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Is Freezing Your Eggs the Solution?

Vivia Chen

May 9, 2013

Woman with Egg © Kirill Kedrinski - Fotolia.comStop fretting. You might never "have it all" (whatever the hell that means), but at least you can have it on your time.

I'm talking about babies and that tick-tick-tick ringing in your head. You know, the proverbial biological clock that goes off when you hit your mid-30s.

For all you career gals who haven't found Mr. Right (because you failed miserably at husband-nabbing in college!) or are too busy climbing the corporate ladder, I'm here to tell you it's all good. Here's the solution: Freeze your eggs and have the bambino (or bambini) when you are good and ready!

That's the advice Sarah Elizabeth Richards gives in The Wall Street Journal: "Why I Froze My Eggs (And You Should Too)." She writes:

Between the ages of 36 and 38, I spent nearly $50,000 to freeze 70 eggs in the hope that they would help me have a family in my mid-40s, when my natural fertility is gone. For this baby insurance, I obliterated my savings and used up the money my parents had set aside for a wedding.

And how does she feel about this massive effort? "It was the best investment I ever made." Richards describes it as liberating:

Amid all the talk about women "leaning in" and "having it all," the conversation has left out perhaps the most powerful gender equalizer of all—the ability to control when we have children. . . . At a time when one in five American women between the ages of 40 and 44 is childless—and half say they would still like to have children—egg freezing offers a once-unimaginable reprieve.

What's more, Richards writes that freezing her eggs yields another dividend: a better love life. Rather than fret about whether a date is "The One" who will marry and impregnate her before her fertility runs out, she's now much more relaxed—and hence more successful—at relationships. After the procedures, Richards eventually got on Match. com and "met a wonderful 45-year-old single dad who wants more kids and wanted to hear all about my frozen eggs."

Wow—talking about your 70 frozen eggs must be a real ice breaker!

But let's get back to her main point: Women now have a technological tool to control their reproduction—and that is a positive thing. Richards predicts that freezing eggs will become part of many women's long term plans:

In the future, a woman who registers for law or medical school—and knows ahead of time that she will spend her prime baby-making years in the trenches—would ask for loans for tuition and egg freezing at the same time.

I'm sure some people will fault Richards for being too practical, maybe a bit cold, about life's major moments. And I can hear the outrage about how "selfish" she is for doing everything on her own timetable. Some might also argue that she's reducing men to the role of sperm donor. 

Then there's this issue: Postponing motherhood is a luxury many women don't have. First, egg freezing is terribly expensive (she says it costs about "$9,000 to $13,000 a cycle, not including the drugs or storage"). Plus, it's hard to be a single mother unless you have a high-paying job or lots of family support.

But I'm willing to say that this could benefit women who are lawyers or other professionals (see comments by Elie Mystal at Above the Law for an opposing view on this.) I mean, if it allows you to press on with your career and makes you far less anxious about missing out on life, what's wrong with that?

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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.



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I find the amount of judgement about this astounding. You should do it when you're young?!? When I was in my late 20s/early 30s, I suffered fibromyalgia. I'll be much healthier - physically, emotionally and financially - when I give birth at 45. Please be aware that not everyone has the same circumstances that you do.

From a scientific perspective, egg freezing is not nearly as reliable as sperm freezing. Indeed, it was considered entirely experimental until the past few years and some medical centers still consider it to be. For that reason, egg freezing is not the most relaible form of fertility insurance. Unfortunately, the body has limitations. (Embryo freezing is more reliable, but you'd need a sperm donor to do it--known or anonymous.) From an employment perspective, we need to keep pressuring employers to create more family friendly policies and lobby the government for PAID maternity leave. Not being able to do it all is reason a lot of women wait, especially lawyers. Even with the advances made by women Corporate America is still a male driven paradigm. We can't solve the "why aren't there enough good men to go around issue", but we can make Corporate America better. We'll create a more productive workforce and give the mothers of boys more time to raise our next generation of good men!

Freezing your eggs is only the beginning, there is a lot more that needs to be done before you actually have a baby. But I'll leave that explination to the Drs.

Picture this - your 64 years old and your 22 year old daughter is jobless and living with you. Your 19 year old daughter is a Freshman in College. As you think about retirement you realize that you will be paying for that college education until your 67 and that graduate will probably need health insurance for a while. You've developed arthritis in your knees and you need to get up from your desk frequently to avoid freezing in place.

I know about this because I am that woman. I had the college student when I was almost 45. Both my kids think it's hilarious when people ask if they are with their grandmother. Believe me I didn't intend to have kids in my 40s, that was when it finally happened. Before embarking on this "carefree" mission - think about the kids.

Well...there it is! Thank for the best use of $25,000-$50,000 a woman can spend between 30-45 :-)...along with a smart phone to download her optimal fertility cycle (really, ti's in the app. store)

Happy Mother's Day!

This is a crazy idea. Just because it's technically possible to have a baby at 45 or whenever is convenient from a career perspective, doesn't mean it's practical. Taking care of a baby, and a toddler, and even a school age child, is exhausting, and you need to be at least relatively young to do it. I did it in my mid '30s and wish I had been younger. And people start to have serious illnesses as they enter their 50s - do you want to be in that position with a young child? Unfortunately, having kids is something you should do while you are still relatively young.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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