As I drove to my doctor's office for a routine checkup, I had a mission. I wanted to ask about the option of freezing my eggs. I half-wished that he would just tell me that I'm too old, my eggs are done, and it would be a waste of time and money to freeze my creaky, 38-year-old eggs. Hearing that would instantly save me from taking action regarding my reproductive future, not to mention, thousands of dollars. But that's not what he said.
He told me that the time is now. That I shouldn't even wait a year. Oh boy. Here we go. I'm a divorced single mom of a four-year old boy, who is the light of my life. I never thought I'd be the woman willing to spend thousands of dollars on conceiving my own biological child, but when I look at our faces in the mirror, or him playing with my parents, or see how similar our expressions are, my heart swells. I never thought my marriage would end, and I never thought I'd be a single mom at 38, contemplating the end of my natural fertility. But here I am. Single. And my eggs are about to expire.
The decision of freezing my eggs is complicated and rife with more questions. How badly do I want a second child? Can I afford to do it alone? What are my chances of delivering a healthy baby from a frozen egg? How long can it stay frozen? How old can I be to carry an implanted egg? What if I don't use them? This egg freezing decision is not going over easy.
I turn on the TV and catch Maria Menounous on Dr. Drew's Lifechangers chronicling her egg-freezing adventures because she is a busy working 33-year-old who wants a reproductive insurance policy of sorts, to ensure her choice to become a mother even in her 40's. I call the fertility specialist.
Even a few years ago, this was not a viable option for women. Still considered "experimental", results aren't guaranteed, but the technology has advanced. I had heard that the cost is about $10,000, but upon speaking to the specialist, the actual cost, without complications, is closer to $15-18K. That's a lot of money to preserve a future "what if."
Forgetting the preclusive price tag for the moment, I'm elated at the thought of how powerful it is for women to be offered this choice to protect our fertility in a work climate that is less than family-friendly. I tell the doctor that this could be a remarkable step for women, that as the technology advances, every 25 year-old woman could freeze her eggs, and in essence outsmart the biological clock! What a game changer this could be!
But my doctor stops me cold. She simply says, "…Or, we could live in a society that supports women in the workplace at a child-bearing age with affordable child care options and a family friendly work environment." I almost cry. She's right. If we had that, we wouldn't have to go through experimental procedures to outsmart our biological clock, we could just go with it.
She recommends that I use a sperm donor and get pregnant immediately. Which also makes me want to cry. I realize that's not what I want. I don't want another baby right now- what I do want is to be told that should I want another biological child in the future, the choice won't be taken off the table entirely.
I decide not to go through with it. I am so lucky to have my son, and I think I needed this exercise in fertility to make that crystal clear to me. Who knows what the future holds? I might meet someone and get knocked up before my eggs are done, or I might not. But either way, I've learned: Fertility is a finite thing. You don't think much about it, until you need it, and then it is still an unknown at best.
What would you do? Would you freeze your eggs to preserve reproductive choice?
-Diane Mizota, Host of This Week in M.O.M