It’s Time to Recap and Talk $$$

It’s been 2 weeks since my last post.  I spent the time resting and recovering.  The bloat is gone, I’m working out again and now I’m 100% back to my old self.  Aunt Flow finally paid a visit 10 days later and she stayed for a few days as usual then packed her bags and left, so I’m also back on a regular cycle.  Yup and just like that it’s all over.  Check out my conversation with Nurse Anna as we recap the process and talk about how much all of this cost.

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Post Egg Retrieval Thoughts

So it all happened on Friday!  I really wanted to do a video but that was too hard so let me apologize for not being able to do that.  Anyway I arrived at 8:30 am and got changed into a gown, put my booties and head cap on, emptied my bladder and waited in my “area”.  The nurses then came to me and asked me a number of questions making sure that I am who I say I am and that I was born on the date written on the form.  I then got instructions and was told what the procedure was all about and all the possible things I could experience after.

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The nurses at the Barbados Fertility Centre are LOVELY!  You see, I was terribly anxious when I walked in because I have never had a form of surgery nor had I ever experienced general anesthesia in my adult life.  Actually they call it sedation which slightly different to general anesthesia.  Anyway, the nurses were very comforting along with the soothing Italian music playing in the OR.  I finally got situated in the bed, bum down to the edge, feet up (just like at your gyno) and then they gave me a shot in my arm…annnnnd…I don’t remember anything else.

The procedure took all of 15 – 20 minutes and I was knocked out for about an hour and a half.  When I woke up I felt no pain.  I got up, drank some water and chatted with the nurses who mentioned that they got 16 matured eggs!  Yay!  That’s a good sign.  Honestly I can’t remember how many in all that I had (I will report on that in another post) but they can only freeze the matured ones and that’s what matters most.  It’s all over!  No more shots.  Frankly the last shot gave me the best sleep of my life.

I’m home now and I felt great on Saturday but the cramps really hit me in the wee hours of Sunday morning (today).  The cramps feel like an air lock.  Apparently this is normal and will only last a couple of days.  What happened was that my ovaries got really big to hold all of the follicles.  If you saw my last video of the ultrasound  you would’ve noticed that my right ovary had more follicles than the left and it’s on that side that I feel the cramping more.  My ovaries are contracting back down from the size of an apple to the size of a grape, so this is normal.  If I was doubled over in pain, which isn’t good sometimes that may mean that you’re affected by OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome) and in that case the doctors would see and take care of you right away.  Thankfully that’s not the case here and the BFC hardly has any cases where this occurs.  It seems like the question to ask post retrieval is – “So what are you going to do with your eggs now?”  No lie, I’ve been asked this question at least 10 times and my answer is – “I’ll keep them frozen until I need them, if I need them.”  I’m not having the baby conversation nor am I interested in having it at the moment or anytime soon.  But let me tell you…I feel a lot less worried or concerned about my biological clock.  It feels like a weight has been lifted.  Right now I just want to continue living and enjoying my life.

This whole process taught me something bigger than just freezing my eggs, bigger than the baby conversation, bigger than if you choose to walk this path or not.  This process taught me that as women we need to really be honest with ourselves about what we want. You do not have to always indirectly seek direction or permission from your friends and family.  Don’t get me wrong, advice is fine, but the answers are inside of you.  Practice stillness and listening more with less voices on your choices.  You are not boxed in to being one person or brand (as we say today) because of what people around you grew accustomed to.  No matter your age or stage in life you can pause, ask questions, soul search and make small decisions that cater to who you are evolving into.  Everything isn’t a crazy EAT. PRAY. LOVE decision.  You can remain in your environment and make small choices towards your happiness.  When you continually love and honour yourself it will change how others respond to you.  Comments like:

“That’s not who you are…”

“That’s not like you…”

“You would never…”

…can be very limiting especially when you know within your heart of hearts that it’s just you with dreams and ideas never expressed out loud.  Do you, please. It’s beneficial for us all to experience your strength, boldness, awkwardness, beauty, weirdness, etc.  Don’t allow yourself to be limited as a single woman, as a wife, as a mother or as a mature woman.  It’s never too late to take control of your life.  Remember taking control doesn’t have to look like a huge deal, it’s just small choices towards a bigger plan.  And one more thing…don’t always look for people to understand, agree or come on board.  Strengthen your spirit and seek solace in something far bigger than all of us. I say God!

