Why I’m considering donating my eggs
(and what’s holding me back)

Until recently I never knew that altruistic egg donation was a ‘thing’. The act of donating some of your eggs to somebody/a couple, in order for them to have the fertility treatment they need to conceive a much-longed-for child.

Donating to give them hope.

Donating to give them a chance.

Not for any financial gain.

Or in return for something else.

Donating because it’s a kind, selfless thing to do.

I’ve been following the story of Jules and Amber over on Channel Mum (Amber has donated her eggs to Jules, who is currently in her Two Week Wait after her embryo transfer!) And ever since I heard about Amber’s donation, I keep thinking about whether or not I, too, could donate my eggs.

Why?

I feel so lucky to have two beautiful daughters. My own journey to motherhood had it’s fair share of heartache and frustration (due to an early miscarriage and months and months of trying to conceive). And because of that, I often think of those who have been treading that path to parenthood for far longer than I had to. Years of hoping to see two lines on a test but instead facing fresh heartbreak each and every month. My story ends happily, with two healthy babies and for that I will be forever grateful. But without egg donation, there will be many who will never get to experience parenthood and that makes me so very sad. Surely then, donating my eggs is a no brainer?

Or is it?

I’ve been doing my homework, reading up on all things egg donation, and I do feel it’s something I want to do. But I’ll be honest, there are a few things holding me back. I love using my blog as a sounding board – a way of writing down all of my thoughts and feelings that go into making (what could potentially be) quite a big decision.

Here’s a few reasons why I’m not ready to go ahead with egg donation right now…

Time and travel involved: 

This is an aspect of egg donation I will have to look into more but from what I’ve read, there’s a fair bit of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ involved. There’s the initial screening process (which can involve several interviews, counselling and some medical tests), scans, egg retrieval – all involve travelling to a clinic. I don’t currently drive so depending on what clinic I use, it could take hours for me to travel to and from these appointments. As a stay-at-home-mum I’d have to consider how these appointments would fit around looking after my littles – who’d look after them? Who’d pick them up from nursery/school?

I’m sure other arrangements could be made to ensure the girls are looked after, so this isn’t a huge issue but definitely one that will require plenty of planning if I do go ahead with a egg donation cycle.

Oh and I should mention, that whilst there is no payment for egg donation in the UK (payment is illegal, in fact) there is compensation available of up to £750 per donation ‘cycle’ to cover costs (childcare, travel etc.)

I’m needle phobic:

This seems like such a silly issue when you remember that the end goal of all of this is to help somebody grow and carry a baby. But egg donation does require daily hormone injections (and then there’s the egg retrieval procedure too) so silly or not, I am scared of needles and it’s something I need to consider. I’m not as phobic about needles as I used to be. Regular blood tests, flu jabs and whooping cough vaccines through two pregnancies has meant I’ve had to get used to needles. That said, I’ve never had to self-administer drugs so I’m not sure how I’d fair with having to inject myself. Of course, the obvious solution is to make sure there’s somebody (i.e my hubby) on hand to do it for me. I’m sure he’d take great delight in jabbing me with needles daily! ;)

Egg donation is not as anonymous as I first thought:

The person/couple receiving your egg donation would only recieve non-identifying information about me. A little about why I wanted to donate my eggs perhaps and other background information such as my interests and education. Which, I’m sure, is really helpful to know when looking for a potential donor. I’d have no issues supplying this information.

But in the UK, at aged 18, donor-conceived people have the legal right to know who their donor is. (Source)

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this and for reasons I can’t fully explain, it’s probably the main reason I still have my reservations about going ahead with egg donation.

I guess, the thought of the my donated-egg-conceived child turning up at my door 18 years from now, seems a little scary. Although, I doubt that rarely happens to people – if ever?!

I’m definitely going to do more research and from that make an informed decision.

In the meantime I’d love to hear if you have ever donated your eggs? Or received them? What was your experience like?

Or, would you consider egg donation yourself?

Jenna xx

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Preparing for a home birth: What do I need?

