It took me over two years to gain the courage to freeze my eggs. The idea for my egg freezing journey first started percolating when I visited my ob-gyn after turning 35. He asked me if I was single (I was) and if I had thought about freezing my eggs (I hadn’t). He gave me a card to a reproductive specialist. That card sat in a pile until it was time for my next annual.
At 36 and still single I agreed to really think about the process when my doctor brought it up again. And think I did. I talked it over endlessly with my therapist until I finally concluded I wasn’t ready. Enter 37, my current age. This time at my yearly exam my doctor’s words stuck in my head. He gave me another card. Two months later I finally called the number and made an appointment for a consultation.
To be honest, I didn’t research too much about egg freezing before my first appointment. And I didn’t ask too many questions during the consultation. I just focused on the basics: your egg count drastically declines after 35. I was two years past 35 and still not married. It wasn’t likely I was having a baby anytime soon. I couldn’t wait anymore. If I wanted to freeze my eggs, it was now or never.
The only thing stopping me? The money. Freezing your eggs is expensive. I wasn’t prepared for how expensive until after my initial consult. It was really hard for me to get past the number. I became incredibly down thinking how much I hated being in the position where I even had to even think about freezing my eggs. I always thought I’d be married with kids by now. But that’s not the reality. Often reality is very hard to face.
Once I decided that I wanted an insurance policy for my fertility and was ready to pay for it, I went full speed ahead. There were only four days between my initial consult and my first ultrasound and blood test to determine whether I was a good candidate. I then started the cycle the following week.
I’m happy I didn’t spend hours on Google before my decision. I honestly don’t know if I would have gone through with the process. My obsessive googling came later, after starting the stimulants. There is so much information out there, both good and bad. Of course, my mind focused on the negatives and I started regretting my decision. It took a phone call with my mom and multiple long talks with my boyfriend to calm me down.
I don’t think I could have done this journey alone. Having support is key, wherever it comes from. I basically moved in with my boyfriend for over two weeks so he could help me with my shots. And I talked about the process constantly with my mom. If you decide to freeze your eggs, I can’t recommend enough having a friend, family member or partner available for support.
Overall it was at intense experience, definitely more invasive mentally and physically than I was prepared for. During the process, my friends told me they were proud of me for doing it, and I should feel empowered. I felt no empowerment during the journey and I still don’t now. Perhaps it’s because my belly is still bloated. And I still wish it was because of a pregnancy versus procedure I decided I had to do because of my age. But I’m still thrilled I did it.
I now have 11 eggs frozen for me if I need them when I decide to have children. The pressure is off of having to have a baby immediately. I have insurance. I can finally breathe.
mY Egg Freezing jOURNEY Day by Day
Let me preface this by saying everyone’s journey is different. Overall, the hardest parts of my egg freezing journey were the needles, bloating and limiting exercise to 30 minutes of walking per day. I wasn’t too hormonal until the end. I documented my full journey to give you a glimpse of what it can be like and, if you’re going through this journey to know you’re not alone. But please remember, as I failed to do, that every body is unique and reacts differently.
“It’s only one shot; it’s only one shot; it’s only one shot.” I repeat these four words over and over as I stand in the guest bathroom looking at what I call my “mini hospital.” There are syringes, medications and alcohol wipes spread over the vanity. I keep thinking of the injection lesson I had earlier in the day, during which I had to use all my willpower to not squeal.
I’m so scared of needles that I never look when I get blood taken (which I already had to do twice, along with ultrasounds before starting the stimulants). How on earth am I going to put this needle into my stomach?!
The answer? Very slowly. My boyfriend is by my side for support, encouraging me to take deep breaths. I could have done a full meditation with the amount of deep breaths I do before finally entering the needle into my lower stomach. The needle is tiny so it doesn’t hurt. It’s just a mental obstacle that I have no clue how I’m going to overcome over the next 10 days.
