On this episode, Kelly chats with Bradley Norwood, Theta Gamma, as she shares her experience with egg cryopreservation. If you want to learn more, you can contact Bradley directly at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: This transcript was developed with an automated transcription program, spelling and grammar errors may occur.
Welcome to the Alpha Connect Sisterhood Series podcast. I'm your host, Kelly McGinnis Beck, national president. This podcast is all about sharing the stories of our members and our connection through Alpha Sigma Alpha. Thank you for joining us today. Welcome to the podcast, Bradley
Right. Thanks for having me.
I'm excited to have you here. So before we get into the topic of our podcast, let's start with, how I start with everybody, which is tell us your AΣA story. How did you become a member? Where did you become a member? School chapter, tell us everything.
Great. So I joined Alpha Sigma Alpha in Spring of 2006 at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, the Theta Gamma chapter. And before I joined, I was what one might call an always joiner. I always knew that I wanted to be in a sorority from just like hearing people talk about it, and knowing people that were in sororities, and my older sister was in a sorority. So I definitely knew that that was what I wanted to do when I got to college. And I will say, I had a very close knit freshman hall. And we were very close. And I had lots, made lots of friends right off the bat. And so when formal recruitment came along, I definitely was one of the only people from my home that wanted to join. And I went and went through that formal recruitment process. And I really enjoyed it. Came down to two, Alpha Sigma Alpha just felt like my home, I will say it was a younger chapter, they were only about four years old, which was something I had to pivot in my mind, I thought, all sororities while Alpha Sigma Alpha had been founded in 1901. I thought that all the sororities were that old. But Christopher Newport is a younger college. So I had to sort of shift my mindset a little bit. And they don't have, they didn't know they do, they didn't have houses at CMU. And so it was a different experience than I thought that I thought I was going to have, but and my freshman year, I will have to say, didn't get very involved. I had that close Hall, and I didn't want to leave, doing fun things with them. And so it really wasn't until my sophomore year that I started to go to more events and get more involved. And then that year is when I took a leadership position within the chapter and got really involved, and really more invested and you know, they really do say that you get the most out of the experience that you like, try to have. And so I feel like that was the exact experience I had, the more I put into it, the more I got out of it. And so then I became president of my sorority, my junior and senior year. And that led me to being a leadership consultant. And so for the 2009-2010 school year, I traveled for Alpha Sigma Alpha as a leadership consultant. And one of the best experiences of my life I learned so much you get to see so much of the sorority and the sisterhood. And the different experiences, every college could have a very different experience and chapter life and so I loved getting to do that. And that's sort of, and then I volunteered a little bit after that, as like a, I can't really remember all the structures of what things were but more so, more so a recruitment to regional recruitment,
Volunteer. But so I did that, yeah.
So go back to, so you went through formal recruitment, remind me is CNU a fall formal recruitment or spring?
Spring formal recruitment.
Okay. So you came in as a second semester freshman, you said your sister is also in a sorority? Was that sorority on campus or no?
That sorority was not on campus. She's a member of Tri Delta. And so also, I do remember her very vaguely asking, I'm not sure who's our Greek advisor was at that point. But asking if we could bring Tri Delta on to the campus. I was like it's a little more involved than that. That you'll find a sisterhood that you like here, but
That is true.
Well, we have, we have the Tri Delta connections and Ida Shaw Martin was our national president, which is one of the founders of Tri Delta so that it's funny.
I love that. One other fun fact was that Leah Dooley Eickhoff was our Greek advisor at CNU. So it was nice having her there and sort of getting her to interact with our chapter. And I just loved having that connection with Leah.
I was gonna ask if if you had overlapped with her at some point, because I remember she had served in that role at that campus first for a period of time. I just couldn't remember when it was.
Sure. Yeah, I think she came either my sophomore year or junior year, but she was definitely there. From the time that I was interviewing to become a leadership consultant. I'm not sure how, exactly how much longer she stayed at CNU after I left. But we overlapped for at least a couple of years.
Okay. And I'm guessing your sister maybe went to a larger school since you said you kind of had a thought of like you were going to have a house and this kind of experience and CNU is a different campus. And so we've got a variety of campuses, right. Some with houses, some you know, most don't. I certainly went to a school that didn't have houses. So there's a different experience to have than what you see on TV and are kind of led to believe.
But I still think there's a fulfilling experience, regardless of that house.
Oh, yes, definitely. Yeah, she went to University of Maryland, the state that were from, she also I learned a lot from her more about the Panhellenic side. She did a lot of she was on Panhellenic Council and was involved and so had lots of friends in other sororities and volunteered and was involved in that way. So that was nice to sort of see that it's certainly not rivalries, and everyone gets along. And it's it was a nice kind of view into that world as well.
I see that certainly, at the national level, obviously,
I meet with the other 25 International presidents. And so both the previous national president for Tri Delta and the current one, we've all become really good friends.
