Winnie recently decided to freeze her eggs. This is her story so far…
So, freezing my eggs had never been part of The Plan. Growing up as a young girl, this was never the sentimental, greeting-card image of how my life was meant to progress: School, then, University, then First Job, then Next Job, then Freezing My Eggs. No, after First Job, there was supposed to be something about Meeting a Nice Man, then Marriage, then Family. But I seem to have missed that turn-off somehow, and now I’m on a different track. A track which is taking me, inevitably, unavoidably, towards Freezing My Eggs.
Of course, at 37, I tell myself that the scripted template of the modern woman’s life is a artificial construction, something concocted by consumer culture and societal conventions and glossy women’s magazines to remind me, constantly, that I’m not wearing enough eyeliner, or being assertive enough in meetings, or using enough subtle body language on a first date to snag myself a lasting boyfriend. Most of the time, I say ‘Screw it, who cares?’
But this time, I do care. This time, I’m facing the simple undeniable fact that if I actually want to have children — and do that whole motherhood thing, the biological wonder of a child growing inside me — my options are running out. The last turn-off towards motherhood is fast approaching, there’s no turning back once I’ve passed it, and I don’t even have a vehicle to get off the highway in time.
But wait — there’s this other option. This detour called egg-freezing.
Slightly older female friends have been telling me about egg-freezing for some time. I’ve watched many of them struggle with getting pregnant through rounds of IVF, I’ve watched many others mellow into motherhood. But through it all, I never actually thought about my own journey, that it would be so difficult to find a partner in today’s dating world, and that this would have a knock-on effect on whether I could actually ever become a mother.
In a whiney child’s voice, I want to say: ‘That’s not fair!’ I’ve had a fulfilling career and an active life and have traveled to over 60 countries in the world. It’s just no one ever warned me about the motherhood deadline — or if they did, I never really took it seriously. How come men can do all the things I’ve done and never have to worry about whether they’ll get to father a child?
But I tell myself I’m not a child anymore, I’m a modern woman. And I have savings and choices and well, ok, so… consider this Plan B. A quick stop-off that might somehow allow me to re-route back towards motherhood, should I ever want to go there.
This stop-off costs at least £ 5,000. This is a significant chunk of money for me, but I tell myself it’s worth it. My friends give me recommendations for clinics. And on my 37th birthday, I bite the bullet, go to a clinic, and have my fertility tests taken.
The results are not promising. To add the heap of things we can feel inadequate about as modern women, there’s also our biological fertility levels, something over which we have no control.
I am told my chances of collecting many viable eggs are low. I hem, I haw. A few months pass, I continue to age. And now, nearly six months after those tests were taken (the expiry date for their viability), I’m deciding to go ahead with the procedure. On Day 1 of my next period, I’ll start injecting myself every day with hormones. Every other day, I’ll be going in for trans-vaginal scans.
Is this what giving myself an option looks like?
I guess so. Some women consider this an empowering step, deciding to freeze your eggs. But I’m just seeing it as Plan B. I may just be throwing £ 5,000 down the toilet. But I don’t really seem to have that many other options left.