Thanks for joining me on this journey, thanks for your comments, questions and sharing your stories. This blog doesn’t end today, but we will continue with stories of Egg Freezing and Endometriosis, PCOS and more.  There will also be an episode on this topic on the new season of “Hey Vajayjay”.  We’ll also soon be hosting some Egg Freezing Cocktail parties so you can come out and meet some other people who’ve walked this road and ask questions, share stories, etc.  I know some of you want to know the cost of all of this and that’s coming soon as well.  Thank you and stay tuned for more on options regarding your fertility.

By the way check out Just a Dash blog for stories on IVF and fertility, baby and just real mom life – https://symonefowler.com/

The Emotional Side Behind Egg Freezing and Thoughts on the Choice of Single Motherhood

Since I’ve been on this Egg Freezing road I’ve met many women and had a number of conversations surrounding the choice of single motherhood vs. becoming a single mother due to circumstance.  Many career women choose to freeze their eggs because:

  1.  Age
  2. They aren’t ready for a family as yet.
  3. They would like to reach a certain place in their career first.
  4. They know that they want a baby at some point but are unsure about if there will be a partner in their lives.

Also when it comes to Egg Freezing the road towards making this choice for some women can be very emotional and calls for major soul searching questions to be asked, such as:

  • When will I find someone?
  • Am I open to being a single mother?
  • How will it look to my peers that I’m freezing my eggs?
  • Should I have made more of an effort in establishing a relationship instead of focusing on my career?
  • Suppose I spend all this money and it doesn’t work?
  • Suppose I never have a child?  Am I ready to face this reality?

This can be quite an emotional tailspin and not a decision you should make over wine.  You need all the facts, the consultations, the prayers and meditation, journal it, be still with it, listen to yourself, ask more questions.  Do this if you’re at peace with it because no matter what it will all work out how it’s supposed to work out.

Many women have a plan that some may call generic or traditional or old school.  That plan is the one with the husband, the family home, the dog and of course the baby/babies. However, life can sometimes take us on a whole other path and can turn out in an entirely different way not close to how you planned it.

To some Egg Freezing is so modern, “cool” and progressive but that doesn’t mean she’s freezing her eggs to continue on an equally progressive mode which is the choice of single motherhood.  You’ll hear some women saying,  “I only need a donor because I just want the baby, I don’t need a partner.”  Some will say, “I’ve just always wanted a baby and when I’m ready I’ll have one no matter what.”  This is great with the right financial, mental and emotional support around you.  This is also great if it’s YOUR CHOICE.  I applaud this woman but it isn’t something I desire.  I’m not that modern or progressive when it comes to this.  I’m quite old school where this is concerned.  Long time ago I made the decision that if there is no partner, there is no baby and I still feel the same way.  Quite frankly, I’d like to be married before I have a baby.  If have a child, this is the context I’d like to raise my children in.  I know it sounds old school, archaic, traditional but it’s a value and an ideal I still hold close to my heart.  I’m sure a lot of it has to do with my parents and watching their marriage and also being raised in church.  Freezing my eggs for me was a choice to put me at peace, knowing that the option was there and that my healthy eggs are stored and ready for me when I’m ready.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Nothing is promised.  There’s a 96% egg survival rate and you have to be ok with the 4% chance that this could not work.  I believe in staying present on my journey because every experience is for my evolution.

Everyone, I’m in the home stretch.  It looks like we’re harvesting these babies at the end of the week.  I’m ready to stop taking shots!  I’m excited to get this done!  I am at peace with my decision.  Let’s do this!

Phase 2: Stimulation

This is not a bag filled with freshly baked croissants from The Cliff Bakery after a visit to Holder’s Market…no no no!