Yeah, I bet. I mean, some of my best friends, now, were in other organizations or other sororities. And it was just we always talked about, we had, I'm sure it's changed, but they would talk about this point process to make sure that we were upstanding, and all the chapters were being involved in certain ways and meeting certain criteria. And so when we were at different events, there was always different organizations represented, and ours was called Sage. And so people would say, like, oh, we should be getting Sage points for this, Sage points for that, because it really, particularly at CNU at the time that I was there, I just felt like the, the inner sorority relationships and fraternities were just really strong. And that's something I valued a lot. A lot of those people I'm still good friends with.
It's just that it's always great to hear somebody have a very positive sorority experience, and, you know, InterFraternity experience as well, especially in today's day and age.
Yeah. So, yeah, it was great. I loved it.
Good. Yes, obviously. And you went on to be a consultant. I knew that part.
I mean, I knew you had been volunteering for quite some time as well. But so why don't we hop in to what prompted me to reach out to you, which was an Instagram post that you did a little while ago, that you had gone through, and I'm going to try to get this right, an egg cryopreservation procedure, which I think in layman's terms we tend to refer to as egg freezing, is that right?
Yes, I too, have to constantly remind myself the technical term, egg cryopreservation. So we can for today hope we could just talk about freezing.
That sounds great. So I remember, you know, when you posted it, your intent in putting that out there was, you know, hey, I want to let other people know about what this is and why I chose to and it prompted me to say, you know, I bet our members would have an interest in that. Because certainly whoever you're connected to on Instagram saw your story. So I thought, you know, this would be a great opportunity to push this out to more people, especially if they're thinking about it or wondered about the process. So what maybe start with kind of what prompted you to choose to go down this path and decide that this was the right thing for you to do? Because it's certainly recognized as an individual decision to make.
Yeah, definitely a very personal decision. So I think that it was the right decision for me because at this point in my life, I, I would like to have children with a partner. I think that's something that's important to me, if I have children, I want a partner to do it with and I don't have a partner right now, where that could happen and call it the next two, three years. I know that I also am at an age that things happen quickly. It's, there's not necessarily a timeline on it, but at this point in my life... sure, I am 33 I'll be 34 in this month. So definitely, I mean, I like to think I don't feel old or and...
I don't think that I am not old, but statistically at 30 and 35, women's fertility does tend to decrease that biological talk clock that they talk about, unfortunately, it for some people can be a real thing. And when I first started talking to the fertility doctor, she said, I can go in and look at the different markers for you, and everything can look a certain way. And very soon later, things could look very different. And we can't tell you why. So while, I am young things could change at that 35 marker, or 34, or 36, whatever that marker may be, things could change. And they don't know why. So I felt like this was a good time for me to go in and see how things are looking. And then talk to the doctor about the options. I will say, when I first started the process, I thought she was going to I thought they were going to look at my fertility health and say like, Oh, you look great, or come back in a few years, or, Oh, things don't look so great, we should probably start this process now. And she said things look great, we need to do this. Because I can't tell you in a year, if you come back what things will look like, and I can't tell you why I can't tell you: eat this certain food or, or take this certain medicine or exercise three days a week, there's just not something that they can tell you that will change. It's gonna change. It's just going to change.
Did someone, did, like, how, how did the thought get in your head and you get to the process of looking into this? Was it a conversation you had with someone? Or was it just your own research and knowing that you at some point in the future would want to have children, and you know, what, how do you best set up yourself that you can do that? I guess thats the best way to say it.
I think I had sort of heard the term float around, I, it was always in the back of my head. But it did get more prompted from a conversation I had with my aunt, my godmother. And so that was in the fall of 2020. So a little over a year ago, just like is that something that you think you'd want to do? Like what's holding you back from it? Do you think it's something you should look at in a few years. And so that sort of like got it in my head that maybe it could be more manageable than I thought. I mean, I knew that it was going to be a pricey investment. But I didn't really know how much I had a number in my head that just seemed really intangible. And so I just put it on the back burner, but she sort of got me thinking maybe I should look into it, maybe it's not quite what I'm thinking. And then in early spring of this year, I was with some friends and some people were just making comments about infertility and age and I have to admit, I really left that friend setting feeling really low. And just because people were talking about struggling to get pregnant, and that they're, they think their age has something to do with it. And I was like, Well, I'm like the only one have any prospects and like I like want to have kids what if in a few years, it's not going to be an option. And so after that interaction is when I really took that first step and looking up the places in the area that I could do this process and started the research process and set up a consultation appointment after that for a few months out from that interaction. But that's what really sort of prompted the initial booking of the appointment.
I think that's interesting, because interesting from the perspective of how many of us don't think about that, at any point in time. Like I've heard people say it here or there or they're not necessarily, you know, planning it and thinking ahead like you are and probably there's more women out there that say, Oh, if I would have realized this back then things could potentially be different. So can you share a little bit about what the process is like?
