My Fertility Journey: Freezing My Eggs at 26

sapphire egg freezing 1920 x 1080

Last Updated on February 21, 2024

Like many women, I aspire to be a mother someday. At just 26 years old, however, today is not the day. I still have a lot to do before I become a doting parent, filling my days with baby snuggles, preschool drop-off lines, and unlimited episodes of “Bluey.” Right now, my life is about building my brand with the Heartbreakers podcast, my editor position here at Thrissle, and putting in work as a social media influencer and content creator. While my career is my main focus for now, I still want a storybook ending with an amazing partner and a wonderful life filled with happy children and, of course, my beautiful fur babies. And while I know my fairytale will happen someday, things don’t always happen according to the timeline we imagine.


My Story

As I pictured my life five, ten, and even 15 years down the line, I started thinking seriously about freezing my eggs now to ensure my reproductive future. Thousands of women undergo this process in the United States every year, and while it’s not for everyone, my reproductive history makes it worth a serious look.

I struggle with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), stage three endometriosis, and fibroids. For those of you who did not attend medical school or have never struggled with the disorder, like myself and millions of other women worldwide, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition in which the ovaries accumulate tiny cysts that contain eggs. But instead of the eggs moving on to ovulate, they stall and secrete male hormones into the blood.

Endometriosis is a condition in which cells similar to those in the uterus lining grow outside the uterus. It can cause prolonged pelvic pain during the menstrual cycle. Think cramps x 10 because the tissue designed to expel the egg is outside the uterus.

On their own, any of these issues could affect my ability to get pregnant when the time comes. Put all these conditions together, however, and the odds are even less in my favor. Knowing this, my doctors encouraged me to freeze my eggs before turning 30, and because I want children someday, I decided to take their advice. Once I was set on egg retrieval and freezing, I immediately felt super excited and confident that I had made the right decision for my future.

patient and doctor

The Beginning of My Journey

My first appointment started off a little weird, with a fan asking for a selfie after his wife got called back. It would have been acceptable to ask for a photo almost anywhere else, but not here. 

I was already feeling vulnerable; I had six miscarriages before age 26 and am in chronic pain most days due to my Endometriosis, which is slowly destroying my reproductive system. It’s been extremely hard, both physically and emotionally, to keep this part of my body healthy, especially because medical research on women’s reproductive issues still has such a long way to go.

The appointment started with an ultrasound to count my eggs; they found 20 on each side. Next, I had some bloodwork done to check my hormone levels and see if they matched my egg count. They also started me on birth control for ten days to help gather my eggs. Personally, I hate being on birth control because I tend to have side effects like acne.

My second appointment was a little more stressful. The doctor confirmed my egg count was accurate according to my bloodwork. They wanted me on birth control for ten days, then off for five days, to give them more control over where I am in my cycle. Basically, they were trying to force my period to start around the time I would be starting my first day of shots. 

Getting My Body Ready

Five days after starting my first shot, the nurse told me I needed to go on a strict, no-carb, no-sugar diet. They explained that I’m more at risk for ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome because of my POCS, and cutting sugar and carbs helps with bloating and prevents Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). They also started me on a prenatal vitamin and Metformin twice daily to lower my blood sugar levels.

After a few days of no carbs and sugar, I started feeling weak from changing my diet and going on and off birth control within 15 days. Plus, the Metformin made me feel even sicker. I had diarrhea multiple times a day, which I could tell was affecting my nutrition levels. It doesn’t take much to make me underweight, but the doctor said it was nothing to worry about. 


Day 1 – The First Shot

On the first day of my shots, I injected 150 grams of Gonal-F into my abdomen with no real side effects. I felt exhausted, though cutting carbs and sugar helped boost my energy a bit. I completely cut them out, including high-carb veggies and fruit. On the third day, we checked my hormone levels with bloodwork and an ultrasound to see how my eggs were growing and developing. I was on track, and everything looked good, so I wrapped up the day with another 150-gram Gonal-F shot in the evening.

On the fourth day, I felt tired and nauseous, plus I had a severe case of brain fog. It’s hard to explain, but I almost felt like I had pregnancy brain because I was forgetting things and constantly feeling anxious. I think the emotional stress of everything I was going through, plus being behind on my period, taking new meds, and staying on my strict diet, was taking a toll. Despite how bad I felt, I still did another 150 grams of Gonal-F that evening.

At this point, sex was still possible and comfortable, though I kept it to a minimum due to my ovaries swelling from the enlarging eggs.

Day 5: I went in for an ultrasound and blood work. They gave me anti-nausea medications because my nausea had gotten so bad that I had to carry a vomit bag in my purse while in the waiting room and in the Uber. Still, I had to give myself another shot of Gonal – F.

Day 6: By day six, I had lost six pounds and felt tired and nauseous. My stomach was also tender to the touch, and walking had become quite uncomfortable.

Day 7: For some reason, they didn’t have me come in for an ultrasound and blood work like we originally planned. My side effects were worsening, just as they had been daily until now. My stomach was sore and swollen, but I was surprisingly positive and happy. My little sister was around to help, and I was still very excited to complete this process.

