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When Kay originally started her journal it was hosted on a personal site and readers were invited to ask her questions. A selection of those questions and answers are posted below. You are welcome to write to Kay using the E-mail link above.

Question:
I'm thrilled that we're (we're doing this with you) embarking on another attempt at Egg Donor Zift. To be honest, I didn't know if you'd have this opportunity, so it feels like such a gift. Will the procedure be exactly the same this time? Will Dr. Colver be your doctor again?

KAY:
We were able to split part of the cost with another recipient during the last procedure. That is, the same donor had two woman receiving her eggs. This enabled us to be able to afford to repeat the procedure. People have asked me if I know anything about the other recipient. She is completely anonymous to me, as is the donor. I do not know anything about her, and will not know anything about the success of her cycle.

One of the problems of infertility work is knowing when to stop. Originally, my husband and I had discussed the possibility of doing two Egg Donor procedures. We definitely wanted to do it once. We were not sure if we wanted to try it a second time. The cost, even shared with another recipient, so prohibitive. I have to be honest. In the back of my mind I am almost considering doing it a third time (Surely it would work if we tried three times!) On the other hand, what is reasonable and sensible? When do we determine that we have done our best to have a birth child, and move on to adoption? I discussed this with the Clinic counselor. She advised me to wait until this cycle is over to decide on our next steps. So we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it! I am almost certain this will be it, though.

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The procedure will be almost the same. There is a small change in the medication protocol, which is insignificant. Dr. Colver will still be my physician. As you may have gathered from his interview, he is both a very competent and a very kind physician. I am told that he is one of the very best in this area. I like him a lot. (He is not the doctor who is moving by the way. Dr. Colver does not do Obstetrics).

Question:
Knowing what is coming with regard to medications, procedures, the wait, etc... is there anything you will do differently, or prepare yourself differently for this time? (My hope is for no headaches, Kay!) Do you find that you are giving yourself advice, as if you were counseling a new patient? Or does this feel like a new experience again?

KAY:
This is a good question! I am not really doing anything different. I am trying my best to tilt the balances in my favor, by taking excellent care of myself. I am limiting sugar and caffeine, going for the recommended "five servings a day" of fruit and vegetables, trying to get enough rest. Exercise is really difficult because I have a pounding headache as a side effect of one of the medications, which is worsened by anything that increases the blood flow to my head. I am trying to be reasonable about work hours, which can be tricky for me. It appears that my drug side effects are going to help me out by limiting my work hours whether I like it or not! I am a firm believer in meditation, no matter what spiritual tradition one embraces. I am trying to be more consistent about it for this cycle. There have been studies that indicate meditation might assist with infertility. Also, whenever my husband gets into a "fix the spouse" mood, he says "Kay, your problem is that you just don't know how to sit down and relax!" He does have a point there. Meditation is my way of doing just that. Am I giving myself advice? Well, I seem to naturally have an "inner cheerleader". So yes, I am giving myself all kinds of advice!

The only big difference between this cycle and the last is that I feel a lot more guarded with this cycle. I am excited, but not nearly so excited as I was the first time. I am not telling everyone I meet, as I did with the previous cycle. I am even forgetting to tell important people about it!

Question:
Something that didn't come up last time was the question of multiple birth... Is it possible that with egg donor Zift, one could have a multiple birth? Quite an exciting possibility!!

KAY:
Yes, that is a small possibility. If we transfer three embryos, then our chances of triplets is extremely small. We do have a chance of twins. If we transfer four embryos, our pregnancy rate goes up, our chance for twins goes up, and our chances for triplets or quads go up as well. The chance for triplets or quads is still quite small, but it is there.

We have been trying hard to decide what to do about the "three or four embryo" question. I would really like to have twins. I would prefer not to have triplets or quads. They are at risk for premature birth, and a variety of problems. However, in trying to evaluate the risk involved, I am clear that if we had triplets or quads, we would be physically and emotionally able to give them a loving and happy home. I think that is the important thing. It just would not be our preference. Since we have tried for so long, since this probably will be our last attempt at pregnancy, since the pregnancy rate increases with four embryos, since we really do want twins, we are leaning towards four. Again, the chance of trips or quads is still quite low. I am gathering everyone's opinion on this.

