On Saturday, January 9, exactly two weeks ago, my husband Collin and I welcomed our first child: our gorgeous, amazing baby girl, Arya Renee Hayden. She weighed 3.73 kg and was 22 inches long. She was born at Surya Mother & Child Super Specialty Hospital in Mumbai. To say we’re more than a bit smitten – and more than a bit sleepy – is an understatement.
Although it’s a hectic time for me right now, I think it’s important I take this time out and share some of my thoughts with you, because if not for a decision I made eight years ago, we wouldn’t have Arya today. And if, by sharing my story, even one woman benefits, then it’s worth me talking about something so personal and intimate as this.
It was about ten years ago, when I was 32 (yes, I’m 42 today), that I first read about egg freezing: a process that helps women preserve their eggs to use at a later date by withdrawing and freezing some of them. Fascinated, I started reading up on egg freezing. The more I read, the more I knew it’s what I wanted to do. You see, I’ve always been a combination of a die-hard romantic (Mills & Boon and the whole nine yards) and a very practical person (science, chemical reactions in the brain, etc.). I always knew that I wanted to meet Mr. Right, fall in love, get married and have children. I also knew that Mr. Right was nowhere in sight at the time, I was 32, and my biological clock was going tick-tock-tick-tock. But, I’ve never been one to settle or compromise, and I definitely wasn’t going to start now with some of the most important decisions in my life. I would never want to get married just to have a kid or just to do the conventional thing and be satisfied. I’m a firm believer in options. The way I see it, you’ve got one life, so always try to give yourself the best options possible so that there’s less pressure when making a decision.
Objectivity and clarity are two very important factors when making decisions, and it’s hard to have either when you’ve got a clock ticking in the back of your head like a time bomb.
The more I thought about it, egg freezing looked like the perfect option where I, and not time or some clock, could dictate my choices in life.
I mentioned it to my close friends – who all thought I was crazy. Who would do that unless there was an emergency? Why would you want to? Why not let nature (and love) take its course?
And then, as fate would have it, one of those friends met Dr Nandita Palshetkar and heard that she, alongwith Dr Hrishikesh Pai, was pioneering exactly that same technology right here in India; and so he connected us. The rest, as they say, is history.
I got my eggs frozen at the age of 34 with Dr Nandita Palshetkar and Hrishikesh Pai at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, never really imagining I’d need them. I froze them so that if ever the time came, I would have an option, more like an insurance for my future (the numbers and quality of a woman’s eggs drop at the age of 30, 35, 40…).
One thing I can tell you for sure – the huge sense of freedom I felt immediately after freezing my eggs was a testament in and of itself. I no longer felt the pressure of having to find Mr. Right within a time frame, or having a baby in the next few years, or choosing between work or family if and when that time came. I had pushed my childbearing clock aside and turned time on my side, where I could make my choices, and live my life on my terms. Those were my reasons. There could be a hundred others for different people, all equally valid, I’m sure.
Funnily, I froze my eggs as an insurance, never actually thinking I would ever really need to use them. I couldn’t have imagined that I would develop endometriosis, which makes a natural pregnancy difficult, and would need to use my eggs to conceive. And that is the reason I am speaking out about this incredible personal journey… like my age (horrors!), my medical state, and also what was a deeply personal process-because now that the choice is available, I urge more of you to make it-for you. And I cannot overstate the importance of having the right doctor see you through this.
It empowered me to seize opportunities, to make my own choices, and it gave me power and control over my future. It allowed me, and not time, to dictate my decisions. And I wish the same for all of you.
Am I thankful I made this choice? I cannot begin to tell you. I have only to look at my baby Arya to know that I would do it again, 1000 times over.
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