We were in line at a grocery store; a baby in a sling looked at me and I started making funny faces and doing the peekaboo thing with my hands. I stuck out my tongue a few times and his mum saw me and smiled, then a conversation struck up and we all had a good laugh. In the shower that night I realized how much I loved kids but didn’t want any kids of my own. I recently moved in with my boyfriend Matt who didn’t want kids EVER. He had communicated his reservations about having kids before we started dating. He loves the fact we can eat what we want, go out for dinner whenever have sex wherever and whenever we want, and not have to worry about some kid in the room. He utterly loves his freedom and wasn’t ready to give it up. Matt and I have been dating for three years, he had a great job, a Tesla; he just made a partner in his firm, and above all, he was my real stud. I wouldn’t lose him to a lame thought such as having kids. I let the shower water run free and easy awakening my skin in the perfect ways possible.

I mean, I love kids, especially my nephew. I have watched how my brother struggled to raise a son that he had very young. He gave up a lot for him and struggled to pay bills. I ended up being somewhat of a secondary parent to my nephew when his parents couldn’t do some things or pay for things and I am totally cool with that. I love spending time with him and taking him places. That is enough for me. I appreciated that he went home at the end of the day. Some cultures believe that having kids is a practical investment in less lonely, more secure elder years. I am certainly not having kids to benefit the greater good, society, or the Social Security program. My not having kids decision is singularly up to me. No one can tell me what’s right for me. Sometimes, society, family, and my own assumptions try to influence my decision to live child-free and in some cases demand a particular choice making it a gridlock in my mind, and I can’t think my way out.

I’d spent my entire twenties pouring everything into my career and it was just starting to pay off. After many years of working hard to get more responsibilities and land leadership positions - the prospect of having to slow down at a pivotal time in my career due to biological reasons was frightening, to say the least. And though two high-profile figures that I love, Pope Francis and Elon Musk; rocked my boat on the need to embrace parenthood, I couldn’t abort my career just because my preferred pontiff admonished us to forgo our selfishness and choose parenthood arguing that a decision not to have kids would lead to a loss of “humanity” and was a detriment to civilization. Similarly, my favorite tycoon; Musk, who himself is the father of nine children, took to his tweeter page, prophesying the significant danger civilization would face if birth rates keep collapsing. He called for an increase in birth rates, particularly among what he considers "smart" individuals.

My mum on the other hand never ceased to remind me that my biological clock was ticking. Biological clock be damned. Matt and I will have a rewarding, passionate, and loving relationship filled with everything good aside from children. I cringed at the thought of that, this indecision may be more complex than I thought, even though I didn’t want kids like today, saying I NEVER wanted them just didn’t feel right. The truth is my career goals were my deepest desires but children were my honest ones.

For a couple of years, I have been a Pokerface by Lady Gaga type of girl “If love isn’t rough, it’s isn’t fun.” I have had my fair share of bad boys like Alexandra Burke. “Yeah, the bad boys are always catching my eye. Even though I know they're no good for me. It's the risk I take for the chemistry.” I have dated losers, downers, jerks, douchebags you name it! After years of therapy and working on myself, I was now with a great guy; a true partner. I was all in; I was ready to trust again but I knew that trust has to be earned, and should come only after a passage of time. True love isn’t Netflix and chill shout out to Alaric!

Dating is a hold’ em game. Well, Leandra De Andrade’s This Girl's Got Game maintains that it’s all about playing your cards intelligently, even if you must bluff about your hand. Playing hard to get is the bluff. Even if you want to throw all your chips in on the first hand, bluffing increases a man's interest in The Game. You keep the valuable cards close to test his ability to invest. It increases your demand in his eyes because he can't read your cards or your poker face. It also gives you a chance to see what he brings to the table. A few months after Musk’s interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, when he expressly claimed that birth control and abortion might lead to the “collapse” of civilisation, I began a documentary on a top pop icon who was having her first child ever, and she was doing it at 50. Of course, having a baby at any age was thrilling. The couple was super excited and thanked God for their blessing. This pregnancy was particularly meaningful because it was an example of a woman in the spotlight throwing that metaphorical biological clock in the trash.

Women have long been told that their biological clock was closing in on them—and as a result, women have long felt immense pressure to have babies, and to have them quickly. Over the last years, however, women were increasingly bucking these conventions—in some cases choosing to have babies later in life either using in vitro fertilization or a surrogate and in some cases choosing not to. For this project, I interviewed the said pop icon and she openly expressed how proactive she had been with having kids in the future. She had her eggs frozen when she was younger. It made her trying period less traumatic.

