Singapore has raised the upper age limit for women to be able to electively freeze their eggs from 35 to 37 as of 1 July 2023. If I could give my younger self some advice, it would be to freeze my eggs – here’s why!
When I was in my twenties I was living in sunny San Francisco, having the time of my life studying Graphic Design, just in time for the dot com bubble to hit! I had the dream opportunity as a designer to create and design brands completely from scratch. I was young, single, carefree, invincible. I didn’t know then that 10 years later I was going to face the most difficult time of my life. If I had the option to freeze my eggs when I was in my twenties, would I have done so?
Singapore approved social freezing of eggs from 2023
In case you missed it, Singapore only approved social freezing of eggs from the year 2023, for women aged 21-35 years old – and now from 1 July 2023 the age limit will be raised to 37. This is really great news for women, as it gives us the choice, whether single or married, to freeze our own eggs for future possibilities to become a mum. However, only those legally married can actually use their frozen eggs to try for a baby through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). There are still questions about why the upper age limit of 37 for freezing eggs, but at least this is a step in the right direction for empowering women in their personal journey of becoming a parent.
Read More: Guide to IVF in Singapore
Would I have opted to freeze my eggs in my twenties if it had been an option?
So back to the question of whether I would have opted to freeze my eggs in my twenties if it had been an option at the time? Probably not. I had been living in California for 9 years and had just met my Mohan. Mohan is from Singapore and I’m from Sweden originally. We met through friends, fell in love, moved to Singapore in 2001 and got married in 2002. There was no indication that I’d have trouble conceiving when the time came so freezing my eggs was not at the top of my mind. Looking back with the beauty of hindsight, I often wish it had been.
I remember my mother-in-law asking me about kids and me telling her with confidence that we had decided to work a few years first to save up for a house and then we would have kids.
The start of our long journey trying to conceive
When I was 31 we eventually stopped birth control and after another few years with no luck conceiving, it became a stressful cycle of monitoring ovulations. Mohan travelled for work and that didn’t make it any easier. Friends around me all started having babies. Even though I was happy for them it was so painful and I was constantly holding back my tears and feelings. It was just too difficult to talk about. If there’s some advice I would give myself back then, it would be to share more of my pain and what I was going through with my close girlfriends.
The first of 7 rounds of IVF
We finally had to resort to IVF. We started our first round of IVF when I was 35, at Mount Elizabeth. We got a positive pregnancy test on the first try and thought wow lucky, on the first try! It ended up being a biochemical pregnancy, which is basically cells dividing but no heartbeat. The second IVF with the same doctor and hospital; again pregnant and it lasted until week 10 when the heartbeat stopped. That was so tough, as any woman who has had a miscarriage will know. I remember sobbing in my husband’s arms and letting out all my sorrows. He was always there for support.
If you are going through IVF it’s so important to let your partner know what you are going through and share the emotional roller coaster so that the experience brings you closer instead of splitting you apart.
After the two failed IVFs we decided to change hospital and tried the next two rounds with a doctor at NUH, but no luck. The doctor there actually advised us to stop trying to conceive with IVF but we were not ready to give up yet.
Next, we turned to Sweden for help. We contacted the Swedish hospital Sofiahemmet, which is a pioneer in IVF treatments. We did another two rounds of IVF with them but both failed. We had been through six years of six failed IVFs and we were running out of steam, money and hope.
I had an urge to “take care” of another being and my dog Mocca was there for me
I came back from Sweden to Singapore and decided to adopt a dog and found my Mocca. She’s a Singapore special and WOW is she special! I remember sitting in the kitchen with her in my lap just crying my tears out letting go of all the sadness.
I had an urge to “take care” of another living being and Mocca was there for me. I always thought that after having kids we would get a dog. But sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, or actually for me I feel that in life you can not plan too much but rather go with the flow and see where it takes you. That approach seems to work best for me. But as with everything, there’s no one way but rather what is just right for you.
Finally the good news we had dreamed of
When I turned 40, I was introduced to a woman that had conceived through IVF with the help of Dr Suresh Nair. She convinced me to go and see him to try for yet another IVF. At this time I was quite hesitant and not ready to jump into another IVF cycle, potentially full of disappointment and heartache. But she was so convincing that my husband and I scheduled a meeting with Dr Nair and went for a chat. I’m forever thankful to you Tihunaz for introducing me to Dr Nair. With his help we managed to conceive (on the first try). Our much-longed-for twin boys, Emil and Aksel were born in 2014, a month after I turned 41.
What made this IVF a success?
I always thought going through this that if I manage to conceive and give birth I would like to share my experience and help others. I would love to be able to tell you what exactly made our 7th round of IVF successful but unfortunately I can’t and neither can the doctors. What does help is to have healthy eggs in order to get a good quality embryo to conceive. So back to my point about freezing your eggs. If you haven’t met the right partner and you know or you think you may want to become a parent later on in life, you now have the option to freeze your eggs in Singapore!
How I prepped for my last round of IVF
Here are some random things that I did to prepare for my 7th round of IVF. Please note at this time I was quite desperate to conceive so I’m not saying this will help for sure but I’m just sharing what I did to prepare for what in my mind was my last round of IVF. I completely stopped drinking caffeine (I love coffee!) 4 months prior to the IVF. Completely stopped drinking any alcohol (I love wine!) 4 months prior to the IVF. I decided to get rid of my fears. I had two at the time which was driving a car and doing a backdrop in yoga. I did it and I kept it up until today! Ok, not abstaining from the coffee or the wine but I’m still doing backdrops and driving.
Emil and Aksel are now 8 years old and Mocca is now 10, I refer to her as my firstborn.
I wanted to share our “trying to conceive” journey in the hope that it would inspire others that are in similar situations to not give up. I also want to create more awareness and understanding of the IVF process.
If you are looking for support in your fertility journey here are a few support groups that may help: