“I’m thinking about freezing my eggs”, my eldest daughter confided recently during one of our kitchen catch-ups. I was cooking and we were talking about everything under the sun, and at some point the conversation had turned to children and child-rearing. At 34, she’s in that in-between stage of the reproductive cycle where she’s without children and still wants them, but it’s not her only priority. She’s focused on making a career change from supply chain management to becoming a full-time writer, going back to grad school, and basically achieving financial freedom and life goals. Like most people, she’s got a bucket list and while any time is the right time to do you, her time is now and she’s grabbing her moment.
I was thrilled.
“You can always look into freezing your eggs” is my mantra. More often now than ever, women have expressed their growing concerns about starting families and simultaneously climbing the pinnacles of personal accomplishments. Haven’t we all thought “later, soon, in due time” but secretly obsessed about “when” in some area of our lives? Guilty! However in my opinion, there’s always been an expectation that because of biological determination, women are naturally supposed to forgo some of their own dreams and ambitions for the sake of childrearing because the ol’ clock is ticking. While I think everyone has an internal timeline to achieve certain goals, with women and having children there’s traditionally been a different pressure because it all comes down to biology. If you don’t use those eggs, you lose them.
For a long time, cryopreservation was something that just wasn’t readily discussed between a women or a gynecologist. To have children or not had a hard line: Either start early and knock it out or forsake having children altogether. And it doesn’t help that the media (and sometimes well-intending families and friends) goad with good intention but simultaneously look on with woe at the woman who is childless. I am consistently surprised by this outdated logic and surprised that the elusive third option of freezing one’s eggs is not as openly discussed as say, sex. We liberally talk about sex as we should, so why not discuss reproduction as frankly? Isn’t that part of the turf of being a woman who is the master of her own destiny lock, stock, and barrel? You can opt out of the terror alert and jump on cryopreservation. It’s as simple as discussing with your gynecologist and if deemed in suitable reproductive health, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated with fertility medication containing follicle stimulation hormones (FSH) to release multiple eggs during the menstrual cycle rather than one, and they are usually mature eggs. Once the eggs are “ready”, the eggs are removed and it takes about 10-15 minutes. Is it costly? Yup, anywhere from $10,000-15,000 dabloons to freeze just one batch of eggs. But it’s the principle and prerogative of the thing, and the fact that you are at the liberty to do it if medically fit to do so. Now that’s pro-choice.
“In my opinion, there’s always been an expectation that because of biological determination, women are naturally supposed to forgo some of their own dream and ambitions for the sake of childrearing because the ol’ clock is ticking.”
While most employers who offer medical coverage don’t traditionally cover reimbursements for a fertility clinic, you can be reimbursed for sonograms and blood work. I mention this because during the election Mitt Romney categorically positioned himself as pro-choice on the campaign trail, but had asserted repeatedly that he would “immediately” eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood from the budget as if Planned Parenthood only deals with birth control and abortions and doesn’t address women’s health as a whole (mammograms, cervical cancer screening, pap smears, etc.), routine women’s health procedures that if paid out-of-pocket, Obama defended “this is a pocketbook issue”. Obama punctuated not only his allegiance to women by reminding us all what we already know, which is that women are “increasingly becoming the breadwinners of the family” and that equality in the workplace is ”not just women’s issue, but a family issues and economic issue…part of what makes an economy grow is when everyone participates and everyone is getting a fair deal”. There had also been growing debate over whether your employer should cover your birth control pills from your gynecologist and if coverage is contestable, which if they are a generic prescription still fall under pharmaceutical jurisdiction. Isn’t death from prescription drug abuse (sometimes generic) still a paramount controversy? Correct me if I’m wrong, but are scores of women meeting an early demise from birth control pills that I don’t know about? Underscore, if birth control pills were as financially lucrative as say, antianxiety medication, would there be any contest? Not only being keenly aware of the full demographical scope of the country, not just as statistics but as an economic entity, is the key to a successful presidency. Everyone knows how frustrating it is to be at a company that is top-heavy with 1% of the corporation guzzling 99% of the revenue, so the 1% who carries the workload gets an annual bone-throw of a bonus but no steady raise in salary. With unemployment just making recovery headway from financial crisis and massive overhaul, it’s sometimes access to health coverage and low co-pays that are the leverage for a flat salary. Furthermore, if we were looking at the economy as pie chart that had was shifting demographical weight and had been doing so for over a decade, that’s enough history to warrant women’s health an economic one, and not some niggling neurosis of the bleeding heart variety that the Republican party would like to paint. That would just be a prudent business decision, and that was precisely what Obama deemed it as.
“I don’t know any working woman in this day and age who can’t balance the demands of her chosen career because of her family. She simply makes the time or negotiates that her partner or family members shoulder some of the responsibilities.”
Then again, in retrospect, I don’t know why I was shocked by the blatant disregard for women’s rights. Was I the only one who just shook their head at the response to how they planned to shore up salary inequality in the workforce with women earning $.72 cents to a man’s $1.00? Romney answered the same question by first, indicating that when screening applicants for his cabinet no women applied so he went and looked for women with the qualifications for the positions, which to me highlights a potential Equal Opportunity prejudicial screening issue which is always hard to prove. No women applied? None? Very hard to believe. He then went on to assert that women need “flexibility” so that they could be home with their families if needed, which to me almost defends that this is why only get 72%; they are potentially working 72% of the time. I don’t know any working woman in this day and age can’t balance the demands of her chosen career because of her family. She simply makes the time or negotiates that her partner or family members shoulder some of the responsibilities. This is no new argument so the lack of forethought was so insulting that it was just laughable. It was answered in red-handed fright as if he’d just been asked by his wife to account for his whereabouts for the first time. I’m sure if the same allusion where that women were only able to potentially work 72% of the time because they were prone to hysterics, they’d get a prescription for Mother’s Little Helper or a trip to a sanitarium for what is now known as 2 day PMS. Laugh, but the rate of political retrograde was nearly back and in office. Obama didn’t bother to launch an attack; he merely gave Romney the rope to hang himself.
So a moment of gratitude that the most qualified man won the presidential debate; the one who responds to uncertainties that affect the resilient men and women that comprise this nation with dignity and realism, and not the 1950’s throwback that was nearly elected. Hope is restored and the world breathes a collective sigh of relief. Ladies first!