Once I’d finally decided that I wanted to give birth to my second baby at home, I found myself frantically Googling ‘What do I need for a home birth?’. I mean, there are hundreds of lists on the Internet about what to pack in your hospital bags, surely I’d need to prepare for giving birth at home too? Well, yes and no. It turns out you need very little to give birth at home – some waterproof sheets and a few large towels being the bare minimum. (Your midwifery team will supply all the medical bits.)

I soon realised that it wasn’t about what I needed but what I wanted. A home birth is an opportunity to create your ideal ‘birth environment’ so instead of asking yourself “what do I need for a home birth?”, ask yourself “what do I want for my home birth?”

Want a water birth? Then you’ll need to hire/buy a pool.

Want mood lighting? Get yourself some candles!

Want to push your baby out whilst listening to Micheal Bublé crooning? Then kidnap Michael Bublé… or put together a playlist of your favourite Bublé tracks. (In your condition, I’d suggest going for the latter option!)

You get my point, right?

In the end, I did put together a ‘home birth kit’ – things I thought I’d want/need when it came to the big day so I thought I’d share that list of items on my blog – for anybody else out there who is also frantically Googling ‘What do I need for a home birth?”

PS. For reference, I’ve asterisked the items that I actually did end up using during my home birth.

My Home birth Kit:

Birth plan (you can read mine here)*

Hand sanitiser

Hair bands*

A large black oversized t-shirt and a black button-down nightie*

Comfy slipper socks

Vaseline (Gas and Air can dry your lips out)

Things requested by the midwives: 

My maternity notes*

A torch

Plenty of tea/coffee*

Snacks*

Pain relief:

Paracetamol

A TENS machine – I hired this one for 7 weeks.*

Hot water bottle

A microwavable heat pack (lavender scented)

A packet of Kool’n’Soothe Migraine Sheets

Wooden massage tool

x2 flannels (to use as hot/cold compresses)*

Drinks and snacks for myself and birthing partner:

x2 Isotonic sports drinks (avoid the fizzy ones!)*

Glucose tablets

Bottles of water*

A selection of cereal bars and biscuits – we also have some white bread in the freezer for toast.

For the mess: 

Sick bags

x2 packets of disposable bed mats (I picked these up in the Pound Shop)*

x4 large waterproof mats (for using on the floor/sofas etc.)*

x1 roll of strong multi-purpose tape (for sticking the mats to the floor so they don’t stick to me or move around!)*

3 Large bath sheets*

Maternity pads*

Maternity knickers*

Creating my ‘birth atmosphere’: 

Our Sonos speaker*

Phone with ‘Birth Playlist’ on it*

An Aroma diffuser and lavender essential oil

A large fleecy blanket (to put on top of the waterproof mats and make the floor more comfortable)

For my upright birth: 

My birth ball

My CUB Support*

(You can read about the benefits of having an upright birth here.)

For baby (I have these items packed away in a separate bag so that I could take them with me to the hospital in case of transfer): 

Umbilical cord tie*

Knitted hats*

Sleepsuits and vests*

Scratch mits*

Wishing you the very best of luck with your home birth! :)

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Life Lately: The Calm Before the Storm

With less than one month to go until Baby Button-Nose’s due date, I thought it would be nice to sit down and just write. Not about anything in particular but whatever springs to my mind in a period that I’m currently calling the ‘calm before the storm’. Before our lives change again. Before we become a family of four.

Yesterday we had our house deep cleaned in preparation for a homebirth and regardless of whether or not that’s the kind of birth I end up having, I’m glad we’ve had it done. It’s just another one of those things that make me feel a little more ‘ready’. I’m a bit of a clean freak at the best of times so you can only imagine what I’m like when I get into nesting mode. However, I’ve realised that I need to start taking it easy – this pregnancy has been so much harder on my body. Some days, walking up the stairs is a real struggle due to hip and back pain so scrubbing walls and floors myself isn’t an option. I have been going crazy with my label maker though – now that’s my kinda nesting!

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As the cleaners were working in our house for 6 hours, I decided it would be best for me and Jasmine to go out somewhere, to get out of their way. I thought it would be fun to take Jasmine to the cinema for the first time (if you don’t count the Big Scream showings I took her to when she was a baby). I was a little nervous as although I know she is able to sit and watch a whole film at home, I’m wasn’t sure how she’d behave at the cinema. Especially as she seems to have developed a fear of the dark. I booked tickets to a Junior showing of Ice Age: Collision Course which only cost £3.60 for the both of us (bargain!) so I figured if she played up or wasn’t keen on being there – we’d just go to the park instead and there was no real loss.

