Simmone Taitt, Founder and CEO of Poppyseed Health, is no stranger to reproductive health. In an interview with Cofertility, Simmone opens up about her embryo freezing experience. She shares her motivations, challenges, and the rewards she discovered along the way, providing invaluable insights for those considering this transformative path.
Eggs vs embryos
"I decided to create embryos with my partner because I was undergoing surgery for stage four endometriosis," Simmone explains. "There was a chance that I was going to lose one of my ovaries, and we wanted to preserve our options as much as possible while also addressing the endo." Unfortunately, she did lose her left ovary and fallopian tube, making the decision to create embryos even more significant.
Simmone froze her eggs at the age of 37, retrieving a total of 11 eggs. "I was 37 years old when I retrieved my eggs and we got 11 eggs," she shares. "The ovary that I ended up losing only produced 2 eggs while the other produced 9 eggs." Despite the challenges she faced, Simmone's determination remained unwavering.
Reflections on the process
Reflecting on the egg freezing process, Simmone shares, "The process was way more time consuming than I anticipated." She explains the rigorous routine of blood tests every other day for nearly two weeks and intravaginal sonograms during every visit. Simmone's experience was further complicated by the side effects of the stimulation medication due to her endometriosis. "It was tough on my body. I gained 10 pounds during the stimulation period and was very bloated," she reveals. However, the reward of creating embryos outweighed the difficulties she encountered.
For Simmone, the hardest part of the process came after the retrieval. "About four weeks after my first embryo transfer, I ended up in the hospital with a swollen arm," she recalls. "It turned out that I had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT)." This setback disrupted her plans for additional embryo transfers. Despite the challenges, Simmone's spirit remains unbroken.
Picking a fertility clinic
When it came to choosing a fertility clinic and medical professional, Simmone had specific criteria in mind. "I specifically wanted an REI who had experience with medically complex patients with inflammatory diseases," she explains. After consulting with various specialists, Simmone selected an REI whom she felt comfortable and safe with. Although her own journey has not resulted in a successful pregnancy (yet), she referred two friends to the same REI, both of whom had successful first transfers and babies. Simmone emphasizes that each person's body is different and outcomes aren't guaranteed.
Simmone acknowledges the impact of the egg freezing process on her personal and professional life. "Thankfully, I was able to go in for my monitoring hours first thing in the morning, which was the most convenient for my schedule," she shares. However, she also highlights the significant cost involved. "The cost is astronomical," she reveals. While her partner's company covered one round of egg retrievals, Simmone and her partner had to use their savings, around $5,000 to $6,000, to cover the expenses of medication and other aspects of the cycle.
The emotional and psychological aspects of egg freezing
Managing the emotional and psychological aspects of egg freezing presented its own challenges for Simmone. "I had a lot of friends who [have done IVF]. The process is similar, so I had a lot of knowledge going into it, but it was still emotionally tough for me," she admits. Simmone relied on her partner, family, and friends for support. The hormonal effects of the medications heightened her emotions and made her feel tender and vulnerable during that time.
Looking back on her egg freezing experience, Simmone reflects on the need for better awareness of the possible side effects. "I think we commercialize the egg freezing process and IVF to be 'easy' and 'accessible' and 'simple'," she states. Simmone wishes she had been more informed about the potential challenges involved and emphasizes the importance of a realistic understanding of the procedures.
Advice for others
Offering advice to those considering freezing their eggs, Simmone encourages open conversation and seeking support. "It's important to talk to people who have been through the process and get the real stories," she suggests. Simmone emphasizes the deeply personal nature of the decision and underscores the need for support, guidance, and empathy throughout the journey.
Simmone Taitt's story is one of resilience, hope, and empowerment. Her decision to freeze her eggs was driven by a desire to preserve her fertility amidst health challenges. Despite the obstacles she faced, Simmone's unwavering spirit and determination propelled her forward. Her experience serves as a reminder that while the road may be challenging, there is strength in preserving options and embracing the possibilities that lie ahead.