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My friend, this brown paper bag is filled with more Buserelin syringes plus new syringes for the new meds, mixing needles and other needles slightly bigger than the Buserelin needles (those used for insulin shots), as well as the new hormone…drum roll…curtain call…welcome – MERIONAL!  This new hormone is another daily injection used to stimulate my ovaries to produce multiple follicles during one cycle.  Basically this gets me ready to produce many eggs in one go!

On Friday I paid a visit to the Barbados Fertility Centre to meet with the lovely Nurse Anna for my ultrasound scan.  This scan would let them know how my ovaries are looking.  They were big and round and wide like…

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It’s as if they were saying – “We’re so ready to carry all 20 of your eggs!!!!” *bounce*  

Hopefully I produce up to 20.  If my only chance at having babies were through the eggs that I freeze, if I make up to 20 eggs it increases my chance of having up to two children in the future.  Unfortunately this is not always the case for some women and they have to take another round but the Barbados Fertility Centre has a very high success rate with lovely stories of new mothers winning at this process!  Anyway, I digress, and we will go into that more in another post.

So, I have the Merional and I literally had a mini session like Merional 101 followed by a practical exam to make sure I carry out this process the correct way when I’m at home.  Remember in an earlier post I felt “Like ah boss!” almost as if I was a nurse in a past life?

“Lies!!!”

So here’s how my life is set up for the next 10-12 days:

I have to draw the fluid up this massive needle which is the mixing needle.  THEN, i flip off the covers of the 3 vials carrying the hormone.  When the fluid hits the hormone it dissolves instantly and it’s mixed.  I then draw that mix and push into the second vial, mix that and keep going to the third one.  When I draw the final mix I then switch needles to the little orange one.  The orange needle is what I’m using to give myself the shot.  This one stings a lot more…

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So now my dosage of Buserelin has decreased to 30 units in the morning and I’m on the Merional at night.  Apparently the side effects are more “enjoyable” and are meant to kick in within 3 days.  My libido will be boosted…through the roof apparently.

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I can’t work out super hard, but I CAN indeed work out and I should take it easy all the while carrying on with my day as I would usually do.  There will be some tiredness and I will get bloated at some point, but this is all part of this experience.  During week 2 of the Buserelin I had some great days and also some really low depressing days, I felt very heavy with a hot flash or two but Merional will bring some balance back.

Next week I’m back at the BFC for blood tests and to assess my ovarian response.  This is when I’ll know if they need to increase or decrease the fertility medication.  A few things to note:

“At birth, a woman is born with all of the eggs she will make in her lifetime.”

“The success of egg freezing depends on the quality of the eggs.  Generally, younger women have higher quality eggs than women who are older, and the egg quality declines as a woman ages.  For this reason, egg freezing tends to be more successful in women who have their eggs frozen at a younger age.”

“More than half of women younger than 38 years who freeze between 15-20 eggs are predicted to have a resulting live birth, and freezing more eggs at your younger ages improves chances further.”

A big thank you to Marsha Layne of Barbados Today for showing her support of the blog and “Hey Vajayjay” in her article – Today’s Woman, check it out!

 

Week 1 – “Down Regging”

Or what we call down regulating.  The Buserelin places me in a mini menopausal state.  Yea…mini menopause…temporarily.  All the while I’m on the birth control as well.  This process, “Down Regging” turns off my ovaries for a period of time and makes sure that I’m not producing any eggs right now.  After this process then I start the stimulating medication which prepares my ovaries to produce a number of eggs, but we’re not there yet, so let’s focus on Week 1 – “Down Regging”.  I have to continue this process for the next 2 weeks.

My morning routine looks like this – a cotton wool, rubbing alcohol, the injection and the vial of Buserelin.  Not the makeup bag.

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Ok here’s a break down of my week just as I wrote it in my diary:

Day 1:

  • Took the shot and some bumps showed up. I thought it was a rash but later I learned that this was common.  It itched a little bit but because the shot is localized it was only in that one spot.  Five minutes later the itching stopped and the bumps went away.
  • I got a headache but my nurse warned me that this would happen.
  • In the afternoon I was extremely emotional. I cried a couple times.
  • I felt groggy and foggy.
  • I felt dizzy.
  • Day one sucked!