There is another complicating factor here. What if we had quads, and, what if we also had enough embryos to cryopreserve for a later cycle? What would we do with the embryos? I know that I would not want to destroy them. I would try to donate them. If that was not possible, would I attempt a frozen embryo procedure? Well, I will cross that bridge when I come to it! I am not even pregnant yet! But these are tricky issues. My heart tells me that I would do my best to find a recipient for them, or, I would attempt another cycle myself.

Question:
You've written about your feelings, fears, worries, letting go, emotions, grief, acceptance, and about learning to enjoy each moment for what it is. I hope that you will allow yourself to embrace each step of this procedure again, and feel comfortable sharing what is on your mind. Let us do some of the worrying for you...

KAY:
Thanks!! I appreciate the support. I know from experience that a supportive community helps me walk through the challenges in my life! I am trying to do "one day at a time". I have also realized that this is probably the very last time I am going to be able to experience the feeling of hope for a future pregnancy. So I am trying to experience that hope, whether or not this procedure works.

Question:
You've also talked about aromatherapy and massage. Are you using either of these to prepare yourself for the surgery and pregnancy?

KAY:
Yes, I am using therapeutic massage. It is wonderfully relaxing, and that state is helpful for any condition or situation! A friend and coworker of mine took the same massage course that I took. I had a terrible Lupron headache the other day at work, and she actually came up to my desk and gave me a shoulder, neck, and scalp massage! We all should be so lucky.

I am also using an aromatherapy blend that I adopted from an infertility "essential oil recipe" in a book. It is wonderful. It is made of essential oils of Rose, Chamomile, Geranium, Nutmeg, and Clary Sage, in a sweet almond oil base. I also add Sandalwood because I love Sandalwood. Oil of Rose is terribly expensive, but I indulged myself with a tiny bottle during my last egg donor cycle, as a treat. If any of you enjoy essential oils, I encourage you to save up your money for a bottle of this! One drop of Rose Oil in a aromatherapy mix makes an incredible difference. I am enjoying this blend so much. I have a nasty respiratory infection, and have been using Eucalyptus oil in a aromatherapy diffuser. It really helps.

Editor: Kay's interest in aromatherapy oils has been exciting for me because I too, use and enjoy aromatherapy. As I add this chat to our journal pages, I've got a synergy blend of Rosemary and Peppermint burning in my diffuser. This blend is specifically created for energy and it smells wonderful. We'll be focusing on Aromatherapy sometime soon so watch for an upcoming article. In the meantime, feel free to visit our favorite aromatherapy site on the web!

Question:
Because Dr. Colver's practice is quite large and successful, I wonder if you have met any other local women who are also going through infertility and/or Egg Donor Zift?

KAY:
Interestingly, I met a patient of Dr. Colver's on the Prodigy Infertility board topic the Prodigy Medical Support bulletin board! And I also have a coworker who is a success story of Dr. Colver's practice. I have two good friends who are infertile, who have chosen a child-free lifestyle. I have another good friend who was infertile, who was successful in her infertility treatment with another doctor. I have some casual friends and acquaintances who are infertile, with whom I compare notes. I really enjoy both the local and national newsletter of Resolve, which is an excellent support organization for infertility. It helps so much. But I have always been too busy to attend their support meetings, which I hear are also excellent.

Question:
How much do they tell you about the egg donor? Will you know some of the health issues, biological traits, hair color, etc?

KAY:
This has to be the question I am most often asked. I currently know the donor's physical characteristics, health history, family health history, talents, interests, and educational background. It is all non-identifying information.

She is very healthy and very bright. I am very pleased, because her interests and talents match mine. For what it is worth, her physical features match mine also. She sounds terrific. If I become pregnant, I will receive extensive non-identifying information about the donor, including a letter the donor has written to the child!

Question:
What advice is your doctor giving you, if any yet?

KAY:
Dr. Colver knows that I am very healthy and have a healthy lifestyle. The clinic tells me just to keep doing what I have always been doing. Other than that, I have instructions for the medications. That is about it. I keep begging for some magic hint that will really tip the balance in my scales! But there is really no advice to give me.

Question:
You've been on your medication for almost two weeks now. How are you feeling?

