“The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.” –180 Degrees South
I had been thinking about egg freezing and talking about doing it for years. I prepared my conservative parents with subtle hints and talks about the idea. My egg freezing journey really started with my fertility check-up in 2015. I had just celebrated my birthday and thought a great present to myself would be to get a fertility check-up. I found myself in the fertility center’s lobby checking in for my appointment with Dr. Angie Beltsos. I was not nervous or scared for this appointment. I had been in this office many times for work. Over the years as a medical sales representative, I sold many different products to these doctors, but it looked different to me this time. The tables felt turned. It was my time, my turn to be the patient and listen to what the doctors ordered. I was excited and very anxious waiting for my consultation. Once in the private quarters with my physician to discuss my situation it was like chatting with an old best friend, you just pick up where ever you left off.
I explained and updated Dr. Beltsos on the things that have changed in my life. I also informed her of what very little in the love department had not changed. We discussed all the options out openly. She asked what I considered doing. I explained how I truly feel that if the technology is out there and I should use it. “Okay then we have a plan,” she said. “Let’s freeze those eggs.” I agreed and asked what would be the next steps. Dr. Beltsos explained how she would like to run a panel of fertility tests and know where my baseline is. I had my blood drawn, STD panel testing, and submitted a urine sample. Next, she said we would do a vaginal ultrasound and check out my ovaries, which we did.
I was told it would take a day or so to get all the blood tests back. I would hear from my nurse on my results the following day along with the next plan to move forward. I thanked everyone and rode my bike back to work. I was happy. I felt like I was taking charge of something in my life like I told myself I was going to do. It made me smile knowing that I was taking steps to control my future. The day breezed by quickly.
The next day I got the phone call from my nurse about my results. “Everything looks good,” she said, “We should be able to move forward without any issues.” Here are my results from the fertility testing that was explained to me.
√ Anti-Mullerian Hormone 2.08
√ Estrogen 41.8
√ FHS 1.6 (should be less than 10)
√ HCG less than one
√ Gluten Hormone 1.47
√ Prolactin 23.5 (desired range 2 -25)
√ Ultrasound good 23 small follicles (both sides) 3.7 mm uterine lining
√ No STDs found and fertility testing came back good
I was so relieved. I had never been tested before. I spent most of my teenage and early adult years doing my best NOT to become pregnant with my long-term boyfriends. Now the idea that I could become pregnant someday and that my fertility tests came back good was such a relief. I had no idea I would feel this way. I realized it can be emotional, but until I went through my own emotions did I really grasp the depth of these tests.
It wasn’t that I was worried about it really, I just didn’t know. I come from a rather large family, but even with over 50 first cousins and being the oldest of 4 kids, but that is not an accurate calculator if you yourself will have children some day. You never know until you get tested. These tests are the baseline to know if there will be any unforeseen challenges in your future fertility. I was so thankful I was working with such a great and knowledgeable team to help me on this journey.
One test to help determine your fertility is called Anti-Mullerian Hormone, which is an inexpensive blood test that can aid in assessing ovarian potential. It will gauge approximately how many eggs you may have left (low, average, or high number). I wondered what if women were offered these tests for baseline earlier? Why isn’t this offered in my routine doctor’s appointments with my OBGYN? Why am I just now completing these tests? No wonder most women are in shock when they learn everything that is involved with egg freezing and fertility preservation.
It is a shame that no one ever tells you to think about these things when you are 20 instead of 35-40 years old. I am educated in this area and focused on women’s health, yet I still found myself facing the same problem and looking at all of this with a new pair of eyes. Staring at my test results made this whole situation real. Later that weekend while preparing for my god-kids birthday party (both who were conceived via IVF), my god-daughter overheard me talking to her mom about my fertility plans. Before I knew it she was chiming in to explain what I should be doing instead. Funny how a 6-year-older can explain the Disney fairy-tale we all grew up thinking we would have. I couldn’t help but laugh about the situation. If only it was that easy to just “find” a husband to have kids with.
During my fertility appointment, Dr. Angie Beltsos recommended and suggested taking prenatal, multi-vitamin, and a pill that had egg-oils in it. I made a pit stop at GNC to see what pills on my list I could find. As I walked into the store, I asked the male employee if they had any pills that included the egg oils like my doctor had recommended. He paused for a minute and then continued to ask, “Well what is the egg-oils for?” Without even pausing I said, “Fertility” in the most matter-of-fact kind of way. He hesitated as if he was uncomfortable or didn’t expect that answer and started to suggest pills for my “partner” and male testosterone suggestions. Immediately my defenses went up to shut down the whole idea. With one simple comment, I said bluntly, “There is NO PARTNER!” He immediately stopped and went on to show me the women’s section.
I was irritated and enraged all at the same time. Why my blood started boiling at this poor helpless GNC employee, I don’t really know. Certainly, I had been in odder situations. I was thankful the store was empty. I tried to keep my cool, but I could already tell my attitude and trust for him went down the tubes. I selected a few prenatal, women’s multivitamin, and 2 other random pills that had nothing to do with fertility, but rather for weight loss and slapped them on the counter to pay. He proceeded to mention how the two unrelated bottles are not meant for fertility and I told him sternly, “Don’t worry about it, just ring me up.” I couldn’t get out of the store fast enough. In this one tiny moment, I felt like it was going to explode. I had to escape while I still had a shred of strength left and didn’t say something I would regret.
As I got in my car and sat there, I was numb. I just sat there as the sun warmed my hands clutching the steering wheel. Why did I get so mad, I asked myself, what is wrong? Then I pinned pointed the reason. The lack of educated and social acceptance, even from strangers, that a woman might or could have a child without a “partner” was the reason I was so mad.
I’m not the only one this has probably happened too, I thought to myself, and this wasn’t even a super traumatic experience. I resolved in those moments to help change how people view fertility. Not just for other women out there like myself educated but partner-less, but for the everyday women who is even considering the idea of having children someday and just needs that encouraging factor to do it. I hope my experiences can change the minds and ideas of people all over the world to make a difference and impact.
I would like to hear about your fertility journey or thoughts on the topic. We are just getting started. It is going to be a series of elevator doors opening and closing, going up and down, until the final destination has been reached. Come along for the ride … let’s see where it leads!