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‘I’m single, happy, & I’ve decided to freeze my eggs’ (Part 2)

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It was incredibly romantic, but such encounters at weddings always are, so it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.

We got back to my room and not very long after, I got sick. Really sick. ‘God, I hope he can’t hear me through the door’ sick. The next morning he stayed to make sure I was OK and we talked. We talked for three hours straight and we could have talked for three more. He started to leave I pulled him back into the room to kiss him, because I knew from every previous wedding encounter that he would disappear. I’d go back to being a 34-year0old woman freezing her eggs. And he’d go back to being a 29 year old who doesn’t have to think about those things.

A month later, I went to New York. I called David. We had a great week together. I couldn’t believe that while I was off the pill, and moody and irritable and bloated and vulnerable, I had met someone.

Description: Hilary Winston

After my period, the two-week road to my egg retrieval began with a trip to the fertility clinic. I dressed up for the occasion in a fancy silk blouse, expensive jeans and snakeskin heels. I painted my nails bright pink. When I arrived, both doctor and the nurse were excited. They’re used to dealing with women having infertility problems and, though they didn’t say so, I imagine egg freezing must be a brighter spot in their line of work.

The appointment included drawing blood and a vaginal ultrasound. I put my legs up in stirrups and tried to relax as the ultrasound device was inserted. It was about the length of two hairbrushes with a large bulb on the end. The doctor showed me my uterus on the ultrasound machine. She told me the lining was thick, which is a good indicator of fertility. I fished for a compliment. ‘So, it’s a pretty good uterus, right?’ She said it was fine.

She looked at each ovary and showed me the follicles, where the eggs develop. The doctor showed me I had six on each side. I tried again to get a compliment. ‘Twelve. That sounds like a good number.’ She said it was fine.

Depending on how many eggs we harvested, they would be frozen in groups of three. Each batch is basically one try for a kid, since refreezing eggs is untested. Even frozen eggs are not that well researched. There have been only 1,500 live births worldwide from frozen eggs and most of those have occurred in the past two years.

The good news is that according to studies, the birth rate through IVF with frozen eggs from women younger than 36 is 50 per cent, about the same as with ‘fresh’ eggs of a woman the same age.

In four days I’d begin injecting myself. A nurse showed me how to prepare the medicine in a special mixing container called a Q-cap. How to thump the needle and remove any air bubbles to prevent bruising, and how to inject the drugs. I couldn’t imagine that I’d actually be doing this. Supposedly the only thing that would hurt was the medicine going in. It would burn. A few days after the first injections, I’d get bloated. I’d start to feel my ovaries expanding. And I’d be emotional.

I had until the procedure to decide whether I’d like to widen my safety net by freezing not only my eggs, but also an embryo. Embryo freezing is more reliable and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. A clinic nurse suggested a sperm bank where a lot of the donors are young, hot, aspiring actors. I asked for a pamphlet. It had pictures of multiracial babies Photoshopped into an ice cube tray. The back of the pamphlet listed donors by ethnicity. You can find a donor who’s not only Caucasian, but specifically of German and Hungarian descent, too. You can see what religion he is. Height and weight. College major. And whether or not his sperm has ever impregnated anyone. (You get a discount if you buy all of a donor’s vials, taking him off the genetic market.)

The sperm bank’s website has ‘donors of the month’ and childhood pictures of donors. Each profile has a catchy headline such as, ‘Could be a GQ model’, with a description (‘Seeking to encounter the unknown, Donor 3591 hopes to travel to the moon and outer space’). The website has a section where you can find a donor who looks like your favourite celebrity.

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