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  • Writer's pictureEvan Billups

Donor Story: Carolyn

Carolyn is a graphic designer from Sacramento. She lives an active lifestyle, enjoying activities like Acroyoga, archery, and rollerskating in her free time.Carolyn talks about her first donation andwhat advice she has for donors in terms of dealing with physical discomfort post-donation.

Could you start by telling me a little bit about yourself, your background, where you’re calling

from today?

My name's Carolyn. I am currently a graphic designer for a consulting firm. I'm currently in Sacramento, California. I went to UC Berkeley for college, and then moved up to Sacramento for work. Originally I worked in education policy, as my degree was in Political Science with minors in Education and Public Policy. I worked in education policy for about four years before pivoting to consulting and state and local government consulting, and then within the consulting firm pivoting to graphic design. So a lot of the work that I do is like publication design and layouts and working with public sector government entities and such to create reports and other deliverables for public consumption.

Outside of work I do Acroyoga, archery, I like to hike a lot, rollerskate, and yeah just a lot of hobbies!

That's so cool - rollerskating! Can you tell me a little bit about how and why you became an egg donor? Where did you hear about it and what prompted you to go through with it?

Yeah! So I had heard about egg donation as far back as high school, and so it's always been something on my mind. I knew that it would be not only an opportunity to kind of bolster my financial goals, but also an opportunity to really help a family in need. And I think my lifestyle is always very well-suited to it. Like I didn't really drink much, not even caffeine, and you know just live like a very clean lifestyle. And so if there's a family out there that needs some help conceiving a child, I felt like I would've been a good candidate for that. As the process went through, that turned out to be true and it just feels really good to be able to help someone in that way. This was on my list for a while and I'm really glad I was able to do it.

I heard about AsiaWest through an Instagram ad. Originally I had applied to a different clinic at first, but working with them I felt like the communication wasn't great. You know I'd email them back and not get a follow up for like two weeks, so working with AsiaWest I feel like the communication was really great the whole time and I felt supported and they answered all my questions.

Ok good! And going into the donation did you talk to your family or friends about it or not so much?

Yeah! I talked to a lot of friends about it and a lot of friends were really curious, and so sharing my experience - and also giving them a referral was something that they were interested in now that they knew someone who did it and was able to share their experience - they were just able to be a good support network for me while I was going through the process, but they also learned a lot.

Did you or your friends have any specific worries or concerns about becoming an egg donor or about the egg donation process?

I think the main concern that I heard from my friends was does it affect future fertility - that was the one that they were most concerned about. Personally I am probably not planning on having kids in the future, so it didn't concern me. But a couple of my friends still want to have kids in the future, and they weren't sure if it would impact them at all.

As far as I'm aware, I don't think it impacts future fertility. But I guess that varies for people as well, so I couldn't answer them definitively. But I sent them resources and stuff. And also if you just think about the math that you have like hundreds of thousands of eggs at least and you're releasing a certain number every month anyway, I don't see how it would impact future fertility.

Yeah that's a very common one! So can you talk a little about your donation - what was the donation process like for you? What was the clinic like that you went to?

The process for me was... a lot! A lot a lot of you know appointments and tests initially here in Sacramento. You know going in for tests at Lab Corp - that was a little stressful because I feel like sometimes I'd go there, they'd take some blood, and then I'd hear back and they'd say "Oh we forgot to draw this one" so then I'd have to go back and get poked again - so that was not very fun, but it was doable.

And then going into the clinic for ultrasounds was interesting, because I'd never had an ultrasound before that I can see like that. So just like gaining a better sense of my own body throughout the process as well was very interesting. Like all the blood tests and genetic tests - they gave me a lot of valuable information that I was curious about anyway. So I feel like I have a better understanding of myself biologically now.

And then when I started the injections, that was a little scary at first. I remember the first time I did the injections I just like stared down the needle for like ten minutes!

Did you do your own injections or did you have someone help you?

No, I did my own injections.

That's impressive!

Yeah, but like towards the end of it, it was like oh whatever three injections per day - it got a lot easier once I got used to it! And I feel like I did get used to it pretty quickly.

Good! Did you have any pain or discomfort either or during or after your procedure?

