Monday, May 21, 2012

Giving the Eggstraordinary

In January when we had our initial consultation with our egg donor nurse where we found out all about how the egg donation process works, we found out one detail that has had me worried for the last five months: The nurses recommend that recipient couples give their donors a thank-you gift (apart from the money they receive for donating). Our nurse explained that giving a gift is nice because it allows both parties to feel a sense of connection and closure. Closure isn't exactly the right word, but she explained that some sort of gift helps the donor feel like going through such a difficult experience is worth it. Although some might think that donors shouldn't expect anything in return given they are paid, I tend to agree that it would probably feel somewhat violating to simply have a big wad of cash thrown at you after an invading procedure such as the egg retrieval.

The nurse told us that some couples will buy the donor a purse or gift card or a Christmas ornament. As soon as I heard these examples, I knew that they simply will not do for our donor. Although, I have considered getting her a Zappos gift card so she can buy herself some expensive shoes. Over our past IVF cycles and losses, I have used the purchase of Frye boots to mend my broken heart. Since I am hoping that I will not need such a purchase this time, I thought the shoes maybe should go to the donor.

So I have been fretting over this issue for months. What do you give to someone who is going to help give you the biggest gift you could possibly receive? No, a purse and not even shoes are enough. What makes the gift even trickier is that this is THE one chance at communication with her. The process is anonymous so there will be no other opportunities. How can one gift express that all the years of tears, heartache, grief, and pain were possibly worth it? How can one gift thank someone for giving my baby a life? The answer is that one gift cannot possibly do all that. So for now, I have painted her this picture. I'm not sure if I'll throw in a day at the spa or something that doesn't make her feel like her recipient is a cheap ass--"I got my eggs plucked out of me and all I got was this lousy painting!" At the least, I hope that our donor sees the painting and knows that we thank her like we have never thanked someone before.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Art Journal and First Entry

My good friend and kindred spirit in art making turned me on to the idea of doing an art journal. I loved the idea because one of the things I really enjoy is having a space where I can organize my artwork in order to tell the story of my experiences (one of the reasons I started this blog). Although I have an art room at home with an art line upon which I can hang my paintings, to me part of my processing of all that I have gone through involves having a place to chronologically makes sense of what I am feeling. So last weekend when my friend came to visit, I decided that I would start an art journal that will document our upcoming egg donor IVF cycle and hopefully the pregnancy and birth that are to follow. There is a lot to process, as this cycle is much different than those we have been through before. Although I believe that I have grieved the loss of having a biological child, there is much work that remains in regards to processing this new adventure. In addition to working this out in my journal, I also am looking forward to doing some more positively-focused pieces as a way to put myself in a good space for our upcoming cycle.

Along these lines, my first journal entry is my attempt at such positive framing. Last week I had a doppler ultrasound as a precursor to our upcoming cycle. I had never had this done in the past. It is a special type of ultrasound that measures blood flow to the uterus. Having the ultrasound is a little unnerving, especially for someone who has both heard the sound of their baby's heartbeat and the sound of silence when their baby has died. Because I could hear the sound of my own heartbeat and blood flow during the ultrasound, I couldn't help but be taken back to both of those times. Thankfully, I was distracted by the difficulty that is apparently inherent in conducting one of these ultrasounds. After much maneuvering and two nurses trying to get an accurate read, I faced a new problem with my body--I have abnormal/restricted blood flow to my uterus.

Despite this news, I was not incredibly devastated. What is one more issue with my body in addition to all the others? Thankfully, my doctor is not highly concerned either. With my previous IVF cycles, I have maintained nice thick uterine linings and high estrogen levels (two things typically impacted by abnormal blood flow to the uterus). I will continue to do acupuncture (which I absolutely love) given its benefits for aiding blood flow AND my doctor will add a new drug to my protocol. This drug is...drum roll please...Vaginal Viagra! Ta Da! I think this is fabulous. Apparently vaginal viagra does the same thing for uteruses as it does for penises in regards to increasing blood flow. Unfortunately, side effects do NOT include spontaneous orgasm. From what I've read, VV is highly effective even for those who have problems building up strong uterine linings, so I think it's great I will have one more thing in my corner that could contribute to a healthy pregnancy.

So below are a few pictures. The first two are the cover of my art journal that I made. I love the quote, as I think it captures beautifully what art can do that words cannot. The other pictures are my first entry--my attempt at visualizing my arteries moving and grooving (despite their clinical restriction) and getting ready for my sweet baby to join the party.