KAY:
You really don't want to know, do you? Lupron makes me very sick. I get a migraine-like vascular headache which lasts for weeks. It sometimes is almost debilitating. Fortunately it stops when I stop Lupron. I have perpetual nausea, and body aches. I really feel awful. I told you that you really didn't want to know! However, it is all worth it for the chance to become pregnant!

Question:
Kay, Are the egg donors married women with existing children or just young healthy women?  What is protecting you if they do not have existing children now and find out later in life that she, herself, cannot bear a child and wish to put a claim to her egg donor child?  I realize this is a tough question, but I have an adopted daughter and the laws have changed drastically in the last 25 years.

KAY:
This is an excellent, insightful question. No, the donors do not all have children. Three out of my four matched donors have never had a baby. Is this a legal problem? No, and I will explain in a minute. Is this a potential emotional problem for the donor? It most definitely is. My understanding is that my clinic provides mandatory counselling for the donors. One of the issues the donor explores in counselling is this very issue. How will she feel if her only progeny are egg donor children children, which are the legal children of someone else? Donor egg is such a young technology, that the emotional ramifications of this have not played out.  But my clinic works through the psychosocial aspects of this possibility with the donors. One can guess that this could certainly be a painful issue for a woman.

My best understanding is that it is not a legal issue. People have had children through donor gamete procedures for several decades, through the use of donor sperm. My understanding is that there has not been a single case where the legal parenthood of a donor gamete child has been seriously contested. In my case, the donor signs carefully worded contracts in which she agrees that she has no legal right to any child that might result from the procedure. Interestingly, the donor is not even told if a procedure is successful or not. All she knows is that she has given a donor or donors the chance to have a child. So although the possibility of emotional ramifications is definitely there, it looks as if the legal aspect is pretty sound. Again, this is a wonderful, insightful question.

The following are questions often asked of Kay online or in conversation. She has graciously added them to our page. Thanks, Kay.

Question:
I was recently asked how many times my donor will go through a donor cycle.

Answer:
She may donate up to four times. Donors typically donate two or sometimes three times.

Question:
Why is your donor doing this?

Answer:
Actually, I haven't asked about this specific donor. I will find this out if the procedure works. Typically, a donor is motivated by altruism. She commonly has a sister or friend who suffers from infertility, and wants to do something to help. There is small financial compensation, but only barely enough to cover time and trouble.

Question:
I was asked if I didn't worry about the possibility that my child might inadvertently marry a half-sibling. That is, there may be unknown half-siblings to my child running around out there. My child might marry one of them!

Answer:
I actually was quite astonished at the question. I may borrow trouble sometimes, but this type of worrying is really beyond me. However, it might be prudent for my child to do genetic testing if she marries another egg-donor child. It is an interesting point, I guess!

Question:
I am asked if I will try to find the donor.

Answer:
I signed papers promising not to do this, and I plan to keep my word. However, if my child comes of age and wishes to conduct a search using the non-identifying information s/he has, I cannot stop them. That would be their choice.

Question:
I am asked how I feel about the fact that the child is not genetically related to me.

Answer:
As I mentioned in earlier entries, I deeply grieved the loss of genetic continuity. Once I worked through that grief, I realized that genetic continuity is only of small importance to me. I want to raise a child. I want children in my household. I want a family with children. That is what matters to me. Genetic continuity is really not important to me.

Question:
I am asked about the risk of birth defects, if this procedure should work for me.

Answer:
Studies show that the risk of birth defects is the same in Egg Donor ZIFT and Egg Donor IVF as in any other type of pregnancy. It is neither higher or lower.

Question:
I am asked about the risks involved in being pregnant, should this work.

Answer:
The fact that I am almost forty-two might make this a high risk pregnancy. Blood pressure and chromosomal abnormalities are often the risks in an older mother. The fact that the eggs are from a young donor takes care of the second risk. The first risk does not really an issue in my case. My blood pressure tends to be low, and it stayed low during my other pregnancies. A history of infertility, of endometriosis, and of fibroids does increase risk of miscarriage. That is a chance I have to take. If I have a multiple gestation, then I will have the risks involved with that. I am guessing that I will be monitored somewhat because I have had two pregnancy losses. But basically, I am in pretty good shape.

Thanks, Kay. I'm sure we'll be back with more questions soon. If there are any men or women reading this who would like to know more about this procedure and the experiences involved, please feel free to write to Kay Grames.

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