My Egg Freezing Quest
After a decade working in healthcare and women’s health, I have decided to freeze my eggs. The decision to take advantage of the technology that I have both been selling and suggesting to my girlfriends is one that I felt very compelled to do myself. The decision came easy for me. The countless discussions between my physicians and customers, planted the seed long before I think I ever realized.
I was approaching my 33rd birthday. Every year since entering my 30s, suddenly seemed to go faster than the last. Instantly, babies were on my brain like rapid fire. I experienced this flux of girlfriends announcing their pregnancies … some on their second child already. It became painfully obvious that I was light years away from a similar reality. The time had come to freeze my eggs – for real, not just talk about it. It was time to act.
I have always talked openly about egg freezing with family, girlfriends, and even strangers. I would debate, educate, and discuss the benefits of egg freezing. I truly understood how I was in one of the lucky ones who lived in the generation that would benefit the most from egg freezing. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted their “experimental” label associated with egg freezing in October 2012, because a new quick-freeze vitrification method radically improved success rates.
I thought I was totally prepared and ready for my egg freezing journey. I knew what to expect as I had helped countless girlfriends on their fertility journey and held their hands with each shot leading up to retrieval or IVF procedure. I was confident this was the right choice for me. Working in field gave me a sense of peace. I couldn’t think of any reasons why I shouldn’t freeze my eggs. I called my insurance company and learned about how my health insurance benefits partly covered some of the costs. All signs pointed to the perfect egg freezing cycle.
In the coming days, I scheduled my consultation appointment with my doctor, had my hormone levels checked, got an ultrasound, and planned my medication schedule. I committed myself to yoga classes each day before starting my hormone shots. I wanted the best outcome possible, so I only had to do this one time. I traveled often for work, but a recent break in my schedule allowed me the flexibility to commit to the process.
Everything began to unfold just as my doctor described. The medications arrived in a huge box that was delivered to my condo. For a strange reason, it instantly overwhelmed me. Maybe I wasn’t expecting such a large box with so many different drugs to sort through. It was at this moment everything began to feel real. As I dumped out the medications, needles, swabs, and instructions sheets I tried to piece together which medication and timing of each drug to administer.
When it came time for my first shot that evening, I realized what a horrible drug addict I would make. I am not particularly scared of needles or anything especially working within the healthcare space, but it was more how it felt unnatural to inflict pain or stick a needle into your belly on purpose that got me. After obsessing how I was going to administer those first shots it started to seem like an impossible task.
As time drew closer, I found myself calling almost everyone in my phone book to spontaneously help. I constantly gave myself pep talks about how I could do this. I started to doubt if I was ready or prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride. My emotions were already getting the best of me. I feared how I would feel on the medications. I found myself in a place where my head and heart didn’t seem to meet. I had to remind myself once more exactly why I was doing this.
Mid-thought my phone rang; it was my good friend offering to help. Relieved and thankful I packed up my bag and headed over to her house. There she helped me prepare for the start of my most important journey to date. She refreshed my memory how to mix the Menopur and draw up the Follistm. She prepared and wiped my stomach with an alcohol swap then distracted me as she grabbed the side of my belly and put the first needle in. “All done,” she proclaimed. “Wait … what?” I said dazed and confused. She didn’t even flinch as she prepared the next shot. “Hold still,” she instructed.
My first experience injecting hormones started to fade day by day as the medications became part of my daily routine. I just kept thinking about all the countless women who completed IVF before me. Many of those women were injecting these hormones into their bodies because this was their last shot at becoming a parent. I’m lucky that this cycle was not a make or break situation for me.
As each day passed, I could start to feel my body change and feel things I had never experienced. Before even day three of shots, I could tell the hormones were in full effect. My body felt like it had been hijacked. I was crying at random commercials, snapping at Uber drivers, and not retuning my friends’ calls. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. In the heightened emotional state induced by hormone overload, even anodyne comments had the power to reduce me to tears. Snap out of it, I kept telling my head, but my body was in charge right now and changing hourly. I was amazed how effected my emotions had become. By day five I felt like I was getting hit by a bus. I started to have black and blue bruise marks all over my stomach.
