When I sat down to coffee with my friend Cara, she casually mentioned she had recently decided to freeze her eggs alongside one of her best friends. I sat there with my eyes and ears open, inspired and in awe that she had made this decision for herself and as she put it, “like an insurance policy for a goal of having a family someday.” I knew it was a story we had to share! More and more women are choosing this route because it allows them the freedom to remain in control of their bodies and choose their future, without the pressure of time. In this case, Cara and Elana, also saw the value in having a friend who understood the enormity of the decision and could be a support system before, during and after the procedure. They stopped by to share how this decision came to be, what the procedure was really like, and their plans for the future.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
Elana went to school in Austin at UT and decided to move back from NYC in 2015. Cara was living in Austin since 2013 after leaving NYC and about 4 different mutual friends connected us to be friends. Funny enough we were neighbors in New York City but never knew each other then!
Let’s start with the basics. Tell us about the preparation for and experience of this procedure.
Disclaimer: We went to different doctors for the procedure after both deciding to do this, so the protocol was different for each of us.
Cara: With my doctor, I had to go off of birth control for about 3 months before starting to ensure I was on a regular cycle. From there, I had to do some blood work and genetic testing followed by the protocol: Birth Control pills administered for 2 weeks, followed by 10 days of 2 types of shots I had to administer to myself at the same time every night.
During the time of the shots, I was getting an ultrasound and bloodwork every other day. Once the doctor was happy with the number of follicles that had grown on my ovaries they had me administer one final shot and then my procedure was scheduled within 48 hours. All in all the preliminary activities mostly caused physical discomfort for me, I felt very little hormonal/emotional imbalances. During the procedure, they extracted 24 eggs and deemed 20 of them viable, which they froze. They are currently frozen in a laboratory storage facility until I am ready to use them.
Elana: I first went off the pill to do an ovarian assessment test. I also took a genetics test. When the ovarian assessment came in I went back on the pill and had my first official consult with the doctor. He started me on Lupron for 14 days which was injected every morning. After about 14 days I went to the doctor for an ultra sound and he started me on Menopur and Gonal at night. Once on those drugs I went to the doctor every few days for an ultrasound as well as blood tests in the AM the days of the ultrasound. When the doctor felt I was ready I took the trigger shot that night and went in on a saturday morning. They administered anesthesia via IV and took me to the operating room. Next thing I knew it was done. My mom who was with me said it took about 15 minutes.
The recovery was worse than I expected. It wasn’t awful but I thought it was going to be no big deal. I was in a decent amount of pain and discomfort for the day of and the 2 days following. After that I slowly started to feel better but was pretty bloated for a good week after. I would say I didn’t feel 100% normal til two or three weeks after the procedure. I got 27 eggs of which 24 were viable. They were frozen and sent to a facility is Las Vegas.
Now the big question– why?
We were 33 and neither of us were in a relationship. We both wanted the option to have children someday, but without feeling like there was this pressure of time. We think of this as an insurance policy for a goal of having a family someday. Also due to age we may not have issues in our first pregnancy but the eggs could be used if there are issues with subsequent pregnancies.
How did you decide to freeze your eggs together? What was the moment you looked at each other and thought “Ok. For real. We’re doing this?”
We both had been talking about it for a while and each started to do our own research. Cara one day said, “I made an appointment with a fertility doctor, I’m doing this” and Elana responded, “oh shit, I guess I’m doing this too” and booked an appointment the next week for her consultation.
We tried to plan it around the same time so we could at least commiserate and share the experience (plus since you can’t drink we wanted to have a sober buddy!). It just so happened that we were able to sync up to have the procedure within days of each other.
This decision is intensely personal. What were the benefits of doing this together?
It was really that we could share the experience. We could ask each other questions about how to do the shots and the drugs we had to use. Cara even gave Elana some unused medication. We could talk about how we felt each day, how uncomfortable or anxious we were about it, what our doctors told us and both of our moms even came during our procedures to help.
Has this journey brought any peace of mind?
Absolutely. The fact that there isn’t necessarily a “biological clock ticking” is very comforting. It also allows us to focus on our careers, our friendships and our relationships without feeling the added pressure about being in your 30’s without children or feel like you have to be on a certain timeline.
Have you faced any blowback or criticism from family/friends since making this decision?
Everyone who knows or that we talk to about this has been super supportive. And the more people we talk about this with, the more stories we hear about others who have done the same, wish they had or are going to!
Is this the wildest thing you two have done together? If not, what is? If so, tell us about your runner-up.
This is literally the least wild and probably most responsible thing we’ve ever done together. But seriously, being single, young (ish) and successful, we like to have a lot of fun, go on crazy trips…there have been a lot of wild stories we probably can’t share here since our moms will read this .
Some companies (primarily in the tech sector– think Apple, Google, Facebook) now offer ‘egg freezing’ as a benefit to female employees. What do you think about that?
It’s amazing, it should be a benefit. It is no longer an experimental procedure. And as more women rise up as executives and entrepreneurs, they are having children later in life. It is something you are doing preventatively so that you don’t have to do fertility treatments down the road when you decide to have children and maybe can’t naturally. It also allows women to be in control of their bodies and their health and make important decisions about their future.
Besides freezing your eggs, what are some other things you two do together?
We love to workout, go out to eat, see live music shows, party with our amazing friends in Austin and book fun travel getaways!
So, this all begs the question, what’s next? Any plans for the next few years?
Trying actively not to get pregnant. Living life!