Day 2:

  • Administered the shot like a boss! I used the word “administered” that means I’m feeling good.
  • I’m still feeling like a boss! machelmontano_likeahboss
  • 5:18 pm – still no major side effects.
  • Today is a good day!

Day 3:

  • The shot hurt a little today but I think I’m getting the hang of this.  Maybe I was a nurse in another life.
  • I got the dull headache later in the day but I took 2 Panadols and I was good to go!
  • No mood swings! YES!

Day 4:

  • The shot stung.  I’m tired today.
  • I got a headache and I took the Panadol.
  • I feel sad today.  Why am I sad today?
  • My boobs look quite…plump!  Looking like a round B – success!
  •  Sooooo…this was me when R.Kelly’s “Bump and Grind” came on during a playlist.  Full tears! I don’t know.  I seriously am trying to control this.
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  • This was not the best day.

Day 5:

  • I don’t think I did the shot right today. It bled a little but I was told that if that happened, it’s ok.  It wasn’t horrible.  I really don’t feel like doing these anymore, but whatever.  It’s in! It stung. Meh!
  • Today is also the day of my last pill.  As in, today is the day I MUST stop taking the pill and now I must await a period within 2-4 days, but I have to continue the Buserelin
  • Dull headache today.  I took the Panadol.
  • Nauseous
  • Very tired.
  • Tonight I had some joint pain for a while.  I then decided to Google – Buserelin and Joint Pain.  Apparently sometimes muscle and joint pain can be a side effect. Anyway, I took 2 Panadols and they kicked in about 45 minutes later. Thank God! Time to sleep.

Day 6:

  • My brain said, “No!”  I just didn’t want to do the shot. I guess I’m not yet used to this.  I need to work on accepting the process a little more.  “Suck it up Trace!”
  • I took the shot.
  • I felt drained today.
  • Nauseous
  • I’m feeling very miserable but I think I’m masking it well because I have meetings today.

Day 7: – TODAY!

  • I did not want to wake up because it’s Saturday morning.  Anyway, I’m up!

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  • Administered the shot this morning – LIKE AH BOSS!

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  • I also hummed the “Jaws” theme as I inserted the needle and somehow it stung a lot less.  That’s it, maybe I need a film score in my head every time I do this.

That’s it for my first week!  It was quite the roller coaster emotionally but I’m learning to manage it.  I also have the most supportive boyfriend and I’m very grateful.  He’s a patient soul.  Hopefully with Week 2 not much changes and I’ll know what to expect.

I’ll be visiting my doctor at the Fertility Centre next week once I see a period and it will be time for the Ultrasound Scan to ensure my ovaries are ready for the stimulating drug regime.  Once I’m ready I will start the new meds and also continue with the Buserelin but I will be decreasing the dosage.

I also want to say thanks to everyone who’s read this blog so far, who mentioned it when they saw me, who gave a word of encouragement or even shared your own personal story.  I really appreciate you all and the support.

Something to think about…

You may wish to consider Egg Freezing if you:

  • Have not yet met the father of your future children and having children in this context is important to you.
  • Are in a committed relationship, but not ready for children.
  • Are focusing on your career goals/education.
  • Have had unexpected life changes.
  • Are facing a fertility-threatening illness.
  • Are simply not ready.

First Shot!

I woke up Sunday morning like…

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“Why am I doing THIS?”

“I don’t want to do this…”

“Tracy just suck it up and do it!”

Anyway, I promised myself I’d do it at 8:00 a.m.  My alarm rang at 7:00 a.m. and I sat at the edge of the bed and looked at the bag of syringes.

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Then I was back down with the pillow over my face.

“No, I’m not doing it.”

I’m so dramatic!  So at 7:55 am I finally decided to get up out of bed.  I opened the bag of syringes, popped off the top and the bottom, pulled down to 50 units, stuck the syringe into the vile of Buserelin, pushed it down and pulled back up 50 units, pulled out the syringe, looked at it and put it back on the table…

“No, I’m not doing it.”

