"Don't be late, don't be late," I repeated to myself as I pulled into the garage at Pacific Fertility Center where I had planned to freeze my eggs. My lateness was surely a reflection of an ambivalence I had about the whole process. I was in too much of a rush to notice the "NOT AN ENTRANCE" sign on what appeared to be a front door. I then scurried up five flights and yanked on the door. It didn't budge. After calling the reception desk, a building security guard found me in what I later learned was a back entrance no one used.
When I finally arrived where I was meant to be, I couldn't get my name out ahead of an unexpected rush of tears. My internal dialogue stirred up a mix of fearful emotions. "Why am I here? This is not the way I envisioned having a baby!" I was late for that appointment as well as a marriage and family that, in my mind, should have happened 10 years ago.
I had been married in my early 20s but divorced after the painful realization that I wasn't ready to be a partner or a mom. After years of traveling, figuring out who I was and intermittent stretches of dating unavailable men, I hit 37 wondering where the time went. As a fellow single friend put it, "It's as if I forgot to set the alarm on my biological clock and slept through my 30s." I woke up in a panic. What if I missed my chance to have a family?
I sat still fighting tears when my doctor walked in and welcomed me with a smile of a woman who had seen my strain of anxiety before. As she patiently explained the details of the egg freezing process I tried to wrestle my mind around a swirl of details involved. The idea of freezing the cells of babies-to-be was not part of my original life plan, but there was one thing I was clear on: I would do this. I couldn't control when I would meet a potential partner but I could control this. The peace of mind alone seemed worth the big chunk of my savings.
The morning of the extraction of my eggs, I walked my bloated belly into the procedure room. Before I knew what happened, I woke up to a nurse tapping me on the shoulder to congratulate me. In a drug-induced stupor I cried out "I'm soooo proud of myself!"
While there is no guarantee that my frozen eggs will survive the many steps between being thawed and becoming a baby, I am highly relieved to have the procedure behind me.
I recently returned from a 15 year college reunion where, for the first time, the site of pregnant bellies and waddling toddlers didn't trigger me into despair. Doing what I could to preserve my fertility has made me less afraid of losing it. —Cara E. Jones