Surprise…I froze my eggs last month!
You can file that under “things I never thought I’d say.”
As I’ve continued to tell friends and family about it, I’ve received lots of questions—understandably so—so it only felt right to share my experience with the world. Well, at least with the readers of this blog.
Whether you’re interested in going through the process yourself, you’re supporting a loved one going through it, or you’re just plain curious (totally fair!), I hope this helps.
- What made you decide to do it?
There are a few layers to this answer. First and foremost, I am extremely lucky that the company I work for covers the main cost of egg freezing via Stork Club benefits. Pretty freakin’ epic, huh? I’ve been so thrilled to hear about more and more companies doing the same, especially here in NYC. Cost is a huge barrier to fertility treatments, and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to go forward without the bulk of it being covered. I understand that this puts me in a unique, privileged position, and I just hope that more and more women will get the same chance. During the process, I’ve only been responsible for copays, and I will be responsible for the yearly cost of keeping the eggs in storage.
Over the years, I’ve half-jokingly made comments about freezing my eggs if I wasn’t “settled down” with a partner by a certain age. Truth be told, though, I never thought I’d actually reach that point. I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was a kid myself. If you had told me ten—or even five—years ago that I’d be turning 32 and still pretty far away from being ready to have kids, I wouldn’t have believed you. But life comes at ya fast, and I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey.
My coworker-turned-friend went through the process and she was, thankfully, completely open about it. After asking her tons of questions, I decided to go get diagnostic testing done. Honestly, I expected my results to come back normal and for the doctor to tell me there was no rush. But in classic Haley fashion, that’s not how it happened. Based on a blood test and a vaginal ultrasound, I was told that my egg count is low for my age. While this doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t be able to conceive naturally (after all, it only takes one egg), it did convince me to take the leap for extra “insurance.”
It’s also worth mentioning that I had an incredible support system. My parents encouraged me to take charge of my circumstances and assured me they’d be behind me every step of the way. As my mom put it, there’s more knowledge around fertility these days…so why not do something with that information? Once I told my friends about my decision, they were all so encouraging and proud of me, too.
- Where’d you do it?
I had lots of options to choose from through Stork Club, but I went with Spring Fertility. They’re based in both NYC and San Francisco. I had heard about them through two podcasts, We Met at Acme and Move With Heart. I can’t say enough good things about Spring—the entire team was so professional yet warm, the facilities are immaculate, and their statistics speak for themselves. I saw Dr. Kolbe Hancock and was given my own care coordinator as well as a nurse to handle my medications.
- What was the preparation like?
In the interest of being real, the preparation was a lot. My team mapped out a tentative calendar based on my menstrual cycle. The date range is pretty vague in the beginning, because all of it depends on how your cycle is going and how the eggs are growing. Once I had my last period before egg freezing, we were able to get a tighter range, but I still didn’t have confirmation of the actual procedure date until days before it.
The first thing I did was start an oral medication. After that, I went in for another blood test and vaginal ultrasound to get my “baseline” and see how many follicles I had. After a couple of appointments, it was time to start my hormone injections. I ordered them through an online pharmacy, SMP, that brought them to my door. When I opened the box, I was overwhelmed. As a type 1 diabetic that has been injecting myself without medical supervision for 16 years, I expected this part to be a no-brainer. But there were so many different medications and different syringes for each. The first day of my injections, I definitely felt a little lost as I stood in my tiny kitchen alone, surrounded by vials and needles, and watched all of the training videos my doctor’s office provided. The shots themselves didn’t bother me because of my experience, but I can imagine they would be intimidating to a first timer.
I went into the office every couple of days for about a week and a half for more bloodwork and ultrasounds. Despite lots of early appointments and not being able to travel during that time, each appointment was super fast and I never waited more than two minutes to be seen.
Once my follicles looked like they were the right size, my doctor instructed me to take my “trigger” shots and prepare for the procedure 36 hours later.
- How was the procedure itself?
I was put under general anesthesia, which always freaks me out a little. Being an avid reader and TV watcher has prepared me for the worst-case scenario! Plus, as a type 1 diabetic, going under is more complicated. I have to handle the whole not-eating-for-twelve-hours thing without my blood sugar going low, need to adjust my pump settings for the procedure itself, and must make sure everyone in the room knows how to monitor my numbers and respond accordingly. The team at Spring was super knowledgeable about T1D (which is rarer than you’d think!) which is part of why I chose them after my initial consultation. The anesthesiologist called me twice to discuss my plan, a blood sugar goal, and to tell me he would set up a sugar drip in my IV just in case.
My mom flew from Boston to NYC to be with me before, during, and after the procedure. I know, she’s a saint! It was hard to plan it since you’re given such little notice, but thanks to airline points and flexibility we made it work.
The procedure itself only takes 20-30 minutes, but with preparation and wake up time, we were there for about 2.5 hours total. I have no memory of anything after being wheeled into the room, but my doctor told me I immediately asked if I “said anything weird” when I woke up. Sounds about right.
- What about the recovery?
The day of the procedure, I stayed vigilant with ibuprofen and made sure to hydrate with electrolyte-infused water. I also slept a lot. By the time I got home, my stomach had ballooned in size and it felt really tender, especially with any slight movement whatsoever.
As I had been warned, the discomfort increased over the next couple of days. I took one day off from work (plus, the procedure was on a Sunday) and was able to work from home by day three. However, I didn’t feel like moving from the couch and had a heating pad on me constantly. I would describe the feeling as your worst period cramps on steroids…or almost like someone punched my internal organs several times. It wasn’t so much painful as it was just uncomfortable.
By day seven, I was feeling much better and was cleared to get back to being active. I got my period as scheduled around day ten, and it was definitely the heaviest period I’ve had since I was a teen. Now that that’s done, though, I feel completely normal.
- So…now what?
My doctors were able to get five mature eggs to freeze. That’s pretty low compared to the average person my age, but I was prepared for that. I’m planning on doing a second round after I take a bit of a break—most likely after the new year.
According to the algorithm Spring Fertility uses, five mature eggs will give me about a 60% chance of one live birth, and a 20% chance of two live births. I’m definitely glad I did it because that’s five more eggs than I had before, but I’m hoping to get some more for extra “security” since I do want to have more than one child if possible.
Overall, while the process was a lot, it was also really empowering. Taking charge of your fertility is a really good feeling, and it’s something I don’t take for granted. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s on the fence.
If you’re thinking of freezing your eggs and have questions about my experience, please feel free to reach out! If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a pretty open book.