“True wisdom comes to each of us, when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” ― Socrates
The Easter holiday is one that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion death that is observed by major branches of the Christian faiths. This past weekend my Facebook newsfeed was filled with imageries of spring, bunnies loomed everywhere, kids searching endlessly for candy-filled eggs, and families attending church together. Holidays have been etched into our brains as moments we should be sharing with friends and family. But sometimes, for one reason or another, we end up spending them alone. This was one of those moments.
Family has always been important in my life. I was born on the East coast and the oldest of 4 children to modest income parents who themselves came from extremely large families. Both of my parents have 9 or 10 siblings each in their family. I have just about 50 first cousins from both sides. Off hand one might think fertility wouldn’t be an issue coming from a family that size. However assuming that is the first thing incorrect.
One’s own family and fertility does not determine your own likelihood of conceiving. Shocking, but true. While I may have great genetics or good genes, the mere fact that my parents or their parents have conceived many children does not determine the possibility that I can have children some day. Most people believe having children is a God-given right, but I’m here to tell you it is a true miracle to give birth not a right.
The only way to know your own reproductive status is to be tested. There is a panel of fertility blood tests and ultrasound exams that can measures your ovarian reserve, fertility status, and genetic likelihood of being able to have children in the future. The fertility test and results may lead to many emotional feelings about your fertility and future. Depending on your age or mindset going into the testing, you may be faced with facts about of your own mobility that you never thought about before. All of this is normal.
I’m the type of person who would rather know what challenges I might be facing rather than stay in the dark. I believe you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what it is. I think it is better to know if there are problems sooner verse later. Then I could have more time to think about, try to fix the issue, or plan my life differently. Ignoring the issue doesn’t change my reality.
Growing up over the years has provided many life lessons I think relates to fertility. The first lesson I learned as a young adult included how life doesn’t always go as planned no matter how much you plan.
I struggled with my specific college degree program. No matter how hard I worked to excel under the stressful workload and heavy book memorization learning, I got further behind my classmates. I just wasn’t cutting the grades in all my classes, which was a requirement to move on to the next semester. Change was indeed coming. I decided my best move was to go to Chicago and finish my Bachelors degree at a different university. In the coming years, I was blessed to adapt to the Midwest lifestyle, find work, and finish my degree a year later. I also went on to complete my MBA in healthcare. It wasn’t my original plan, but all roads lead to Rome as they say.
You see life doesn’t always go as planned. Chances are you have experienced this too. Maybe you got married and then divorced or got pregnant before you were ready; perhaps you got cancer or dealing with an unexpected illness. Or maybe you are single desiring a significant other and a family that hasn’t happened yet. No matter what the case may be, life throws us curve balls.
As life progressed, I learned my second lesson, how you talk about, describe, and tell your story is what really matters. Over the years, due to many layoffs, I worked in several different medical sales positions within women’s health. Each layoff I would have to describe the job before to a new hiring manager. How I told that story and explained what I accomplished regardless of the time at the previous role would impact if I got a new job. The hiring manager likely made a decision whether or not to bring me on the team based off my job history and how I spoke about my work. How you tell your story is important.
Same is true for all parts of your life and especially dating. Don’t tell a heartbreaking story, instead speak about what the experiences taught you, explain what you learned, and despite the odds where that has brought you today. Built a sense of self-worth and confidence by putting this idea into practice. It is not easy, but slowly you will find your voice.
I spent a majority of my time continuing to adapt to the roles and situations placed in front of me. Adaption was critical to my own survival and success. My third lesson taught me to be all in or get all out, because there is no half way. Indecision and the lack of making a choice can be your worst mistake.
Being on the fence never helped anyone. I remember a particular job in my career that I didn’t really enjoy doing, but I was afraid of change. Each day, I would force myself out of bed and begin the process of talking myself out of the job. My heart wasn’t in it. I should have been pursuing what I was really passionate about. Eventually, I did leave that job and once I made the choice to take that leap of faith, my life shifted forever.
Same principals apply for relationships. If you are in a relationship that is not challenging you, allowing you to grow, or meeting your needs then re-evaluating that relationship. Don’t be with a person for the sake of just being in a relationship, you are wasting your precious time. I remember my own debate with a long-term relationship that had gone stagnant. We out-grew each other. Staying together did neither of us any good. It was challenging to leave, but it was the right thing to do.
Your fertility is not much different. Your eggs are not getting any younger. If you are on the fence about whether or not to freeze them, make a choice. Either do it and be all in or resolve to be okay with your decision not to use the technology. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do, because no one will. Only you can care the most about you.
I am fascinated by people and try to figure out why we do what we do. I want to learn from other’s mistakes. Lesson number four was fundamental and one I took to heart, learn from others so you do not repeat their mistakes or share their heartaches.
I am the youngest in my peer group. I like to say it is on purpose. I have sought after friendships with women who were older and wiser than me. I learn a great deal from their experiences. I hear about their struggles and see down the road what I might be faced with. Make sure to learn from other people in your life. Don’t ignore their journey and remember to share yours in the process. That is how we learn from each other. We all have something to teach each other if we are willing to pay attention to the lessons. I truly believe everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. It is okay that you are not perfect. Don’t chase perfection, it is a waste of energy. You are not defined by your mistakes. Mistakes are teaching moments to learn from and do better.
This is where I realized lesson number five, now is the time to take my life into my own hands. I decided firmly that I was not going to wait around for my prince charming. There is more to life than this one piece of the puzzle. During the time around my 30th birthday, I decided that I would freezing my eggs some day. There was no debate in my head, preserving my fertility and giving my older-self more options was not only smart, but important. This became part of my new “plan” for my life.
While I know that working in women healthcare has given me a “leg up” on a wide-range of different topics, it has also forced me to think about reproductive and fertility issues early on. I realized quickly how unknown the future can be and I could not leave this choice up to chance. This view has also been molded from seeing too many of my intelligent, strong, great personality girlfriends struggling when they approached 40 years old and their biological window was closing. I had to take charge of my own life and do something to avoid this certain fate for myself.
Realizing life doesn’t always go as planned, how you speak about your story is important, being dedicated, learning from the past, and making choices are all fundamental to shaping my views on what I really wanted in life. I might have been unlucky in love thus far, but doesn’t mean I didn’t learn from it or that I wanted to stop trying.
As a woman, I feel a strong sense of duty to help encourage social bonding with each other. We are all in this together ladies. At some point will be faced to wrestle with these questions regardless if we admit it or not. I encourage everyone to be open minded and thoughtful about others perspectives. Join the conversation. We would love to hear about your thoughts and feelings on the topic of egg freezing. What do you think? Would you consider freezing your eggs? How do you feel about the topic? What are you most afraid of when it comes to egg freezing? What lessons have you learned?