I’ve done it once so I can do it again. That’s the rationale, coupled with more deep breathing, again encouraged by my boyfriend. The morning shot takes a while. The evening one, I do a little faster. Then I have a mini meltdown. Tomorrow starts the rest of the stimulants, aka 1 shot in the morning and 4 shots in the evening. The thought of injecting my abdomen four times makes for a restless sleep.
After my morning shot, all I can think about is the four shots I’m going to have to do that evening. I’m so anxious and I can’t even cure my anxiety with my usual tactics: a long walk or a hike. During the egg freezing process, you can’t exercise aside from 30 minutes of walking per day. I use up my allotted time quite early. I wish I could have a glass of wine to calm my nerves. But alcohol is prohibited as well.
Finally the time comes. It takes 45 minutes from start to finish to administer the four shots. It’s really confusing at first, so I have to watch videos and read my notes from my injection lesson. My boyfriend keeps telling me it will get easier and be faster. I know he’s right but all I want to do is cry.
That’s when my aforementioned googling kicks in. I spend the majority of the night reading about egg freezing. It’s probably the least helpful thing I can do.
I’ve figured out a way to make the injections less scary. After placing the syringe on my stomach, I close my eyes until the needle punctures my skin. For some reason not watching the needle enter my skin makes the process more manageable.
Now if only I could figure out how to make my stomach less bloated. The bloating during this entire process is so intense that it looks like I’m pregnant. It messes with my mind as I rub my swollen stomach. I should be getting pregnant in my happy marriage at 37, not freezing my eggs. My “shoulds” sink me into another night of googling.
The morning shot is getting much easier. The night ones? Not so much. I still have my boyfriend by my side for every shot. I ask him to tell me stories, anything to distract me. To be honest, even the one medication that stings is not so bad. My B12 shots I used to get sting more. But those were administered by a nurse, not Miss I’m Scared of Needles.
I decide I need to attempt doing an injection alone. My boyfriend’s going to be traveling the next morning so I’ll have no choice. I’m so proud of myself that I’m able to do it! The night ones? I still ask him to be by my side. My stomach is so sore from all the injection spots. Tonight’s shots hurt a little more.
I have my third blood test and ultrasound in the morning. Then it’s shot time. Thankfully the morning injection hurts the least and again, I’m proud that I’m able to do it alone. My boyfriend is back for the evening round. I also have to start taking an antibiotic twice a day (thank goodness it’s in pill form!). It makes me super nauseous but half a piece of bread does the trick.
I’m running out of spots on my abdomen for injections! It’s starting to bruise.
The bloating makes it hard for me to do a photoshoot. But I ignore the discomfort of squeezing into my jeans and have a successful work day. I put my stretchy maxi back on as soon as I can.
It’s back to the doctor for another blood test and ultrasound, definitely not the way I usually spend my Saturday mornings.
I’m so bloated that I have to buy new dresses that don’t touch my bruised stomach. Only being allowed 30 minutes of walking makes shopping quite difficult.
I run out of one of the medications (I was hoping to have my procedure by now). My doctor calls in a refill for one night since I’m seeing him tomorrow. It’s another $250… for literally one shot.
At my morning appointment, I’m hoping my doctor will tell me what day I’m having the procedure. No such luck. I get my blood test, where the nurse asks me if I’m on blood thinners because my arms are so bruised. I’m not. My body just doesn’t handle needles well. Then it’s time for the ultrasound with my doctor. He says my follicles are growing, but at a slower rate. I ask what that means. He replies that I’m just slightly above the average time it normally takes. It could mean the cycle isn’t working but in my case, it should be fine. I try to focus on the should but can’t stop thinking, what if this doesn’t work? I break down hysterically crying to my mom on my drive home. I guess the hormones are starting to make me emotional.
A few hours later my doctor calls me with the results of the blood test. He says he’s calling in refills for my stimulants and he’d like me to come back to the office for another round of blood tests and an ultrasound in the morning. I order my additional prescriptions, over $300 worth of shots I wasn’t expecting.
