Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Freezing ones eggs is a "so-called" easy process for those who can afford to do so or have great insurance that can cover most of the costs. Or at least that's what I thought. For some women, they don't get as many eggs per retrieval as they would like or sometimes they develop cysts or complications that prolongs the process even longer, meaning, they have to start over which also comes with added costs. Some women who go through IVF can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on months of injections. The reason? They want children. They want that future child. But for many they may have a difficult time getting pregnant, have no current partner to have a child with or are not ready yet and want to have a backup plan in case getting pregnant in the future is difficult.
I say this because it really hit home this past mothers day on why I chose to freeze my eggs. I look forward to the day when I am a mom. Yet it's super hard seeing friends and family getting pregnant and celebrating the day when you hoped and planned that you would have been there by now. But when you marry or date the wrong person and the future you had planned for yourself is blown up, it makes the day difficult. Did I celebrate with my family, of course. Did I spend time with my mom, you betcha! But deep down I felt that emptiness knowing that children are not in the immediate future.
But here we are. I turned 34, am single and decided that I would move up my plan for egg freezing given that we are in a pandemic, I have had no interest in dating and I figured this was the best time to do it. After researching fertility centers and going through consultations with a few doctors, I made my choice on the center to go with.
I would say that this is the first and most important step. There are many clinics out there to choose from and everyone is in a different stage of their life. Some are younger than 35 (when they say you have more eggs) and need only one cycle while some women are 37 or older (when those egg numbers decrease) and are looking/needing to do multiple cycles. For anyone trying to decide on a clinic to go with, take those factors into consideration because some may offer discounts for the amount of cycles you go through(Shady Grove). I decided to go with a fertility clinic that is in the network of doctors that I go to for my primary visit and OBGYN. I also chose this one because was also smaller and more intimate and I would be seeing my doctor every time I go in for bloodwork and ultrasound rather than see someone who just works there. It was also easy to get ahold of the doctor on call.
Once I made the decision on deciding to freeze my eggs, I contacted my insurance provider. This is the big kahuna as I had no idea what would be covered and what would not. For many insurance providers, they wont cover egg freezing. They will cover IVF (which is essentially the same thing) but only if you have been trying to get pregnant with no such luck. Egg freezing can run you anywhere from $10-$20,000 and don't forget about the medications which can run you $3-$5,000 because many providers do not cover them. This is also PER cycle unless you have some sort of deal with the fertility center. Cost also plays a role in where you live. I have heard from friends who got it done in New York that it cost $12,000 and in LA, $15,000. Also the annual storage cost was different in each location.
I got lucky, because my insurance through work is pretty good and covers a majority of the process. I know I still will have to pay out of pocket for the annual storage fee, but I ended up paying about $1000 out of pocket since I hit my deductible. But I am telling you for your own sanity, PLEASE find out before you begin what is and isn't covered. I went through a stressful 48 hours being told my medications were covered and then they weren't and then they were. So to save yourself from that, do a bunch of research and ask a lot of questions.
Now on to the process itself. Before anything begins, you have to go in for your baseline to see where you are and when to begin. Because I was on birth control leading up to this, the doctor kept me on it until I began the hormones. She also wanted to see how my uterus was looking and where I was starting. This was on Wednesday and I would begin my treatment on Saturday.
My medications were overnighted to me from a pharmacy called Freedom Fertility. I read the reviews from other customers and while some were real bad, others were great. I had no issues with them so maybe it was because of the procedure I was having done. But the medications arrived on time, with no issues.
My Injection Station
Day 1- Saturday night- I took my first injections. Gonal F and Menopur. This was a moment that took some time and encouragement/distraction from friends because the thought of sticking yourself with needles, well that was frightening. I also called the fertility doctor on call because I wasn't sure if I did the mixing process right (I did.) I also began to feel some sort of stimulation going on in my uterus that night. It was a very strange feeling.
Day 2- Sunday night- same injections. Called the fertility doctor on call because I wasn't sure I did the injection right (I did).
Day 3- Monday morning- Headaches begin and they sucked. Lasted for hours and made it hard to accomplish anything. Did the same injections this evening also.
Day 4- Tuesday- Headaches return and same thing as day before but now I am getting used to doing the injections.
Day 5- Wednesday morning- Went back for ultrasound and bloodwork. Doctor said headaches were common side effect of injections but should go away. Results come back and things are looking good to where I now will be injecting myself 3 times a day instead of 2. So I take the third medication along with the other 2 that night; Cetrotide.
Day 6- Thursday- Woke up with intense nausea to the point where I definitely felt like I was going to throw up. Doctor wants me to now take 1 medication in the morning and 2 at night. Headaches are still in play. Also around this day was when I began to feel like there was a lot of pressure pushing on my bladder making me feel like I had to go to the bathroom when in fact I did not.
Day 7- Friday morning- Back to doctor for ultrasound and bloodwork. Follicles are definitely getting bigger and more defined. Headaches are starting to subside. Bloodwork and ultrasound results show things are looking for a Wednesday retrieval. Bladder still feeling like I constantly had to pee because my enlarged uterus was pushing on it.
Day 8- Saturday- It's been a week since I began taking the hormones and today I am to take 4 shots. 1 Cetrotide in the morning and again in the evening along with the other hormones.
Day 9- Sunday- Wake up and experience painful cramps all day which reminded me why I took birth control in the first place. Back to taking Cetrotide in the morning only.
Day 10- Monday morning- Took the Cetrotide before going back to doctor for bloodwork and ultrasound again. Got the ok to take trigger shot for a Wednesday retrieval which I did at exactly 9:30 PM. Follicles are definitely bigger and will be interested to see how many eggs they retrieve. Feeling bloated and big but that is common.
Day 11- Tuesday morning- Back to doctors for bloodwork. Good to go for retrieval day. And I started taking the doxycycline pills. I will continue taking these after the retrieval until they are gone. Started day off with no cramps, ended with major cramps. Also boobs are a bit tender.
Day 12- Retrieval day! Sleep was not great because I experienced a lot of cramping and pain. Breasts are also still very tender.
I arrived an hour and a half early to get everything signed off on and ready to go and went into the room right at 36 hours post trigger shot. Once I was done, I was informed by the doctor how many eggs I got. 13! I thought I would get more but turns out there were some follicles without eggs in them. This is apparently very common when you are going through this process.
The following day I got call from the clinic and they informed me how many were frozen. In case you didn't know, not all eggs that are retrieved survive the freezing process. I had 12 that were frozen out of the 13. The 13th egg was overly mature and I guess "went bad." Post op I was crampy but thankfully I did not experience as much pressure on the bladder afterwards. There was some bleeding but it faded away. The next day I was still crampy and bloated but not in as much pain but holy crap my boobs were tender for a couple of days post procedure. And almost a week to the day of my trigger shot, my period returned (in case anyone wanted to know when to expect theirs.)
Overall this was a really intense thing to go through. The injections, side effects and the procedure. I will say I was disappointed to only get 13 after going through the whole process but getting 12 frozen is still pretty great and my doctor was very pleased with my results as well. Also, this is my backup plan. My hope is that I wont need to use them but if the day comes where I do need to use them, I have a 75% chance at a live birth. BUT I will say I am very happy that this process is over because it's a lot to go through and a lot on the body.