Thursday, February 7th, 2013
The post below comes to us from Diana, a two-time previous donor with BHED.
Now, let’s get on to the business of having blood drawn during your cycle. Sure, I recently discovered it’s a piece of cake to have a needle in my skin for a second during an injection, but what about a needle being nestled into my vein for more than a minute as my precious life force is drained from my body into a cold heartless vial? This would be tricky. For those of you who hate having blood drawn, you are not alone. I was the girl who broke into a cold sweat, literally soaking my shirt the minute I sat in the strange school-desk chair, oddly appropriate as I would often be having an internal fit reminiscent of a 2nd grader, and was handed that ball to squeeze. I hadn’t had blood taken in so long (and hardly remember the last go around after having fainted). They call my name. I walk over to what is referred to as the (ahem, cough, swallow) “Blood Station” with my iPod earphones in.
My deer in the headlights look is greeted by the kindest pair of eyes I’ve ever seen. These eyes belong to Raul, the Phlebotomist. He seems to notice my unease, perhaps my clenched fists and general lack of breathing or blinking, and says “I take it you’re not a fan of having your blood drawn?” To which I say “Not a fan at all, maybe even a heckler” as a strange trail of nervous giggles leaks out of my clenched jaw. I try to make jokes when I’m nervous, also to downplay how incredibly frightened I am, they’re also usually really horrible jokes as demonstrated. But for some reason, Raul’s warm presence had me feel it was okay to just come clean, “I’m actually terrified of having my blood drawn. In fact, it’s the only thing I’m afraid of. Some people fear car accidents, life failure, earthquakes. I fear sitting in that chair. I usually pass out or vomit either before, during or after having my blood drawn. In fact, I’ve avoided doing it for several years because I’m always so embarrassed by my fainting or throwing up.” Wow, thanks for the biopic, Barbara Walters. Raul is not at all put off by this, in fact, he appears to find this honesty refreshingly charming (this is what I tell myself after feeling like I just shared some sort of Judy Blume confessional diary entry). He’s not looking at me like the high-maintenance mess that’s about to make his job a huge pain. He puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “I’m really good, you won’t feel a thing. Let’s have you lie down.” I lay down and already feel 100 times better than I usually did in the chair. I say, “Raul, I’m going to turn my music up really loud while you do this.” He smiles and says, “No problem, do what you have to do.” I turn on my music and the next thing I know Raul is telling me it’s over. I couldn’t believe it. I sat up and almost cried. ”You’re the best Raul! The best! You’re the fastest blood-taker in the west! You’re a blood-taking ninja!” Raul was laughing, I was laughing. It was a regular feel good Who’s the Boss episode where Raul lovingly pats me on the head and calls me “Saman-ta”.
So what made this go-around so different than previous blood draws? Quite simply, being open and honest with the Phlebotomist about my fear. For so long I had tried to”hide” it, as I was painfully embarrassed that a woman my age couldn’t handle what, in the grand scheme of things, is such a simple thing to do. Come to think of it, after voicing my fear, I immediately had a sense of relief. That seems to be true for most things in life, I suppose. We often make ourselves so uncomfortable trying to cover up what we’re afraid of, or ignoring it all together, that it grows into a larger, scarier beast (perhaps simply to get our attention). If I were to distill my fear, it really came down to the embarrassment of fainting or throwing up. By sharing my fear with Raul, he was empowered to help me and make some adjustments so that didn’t happen. So, if you have any fear or anxiety about having your blood drawn, be sure to share that information with the nurse or Phlebotomist, they’re actually extremely accommodating. After, you might notice that the only drawn out thing about a blood draw is you driving yourself crazy thinking about it. Similar to the rules that apply to those who have a difficult mother-in-law – acknowledge the fear, but you don’t have to invite it out to lunch and entertain it.
-Diana, former BHED donor
Thursday, July 7th, 2011
All intended parents are confronted with the decision as to whether or not they should tell their child (and others) that they used a third-party to conceive their child. Parents usually come to a decision based on their own comfort level and feelings regarding using an egg donor or surrogate. Most experts agree that honesty is the best policy when it comes to informing your child. A good website that goes into more detail about how to talk to your children in developmentally appropriate ways is www.donor-conception-network.org. The website has a great series of booklets entitled “Telling and Talking” – they offer advice on how to talk to your child at every stage. Before telling your child you want to asses 1) the child’s emotional and intellectual capacity to process the information and 2) the extent to which your family, culture or religion may be able to accept a child born through egg donation or surrogacy.
The decision to tell your child may be an easy one or one fraught with decision. Most family therapists would agree that telling your child is the easier path to take because there’s no room for misconceptions or false information, which inevitably leads to feelings of betrayal or mistrust. It’s also recommended to start giving some information at a relatively early age, from three to five years old. Again, the website above goes into thorough detail in advising how to talk to children of all ages regarding their conception.
