I may not have a boyfriend but I sure do have a relationship with my own fertility and let me tell you, I’m not sure how much time I have left. By the time you read this, I’ll be staring down the barrel of 365-plus hindsight days since my world got flipped-turned upside down and I can’t help but think of Jonathan Larson’s infamous RENT ballad ‘Seasons of Love’. The lyrics poise the poignant question…how do you measure a year? All 525,600 minutes of it.
In the case of RENT, measurement of my last year is not in daylights, sunsets, midnights, or cups of coffee. It’s in love. And in the case of today’s My Story, it’s in egg cells, ovulation, and a biological clock that is ticking away inside of me. This pandemic has pulled the rug out from under any sort of long-term planning in our lives and my newfound predicament is forcing me to spend the next few months financially and physically planning should I need to cross the egg-freezing bridge.
Rewind: The best version of myself entered the pandemic last year
Let’s double-back for a second here. When I left my office for the last time on Friday, March 13, 2020, I grabbed my laptop, my notebook, and my favourite pen with a blissfully ignorant assumption that I’d be back at my desk in no time. I’d originally estimated we’d return in a couple of weeks. Of course, it’s been 12-months later and I’m one of the lucky few who have been able to hold their job while working safely at home, despite the extreme circumstances.
Prior to that now-fateful Friday, I was on a journey to becoming the best version of myself to date. I ended a toxic relationship and entered 2020 armed with self-awareness, honed emotional intelligence, and a stronger sense of identity than ever-before,. Dare I say, I was finally ready to meet my person and start a family. At 32, my time felt right, for the first time in my life. I had built a career I am so proud of, surrounded myself with the best friends a woman could ask for, and began the process of healing some trauma that I had buried over the years.
Pro Tip: Don’t ghost your traumas, they’ll haunt you eventually.
Getting real about eggs and other reproductive thoughts
It wasn’t until my pandemic birthday rolled around that sht got real for me. As I rang in my 33rd year, restrictions across Canada didn’t lessen, they increased further hindering my social and personal life. I’d put in so much work on myself and yet the reality of six-feet-apart started to wear on my progress. For the first time, the tick tock of my biological clock rang so loud. Time is running short. My eggsistential crisis had arrived.
I accepted the stark reality that freezing what eggs I do have left could be my only shot at having children of my own.
You see, at 33, my ovarian reserve is beginning to run its course. While I still have a few healthy years ahead of me (hopefully), the future is uncertain. It was with 525,600 minutes of near total isolation – one void of intimacy and human connection – that I realized, with each passing period, that my childbearing days are numbered. After opening up to a few likeminded and similarly-situated single woman, I accepted the stark reality that freezing what eggs I do have left could be my only shot at having children of my own. I had to start exploring options.
See also: How much adoption actually costs in Canada.
This is what I learned about freezing my eggs
After consulting with my family doctor, I quickly learned two major things about the egg-freezing process. First, it’s invasive. Second, it’s expensive. Oh, and unless you work for a tech giant like Google, Facebook, or Amazon, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an employer or a province in Canada with a healthcare plan to support the cost of freezing eggs for “social” purposes. Yes, if a woman is freezing her eggs for non-medical reason, it is considered “social egg freezing”. An ironic label for a socially distant era.
The procedure itself is far from the simple act of donating sperm and involves daily hormone injections, transvaginal ultrasounds, and a surgical procedure to remove the eggs. Once a woman is ready to fertilize her frozen eggs, she must undergo IVF (in vitro fertilization) in order to implant the eggs. Cool, cool, cool.
Despite the invasive nature of the procedure, that physical part doesn’t scare me. It’s the price tag. In Canada, costs do vary depending on the region and the clinic, but clients can typically expect a ballpark quote of $10,000 for extraction and freezing, an additional $300 per year to store the eggs, and approximately $6,000 for one round of IVF for a grand estimated total of $16,300. A sizeable amount of money and one that could mean the difference between a down payment on a house or a future with fertility. And remember, despite the cost and the procedure, there are never any guarantees.
It’s not all doom and gloom, as daunting as the process may seem. Egg freezing is slowly but surely being normalized thanks in part to many celebrities using their platforms to share their experiences. Khloe Kardashian filmed her experience on Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Amy Schumer has publicly shared the unpleasantries of her process on Instagram while undergoing IVF. Chrissy Teigan and Emma Roberts have also shared their stories, all contributing to the ongoing demystification of a procedure that’s only started to gain mainstream steam in the last couple of years.
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Looking ahead: What does my future hold for me when it comes to kids and love?
So where does that leave me? Where does that leave those of us pondering wtf to do in this predicament? I personally have not been comfortable with pandemic dating so that has significantly reduced my shot at meeting someone, I have revisited the apps time and time again and I find them incredibly difficult to make any sort of genuine connection through digital socialization. I made it as far as one FaceTime call with someone and frankly, it felt weird to me.
I’m actively weighing my options and monitoring the ongoing effects of the pandemic. To start, I’ve decided that it’s time to start a safety fund for my eggs. I’m giving myself until I’m 35 to make that call – the age at which pregnancies become geriatric and at which point doctors recommended freezing what eggs you do have left for the best chances of future fertilization.
As uneasy as the passing time has made me feel, I’m grateful for the time I’ve been given to reflect on my past, heal my traumas, and build new hope for the future.