Pregnancy Loss and IVF: Kelsey's Story
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Pregnancy Loss and IVF: Kelsey's Story

Freezing My Eggs Was a Family Affair: Caroline's Story

Freezing My Eggs Was a Family Affair: Caroline's Story

As part of Prima's interview series, "Fertility Journeys Beyond the Clipboard" guided by Jenni Quilter, we hear from Caroline, a 27 year old woman living in Connecticut, who froze her eggs in anticipation of starting a family of her own someday.

"Having someone who knows what is what and is actually with you for the journey–it made me feel not alone."

 

 

The reason I knew a fair amount about egg freezing to begin with was because of my Mom. She conceived me on her honeymoon, but then after I was born and she and my Dad tried for another, it just didn’t happen. They went through five miscarriages, one with twins. They finally ended up having my brother with an egg donor, my Dad’s sperm, and a surrogate. It was the first instance in Maryland where my Mom was listed on my brother’s birth certificate as the biological mother, even though the genetic material wasn’t hers. I grew up knowing all of this, and my Mom was always extremely supportive of the idea of me freezing my eggs; she was always asking me when I was going to do it. She paid for it. I think for her it was a way of me avoiding what she went through. For her, there is a really important distinction between freezing an eggs and freezing an embryo. Freezing your eggs is a way to increase your own options, your agency, and your freedom to make decisions about how and when to have a family. I have a boyfriend, and he’s been very supportive, but we’re not in a place to start talking about kids. I’m doing this for myself, rather than for a relationship. 


For the last five years, I’ve been literally thinking about it every couple of months, but it never seemed the right time. I was young, I was partying, then I got into the tech sector and was working really hard in the city. I didn’t have a month to set aside. But then everything changed. I decided to leave tech, and join my Mom and Dad in growing their family business. I moved back to Stamford, and all of a sudden I had a new work life balance (and a boss) that was fine about me working from my “boffice” (bed-office) for a little while. 

 

I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m super active, and it was very hard to put all of my natural endorphin-producing activities on hold.

 

Because I am young, the fertility drugs worked really well–almost too well–on me. I ended up retrieving 27 eggs. That’s great, but it meant that I was really hormonal, and experienced a lot of discomfort from the bloating. They tell you it will just take two weeks, but it doesn’t–it’s a solid 4 week effort. They put me on the pill at first (to control when I got my period), and even the hormones in the pill immediately affected me. Then, when I started injecting the stimulant hormones, my follicles started growing really rapidly, and they had to put me on other drugs to slow me down. I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m super active, and it was very hard to put all of my natural endorphin-producing activities on hold. Some body-image issues came up. This is all to say that I had so many things going for me–a mother who’d been through this, family support, my own health, an excellent retrieval result–and it was still way more challenging than I anticipated. The most difficult days were actually after the retrieval, because I had to be extremely careful of twisting since my ovaries had been punctured so much. I was in a lot of discomfort. I spent a lot of time lying down telling myself to be easy on myself. 

 

 

I worked with a fertility clinic in Connecticut and for my first consultation I talked to my doctor, which was great, but then I basically didn’t see her again. It was an accident that she was in the clinic on the day I had my eggs retrieved. The clinic nurses are working 4 days a week, and there’s no way their work schedule will sync up with what’s happening with you. The injection information they gave me was out of date and confusing, and because I started on a Saturday, there was no one to ring. No one. So I paid out of pocket for a virtual nurse to talk me through the injections[who I found through Prima and let me say, it was the best money I have ever spent. She made every difference. I could ask her 1000 questions. Having someone who knows what is what and is actually with you for the journey–it made me feel not alone. She walked me through the whole month, basically, in virtual consultations.

 

There is absolutely no taboo around IVF in our family. And yet, maybe we didn’t anticipate how we might be generationally out-of-sync in how we each dealt with the process.

 

This question of who supports you and how they can support you is really interesting to me. I think my Mom had a little bit of shock, watching me go through the process. She’s just super tough, and I think she wanted me to be stoic in the same way. There was a little bit of denial that I was feeling turmoil, or that maybe my experience was different from hers, or that it wasn’t as easy as she wanted it to be. She came over for the trigger shot though, and she brought my packages in, brought food, and we sat on the sofa and watched movies, and it was really good –there was empathy. As a young child, I remember attending her ultrasounds. I did a project on surrogacy for health class in 5th grade! We were always open about my brother’s beginnings. There is absolutely no taboo around IVF in our family. And yet, maybe we didn’t anticipate how we might be generationally out-of-sync in how we each dealt with the process. It took a moment to work out that alignment.  


But now it all feels super connected. I moved home to work in the family business and I’ve committed to a future where family is possible no matter where my career takes me. My career and life choices feel mutually affirming right now, which is something I’ve never experienced before. 

 

   

 

March 2024   
 
Written by Jenni Quilter. Jenni Quilter teaches at New York University. Her most recent books are Hatching: Experiments in Motherhood and Technology and New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight, for which she was a finalist for the 2014 AICA Award for Best Criticism. She has written for the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Times Literary Supplement (London), Poetry Review, and the London Review of Books.

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