During the first week of hormones, I was only asked to come into the fertility clinic every other day to make sure the prescribed treatment plan was working effectively. Symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, and fluid retention were really starting to be present and take over. Clothes started to hurt. Anything on my body felt like a thousand pins and needles poking me. I was very uncomfortable.
I was in a state of feeling ultra sensitive and vulnerable. My coping mechanism was to hibernate, sleep, and try to stay positive. I had little contact with the outside world during those two weeks. I started to realize how cycle monitoring was a full time job. I didn’t want to wear clothes especially around my mid section as each day became increasingly uncomfortable.
I learned during my monitoring appointments that my follicles had grown over 10mm and needed to reach over 15mm to be mature enough for retrieval, but often times if they got larger than 20mm they would be too mature and not make the freeze. There were no guarantees that the smaller follicles could catch up in time or that the medicine wouldn’t make the larger follicles too. The medication did not subjectively affect the follicles, as they could all be impact differently.
I was getting increasingly excited, as it was time to administer the first part of my trigger shot. It was 4am and I was half asleep when I was required to give myself the series of trigger shot. It was hard to administer because it had to go into the muscle of my butt. I was told that I was at risk for hyperstimulation and that I needed to take it easy. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a medical condition affecting the ovaries of some women who take fertility medication to stimulate egg growth. Most cases are mild, but rarely the condition is severe and can lead to serious illness or death.
I was told that my ovaries were larger than the size of oranges at this point. No wonder they ached and felt tender to the touch. The day had finally come … after almost two weeks of intense meds and my stomach now protruding like I was pregnant, everything all leading up to this moment. Despite trying to remain calm, there’s no denying I feel positively jittery today.
As I arrive to the clinic, typical protocol events took place such as name check verification, IV placement, and off to slumber land I went. The last thing I remember telling everyone was how the room felt like my family together on Christmas. I don’t remember much after that. Apparently, I cracked some jokes, told everyone I loved them, and was talking crazy talk after waking up from anesthesia. All I remember is how thirsty I was.
I wish I would have stock up on any fluids that contain electrolytes, easy to make food items, and semi-healthy snacks before my retrieval. This would have saved me from having to beg my neighbor to pick up these items for me when I was to exhausted and bloated the next day to do it myself.
I was thankful that I had taken Friday off work and had the weekend to recover. Those three solid days of rest did me wonders. I probably could have done my normal activities, but it was nice to just rest instead. I would get headaches, dizzy easily, or out of breath quickly. I found that I was moving slower and not as fast as I usually did. All of this is normal including not fitting back into your clothes right away again.
What happens is your body fills up and retains fluid. Any weight you are gaining is really just water weight; so don’t be alarmed as this is normal. You want to help replenish your system so your body flushes this out. As each day passes I was starting to feel more like myself. It is a process. Just remember it took you 2 weeks to get to this level, give yourself at least 2 weeks to start feeling like you did before you started the hormones. Everyone’s body responds differently to the medications.
All in all it was worth my effort. I was thankful I had done it. Little over a month worth of sacrifice for a lifetime opportunity seems worth it to me. I could tell I was already more calm and at peace. As another birthday approaches all of my education, travels, and knowledge of the world has left me wondering, where is my future going and am I ready for parenthood alone or with a partner? I have this feeling that there is no such thing as being ready for anything, there is only now and the time is now. No matter where life leads or where my future takes me, I always have 17 beautiful eggs that are chilling until I am ready to use them. I’m staying open minded that I have given myself options for the future and I can make the next best decision when it comes.
To the readers of EggChill, I hope that you have the courage to plan for your fertility future. There are plenty of testimonials and resources online to keep you informed. Ask questions and ask for help if you are feeling lost and remember that you are not alone on this journey!