To Freeze or Not

Lately there has been a lot of discussion on whether or not companies should pay for women to freeze their eggs and if they do pay for it, is it a true benefit or are they requesting that women delay their fertility? Now, let me start by saying that any benefit for reproduction rights or options I support. Not just as a woman, but as an HR professional.

No, I don’t believe they are requesting women to delay their fertility. I believe that when companies pay for women to have reproductive benefits and options they are understanding that people are waiting later to have children. Career, marriage and then children are happening later and thus making it impossible for seemingly healthy individuals to have children. Why not make your choice now?

As a woman who used her infertility benefits, my employer paid for Invitro Fertilization (IVF) which is how I got my munch. My employer offered a lucrative benefit of $100,000 per lifetime or 3 live births (whichever came first). This is a very generous benefit that many Americans may not have. That being said, I went through two attempts at IVF and had my eggs frozen on the second attempt. So, here’s what happened in a bullet format during this process:

  • My ex and I couldn’t conceive naturally so it was recommended that we do IVF.
  • The purpose of IVF is to give you one healthy baby. No more, no less. We had hoped for twins.
  • They put me on a lot drugs to regulate and control my menstrual cycle.
  • Lots of hormones to stimulate my follicle growth and produce multiple eggs being released. The drugs made me hate my spouse and he was patient because of the side effects.
  • Everyday blood work to see what is the optimal time to retrieve the eggs.
  • Taken into the room at the clinic and your eggs are extracted. My second attempt they extracted 11. I cried. Why? Because the woman in the other room had 23 eggs retrieved. All that pain for nothing. I felt alone and miserable. The doctor came in to talk to me and said “Not to give the other patient’s information away, but she has a condition called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and she produced a lot more eggs. That doesn’t mean that they will all fertilize successfully. Our goal is to get you one healthy embryo to implant.”
  • Day 1 they called to tell me that I had 9 remaining embryos
  • Day 2 they called to tell me that I had 7 remaining embryos
  • Day 3 they called to tell me that I had 5 embryos that were developing beautifully
  • Day 4 they called to tell me that I still had 5 embryos and that they were going to do a day 5 transfer
  • Day of transfer was bittersweet. I had been there before and it didn’t work. I was scared. The same doctor who had done my egg extraction had told me that she was excited to do my transfer. She said you had 5 beautiful embryos and that they selected two grade AA embryos to implant. (Apparently that is good).
  • Decision of whether to transfer one or two embryos. Chances of implantation were 39% with one embryo and 68% with two. However, two embryos could produce two babies. Twins.
  • My ex and I sat there. He looked up and said, “Transfer two.” I hesitated. Could I handle twins? Yes, they were cute, but two college funds, two day cares and two sets of clothes would overwhelm us financially. But, people do it all the time right?
  • I asked the doctor with the kind eyes, “What would you do as a woman?” She smiled and said, “I would transfer two but, it’s up to you.”
  • We transferred two embryos. Froze the remaining three.
  • Waited two weeks for a pregnancy test.
  • Received the call that I was pregnant
  • Asked to repeat pregnancy test in three days.
  • Pregnancy confirmed.
  • Repeated it a third time. Still pregnant.
  • Ultrasound performed a month later.
  • One embryo implanted. Heartbeat and sac.
  • I was having a singleton not twins.

My three remaining embryos were frozen, but during the pregnancy confirmation, my doctor had indicated that he would prefer to go through a new cycle instead of using the frozen embryos if I was going to delay another attempt for greater than a year. Why? It was painful as heck. He said, “Better chances of getting fresh and viable embryos to implant. Freezing and thawing are hard on embryos. The embryos may not survive the process.” Wow, all that work for nothing I thought.

I tabled the matter and focused on my pregnancy and my marriage. After one year of freezing our eggs, I wasn’t ready to be a mother again or go through the process of doing IVF. I was exhausted. The expense was now going to be on us to continue to store and freeze our eggs. My insurance covered the first year, but we would have to pay $783 the next year to continue the storage. That cost would increase the next year and so forth. We elected to destroy the embryos.

It was painful. It was necessary. It was a choice. But, I say all this to offer words of encouragement to women who may be thinking that it’s better than nothing. Yes, it is better than nothing. If you have no partner in mind, are not ready for children or you are career focused (like I was), it is an option to try and extend your fertility if you would like to have a baby someday. But, it is a painful process. If you don’t want children, I wouldn’t recommend it and it is expensive. Cost is a factor and more importantly…it may not work when you go and thaw your eggs. Weigh your options and know the choice is yours and any benefit that supports reproductive rights or options for women is a good thing.

eggs

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