Monday, May 5, 2014

How to get your first tattoo

A year ago today I got my first ever tattoo, to mark the milestone that was my 25th birthday. I knew that I was interested in supporting a local, well-rated, woman-owned place staffed with nice people, so after hunting around, I settled on Two BirdsI called two weeks in advance, and the nice gentleman on the line penciled me in to the last slot of the day (note to first timers: call earlier!).

Feeling nervous!

I showed up on my birthday a little early, because I was nervous and because I wanted to make sure they had all the information I had sent in. I had an appointment with Suzy (the co-owner), who was not quite ready to work with me because she needed to eat her lunch, because she is a person - but she did still sit down with me for a minute before taking her break, which was really cool of her. (At first she didn't seem very personable, but she was great after she got to eat, which leads me to conclude that she is the type of person who gets crabby when she's hungry. My boyfriend and my sister are like that, too, so I didn't mind.)

When Suzy got back from lunch we discussed the phrase that I wanted tattooed, including the font, the sizing, the ink, and the placement. She resized the phrase for me so that it would fit better on the top of my shoulder, where I wanted it, and she didn't mind redoing the stencil when I decided it wasn't in quite the right spot. 

You can faintly see the outline of the original placement.

Suzy was entirely professional and respectful, and gave me all the help and the space necessary for me to make my decision. It was obvious that she wanted me to be happy with my tattoo. Because there weren't any other appointments going on, she also let me bring three of my friends in to watch and to talk to me during the process, which really helped me relax.

I was so nervous before getting my tattoo that I peed twice in the half hour before my appointment. But, you guys, tattoos feel like nothing! "That's it?" I asked, once Suzy started in. "It feels like I'm a beekeeper and a handful of my bees got really mad at me at once, but it's not bad at all!"

Okay, so it hurt a little bit during one part.
Suzy was done with the tattoo in about fifteen minutes and it looked AMAZING. At first she'd had some misgivings about the font (it's cursive script and a little intricate) but she duplicated it beautifully, with fine, controlled lines. 

Afterward, I got the spiel on how to take care of my new tattoo, and I paid up. I'd already put in the $60 deposit, so I only had to pay another $25 (minus tip). Pretty inexpensive considering that it will last for years and years! I'm already trying to think of another idea for a tattoo..

Note: "plus qu'hier, moins que demain" means "more than yesterday, less than tomorrow." It's from a French love poem, but for me it just means that I want to be better every day.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Diary of An Egg Donor

My Friday favorite is that a week ago I completed a second egg donation cycle. I did the first one in 2012, after responding to an ad in The Stranger. It could have been totally shady, but instead I met a wonderful coordinator who matched me with a fertility center and with a hopeful parent-to-be. I actually got to meet the parent, which is unusual for egg donors. She is a smart and successful woman who didn't seem to want for anything in life, except for a baby. It was so magical to get to know her and to go through the cycle with a specific person to root for. At the end of the cycle, she was able to get pregnant and had a healthy, happy baby nine months later - and I got to meet him!

I became an egg donor because I was excited about the monetary compensation (I had student loans to pay off, after all) and interested in a new kind of adventure, and it evolved into so much more. Donating my eggs, especially to this mother, was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life. When my coordinator let me know that another couple wanted to work with me, I said yes with no hesitation!

Reflecting on my first donation, I wished that I had kept a diary of my experience. So this time, I did! I hope that it helps readers get a sense of the experience, especially women considering egg donation.

January 7th
The Tests

It's been more than a year since my last donor cycle, so the agency with which I work needed to ask a bunch of questions to update my family tree and genetic history, draw several vials of blood (like seven! but it goes fast), and make sure that I'm mostly sane.

I had an especially nice chat with the counselor today. We connected over my career aspirations, and she explained the results of my Personality Assessment Inventory. Apparently I was more honest this time about my faults and foibles than I was in 2012. Obviously I still tested positive for "really awesome," though. (And a little narcissism, go figure!)

January 10th
Test Results

The reproductive agency called today to let me know that the results of my blood test came back, and my thyroid levels (TSH) were a little high. They're putting me on thyroid medicine right away and I'll be re-tested in four weeks. I'm crossing my fingers tight that this isn't a harbinger of a canceled donor cycle.. or of serious health issues. Today's call threw my groove off a bit!

March 18th

Sooo I've been on thyroid medication for like two months now and it is just making my thyroid all wonky. They changed my dosage and hopefully that'll do the trick. I have another blood draw (TSH blood draw #3!) next week. Happily the egg recipients seem patient. I must have great eggs. Couture eggs.

March 28th

My thyroid is still not cooperating. The doctor thinks that they may have re-tested me too early, however. I'm disappointed.

April 1st

MUCH BETTER NEWS! The agency called me and I was so sure they were going to say that the recipient had given up on me and better luck next time. But instead they told me that my TSH levels were pretty close to what they needed and they had just tested me too early, so they were going to go ahead and approve me to start the egg donor cycle. I will start the ovary-plumping, egg-encouraging medication next week. I'm so excited!

April 8th

Had urine and blood samples collected today and turned in a waiver that says I got a new tattoo within the past 12 months and that it was given in a reputable tattoo parlor that uses sterile needles, et cetera. I also had my first (transvaginal) ultrasound of the cycle! No cysts on my ovaries and things look good.

April 10th

FedEx delivered my medications today. There are a LOT of them. I need to refresh my memory on how to administer them!

April 22nd

It's supposedly the week of my egg retrieval surgery, and I'm feeling excited and impatient. I've been injecting myself with medications each day for a little over a week now. The injections are administered by syringe into my belly. The first time I did this, in 2012, I was so scared. But it was a total breeze and didn't hurt at all. This time around, I feel like an old pro and I'm barely fazed by it at all. Tomorrow I have another blood test and ultrasound, and hopefully they like what they see.

April 23rd

I had the blood draw and ultrasound appointment today, and GOOD NEWS! They are ready for me to administer my Lupron trigger tonight. That basically preps me for ovulation and egg retrieval surgery, which takes place 36 hours after the trigger. I'm so excited!

They gave me a printout of my ultrasound. Look at those happy little overstuffed ovaries!

April 24th

My last blood test was this morning. I responded well to the trigger and I am set for surgery tomorrow, yippee! For now I'm just going to relax and look forward to the amazing nap I'll get tomorrow when I'm under anesthesia. I don't get to eat or drink anything after midnight tonight until after surgery because I am a gremlin, but that's no big deal. My ovaries feel bloated and tender and I am ready to be done.

April 25th

I checked in to surgery half an hour early and put on my cap and gown.

A nice nurse with a great handshake administered my IV and answered all my questions while I signed the consent forms. I walked to the OR and climbed awkwardly up onto the bed, which was a little too high for me - especially embarrassing considering my tush was hanging out in the surgical gown. But soon the oxygen mask was on me and I was asked to take deep breaths, and then... I woke up where I had started, groggy and a little crabby at having been disturbed from a wonderfully deep nap, and suddenly ravenous.

Wake up and take a selfie.

I felt very well otherwise, and ate animal crackers until it was time to be released. When I checked out, the nurse at the front gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers that the recipient parents had had delivered - so sweet! I went home with a prescription for antibiotics and pain medicine.

May 1st

Almost a week later, I still feel perfectly fine. (I did learn the hard way yesterday why you're supposed to take antibiotics with food, but I've recovered from throwing up in the office restroom.) Donating my eggs this time around was another wonderful experience, and I hope I get to do it again soon!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

It's May!

Why yes, I will post this every single year:

Hooray for the month of my birthday! Hooray for uncommonly nice Seattle weather!
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