While I always wanted to be a young mum and have a family, after two failed long-term relationships in my twenties, I found myself in my early thirties thinking about egg freezing. But it was one of those things to get around to “one day” when I’d have time.
While my sister’s friends were talking about IVF, it wasn’t something my friends were thinking about, let alone talking about. We were single or too old or not interested or not ready.
Upon finding out that I was BRCA positive, the question of preservation fertility started to come into focus.
During a Pink Hope Information & Support Day, a fertility specialist started discussing the importance of older women freezing their eggs as an insurance policy for their future.
Boldly, I put my hand up and asked him on his definition of ‘old’ was. He said 30. I was now 33 years of age.
My plans about prophylactic double mastectomy were not really set in concrete, I had some decisions to make as to whether I waited until after (if anytime) I had a family. This all changed when my sister was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and was put into medical menopause overnight, losing her opportunity to grow her family.
I now knew I had to act fast. She was doing everything right and it hit her. I had to now do something with gift of knowledge, time and opportunity. Not only for me but for her.
Armed with my knowledge, I now had a plan. The first step was to finish renovations in order to prepare my house, get fit and healthy and strong for surgery, Egg freezing, holiday, prophylactic mastectomy, exchange reconstruction. All in one year.
However, life again doesn’t always go to plan. I had so much going on the egg freezing was not something I felt I was ready to do. The breasts had to come off first in order to reduce at least some of my risk.
Eventually, following my mastectomy, I went to my local IVF clinic to discuss harvesting my eggs to ensure that one day, whether I met the right partner or not, I would be able to have a baby.
To date, I’ve undergone two rounds of IVF with successful egg harvesting and freezing. It is not until they are embryos do, they undergo genetic testing to determine whether they carry the BRCA2 gene. For the time being, I’m taking a rest to think about if I will go for another round or whether I simply try to go naturally.
I’m tired, my body is exhausted, and the journey has been overwhelming, but I plan to do one more round of IVF to secure a few more eggs in the hope that this will bring me some viable embryos to use to become a mother that are healthy, and hopefully BRCA free.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, because looking back now, I wish the IVF process was something I’d started back in my twenties, when I was younger, more physically resilient with time on my side. But as life would have it, I wouldn’t have been able to fund it at such a young age.
Since beginning the IVF journey, I’ve met someone. While he has been supportive, I’ve been focused on doing my egg harvesting for me and my own future. It’s lonely sometimes, especially when he wasn’t around for the second surgery due to work. You’re undergoing a “couple thing” but alone and financially by yourself. This is why I’ve reached out to friends and family and Pink Hope to support me.
Now I’m having a rest and will look at the next stage next year. Perhaps IVF and egg / gene selection with partner. He is slowly educating himself and been very helpful in sharing different perspectives. It’s hard introducing this stuff early on in the relationship, but also, my mind is at rest knowing I’ve done what I need to do to do it alone if I need to.
I am excited by my future; whether this brings me a baby via IVF or naturally.
All I hope is for a future which includes me holding my own baby and welcome them into a loving home where we will experience the ups and downs of family life together. I want to experience the joys that I witness my sister and her family go through as a mother myself.
As I reflect back on the past, I wish fertility, like saving for a house, was a conversation that our generation were spoken to about. Fertility is not a guarantee, and putting aside the money and time to learn about this, what is involved and just how important this process is if you are serious about having a future family is something I truly believe should be the top of every 20-something’s agenda’s. Because you never know when it might be taken away from you.