'I Froze My Eggs' Talking about Preserving Fertility - A Personal Story by Erica Kartak
As told by Erica Kartak from Luv In The Bubble
Growing up I was never one of those girls playing with their baby dolls or imagining getting married and having babies. After getting married in my mid-20’s, having children seemed like the next logical step. Then I found myself separated at 33 and divorced the following year. At 36 I decided to freeze my eggs. In the next four years, I welcomed two children. Even though I didn’t use those eggs, I’ve never regretted making the decision to preserve my fertility.
Soon after my divorce, I started dating someone. We had a ton of fun together and shared many of the same interests. We spent our time traveling and exploring.
In the back of my mind, I always felt my biological clock ticking. Maybe because I’m a worrier at heart, I had a nagging feeling I’d have difficulty getting pregnant. I also worried about the increased risk of abnormalities as I got older.
I didn’t necessarily feel ready to have a baby, but I figured maybe I wasn’t one of those people that ever would. I did envision children in my 5-10 year future. Unfortunately as a woman, we don’t get to wait forever.
It was around that time that I read an article about egg freezing. Sure, I knew enough about fertility to have heard about IUI and IVF, but I never heard of anyone freezing their eggs. The thought stayed with me.
Meanwhile, the decision of whether or not (or when) to have children became a larger and larger discussion in our relationship. It involved many tears on my part. It wasn’t a question of whether or not we wanted to have a child together, but the simple fact we weren’t at the same stage of life. I should mention he’s seven years younger and wanted to accomplish certain things before having children, which I completely understood.
I started to seriously consider freezing eggs and/or embryos by researching fertility clinics. I remember attending an informational session. Everyone else was there to discuss IVF. I felt out of place and waited until the end to ask the doctor about freezing my eggs. It wasn’t something he had done before, but he was really interested in working together.
After learning more about the process and some preliminary testing to estimate the health of my eggs, I decided to move forward. I was fortunate to be in a position financially that I could afford to freeze my eggs as it wasn’t covered by my insurance.
I was filled with questions for my doctor. What were the odds of success for egg freezing? How about embryos? How long would the process take? And would I need to do more than one cycle? What about the shots – would they hurt? Would I have to miss work?
It was important to me that my boyfriend and I made this decision together. We discussed freezing embryos, which have a higher success rate, but ultimately decided to freeze my eggs. Freezing embryos brings up other issues. We’d need a legal document to explain what would happen if our relationship ended or one of us died. Not to mention, I was worried about MY fertility. What if we broke up and I only had embryos that I could no longer use? Freezing my eggs, but sharing in the financial responsibility, was the right decision for us.
We told our families, who were very supportive. Or maybe they thought we were crazy, but either way, they went along with it. I also told a small group of people at work because I would have daily appointments for 2-3 weeks and need to miss a full day for the egg retrieval procedure.
The actual process of egg freezing is very similar to the first part of IVF. Hormones are administered via shots, generally in the stomach or bum, in order to stimulate follicles to grow as many eggs as possible. Once the eggs are ready, they are retrieved, analyzed for viability and frozen.
My boyfriend was responsible for giving me my shots. I don’t love needles, but was fine as long as I didn’t look at it. Other than one mistake when we used a needle that was 3-4 times as large as needed, the shots went well. Soon it was time for the retrieval. I had spent so much time thinking about the shots that I never really pictured the actual retrieval. I was much more nervous than I expected, but it was over quickly. I awoke to find out the doctors had retrieved 18 eggs, 15 of which were deemed viable; those were frozen.
The recovery was pretty painless, much like the entire process. A weight was immediately lifted off of both me personally and our relationship. We agreed to re-assess the topic of children in a year.
The following year came and went. Instead of deciding whether or not to have a baby, I was deciding whether or not to leave my corporate career to find something I was more passionate about. A few months before my 37th birthday, I quit my job. Two months later I was pregnant with our son. He was born in April 2015. Fast forward to the beginning of 2016 and I was pregnant again. Four days after my 40th birthday, we welcomed our daughter to the world and became a family of four.
After years of worrying about how or when I’d have a child, here I am with two amazing kids. And I didn’t use my eggs with either of them. Even though I didn’t end up using them, I don’t regret freezing my eggs for one minute. It gave me options at a time when I didn’t feel I had any. You never know the path your life is going to take.
We feel our family is now complete. Those eggs are still on ice though so you never know…