A month or so after my counselling session, I got a call from the Hewitt Fertility Centre to book in for the next step. The time between appointments got dramatically shorter from here on in, as it worked out quite well for where I was in my monthly cycle.
I made sure that all my paperwork was in order; that everything was signed and filled out correctly. So far throughout this process I think the hardest thing I’ve had to do was fill out the goodwill message and personal description - which can have no identifying details about yourself. During the counselling we were informed of how important donor families find these messages, so it was important to put effort into writing the right things.
I went in for my morning appointment, unfortunately there was a long wait but luckily I had nowhere to be. I later found out this was due to the original staff member being held up, but I was eventually called by a new friendly face and went in for my appointment.
In all honesty, I couldn’t really get my bearings of what was meant to be happening in this appointment. I had been informed on the phone that I would be being taught about the medication that I will be taking, and checking over all the paperwork that I’d had to fill in, including the personal description and goodwill message. But, when I got into the room, I had another blood test (I have notoriously hard to find veins in my arm so once again had blood drawn from the back of my hand - Ouch!), handed my forms over which were promptly taken away, and asked if I had any further questions. I didn’t catch the name of the lady that was running the appointment, but I did feel bad asking so many questions! Luckily for me she was so gracious in getting all the answers to my queries such as: When I will be taught about the medication? When will I be starting the treatment? How many appointments will I need to be coming into the clinic for? How does the covid-19 situation affect the next stages of donation?
After a few trips out the room she came back with all my answers, and a demonstration box of the meds I will be taking to show me how to administer them. They will be as follows:
Norethisterone: A tiny tablet with progestogens that essentially acts as a pause button on my next period. This will be taken 3 times a day for 10 days starting around day 16 of my menstrual cycle, and delay my period by around a week I think. Then, a few days after stopping them, I will have my period, a few days into that I will have an internal scan to check that my uterus lining is nice and thin, then I will start the stimulation injections. I’ve been told the side effects of these tablets include feeling a bit more sluggish than usual, a similar feeling to when you are about to come on (though that’s probably because you are!)
Next will be the stimulation injections that start after the scan, Meriofert: Not what I expected! I’ve known from the beginning that I will be injecting myself for a short period of time for the donation, but I was expecting something in the style of an epi pen, this is a proper syringe and needle injection, and not only that, I have to mix the medication myself! Basically, there is a glass vial with the water, which needs to have the top broken off so that the water can be drawn into the syringe with a rather large needle. This is then injected into a different glass vial which contains a white powder which will dissolve pretty quickly into the liquid, this is done once more with another vial, then the rather large needle is removed. A slightly smaller needle is then screwed onto the syringe for the actual injecting.
Ideally for the injecting part, you should be sat down- though I think this is more to do with how uneasy some people will get when injecting themselves. You then pinch a section of your belly (below the belly button, above the pubic bone) and inject the needle at a 90 degree angle, before releasing the pinch and pushing the liquid through the syringe into your abdomen. The needle is then pulled out, there may be a small drop of blood and a bit of stinging, but that is that.
This injection will be taken at the same time in the evenings for around 10-12 days, with the morning injections starting on around day 6 of that. This is an Ovarian stimulation hMG injections to stimulate egg growth.
Next up, the morning injections: Cetrotide. This injection is prepared in very much the same way as the last, with the difference being that the liquid is already in the syringe, and there is only 1 bottle of powder to mix it with.
This will be taken at the same time every morning for around 6 days before the donation, and is to prevent the eggs from dropping as they usually would at this point in your cycle, so that they are collectable at the end of the process.
Around day ten of the injections I will go in for another internal scan to see how the eggs are responding to the treatment, and be given a date for my collection.
Lastly- Gonasi, the trigger injection: This is one final injection that I will be told when to take when I have my last scan. The other injections will stop, and this will be taken 36 hours before my egg collection. The set-up is the same as the last, mixing the liquid and the powder, then inject subcutaneously. After this, there will be no further injections or medication.
After going through this, we discussed when I would be donating, which is going to be the coming cycle due to how my bleed has fallen which is very exciting, things are going to start moving really fast from this point on. It is so weird to think that after having the treatment put on hold for so long due to Covid, that I will actually be donating within the next 6 weeks!
I got a call within the next few days to book delivery of all the required medications and a sharps bin for the needles, and have another call in around a week to go over the medications again to be sure I’m comfortable with it all, during which they will let me know exactly when to start the tablets!
I’m nervous about injecting myself, and the side effects that may come with the medication, but I’m also really looking forward to seeing what the next part of the treatment is like, I’m confident that it's going well up to now!