Meaning, by freezing your eggs you could avoid some of the emotional and financial stress that fertility treatments entail. Egg freezing relieves you from the anxiety of not conceiving or getting married sooner. It alleviates the biological clock pressure and allows you to make more clear-headed decisions, free from pressure and anxiety owing that our biology doesn’t exactly follow our preferred timeline. Eventually, egg freezing provides some peace of mind and relief from self-recrimination.

For these reasons, I decided to ditch the bottle service and put my eggs on ice. Or at least go talk to a reproductive endocrinologist about it…

I learned a few things after my initial consultation with my endocrinologist; one of which is that women’s egg quality diminishes as women age; the percentage of eggs in the ovaries that have the correct number of chromosomes decreases. This percentage is what is referred to as ‘egg quality’. I don’t know if there is a way to ‘test’ the eggs, but I do know that maternal age is a good estimate. For women at 35 years of age, it is estimated that half of the eggs are already abnormal and by the time they hit 40 years of age, only a quarter of the remaining eggs can result in a baby. Because eggs stay the age at which they were frozen, freezing eggs at a younger age ensures a larger portion of eggs are normal when you are ready to have your family. Before my initial consultation, I was clueless about how my reproductive organs worked. I wasn’t exactly sure where my ovaries were located. I don’t remember anything from my biology classes in high school. I was purely in the arts. I never knew my female organs had other parts like the cervix, fallopian tubes, and uterus; I was well attuned with my vagina and clitoris but everything further down there were literarily aliens.

The internet is filled with so many ridiculous claims about egg freezing; many of which are misleading and inaccurate. It is important to seek an expert opinion if you are interested in freezing your eggs. Stop Googling!!

Egg freezing is not a “fertility gamble”

Maybe, just maybe, it is merely a catchy headline to call egg freezing a “fertility gamble”. To say a thing is a gamble means it’s reckless, risky, and somewhat crazy— throwing money away at a casino in Vegas. Egg freezing is nothing like gambling rather it is the opposite. It is super proactive and responsible; like an investment to preserve your youth and health, giving you a better chance of a healthy pregnancy later. Far from a gamble—this is a really smart and, dare I say it, nerdy thing to do.

Don’t think of egg freezing like buying insurance; there is no promised outcome

I actually thought it was common knowledge that medical treatments especially elective procedures such as egg freezing were not a “foolproof” plan but it does give you more options in the long run. There are no guarantees. You seriously need to have read the content of the consent form I filled out. No doctor would make promises about the outcome of a medical treatment.

My doctor listened patiently to all my concerns and then she made her case for why egg freezing could be an option for me. She pointed me towards recent medical evidence that proves a higher success rate for eggs frozen in a woman’s 20s or early 30s, if used after 35, it is successful about 50% of the time—higher when they froze 15 eggs or more. However, it’s not an insurance policy—but rather it is an option that can drastically improve a woman’s chances of pregnancy.

Your hormones are highly stimulated, skyrocketing to the stars like you could be going cuckoo

Woo-hoo, you’re in for one hell of a hormonal roller coaster ride due to the volume of hormones that are being injected in you daily; about three to four shots in a day. The effects of the hormones made me go up and down and everywhere in between. I was quick to react to the minutest things and I found myself unusually teary. I got up one morning after dreaming about Del Taco chicken soft taco all night, got dressed and drove to the one nearest to me only to find out it was Sunday and way too early. I cried in front of the drive-through menu and called Matt. He laughed but he made my favourite milkshakes when I came home. I cried again because I was so happy.

Your everyday life schemes will change

The process of freezing your eggs could greatly change your daily routine. During this process, most specialists recommend some sort of abstinence; you are not allowed to drink alcohol or illicit drugs like caffeine, nicotine, hashish, and your most flavored shisha which you consider recreational. Additionally, you can’t have sex and are not allowed to do any exercise other than walking. For many people, this is a vast departure from their regularly scheduled programming. For me, I needed to find other ways to manage my anxiety triggers, stress levels because exercise is my go-to coping mechanism. If you struggle with substance misuse that will likely be a challenge for you. Like every other kind of change; it is hard in the beginning, messy in the middle and worth it entirely in the end.

