Stars - They’re Just Like Us
One of my favorite weekly guilty pleasures to read is the section of Us Weekly magazine titled, “Stars They’re Just Like Us.” This is where they show pictures of celebrities doing everyday tasks. The purpose is to make us lay people feel like we have something in common with celebrities. It makes me feel validated that we go through the same daily activities. That is one of the reasons why I chose to share my egg freezing experience. As a fertility nurse, I think that I can provide a unique perspective on the process.
Working as a nurse at RMA of New York, fertility is always on the brain. Not only my patient’s fertility, but my own as well. I had been checking my AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone; the hormone that gives us an idea of ovarian reserve) levels periodically and after a lot of thought, decided it was the right time for me to do an egg freezing cycle.
There are many factors that are in play when one decides to freeze their eggs. There are social, emotional, physical and financial components and coming to terms with all of those is not a small feat. Even though I work in the fertility field and deal with this type of thing every single day, the above considerations still ring true when you become the patient. I told myself what I tell my patients when they’re hesitant about starting an egg freezing cycle: “you’ll never regret doing it, you can only regret not doing it.” I decided to heed my own advice.
Once I made the decision to go through with egg freezing, I wanted to take it a step further. I decided to share my journey on social media with my friends, colleagues, and anyone who wanted to listen. I wanted to show the practical side of the journey, integrating the process in my everyday life and by doing so, try and remove some of the stigma attached.
Once I ordered all of my medications and signed all of my consents, I went in for my first monitoring appointment. It’s at these appointments where blood work and ultrasounds are performed to ensure that everything looks optimal to start the stimulating medications. The ultrasound showed that I had a cyst (fluid filled sac or pocket) on one of my ovaries. Because of this, the doctor advised that I rest a month until the cyst resolves itself and then start the injectable medications. Although this was disappointing, as I had mentally prepared to start and had cleared my schedule to accommodate, I knew that this was the right plan to ensure that I had the best possible outcome.
The following month, I went back in for monitoring and the cyst was still there but had shrunken in size significantly and based off of that and my blood work, the doctor determined that it was the appropriate time to start the stimulation cycle. My medication regimen consisted of twice daily injections and an oral pill (for the first 5 days). I was nervous and excited to get the process started.
I did my injections every morning before I went in for my monitoring appointments even on the days when I wasn’t working and came home and did my injections every evening. I drank electrolytes, modified my exercise, listened to my body, and went to sleep very early.
Over my 6+ years of working as a fertility nurse, I have been able to sympathize with my patients but I’ve never been able to truly empathize with them as I had never gone through the process myself. Now I really knew what it meant when I told the patients that the Menopur burns; I knew what the bloating felt like and what the bruises looked like. I was able to enlist the tips and tricks that I recommend to my patients.
Then it was time for procedure day, where the doctor would the retrieve my eggs. I received the anesthesia and the next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room. I found out that day the preliminary number of eggs that were retrieved. The following day I was told how many were able to be frozen. The whole process from start to finish was less than 2 weeks but the peace of mind that it gave me will last a lifetime.
I am very happy that I took the plunge and completed my egg freezing journey. Being on the other side of the process was an eye opening experience. I appreciate the fact that I was able to have the view of both a fertility nurse and a patient and with that, I can confidently say that Stars, they’re just like us.