I froze my eggs. I want to be a mom one day. I am not ready to let go of the dream.
I am 38. Three years ago, I was carefree and dating a good looking guy, whom I had nothing in common with. Like so many of us do, I thought I had a lot of time. I felt young and free, and at the time, I had no idea what was ahead for me. The months and years to follow would define how important character, strength, connection and spirit would become.
Right after my 36th birthday, my Dad became very ill.
He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer when I was 15. He had surgery to remove his prostate, and my parents told me he was cured. Four years ago, they revealed that he still had cancer.
Without me ever knowing, after his initial surgery, he continued to fight cancer with hormone therapy and radiation. He battled this horrible disease while my sister and I were in the dark – free to live and enjoy life. I was not angry that they lied. I know they did it to protect us. He always seemed so healthy even after the revelation that he still had cancer. He continued to golf, exercise and enjoy life. When my parents decided to tell my sister and I the truth, his cancer levels were rising slightly, but he continued to treat it successfully.
So now, I knew the truth. I didn’t really know how to process it. He had lived with it for all those years, battling this disease, while I was just living life as an obnoxious teenager, taking it all for granted. And because he seemed healthy even after the truth was revealed, I continued to take life for granted. After all, he was my Dad: strong, powerful, steady, stable and authoritative. He was my support, my strength and the consistent man in my life. Even after they told me, he seemed fine. Until two years ago.
The cancer had spread to his bones. So I commuted from my home in Chicago to help my parents and spend time with them in Atlanta once a month. The last two years have been the most difficult years of my life. It was all more than I ever thought I could handle and more than I ever knew I had the capacity to endure.
Learning how precious life truly is, and how time is the one thing we can’t turn back or stop, I consulted a fertility doctor. The first thing they did was test my AMH levels. AMH is a hormone that indicates how healthy your ovarian reserve is. My levels were pretty good, but they advised that I freeze my eggs as soon as possible. After all, I wasn’t getting any younger, and biology is biology. As a woman, I believe you need to take action to leave your options open; and how lucky we are that science now allows us to manipulate biology to our advantage.
This would give me some time, I thought. Even if I met someone the next day, learning about each other, getting to know one another, deciding to get married and then actually having a child together may take some time. Nothing in this life is a guarantee so when opportunity knocks, take it.
As I was debating the logistics and timing of freezing my eggs, my mom was diagnosed with a heart condition and needed mitral valve repair surgery. She was my Dad’s primary care taker. His cancer had become so painful that he was now in a wheelchair.
I dropped everything, took a leave of absence from work and went to Atlanta. I lived through the hardest week of my life. The week of my mom’s surgery was also a tough week for my Dad. He couldn’t be left alone and he was having a lot of trouble sleeping due to all the medication. Our first night alone together, he was talking in his sleep and fidgeting. Terrified, I slept on the floor of my parent’s room with him to ensure he stayed alive throughout the night. The next night, I slept in the hospital with my mom. Her surgery was a success and now it was all about her recovery. I hired home healthcare so the times I was with my mom, my dad did not have to be alone.
I am happy to report that my mom made a full recovery. Thank God. My parents thought it was important that I get back to my life, so I returned to Chicago and threw myself into work. I did my best to manage Chicago while still flying back monthly to Atlanta, constantly talking with doctors, and of course talking with my parents multiple times a day. I was only focused on my parents. I forgot about myself, my eggs, and especially dating. I felt spread thin and sad. I didn’t know how to be happy because I started to realize that we were fighting a losing battle with my dad’s cancer.
My Dad died on May 6, 2014, the day before my 38th birthday. I felt relieved that he was no longer in pain. But I also felt devastated and lost. I experienced sadness so deep, I never thought I would find my way out of it. I didn’t know it was possible to feel such pain.
The months that followed were even harder. I couldn’t focus on work – it simply didn’t seem all that important anymore. I tried to socialize and find normalcy, but often had to leave my friends in the middle of an evening out, because the tears would start, and couldn’t stop. I was depressed.
Losing my dad was harder than any of the work that went into caring for him while he was ill. But after his death and my return to Chicago, I decided it was time to take action. Two years after my initial visit, I went back to the doctor to begin the egg freezing process. They tested my AMH again. As expected, it wasn’t as strong this time, so I immediately went back to start the process on the first day of my cycle. They told me I could start the next day, and I did. It was empowering, energizing, and thrilling to take control. Doing something so important for myself helped me slowly climb out of my depression. I got 10 eggs, but more importantly I got the liberty to let go of all my fears and worries. I was finally able to focus on the things that really mattered: the connections I have with others in this precious life.
If you are debating about freezing your eggs, the only thing I know, is even if you don’t use them, it can give you freedom, peace of mind and the knowledge that you did everything in your power to keep your options open, and your dreams alive.
I want a family, but more importantly, I want love. I don’t know if it will come the way I had envisioned it when I was a little girl, but it will come in some form. And for now, the most important thing is having the knowledge that I’ve preserved my dream of having a family.
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