…I say to myself under my breath twice a day now.
Since my first blog post when I talked about my thinking around maybe freezing my eggs, a lot has happened. I made the decision to do it, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I could afford to do it, I had to delay doing it because of four weeks I spent in the US for work, I almost didn’t get to do it because of Holiday clinic closures and then, most recently, I’ve actually started doing it.
I’ve had so many people ask questions and reach out to talk about egg freezing, so I’m going to try and share what I can, when I feel able. It might not be super frequent. At some stage I may decide I won’t post anything else until it’s all done. It might not even be that coherent… but today will be day three and I wanted to give an update on things up to this point.
First of all let me address this fact. It is a privilege to have access to resources to be able to do this. I mean both reputable medical teams, as well as the financial means. Because jeeeeeez it is not cheap. If you’re lucky you may be able to get some of the drugs paid for by your extended benefits if you have them. If you’re really lucky you may even have fertility treatment coverage in your benefits. But if you get neither of those things, or even if you only get one part covered, it is a significant investment – there’s no getting around that. The treatment alone is in the region of $8,000 and the medication can range anywhere between $4000 and $8000. (These are Canadian dollar amounts, and by no means definitive).
The clinic I’ve been attending have been incredibly flexible about how I can make payments – credit card, debit card, multiple different cards, bankers draft, electronic transfer. They do try to make it as easy as possible, but it doesn’t make it any cheaper. It’s still like FIFTEEN GRAND! I would encourage anyone looking into it to call their benefits provider (if you have extended benefits) and check exactly what they may be able to get covered. Or at least give yourself enough time to figure out financing because it can take time.
Ultimately though, I decided I was doing it and then, like a lot of my life decisions, figured out how I was going to do it later. I am grateful that the universe conspired and – in maybe the most woo woo thing I’ll write in this post – I truly believe I manifested abundance. It came into my life at the right time to allow me to afford this without overextending myself on credit and I will be forever grateful. Ok, woo woo talk done. Or maybe that’s the fentanyl talking already… (more on that to come)
Prior to starting the process I had a consultation call with the doctor where she talked me through the process and explained the statistics behind the success rates of egg freezing – Coles Notes: do it sooner rather than later. I’d attended an info session a number of years ago, so I had some information already but this answered a lot more of my questions about the weeks of prep before the retrieval.
Essential the (overly simplified for blog writing purposes) process is – go on birth control to control your cycle for 2 weeks, on day 1 of your period start hormone injections for 10-14 days, during which time you’ll have blood work and ultrasounds every day or so depending on progress to check the growth of your eggs, also during this time you can’t exercise (whaaaaaat!) or have sex (well that won’t be a problem), then when they deem you “ready” they give you a trigger shot, and ~2 days after that they do the very quick retrieval procedure by going straight up your you-know-what with a big needle to suck them out. Lovely.
The doctor referred me for full blood work, including testing my AMH level. Anti-mullerian hormone level is a test used to assess a woman’s ovarian reserve or egg count. I then had a pelvic ultrasound (when I almost peed myself because they tell you to fill your bladder with 2 litres of water beforehand but that didn’t take into account my apparently very small bladder) and finally a transvaginal ultrasound (which is really as lovely as it sounds and who doesn’t love having their feet in stirrups, and I don’t mean the horse kind).
Once all the test results were in I met with the doctor again in person this time, where she confirmed my AMH levels were exactly where they’d want them to be for “someone of my age” and we discussed timing of the procedure as/when I decided to go ahead. At this point for me it was all dependent on securing financing, and when an unexpectedly extended work trip came up, it allowed for a little more time to figure it out / rob a bank. As the universe’s delivery of abundance came about so I was able to afford it, and the work trip came to an end so I was physically present in Vancouver to be able to do it, I contacted the clinic again and we picked up where we left off.
At this point things got pretty rushed because we were up against me wanting it done asap, as well as before a vacation in February and work travel picking up again in March, and the clinic closing for the Christmas break, and mother nature having to play her part.