Sure. So initially, I did a little bit of research on the facilities that do the treatment. And so it's a fertility clinic. So I went to the same place someone who is struggling to have a child is and wants to like have a baby at the end of the process. And so there's two in this area that I'm not sure if they're how nationally or if they're just regionally one was called Shady Grove fertility and one is called Dominion fertility and so I chose to work with Dominion fertility, which is out of Arlington, Virginia. but they have offices here in Bethesda, Maryland. And so I made a consultation appointment. And so I've met with a doctor in June. And Doc, her name is Dr. Sarajari. And in that appointment, I had an ultrasound, blood work and a consultation with a doctor to talk about what I wanted, why I wanted to do it, what the process would be like. And then a few weeks later, I went back to get the results from that bloodwork and from the ultrasound. And so in the ultrasound, she sort of gave me my like, baseline of like my fertility health, that, at that second appointment by looking at my hormone levels and my like the number of follicles that she could see on each side of the ovaries during the ultrasound. And so she said, my fertility health, and it's not like a, a, b, c is not 100, or like 70, there, I was thinking there was going to be some more a number that she could give me.
She said, a score. And she just said your fertility health is good for your age and your lifestyle, you have a very good fertility health. And that's when she I thought she would say, come back in a few years. But she explained that she could come back in six months and things could look different. I could come back in a year and things could look different. And she couldn't tell me. And so I talked to her about like the different things I had going on this year. And sort of when I wanted to maybe do the process because you do have to work backwards. I knew I wanted to have the procedure in like late October and early November. So you do have to look at like your cycle to see when like you would start the process based off of your menstrual cycle.
That's always fun. They always say, So when was the last time you had your menstrual cycle? And I'm always like, oh, for the love of God, I don't know. And they're like, here's a calendar. I'm like, You think I remember that that well? Now, Apple Health has an app where you can track it. And ever since then, like, I'm always happy when they go in and they ask and I'm like, hold on, let me open up my phone and open up this app.
And I can tell you.
And I can tell you, but before that I'd be like, I don't know in regular like...
So I can imagine trying to schedule backwards that way.
And you do have to, and this happened to me too. I'm a planner. And so you do have to be flexible, which not always my strong suit. But I did in my head, just tell yourself, you do have to be sort of flexible, because and I can explain in a little bit, you do have to go in at certain points of time to get monitored.
And so basically, so after all of that, that was the consultation in June, and I said, you know, I do think I want to move forward with this. And then I spent July and August doing research on not research but like contacting pharmacies to, to talk to see how much the medications were because each pharmacy is different. So July and August were spent doing that like work and putting together some spreadsheets and talking to the pharmacist and also applying for what's called a compassionate care program. So there are some programs out there that are income based that can give you assistance on just the medication part, which is comparable to the procedure parts. What I found at Dominion fertility was there's different options. And so the egg freezing process through the doctors was and I have it here just to make sure I'm getting the numbers right for one cycle was $6,750. So that's one price and then you also have your medication price. And that can range anywhere from $5000 to $9,000 per cycle.
Okay, and is that like the typical fertility drugs they give women who are struggling like Clomid and things like that or is different.
Yes. So I can't speak to the Clomid only I can only speak to Clomid as I've know some friends that have used it. I did that's not part of this cycle. But basically I did go through the IVF cycle and then even show a flowchart like I went through IVF and then a woman would have the implantation of and like they would put the sperm and the egg and create the embryo and clamp it back in whereas mine I stopped and they froze my eggs. So it was the same process and medications that you use up until that process
Instead of putting something in there taking things out.
Yeah, so they would always take the eggs out for a woman doing IVF and fertilize them and then we put them back in hopes to get pregnant. So they took my eggs out. And instead of fertilizing them, there was nothing to fertilize with because I don't have a partner. And I didn't want to do the egg, or a donor, that is an option. They just froze mine. And now mine are safely in Arlington, Virginia.
Under lock and key.
Under lock and key and hopefully frozen. Maybe just stay frozen
And march with your name on them.
Exactly. So yeah, the IVF process and the egg freezing process up until that point of either you want to have a baby and replant and then, implant I'm sorry, and or freezing, that's different. So you can imagine a woman who's trying to have, make a baby and is struggling, every cycle is that much money. So and I will say they do have some packages, at least for the egg freezing, I can not speak to the IVF process for anyone else. This is just what I, the information I was given. But you could do call it a multi-package. So it's call it I think it's here it says it's $13,350. And that will give you four cycles or 20, eggs, whatever comes first, because 20 eggs is what they're gearing to get. That's your best possible outcome for when they freeze, then unfreeze and then try to fertilize an implant having 20 eggs would give me the best possible outcome for percentage-wise,
And do they... Do they get that in one process? Or does it take more than one process?
Sure. So in the information that Dr. Sarajari shared with me is that when she went in to look at that first consultation, she could see the number of follicles in, in each ovary. And so at that time, I had 17, eight on one side and nine on the other. And so I said oh is that like every time? And she said no next month, you could have 5. Or you could have 30. Or you could have 35. And I could not tell you. Everything was like, I cannot tell you which I understand because it's the woman's body. And it's that's what it's producing.
But its so unpredictable for like,
One individuals body could be, I guess maybe that also, I want, does that, you might not know the answer to this. Does that tie to then how heavy or light your menstrual cycle is based on how many eggs or is that just something different?
