We all know that it’s best to hear about an experience or process straight from the mouth of someone that actually went through it, especially when it’s an experience you’re considering having. In this blog post, we’re giving the platform over to Katrina, a current ORM Donor, to share their first-hand experience in the form of a letter to anyone interested in becoming an egg donor.
Dear Future Egg Donor,
Today, I completed my very first cycle of egg donation at Oregon Reproductive Medicine (ORM). Of the accomplishments I have experienced in life, so few are as rewarding as giving a loving couple the ability to start a family of their own. Although my donation was anonymous during this cycle, the parents wrote a letter thanking me for “the incredible gift you have given us – the chance to raise a child and give them all the joy and abundance we have been so lucky to receive in this life.” I read their honest and heartfelt words before going into my egg retrieval procedure, and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. There are so many loving families in this world who battle with infertility and hold on so dear to the hope that they will be able to have a child to share their love with. I am humbled by the opportunity to give someone the chance at starting or growing their own family.
You may have doubts or fears before starting the process, and trust me it is completely normal. My primary fears after being approved to be an egg donor were related to needles, blood draws, and needles. In the past, I have been known to faint, vomit, and scream-cry before and during blood draws and vaccinations. “Ridiculous” does not even begin to express how I acted around a syringe. I even called my childhood best friend (who also is also an ORM Donor) to cry for 45 minutes before mustering up the courage to receive my first fertility injection.
Just wait, this story takes a sharp (get it?!) right turn! I overcame my fear. A portion of my courage came from the kind nurses, medical assistants, doctors, and phlebotomists at ORM. I wasn’t ridiculed for my nervousness before a blood test, and they always had a good diversion tactic up their sleeve. I grew accustomed to the quick pinch of a needle and distracted myself by telling the phlebotomists stories about my dogs Franky and Harley. I may have even told someone the same story two or three times. By the end of my donation cycle, I was comfortable enough to simply close my eyes and trust the staff to continue doing a great job. Trust me, if I can get my blood drawn without feeling sick, you can too!
My ability to overcome my phobia was also fueled by my awareness that many recipient families have gone through the same process multiple times. When I compared my childish fear of needles to the battle some families have with infertility, it forced me to snap to my senses. The injections in my stomach bruised at times, but it was only superficial. I am fortunate enough to have a supportive fiance who did the hormone injections for me. My best friend told me the medicine would have gone in smoother if I were the one poking! But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, I’m not that brave around needles – yet!
The hormone injections and blood tests only lasted a small fraction of time, and get this… they are actually not that painful! 10-12 days of my life are a worthy price to pay in order to give a loving family the chance to raise a child. Personally, I found that my twice daily hormone injections didn’t even alter my mood. I had predicted that I would be a hormonal mess, but I honestly felt just as (if not more) happy than I am on a regular basis.
If you’re worried about gaining weight, don’t. I won’t lie, I retained a bunch of water around my abdomen, but that is completely normal and diminishes over the week after retrieval. Pajama shorts and sundresses were a staple in my donor wardrobe, which I sure didn’t mind! Consuming electrolytes and hydrating myself are key responsibilities as a donor and for good reason. These liquids kept my abdominal discomfort at a minimum, and even my occasional facial breakouts stopped. It’s amazing how great you feel when you drink lots of water and abstain from alcohol… Who’da thunk?!
Being a past college athlete, I found it to be a bummer that I couldn’t exercise during my cycle. I had to put my volleyball away for a short 2 weeks, but it’s a minuscule price to pay for the joy I was able to gift this family. Due to the size of my stimulated ovaries, I wouldn’t have wanted to exercise anyway! I started going on more leisurely walks with my dogs and enjoyed the change of pace.
I found a deep comfort knowing that the recipient family had so much affection and love to give their future child. I will never understand what lengths the families that come to ORM have gone through during their path to parenthood, but I do know how I interpreted their kind words. By being an ORM Donor, I gave these parents a chance at realizing their dreams and I am honored that they chose me to facilitate bringing a child into their world of love.
I began the donation process because I was interested in using the compensation for my graduate school tuition. My future career involves a large amount of time assisting and advocating for children and adults, which aligns greatly with ORM’s mission. During and after my donation, my motives grew to encompass spreading the importance of egg donors. I shared my story with friends on social media, in person with my family, and in passing with acquaintances. People opened up to me about the struggles they have (or have had) with fertility, and some expressed their fears and tears shed along the way. I was blown away by the immense network of people who appreciate and benefit from egg donors. If this letter can convince one future donor that they can work through their doubts as I did, I will have made a larger positive impact on this world.
There is so much more I could write, but this short version will have to do! If you have ever thought about donating, please don’t hesitate because of your fears. Talk about your concerns with someone who has been through the process or one of the knowledgeable members of ORM’s Donor Team. I was lucky enough to have a friend to talk through the process with, and I felt extremely comfortable reaching out to my well-informed coordinators anytime I had a question. ORM is an amazing clinic; I can attest to their professionalism, confidence in their mission, and the joy they help bring into this world. This may have been my first donation, but it most definitely won’t be my last!
Get your questions answered and learn more about becoming an ORM Egg Donor at our upcoming Egg Donor Chat!