about myself) and some others, and had to decide who they were going to use. March went by, so did April, and then May. I get that it’s a big decision, but does it take that long? Right from the start it didn’t necessarily feel like it was the right thing with this couple. So when they were asking to be given until the end of May to make their decision I pulled out. I just knew something wasn’t right. It had already taken much longer than I expected, and I was ready to get things moving.

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– @katiepie_nz



Blogging Collab: Nobody is alone

Today, we have a guest post from the wonderful Dee of The Restless Empire. Dee and I have been working together to bring some much-needed attention to the normality and prevalence of mental health issues. Below is Dee’s piece on her own struggles. You will also find a list of questions to get you thinking about your own journeys. We encourage everyone to have a read and share their stories in the comments or on their own pages using the hashtags below.

If anyone feels they are struggling and can’t cope you can call Lifeline 24/7 on 0800 543 354. Help is always at hand.

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The first time the term depression related directly to me I was a 17-year-old high school student. I didn’t want to go to school, this was more than any normal high school student, I was panicked at the thought of going to school. The corridors felt vast and uncaring, I felt watched and alone. I was probably paranoid. I definitely felt like I wasn’t good enough.

I don’t know what happened to my self-confidence. It up and left well before I was 17. Nobody noticed but for a large portion of high school, whether or not it was cold, I wore my school jersey. My horrid itchy maroon school jumper was like a security blanket.

Impression depression” was all it said on my doctor’s notes and prescription. There wasn’t much decision but it was a difficult conversation nonetheless. In a jovially singsong tone he told me that he was prescribing Prozac “but don’t worry it’s totally safe, you could take the whole box and you won’t overdose… you’ll just feel really unwell”.

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I stuck with my medication for several years, and then decided by myself that I was fine and didn’t need to take it. I bumbled along for years without fluoxetine and moments with it. Between my first prescription when I was 17 and latest prescription at aged 30 I’d flitted between using fluoxetine and not, largely convincing myself that everything was fine.

Driving to work last year, in tears and eating my way through a packet of chocolate biscuits I realised things most definitely weren’t great. I was frightened and panicked about work, I was tired, I was worried and I had worked myself up into a state. I was going to need to have that conversation again; I was going to need to ask for help.

Asking for help, as an adult was much easier, yet at the same time more frightening. I felt I had more to lose if people knew but realised I had more to gain. My doctor was extremely understanding and so were my near and dear. Later when things slid from bad to worse, it was my GP who ordered me to take leave and look after myself. It was my GP who suggested I take stock and look at what’s important and it was my GP who organised for me to see a psychologist and it was my GP who has worked with me to get me to a better place.

Asking for help wasn’t easy.
Living each day nervous, worried, confused and tired also wasn’t easy.
Getting up each morning knowing I was only going to get more panicked wasn’t easy.
In the end asking for help was the easiest solution.

 

Age: 31
Location: Auckland

Day Job: Retail Marketing

Diagnoses: Depression & Anxiety, dialogised age 17.

Game plan: When I feel things are getting the better of me… I try to manage sleep, exercise and surround myself with good friends. 

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Dee
xoxo

 

Dee writes regularly on mental health and all other aspects of life at TheRestlessEmpire.com, a magazine-style blog, encouraging others to write too.