Today I’ve decided to do another interview, because it’s been over a year since I did one! I will be interviewing my friend Claire who donated her eggs, and I think it’s a process many women are interested in, but don’t know what will really happen. So we’re about to get the real deal, the scoop of the century!
So first off, tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi, my name is Claire. I’m 25 and I work full-time at Zendesk. I enjoy dancing, making lots and lots of art, and holding chickens.
Egg Donation, what got you on the idea?
My friend Madeline. She had this running joke that some day she would just sell all of her eggs, retire early and never work again. Then one day I googled it for fun and found Forward Fertility and decided, I have some time. Might as well apply and see if it’s a thing I can do. I filled out the initial application to see if I met the requirements. Approximate age range, some basic medical history and family history stuff. Not necessarily invasive questions, but just do you meet the most basic qualifications to be an egg donor.
Then if you do you do, there’s another screening process, and then you set up a profile. That profile has your medical history in it, some other basic information about you, your background, etc. You decide on the geographic range, so how far you’re willing to travel. Like 30 miles from where you are, or statewide, or region-wide, or all around the country and be matched up with a couple in California or anywhere else.
So basically I met with Christie Olsen, who is a Nurse Practitioner, and founder of Forward Fertility, and we went over all of this stuff together. She gave me the rundown on the next steps and the process.
Initially it was like “EHHHH” nothing may ever happen of this, but why not. Definitely thought nothing would ever come of it, but it would be cool if it happened. I wasn’t banking on it occurring. Then almost two years later, I think, it was a while ago. I got an e-mail from Christie, saying that she had a couple that was looking for donors with an African American background, and would you be comfortable sharing your profile with them?
I said yes, and a week later she said they wanted to work with me! This is such a long process, and like 90% paperwork. The actual couple weeks leading up to the procedure is really quick, but the beginning is just paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
Describe the process before procedure?
There’s a lot of things, like initial agreements and privacy stuff. At this point you can decide how public you want the donation to be. It varies couple to couple and donor to donor. Forward Fertility will facilitate all the communication between the two parties. I don’t know the couple who has my eggs. I don’t know who they are, where they’re from, where they live. I’ve heard they’re really lovely people though! The doctor was so happy and so grateful that I was doing this for them. This is a couple who is so wonderful together, so my eggs will be going towards the most loving home. It was reassuring which is nice.
This is not a binding thing exactly, like if at any point leading up to the procedure you decide you don’t want to, you can stop. They understand the implications and that this is strange.
What is the actual steps leading up to the procedure?
There is a psych eval, an initial like, hey, I hear you’re doing an egg donation things, let’s talk about it. A nice long conversation about the whole process and how I was handling it, and why I was interested in it. And how weird it is, because it is a weird thing to do. Then I filled out a test, that was a really long personality quiz. I had to do a bunch of blood tests, and other tests that were run through my hormone levels, if I was disease free, that I wasn’t already pregnant. They took a bunch of small blood samples.
I had a phone call with a lawyer, to go over the formal legal agreement that needed to be signed by myself and the couple. Had an hour long conversation with him so he could read the legal document and make sure I understood what it meant. If there was anything I wanted to be different, or changed that I could speak up and make sure there wasn’t anything weird going on. He was based out of New York and we chatted over my lunch break. Then after we went through everything, he sent it to me to sign.
Then more blood tests, in the weeks leading up to it I was at the Wisconsin Fertility Institute, which is Middleton, where it was checking my hormone levels.
I met with the doctor once all the paperwork was done, and then I was finally able to meet the doctor who was doing the procedure. They went over the procedure, the risks, and what was going to happen.
Then it’s when did your last period end. To time out the procedure. I have a copper IUD, and they could just go around it because it’s not emitting any hormones. With Mirena or other hormonal IUD’s they might be able to still go through with it in place, but I’m not 100% certain. That would be something to be aware of in going through with all of this.
The timing of my cycle ended up being perfect. I told them where I was at and they were like OHHH, we can probably start this week then. They want you to take birth control right up until the moment before you start injections. They made some calls to sort out my prescriptions, and where to get my drugs from since it’s run through the couples insurance, and sort out where it’s coming from and where I can pick it up from. While this was happening the nurse walked me through all of the drugs.
They sat me down with a bunch of fertility drugs and injection pens, and a sponge to practice giving shots to. This is what this thing does, this is what it’s used for.
I’d go every few days and get a blood test. They would tell me the hormone level by e-mail and I could sign into this online portal to find out my levels. Then I would adjust my dosage on the pen, add a fresh needle and stab myself in the ovaries once a day at first. For the first week.
