"I wanted options. And egg freezing has given me many." - Elizabeth Higgins Clark
Elizabeth Higgins Clark was featured on the CBS Evening News for her decision to freeze her eggs while still in her 20's. Her Buzzfeed list "12 Reasons I Froze My Eggs Before My 30th Birthday" got 10,000 hits on the first day it was posted. Currently, she is working to bring early fertility education to young women across the country. But that's not all! Elizabeth is also an actress and has appeared on TV shows such as The Mindy Project and Criminal Minds.
Talk about a girl on a mission! Way to go, Elizabeth!
Every Ella: Tell me about yourself.
Elizabeth Higgins Clark: I grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Rhode Island, did theatre on Cape Cod, and lived in New York before moving to LA five years ago. So, I'm definitely an East Coast girl.
Did you always want to be an actress?
Yes. I really can't remember wanting to do anything else.
What has been your favorite acting role so far?
On stage I loved playing Susie the nurse in Wit. On television, I'd have to say I loved being drowned on Criminal Minds.
You've also done a bit of writing and have contributed to the Huffington Post. How did that come about?
I was working at the W hotel in Hollywood shortly after I moved here and I had this idea for an essay. I wrote it, submitted it to The Huffington Post, and was so excited when they accepted it! After the first one, I've written a few others when I have felt like there was something I wanted to say.
Your grandmother is best-selling novelist, Mary Higgings Clark. I'm guessing she rubbed off on you?
I'm crazy about my grandmother and could go on and on about how fortunate I am to be her granddaughter. I think the things I'd most like to inherit from her are her kindness and her work ethic. I'm still working on both!
I watched your speech at FRAXA's Fall X Ball about your brother's diagnosis with Fragile X Syndrome. Can you tell us more about this syndrome?
Sure. Fragile X is the most common form of genetically inherited mental retardation. 1 in about 260 women is a carrier. Yet you'd be surprised by how few know about it. Symptoms of Fragile X can be pretty mild to very severe. I'd say my brother is middle of the road maybe leaning more toward the severe.
You decided to freeze your eggs before turning 30. Were you thinking about it for some time or did the idea suddenly come to you?
In January of 2014, I read a brief article about a woman giving birth to her first child at the age of 49. I thought, "how does that work?" So, I started doing some research. Given the woman's advanced age, she most likely used a donor egg. After learning that the cutoff to be an egg donor in the US is 32, I thought "wouldn't it be great if I could be my own egg donor." I had consultations with two doctors before I selected Dr. Michael Drews at RMANJ. I was 29 during our initial meeting. He told me that he often sees women who are a decade older and he can't help them. He highlighted the benefits of taking a step like this at a younger age.
There are so many reason women are choosing to freeze their eggs. What was your motivation to go forward with the procedure?
I wanted options. And egg freezing has given me many.
How was the actual process of freezing your eggs?
The whole thing takes about a month. I made some lifestyle changes the month before I started the injections. Besides cutting back on exercise and alcohol, I also made sure I was eating really well. Then during the injections and the two weeks after the procedure, I abstained from alcohol and exercise. Basically you're treating your body as you would during a stressful pregnancy. I gave myself 20 injections over the course of nine nights. It was uncomfortable because the injections make you feel incredibly bloated. Then the few days after the procedure were very painful for me. But this varies from woman to woman.
Are you happy with your decision to go through with it?
Very. I have been much calmer since I made this decision. I'm not a success story yet, but at this point I'm thrilled I did it.
What would you say to young women thinking about freezing their eggs?
Do your homework. Learn about it. Talk to your doctor. Talk with your parents. Really explore the option. It's not a decision to be made lightly.
What was the response you received when your story made headlines?
Overwhelmingly positive! I must say most people have been very supportive. Sometimes I get mail on my website from people who don't like what I'm doing, but that doesn't bother me.
Name a woman who has inspired you.
My Mom, Mary Jane Clark. She rises to every occasion and is so thoughtful. In addition to being a successful writer and television news producer, she's a wonderful daughter and mother. And I can't think of anything more important.
If you could give one piece of advice to younger girls, what would it be?
Being well behaved is nothing, but being well mannered is everything.
It's impressive how much you've accomplished so far… what's next for you?
Well I just launched this website: www.elizabethclarkspeaking.com so I'm very excited about that! I'm going to continue to travel and bring early fertility education to young women all over the country. And I'm working on a web series with my friend Katie Wee. We shot our first episode and are writing three more. 2015 has been good… I like being busy!