Then I talked myself back into it, went to the freezer and placed a block of ice on my leg, ya’ know the fatty area *side eye*.  The ice stayed on my leg for about 60 seconds and then I was ready to go…

“No, I’m not doing this.”

“Who does this?”

After all of this drama the numbness wore off and I went for another block of ice. The ice stayed on my leg for another 60 seconds, the area was numb and then…in it went! Honestly it didn’t hurt at all.  I only felt the sting as I was inserting the Buserelin and when I pulled out the injection.

“Not so bad Trace.” As I pat myself on the back.

About 30 seconds after it started to itch and some little bumps showed up. Obviously I went to google before e-mailing my nurse (ridiculous I know).  The good thing is that there are many forums with women doing the same thing that I’m doing.  Apparently the itch happens to some of us and reactions vary.  Some women get absolutely no reaction.  I chose to leave it and not scratch it.  In about 5 minute the itching stopped.  It’s still a little sore but not so bad.  I’m ready for Day 2.  HAHAHHAHA!  No I’m not, but I’ll do it anyway.

Look out for a video post later this week.  I’ll show you my process in taking one of these Buserelin shots and I’ll update you at the end of Week 1.  Thanks for joining me on this journey.

The journey begins…

Tracy, why are you freezing your eggs and why are you making it so public?

First of all… it’s my choice and I’m certainly not the first to go public about doing with this. But, here’s a little back story…

It all started with my show, “Hey Vajayjay”, where we did a session on Egg Freezing with Dr. Juliette Skinner of the Barbados Fertility Centre…I had this brilliant idea: “Use me! Pick me! Choose me!” I will freeze my eggs and be an example for other women who are curious about this particular choice.  We casually agreed in the room, “Why not” and made an appointment at the fertility centre.  Now those who know me already know that when I get an idea in my head it MUST come to fruition, but after a couple conversations with friends and family I became slightly discouraged.  I didn’t develop the cheer team I expected.  Some responses were: “But you have so much time”, “You’re so young”, “Trust God” and “It’s SO expensive!” (this was a reasonable response but we will leave that for another post).

I received a call from the Fertility Centre and they were excited to get going.  I, however, was extremely torn, and I thought maybe I was making a mistake…maybe it’s a waste of time… maybe I should wait…They gave me some time to make my decision.  In that time I realized that this decision needed to be more than a demo for “Hey Vajayjay”, I needed to be doing this for me and no one else.

On a very random note, I was hosting a show called “The Insider” with powerhouse CEO, Connie Young Smith. This interview had nothing to do with family or babies or fertility but all about her journey from the bottom to the top, and work life balance.  If you’ve met Connie before you’d know she’s bold, straight up, a bad ass and “no f**ks given” kind of person.  Her energy is infectious, and it’s hard to not be influenced by her power and confidence.  Somehow, during that interview it clicked! I felt and knew that freezing my eggs was something I needed to do and truly wanted to do for me, for a few reasons:

  • I was married for 8 years
  • We tried for a baby at some point but it didn’t work out. There were no complications on either side.  It just wasn’t the correct timing.
  • I’m divorced 4 years

Now the baby issue and my view on this – *promise not to clutch your pearls* but I was never “fussy” on the idea that I MUST have children.  If I don’t have a child I will have a happy life, and if I do, I believe the same is true and I’ve always believed this.  What I mean is, I don’t feel like more of a woman because I could, or less of one if I couldn’t.  I do love the idea of mothering and nurturing a child whether through birth, adoption or just being a nurturing influence on the children very close to me.  What I love about egg freezing is that it gives me the power of choice.  It gives me an option.

I like the idea of egg freezing for the following reasons:

1. Takes the pressure off where the biological clock is concerned.

2. It gives me an option.

3. It gives me time.

4. Allows me to have the option to help another mother-to- be via egg donation.

So…I have my Buserelin shots, and I took the first one on Sunday August 14th and I was scared…