You will want to be in a good place mentally for egg freezing; there could be complications

While freezing your eggs is an empowering decision, you should be prepared like the Girls Scout slogan for the complex feelings and findings that may arise. Since everybody is different, things don’t always go to plan. Say, for instance, before my egg-freezing process began, my doctor took my comprehensive medical history with a focus on my fertility, she assessed the regularity of my menstrual cycle and performed a range of blood tests to assess my hormone levels. During this period I also did a transvaginal scan. Then I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) which meant I was prone to egg maturation issues and at high risk of producing eggs at a much lower volume than someone my age should. I was given additional medications to improve the quality of my eggs and to correct my insulin resistance. Initially, I felt frustrated about my latest finding but then I became grateful to have decided to freeze my eggs. I had to accept it for what it was; a diagnosis, an explanation of what was going on with my reproductive organs. Many women grapple with how unfair it is that they have to put their bodies through so much stress while some women get pregnant very easily. I get this, however, try not to be too hard on yourself during this period and remind yourself of how badass you are by choosing to take responsibility for your baby-making future.

You will feel some sort of personal privilege shaming

Freezing your eggs is a financial burden. It’s over $12,000 per cycle! Keep in mind, that storage fees will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,000 annually. There are payment plans but I had to clear out my bitcoin holdings, max out a credit card and use a portion of my inheritance from my Grandma Josse to pay for the procedure. I recognize the extreme position of privilege I am in. I am grateful for the means although it felt like I had put all my eggs in one basket.

How could I have invested this much in this crazy procedure? What would the outcome be? Would I have zero viable eggs? Could this be my success story or an outright failure?

I panicked.

When my head gets too clogged with voices and thought spinning like a carousel, circling the drain, I make a conscious effort to ignore the crackling thoughts as if they were some distant radio. Then I remind myself that this decision is not simple or without flaws. But ultimately, I want the choice to carry my own child in the future, in a little while the voices lessen and disappear. I realized how grateful I was to these medical advancements that has given women a chance to gain power and control over their own lives and acquire the ability to make strategic choices. Freezing my eggs made me feel more in command of my own life. It also help me eliminate the external pressures of life.

You should create a healthy relationship with your body

Through the egg freezing procedure, you will be putting a lot of pressure on your body so self-care isn’t going to be another millennial obsession or slang but an active lifestyle. One of the most significant side effects I noticed from the hormone injections was my weight gain. For a bulimic who had hit rock bottom and was in full recovery; being stuck in a binge-purge cycle wasn’t a place I wanted to be. It was like being confined in a self- made chambre de chasse — a mindscape prison. So, I tried to listen to my body more; eat only when I’m hungry and rest when I’m tired. I engaged is positive self-talks in the shower, toilet, while driving, doing my makeup and anywhere I got spare time. I even went as far as writing realistic, loving, and positive statements about myself on my social media walls. Rather than focusing on how my body wasn’t working the way I wanted it to, I made room for how hard it was working to prepare me for the next stage in my life.

The egg retrieval is intense. Never mind, you can sleep through it

It sounds way worse than it actually is. Depending on what time your retrieval is — my egg retrieval was scheduled in the morning. I was instructed not to use any hygienic products whatsoever. No deodorant, no creams, lotions, powders, or hair products. Nothing. I’m sure there’s a really good reason for this, but for all I know, it could be so that the doctors and nurses don’t pass out from sensory overload.

Before the procedure, I was given some medication that helped relax and keep me from feeling pain. When it comes to medical stuff I was a scaredy-cat with a very low threshold for pain. I had never had surgery until this, I had never been under any form of anesthesia. I have never even given myself a shot—it was nerve-wracking! But there was never a doubt in the procedure because I had an excellent relationship I had with the healthcare specialists. They were available at any time. Every single question that I had was answered right away. Each time I got poked with a needle I was asked if I was ready; it reduced my needle anxiety. Now, I am somewhat no longer afraid of needles –- I somehow overcame it during the process. I had minimal side effects aside from the ones I mentioned earlier. I was a little tired and I got a few headaches, but nothing that over-the-counter medication couldn’t fix.

It’s a bit surreal—It has been a few weeks now and I have almost forgotten that I did this. I got 20 eggs despite my PCOS diagnosis. My results were super good; 35 follicles, 20 of them were viable to be frozen. I feel very confident, knowing my body accomplished things I didn’t even believe it was capable of. I feel greatly empowered about my choice—it was indeed a smart one. It made me feel like an educated 21-century woman determining my own choices. In the bigger picture, I won’t regret it.