Interview with Yael Borensztein (she/her) @yael.borensztein
There is no one right way to become a parent. Birthing a child is a journey unlike any other, and each parent's experience is unique. Luckily, thanks to modern-day technology and an increased awareness of the importance of reproductive health, we live in a time where individuals who wish to have a child have options and the freedom to follow their own path.
We spoke with Yael Borensztein, birth doula and nurse, to learn about her personal journey to freezing her eggs. Read along as she reveals what this process is like both logistically and emotionally. We're a new era of birthing and parenting, so let’s take the time to learn and understand what that means for individuals with, without, or wishing to have a child.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m Yael. I’m a birth doula and a nurse currently working as a lactation consultant and I’m just shy of 35, but I’ve been blessed with great genes so you’d never know it by my skin *insert hair flip emoji*.
READ MORE:Learn all about Yael here
What stage are you at in this process? What steps have you taken so far? What steps are next?
I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my period so I can start the bulk of the process. I’ve been taking estrogen pills since I ovulated about 2 weeks ago to help my follicles (the little spaces in our ovaries where eggs mature) develop at the same rate. I have a whole pharmacy of fertility meds ready and waiting in my kitchen.
Once my period finally shows up (I’ve felt on the brink for days, I’m sure my anxiety to get started is throwing me off) I’ll be starting two daily injections at night. These two are designed to stimulate follicular development in much larger numbers than in a typical cycle. After about one week of that, I’ll add in a third injection every morning to prevent me from ovulating prior to egg retrieval. Throughout this whole 10ish day span, I’ll be heading to the clinic every other morning for transvaginal ultrasounds and bloodwork to monitor my hormone levels and follicular growth, adjusting my doses accordingly. Once my follicles are big enough, I’ll stop my daily injections and will be told at exactly what time to do 2 new injections (known as “trigger shots”) to get my eggs to free themselves from their follicular linings and be bouncing around and ready for harvesting. Exactly 36 hours later, I’ll undergo the 20 minute retrieval procedure. I’ll be taking a nice little propofol nap for that and then my mommy will take me home and make me matzah ball soup.
*Important note - as a nurse who is not at all squeamish about needles and who has prepared many many injections in my lifetime, I am incredibly lucky that this portion of the process is not even slightly daunting. I know that the needles of it all can be a huge roadblock for many.*
What thoughts, plans, moments lead to your decision to freeze your eggs? (Were you always planning to freeze your eggs?)
To be honest, I never wanted to do this. I’ve dreamt of having a baby for my entire life - I’ve built a whole career around it! But that dream has always included a romantic teammate, an exciting decision, and a really fun (and free!) conception process. I’ve always felt “deeply fertile,” based on nothing more than belief in my body and how it’s served me thus far, but in recent years I’ve gotten clearer on the pressure I put on myself and the realities of what can and can’t be under my control. I don’t want to look back and regret not doing everything I could to make a dream happen. I don’t know if I’ll ever need these eggs, but I know I’ll feel some relief knowing they are safely tucked away in a nitrogen tank.
Who or what has been your support system? Did you find support in places or people you didn’t expect?
Going into this, I was scared that I’d feel alone. I was afraid that doing this would only make my loneliness louder, and that I’d feel farther than ever from having the family that I’ve always seen for myself. But the reality is that I have felt incredibly held, seen and supported by everyone in my life.
I’ve chosen to be public about this ever since I realized how little was known or said about elective egg freezing, and how absolutely zero financial or social support there is around it if you don’t have an existing infertility diagnosis while trying to conceive, usually with a partner. I want visibility, transparency and improved understanding and access for elective egg freezing.
It is reproductive freedom.
I was initially encouraged to seriously consider it by a cousin who had recently gone through it herself, and I’ve been talking about it and mulling it over with my friends, work colleagues (another bonus of being in reproductive healthcare) and my family ever since it became a serious thought in my head. I’ve unearthed so much knowledge from people who have gone through some form of fertility treatment themselves and love from those who want to support me. It has been unreal.
How much does it cost? Did you have help from insurance, work, etc.?
So here’s the deal– fertility treatments are SO EXPENSIVE. Cost was absolutely a prohibitive factor for me for a long time. As much as I didn’t want to have to do it, I’m pretty sure I would have jumped at the chance years ago if it had been free. The total cost will likely be somewhere around $12k, but it can get up to $15k+ at other clinics. Zero percent of the treatment will be covered, even with my “high quality” health insurance. This can be different for people seeking fertility treatments with an existing infertility diagnosis, but in my case I’m left to my own devices.
The cost breaks down into two categories– the treatment itself and then the medications needed for it.
- Every other day visits
- Doctors managing my treatment
- Retrieval procedure
- 1 year of egg storage (after the first year it’s $600/year)
In my case, all of that comes to $7500, but I found a discount code for $1000 off (who knew?!).
Medications are where it gets wild. The estimates you’ll find are anywhere between $3000-$6000, and my original quote was $5600. That said, I called around to many different pharmacies, made a spreadsheet of all the cheapest prices I could find and then asked one of them to price match. That, plus a very generous donation of extra meds from a wonderful friend who no longer needed them, brought me down closer to $3000– but I am likely to need to purchase more as my treatment progresses. To be very clear, this is a total scam. The fact that insurance providers rarely cover any of this in addition to the fact that pharmaceutical companies can price their meds out like this makes me want to throw dishes at a wall.
So how am I doing this? I practiced what I preach and I asked my community. My community includes my family, my friends, and the amazing network of former clients I have loved and supported through their own parenthood journeys. Friends of mine created a GoFundMe and sent out an incredibly loving email, and they were able to raise about half the total cost for me. My immediate family has been ready to support me since the start. This has been an incredible show of love and care, and I am very aware of the privilege I have in my life that allows me to ask and receive this. Community care is everything always.
Anything else you want to share?
So far, this has felt all consuming, emotionally draining, and overwhelming. But it has also felt hopeful and loving. I feel like I’m taking care of my future self by honoring my younger self. I’ve seen more clearly than ever that I have a wide net of support for any major choice I make in life. While I don’t ultimately feel that it will absolve me of all pressure or fear of uncertainty,
I am sure that I will be proud of myself for trying.
Meet Yael Borensztein
Yael Borensztein is a Certified Advanced Holistic Doula, lactation consultant and registered nurse living and working in NYC. She’s been taking care of birthing people and new families for 10+ years and you can find her at @yael.borensztein, @rootandspark and www.rootandspark.com.
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