Conversations of a single woman in her 30’s....
When asked by my gynaecologist “Do you want to have children”, my response was simple;
“Yes, at some point in the future.”
She turned her chair towards me and gave me the look, the motherly empathy with a hint of authority and some stern advice.
“See the fertility specialist about egg freezing NOW. A 37 year old egg is better than a 40 year old egg.”
She went on to describe her situation where she was rushing to have her eggs frozen 2 weeks before her 40th birthday so she could snag her last 39 year old eggs.
I was laughing because I could so see myself doing this. But then I had time to process and think it all through. And boy did the questions and frustrations come out. How does that even work? How much will it cost? Do I need time off work? Am I going to be crazy if I’m on hormones? Why is this even happening to me?
Why can’t I have just met someone when I was 25 and be married with kids by 30 like my perfect plan?
These are the questions or debates for women over 35 who are aware of what’s going on. For the ones who aren’t aware of their female anatomy and egg quality it might be too late.
Stage 1 - Anger
I went through stages – firstly there was anger. Anger that I had to even think about this as an option. Questioning why it just seems to work for some people and not for others.
Knowing that despite having lived my amazing life, the circumstances now meant I was 37 single and childless. I called a friend and was so mad and upset asking her why I couldn’t just have a penis and do whatever I wanted. To not have to think about it. What followed was many conversations with friends and a lot of research.
Stage 2 – Girl Power
After I calmed down a little, I remembered being a woman is fabulous! Yes we go through a lot in our lifetime but what our bodies are capable of is just so awe inspiring and miraculous. I should never speak badly of my body as it works tirelessly for me every day. The miracle of being able to have a healthy baby is in itself a wonder.
When you are born you have approx. 1-2 million eggs, by the time you are at puberty you have 400,000 remaining. Over the span of your reproductive years only 300-400 will be ovulated. Of which one egg will be developed and released from your ovaries during your menstrual cycle. ONE! Mind blowing.
Stage 3 – Getting informed
I went to see the fertility specialist about egg freezing, he calls fertility preservation.
Which I kinda like the sound of better. He gave me all the options,
1. Do nothing (could have very easily stopped here)
2. Test my AMH levels and decide if I go further
3. Check for endometriosis through a laparoscopy and/or go ahead with fertility preservation.
The egg time test ie a blood test of your AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) levels which is an indicator of your ovarian reserve level AKA how many egg’s you have left. If the levels are ok from a quantity point of view, the fertility specialist likes to do a laparoscopy surgery to check for endometriosis (it can potentially reduce the quality of the eggs) and remove if needed. Following this the fertility specialist can see where your endometriosis is and if it has potentially affected the quality of your eggs and therefore your ability to freeze eggs. If it has then you have the option of freezing embryo’s. This is where you have the sperm and egg combined prior to freezing.
At this point I was just getting all the information. And WOW was this a lot of info. I had many questions, especially this one:
“Would I be ok if I didn’t have children at some point in my life.”
I asked a few women in my life who haven’t had children to get their opinion on how they felt either not having had children or not being able to have them. Was there regret?
Not one of them regretted it but all said how amazing this technology was to give options for women. Options that weren’t around in their time.
I’m a thinker, so I thought a lot and I tried to think of this from every angle. My brain telling me it’s logical, the smart thing to do, it buys me time to meet a man without the pressure of having kids straight away. Feeling from my heart knowing that I’m not ready to give up on being a mum, and knowing that I’m not ready to rule out becoming a mother on my own. Knowing that I need more time. The biggest contemplation at the end of it all is why wouldn’t I do it? The technology is there, money shouldn’t even be a factor in the insurance of being able to have a child, and it puts my mind at ease knowing I have more time.
Make the choice yourself, it has to be yours, you have to own it.
I decided knowledge is power. So, I have decided to go through with fertility preservation aka “my insurance policy”. Whether I use it or not, I know they are there.
Starting with the AMH blood test and the laparoscopy to see what’s going on.
Do I regret any of the decisions that have led me to this point in my life? Absolutely not! I have loved and lived and travelled and explored and thoroughly enjoyed my life. But when I’m ready to become a mum I know I have a back-up plan if needed.
But hmmm having to potentially select a sperm donor if I have to freeze embryo’s, well that’s a whole other ball game………
To be continued.
I'm Melanie, a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.
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