Making the decision to freeze my eggs came remarkably easy for me. In fact, with the exception of the enormity of the cost and a few fears over how I would react to the hormones, it was a no brainer. I was approaching my 37th birthday, was in a newish relationship way too premature for the complexity of children, and I myself was simply not ready to bring life into this world, despite the repeated and persistent pleas by my oh so eloquent Jewish grandmother to just “get on with it already” before she was “dead and buried.”
To be fair however, now that I am sitting here and recounting it all, maybe the decision wasn’t as easy as I’d like to think it was. In actually, 36 wasn’t the first time I had contemplated freezing my eggs. It was a question that had been percolating in the back of my mind for over five years, but it was not until I hit my mid 30’s, when armed with a greater sense of pragmatism and perspective, that I had the courage, know-how and emotional maturity to finally pull the trigger.
To this day, I still vividly remember the first time I was personally confronted with the subject. At that time, oocyte cryopreservation had started to become a more common topic, but was still quite foreign to me and certainly not my chosen dinner time topic of conversation. And then, there I was, sitting in a restaurant, having my weekly dinner catch up with my folks when out of the blue, my overbearing yet well-intentioned mother starting recounting an article that she had read in which a woman had just frozen her eggs. She then abruptly turned to me and stated her firm and unrelenting recommendation that I do the same. As the tears started to well up in her eyes, she relayed how concerned she was that I was not getting any younger and that she didn’t want me to end up old and all alone. While it’s clear that my mother was well intentioned and only had my best interests in mind, her delivery (as usual) was . . . well, let me just say ‘ouch!’
I sat there shell shocked for a moment, overcome with emotions; I was angry for her blatant lack of empathy or understanding and her abrasive intrusiveness into my most private of affairs, sadness because how could she not know that I wished I had a partner who I could EVENTUALLY bear children with IF WE SO DESIRED, guilt because I always loved living a free-spirited life, as did my brother, and our conscious decision to do so unfortunately left her grand-childless. And finally frustration that she didn’t even ask me if I wanted children, but pushed her and the American nuclear agenda onto my poor womb, that was growing ever more perturbed by the tears running down her face.
At that moment, I felt as if I had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness, despite the fact that nothing, in fact, was wrong. I was a normal thirty something year old woman with a fruitful career, a full social life and a thriving dating life who was still enjoying NYC as much as the first day I had arrived almost a decade earlier.
When I think about that day now, I realize that my mother was asking me to confront something that I simply was not ready to confront. At that time, I was only capable of an emotional decision and that was to walk away angry and confused. What I didn’t realize then that I know now, is that freezing your eggs enables you to truly free your mind, so you can continue to make wise decisions as long as possible.
Fast-forward five years and I finally made my wise decision. While I still was not 100% certain that I wanted children, I did know that the clock was ticking and even if my mind or life was not fully ready, my body in time would deem it an impossibility. This was not a risk I was willing to take. Thankfully, science enabled me the opportunity to give my mind some time to catch up to my body, my paycheck gave me the opportunity to foot the astronomical bill, and my friends and family gave me every ounce of support and encouragement a girl could ever want.
So here I sit now, the proud owner of a frozen egg storage unit at NYU Langone Fertility, complete with 28 eggs and I couldn’t be more thrilled about what lies ahead for us. I can’t say that I regret anything on my personal journey as I am a huge believer in what’s meant to be, but I also realize how lucky I am with the number of eggs I harvested at my age. What I can say is that I hope that every woman today is increasingly armed with the knowledge and insight they need to make the decision that is right for them, whatever, whenever that may be.