I actually have no qualms with Valentines Day whatsoever, unfortunately this was the day I found out my options, now the date is forever etched in my brain. So, for me, the message truly applies.
At 20 weeks old (even before you are actually born), you have 2 million eggs, 2 million! This is just one of the crazy facts that I have learned in the last 2 weeks of my life. This particular fact I learned during my conversation with my specialist when we were discussing what my results actually meant.
He started off by telling me about egg reserve in general and then told me more about what AMH actually tells us. He then went on to tell me what my AMH level meant for me.
Most women who do a round of IVF, because of their eggs being hyper stimulated will produce between 16-20 eggs per cycle. Half of those would be able to be fertilized. With my results it means that I would only produce 6 eggs or less, half of which may be able to be be fertilized. Not great, however, not nothing. He also told me that this number could possibly be an indication of early onset menopause….eeekkkk…..let’s not even go there yet!
The specialist then stated that if I was in a relationship, he would tell me to ‘Go ahead, and try to get pregnant’. However because I am single, it was more of a social (my god, seriously, in this day and age?) and a financial decision. I had him stumped. This obviously made my blood boil but being in shock and faced with all of this jargon and the news being relatively new to me , I held it in to process it, all the while thinking ‘If you would tell someone in the same situation who was in a couple to go and try to get pregnant, why wouldn’t you be telling me the same thing?’ Granted I am single but from my limited experience at the time, there are ways around that. Ways I hoped that he would talk to me about.
That left us with a bit of a stalemate….we went around and around talking about things until I finally was able to get 2 clear cut options out of him.
Option #1 – Egg freezing
This would involve having IVF, retrieving the eggs, freezing them and storing them. Sounds simple enough however due to my lack of eggs I would have to do AT LEAST 2 rounds at between NZD$11,000 – $13,000 a pop (then you would have to factor in the pre tests and flights home). Also he informed me that when you thaw the eggs they are not as good as ‘fresh’ ones. Who’s the chicken now? So if all went well from 2 rounds of IVF I would produce 12 eggs, 6 would be viable and then when I unfreeze them maybe half or all would not be good quality. Not such good odds there.
The specialist told me this option would obviously be time and money heavy. I would have to be on the pill so they could control my cycle, I would have to have a battery of tests to ensure everything else was ok (around $NZD2000), then I would have injections to turn off the natural body signals, then injections of hormones. The whole process taking around 2 months and I would have to be in Christchurch for at least 2 weeks.
I then went on to ask about ‘the oven’. My worry, after reading a few articles on egg freezing over the summer, was that it isn’t just the egg factor, it is the age of the body factor as well. Brilliantly I had some great news there – he reassured me that it is overwhelmingly the age of the egg that is the biggest factor not the ‘oven itself’.
The timing issues because of me living overseas and only having set holidays would involve a lot of pre organization – ovulation tracking with scans, counting and planning date for harvesting, more blood tests, pelvic exams, ultrasounds – all the fun stuff. Luckily I have a great clinic nearby in China, with great staff and fantastic turn around time. My specialist could send a PDF of the tests that would be needed and I could check with my clinic if they could do it, saving time and ensuring that when I was back for the 2 weeks, all would run smoothly.
The specialist was also quick to tell me that the fertility nurses on staff were amazingly knowledgeable and dealt with a range of scenarios and sorted all the timings so they would be in contact soon.
Option #2 – Sperm Donation
Two weeks in and that still makes me laugh whenever I talk about it or say it because it comes so naturally now and is so weird that I talk about it in regards to me!
It took awhile for my specialist to really put out this option. I had had enough of stories of single women going it alone and it not working out successfully e.g. in the words of him ‘having a romanticized idea of parenthood’, ‘a mentally challenged child’, having to quit work and stay at home etc. I understand I need to be told both sides of the coin however ‘My god!’, this is the first conversation we are having. I just need the options. Save your negative stories and scare tactics for later when it has all sunk in.
After I finally got up the balls to tell him that I really wanted to have my own child and that I wanted to explore all the options I had to do that before I even looked into other ways to become a Mum, he finally started talking. He told me that this (sperm donation), would be the cheapest option however I would be committing myself to having a child on my own (well, obviously!). It would involve artificial insemination (AI), I could do it immediately, it would have to be timed with my natural cycle, I would have to be off the pill for 2-3 cycles to check ovulation, then timed for natural egg release…and then it is pretty much for lack of a better explanation as he put it ‘a substitution for intercourse’, (AKA ‘turkey basting’). Lovely.
Because his clinic did not have a ‘back catalogue’ of donations, they could do AI however I would have to find my own donor or use a donor bank (he suggested Fertility Associates). The problems being: the request for sperm donors is not high, there is a long wait, certain legalities and now donation is open meaning the child can find out about their father later on (this, I really, really liked to hear).
So with 2 options at the ready I felt better prepared and just damn right relieved that I now had a direction to go in and that I actually was a lucky one who had some options.
I also asked him a few questions that some friends had suggested I ask.
#1 – Does the pill effect the result of AMH?
I was told that the pill is not harmful or does not effect the result of the AMH test.
#2 – Is there anyway to improve egg quality?
I was told no, just the usual things like not drinking high levels of alcohol (damn it!), no drugs (easy peasy), eat well (oh man! There goes those yummy Great Leap burgers and it’s back on the Weight Watchers band wagon I go), exercise and to make sure I am getting the right nutrients. Well that sucks, doctors orders to get healthy, you can’t really argue with that.
One of my final questions was:
#3 – Going off the results of the AMH, when would I have to do something to ensure that I have the best chance?
His answer (and the answer I have had from most specialists over the last few weeks) was:
‘Within the next year, as every 6 months things decrease’
Yay, fun! Roll on the next few months of playing fact finder, scenario builder and putting the puzzle pieces together to form an answer. This is not how I pictured my 2016 when I was calling it in on New Years.
I have always wanted to be a Mum but I have to be honest I have always thought I would have a child with Mr Right.
So, over the next few months I really am faced with trying to answer the most monumentous questions I have faced yet, because in reality I have limited time and need to make a decision soon.
Do I want to be a Mum now?
Do I still want to wait for Mr Right?
At this point, who knows.