At Extraordinary Conceptions, we love to hear the stories of past egg donors and surrogates. We’re excited to introduce the special story of a donor’s experience with one of the side effects of egg donation and how she didn’t let it stop her from donating to other families through later egg donation cycles.
My experience with OHSS and why I did 4 egg donation cycles after.
Anyone looking into egg donation will read about possible complications and Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, or OHSS, is front and center. I will give you a little more information about OHSS in a minute, but let me tell you, it was not a fun experience. After my first egg donation, I had a run-in with the little devil (OHSS) and I am talking to you now as a proud 5 time egg donor. Some of you are probably thinking, “if it was that bad, why did you donate again?” I am happy to share that story with you.
When taking hormone medication, as you do in an egg donation, Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome can occur. While it is not common (1-3% of egg donors), it is caused by too much hormone medication in your system leading to swollen ovaries and fluid buildup in the abdomen. Symptoms of OHSS are rapid weight gain, nausea, abdominal pain and distention (bloating), diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Sounds great, right? While bloating is common after donating your eggs, OHSS is a whole different ball game.
I remember when I first got the call that a couple was interested in me as their egg donor. I was thrilled! There were many aspects that went into my decision to become an egg donor, but above all, I just wanted to give someone struggling with infertility the chance to have a child. I figured if I have the ability but am not using it, then why not help someone that DREAMS of this?! I was going to make a big difference in the life of another and that is truly what tipped the scale for me.
Long story short, I started my first donation and got all the way until TWO DAYS before my procedure was scheduled and it was CANCELLED. It was so sad. I felt like a failure. My body just wasn’t responding (my eggs weren’t growing) to the medication they had me on. With hormones raging and many thoughts running through my head, I didn’t know how to react to the news. I was reassured by the nurse that this does happen, it was no fault of mine, and that they were checking with the couple to see if they wanted to try again.
A few days passed when I received a call from the nurse saying they decided to give it another go. I wanted to do everything I could to help this couple, so I agreed to it. They put me on a different medication plan and, this time, it was a success! The retrieval finished, 26 eggs were retrieved (which is a great number) and I changed someone’s life. WOO HOO! Now, the recovery begins.
The first day, I felt tired, a little sore and bloated, but it wasn’t too bad. As the hours went on, that changed. My stomach was so bloated I looked like someone shoved an entire watermelon in there. I couldn’t stand up straight, I couldn’t get out of bed without losing my breath, pain radiated down my right side every time I moved position… I felt like the blueberry girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. HORRIBLE. I called the nurse multiple times BEGGING for some kind of help with these symptoms, “THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING YOU CAN GIVE ME!” I was told I just needed to wait it out, once I get my period it would subside – but, if it’s that bad I could go to the emergency room and have it drained. Huh? Those are my only options? Am I just being a baby? I don’t know. Do I really want to go to the emergency room? Definitely not. So, I waited.
About a week and a half later of hell, I got my period. It took about another 2-3 days to get back to normal… but, I got there. Again, you are probably wondering, “WHY did you do another donation after that (or four)?!” I’ll tell you that after all was said and done, was that the worst pain I have experienced? Close to it. Was it worth it? TOTALLY. Think about it: I gave someone the gift of a family. I was a part of something way bigger than myself and my life. It was magical. I will say that I believe I experienced OHSS due to the repeat of cycles in close timing (1 month downtime) and possible hormone overload. I will also say that most fertility doctors that are running these cycles are super knowledgeable and experienced in their field, so I follow all instructions and trust them through and through. I never experienced it again. Maybe it was a fluke; maybe it was the back to back cycle — who knows! But, at the end of the day, I made a difference. I continued to make a difference 4 times after that. Now, people who may not have had the chance to have their dream family can have it. I helped with that. And, there is nothing in this world that would make me regret even one second of it.
We’d just like to say Thank You to this awesome life changing woman who gave the greatest gift to families in need. If you have a story about your experience that you’d like to share with us, please email Erica@extraconceptions.com.