I know, I don't know about that. That's a good thought. But I don't know.
But so I opted, you know, when you look at finances, I thought really long and hard. And I hope that this is a savings account that I have. And if I need it in the future, it will be there. But it was a decision I made that I can't go into debt beyond what I felt I was comfortable. And so I needed to do that. I chose to do that single cycle, and the single medications and I needed to be happy and feel good about whatever happened. And the rest was in whatever higher beings hands that is out there. And so I did feel good about that. And I got really, really lucky and I got 19 eggs out.
So I have 19 eggs frozen, which is really great. And I felt really wonderful about that. So I'm opted for this single one. Because if I had opted for the multi, they probably I wouldn't have gone through a whole nother process for one egg.
Sure. And so how long, how long are they able to freeze them for?
The research I did...10 years.
About. So that's why they say like 33 is a pretty good age to do it. 33, 34, 35 is what they would suggest doing it at from the information that I was reading.
Sure. And so is, you, and you don't have to answer this if you don't want to answer this because I realize it's a personal question. So is your thought then, you know, you down the road, you have a partner, would you automatically go and unfreeze those eggs and go that route? Or would you try naturally and that's kind of your backup in the event. You can't try naturally to have a child.
That, the later, I think my definite, I would definitely want to try naturally. And then this would be a-a backup if there were problems down the line. That's what I'm thinking. I also am you know life is, as so many know, is like very weird and things happen so quickly. And I also am glad to know that if I call it 10 years and I'm 43, and I don't have a partner, I mean, and I'm in a different place where I felt like I could support a child, I like knowing that I have the option that I could perhaps do it on my own as well.
It gives you that flexibility.
Exactly. This whole thing has just been about, like, freeing up, like stressors that could be there, because of the biological clock and time.
And I've had friends who have gone through IVF, and have struggled and all of that, and they talk about how stress especially plays such a huge factor when you're trying to get pregnant.
I would guess.
It's... It's unbelievable, I think for some people, and you know, they try and try and are struggling. And then when they finally think uh, it's not gonna happen. And lo and behold, that's when they end up getting pregnant, because they're no longer thinking about it and stressing about it. And whatever the impact that has on their body changes.
Definitely, I've heard the same thing and know people that have been trying for so long, and I wish that they well. And some people don't have the resources to do this. And so I feel I do feel blessed in that sense. But just knowing that it's an option, and it's science is so cool.
It is very cool. What was, so what has been the reaction from your Instagram posts, or as you share your story with friends and family? You know, what has been, I assume it's all been been positive. But what y'know, have you found a lot of people curious about it, or...
I would say definitely the post was much not that I thought it would be ill received. But I was just shocked at some of the people that reached out and posted and commented on it. And almost that I like to think they really paid attention to my social media. And it was fun to engage with people in that way. I'm not, I don't post a ton, its not like I have tons of followers. And this is something that I do a lot. So it was fun to see the reaction and hear people just being supportive, and also saying that they don't hear about this very often. And they were happy to see a post like that from someone they know and is their peer and the same age and stuff like that. So that was really nice. But definitely, overall really supportive. And it was fun to post on that. I-I... It was, It wasn't a huge decision. I didn't feel like that weird about it. But I don't put a ton of ton of personal stuff out on social media. It was definitely one of the more personal posts that I did. And so I there was a smidge of a pause before purchasing it. But I'm very, very happy that I did.
Well. I'm very happy you did. Because I didn't know. And so when I saw it, I thought well good for her. And then I also thought, Well, gosh, you're right. This is a story more women should know about and we're better to share that with other women, then here. So I'm glad we had the opportunity to do that here as well. Can I go back to some of the things that you brought up earlier?
So going back to you know, you looked at two different fraternal fertility clinics. And as you were making your decision, you know, what were the things, I'm thinking about this from: If I were listening to this podcast and curious about going down this path myself. What were the things that you were looking at, as you were making your decision about which fertility clinic to go to?
The biggest thing I looked at is, and to be honest, those are the only two that I really looked at, I felt like the consultation price at Dominion fertility was-was a really good deal. You know, it was $495 for the-the appointment, the ultrasound, the bloodwork and then a follow-up visit and I said, Okay, that's $500 I'm investing just to get information. And I felt okay about that in the, in the grand scheme of things. And then I looked a lot at their website on like, what seemed honestly like stock photos and like, just really impersonal and then what felt more authentic. I definitely felt like Dominion fertility felt more authentic. Just truly I-I'm sure people have very, very good experiences at Shady Grove. I've heard people use them. And I'm sure they have wonderful experiences, but I just felt like Dominion felt a little more homier from the website and then when I went for my appointment, I was thrilled because I was sitting in the waiting room and women were walking in when you're going through it, and I can speak to this more you have to go in every day at some point to get monitored bloodwork and an ultrasound as you're getting further along in the process. And when people, women would be walking into for their testing, the front desk person knew their name, the nurses were coming by and saying oh my God, you have, like, just knew about the women. And it just felt very personal. And so I really, really liked that. And I liked, I felt like I wasn't a number, I felt like I was like someone going through this process and they cared about it.
