I will not look back and lament not considering this option, no matter what the eventual outcome, and that is worth every penny to me.
Last month, Facebook and Apple announced that they would begin covering the costs of egg freezing for their employees, setting off a firestorm of controversy across the country. Articles praising the benefits of this offering were quickly answered with articles that declared these measures just another way to get women to work harder and longer, or shaming these companies for their implied input into women’s reproductive decisions.
The story that I missed reading in this discussion was that of someone who wanted to freeze her eggs no matter what the cost or who was paying for it. The story of someone like me.
From a very young age, I wanted to be a mother. I wanted it more than fame (a recurrent childhood dream), more than getting married, and more than a successful career (not that I believe any of these are mutually exclusive). The desire for children has been a constant in my life that has never wavered. It was always the dream I reserved for “someday.”
“Someday” when I finally find the right partner. “Someday” after I’ve traveled and am ready to settle in one place. “Someday” when my career slows down and I have more time.
And then I turned 36, and suddenly it seemed like “someday” should have been here by now. I hadn’t been in a relationship in quite some time, and had never been in one that was pointed toward happily ever after, in any semblance. I had always bristled over questions about why I was still single, and deflected suggestions of egg freezing with the same response I reserved for recommendations about joining match.com: “It’s not for me.”
But approaching 36 felt different, like I was finally becoming a real adult. Many of my friends were on their second or third child, happily nesting, and for the first time, when I visited them and their adorable babies, only one thought remained after the visit: I want that, too.
I could no longer pretend that I didn’t hear my biological clock ticking. All of a sudden, there seemed to be articles everywhere about the challenges of getting pregnant after 35—or maybe I was just now reading them after years of careful abstention. When three separate people mentioned egg freezing to me within a week of each other this summer, I stopped my blanket “It’s not for me” sentiments and actually looked into the procedure and what it might offer me.
I received a referral to a doctor I liked immediately for her easy smile and calming demeanor. She patiently walked me through each step of egg freezing (often painful hormone shots, numerous ultrasounds and blood tests, culminating in a retrieval procedure under anesthesia). Having all of the information in front of me allowed me to seriously consider this for the first time.
I looked more closely at all of the statistics of getting pregnant in your 30s, or your 40s, and weighed them against the statistics of egg freezing. I plugged the costs into my financial spreadsheets to see if this was even an option for someone who left her corporate job earlier this year to travel the world. I spent a few sleepless nights considering what I really wanted for myself—a child, someday, ideally when I also have a partner—and if this would further those desires or hamper them.
In the end, the decision was shockingly easy.
There was an option in front of me that could increase my chances of one day becoming a mother, and there really was no reason for me not to pursue it. It wasn’t about putting off motherhood so that I could work longer, nor was it about fear or pressure or anyone else’s opinion about what I should do with my body or my life. It was a very personal choice that I made for myself so that, should I need it, there is an additional avenue to help me have children.
The news about Facebook and Apple broke the day I signed the credit card receipt at my doctor’s office. When the criticism of these companies poured in shortly afterward, some of it confused me. If my company had offered to cover the costs of the procedure, but I was not interested in doing it, it would not have compelled me to move forward with it. I wouldn’t have felt like my company was dictating what I should do with my body. It would have simply been another benefit offered that I didn’t take advantage of, like the free legal advice or orthodontic work. But if I had made the decision already, and my company had offered this benefit, it would have alleviated a large financial burden for me.
Egg freezing is one of the only fertility procedures not covered by the corporate-issued insurance that I am still on. All costs are covered out of pocket, up to an estimated $15,000 for one cycle. I am grateful that it is even a possibility for me to do this. I recognize that it is not an option for many women, due to the exorbitant cost.
There are no guarantees, with this or any other fertility procedure. And it is not a decision that is right for every woman. But it offers me the peace of mind that I have done everything in my power to up my odds of having children. I will not look back and lament not considering this option, no matter what the eventual outcome, and that is worth every penny to me.
As I await yet another ultrasound to determine whether it’s time to retrieve my eggs, I know that I have made the right decision for me. And that’s ultimately the only opinion in this debate that matters to me.
Katie Devine is an LA-based writer whose work has appeared on The Huffington Post, xojane.com, Medium, and The Manifest-Station, along with her own site, Confessions of An Imperfect Life. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.