Another morning of blood tests and an ultrasound. My doctor reiterates that my follicles are growing slower than expected. But he expects the procedure to happen Friday or Saturday (today is Wednesday, the day I expected to have the procedure). He tells me he’ll call me with more info when the blood panel comes back. I wait patiently at home, constantly checking my phone.
A few hours later he calls and says the procedure will be at 11:15am Friday. I’m thrilled to get this over with. But I start getting nervous about how many eggs I’ll produce, a thought that’s been looming over me this whole process. I set my alarm for 11:15pm, when I’m supposed to inject my (hopefully!) last shot, the trigger shot.
At 11:15 I mix the powder and liquid and inject the trigger shot into my bruised stomach. I try to sleep but that night all I can think about is whether the procedure will work.
It’s back to the office for another blood test, to make sure my body is absorbing the trigger shot. Today is the first day in nearly two weeks I haven’t had to inject myself. Part of me wants to celebrate; part of me wants to cry. Will I produce enough eggs? If I don’t does that mean I’ll never be able to have a child? My brain ignores science and goes down a rabbit hole of emotions. Needless to say, it’s super hard to fall asleep.
Today’s the day. I haven’t had anything to drink or eat since last night and I’m so thirsty as I pull up to the office an hour before my procedure. I fill out some more forms and the anesthesiologist goes over what’s going to happen: he’s giving me some medicine through my IV to calm me down then I’ll take a nice little nap. I haven’t gone under since a surgery in 9th grade so I’m totally freaked. Thankfully the doctor comes by with a smile telling me I already did the hard part. This part is easy.
I’m wheeled into the procedure room and before I know I’m waking up in recovery. I remember the doctor coming by but I can’t remember what he said about my eggs. After resting for a while a nurse comes by with discharge instructions. I ask her how many eggs they retrieved. She replies 17. I can’t believe it! Now I just have to wait to see how many of those eggs are good.
My boyfriend picks me up to drive me home. I was given pain medication so I feel more uncomfortable than in pain. My stomach is even more bloated than before (I didn’t think that was possible!). On our way home my doctor calls. 14 out of the 17 eggs are good and will be preserved for me. It’s over. I sigh in relief. I sleep and binge on Arrested Development the rest of the day.
I’m thrilled to wake up without pain. I’m still super uncomfortable but at least it’s not painful. One of my followers had messaged me before my procedure that her recovery was the most painful thing she experienced, full of intense cramping. I’m grateful my experience has been different. It’s the first time I take solace in the fact that every body is different.
I’m still tired so I rest the whole weekend with my bloated belly and binge on the first season of The Morning Show. All I want is a big bowl of pasta and a glass of wine for comfort. But for the next week or so I’m on high protein/low carb diet.
It’s back to the doctor for my (hopefully!) last ultrasound and blood work. My doctor tells me that 11 of the 14 eggs are currently frozen for me and ready for me when I decide what to do with them. I feel relieved that in one cycle I produced enough eggs for one healthy baby.
I still question how bloated and uncomfortable I am. But my doctor reassures me that it’s normal and I should start feeling like myself by the end of the week. But I can’t work out for another week and I can’t go in water (pools, hot tubs, baths) for the next two weeks.
Later that day he calls me with the results of the blood test. My hormone levels are too high. My ovaries aren’t shrinking like they should. I need more medication. And they’re injections. I want to cry. I thought this was finally over.
I order the medications (over $600 worth!) but the pharmacy can’t get me them until tomorrow. I spend the day bloated and nauseas.
I don’t know if it’s my hormones or frustration but I’m exhausted and in the worst mood. The meds finally arrive in the afternoon. I give myself the injection and keep my fingers crossed that the bloating will subside soon.
I was hoping yesterday’s shot would instantly make me feel better. No such luck. I anxiously await the afternoon injection. And I keep my fingers crossed that, like me doctor told me, I’ll start feeling like myself again in a few days.
What I thought would be a fairly straightforward 2-week journey has turned into over a month of taking over my life. But in the grand scheme of things, a month is nothing when it comes to taking control of your future. Thank you for following along my egg freezing journey.