Yeah, I would imagine that. It's very personal. So I would imagine, that's an important piece. So there's not an opportunity really to, you know, kind of talk to a doctor and get a sense of the practice prior to that consultation?
Not to my knowledge I did speak with, when I made the appointment, sort of a coordinator that explained to me the process of that consultation appointment. And so I did ask her some questions. And she gave me a little bit of info, but the consultation appointment was definitely the first, like where we went through. And we looked at a flowchart and explained the process. And she asked why I was doing this and just went into the details of like, what the process would be.
Okay, that's helpful, hopefully helpful for our listeners. And you also talked about compassionate care. And so I know that because I work in the biotech pharmaceutical industry, but for those that don't, that is really applying directly through the pharmaceutical companies who are manufacturing the drugs and asking them and kind of going through there's a, there's a standard process that companies that offer this have so can you talk a little bit more about that component for people to understand?
Sure, definitely, it was given from the doctors, they were very encouraging of applying for this, I believe there was two different websites and the compassionate care is the one I remember more so. And basically, you apply and you submit your W-2's and some of your income information. And so it makes you eligible based off of your income to receive a percentage off of the medications. And it's done directly through the pharmacies. And so part of my research with the pharmacies was making sure they accepted compassionate care, or if they didn't, if they offered some sort of discount based off of the income. And so I reached out to five different pharmacies, which most of them did accept compassionate care program. But the one I actually ended up choosing was called RX, RA RX partners out of Tennessee. And they do wholesale price for all of their so I got the best deal and it was cheaper than or less expensive than with the compassionate care. For me, I'm not sure how it would be for other people.
And so that brings me to my other question, which is, I'm guessing insurance, health insurance did not cover any of the procedure or didn't cover parts of the procedure.
It did not cover any of the procedure. Part of my July-August, research plans was connecting with my insurance. And so basically, they said, it's an elective procedure, which I understand. And the only way they would cover part of it is if it was medically necessary, which this is 1,000% an assumption, but I think if like I was diagnosed with cancer, and I was going to go through chemo or radiation, and I wanted to freeze my eggs, because I was worried about losing some of them during that process, they would cover it, but I would have needed a medical indicator of that. So which I did not have.
Got it. And I know even on the IVF side, it is hit or miss whether your insurance company will cover it. I think often having worked in human resources and dealt with benefit packages, I think the standard package you get from an insurance company typically doesn't and the company itself has to decide if they're going to include that or not. And certainly ones that like to be self funded will include I think even a little bit more of those things than some of the ones that just take the more traditional off the shelf insurance package that they offer to employees. So it does get to be a little bit difficult, which is ironic when you think about you know, they cover the birth of the child's, and they have no problem covering other medications for men, but when it comes to women's health, still not on par.
Where it- where it- where it could be or maybe should be. Definitely. Yeah. So that was I was very, it was very easy to do to apply for the compassionate care. And I found out like, within an hour, they did it. So it was very easy. I ended up not not having to use it, which was nice, but I was really, really happy to see that there was some sort of option. I think they said it would range between 10% and call it 75% of what the medications were. So I mean, if you could get it at 75% of what the medications were, it would definitely make it more manageable. But for me, they, the standard that the, I worked with a health coordinator once I was like into the process, and so she came in and told me, you sort of always at the baseline order 12 days of each of the medication. And I did walk through with her in a different appointment, she came to my home. And it was an it was an added fee, but 1,000% worth it. But so we went through all of the medications and how to put the medications together and the injections and when I would be doing the night injections and how to like put the vials and then when I would move to the next medication and you do this at night, and then you have your trigger shot to trigger your ovulation before the procedure. So she walked through everything with me. And so that we ordered the 12 days of it. And so the reason they put a range $5,000-$9,000 on the medication is because at any point, they could say, instead of 250 units of menopur. Now we needed to put you at 325. And then your dosages could be off. So at any point you could have to order more medication throughout the process. Luckily, mine was exactly 12 days, which was really nice. So I used all of the medication that I ordered, and I only had a little bit that I then donated it because sometimes the the doctor's offices can throw some of the clients and extra dose if they have it. And they and they know that they're self-paying, so they don't have to reorder more medication.
Okay, so 12 days of medication. So is it, is that, is that the process where you take your medication, and then you're going to the fertility clinic each day. So can you share a little bit about like, what what did that look like? And are you working while you're doing this? Did you take off while you went through this process? What was what was that like?
Sure. So it starts when you, when you want, when you work backwards, as I said a while ago, though, when I sort of wanted the procedure to be, it really starts two periods before that. And so you email. So in when I had my period in September, I emailed the health coordinator and said I wanted to start. And so then you go three weeks into that after that period, you go into the office, and they take your blood, and you meet with health coordinator to go over the next call it four weeks of the process. And so I went in on that day, my day was October 8, and the blood work is to see if you've ovulated they want you to have ovulated at that point. So I had and so you start to call the S-strength tablets. And so it's just like sort of a hormone building of estrogen in your body. And so you take the S-strength until you get your period again. So for me, I got my period on October 15. And so then two days after you get your period, you go in for monitoring. So you have to I've told you about the being flexible. You have to go in on that day. And I was in Charleston at a wedding. So the flexibility in me had to book a flight home. And it was fine. But I had to go on that Sunday. And you sort your I mean, women you don't necessarily know when you're going to get your period. I literally had like planned it out, but it was not. Anyways...