Ordinarily you go on birth control for two weeks, then start injections on the first day of your period. We decided to forgo the birth control pill and just use my natural cycle so we could fit it in before the Holidays, so we were waiting for my period to start… rarely have I wanted and not wanted my period to start so much all at the same time.
In the interim, I had an orientation session with the nurse where she walked me through the medication I’d be taking by way of the twice (becoming three times after five days) daily injections, and how to administer them – it’s not quite as simple as just sticking a needle in your belly. There’s mixing of powder and liquid, there’s dispenser pens, there’s medical waste pouches. It’s a whole fucking thing.
That’s what I’d call this thing – a whole fucking thing. A few people have said to me “wow, I didn’t realise it was so involved” or “I thought it was just one injection a day”… no. It is A WHOLE FUCKING THING.
As a note, and as I’m sure you realise – none of this is detailed medical processes. This is me recounting the details that feel pertinent. There is of course a lot more information that was given to me and that’s available, so don’t take this as the be all and end all if you’re using it for information gathering. Like I say, it’s a whole fucking thing!
Back to the orientation, I was also told that I’d need someone to come and pick me up after the procedure. Which wasn’t too surprising, given that happens after you’ve even just had a tooth removed. But when I was informed that for the procedure I’d be “awake but comfortable”, my first thought was “how about asleep and blissfully unaware instead?” As it turns out I’ll be put on a fentanyl IV which scares the bejesus out of me for so many reasons. Mostly because IVs always make me faint. And while most of my friends and family were concerned about how able (or not) I’d be to inject myself with the hormones, the IV became my main concern. So we’ve agreed they’ll also put me on a healthy dose of Ativan and I’ll just be super high throughout. Lovely.
The instruction that really got my attention though – other than the nurse’s insistence on no exercise until my period starts again after the procedure, so basically A MONTH! – was that they “don’t recommend making any important decisions for 24 hours after the fentanyl IV is administered”. Ahahahahaha wow. Someone take my phone. If it’s anything like when I used to drink, lord knows the trouble I will get myself in…
Coming away from the orientation I felt a little overwhelmed with information but mostly ready to get it started, and definitely ready to get it over with. I got the medication prescription, and instantly claimed the cost on my extended benefits coverage, and rewatched the videos the nurse had shared with me about how to give myself each injection. It would be the first time I’d ever injected myself and while I know for some people with medical conditions it may come naturally to them, it literally goes against the very core of my being to stick something sharp in me.
Now I know it’s nature but I couldn’t help but think that it was incredibly badly planned that on the first day of my period I’d also be doing my first injections. Because, I think as most women would attest, the last thing we want to be doing on our first day of our period is shoving a needle in our bellies to deposit even more hormones. Add to that that for me it was also the day my Mum was leaving Vancouver back to the UK and let’s just say I was fully expecting an emotional meltdown of epic proportions.
But maybe it’s the fact that I know this whole fucking thing is what I’m meant to be doing, or maybe it’s the surprisingly easy way in which a needle slides so smoothly into human flesh, but either way the first day went off without a hitch. I followed along with the YouTube video of the injection administering for both my morning and my night shot, and while it wasn’t entirely pain-free, it also wasn’t incredibly painful, and my surprising propensity to just stick it in me was positively shocking. All of which I’m grateful for.
How I’ll feel when I’m on day five, or day eight or day ten, or when my belly looks like a pin cushion, or when the hormones have a firm grip on my emotional sanity, who knows… But for now, I’m doing it and I’m proud of myself for doing the whole fucking thing.
I’m also highly entertained every time I go to click the icon for the fertility clinic’s web portal on my bookmark bar and it is an actual sperm. There is a sperm on my web browser. And if that doesn’t cheer me up as I wonder whether it’s period cramps or injection pain that are causing the belly aches then nothing will.
Here’s to eggs, plump and juicy, and frozen.