- Brenda Fahn-Hardt M.S., MFT
Beverly Hills Egg Donation Staff Psychotherapist
Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
From our companion site, Ask Kate:
Q: I’m going through the donation process, and have found that it’s so hard to find information out there about it. How long is the typical cycle from the beginning of the hormone shots until retrieval?
A: The length of a cycle can vary. I know that’s SUCH an annoying answer, especially when you’re skimming FAQ pages looking for a concrete number. It depends on where you begin your timeline – if you start with birth control, the cycle can be 5 weeks long (a couple weeks on BC to regulate your cycle and sync it up with the recipient and a few weeks on stim meds). So much is determined by the recipient, and where she’s at in her cycle. If your recipient is ready to go, you could be on BC less than two weeks and starting the injections within 10 days.
On the other hand, if your timeline starts with the stim medication, then the process could be as short as 14 days or as long as four weeks. I’ve done both versions. The short cycle is great, because it’s over so fast that you don’t have a whole lot of life interruption and the doctor’s appointments are daily, fast and routine — like a train through a station. That said, I was able to do a short cycle because I had good starting hormone levels and my recipient was alike in that way, so we were able to barrel through together.
When I was asked to do a third cycle, my doctors changed. I was at USC’s IVF facility and, as any scholastic approach to medicine goes, the longer it takes, the more we learn. I was annoyed at first, because I had gotten used to minimal interruption to my work, diet and physical life, but a couple of weeks into it — when I’d normally be wrapping things up — I realized how much better I like the “long cycle.” Since it was slower and more drawn out, the effects to my body were far more gradual, and my recovery was easier. I was more comfortable with the changes to my ovaries (it’s a pretty big physical change that is hard to imagine until you experience it) because what used to happen in a matter of 7 days was happening over the course of three weeks instead.
Your cycle would not take longer than 4 weeks, but it may take up to that long, for sure. By the end, you’ll feel fatigued and your retrieval will be welcome when it rolls around. But, be okay with the discomfort – it’s not forever, and the result is priceless.
- Kate Lee, 6-time BHED Donor
Monday, June 6th, 2011
One of the questions Intended Parents often ask is “Can you recommend a good doctor?”. Other variations include “Should I stay with my current doctor?”, “Should I move to a doctor closer to where the egg donor lives?”, and sometimes “I’m not sure if I should move doctors or not – what do you think?”
Here are the answers to those questions, in our opinion…
1) “Can you recommend a good doctor?” Yes, we can provide recommendations for you.
We have been fortunate enough to work with many of the top Reproductive Endocrinologists (“fertility doctors”) in the country, and from those experiences (and client feedback) we have a good sense of who most of the better doctors are. We base our recommendations on a number of factors, including:
- General reputation and feedback from past patients
- Quality and professionalism of the office staff (front office, nursing, etc.)
- General compliance with current “industry standards”, including information such as number of embryos typically implanted, compliance with common testing, administration of medication, etc. (Note that since we are not physicians, we cannot comment, and would not deign to comment, on any particular doctor’s medical protocol. However, when we see a lower success rate and highly unusual protocol used, we get concerned…)
- General office “vibe” (for example, many clinics with in-house egg donor programs are very negative towards working with agencies)
- Specific success rates (sometimes per SART, sometimes per our own information or in-house statistics)
Note that we do not limit our work to any particular group or clinic, but as we gather first-hand information, we will use it to help our clients make the best choice for them.
2) “Should I stay with my current doctor?” “Should I move to a doctor closer to where the donor lives?” That all depends…
We believe that the most important criteria in choosing or keeping your physician include:
- Your comfort level with and trust in your doctor. If you love your doctor and totally trust him or her, as long as they are supportive of using an egg donor from an agency, definitely keep that doctor. We think that if you are calm during the process, and are willing to do what your doctor says because you trust in that doctor, you are more likely to have a successful cycle. This is only said from anecdotal evidence and other’s opinions, but being in a good place psychologically as you’re on buckets of hormones (and going through a somewhat surreal process) can’t help but benefit you.
If finances are an issue (as they generally are) and you choose an egg donor from another city, you might want to consider moving to a doctor in that city. However, if you love your current doctor, the difference in dollars is probably irrelevant — certainly in the long term. If you do choose to use or keep a doctor in a city far from where the donor lives, make sure that you’re aware of the outside monitoring costs as early in the process as possible. (The finance person at the doctor’s office, along with our cycle coordinator, can help you with that.) The less surprises that happen in this process, the better.