You thought it would have been before that.
I thought it would have been after that and it would've been fine. But anyways, here we are. But so I went home and I went to that appointment on Sunday the 17th. And so that's an ultrasound and my blood work. And so then they're sort of looking to see how are how are things looking in there. And so on that day, they called me that afternoon. I went in call it at 830 in the morning on Sunday, and they said: Be on the lookout for an email to tell you if you're ready to start your they call the injections and like sort of a medication process. And so I was and so I started gonal f and menopur which are two injections into your belly. And those are like stimulate the follicle growth. And so I did that for three days. And then I went in, again for bloodwork and monitoring. And when they're doing the monitoring the ultrasound, they're sort of like you're seeing the eggs, or the follicles on the sides grow. And so I went in that Wednesday, and then Friday again. And then I went in Sunday. And then I went in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And those are at you can go in as early as 7am. And so they take about 15 minutes.
So I probably, I think I said, call it like eight days, I went in at 7am before work, I didn't take off work. I did tell my boss about it, just so she'd be aware. And then, again, the flexibility, they, as they're looking at you and monitoring the growth of the follicles, they decide when you need to take your trigger shot, when have they gotten big enough that they feel good, they want to grow these follicles, so they're really big and healthy. And so you do start to feel sort of like crampy and bloated. But I didn't feel any pain other than just like feeling full and like kind of uncomfortable. And so when they decide that the eggs are ready, they tell you to take your trigger shot. And so that could be anywhere between day 10 and day 12. And so then 36 hours after your trigger shot is when your procedure is. So I'd sort of knew my procedure for the egg extraction was going to be on Thur-, Friday or Saturday. And so most of that time, I thought it was going to be on Friday, they kept saying that, and then they pushed it another day. So I had in my head that I was working on Friday. And then I did end up working on Friday, but so a little flexibility. But that was easy flexibility. And so then on Saturday, and so once you do your trigger shot, you just end all the other medications, and then you go in, and you have for in this area where Dominion is you have to go to the Arlington office for the egg retrieval. And so I showed up an hour before, and I sort of sat in a waiting room for that hour, and then they come and because it's triggered and timed. You have to get go do the procedure at that exact time. So I took my trigger shot 11:15pm and 36 hours later at 1015. I was on the table getting geared up and they really did it right at 10:15am on that Saturday the 13th
Wow, this is very planned and detailed.
Very planned. Yes.
Yeah I was very- And I was, I will say me, so on the day that she did our sort of my, my injection lesson, I had my sister and my one of my sisters and my mom come just so that more people could hear it and I, one took notes while I listened and I just I am sort of surprised when we, one the class wasn't mandatory, they could have just shipped all of these injection medications and I just figured out how to do it which is a little I think that class should be mandatory if anyone is considering doing this process you should do the injection class.
Sounds like it's definitely worth it and have some friends to listen
And have some friends to listen, and, but so, I definitely, the, Yeah, it definitely was a lot and I think I did go through a little bit of roller coasters of emotions, particularly that October 8 appointment where they go through everything and you get a big packet of paperwork and I right now as we're talking just so I'm making sure I'm giving the right information looking at like a calendar and the A.M. shots and the P.M. shots. I that was like really the only time I sort of broke down and like was like wondering, like, is this the right thing? This is so much. How can I do this like I am by myself doing this and really I wasn't by myself, I had family and friends who were very supportive, but that day felt very overwhelming. And then the second night of doing shots felt a little overwhelming. It just felt like it was gonna be a long, long few weeks, when really it was quite manageable. Not to say I know some people really don't like needles and like they might have bad reactions. So I personally had a very fine reaction to the injections and all that but it does. I can imagine how some people would feel even more overwhelmed if the stakes were higher or things like that.
I can't imagine giving yourself an injection is easy.
It wasn't as bad as I thought it was but a friend of mine was going went through IVF a few times and she texted me that: I can't believe you're doing it yourself. Which, which sort of felt good. I felt, I don't know, kind of badass.
I was just gonna say you're a badass woman.
Yeah, so that that really didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I was, I was the day that I knew it was going to happen. And you don't do it until like between eight and nine o'clock at night. So that first day, the Sunday I started, I was like, Come on, just to get to that time, I just need to do it, I need to get it over with. And then once I did it, and I knew what it would be like it wasn't as bad.
So we're all the injections, like as you took your medication, did they have to be at a specific time? Or was it sometime in the morning sometime in the evening? Or was there a specific block of time block like window block that you had to do that?