I needn’t have been so worried because she was as good as gold – sat through the entire film perfectly. She’d occasionally get excited and shout something like “Look mummy, a hotcano! Look everybody, a hotcano!” (That’s a volcano to you and me.) She munched her way through a big bag of popcorn whilst I spent most of the film watching her watch the film. I couldn’t stop from smiling. I also felt a little sad that our days alone together are numbered. Having another baby is so bittersweet. On the one hand, I cannot wait for Jasmine to meet her sibling and become a big sister but on the other, I will miss our time together, just the two of us.

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We had our annual visit to Undley Pumpkin Patch at the weekend (we’ve gone there every year for the last 3 years). It’s only when I look back at our photos of our visits that I realise just how much Jasmine has grown and changed. This will probably be our last ever visit to this particular pumpkin patch as we are relocating back to the South West early next year. I’m sure we’ll be able to find somewhere just as awesome to pick our pumpkins!

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I’m not sure how much Jasmine understands about the ‘baby in mummy’s tummy’. We try to talk to her about the baby but it’s a lot to take in for a 2.5 year-old. Hell, sometimes I can barely get my head around it. To think that I’m growing a brand new human inside of me – it boggles the mind. I do think Jasmine understands more than I give her credit for though – the other night she pointed at my tummy and said “baby”, completely unprompted. When asked “Do you want a brother or a sister?” which tends to be something that family, neighbours and strangers ask her a lot. She’ll either reply “no” (oh.), or more often than not, “a baby brother”. No pressure then.

She’s also become quite protective over me, shouting “my mummy” at strangers in the supermarket. As if she suspects the lady buying milk and baked beans is going to pick me up and carry me away. To be fair, she reacts the same way with the toy cars at playgroup. (“My cars!”) But at least there, the threat is real. You’re gonna have to learn to share real soon, baby girl!

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I should probably touch upon my mental health, seeing as I’ve written about it a fair amount on blog over the last few months. I’m still taking my anti-depressants and I feel like I’m currently in a good place. Yes, I feel quite anxious at times but at 36 weeks pregnant, I think that’s perfectly normal. On the whole, I am excited about meeting our newest addition and whilst I know it’s going to be a big adjustment. I feel I will be able to cope – and if I can’t, I won’t be afraid to ask for help.

I ordered our last few baby essentials last night. I’ve packed our ‘just in case’ hospital bags. Put a box together for my homebirth. Bought biscuits for the midwives! Written a birth plan.  And so I’m feeling as ready as I’ll ever be.

There are a few things I’d like to do before baby arrives such as have a dental check-up (joy!), get my bump Henna’d and treat myself to a haircut and some reflexology. Time is of the essence so I need to get a move on!

Any advice for a soon-to-be mummy of two?!

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Antidepressants and pregnancy: My experience so far…

When it became apparent to me that I was suffering with antenatal depression, I spent a lot of time reading blog posts about others who had been in a similar situation. Reading those posts was what gave me the courage to walk into my midwife appointment and tell her everything I had been feeling. However, what I found frustrating was that nobody really talked about what happened AFTER they’d been to see their midwife/GP. Did they take medication? Did it help? Did they opt for some kind of talk therapy? Did that help?

I, of course, don’t expect anyone to have to write about such personal details for the whole world to read. But I was desperate to know what worked for people and what didn’t. Which is why I thought I’d write a bit of an update post for anyone who is the same same boat as me.

A little bit of background information:

I suffered with depression in my late teens/early twenties due to stressful family situations and although I was eventually prescribed antidepressants, I gave up on them in less than a week because I was scared they were going to turn me into some sort of emotionless robot. I taught myself CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and through using the tools I learned, managed to find my way out of a deep, dark hole and become ‘happy Jenna’ again.

In February, I found out I was expecting another baby (after having a second miscarriage back in November 2015) and was cautiously excited to be growing a new member of our family. I had a much easier first trimester than I did with my daughter, only being sick a handful of times in the first 3 months, as opposed to every single day. Other being tired – I felt well, both in body and mind.

