Saving Eggs for a Rainy Day
More and more women are leaving motherhood until later in life but what if you don’t know if kids are on the agenda. Do you freeze your eggs or risk what could be a huge life regret?
Column by Jo Gregory
As I steadily approach my 37th birthday as a newly single woman I’ve begun to ask myself a lot of questions about my future and, because us women have a limited time frame on these damn ovaries of ours, I often ask myself about babies and, more to the point, what the feck I’m gonna do about it.
I’m a maternal person, so much so that my work pals even call me ‘Mama’ but I’ve never yearned for kids. I was never that little girl bumping into things with a mini buggy playing ‘mum’. I never imagined myself growing up and having the 2.4 family life. However, in 2016, after years of being married, my husband and I decided to take the plunge. That’s what you do right? You get married, you buy a house, you have a baby.
I got pregnant first time, bingo. However, at the 12 week scan we were told there was no heartbeat and a termination had to follow. It was a heart-breaking time. From never really being fussed about children, to (prematurely) planning the rest of your life around this new creature; to have it suddenly taken away was a lot to take in. I now know that the baby was just a patch on our failing marriage and in some ways my body did me a favour. It wasn’t my time and it would have made leaving one another an extremely complicated process. Now I am single, I’m a world away from commitment and babies… Christ, even a year’s membership at the gym puts the fear of God into me.
Yet, I keep getting asked the same question, as flippantly as asking if I want a pint, “are you going to freeze your eggs?” As I speak to more and more people about this, it seems everyone knows at least one person who has taken this route for varying reasons and they can’t find a reason why I wouldn’t want to do it myself.
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I get it, if you’ve always imagined children in your future and you’ve just split from your husband as you edge your way to your forties, you’d probably want a back-up too. However, I count myself very lucky, because being a maternally minded singleton over the age of 30 must be exhausting. Those hormones and that ache for a baby can do insane things to us wonderful beings. I know of some women who are so obsessed with having a baby, they will hook up with the next available suitor just to conceive and settle with their lot. But what if it wasn’t your lifelong dream? And what if the only reason you can cite for having a child is, so you don’t die alone?
The hardest thing for me being childless is the lack of empathy between my friends and I. You’ve bonded with these women, your best friends, for most of your life. You’ve shared everything; nursing each other through break ups, bereavements, staying up for days talking absolute shit. Now, all of a sudden, there’s something in their lives that you’ll never be able to identify with. You’ll never understand the bond that ties them to their baby. You’re not able to experience the unconditional love between a parent and a child and you haven’t gone through the heroic trauma of childbirth.
I began to read up on this apparent egg freezing trend and was shocked at the numbers. In the UK it costs on average between £3,500 – £5,000 to extract your eggs and then you need to add on the costs for keeping your eggs on ice over the years until you’re ready to conceive. A study by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority shows that only 14 per cent of women who attempted conception from their frozen eggs were successful. They also suggest that women’s eggs are best extracted before the age of 35. So, all in all, the odds of my potentially, very pricey gamble, are looking fairly slim. I’d rather spend the money sodding off to a holiday to the Caribbean on my own, pretending I’m in some crap ITVBe series where Dean Gaffney is my love interest, than spend money on something I don’t even know I want.
Perhaps if I were a man in this situation, I’d feel differently about having a child. For starters, I wouldn’t need to give up my body. I wouldn’t need to breast feed and the buck wouldn’t ultimately stop with me (I know it’s 2019 people, but some things never change) and that’s the thing that scares me most. I am having trouble keeping myself alive let alone someone else… and don’t get me started on the sleep thing.
So, no, I won’t be skipping down to the clinic to spend my hard-earned cash. If the curious day does come where I suddenly change my mind, I’d rather leave it down to this body of mine than force something that’s simply not meant to be.