To Freeze or Not to Freeze

  Photo Credit:   CarbonNYC [in SF!]   via   Compfight     cc

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC [in SF!] via Compfight cc

Over the Holidays my mom decided she wanted something extra special for Christmas. After watching an episode of Today Show, she shares with me the process of freezing eggs. Having received cartons full of her homegrown chicken eggs on a weekly basis for over 3 years now, I assumed she was telling how to freeze chicken eggs so they last longer. As someone who occasionally worries that I’ve had the eggs in my fridge too long, I thought she was on to something. I intently listened as she described the process of taking the eggs, storing and freezing them, until she got to this part in her story… “then you throw a party, like a baby shower, but for frozen eggs”.Then, I realized that she wasn’t talking about her chicken’s eggs, she was talking about MY eggs!  

I admit. I’m a junkie for ambition. I want to accomplish a great number of things. I’m 32, recently married and working to build a software company from the ground up. I have aspirations to get a doctorate degree, run for political office and continue to be active in my community. Many books have been written to help people like me realize that having children doesn’t mean you lose the opportunity to be an ambitious person. While I believe this in theory, I wonder how true it will really be for me and my husband. I’m grateful for the friends and mentors who have paved the way and continue to remind us that having children doesn’t really indicate “the end of your life”. 

And the classic “have fun while you can” advice isn’t always the case. You can have adventure and be ambitious while having children. But how does all of this really shake out? Are these frozen eggs the solution to following your dreams THEN having kids? 

Turns out the frozen egg cocktail party (what my mom describe as a baby shower) is either an informational gathering bringing together fertility doctors, egg storage companies, and women who are interested or who have experienced the process OR an event where you announce to your friends and family “don’t worry about my ambition, take the pressure off me, I’ve frozen my eggs”.  

Instead of the pressure to hurry up and have kids, I now have the pressure to freeze my eggs. But I’m only 32. Isn’t the 30’s the new 20’s when it comes to having children?  Can’t I just be 32without the pressure of having a kid or planning the future of having a kid by freezing it in a box until “I’m ready”. After all, most people, when giving life advice, also say, “You’ll never be ready”.  So who’s to say I won’t freeze my eggs then wake up when I’m 55 without children but with a container of my 32-year-old eggs that can’t be used?  

Can I not be ambitious while having children? Is this not possible? The assumption is that I will be the one to do the heavy lifting in our family when it comes to raising a child. What if my husband is willing to pick up that load so I can be ambitious and accomplish all of my goals without having to give them up? What if he is ok with being the one our kid runs to every time he/she gets hurt? This blurb from a Guardian article in response to Sheryl Sandburg’s approach in “Lean In” hits the nail on the head. 

It’s a normal assumption that women will have kids, and that mothers will become the primary caretaker over the father. It’s also normal these days to modify “mother” into “working mother”. But “father” is also a “working father,” yet we don’t seem to use that term very often. It’s normal to see the well-worn media image of a tired, hard-working father loosening his tie as he walks through the door to greet his wife and kids late in the evening, but a woman coming home late from the office is more often a punchline. It’s normal to call a woman neglectful for hiring a nanny, or lazy for taking maternity leave. It’s normal to make wild assumptions about women as a whole, regardless of the wide variety of individuals that the female gender encompasses.

The assumptions must be absent from the beginning. It must be accepted that a woman’s place is wherever she wants to be. The final frontier of gender equality is individualism. Just as a man is allowed to decide where his happy balance of home and work life is, so should women. Women’s place is no longer in the home. We all need to stop assuming it is.
— Sheryl Sandberg

I don’t have a profound solution on this topic. I’m still wading through the advice and options and deciding if I go with the “kids won’t ruin your life and ambition” or the “I better freeze my eggs in case they do” version. I welcome your thoughts.