So for the the two that I did most of the process, the Gonall and the menopur, they should have been like they say for it to be like after dinner when you're just like winding down. So I tried to do it around like the eight o'clock hour. But the the health coordinator that I worked with, she did say that some people just did it right after work, but she suggested doing it like towards bedtime. And then definitely you don't want to like do it and then go on the peloton. And then the ganorelix, that is something that I started call it seven days into the process. And that is to make sure you don't ovulate. You're, they're like holding it off. And you have to take that as soon as you wake up. She said there's not nothing else you do. You wake up and you give yourself that injection that is like super important that you do it in the morning. And then the Lupron is your trigger shot. And that is timed very specifically that you need to do within 10 minutes of the time you're given. And that's 36 hours before your procedure. So that could have been anywhere between she said nine and 2am. Very happy it wasn't at 2am.
I can imagine setting an alarm to wake up and give yourself an injection. And I guess I can understand that because it sounds like you know they are then on their end scheduling. Okay, this is when we're gonna do Bradley's procedure. So this is when she has to take that shot. Sounds like it's very timed.
Yeah, they didn't even tell me the day they told me that I was going to be having my procedure on Saturday. But then they didn't even tell me maybe until like four or five o'clock what time my trigger shot was because they were making sure like who's on call because it was a Saturday. So I didn't have Dr. Sarajari I had the on-call doctor. So like who was on call who else was having trigger shots, they were doing all that coordinating in the afternoon of that day. And then giving candy now. egg retrieval times, which then led to the trigger shot time, so everything is and I will say the people that I work with there when I would email the coordinator. I mean, I would get responses within 25 minutes.
If not faster. There, they were very, very good at responding. And they I mean, they recognize that like people are spending well, not only are people spending a lot of money, but like the process and like this service that they are giving is just so more than like, just like something it's very, very important to people like this if I didn't get the eggs, okay, but the IVF and like the people that are trying to have a baby coming from this process is really really important.
Absolutely. Did they require someone to come with you for the egg retrieval process? Or where you kind of you can come and go on your own?
No, I had to have they gave me a sort of a sheet of all of the instructions for the egg retrieval and one of them was that I had to have someone to drive me home because I was put under anesthesia, not like the deep deep anesthesia but the Twilight I guess they call it
And and then after was with their so they did the egg retrieval, you go home where there follow up visits, was there anything like what was? Did you feel funny? Like, like, what was that like getting kind of, you know, moving past that after you were done?
So I remember very specifically looking at the clock when I went into the egg retrieval, and I knew my appointment was at 1015. And then I mean, I was back in the recovery room by I think it was like 1045 So it was a very quick process. And then I sort of just sat with sort of like ginger ale and like resting and like some crackers or something like that. Probably till 11:30. So for about 45 minutes and my mom came back and we justchit-chattedd and I was definitely like, like, a little like, I mean coming out of anesthesia so I was like with it but definitely felt a little loopy. But definitely I was be able to, like get myself dressed. And I went to the bathroom before we left. And that day I came home and I had eaten I, my mom asked what I wanted and I went to Chick-fil-A I got, we got Chick-fil-A, and I literally just sat and watch TV for the rest of the day. Some people say that they have like cramping or feel, I sort of just felt the same way I had very full and like, a little uncomfortable. But definitely by Sunday, I felt 100% fine. And it was Halloween. So I like went and saw my niece and nephews for Halloween. And then that Sunday, I got an email with the number of eggs that they had retrieved, and then information to call and schedule a follow up consultation, which I did. I think it was like a week and a half after the retrieval. And that, again, was with Doctor Sarajari, when she talked about the number I got and sort of what the next steps would be if I wanted to unfreeze the eggs and start using them. And all of that will still be done at Dominion. They do everything there. If I wanted, if I decide that I don't have a partner and I want to use a donor they have sort of a process to help me pick a donor for that. And then I one of the things I asked is like how long like if I want to use in 2025? Like do I need to say a whole year before? And she said really just a month before.
That was gonna be my question.
I thought that was interesting. Yeah.
So you just need to give a month's notice. And then I assume you can go and say I want to unfreeze five? Or you can give them a number or did they do them all? Like, is it a one and done? Or is do they get to kind of you get to determine how many you want to take at a time?
I don't know the answer to that. I didn't think that. Which seems really silly on my part.
Emailing them tomorrow!
I'll be emailing Doctor Sarajari. Um, I do know that there will probably limit the number that they would put in. So I would say at least per my friends that have done IVF they usually put call it like four to five inside and then that turns into whatever number like the percentage wise that becomes viable.
So that makes sense. Is did they do they say that? Like is there a risk that when they unfreeze them that they might not be viable? Or is it a pretty solid process that hey, they're, you know, you should be able to use all 19 of them?
Yeah, so she said that typically, if you get 1/4 of what the number of eggs you have, so with my let's just for easy math, call it 20 About five of my eggs, by the time they freeze them, unfreeze them fertilize them and implant them will be good. So...
So they'll be a quarter of them will actually be good and three quarters likely won't? Oh, wow. I thought you were gonna go the other way with those numbers.
Yeah. So that's why they gear for 20. Because statistically, obviously, like, it could be different. About 1/4 of the number is come out, like, really strong and good.
From that process.
So that is quite a process.
