It’s common knowledge that a woman’s fertility is fragile enough to be affected by stress and environmental factors. I didn’t totally believe this until I started trying to get pregnant. I also didn’t think I was one of those stressed out women who was so damn coiled up inside that I couldn’t get pregnant! But then again, I am the queen of denial and quite capable of making everyone, including myself, believe that everything is just fine – ‘I’m not stressed, I just have a lot of stuff going on,’ I thought.
Everything was not fine. The state of my marriage was less than ideal, and actually, if I’m totally honest, my life as I knew it was falling apart. Needless to say, I didn’t get pregnant and I also didn’t stay married.
When I decided to make a go at life on my own, I knew I had to freeze my eggs. That was over a year ago, and I’m not happy about having waited. At this age, every month counts!
But once I finally admitted that I was indeed stressed . . . ok, actually more than stressed – a total mess, I knew I couldn’t go through the procedure until I had normalized a bit. I couldn’t blow a big sum of money only to get a handful of sad, stressed out little eggs.
Why so much stress, you ask?
I spent most of 2013 trying to get pregnant. In late 2013, my husband and I separated, and then decided to formally separate our lives in early 2014. Going from trying to start a family, to suddenly being faced with being single and starting life all over again was overwhelming. I had many sleepless nights, and tons of anxiety. On top of that, I was watching someone very close to me – my cousin, Godmother, and best friend – waste away to cancer. I spent the first half of 2014 by her side, in a hospital, watching her get worse and worse, and being helpless to stop it. When she died, it caused a huge rift in a family that was once very tight, and I found myself dealing not just with the loss of my cousin, but her two boys whose father refused to let me see them once she died.
All to say, knowing what I knew about stress and fertility, it wasn’t the best time to undergo oocyte cryopreservation.
It’s now 2015, and I am starting to feel like myself again. I’m not saying I’ve totally figure it out, in fact, some might say I’m still a mess, but I’m mentally and emotionally ready to finally start the process of freezing my eggs this month.
This isn’t as much about stress and fertility as it is about how I got myself to this point. I share this because unless you have unlimited funds and can undergo this treatment several times, I highly recommend that you assess where you are in your life before undergoing this procedure.
I share this because unless you have unlimited funds and can undergo this treatment several times, I highly recommend that you assess where you are in your life before undergoing this procedure.
And if you’re dealing with some f—-d up shit like I was, below are some things I did to get through it and finally arrive at a place where I’m ready to freeze some eggs.
1) Wine! – I know this seems contrary to preparing for fertility treatments; it is, but before I could prepare for freezing my eggs, I simply had to get through, one day at a time. Judge if you want, but alcohol was my friend. It was one of the few pleasures I could look forward to on a regular basis after a crazy day at work, a fight with my ex, or a depressing evening at the hospital. I went out most nights because I’m not a lone drinker, so alcohol and my social life became a necessary distraction.
2) Xanax! – A girl needs to chill and get her beauty sleep. Like I said, I didn’t like to drink alone, so when I didn’t have someone to go out and drink with, I sat on my couch and popped that magical little pill that made everything ok. It meant I slept pretty well and got up looking and feeling refreshed. Sleep is super important, and I’m a firm believer that if you need to pop a pill to get a proper night of sleep, do it. For me, the benefits of sleep outweighed the potential harm of taking pills to get it.
3) I faked it – I had to fake it – it was the only way to get through the day without having a meltdown. If you’re as good at being in denial as I am, this is pretty easy to do. I faked it all: confidence, happiness, having my shit together. People will believe it. I believed it. But eventually, I actually started to feel it for real.
4) I made myself pretty – this one seems ridiculous, I know. It’s closely related to ‘faking it.’ For some reason, putting on a pair of heels, putting on a cute outfit every morning and occasionally even washing my hair made me look and feel like I had my shit together, and that made me feel better.
5) I ran my ass off – For me, exercise has always been the key to mental acuity. But during this time in my life, it became especially important as most mornings, I woke up in an alcohol or Xanax induced fog! When shit hit the fan, I hit the pavement and Barry’s Boot Camp and it really did keep me sane. And the great side effect: a gravity-defying ass that rivals that of a 20 something year old’s!
6) I became quite OCD – This manifested itself in several ways. Most notably, cooking and cleaning. I NEVER cooked when I was married, but suddenly, knowing exactly what was going into my food and knowing precisely what I was eating allowed me to maintain a sense of control when everything around me was spinning out of control. Some people might call this an eating disorder, but this wasn’t about getting skinny, it was about eating clean, and keeping myself busy with a healthy activity. My trips to Whole Foods and my Sunday afternoon ‘mass production’ of the coming week’s lunches and dinners made me feel like I wasn’t a total delinquent (I’m shopping and Whole Foods and cooking = I’m a grown-up). I also became super OCD about my apartment. Everything has its place, you can eat off the floors, and I cannot start my day until my bed has been made – military style! I recognize that these are manifestations of my need to control things in my life, but who cares? I’m not hurting anyone.
7) I surrounded myself with good people and avoided people who made me feel like shit – I’m lucky to have some amazing people in my life. My work place has proven to be a habitat of the coolest people on the planet. They’re some of the most supportive, amazing people I’ve ever known. Not only did they challenge me professionally (which was good – I needed something to focus on), but they were just all around good, and I feel like some of that rubbed off on me. I also had great friends and family. I learned who my ‘party’ friends were, and who my real friends are. But just as important as surrounding myself with good people is recognizing those who make me feel like shit (even if they don’t mean to). Certain people just couldn’t fathom that I could actually have a meaningful life without a husband and children; they never said it out loud, but I could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. So I eventually learned how to avoid them like the plague.
I share this because I suspect that there are a lot of women in similar situations: thinking about freezing their eggs, but dealing with a lot of crap and having to re-asses the future. I’m here to say that while every month does count after a certain age, it also helps to be in the right frame of mind, and you should do whatever you need to to get to that state of mind. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to do what I did, but embrace whatever coping mechanisms you have.
I’m here to say that while every month does count after a certain age, it also helps to be in the right frame of mind, and you should do whatever you need to to get to that state of mind.
I will obviously have to adjust my lifestyle a bit. Sadly, I’ll have to part with my wine and Xanax for a while because I don’t want to produce a batch alcoholic, shriveled up eggs. But I assure you, I will be popping a bottle of champagne the minute my eggs have been successfully extracted! And perhaps once I’m through this process, there will be a bit less stress and anxiety in my life.