Why I Chose to Freeze My Eggs
Why I Chose to Freeze My Eggs
My personal insurance policy
by Meghan Ochs
Anyone who has ever met me, even briefly, knows I am not much of a planner. Details often allude me and long-term thinking is not how I prefer to live. I favor a lifestyle of living in the moment, but planning for the future, only if you find it convenient to do so. One area though, of which I continually make an exception, is insurance. I am a huge proponent of insurance, in both policy and theory. I am also pro-choice, as in, I love having many.
This line of thinking applied to my reproductive health two years ago when I found myself unexpectedly single at 31 and realized I was leaning toward, more so than ever, having a family in the future. It was then I realized that maybe for once I should plan ahead and evaluate my options. I was not at the time, nor am I still, ready to have a child. Additionally, I have never been dead set on having a biological child; I have always been a huge advocate for adoption as I have many family members who were adopted or who were raised in an orphanage. However, on the off chance I decided—or a potential partner and I decided—to have a biological child, I concluded I also wanted the biological option. The early thirties are an ideal time to freeze one’s eggs, or undergo Egg Cryopreservation (as the process is formally named). At this age, biologically speaking, most women’s eggs are still quite viable and in abundance. I knew doing so would give me exactly what I wanted; a full array of options in the future.
The decision was easy; the logistics, for me personally, were less so. I committed to this procedure long before my life actually allowed me to do so. Activating ones biological clock and removing its product is not a simple process. It requires time, money, and physical discomfort, along with some personal sacrifice. The process, from first consultation to last follow up, took me fifteen months due to my work and travel schedule, as well as the physical nature of my career outside of writing. During the cycle, there is a one month period where any sort of physical activity is not allowed. Scheduling around that was not easy for me. Realistically, the cycle could be completed in approximately two months, not including the consultation and medical exams needed prior to the process commencing and after its completion. Additionally, the medications, appointments, examinations, and actual egg removal procedure do not come at a cheap cost. The entire process cost me well over $10,000. There are also yearly costs incurred to keep my eggs frozen. That is an expensive insurance policy.
Lastly, the process came at a personal and physical expense. I exercise daily and travel often. I had to take a hard break from these things once I started on the medications. Due to both my hiatus from physical activity, as well as the medications, there was significant weight gain. My body was swollen, full, and I had a rather colorful abdomen due to all of the needle pokes. My withdrawal from the physical activities I love impacted me mentally and emotionally.
While I have yet to use my eggs, and may never do so in the end, I now find it comforting that I underwent this procedure, just in case. My body reacted extremely well and I froze a very large number of mature eggs. I am grateful for the health, wellbeing, and responsiveness of my body. Despite the inconveniences, which were relatively minor, I am incredibly thankful that I had the time, resources, and flexibility to do so. I realize that many women are not so fortunate.
In the present moment, I know I am tremendously privileged to have executed this option. However, looking back on my particular situation prior to starting this procedure almost two years ago, there was a part of me that almost felt ashamed and embarrassed. Given my personal circumstances, and the various expectations still put on women in our society, I felt that I was, in some way, still failing. I had just turned 31, was no longer married, had no children, and was still not even sure I wanted any children in the future, biological or otherwise. Even now, society still places a large expectation on women surrounding the idea of motherhood. By comparing myself to others and still outdated social norms, I realized I was turning what could be an opportunity into something negative. I immediately changed my outlook, shed any embarrassment, and realized how appreciative I should really be. Generations of women have come before me, encouraged to have children at a much younger age and at the expense of other desires, such as careers, travel, personal development, and even personal relationships. The truth is, there is no wrong choice—only what is the best choice for each individual. I knew this was the right choice for me. I can now focus on my career, along with my personal and physical goals, both which are related to my work, and not at all currently tied to the possibility of motherhood. This has also allowed me to place less emphasis on where I am in my personal life. I took control into my own hands; that is nothing to be ashamed of.
For now, my twenty-seven eggs are currently sitting in an oocyte storage facility. The beauty in this is that while they may or may not ever be used by me, their retrieval will not be in vain. My intentions for them outside of my personal use are steadfast. If I choose not to use them to have biological children, I will donate them for medical research. I have also made it clear to my mother and closest friends that if I were to pass away unexpectedly, that they be kept to possibly be donated and used by any of my friends or family members who cannot have their own biological children. Becoming an egg donor could be my final and lasting gift to a loved one or to scientific future.
We always have choices. I’m aware some of us have better choices than others; typically, if we make good choices, it allows the next set of decisions to be easier. Regarding my reproductive health and my life as it currently stands, this is the lens through which I viewed this process. I made a choice to take my biology into my own hands. I am thankful for my ability, both financially and physically, to have been able to do so. If I choose to have a family one day, I will not only have more choices, but easier ones. For this, I am presently grateful and perhaps, one day, eternally so.
Meghan Ochs is passionate about many things: animals, skiing, fitness, travel, the outdoors, coffee, and good food. Her friends and family, too. The order of these interests depends on the day. In between all of these things she occasionally finds time to put her thoughts to paper.