Yes. So I don't know. And then I do believe if I had to have a partner, when we unfreeze them say they we unfreeze 10. They would fertilize 10. And if they had six that grew into like strong embryos. They would choose the number to implant and then I could freeze the embryos. So I could have 10 Frozen eggs, call it three frozen embryos and then try to use whatever those other ones that we fertilized so I can I, if I want I could freeze embryos after this. If I find someone I would like to do that with.
I didn't know you could do that. That's interesting. And science is amazing.
Science is amazing.
The things we can do. Wow. That is fascinating.
So did I forget to ask anything?
I don't think so. I mean, I'm definitely willing to speak to anyone that has questions or has other thoughts or wants to like process. Anything with me. I'm definitely an open book and would love to chat with someone that's thinking about doing this or have questions about doing it. I really, really commend people that go through this process multiple times. I'm not sure that I could do that. But at the end of the day, I do feel like I had a really positive experience. And it was something I'm really grateful to have that experience and like understanding of now.
Yeah, absolutely. It sounds very positive, it doesn't quite sound as scary as you might think it would be listening to you talk about it in a kind of very matter-of-fact way. It's like, okay, I can see how this works, which I also think is fascinating. Again, science is cool. And...
I hope I presented it that way. Because I do feel like sometimes, and I'm not negating people's, like feelings or experiences. But sometimes people that like talk the most are the ones saying that they had a really bad experience, or like, it was terrible. It was awful. It was, like, so hard. And it wasn't easy. But I do want people to know that it is doable. And like, it's not, the fear shouldn't hold you back.
When it sounds like I think for you, especially, you spent a lot of time researching, and understanding things, which is an important part. And there's, there's the emotional part to it, right? That makes it harder, I think for folks, and in your case, you are being proactive, and planning and preparing for your future. And not saying that women in IVF are reactive, but it's they're at a different stage. Right
They're in a different stage.
They're wanting to be pregnant today, where you're thinking about being pregnant in the future. And so there's an emotional component to that, that feels like what...
Definitely and I will say, and if people want to process this, as well, I'm happy to chat, there was a smidge of an emotional, like, feelings, like, Oh, I'm here, I have to do this. Like this sucks. Like, I wish I was like everyone else married with kids. Like, that's something I think I want but here I am having to do this process. But at the end of the day, how cool is it that there is this option and like, how I call it 20 years like this wouldn't be would be something that we would be thinking about. I would just be living with whatever. Whatever straw that I picked and journey that I had without science.
Yeah. And I think it also talks about the, I've been thinking about this recently just society that assumes or labels how life should look, right? Like you, you know, you get married at a certain point of time in your life, and you have children and a certain point of time in your life and, and all of these things where it's like, but why right? We keep why can't we be on our own paths? And those paths can look different and happen at different times? I mean, didn't we just see some something in the news not that long ago that like some 50 or 60 year old woman had a baby. And you know, so clearly, there is the ability to do that later in life, I'm not sure I would want to have a child when I'm in my 60s. But you know, for some that's an option. And for others, it's not. But this kind of thought of there's a set path that we're all supposed to follow. I feel like we're starting to see that break down more. And it's not this, you know, I think about when I grew up, right, you were raised to think like you're going to meet somebody and you're gonna get married, and then you're going to have kids, and this is the way your life's gonna look. And, you know, life doesn't always look that way.
No it doesn't at all, no.
Marriage doesn't have to be what you aspire to. There's nothing wrong with folks living together and choosing not to get married, if that's not what they want, or, or whatever that looks like. And I feel like we are as a society just starting to kind of come around to say that that old kind of, I shouldn't call it old. But the more traditional approach
Isn't necessarily what everybody has to follow.
Yeah, I agree. And so, as I've said many times, and I'll continue to say, I'm just so grateful that I'm in a place where I can do this, and that science can be there to provide this savings account.
Well, and maybe we'll be talking in the future, and you'll be telling us more about this story on the other side,
That would be wonderful down the line. If I find a partner or feel like
Or choose whatever path you want.
So Bradley, you shared that if you if people wanted to chat with you that you'd be happy to do that. What is the best way for us to let people get in contact with you?
I would love to provide my email, which is my name firstname.lastname@example.org. And I'm not sure if you can put that in.
I could put it in the show notes.
In the notes and I'm happy to connect that way and chat and we can set something up and answer whatever questions anyone has or just comments about what they're thinking about their fertility journey.
Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing yours.
Thank you for having me.
I learned a whole lot.
No I feel like and I will say like, I sort of just want to put a little thing. This was all my experience. And I hope I got the names, right and all of the information, right. But there's definitely doctors that can talk to all the more specifics. And just if I got anything wrong, I apologize,
I think you did great, right? You're telling your story.
And that said, that important piece for it and in your journey. So thank you for being vulnerable and sharing that with everybody and letting us put this out into the Alpha Sigma Alpha world. And for folks that want to connect with Bradley, we'll have in the shownotes, her email address so that you can reach out to her and Bradley, thank you for joining us today.
Thanks for having me.
And to our listeners. Until next time,