Unfortunately, shortly after reaching my second trimester things started to go downhill and I knew from past experience that I was almost certainly suffering with depression. I was crying every day and had stopped enjoying life. I was no longer looking forward to having another baby, and instead, dreading it. I felt like a terrible mum to my two-year-old because I, quite honestly, was hating spending all day, every day with her.

The cause of my depression is very much situational. I live hours away from my friends and family and I miss them all terribly. The isolation and loneliness of being a stay-at-home mum, in a town so far away from my loved ones, for over two years had finally taken it’s toll on me. Add to that, all the raging hormones and emotions that come along with pregnancy and I was broken.

At my 25 week midwife appointment, I broke down in tears and explained that I thought I was suffering with antenatal depression. I instantly felt better for having it ‘out there’ and that conversation has lead to me being where I am today. I booked an appointment to see a GP – who was wonderfully supportive and offered to help me in which ever way I saw fit. I asked for medication.

Type of medication and dosage:

My doctor prescribed me Sertraline as it is safe to use during pregnancy (and breastfeeding).

Sertraline is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Sertraline affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.” – Source.

The standard daily dose of this medication is 50mg, which is the amount I’ve been prescribed. However, my doctor explained to me that because I’m pregnant, my body will break down the drug a lot faster, meaning I’m only really having half the dose. I was told that if I felt it wasn’t enough then I should let her know and she would up the amount. At this moment in time, I don’t feel the need to do so.

The side effects: 

My doctor warned me that for the first couple of weeks of taking this medication, it may make my anxiety worse. She told me that if this did happen, to continue taking antidepressants and plough on through it because it wouldn’t last. Fortunately, I didn’t experience heightened anxiety but I thought it might be worth mentioning it in this post as I got the impression that not everybody gets this warning from their GP when they start taking Sertraline.

For me, it’s been hard to tell if some of my ‘side effects’ are a direct result of Sertraline or whether they are normal pregnancy symptoms – or a mix of both.

In the first week or so of taking the drugs I experienced dizziness and heart palpitations (at the same time). As you can imagine, this was quite unpleasant, and I remember being sat in a restaurant with my husband, my heart racing and the room spinning, but feeling unable to talk. But, it passed quickly and I’ve haven’t experienced anything like that again for several weeks now.

I also had (and still get) hot flushes several times a day. I can safely say I am not looking forward to the menopause!

The side-effect that I’ve suffered with the most, and still continue to do so 6 weeks into my treatment, is the night sweats. These are very much like the night sweats I experienced in the weeks after giving birth to my daughter, when my body was expelling all the excess fluid I had left over from pregnancy.

Every night I wake up absolutely drenched in sweat – my duvet and sheets are sopping wet. It’s pretty grim and makes me feel disgusting. My bedsheets had never the inside of a washing machine quite so much as they have over the last month or so.

How is my mood now?

Better, so much better. I haven’t cried since I first walked into the doctor’s office 6 weeks ago. I haven’t become an ’emotionless robot’. I have days when I feel grumpy and fed up, just like anyone else would but the difference is that my moods are now on a much more even kilter. I’m finally starting to embrace pregnancy and look forward to having another baby. I feel like I’m a much better mummy to my daughter because we play and laugh together. I’m more inclined to take her out to the park or playgroups whereas before my depression and anxiety would stop me from doing so.

I still wonder how on earth I’m going to cope with two children but I think that’s normal, isn’t it? I know it’s going to be a big adjustment but I will cope.

I should also mention that since I’ve started taking antidepressants we’ve had some quite big news which will have also affected my outlook on life. My husband’s job role will be changing in the next few months which means we will be able to relocate back to Bristol in the New Year. It still seems like a long way off but it’s given me a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. In all honesty, I don’t think the antidepressants are 100% responsible for my change in mental attitude but they’ve certainly helped. I do not regret starting medication and I will continue to use it for as long as I feel I need to. I suspect once we’ve moved house and I have my support network of family and friends back, I will feel ready to stop my prescription.

If anybody reading this wants to talk about this topic further then do feel free to send me an e-mail or tweet me @_tinyfootsteps. 

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This post was originally published on the 29th September 2016.