All of BHED’s clients are assigned a cycle coordinator — a senior member of our staff who follows your case through from the time you choose your donor until retrieval (and often, beyond.) The Cycle Coordinators will be in regular contact with your doctor’s office from the time you sign your contract with us, and she will alert you if we have any unexpected challenges with the doctor’s office. Most of the time things work out just fine.
Note that we stay with you until you become pregnant or decide to discontinue trying. Your choice of doctor is certainly an important part of this process, and is one of the keys to the success of your pursuit to begin or build your family.
We look forward to helping you realize your dream through egg donation!
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
The post-retrieval recovery is very manageable. Truly. If you’re active and healthy, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to bounce right back. It’s important to take about a week to recover – take it easy, drink lots of Gatorade and Vitamin Water, and follow your doctor’s instructions. Allow your body to heal. Everything inside of you has just gone through the ringer, and you’ll feel tender, sore, and bloated in the days following the retrieval (not unlike what you’d experience with a heavy period). You can expect to get your first post-cycle period about 10 days after your procedure (10-12 days after your HCG shot) and once that’s come and gone, you’ll feel a million times better. If you wish to donate again, you’ll need to have two normal periods before you’re cleared to go for another cycle. Any weight gain can be chalked up to fluids, so be sure to drink enough electrolytes (the swelling and retention usually go down quickly).
Every doctor is different, and your clinic will have specific instructions for your recovery (you’ll also get more information regarding when you can get back to your “normal routine” – including working out, having sex, etc.), but the most important advice for a smooth recovery is to let the body do its thing, drink plenty of fluids, and be good to yourself. You’ll be smooth sailing in no time.
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
From our companion site, Ask Kate:
Q: I am currently researching whether I want to start donating my eggs, and I have a concern: I have a full time job that doesn’t offer a whole lot of paid time off. Looking at the egg donor information section, I see that there are many AM doctor’s appointments. How often are they? Daily? Weekly? Is there ever an option for late afternoon appointments? I really want to do this, but I don’t see it working if morning appointments are all that are available. Can you advise?
A: It’ll be tough if your job is inflexible. However, you chances of success are extraordinary if you sit down with your HR department or boss and explain to them that you need some leeway for upcoming doctor’s appointments. There’s no harm in laying it out there, and you likely won’t even have to go into specifics. That said, you will need quite a bit of time away from the office. While most clinics do have 7:30am appointments, most doctors don’t arrive until 8:00am and you aren’t seen until 8:30 sometimes. I never got to work before 8:45/9 on any given day of a doctor’s visit. And these appointments have to happen first thing in the morning. There’s no way around it. You need to be monitored early in the day so that your doctor can make any necessary changes to you medication before you do your afternoon injection. Also (and this is more unusual) I was at the doctor every morning during the last week of a few of my cycles because I ran the risk of overstimulating. In that case, the doctors wanted to keep a very close eye on my estrogen levels and ovaries.
Not everyone can make this work, it’s a commitment and you have to make it a top priority. Not doing so could jeopardize the entire cycle. It’s very do-able, just make sure you have a solid game plan going in. Good luck!!
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
I was inspired to become an egg donor by a family I worked for. They are two of the most amazing and generous people I have ever met. Although they didn’t find each other until later in life, they knew from the moment they met that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together and start a family of their own. Thanks to egg donation, their dream of having a family became a reality. They now have three amazing and beautiful children. I have always loved kids, and have been working with them since I was 12 years old. Children are blessings, and I know it would be a very rewarding and extremely special experience to be able to give someone the opportunity to have a child of their own, no matter the circumstance. I am looking forward to being matched for the first time.
- BHED donor, Taylor #8329
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Donors are Only Donating for the Financial Compensation
While the donors we work with appreciate the compensation they get from participating in a cycle, in most cases money is not the primary driving force behind their decision to donate. Through conducting one-on-one interviews with all of the donors in our program, we’ve found that most of them come to us with some sort of personal connection to infertility. Often they’ve seen a family member, close friend or colleague struggle to conceive and want to help someone else in the same position. Others are parents themselves and feel compelled to help others experience the joy of starting a family. Regardless of a particular donor’s situation, money is rarely the only motivating factor in her decision. Successful donors with our program understand the gravity of their decision and are invested in the donation process.
All Potential Donors who Apply to Participate are Accepted
Not so! Most candidates who apply to our egg donor program do not make it onto our database, for a variety of reasons. For starters, only a small percentage of those who apply are even suitable candidates for donation. Even to be initially considered for our program, applicants must fall within the appropriate age range (21-29), have the flexibility to accommodate the demands of an IVF cycle, have a clean personal and family health record (free of infectious diseases and genetic conditions), and have completed or are completing some form of higher education. Even then, BHED’s donor application process is rigorous, and many potential candidates are weeded out before they are added to our site because they haven’t met one or more of our requirements. A potential donor is asked to not only fill out a lengthy application, but must meet with a BHED donor representative for a personal interview (in person or via webcam), submit a wide range of photos for her profile (including family and childhood pictures), provide transcripts and other relevant education documentation as appropriate, and respond to emails and phone calls from our office in a timely manner. If we feel that a donor does not have the time or dedication to see a cycle through, we won’t add her to our program.
