Frozen (Eggs): I’m not a good egg farm, but it’s okay
A couple Sundays ago I was crying in my car at noon. The doctors had told me that I wasn’t likely to get a lot of eggs after all those drugs, all those needles, and the financial equivalent of buying a Honda. Without being able to say it, they seemed to think it would be better to just cancel the retrieval save me the $6000 (the other $6000 was already a sunk cost on drugs).
There was a maelstrom of emotions as I sat in my car outside the fertility clinic, crying. I was frustrated with myself, perversely. You can’t control how your body responds, but I somehow thought this would be something I would ‘be good at.’ What the f*ck does that even mean? How can one be good at growing eggs? I was angry at having spent all this money. I was sad for some unidentifiable reason. It’s almost like I was disappointed in myself for being bad at being a woman. Then I went back to being angry, because this whole sequence of emotions felt ridiculous.
I decided to go forward with the retrieval anyway. It was a weird combination of emotions and risk assessment that made me decide this was the best course of action. Financially, you could argue that it makes sense to save yourself the cost and bet on the next round going well. But the thing about freezing eggs is you really have to get to around 10 eggs for a pregnancy attempt. So what happens if the next round doesn’t go well again? Would I wish I had taken a chance on getting even a couple eggs on this first try? For me the answer was yes.
And somehow, after deciding to go forward with it. My sadness, frustration, and anger mostly dissipated. I just accepted that I was taking a chance, and that I had to forgive myself for not being a good egg farm.
My Mom flew from Boston to drive me to and from the appointment. She was blown away by the facility calling it a ‘hospital from the future.’ I didn’t totally get her point until she told me a story about doing amniocentesis during her last pregnancy. She recalled transporting a container of her amniotic fluid across Boston from a clinic to Mass General hospital. If you’ve ever been to Mass General then you know what I’m talking about.
I was under for about 15 minutes. When I came to I was definitely talking to myself, which took me a few minutes to realize. Later I was informed by the nurses that my chattiness under sedation extended to engaging the nursing staff in a discussion of an article about Melania Trump. Based on this recounting, I believe I have reached some sort of zenith of political engagement this election season.
I found out that day that they had retrieved 6 eggs, but I would have to wait another day to know how many they were able to freeze. It turns out 4 were mature. So for a crappy outcome, it was about as good as it could get.
A few minutes after I was crying in my car, I blew up at one of my best friends over Facebook messenger. She had pointed out that I had said something that was indicative of the remarkable privilege of my place in life. I flew off the handle which happens almost never. Because I was so caught up in this small little space that I had built for myself.
We talked on the phone later. Really we talked on a Facebook messenger call, her from Sudan and me in my bed in San Francisco. She was right. I live in place of privilege where I can afford to freeze my eggs, and there is a hospital from the future. Meanwhile she was in a city with a failing power grid, in 110 degree heat, recovering from getting pinned between two cars by a careless driver. No one there is thinking about freezing their eggs.
After recovering from the procedure pretty quickly, I realize I am no more or less myself than I was before. I have not resolved uncertainty in my life. I do have a better sense of what it will cost to give myself one specific option later in my life. There are actually more important things to think about right now, and I’m happy to have put this activity in a mental space where it is simply something I am going to get done. Maybe most importantly, I am *mostly* at peace with the fact that I can’t control everything about my fertility now or in the future. And for now my ovaries can go back to producing free range eggs.