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Just when I thought this was going to be easy…..

February 22, 2012
Logo design by Christine Hepner

I can’t say that I ever got used to the needles, because I didn’t. I dreaded 10 pm, my chosen time to inject, not because of any pain from the needle, but just from the anxiety that came from drawing the Lupron into the syringe. You know how on all those TV medical shows, they pull the medication into the syringe and then squirt it up into the air to make sure there are no air bubbles? Well, in real life, not so much. The tiny vial of Lupron cost $400, and you are given the exact amount you will need for the roughly three weeks you inject, so there is no wasting allowed. Some nights I’d get myself so nervous, I’d have to try a four or five times with new needles each time before I got it right.

A few times during this process, I had to report to CWRC for morning monitoring. This consists of having blood drawn to check hormone levels and then having a transvaginal sonogram to check my ovaries for cysts. Have I mentioned before just how damn lucky I am to live in NYC? Not just for the transvaginal sonograms, because who wouldn’t jump at one of those? But because I live 4 subway stops from one of the best fertility clinics in the world, and it happens to be right on my way to work. Over the months of morning monitoring and other testing I had to go through, I was never once even a minute late for work. In fact I was usually earlier than I was on non-testing days. Oh, and yes, I did say “months” of monitoring rather than the typical five weeks it usually takes from the first day of injecting to the transfer day. I promise by the end of this post, you will know why it took months instead of weeks. And that, my friends, is known as foreshadowing. Or for the movies fans among you, this is when the bad music plays in the background as the slutty girl starts down the basement stairs….

After about 2.5 weeks on the Lupron, I was told to start taking Estrace (Estrogen) twice a day. The donor began a different course of hormones meant to stimulate egg production. She would also be coming in for blood testing and monitoring, but the donors go to a different floor of the building at a different time so that you don’t have a situation where all the prospective mothers are sitting in the same waiting room with all the donors.

So in about 4 weeks, the donor would start the last injections and tests. Within 5 days, she would be ready for egg retrieval and D would be called in to provide the sperm. I was told during the orientation session with Nurse Giggler that we would get reports on the donor’s progress; we would be allowed to know her “levels,” whatever that meant, but that at least “100” for the first test was the standard they look for. Then, every other day, her levels were supposed to double until the 5th day, when the retrieval surgery would take place. I would have to come in for a “lining check,” also, to make sure my uterus was ready for the embryo transfer.

Looking back now on the whole process, from initial consultation to the last appointment with my OB, I counted 112 appointments in about 2.5 years! This includes exams, tests, blood tests at labs, morning monitoring, oh and dentist appointments. I seriously got to the point where I sort of wanted to go to the doctor. I mean, not really, but if for any reason I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, I started to feel a little, I don’t know exactly what, maybe neglected? It was a very weird feeling, especially from someone who previously would only go to the GYN once a year and hated that.

I was at work in mid-March when I got the call I had been waiting weeks for! Nurse Giggler was calling to tell me how the donor was doing. I was so excited I could barely breathe. I was at work and I had to scramble to find an empty conference room or office so that I could take the call in private, so it took me a minute or two, and I was ready to hear the news, but as it turned out, it was not the news I was hoping for. Our donor, who did everything exactly as she was supposed to and through no fault of her own, was not at the level she was supposed to be. Instead of a reading of “100” that morning, her reading came back at “80.” Nurse Giggler told me that sometimes the first reading was low, but that the next one would “catch up” and all would be fine. I should still come in for my lining check as scheduled with my doctor, but that we should prepare ourselves for all outcomes. The donor’s next blood test was in 48 hours.

D and I went out to dinner that night. We decided to try to be optimistic about it, but it was hard not to be upset. Would our shot be over before I even really had a chance? We had already paid the 30K and we didn’t really happen to have another 30K laying around the house. What we didn’t understand was that our 30K entitled us to actual eggs. If this donor didn’t work out, we would have the opportunity to try another cycle with her, or we could go back to square one and be matched with a new donor. But either way, it would mean another whole cycle for me too, including another 4 to 5 weeks of injections and hormone treatments.

Two days later, the news wasn’t any better. The donor’s levels had come up, but not enough. There was one more chance two days later, and on the other hand, my lining check was very good, so I was where I needed to be if the egg retrieval did take place.

We waited another 48 hours, and then my phone rang at work. This time it was Dr. Nakhuda himself and not Nurse Giggler. I knew what that meant immediately. Our donor had still not come up to the level he wanted to see. A sonogram did show follicles, but his opinion was that we should try again. I was very disappointed, but since I hadn’t realized that we would get another shot for our 30K, there was a bright lining to the cloud.

Now to the difficult decision: should we try again with our “perfect” donor, or should we go back and match to another? Our donor was at the end of the acceptable age range, but she had donated successfully for them before. Dr. Nakhuda told me that it could simply be a fluke bad cycle, and that she would do great the next time. Or not. There was just no telling. I asked him what he recommended, and he said, “go for a new donor.” That was it for me.

But our donor, I can’t imagine how she must have felt. I look back on the notes I took when her profile was read to us. She said she wanted to donate because her family had tragically lost a child (her brother) when he was 8 years old. She saw the devastation first-hand of parents who missed a child so badly, and she thought being an egg donor could help someone become a parent where there was no other hope. Not to mention that since she never went through the retrieval, she didn’t receive the $8,000 compensation. After more than a month of needles, pills, blood tests, sonograms, and then finally, really really painful injections, she walked away with nothing.

I wish I could have let her know how badly I felt for her. I wish I could have hugged her and told her how much we appreciated what she went through and that she was willing to do something so wonderful for total strangers makes her a much better woman than I’ll ever be. I also wish she was compensated. I’m not saying that I wanted to pay another 8K to try again with another donor, but since this is supposedly a very rare occurrence, or so we thought, (are you catching that foreshadowing stuff again….), couldn’t some sort of compensation be built into the cost of the process. I don’t know, like everyone pays an extra $100 to build a pool of money to compensate to donors who try, but don’t work out?

D and I were given the night to talk about how we wanted to proceed, and the next day, Alyssa called us and we told her to start looking for a new donor for us. I stopped the hormone treatment, and there we were, March 2010, almost 2 full years into the process, back at square one.

Next time: Love is lovelier the second (or third) time around?

© 2012

Please leave your comments below!!! Oh, would you like a free tshirt? Email me at If you pay the shipping fee ($6 for standard USPS shipping), I’ll send you an authentic grayhairedmom tshirt like this one. (only sizes left are XL and XXL.)

From → IVF Treatments

One Comment
  1. nadine permalink

    I have a huge appreciation for what you both went through. How could you not have grey hair by the time you got pregnant……


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