A Donor Might Drop Out of a Cycle at Any Time
Donors do occasionally drop out of cycles. It’s rare, but it happens. For this reason, we have a number of checks and balances in place to ensure that all of our donors actually ARE committed to participating in a cycle at any given time. We call them regularly to check in, request updates, and confirm their availability and willingness to donate. In the rare instance that a donor does drop out after being matched, it almost always happens very early on in the process. In particular, it’s extremely unlikely that a donor won’t follow through with a cycle after she’s started medication. At that point, she’s attended several doctor’s appointments, coordinated with an attorney, and done psychological and genetic evaluation – all without any compensation. As with most egg donor agencies, our donors receive a small portion of their fee once they start medication (in our case, $750) and then get the remainder of their balance after the retrieval. It’s unusual for a donor to drop out of a cycle in the first place, but almost completely unlikely for her to call it quits “late in the game.”
Donors Lie on Their Applications
In general, the vast majority of donors are not inclined to lie on their applications because most are well-meaning candidates who are donation for very personal reasons. However, this is another reason why we find it beneficial to have a system in place to substantiate the information that donors provide. We review every applicant’s profile during her interview and, if the donor claims high academic achievements, ask that she provide documentation from her school to back up her claims. Impartial professionals also gather additional information through the psychological evaluation, genetic counseling, and medical screening which can be crosschecked for inconsistencies. It’s important to restate that it’s very unlikely for a donor to deliberately submit inaccurate information, but we hope that the steps we’ve put in place to weed out those that do give our clients added peace of mind.
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
If you’re reading this, you are most likely as bewildered as my partner and I were when we started this process…
So many moving parts, so many businesses ready to “help us create our family”.
How does one choose the perfect place? This was the biggest thing we’d ever take on. This was not buying a new car. Our fertility doctors sent us his top 4 recommendations for Egg Donor Agencies. We found 4 others on our own. We spent MANY weeks searching the sites. After awhile, it felt like online dating. Only the “date” would be the genetic mother of our child.
Fairly quickly, it became clear what we should focus on. In addition to the actual donor profiles, we realized the importance of the egg donor agency itself. Because we’d be going into business with BHED, the particulars mattered a lot. The fees , the management, the rules, it all became important. Of the 8 sites we kept searching, BHED’s language and demeanor was the fit we were looking for. Very upfront. Very reasonable. Very tidy. In terms of profiles, we found several profiles where the Donor only offered the perfect answers from top to bottom, with absolutely no familial health risks or conditions. It simply was not realistic. Because we’d be placing so much trust in someone, honesty was crucial to us, even if we never met that someone. Several times, we had specific questions about a donor. Not only did Lisa Greer answer them immediately (yep, I said immediately), she took it all a step further by providing her email, and all of her phone numbers to us. This spoke volumes to us about BHED’s level of dedication. How many Managing Partners make themselves completely available to you in this day and age? Not many.
Once we selected our Donor (not an easy process), Lisa hosted a conference call wherein we spoke to our donor. There’s an inherent awkwardness to that phone call, and Lisa could not have navigated it any more perfectly. She kept it discreet, kept it moving, and somehow kept it comfortable. Because we live close by, I wanted to not only meet Lisa, but see the office. I felt like it was a good idea to see the business in person. I’m very glad I did. It only made me feel even better about entrusting BHED with our Egg Donation.
From then on, my partner and I were graced (yep, I said graced) with Liz Bader-Natal as our Case Manager. Over the next 3 months, Liz gently and firmly guided us with such straightforward knowledge, it was a gift. Granted this was all a business transaction of sorts, but given the nature of the process, there is very much a human element. I had no idea how important she would become to us in the coming months. Amazingly, Liz answered the phone each time I called. Each time. I still don’t know how she did it. My partner and I are 2 men, far from well-versed in terms of the Fertility world. Lupron? Follistim? Menopur? Each step of the way, Liz explained everything to us with the patience of a Saint. Really. As with anything complicated, so much can go wrong. Every single thing Liz and/or Lisa said to us we believed. We were never given a reason not to. And everything they said was true. In hindsight, I realize now how amazingly they anticipated situations, as opposed to only handling them as they occured.
We still have a ways to go. 8 months to be exact. Sadly, our actual time with BHED is finished. I’m not sure it Lisa and Liz know this, but they will be posted with all upcoming milestones. Given how tremendous they were with us at every turn, it’s the least we can do.
-Seth, BHED Recipient