The Baby Dilemma: Hope in a Tank
Although the technology is rapidly improving, egg freezing is still experimental and not widely recommended as a tool to put off having children. But I was in a deadline crunch. I hoped to have kids the regular way, but in case I couldn’t, I wanted an extension.
Egg freezing, I soon learned, is no quick fix. I couldn’t get an appointment at the clinic for three weeks. Then, I would have to wait until the third day of my next period so they could measure my follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol levels. If they were too high, the whole deal was off. After a “prep” month of hormone pills and blood tests, I could finally start the hormone shots. That was more than three months away! My eggs would need a walker at that rate — if I had any money left to buy one.
The Madison Avenue clinic I chose charges $13,000 (excluding storage or IVF to implant the thawed eggs). At first, I thought no price was too high for a chance to cheat biology. But when I had to leech my life savings, it began to sink in that I was buying just that: a chance — not a fix at all.
During my consultation, Dr. Tanmoy Mukherjee, my reproductive endocrinologist at RMA, spouted the best statistics he had: Some eggs would not survive freezing or thawing or be successfully fertilized, but the remaining embryos had a 30 percent chance of implanting.
I rationalized that I simply needed lots of eggs, and I wrote the check. I was thrilled to finally be on the freezing fast track. But the hope was tinged with a big dose of doubt.
Of course, there was the unsettling chance that I was infertile at this very moment. At the clinic, however, I learned that my hormone levels were normal, and I saw my ovaries on an ultrasound: They looked like cookies made with mini chocolate chips — each dark bit representing an egg. “They look good,” Mukherjee declared. With that, I left in search of folic acid. It all seemed so easy.