“Option A is not available. So, let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.” This quote from Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy has gotten me through some rough days and some painful nights. My 20s taught me that sometimes it’s better to make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt than wait for better cards from the celestial dealer. Happiness is a choice and as I turned 30, I decided to choose myself and my liberation. You might argue that I’ve always been liberated, but not everyone’s shackles can be seen.
The younger me was a planner. I had planned it all – the university I’d like to study at, my first job, the age at which I wanted to be financially independent, the year I’d get married, and when I’d even have children. But life, as it often happens, did not go according to my plan (I still got 3/5 which isn’t too bad). As I decided to walk out of an unhappy relationship at the age of 29, I realised that it was time to improvise and rework the blueprint.
With the big 3-0 looming over my head, I felt vulnerable and hopeless because I was not where I had envisioned myself to be. But I’ve never been one to wallow, so I knew it was time to make decisions that would make me feel better about my life. After all, “Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.”
At this point, I was nowhere close to wanting a long-term relationship and I did not want to get married for the sake of being married or because I was a certain age. At the same time, the fear of the ticking biological clock was real. There is no escaping the reality that a woman’s career and her biological clock move in opposite directions. I wasn’t ready to embrace motherhood just because I turned 30, but I wanted an option to be available to me. And so – I decided to freeze my eggs.
Being the control freak that I am, once I took the decision to freeze my eggs, I decided to prep my body. You don’t have to do this, but I like to do things my own way rather than do a half-assed job of anything. I took a break from drinking, started including a good mix of fat (which meant drinking oil once a day) and proteins in my diet, and just made my already orderly life a little more so.
Once I got my blood work done, I found out my cortisol levels were off the charts, in fact, they were double the maximum levels. Sure, this was the result of a number of things happening at home and work, but when my doctor told me they can’t do the procedure because of these stress levels, I knew I needed to take the reins. One more hurdle on the way to my 5/5.
Freezing my eggs wasn’t just about doing a medical procedure, it was about passing on my genes, and I wanted my future kids to be born happy and not live their lives in fight or flight mode. There’s a reason they say expecting mothers should be positive and happy, after all. The doctor’s advice to bring down my stress levels led to even more stress, but some Ayurvedic supplements and leaving work by 5.30-6 pm made a positive impact (not easy as an entrepreneur because anywhere you are with a phone in hand, you’re working).
This, however, was just the beginning. What came next was something no one tells you about freezing your eggs.
While the procedure of retrieving the eggs (though invasive) was painless, it’s what came before and after that took a toll on me – mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was subjected to around 20 injections starting from day two of my period, twice a day for 10 days. The hormones definitely did a number on me, I was foggy and cranky (God bless my family for having put up with me). There were days when I felt guilty for not being able to give my complete attention to work. On the one hand, I was doing something so taxing on my body, and on the other hand, I was also feeling like I wasn’t doing enough in other spheres of my life. I put on 10 kilos of which I’ve lost seven. For the other three, I’d have to give up beers and burgers and that’s not going to happen.
Since I knew I wanted at least two kids (because every kid deserves a sibling to roughhouse with), I did the procedure twice. So, as you can imagine, the emotions and pain were not about to leave me anytime soon. Though I must admit general anaesthesia was damn fun! You get knocked out within seconds in the OT, but once you come out of it and regain consciousness, it’s a party…before it wears off and the pain hits you once again.
The process of freezing my eggs brought me face to face with a version of myself that was completely new. A woman who had put on weight, a face full of acne, and emotional turmoil. I wasn’t used to looking at myself the way I looked back then, and that wasn’t easy to accept. But the process also made me realise how resilient my body is and how it needed a lot more acceptance than I was giving it.
My relationship with my body changed for the better after the procedure. I wanted to treat my body like a temple – eat healthy, and more importantly, be healthy. Though I was disciplined even before the procedure, I became even more so after. I finally learnt to embrace myself and love myself, with all the changes in my body. Seeing my body change, be it the weight gain or the acne, did trouble me at first. That wasn’t for long though, thanks to a mom who has always complimented me and told me that I am, in fact, the most beautiful girl in the world. It takes a village. Thankfully, mine is very populated.
My decision to freeze my eggs was not driven by a need to feel empowered. It came from a place of ‘what do I know now’. But, with time, in retrospect, that decision has become one of the most empowering choices in my life. It became an act of me reclaiming my life and saying, “This is my life and this is what I choose for myself.”
I’m not asking you to freeze your eggs. I’m not even asking you to be a parent. It isn’t for everyone and it’s perfectly okay to not want to make that choice (because it is a choice). But I do urge you to make that one decision that might seem difficult but could change your life forever for the better. The road less travelled is usually full of obstacles. But it’s also the one that liberates you. To summarise, dear reader, when life gives you random vegetables, make a pizza and throw a damn party.
About the author
During the day, real estate boss Bani G. Anand handles meeting after meeting as the Vice Chairperson of ATS. But, after hours, she dons her media hat as the founder and CEO of All About Eve India.
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