One summer morning in 2010, a FedEx box arrived containing $3,300 worth of medications. So began the process of freezing my eggs.
"It's a miracle!" said my best friend Jen, the mother of two. And I agreed.
Yet I couldn't help but feel sad as I opened the box and sorted through the piles of hormones, syringes, needles, and gauze pads, placing a few precious bottles of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in the fridge. This is not what I wanted to be doing at age 37½, alone. I wanted to be having a child years ago, with my (now ex) husband. Confronted with such undeniable evidence of my status as a single and childless woman “running out of time,” tears flooded out, unbidden and uncontrollable.
I was grieving ... the loss of a romantic dream, the passing of my youth, and something else more elusive: the illusion that if I worked hard, was a kind-hearted and sincere person, served the planet, and safeguarded my own physical and psychological wellbeing, then I would get what I wanted and deserved.
Exactly a year prior, I had sat with Dr. Jamie Grifo, one of the nation’s top fertility doctors, at his New York University office in Manhattan. Sarah Brokaw and I were interviewing him for our book Fortytude, about the challenges faced by women turning 40 — including fertility. Dr. Grifo had presented charts revealing how much more difficult it becomes, with each passing month (not year) after age 35, for women to get pregnant and bear healthy children. Oocyte cryopreservation technology, he explained, had only just been established as a viable option. Just a few years ago, most doctors encouraged their clients to freeze embryos, not eggs. But this would have required me to choose the sperm donor, which is precisely what I was not ready to do.
It was then I had realized, “I can take charge of my fertility.” With a few measures of my hormone levels, two weeks worth of pricey hormone injections, several ultrasounds and blood tests, and a simple non-surgical procedure, I could attempt to have my younger, fresher eggs available to me for the rest of my life. That way, when I met a partner and we chose to get pregnant, I could use the eggs if we had difficulty or if I was over 40. Or, should I choose to have a child alone, I could select the sperm at that time and have a greater chance of success.
Still, it took me a year to work up the courage to go forward with the process. Another year of being single. Another year of desperately wanting to start a family — or at least wanting to feel that I might have chance at a child of my own some day.
Finally, I just leapt in and did it. I booked up an appointment at the Stanford Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center, close to where I was working at the time. I got the initial tests and found out that I was an excellent candidate. I talked to my mother and father, who agreed that egg freezing really is a miracle and offered to help cover the substantial expense. We all concurred that at the cost of approximately $11,000 (where and when I chose to have the procedure done), it was a financial sacrifice that we all ought to make. Unfortunately, insurance doesn't cover egg freezing — yet.
I may not be able to control when, or if, I meet the man who is ready to settle down with me, have children and be my life partner. But I do have control, for a few years longer at least, of my fertility. By taking action, I hang on to the hope that some day, I will find my desire for biological children of my own fulfilled.
December 5, 2012
By MeiMei Fox, Guest Blogger
MeiMei Fox is the published author, co-author, ghostwriter, and freelance editor of numerous non-fiction books, articles, and blogs. Most recently, she wrote Bend, Not Break with Ping Fu and the New York Times bestseller Fortytude with Sarah Brokaw. She has edited books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Columbia professor Robert Thurman, and was Expedition Writer for Alexandra Cousteau’s global environmental voyage in 2009. Currently, she is writing a sci-fi/fantasy trilogy, VAPOR, with her husband, filmmaker Kiran Ramchandran.
In addition, MeiMei is a depth psychotherapy-trained life coach and certified yoga instructor. She enjoys working with clients to help them achieve their loftiest goals.
MeiMei graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors and distinction from Stanford University. Her greatest desire is to be a Promoter of Joy. She sits on the board of Hope Foundation, which offers education and housing to street children in India. In 2010, she volunteered post-earthquake in Haiti. Recently, she led a group of volunteers to practice yoga, surf, and build a high school in Costa Rica. She lives in Los Angeles.
MeiMei’s mantra is: “Fear Less, Love More!”
Follow MeiMei on Twitter @meimeifox and read more on MeiMei's egg freezing journey at FertilityAuthority.com.