Megan Griswold, LA Times bestselling author of The Book of Help, is a woman who’s pushing the boundaries and redefining what it means to have a fulfilling and healthy life. The Book of Help follows Megan’s life-long quest for love, connection, and peace of mind. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love said, “In a world full of spiritual seekers, Megan Griswold is an undisputed All-Star. She has spent her life examining her existence in patient, courageous, and microscopic detail, and now she has written about her search with tender and comic honesty.”
Megan’s narrative spans four decades and includes details of Megan’s time at Extend Fertility, as our very first spokesperson. Megan is currently in the process of un-freezing her eggs and we spoke to the author about her fertility journey and what advice she would offer to those going through this experience.
How much did you know about fertility prior to exploring egg freezing?
I read everything I could find! I came in at the early years of Extend Fertility, and the idea of egg freezing was not as understood as it was then. I read and researched not just about the freezing, but IVF additionally. At the time, I only had met a woman with cancer who was offered freezing before beginning cancer treatment, which was more the thinking then. It wasn’t really in the culture for healthy women to do it until your founder Christy Jones started that conversation nationally. I’m very grateful to her.
I had the pleasure of doing a lot of interviews for Extend for various papers, Nightline, and Anderson Cooper. The reason why I did the interviews? I’m a Barnard woman head to toe and I wanted to help shape the narrative about freezing as the opportunity it is and a tool for women’s empowerment vs. the narrative that women are somehow victims of not finding the right guy at the right time.
I reminded them that there are no guarantees in any medical procedure. I thought that last one was an especially ridiculous question, as I think you weigh your desires and go with the best options available. It’s not like waiting for the science to advance even further is useful, as the longer you wait the older one gets. I say do the thing that makes the most sense and go for it. Because naysaying is often just fodder for conversation anyway. In fact, I remember one of the naysayer doctors interviewed with me at the time partnered up with Extend a week or something after the interview.
What prompted you to consider egg freezing, and what was your journey to making the decision to freeze?
First, I suppose I consider myself a late bloomer. It took me a long time to figure out my lane and wanted that more figured out before starting a family. Second, I had come out of a pretty challenging end of a marriage and I was involved with someone new but it wasn’t time to force the question, so I just went for it. I loved getting to think of the relationship I was in without collapsing my parenting desires into romantic decisions.
How would you describe your egg freezing experience?
I found it very positive. I was fascinated by the whole experience. It also taught me how much fertility work is part of science and art. I had some funny experiences after retrievals. Like after one, I must have had a crazy amount of relative testosterone from the drop in estrogen, because I suddenly wanted to have sex with anything that wasn’t nailed down. And it gave me so much compassion for men about looking and wanting. It’s so very very hormonal
Was there anything about the experience that was particularly surprising to you? Something you thought would be difficult that was easy—or vice versa?
I guess it’s not surprising exactly, but I could watch my type A personality surface during the processes, and I had to ask Ms. Type A to take a backseat. I have read a lot of IVF blogs and groups over the years and I can relate to getting super obsessed with how it’s all going. My advice is just to try to do everything suggested but not take any bloodwork or follicle count as some reflection of your personhood. I tried to keep a sense of humor and lay off the numbers as best I could. I did three cycles. And they were all slightly different.
One thing I really enjoyed: Every time I had to give myself a shot, I would talk to my belly/my ovaries/my eggs. I would encourage only the eggies who were psyched to go on a big adventure to show up. And I explained that a nice doctor was going to take them out, that then they would be put in something that looked like a barbecue propane tank. I called them my sleeping little beauties
“I told [my eggs] if I woke them up, that meant something wonderful had happened in my life to make having a baby possible.”
How did you feel after doing your egg freezing cycle? Relieved, empowered, something else?
I felt relieved and empowered and humbled. I took comfort that while no one on the planet knows how their fertility baby making life will go, I knew I had done the best I could no matter the outcome. And that was a huge weight off my shoulders and my mind.
Do you feel like freezing your eggs changed the trajectory of your life or the way you thought about your options?
I definitely feel like it has given me a ton of freedom to work with the singular focus I desired on work and creativity while preserving that option. I started a business, wrote a book, spent time learning in further relationships that I’m so pleased I didn’t parent with. As I said, I’m a late bloomer! But I guess choice-wise I felt like I got to behave more like a man in the family starting department. I’m now at the point of moving toward thawing, and that is a whole new set of decisions. It’s exciting and scary and a function of an incredible option I was given some time ago.
Do you have any advice for women who are in a similar situation?
I one hundred percent recommend doing it! I can’t see a downside. And, I recommend doing it sooner than later. While everyone is unique, the sooner the better. Sooner likely means more productive eggs and you’ll potentially need less drugs because it takes less drugs to stimulate follicle growth.
Honestly, I think the hurdle is more psychological than physical. It’s standing in your own desires and not needing approval or feedback from anybody else on what you do with your life and what it does or doesn’t mean.
“Honestly, I think the hurdle is more psychological than physical. It’s standing in your own desires and not needing approval or feedback from anybody else on what you do with your life and what it does or doesn’t mean.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just a footnote: I think some people are afraid of the shots. Honestly, it’s no big deal. Quick and easy. It’s just a thing to learn to get comfortable with like anything else. I also think going through it is something to celebrate. Have a gathering celebration after the retrieval. Make it special! Get some joy out of this great thing you just did!