Part 1: How did I get here? Egg freezing at 39

posted by Brigitte Adams August 26, 2012

This is Part 1 of a guest blog series by Kate, a member of the Eggsurance Community.  Thank you, Kate, for telling your story.  Stay tuned for Part II….

…while I can make back money, I can’t make back time. It is now or never.

I am writing this blog post on my 39th birthday. Next month, I will freeze my eggs. I’ve been considering putting my eggs on ice for the better part of a decade. In my early 30s, I came up with the plan that if I hadn’t met someone (you know, the future father of my children) by 33 that I would freeze then. Later, I moved the target date to 35. Oh if only I had frozen at 33 or 35 or even 37. That continues to be one of the great regrets of my life…

It might seem surprising that I have been so aware of egg freezing for so long because it certainly isn’t very common today and was even less talked about a decade ago. My background is in journalism and I’m sure some trend article years ago that planted the thought and I kept researching it. As an only child with a small, not-so-close extended family, I’ve always dreamed of a house full of kids. While I had the back-up plan of egg freezing, I was sure finding the guy, getting married and starting a family would all work out without medical intervention.

And then as we say, life intervened. Not only did the right guy not work out, my mid 30s turned out to be a devastating on all levels (physically, emotionally, financially) as a result of a serious long-term toxic exposure in my home coupled with the sudden death of a man I loved deeply.

It was only at 37 that I was back on enough stable footing to take the step of visiting with a doctor specializing in cryopreservation. I had my first round of fertility testing and a medical consultation about the process. The tests showed that my fertility was likely on par with my age but the doctor warned me not to wait too much longer.

By the time I moved to another area of the country and got settled in, I was well into 38 and though still rebuilding from my devastating financial losses and unsure of how to pay for the freezing, I knew I had to at least check in on my fertility. It turns out that I happened to move to a city that is home to one of world’s best fertility clinics with a celebrated lab.

It was actually finding out that one of my best friends was going into premature menopause at 38 that prompted me to pick up the phone to schedule all the tests.  Although I am well aware that fertility is nearly ALL about the age of the eggs (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), I was – and remain shocked – at how much my fertility had gone downhill in the last two years. I’m way below average for a 39-year-old woman.  I know my age is a factor and certainly my toxic exposure.  (That’s the #1 reason why I wish I had frozen in my early 30s – I would have avoided all that likely damage to my eggs.) The doctor was blunt with me; it was still possible to do this now but to wait any longer would be very foolish.

I can’t go back in time and must work from where I am at this moment. So I am moving ahead with a round of egg freezing with retrieval planned for the end of September. My financial situation isn’t hugely better but clearly time is of the essence and while I can make back money, I can’t make back time. It is now or never.

I’m blogging about my experience (egg retrieval) here at Eggsurance because women need to know more about their options for preserving their fertility and they need to plan for it. I’ve also only found a handful of first person accounts on the Internet. I’ll be blogging in real time about the practicalities (how I chose the clinic, what I’ve done to improve egg quality, the scheduling, how I’m functioning through each phase) and emotional aspects (my feelings after getting test results, why this makes me feel empowered but sad too, how all those drugs really affect me) of the process.

At 39, I’m late to the game. All I will know when the eggs are retrieved is whether they are mature or immature. I won’t know their real quality until I try to fertilize them. I may need a second round which at this point is financially impossible. There are no guarantees this venture will result in a live birth and I’m okay with that. I’m just grateful to have the chance to try…

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