Things I Wish I knew

Needles and dating: 8 things I wish I'd known before freezing my eggs

When it was revealed that Facebook and Apple are paying for women employees to freeze their eggs, more young women may be wondering, is it right for me? Robyn Ross, a Los Angeles recruitment director, shares the wisdom of her experience with egg freezing.

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Robyn Ross and Camden

I’ve wanted to have kids as long as I can remember. In fact, when my best friend and I were in our early 30s, we made a pact that if we both weren’t mothers by age 38, we would get pregnant on our own. But as that day approached, she started researching sperm donors, and I looked into egg freezing. 

The idea of having kids with my first husband, whom I divorced at age 32, had never felt right, but I still wanted to share that experience with someone. Even though freezing eggs sounded terrifying and extreme, it felt like the best option available to realize my dream of having a biological child. Thankfully, my dad and his wife offered to help me cover the $15,000 cost for the procedure plus drugs (it's an estimated $10,000 now).

Here are eight things about egg freezing I wish I’d known:

1. I was able to overcome my fear of needles

I’ve always been irrationally scared of needles and had to be held down during vaccinations as a child. So when I first learned that freezing required nearly two weeks of hormone shots to stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs, I almost considered that a deal-breaker. But this was too important, so I decided to force myself to be brave. Still, when I watched the nurse demonstrate how to prep the injections to give myself, I nearly fainted. I ended up traveling to my dad’s house before and after work and asking for his wife’s help. Their 7-and 10-year-old daughters hugged me, while she jabbed. I survived.

2. It took pressure off dating 

I took dating pretty seriously after my divorce and went on several online dating sites, where I met a couple guys I went out with for a few months. But neither were right for the long term. After I froze my eggs in 2007 at age 37, I became even more focused and lined up dates almost every night of the week. But at the same time, I was much more relaxed about it. If I wasn’t crazy about a guy, I didn’t feel pressured to try to make something work. I just thought, “Who’s next?”

3. Guys think it’s a great idea

I think a lot of women are embarrassed about the fact that they froze their eggs. But I felt awesome about it and brought it up on the first date on purpose – saying something like, “I’ve got my eggs in the freezer. I wanted to take the pressure off dating.” I also wanted to be upfront about kids, so I didn’t waste my time if we didn’t share the same goals. Nearly a year after I froze, the man who would become my husband answered “Oh, that’s cool!” Our first date lasted three days, and we got engaged a year later.

4. Even though I had bought time, I wanted to have a baby as soon as possible

It’s funny how everyone worries that you’ll use egg freezing as excuse to put off having a baby. Not me. Once I had the guy, it didn’t make sense to wait. As soon as I became engaged, I contacted my fertility clinic, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, about thawing my eggs. I was proud to walk down the aisle in a wedding dress nine months pregnant.

5. I didn’t realize all the work it would take to put them back in

I thought thawing the eggs would be a piece of cake, compared to all the work involved taking them out. But I had to undergo several more blood tests, a vaginal ultrasound and another test to make sure my uterus was in good shape to carry a baby. Finally, I had to take more hormones — some in the form of vaginal suppositories — to build up the lining of my uterus to give the embryo a place to implant.

6. It takes a lot of eggs to make one baby

I was 39 when I went back to thaw my eggs in 2009 (before the technology had improved). I suppose I could have tried naturally, but I wanted to use those eggs, which were two years younger. Besides, I had 14 eggs stashed away, which I assumed was plenty for two kids. Well, doctors thawed all 14 eggs at once, and four fertilized and grew into embryos, which were transferred to my uterus. I was hoping for twins and was surprised when I learned I was pregnant with one baby. I was over the moon, of course, but I kept thinking, “That’s it? They’re gone?” Nowadays, woman are encouraged to undergo several cycles so they can put away at least 20 eggs per baby.

7. I wish I had frozen more eggs

We never know how life will turn out, but after five years of marriage, my husband and I are getting divorced. Our baby, Camden Rose, desperately wants a sibling. I’d love to meet someone new and have another baby, but that won’t happen for a while. I’m already 44, and I don’t have any more frozen eggs. For now, I’m hoping to meet a dad who has young kids and create a blended family.

8. I never forget what a miracle my little girl is

Every baby is a blessing, but when you add the fact that mine was in a freezer for two and a half years, I sometimes can’t believe she’s here. Of course, I was worried about possible birth defects – and still am concerned about long-term effects — but my daughter is perfect. She’s bright, beautiful, intuitive and compassionate. I am so fortunate. 

As-told to Sarah Elizabeth Richards, author of "Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried it"

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