Day 8: I went in for blood work, which came back the same day, and let us know that my estrogen level was very high. I was supposed to start taking other shots the next day or so, but they advised me not to because of the high estrogen readings. My eggs were also growing well, so I didn’t need the additional shots – Menotropin and Pregnyl.

Day 9: I went in for bloodwork and an ultrasound. I was in a lot of pain; my back and ovaries were killing me, and walking in for my ultrasound was hard. My ovaries were so swollen that they were almost touching each other. Usually, you ovulate with one egg, but I was basically going through ovulation 50 times, 25 on each side. The nurses said they were surprised at how well I was doing, though I was in so much pain that it was hard for them even to do my ultrasound. I was also concerned that the clinic wasn’t looking after me properly because I felt my symptoms could be a sign that I had developed Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).

Day 10: The egg retrieval was two days away, and my estrogen level was clocking in at 10,000 pg/mL. They gave me an oral medication to try to lower it overnight. That evening I also had my trigger shot, Lupron, which had to be administered at exactly 11:15 p.m. This shot burned as it surged through my veins, and the injection site felt a little itchy, which is normal.

Day 11: At 11:15 am, I took my final shot, another Lupron dose. I was beyond ready to have my egg retrieval by this point, as I was so exhausted from running around, and all the medications were affecting my day-to-day life. I knew I had one more blood test to face in the morning, but my time as a human pincushion was almost over—not a moment too soon. 

The Big Day

I was super excited once day twelve rolled around. It had been a long journey, and I was more than ready to get to the finish line. They put me to sleep for surgery, and when I woke up, I was in the worst pain I had ever been in. They gave me two rounds of fentanyl, which is unexpected considering I’ve had a very high pain tolerance through this whole process. I’ve had plenty of surgeries and never needed pain meds, so the pain had to be unbearable for me to need something so strong. 

Once the anesthesia wore off, they asked me to pee so they could ensure my bladder was working before I left. I was able to go, but the pain was extreme, even with the Fentanyl flowing through my IV as I sat in the bathroom. It felt like my uterus and ovaries were going to fall out, but at least the egg retrieval was finally done.

Once home, I tried using a heating pad and the pain medicine the doctor gave me, but it wasn’t working. The clinic called me with my final account, and they retrieved 60 eggs. I was in horrible pain and wondered why I needed 60 eggs when I could’ve had 20 to 30 and been in less pain. I don’t know why they went with such a high number, though eggs mature at different stages and not all will be viable. Plus, my eggs were to be unfertilized at freezing, which can also shorten their shelf life. Either way, 60 still seemed like a lot. 

The Day After the Procedure

On day thirteen, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even put how bad I felt into words. I had been constipated since a few days before my surgery, and the pain medications were making it worse. I contacted my doctor ASAP because I needed help with the constipation pain, but I didn’t hear back immediately. It was so bad that I couldn’t sleep or get comfortable. I could only lay in the fetal position and crawl to get to the bathroom. I couldn’t eat and barely managed to sip water.

Day 14: I was still on Metformin and an additional medication to lower my estrogen levels. The pain worsened, and my stomach was so bloated that I looked four months pregnant. I could not burp, have a bowel movement, or get out a single drop of gas. I was constantly vomiting, but it offered no relief because I was only throwing up sips of water and stomach acid. I was so scared at this point. I contacted my doctor’s office five times for help, and they kept telling me someone would call me back. I could feel my body shutting down.

Day 15: Things got a lot worse because it felt like my bladder wasn’t working. My back was swollen, and I gained about eight pounds in 12 hours. At the start of my journey, the nurses told me I should go to the ER for anything over two pounds, so I was way over that number. The doctor’s office still hadn’t returned my calls, and I was in so much pain that I was unsure how to get in the Uber to go to the ER. The pain was so bad that I had to crawl to the Uber. I mostly had to stay in the fetal position, even in the car and ER waiting room. 

Once I was checked in, they called me back immediately. They ran tons of tests and found that I had fluid around both my ovaries, uterus, kidneys, and throughout my abdomen. They gave me intense pain medications to get me through the night so I could have emergency surgery in the morning. Thankfully, the ER doctor finally reached my doctor, who made it very clear that she wanted to be the one to drain the fluid for some reason.

I left the hospital first thing the next morning and went to my doctor for surgery. Honestly, all I could think about was being put to sleep because it was so much for me to handle, and I was already feeling wrecked.

When I woke up from the second surgery, they informed me I would likely need another procedure, which we immediately did. 

The fluid buildup was so extreme that it restricted my heart and lungs to the point where I could have died. Miraculously, it felt like night and day after the last surgery. I started to balance back out and almost instantly felt better. It was just such a relief not to be in so much pain and to have control over my body again. I thought my journey would go differently. No one told me the horror stories of what could happen beforehand, and I still don’t know why my doctors let it get to the point where my life was in danger. I still have more questions than answers, but I also have 60 healthy eggs in the freezer. I am grateful for that and for the fact that I had the means to do this. 

Now that all is said and done, I think there needs to be more open dialogue and a lot more care surrounding the egg retrieval process. I hope what I’ve shared will bring to light some of the risks and let anyone who has experienced anything like this know they’re not alone. It’s not all roses and sunshine; this is a serious procedure, and one size does not fit all.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Like it? Share with your friends!