Looni blog on egg freezing with Photo by https://unsplash.com/@leti_kugler

Sunny Side Up—An Egg Freezing Journey

SUNNY SIDE UP

By Molly Rowan Hamilton

I started my egg freezing cycle on Shrove Tuesday. It felt weirdly similar to Shrove Tuesday at my Catholic all girls Convent school, where we swore off pleasure for weeks to come. I held a funeral for some of my favorite vices; coffee, alcohol, vaping, sex, that were all forbidden for the period ahead of me.

I won't bore you with my reasons for egg freezing. As a 32 year old woman in New York who loves her job, it feels more rite of passage than stigma. It seems so common to be planning it, or at least discussing it amongst my (admittedly privileged) group of girlfriends in the city.

It’s that group of girlfriends that are THE most important people during your egg freezing cycle. Family will be there for child rearing but you freeze your eggs with your friends. Lily gave me her unused medication. Laura came over for my first night of shots. Other friends called, picked me up from the hospital, made me stews and checked in constantly.

I’ll get to my point quickly: I loved every second of the egg freezing process.

I know I’m lucky to say that, and I am not discounting the pain and frustration many people experience doing it. It’s deeply personal and totally dictated by your body. No two people experience it the same way and it’s not safe for many. Not to mention the cost which is the key hindrance. I feel incredibly fortunate that the company I work for has such a brilliant fertility benefit.

Admittedly, I had a good start point. My “numbers'' looked good and I had naturally high fertility scores; high follicle count and high AMH (anti-müllerian hormone) levels. In the initial consultation, all of my information was fed into a unique egg freezing calculator. “We predict you’ll get 7-10 good eggs” (40% chance of 1 live birth) said my doctor, delivering the news with a sickly sweet smile and pushing the $6k bill across the desk. I felt crestfallen as I played around with the calculator at home. In theory, I knew it was only there to manage expectations. But I hated the calculator. How, in that 2018-girlboss-female#SLAY-energy designed office full of female nurses was I being given another number to evaluate my efficacy as a woman?

At home, trembling, I mixed Menopur, terrified to get it wrong.

I’d inquired briefly about the service where a nurse comes to your apartment to help with the shots. “You rich, honey? No. So you don't need it. But you are a woman, so it don’t matter. You can just do it.” It might have made me cringe had she not barked (and I mean literally barked) at me with an indignant scowl, a tone representative of the nurses at the clinic who I came to love. They are perfectly mom-like. Calming, reassuring but ultimately firm and refreshingly unwilling to deal with your bullshit.

I don't know what godlike force pushed the needle into my flesh that night. Twice. Maybe I was scared of the nurse. Maybe it was that ‘growth mindset’ thing my sister had taught me. In honesty, if you ice your stomach, it doesn't hurt. Sometimes I'd scrunch up my face and over-dramatize to get sympathy from whichever friend had come over to sip wine and watch me ‘shoot up.’ But the truth is, it’s fine. The overwhelming feeling I had instead was of sheer pride in myself for doing it. Like, elation. The same feeling I have when I figure out how to do something on Excel without someone from IT helping me. Or when I find the patience to deactivate my fire alarm without calling my Super. I injected myself twice a day for 7 days then 3 times a day for the next 6. It’s no mean feat. And I felt so cool being able to do it all by myself.

The next 12 days of shots felt like heaven.

I felt HIGH off the estrogen. My friend described this as ‘mother earth energy’ which is bang on. I felt calm and intuitive but mostly just happy. I have never felt more intune with my body. Whether it was the hormones or the idea of taking back time, I felt overwhelmed by the clarity I suddenly had in so many areas of my life. Clarity I’d been craving for months, if not years. Everyone remarked about how good my skin looked. I felt glowy. I felt maternal and kind. I walked around on a cloud all day. Smiled at strangers. I felt my very very very very best Molly.

There’s definitely a ‘full’ feeling. By day 14 I felt like walking caviar which I told myself was chic.

Or like those shrimps you see with packed pockets of eggs under the tail. For me, it was uncomfy more than painful. But again, I didnt mind. I felt proud and protective of the ‘little Molly’s’ I was carrying around.

But I guess the craziest thing that happened is that my body didn't seem to be listening to the calculator's predictions. Every other day I visited the clinic for bloodwork and ultrasounds. Sometimes I was moved to tears by how hard my ovaries were working (I’m a double Pisces). It felt like me, my womb and the nurses (my new best friends) were going to war against the calculator. Like we were all in on it together.

On the 14th day, I went in for anesthesia and retrieval. They managed to extract 21 eggs. 19 were good enough to be frozen. My over-achieving 12-year-old self felt thrilled, like I had personally put in the hard work and it had paid off. ‘There’s crazier things that have happened than your body and mind being in alignment’ said my friend Alexa.

Ever the farmer’s daughter, I sat back and admired what had felt like a fertile and fruitful harvest year.

But the truth is for the first time it wasn’t really anything to do with me. As women we spend our late teens and 20’s feeling frustrated with our bodies. It never looks, feels or does what it’s meant to. We desperately try and control or manipulate it into behaving a certain way. But in the weeks previous I had felt totally in awe of what mine was capable of. It had not involved a strict diet. It had not involved a grueling exercise class. I did the shots and then just stood back and admired, in amazement as it just did its thing. I swapped an angry internal monologue with a kind one. I stopped trying to interfere and just relaxed. Enjoyed it. Maybe it was the estrogen high but I even started enjoying the ‘#fierce’ “baddass” fertility based framed wall art round the clinic, too.

The lasting feeling I have isn't of relief from time being ‘frozen.’ Nor is it confidence in my future family planning ability. Instead it’s just pure, unadulterated love and respect for my body. And for the little eggs it’s produced, waiting for me on ice in Manhattan. I like to think they’re sipping on martinis and making friends with future downtown cool kids in the freezer. I love that for them.