On the Retrieval #fertilityfriday

“A woman’s body is a beautiful, intricate system that is always attempting to achieve regulation. There is a vast range of tools that can help this process and correct the stressors in her life. Accessing them requires differentiating women’s individual stressors and allowing them to customize solutions that will work for them.”
— Dr. Julia Vonn, Spiritual Fertility

Before I delve into the details of my procedure, I want to acknowledge the quote above, and re-emphasize how every woman’s body is different and every woman is also capable of her own set of miracles, in her own way. We are comprised of an extremely intricate system and there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to fertility or to life. I had to deeply listen to my intuition and follow it through this entire process. The journey of my success and the tools I utilized were not the cookie-cutter answer for all women who fall into my age bracket. I truly feel that the subject of fertility deserves intentional exploration (not solely listening to your doctor), by doing your own research, and really taking the time to sit with yourself and trust the answers that your intuition provides.

The Injections The self administered injection process was the biggest unknown and source of anxiety going into this process.I really had no idea what to expect, how I would feel, or if I would really be able to give myself multiple injections a day for 10-12 days leading up to the procedure. The short answer – of course I did, and honestly, it wasn’t fun but it wasn’t that bad either. I do not want to take away from the fact that many women have an extremely hard time with this part because the swing in hormones can make you fatigued, bloated, emotional and out of sorts. For me I felt tired and I had a constant low level headache, but luckily I was able to minimize my workload and do a lot of self-care, which made the process more easeful.

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The Retrieval My egg retrieval took place this past weekend, Saturday, December 14th, with 10 days of injections and multiple ultrasounds to track the growth of the eggs leading up to the procedure. In my initial ultrasound in August my doctor was able to find 9 follicles (follicles produce eggs) between my two ovaries, which was on the lower to average end for women my age. When I went in for my baseline ultrasound at the beginning of December I was hoping I would have miraculously grown more follicles, but 9 was the number that she found again.

To be totally honest, I initially felt down about my count, and had been really hopeful that the prep work I had done would grow more follicles, even if it was a far shot. Thoughts of “should I even do this” and “I can’t afford to do this twice” all ran through my head. I was already in too deep, so I had to quickly flip the perspective to a more positive thought process and trust that with whatever the outcome, it was for the best, and release the rest of the negative self-talk.

There are many different factors that determine follicle count as well as how many mature eggs are produced when going through IVF or egg freezing treatments. Typically, not every follicle will produce an egg, and not all eggs produced will be mature or viable to freeze when going through these treatments. As I started my injections and began tracking the growth of the eggs, my doctor found about 6 viable eggs by the time I went in for my last ultrasound. From the statistics, this sounded about right, so I settled on being happy with 6 but held the space and positivity for more. I went in for the egg retrieval two days later, and within those two days, 3 more eggs developed and the surgeon was able to retrieve and freeze all 9 eggs my follicles were able to produce. For me, this was a HUGE win, and I believe the three months of prep was integral in this outcome. I had manifested my own little miracle of all 9 follicles producing 9 healthy eggs.

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The Investment The total cost for the procedure including monitoring, ultrasounds, blood work, and trainings was around $8500. My fertility clinic, Spring Fertility offers a payment plan for the procedure, so it breaks down to about $250/month for the next 36 months. The total estimated cost of medication was $4400, but I only ended up spending $1500 because I was able to get unused, extra meds from a couple friends who had gone through the same procedure. Lastly, it costs $650 per year to store the frozen eggs until you are ready to use them. Prices do vary by each fertility clinic as well as the area where you live.

The additional cost of supplements and acupuncture was around $1500, and although these two things were elective and not prescribed by my doctor, I believe the combination of incorporating them 3 months before the procedure was what made all the difference in the outcome of all 9 of my follicles being able to produce 9 healthy eggs. To me, the additional money was well worth investing because my goal to only do this procedure once. Many women in my age range end up going through this process 2-3 times to collect enough eggs. One round was all I could afford, so I wanted to make the very best of it.


Final Thoughts

I have had so many thoughts and epiphanies on fertility throughout this entire process. First and foremost, we as women carry a heavy load, especially when it comes to fertility. As I have mentioned before, I felt deeply called to share this journey, and realized half way through how much lighter and less vulnerable I felt talking about it versus the weight and vulnerability this must have on women whose immediate goal is to have a baby. Although it was still a big expense, and I was worried about the outcome, I was only freezing my eggs. Consciously bringing a child into this world is on a whole other level. Modern medicine has made leaps and bounds in making it possible to have children later in life, but it has not done much on dealing with the shame and silence that women take on who are going through fertility struggles. This is where so much work still needs to be done. My goal was to use my small but mighty platform to be transparent, open up the conversation around fertility, and share what I had learned in order to help other women. Little did I realize that the support and prayers I received from the community that was created during this time really helped me push through, stay positive, and manifest my miracle. For that I am forever grateful.

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