Growing a rainbow baby: 33 & 34 weeks pregnant

How big is Baby Button-Nose this week?

At 34 weeks Baby Button-Nose is about the size of an average cantaloupe melon, weighing 2.1kg. (Length: 45cm, head to heel.)

Mood: 

Honestly? I’ve been feeling massively fed up. I’m in so much pain almost constantly that I’m struggling to do ANYTHING. My due date still seems so far away (even though it isn’t, not really) but the thought of being in agony for the next 6+ weeks makes me miserable. I hate moaning about pregnancy aches and pains and usually I just grin and bear it but the last few weeks have been a real struggle.

Aside from from the pain I’m generally feeling a bit ‘meh’. I think I look like a big, fat frump. I’m still waiting for my soddin’ ‘glow’ to arrive.

I also keep having mini panic attacks when I think about giving birth. I’ve started getting super, super nervous about going into labour and y’know, pushing a baby out. I was sat in the waiting room before my midwife appointment and I suddenly thought “Oh crap, I’m going to have a baby”- which was then followed by heart palpitations. I used my Daisy Birthing breathing techniques to calm myself down.

Symptoms: 

Stretching/burning sensation around my rib cage (below my breasts)

Acid reflux

Backache/SPD pain

Bloody nose

Bleeding gums

Occasional cramp in feet

Boobs have been leaking colostrum every single day. I also keep feeling the ‘let down’ sensation.

Skin breakouts.

Highlight of the week(s): 

We booked a last minute Air BnB trip to Norfolk at the weekend. It will almost certainly be our last weekend getaway, just the three of us, before Baby BN arrives. Although it was only two nights away, it was lovely to have a change of scene and spend some quality family time together. We took Jasmine to Dinosaur Adventure Land which she LOVED.

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Baby movements: 

I still can’t quite work out what position baby is in most of the time. I’m pretty sure I’ve felt some little feet sticking high up out at my sides over the last few days which hopefully means baby is head down. Baby BN seems to be most active late morning around 10/11am and in the evenings.

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Fundal measurement: 

At 34+3 my fundal measurement was 32.5cms – right on track. :)

Appointments:

34 week midwife appointment – 

I always really look forward to my midwife appointments because Claire, my midwife,  is so lovely and she always seems to make me laugh and feel relaxed about everything. Blood pressure, pee and bump measurement were all fine. Because I’ve noticed an improvement in my energy levels (finally) she said I wouldn’t need to bother having another blood test to check my iron levels. She was happy for me to just continue taking my tablets. Oh and I am now booked in for a homebirth – eek!

My midwife asked if she could have a feel of baby’s position because she “cannot resist having a prod” even though she said she probably shouldn’t be checking the presentation until my 36 week appointment (I think this is only the case for subsequent babies, not your first one). She said she couldn’t tell if baby was head down or not as my stomach muscles are too tight (I can assure you, they don’t look it).

She also arranged my home visit for my 36 week appointment, unfortunately I don’t think it will be Claire that is coming to see me even though she tried to make sure it was. It will be an hour long appointment to go through all of the practicalities of having a homebirth. (Claire told me that the most important thing to have ready for a homebirth is biscuits for the midwives!)

Things I’m missing: 

Actually quite fancied some pâté this week!

Sleep: 

Not too bad – but I seem to wake up a lot feeling uncomfortable or laying on my back which I know isn’t very good for me and baby at this late stage of my pregnancy. Even though I have always preferred to sleep on my left side, I seem to really struggle to do so at the moment. A big baby lump sticks out into the mattress and it makes me feel queasy so I end up turning over.

Pregnancy/baby related purchases: 

I’m coming to the end of my shopping list now (although I’m convinced I’ve forgotten something important) but my only baby purchase over the last couple of weeks was a Close Caboo baby carrier.

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Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

I didn’t wear Jasmine much when she was a newborn – I found my wrap too fiddly. Obviously with a toddler to wrangle, I’m gonna need my hands free as much as possible when baby arrives so I’m hoping this will be the answer.

The last things on my shopping list are: muslins, our chicco next to me (which I will probably order in the next two weeks), bottles and a steriliser.

 

TinyFootstepsPregnancy

To see more posts from My Pregnancy Journal click here.

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