I Donated My Eggs for Money, But the Experience Gave Me So Much More
This also meant that I’d have to give up vaginal sex for about a month and a half. Even if I used condoms or the (less advisable) pull-out method, the chances of an accidental pregnancy were too high. If I wanted to donate eggs, I’d have to be OK with giving up p-in-v action for a bit. But I have other holes, and my boyfriend has other, uh, organs. So while we weren’t thrilled with this part of the process, we understood that it wouldn’t leave us entirely celibate, either.
Most egg donors are between the ages of 20 and 29 — SART recommends that donors should not be “women whose age is sufficiently advanced so that their fertility potential is impaired significantly” (which, OK, but, ouch). At the geriatric age of 27, I was on the older end of the spectrum. Most of the women I saw donating were college-age, around 21.
Shots, Shots, Shots
I found it kind of cute that the NYU nurses handed me thousands of dollars worth of hormones in a large paper bag, gave me a little demo, and then sent me on my dumb merry way, assuring me that I’d “figure it out.” I have never injected anything into my body on my own, and have a slight fear of needles. But for the next ten or so days, every night at 5 p.m., I’d inject two drugs into my stomach: one that stimulates ovary follicle growth, and another that prevents premature ovulation. I’ve seen friends who’ve been public with their IVF journeys enlist their partners to cutely and gently plunge the syringes into their skin, and everyone encouraged me to make my own boyfriend stick me with the hormones. But then I remembered the one time I fought him off as if he were a feral coyote when he lovingly offered to administer my eye drops, so I figured it was best for me to do this by myself.
One of the shots was prepackaged, so all I had to do was inject it into my stomach. The other one consisted of two medications I had to mix together before administering them. The first few times I put the needle inside me, I hesitated right before I plunged it inside of me, which led to a little bit of bleeding (normal) and some aches. I got more confident with each new attempt, though, and it got easier. That didn’t mean the pain entirely went away — I became a pin cushion, having to find new places to put a needle every night, and an oval-sized bruise bloomed on my stomach.
The nurses told me that the shots could make me feel bloated, cramped, or nauseous — that for most people, it just felt like a bad period. They also told me to not, under any circumstances, work out. Since the medication would make my ovaries swell, any extreme movement might cause them to twist, causing intense pain, nausea, vomiting, and requiring immediate laparoscopic surgery. If it’s untreated, it could halt blood flow, and lead to tissue death, which would mean a doctor would have to perform an emergency procedure to remove the ovaries. This is rare but very, very dangerous, so I was told to cool it on the regular yoga and runs I typically turn to calm my mind. With my only positive coping methods out of pocket, I looked forward to a fortnight of being a raging angry lunatic.