The first time I did this, Chadburger can distinctly remember this. I had everything laid out on the counter in the kitchen. It looked like I was prepping for surgery. Chad was like “Oh god, NEEDLES, I can’t believe you’re going to do this.” I was trying to figure out the best way to inject myself. I feel like standing up isn’t the best, and I tried to stand against the wall. No, that was scary. I ended up sitting on the floor leaning up against the the refrigerator. It was so so scary the first time, I know the needle is tiny and I was going to be fine, but then I did it straight in, injected the liquid and removed it, straight out. It was scary until the needle was actually in me. And it’s actually not that bad. Like a tiny little prick.
I did that every evening roughly around the same time. The first week is a lot more flexible, try to do it within a hour of itself. You’re trying to super-duper stimulate your ovaries to produce 10-12 eggs, rather than one like during a normal cycle. When I went in for monitoring appointments, they’d do an ultrasound to see all of the follicles that were growing to produce more eggs. The nurse once told me, it’s like you have Swiss cheese ovaries, all of the black blobs, yeah, those are follices that are forming eggs. Dem follicles though. They measure progress based on how many follicles are appearing and what your dosage will be for the next session.
The second round of drugs were where things got weird. I had to do them twice a day and were way more specific about timing. The first thing I did one was on a Saturday. So much science, I felt like a mad scientist. There’s a terrifying looking mixing needle and a significantly less terrifying injection needle. That one hurt a little bit more than the pen, but I only had to like four days of that. But having to do that in the morning was a little more rough than the other one. I had to do a couple of them at work. So I was in a conference room and just set all my stuff out and was like guys, I’m gonna quick do this thing.
One of the coolest thing about my office is that everyone was ridiculously supportive about the whole thing. Nothing went bad or went wrong, but I had this whole network of people. They wanted me to update them on the process and know if I was doing okay or if I needed anything. They were so supportive through the whole thing that was fantastic.
The night before the procedure was the most insane for me. Having to sort out the dosage. The day before I had a phone call with one of the other nurses. Do you have a pen or a pencil? You’re going to want to write down these instructions, and call if you need anything. We are here for you. At precisely this time you have to do XYZ, and at this time do this, this, and this, and this is why you’re doing it and how to measure it to get this dosage. I had to put these little pills up my cooch for about 8 days, plus an oral antibiotic after the procedure. Trigger shot was Wednesday, Thursday was no shots, just tablets, and Friday was the procedure.
Trigger shot is not an exact science, had a tape measure for part of it. But I had to give myself two shots Wednesday evening. One of which was pre-ready and dosed out. The second one you only need about a quarter of an inch of the whole thing. (pictured at the bottom) I measured it out with a literal ruler. They recommend squirting out the excess to make it easier.
During the two weeks there is no drinking, no sex, and no rock and roll. Since you’re making yourself hella, HELLA fertile. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than one cup of coffee a day.
Were you weirdly horny?
Then the actual egg-straction happened. Friday was really fun. Woke up I was excited and ready for things. I drove over to Wisconsin Fertility Institute, and squared away that my friend Luke was going to pick me up.
I got there, they showed me around to the room I was hanging out in prior to the procedure. Where there was my gown, a shit ton of blankets, it was hella cozy. They walked me through and explained that they’d roll me around the corner to this other room and how they’d knock me out for the thing.
The doctor goes in and takes a needle and sucks up eggs, then puts that into tiny vials and then a nurse takes the vial to the egg cleaning dude, who basically just cleans eggs all day. His whole thing is putting eggs under a microscope and preps them for being frozen or prepped for whatever thing is happening to them. They usually freeze them once before they’re used.
I remember the nurse counting down for the first dose of anesthesia, it was really funny, because the really small subset of people feel a tingling in their nether-regions. And I had that. I was ohh, that’s so tingly. I was out, and then I woke up back in the room. Then I was free to go, and they told me I was golden and could go and get food.
I was so drowsy and so out of it. I was fine, but definitely tired. Then met Luke as I was leaving the lobby and we went and got breakfast. I was so hungry, but so out of it that I forced myself to eat some fried eggs and some toast.
Christie was wonderful and called me to check in and asked if I needed anything. She was like, I can stop at Walgreens or anywhere, if you need anything, CALL ME. She came over and to drop off the final compensation for everything.
I’m basically a magician and recovered like a maniac. Christie called me the next day to check in and I was like I’m still doing good.
What would you like someone to know that you wish you had known before doing this?
Actually no. Everybody there was very open about conveying information of things that could happen and might happen. Communication was super helpful.
Would you do it again?