Yeah, I noticed myself getting a little bloated towards the end of the injections. It got much, much worse after the operation. I think the doctor warned me, you know it's going to get twice as bad before it gets better. At the time when she was communicating this to me, I had just gotten out of surgery and was like still with the anesthesia drugs and everything and so I was just like, "Oh ok that's fine!" because I wasn't feeling any pain at that point.

But after I went back to the hotel, I took my medication painkillers at 10pm and I like didn't set a timer for six hours to wake up and take more painkillers. And so at 4am my body woke me up because it was just in so much pain, and I like stumbled to the bathroom and picked up some painkillers and took them. But it was really, really bad. Not as bad as getting my IUD in! But definitely up there. So in the future if I do this again, definitely going to be more on top of the timeliness of taking painkillers.

The first day after the retrieval was not too bad, but days two through four/five were much, much worse. I feel like I got so bloated that I could barely bend over or twist around, and so that was kind of miserable. The doctor recommended you know don't do any exercise or anything for two weeks or whatever, but I really did not understand how intense it would be. So I wish I had known that I would be more bedridden essentially. And I wish I had known that ahead of time so I could've told some friends like, "Hey, I'm not going to be able to get out of bed for like two or three days - you guys wanna come over and hang out because this sucks!"

Yeah that makes sense! How long would you say was it until you were able to go back to your regular activities?

I think by day five or six I was like 90% of the way there. Like I felt some pain still, but I was able to touch the ground and twist around and stuff. So after four solid days I think it definitely got a lot better.

You kind of touched on this already, but did you have any sort of expectations going into this experience and was it as expected or different? Or were there things that surprised you?

I think everything went more or less according to my expectations. I do wish I had taken the pain warnings a little more seriously, and I wish I had prepared my home here in Sacramento a little better for my return. Because on the way to Portland I left in kind of a hurry and left some things unfinished, so I wish I had accounted for that and taken care of that before I left so that when I came home, it would've been just easy to crawl straight into bed without having to fold my laundry that was still on the bed for example!

What would you say was the best thing about being an egg donor for you?

The best thing about being an egg donor for me... honestly I think I had just a really great time in Portland. When me and my support person - I brought one of my friends with me as my support person - when we were flown out initially I was still doing my injections but the bloating wasn't so bad, so that first weekend that we were there we just took some time to travel. We did like a couple of pretty mild hikes to see a bunch of waterfalls and stuff - that was pretty awesome.

I also think that just in terms of the egg donation process itself, it was really great to work with someone from the agency and the clinic, and I just felt really supported at all times. If I had any questions, I could just immediately reach out and get an answer. Everyone involved was just so supportive in the process and reminding me that it's not just like a sacrifice on my behalf with like the injections and everything - it really goes a long way in improving someone's life!

I received a message after the donation from I think the coordinator and she was just like, "The parents are overjoyed!" Just hearing about that positive impact really made it feel worth it.

Good I'm glad! In terms of compensation, is that something you're putting towards something specific or just kind of saving up? Student loans?

Fortunately, I don't have student loans and I bought a house already, so I'm not feeling like any pressure to save up for a down payment or anything like that. But this first payment I did use to pay off my car, which is a pretty good feeling.

I think if I donate again in the future, that'll go towards primarily traveling. I think travel is a big life goal of mine - or not really a goal but ongoing interest. And so being able to have the financial means to travel more frequently and more extensively is really something that I look forward to.

Great! And lastly, what advice do you have for someone who's interested in becoming an egg donor?

I would say if you are interested, just apply and see where that takes you. Even if you don't end up going through it all the way, you find out a lot of valuable things about yourself. And for those who do go through all the way with it, the needles are not as bad as they seem! Initially it will be scary, but soon you realize it's just an initial pinch and then it's not so bad.

Just be kind to yourself. It is a pretty deal, so just give yourself enough time to rest and recover. I'm pretty Type A and I was like "Oh I want to do all the things again! I wanna go do archery, I wanna go do acro-yoga again!" And so I was just like archery shouldn't be too high impact, and so I went and tried it and my abs hurt because a lot of it is core and that's where the swelling was. So just give yourself time to rest. Be prepared to indulge in some less physically active hobbies. I feel like if I'd had that expectation, it would've been easier!


Note: this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity

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