The initial idea to ‘crack on’ and freeze my eggs actually came from my Mum. However, it was not a decision to be taken lightly and there was a lot of research to be done. At this stage of my life with nothing to tie me down, and after the heart-breaking end of the relationship with Mr SP, I took a break from my career and once more set out for ‘far off lands’. This gave me a valuable opportunity to do some BIG thinking whilst visiting friends and family on the other side of the world.
It was during my time out that I came to the realisation that, above everything, the one thing I really wanted from life was to start my own family. The very precious opportunities I had to stay with and, for a short time, become part of the lives of other families, cemented this desire. This was particularly true of my time in New Zealand with extended family. I was welcomed with open arms, invited to stay longer, and even received offers of coming and living with them in New Zealand. Despite the love that was shown to me, I still felt lost and alone and like something was missing from my life.
The final leg of my trip took me to Africa and on a once in a lifetime journey in an overland truck from Victoria Falls in Zambia to Cape Town in South Africa. Here I travelled with my friend Rebecca, and although we had a lot in common – careers, property ownership and of course our love of travelling – it became clear to me that in one important way I was different. For me, the yearning to start a family was at times all-consuming. Therefore, despite the potential costs and difficulties, egg freezing became a serious option. Although it held no guarantees it had the potential to buy me a ‘bit more time’ and more possibilities.
On my return from this trip I felt refreshed and reenergised. I started a new job back in London and used the time on my commute to start researching and planning the next steps/leap into the unknown. It was also fortunate timing for me that in the 6 months prior to this, ‘egg freezing’ had become something people were talking about more. During my research I discovered that it had been reported in October 2014 that Apple and Facebook were offering to freeze eggs for their female staff with the idea that this allowed women to ‘put their fertility on ice’. I decided I must find out more.
Not everybody understood. In fact, it was something of a surprise to me that this very personal decision was a difficult concept for some of my friends to understand. I had people telling me to ‘calm down, don’t worry there’s no rush to have children’, ‘women are having babies into their 40’s/50’s now’. However, the reality for me and many other women in similar situations is that this is far from accurate. Yes, some people do have babies into their 40s but this is rarer than the optimists think. One of the biggest concerns as a woman in your mid-to-late 30s is the not knowing… Do I need to rush? How much time do I have? How good is my fertility? Will I be able to get pregnant?
It is at this point I would like to highlight how essential the support of my friends and family has been throughout this journey. Enter stage left, my amazing friend Kate, who would become one of the key players in the prologue to ‘Project leapfrog’. Kate and I have been friends since school, and she is therefore, outside of my family, the longest serving member of the ‘Emma support group’. Kate has many fabulous attributes as a friend; she is good at listening and gives relevant and logical advice. Where I can be gung-ho and impulsive, she is measured and thoughtful. I believe we make the perfect friendship team.
And so, one sunny Saturday morning in April shortly after I returned from my travels, Kate and I attended a very informative talk on egg freezing at the London Women’s Clinic. Here we learnt some fairly scary stats about our dwindling fertility.
Female fertility is not something that we ever learnt that much about at school and it is something that I now feel we need to talk about with the next generation. I am part of a generation of woman that are pressured, by both themselves and society, to be ‘wonder women’. We expect to have careers, property, partners and then babies. We also seem to believe that if we work hard, we can and should be able to achieve all these things in the ‘right’ order. However as many of us have discovered, or are still discovering, the reality can be quite different. It is sadly the case that many women of my age are facing fertility issues due to the fact that we are not in our first flush of youth when we finally make the decision, or are able, to start a family.
I booked an initial consultation with a consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist to get additional and personalised advice. I had just started a new well-paid job, from a financial perspective I was fortunate to have such an option available to me. In total, I learned that freezing my eggs and 10 years of storage would cost a minimum of £7000. In addition, at the age of 34, it was likely that my eggs were still ‘good enough’ to be frozen. My research and meetings with two different clinics suggested that the benefits outweighed the costs. Whilst there were no guarantees the ‘quality’ of my eggs at this stage gave me cause to be optimistic. It was time to choose.
I made the decision to go ahead and freeze my eggs, and I felt it was the right one for me. I had achieved quite a lot in my career. Which in turn had allowed me to own my own property and be in the position to afford the significant costs of the procedure. Don’t get me wrong
, I had also been trying hard to find the ‘wonderful man’ to marry and have a family with, but that is a lot less easy to plan and had gone far from smoothly for me – as you can see in my previous posts.
So, it was not exactly the view the media tend to portray – I didn’t take the decision to freeze my eggs in order to allow me to focus on my career. At this point, I also wasn’t freezing my eggs with the thought of going down the route of using a sperm donor and becoming a single mother. Quite the opposite in fact. What I was looking for was time. I still very much wanted a relationship. I just wanted to give myself the opportunity to find ‘the wonderful man’ rather than rushing and choosing ‘any man’ (perhaps the wrong man?) to start a family with! The time to meet ‘Mr WM’, the option to be able to get back on track and continue to follow the childhood dream.