133: An Egg Donor’s Journey Through Perinatal PTSD, Depression and Anxiety

Sometimes traumas occur that aren’t discussed or supported in the ways they should be. It takes some brave soul to forge the path in changing the narrative for those who follow. Today’s show is an important conversation of a personal story of egg donation, what can go wrong, and the emotional trauma that might follow. 

Meghan Coltrane is a Licensed Professional Counselor in perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. Her private practice is in Asheville, NC. She’s here to share her personal experience of being an egg donor, which led her into the field of perinatal emotional health. I’m putting a sensitivity notice on this episode for anyone who has experienced obstetrical complications or trauma related to a procedure. This kind of complication is very rare, but it CAN happen, so we want to bring awareness to it and learn, understand, and support people through all aspects of their reproductive and mental health.

Show Highlights:

  • Meghan’s rare complications are an uncommon experience in egg donation
  • When she was 25, she applied to be an egg donor and went through the required testing
  • Within days of being approved, two different couples had chosen her as their egg donor and she prepared for her next cycle with the necessary medications and many ultrasounds
  • Who needs an egg donor? Any couple seeking to do IVF without their own viable eggs
  • 20 eggs were retrieved during the procedure and her mother drove her home to rest, with her plan being to return to work the next day
  • She tried to sleep, then woke up, and fainted on her way to the bathroom
  • The on-call nurse told her to drink more water
  • She went back to sleep, but kept waking up with increasing abdominal pain; it became sharp, like nothing she’d ever felt before
  • The on-call nurse prescribed Tylenol with codeine
  • Later, her roommate took her to the ER, where she was given IV fluids and was admitted for 3 days
  • The diagnosis was ovarian torsion, in which the ovaries were twisting on themselves and severe bleeding was occurring
  • Throughout her hospital stay, her caregivers were always on guard for the need for emergency surgery, which would have meant the removal of her ovaries
  • After her discharge, she visited 6 different doctors and began having anxiety, terrors, and emotional issues
  • Her physical recovery took 1-2 weeks, but the emotional healing took much longer
  • Meghan was anxious, terrified, scared, and filled with irrational fears and repeated nightmares
  • Her body responded as though she had been through a sexual assault, with her even being terrified of every man she came into contact with
  • Why she hunkered down and shut everyone out of her life
  • She had no energy, was exhausted, and lost a lot of weight
  • She saw her therapist and went to Yoga for Trauma classes
  • She saw a psychiatrist for medication to help her eat and sleep
  • During the first year, she threw herself into self-healing and did TRE (trauma releasing exercises) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with her primary therapist
  • The fertility clinic kept calling, asking her to donate again, even though she had told them she was done
  • Why she felt treated “like a machine that gave them their product”
  • There was no discussion about the hormonal effects or the possible mental effects of the process or the risks
  • Meghan’s desire is not to discourage egg donation, but to encourage trauma-informed care
  • How Meghan has started doing trauma-informed care training
  • How she wouldn’t do it again, but gained a lot of insight in how to care for herself and set boundaries
  • The financial benefits of egg donation, taxes, and why it’s not worth it
  • Her official diagnosis: anxiety, depression, and PTSD
  • What Meghan wants others to know about this process and the impact on perinatal mental health
  • Meghan’s advice: “Be open to healing and surround yourself with those who respect your boundaries.”

 

Resources:

www.meghancoltrane.com

www.weareeggdonors.com

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