I’m a teenager. Most people expect that means my top priorities are partying, crushes, maybe travel, what’s happening with the Kardashians, and I don’t know, studying? You know, typical teen stuff. What they don’t expect is me telling them that my top priority, at 19 years old, is freezing my eggs.
These days, women are having children later and later than previous generations did. This is often because we’re prioritizing our careers and opting to start a family when we’re older. But I’ve witnessed far too many wonderful women in my life wait to have children until they’re older — only to struggle, often to no avail, with infertility. The fact of the matter is: The younger you are, the higher your chances of getting pregnant. It’s just straight-up biology.
I’ve always known that I wanted to have children. I’ve always felt that maternal pull. And I’ve always envisioned children as part of my life plan, much like graduating high school, attending university and buying a house. But as much as I want to have kids, I also want a thriving career. I’m very ambitious and driven to succeed, and I have no patience for the idea that women can’t “have it all” — both a career and a family. I’m determined to make “it all” happen for myself.
So, I plan to freeze my eggs.
I see egg-freezing as an investment in my future. It’s like investing money or getting car insurance; I believe that freezing my eggs will give me the best chance to build the life I want to live. It will give me options.
I won’t be pressured by my “fertile window.” I won’t see a countdown flash whenever I close my eyes, alerting me to the time I have left to start a family. Of course, I may end up conceiving a child naturally; I am in no way ruling that out. I’m just looking at the facts. And the facts are that women struggle to have children later in life. And if that ends up being my experience, I want to give myself the best chance to conceive — with a little help from IVF.
When I’ve told people about my plans to freeze my eggs, I’ve been met with a lot of different reactions. One of my friends looked horrified when I shared the news. She emphatically told me, over and over again, that I would find someone to have kids with, that I didn’t need to resort to egg-freezing. My dad was very confused when I brought it up; he couldn’t comprehend why I would want to put myself through the intense process of egg collection. My mom (who actually works in IVF), on the other hand, was incredibly supportive; she deals with a lot of women (and men) who have waited to have kids until they were older and are now struggling to conceive.
Some folks with whom I’ve discussed my egg-freezing plans have asked me what I will do with my frozen eggs if I end up conceiving naturally when I’m older. I don’t have a definitive answer to that question yet, although I know I would seriously consider donating the eggs. I mean, I have friends who are donor-conceived, and they’re ace, so I would love to be able to give the gift of life to a family who couldn’t have kids naturally. I’d also potentially donate my eggs for research purposes.
And no, I’m not going to freeze my eggs tomorrow, so everyone can chill (pun intended). The egg retrieval procedure alone can cost up to $10,000, and then I’ll have to pay $250-$500 each year for storage of my eggs. I’m currently a full-time university student, working part-time. I do not have a cool 10K lying around to go towards freezing my eggs this minute — but I am currently saving up for the procedure, and aim to have enough by the time I’m 22. At that time, I’ll approach IVF companies for advice about freezing my eggs. I may be told to hold off until my mid- to late twenties; as Kate Stern of Melbourne IVF told ABC News, “I guess the optimum age to freeze your eggs is really about the same as an optimum age to have a baby: in your mid- to late 20s.” So there’s a chance I won’t be freezing my eggs for a few years.
Another potential speed hump in my egg-freezing journey? Australia’s Government regulations. After a set amount of time, I need to get permission from the government to keep storing my eggs. As long as I’m of a fertile age, they will most likely let me keep storing them. But there’s a chance I could go through the arduous egg-retrieval process — all those hormones and injections — just for the government to tell me I can’t keep my eggs anymore. But I’m hopeful that this won’t be the case.
I don’t know what my health will look like in the future. My grandmother passed away from a rare uterine cancer, and it’s unknown if there’s a genetic link. It’s impossible for me to guarantee my fertility in future years. Hell, maybe I’m already infertile and I don’t even know it. Maybe my frozen eggs won’t work, and I won’t be able to have kids through IVF. But freezing my eggs will give me the greatest peace of mind I can find — and a real hope that I will have the option to try to conceive children, if I choose to use it.