There was an article in this Sunday’s New York Times that led to lots of discussion in our office. Titled “So Eager for Grandchildren, They’re Paying the Egg-Freezing Clinic”, the crux of the piece is about a growing trend of parents lending financial support to their 35+ year old daughters to undergo egg freezing to improve their chances of having children later on, when they are ready to start a family. With the “no guarantees” procedure costing a whopping $8,000 – $18,000 (excluding the future costs of using those frozen eggs for In Vitro Fertilization), we think it’s lovely and generous for parents to want to help their adult daughters in this way. But, if the motivation to help is wrapped in a parent’s personal desire to increase their own chances of being a grandparent, that’s when the line is crossed from care and concern to unnecessary and unfair pressure.
One 61 year old woman, who suggested her daughter freeze her eggs and then followed her parental nudge with an offer to pay for a portion of the procedure, is quoted in the article as saying, “By the time Allison was 35, I felt the clock was tick-tick-ticking.” Whose clock… her’s or her daughter’s? On the flip side, the story goes on to quote a 36 year old woman whose parents paid for her to have her eggs frozen. She says, “Grandchildren are really important to parents. Everybody wants to experience being a grandparent.” So, is the goal to fulfill her dream of being a mom or her parents’ desire to be grandparents? If the latter, that is a lot of self-imposed or external pressure to have to live up to. But, the article does also relay several other parent-daughter/mother-daughter egg freezing experiences, where the topic is seemingly broached from a pure place of loving family support. It’s worth a read.
Maybe this piece struck a particular cord with us as the Women You Should Know team is surrounded by late 30 something and 40-something career minded woman, who have not quite gotten to the place of having children just yet. The thought of hope-to-be grandparents putting any level of pressure on their adult daughters to have a medical procedure that is still labeled “experimental” by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine is hard to stomach. But, for those women who make the personal choice to go the egg freezing route for themselves and in the process get the unconditional support – emotional, financial, etc. – from family, then we say, “Hooray for you lucky ladies!” We feel incredibly fortunate to live in a day and age when there are better and more advanced medical options that may help women to prolong fertility when our lives don’t follow a certain prescribed path.
One of our favorite parts of the New York Times article was the introduction to Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, author of “In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment and Motherhood”, who is quoted in the piece. She describes conversations about fertility between women and their parents as “the postmodern, adult birds-and-the-bees talk.”
So what makes this Woman You Should Know such an expert on the topic of biological clocks, post 35 fertility issues and life choices? At thirty-one, Rachel thought she had everything: the perfect boyfriend, an exciting career, and the promise of marriage and children in her future. But one year later, the relationship ended and she found herself starting over, consumed by a rapidly approaching deadline: age 35, the dividing line between a regular and a “high risk” pregnancy.
Faced with the pressure of finding true love on the edge of her fertility, Rachel traveled around the world and into the heart of America to explore the many new choices available to women in the twenty-first century – egg freezing, single motherhood, and instant families – while also grappling with her own ambitions, anxieties, and personal values. She documented it all in her book, “In Her Own Sweet Time”, which is described as a witty, poignant, and profoundly honest account of Rachel’s efforts to reconcile modern love.
Thank you Rachel for writing a book that speaks to so many women who want it all – a career, a family, the perfect partner – but haven’t figured out how to fit it all together yet. We cannot wait to read this.