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'I never anticipated having to freeze my eggs at 27 years old'

A medical condition forces a single woman in her 20s to start planning for the kids she knows she wants in the future. Here is her story.

I never anticipated having to freeze my eggs at 27 years old, but in the past year, I have gone through two freezing cycles and successfully retrieved nine eggs. The decision was born out of necessity, rather than desire, and dates back to December 2015, when what started as a trip to urgent care to get tested for strep throat ended in an endometriosis diagnosis and a hastily scheduled open surgery to remove several large cysts from my ovaries.

On New Year’s Day 2016, following an uneventful celebration with family that turned into a night of severe abdominal pain (which I later found out was due to a ruptured cyst), I was admitted to the hospital and told I would need to have an open, bilateral cystectomy to remove three cysts, the largest of which was almost the size of a cantaloupe; the risks of this surgery included having one or both ovaries removed, or, worst-case scenario, a full hysterectomy.

Lovingly referred to as the “built-in nanny” to my younger sisters and “Mama Decatur” in college, I knew from a young age that I wanted kids, which made the potential side effects of this surgery particularly frightening. I’d never had a timeline in mind, but just assumed children would happen at some point. I never considered that might not be possible.

After recovering, my next step was to get a fertility check. I tried to prepare myself for the likelihood of needing to freeze my eggs, but it was still a shock to hear that my egg quality was so poor that if I wanted biological children, I would most likely need medical intervention. My mom had gone through IVF herself and was a huge support, along with the rest of my family, so I knew I had people I could turn to, but being told I should freeze my eggs within a year was hard to process; I thought I had more time.

My first consultation was last May. I had to stick to a strict schedule over the course of 12 to 15 days while self-administering a series of hormones to grow and bolster my eggs. While friends headed out to happy hours and bonfires on the beach, I was working out of a giant box of medical supplies; differently gauged syringes, four different medications, and one giant needle with which to give myself the final injection. It was an overwhelming period, and my big fear was that something would go wrong

Soon after starting, it became apparent that my right ovary was unresponsive to the medications, thus cutting in half the number of eggs we expected to retrieve. Thankfully, “lefty” was growing at a promising rate. We moved forward with my treatment, and at the end of the cycle I gave myself the “trigger injection,” signaling to my body it was time to release the eggs. A wonderful friend was with me that night, telling me I was doing a great job as I darted the giant syringe into the middle of the Sharpie circle a nurse had drawn on my tush. I went into the clinic exactly 36 hours after that final injection and my doctors were able to retrieve five eggs, four of which were mature and freezable.

So much growth has come from this, as it was both easier and harder than I expected. Easier, in that giving myself injections quickly became routine, and the retrieval procedure itself was an anaesthetized breeze. Harder, in that the anxiety I experienced leading up to this was unlike anything I’d ever felt before, and each complication along the way left me in tears. Worst of al, was the loneliness I felt going through this as a single person; going to appointments alone, seeing mostly couples, and often feeling like I only had myself to get through this was incredibly difficult. But I did it!

I recently completed a second round  — one that felt 100 times easier than the first. I feel strong and proud, capable and resilient. I knew I had people by my side, near and far, and after all was said and done, their support still resonates with me. This was not and will not be an easy journey, but thankfully, I was able to invest in myself and my future family, and can rest easy for a while, knowing my eggos are frozen and tucked away somewhere safe.


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