Although M, who’s been through three cycles of egg freezing, had told me that none of her cycles were the same, in terms of the numbers of eggs and how she felt, I didn’t really believe her, but this time around, it’s distinctly different from the first time.
The biggest difference is that it’s day eight and I haven’t sat in my kitchen wailing uncontrollably – yet – I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. On my last cycle, by day six I felt like I was permanently on the verge of tears. Of course you can wang on about how pumping yourself full of hormones is bound to bring on an ultra extreme version of PMT where you find yourself crying at everything from old ladies in supermarkets, to that “thank you” slot on Radio 4’s Saturday Live show (actually I usually cry at that anyway.) But I think it’s more than that.
Because I’m a control freak, my way of dealing with being single and 36 and wanting kids at some point was to take practical action. Egg freezing felt like a practical, proactive step. It felt like the sensible thing to do. I’m not deluding myself about it. I know it’s not a guarantee of anything. I know there’s every possibility that I’ll go through all this and a combination of my biology and technology could conspire against me and none of these carefully frozen eggs will ever end up being a child of mine.
But then nothing in life comes with guarantees. For me, egg freezing was a way of feeling like I was taking charge of my future, rather than just waiting for my future to happen to me. And, in the great scheme of things, nine weeks of my life (say three weeks off booze per cycle) and twelve grand (say £4000 a cycle) isn’t a great price to pay for – in the long term – potentially increasing the likelihood that I might have children and – in the short term – a certain peace of mind that comes from feeling like I’m taking control of something (and not feeling like I have to look at every man who crosses my path as a potential baby daddy – seriously, what price that?)
That is, of course, the logical, compartmentalised, rational way that I approached things. Which is great and admirable and obviously what you should be doing. But at some point, the emotional aspect of things inevitably intervenes. And that’s when you end up snotting down the phone to your best friend in a puddle of self-pity that centres on how much you hate your ex for putting you in this position (oh the fucking irony of us having discussed that while we wanted children we wouldn’t go down the IVF route if we couldn’t have them); how there must be something seriously wrong with you for being the only person in your group of friends who hasn’t managed to end up in a relationship; and how, if you do decide to go down the route of using donor sperm to have a child on your own, will it always feel like the second best option – for you and them?
That’s when you need a brilliant friend to remind you that your ex was a spineless fuck; that you’ve been unlucky and that that’s shit, but sometimes shit just happens; and that you really don’t need to worry about solo parenting just yet, and maybe you should have a cup of tea, a hot bath and get some sleep.
Like I said, none of that’s happened this time around – but there’s still time…