I’m five days into the 12-day Gonal-F injection cycle. Tomorrow I go for the first of three scans to check that the right number of eggs are growing at the right pace. A week from today, I’ll go into surgery to have the eggs removed from my ovaries using a tiny suction probe. And, as so often happens, all the things I was so worried about before (detailed here) were totally not worth worrying about.
Physically, I feel absolutely normal. Some people say the injections make them put on weight, cause mood-swings. Not me, thank god.
And the injections themselves really don’t hurt. The first time I used the pen and plunged the long, thin needle into my belly roll, I got such a fright that I pulled it right out again immediately. Then had to go through with it all over again. But after that first time, it’s got a lot easier and takes no time at all. I always thought I’d never be able to be diabetic, I just wouldn’t be able to inject myself all the time, but after just five days, it’s already become so routine. So maybe I would cope as a diabetic (let’s hope I never find out, though).
What I have struggled with so far, though, is the sense that all these other people have a warped kind of right to the workings of my reproductive organs. You get this feeling when you’re pregnant as well – suddenly your body doesn’t belong to you any more – but you’re okay with it, then, because your identity has suddenly shifted for you as well. But with egg donation, I still feel like my body is mine, and that I have a right to my privacy.
The thing is, I don’t. There’s a recipient couple out there who have forked out a lot of money to an agency and a fertility clinic to make sure that they make sure that I produce some good, healthy eggs to grow into a good, healthy child, so I’ve got to sacrifice my privacy and shelve my pride, and do my very best to cooperate.
I had to keep reminding myself of that last Saturday.
I was instructed not to start injecting until my menstrual cycle started. If it hadn’t started by the date I needed to start injecting, the fertility clinic coordinator told me to phone the clinic’s gynae on his cell, just to be on the safe side. They didn’t want me injecting myself with fertility drugs if something was wrong.
So I found myself, at 9 on a Saturday morning, phoning a man I’d met briefly once on his personal cellphone to tell him that my period hadn’t started yet. I’m sure I’m not the first woman who’s had to go through with such a cringe-worthy call, and my circumstances were admittedly a lot less scary than most people’s who find themselves doing the same, but still. It was very awkward.
The gynae emailed me a form to take to the Path Lab for the blood work I’d need (hormone tests and, of course, a pregnancy test – my second since starting the egg donation procedure), so off I schlepped to get poked by the world’s most gentle nurse – come to think of it, I’ve never met a Path Lab nurse I didn’t instantly trust – and have three vials of my blood taken.
At the end of Saturday afternoon, while I was on an unprecedented husband’s-wardrobe shopping spree at the mall, the gynae called and said the test results were all normal and I wasn’t pregnant “or anything”, he said (and I thought, flipping through a rack of on-sale hoodies, “Anything what? What would the ‘anything’ be?!”), so I had his go-ahead to start injecting.
I also had to send the clinic coordinator an email to keep her in the loop after all this, and for the second time in my life I had to send an email to a virtual stranger (the previous one was to her as well, about two months ago) containing the words “bleeding”, “period” and “not pregnant, obviously”. It wasn’t any less embarrassing the second time.
When it comes down to it, though, this kind of correspondence about my reproductive health will all be worth it, if for nothing more than the feeling that I’ve done something that’s really quite selfless (and for this reason, I don’t believe pure altruism exists) for someone I’ll never meet.
Still – I’ll be quite relieved in a week when it’s all over.