Carrot member spotlight: Vernize, egg freezing journey in the U.S.

January 10, 2023
by
Carrot
in
Fertility care

Vernize Rios, office manager at Chegg, had been looking for a job that offered fertility benefits for years. A lifelong planner enjoying her 30s and growing her career, she knew she wanted to freeze her eggs but didn’t have the disposable income to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket. As an office manager at Chegg, soon after she took the role, she received good news: the education technology company announced that employees would soon have access to Carrot.

A few months after completing her egg freezing cycle, Vernize said she’s grateful that she had the opportunity to take this step and, importantly, start conversations with others about their decision to pursue fertility preservation. She talked with us about her experience and some of the personal connections she’s made since using her Carrot benefit.

Can you share more about your decision to pursue egg freezing?

I always had a feeling I’d be an older parent. When I turned 30, I told myself that if by 34 I wasn’t in a relationship, I’d freeze my eggs, and that if I were single and didn’t have kids by 38, I would try to have a child on my own.

I had my plan for myself, but there was one problem: the cost. One round of egg freezing costs around $16,000, a price I couldn’t afford to pay out-of-pocket. I worked in the tech world and always wanted to work for a company that offered egg freezing as a benefit. I was looking at the Googles, Apples, and Facebooks of the world for jobs that would get me in the door to be able to have this opportunity.

When I got the job at Chegg, I hoped this would be my chance. And sure enough, in the fall of 2021 during Open Enrollment at Chegg, Carrot was front and center as a family planning benefit. I cried, told my friends, took a screenshot of the slide, and immediately started asking questions.

How was your experience using Carrot?

My first conversation with Carrot was in January 2022. After chatting with a Care Navigator and browsing through Carrot’s Provider Finder, I landed on Extend Fertility. They offered a discount for Carrot members, free initial consultation, and were located a walkable distance from my office.

You shared your experience with fertility preservation on social media and have been open about not getting the results you were hoping for. Would you feel comfortable sharing more about that?

I also always had a feeling that my fertility might not be as “normal” as I had been told my whole adulthood. For ten years, I had been asking doctors, “Are you sure it looks like I’ll be able to have kids even though my periods are heavy and painful?” And was met with the response, “You’re fine, Vernize! You're so young. Don’t worry about those things right now.”

Unfortunately, some of my fears were realized when I started the egg freezing process. After my initial consultation, I learned that my AMH level results were below average. My provider let me know that AMH levels are not indicators of egg health but are an indicator of how many follicles a month I produce. That meant I may not get as many eggs as I hoped for from one egg retrieval cycle.

The egg retrieval process itself was complex. I received 20+ shots across 12 days, mixed in with multiple ultrasounds and blood draws before the retrieval day. I basically had no veins left and felt incredibly dehydrated, bloated, emotional, and ready to get it over with. After a lovely twilight anesthesia nap, I woke up the most nervous I had been throughout the whole process. But I was feeling so grateful, hopeful, and happy to have been able to accomplish this huge goal for myself.

I ended up with four eggs that were mature enough to cryopreserve; I was hoping for at least seven to increase my chances of having a baby in the future. But for now, this is where I stand. I am 34 years old and have four frozen eggs waiting for me.

Ideally, I’ll fall in love and have a baby without needing to use my frozen eggs. I wanted this backup plan because I’m a planner, and I wanted to have options for my future.

You mentioned that sharing your story inspired others to come to you with questions about fertility preservation. What have those conversations been like?

It’s been just about three months since I froze my eggs, and the conversations it has sparked have been so inspiring and eye opening. I’m proud of myself for being so transparent about this topic. People from all parts of my life have reached out with questions, curiosities, and stories of their own about their struggles or desires for the future. Even in an office environment, I’m happy to talk about this experience not just from an emotional and personal health standpoint but a corporate benefit perspective, too. There are so many intricacies, and once the hormone injections start, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the details, let me tell you! All in all, I continue to look back at this experience as one of the most defining moments in my adulthood.

If you want to learn more about bringing inclusive fertility healthcare and family-forming benefits to your employees, get in touch with us.

If you’re a Carrot member, sign in to your account to take the next step in your journey.

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