In her book, Motherhood Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It, Sarah Elizabeth Richards shares how her desire to someday become a mother led to a year-long freezing frenzy in the hope there would be enough healthy eggs available to her when the right time and man comes along. Her dilemma (addiction?) started at age 36 when it became undeniably clear the man in her life could not be persuaded to have children. She wasn’t ready to let go her dream of motherhood.
Richards describes a feeling of calm as she awakened in her fertility clinic’s recovery room after nine eggs were harvested and frozen. This calm turned quickly to anxiety as she worried if nine is enough.
She soon found out she was not alone in her anxiety. She cites a study conducted from the New York University Langone Medical Center in which approximately 500 women were asked about their own egg-freezing experiences. Empowerment was reported by 53 percent of the study respondents but 36 percent said empowerment was mixed with anxiety.
With something as important as motherhood at stake, a lot can go wrong with just nine eggs. The retrieval process alone introduces opportunity for error as do the freezing and thawing processes. There’s no way to know in advance that all nine eggs could be fertilized or how many would result in pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage or other complications of pregnancy meant there was no guarantee a pregnancy would produce a baby.
Even more disturbing, perhaps, was the thought of the joy of motherhood. What if one of her nine eggs did produce a healthy baby? Would that blessing feel so wonderful it would make her want more than one child? Could nine eggs produce more than one child? She’d always wanted three children. Was that possible?
Richards had once overheard a doctor suggest women can become addicted to egg freezing. That notion was beginning to make sense to her. She was willing to invest all her savings and borrow money to freeze extra eggs. A plentiful stash of frozen eggs was suddenly more appealing that a vacation, house, or even a wedding.
Her quest for a hoard of frozen eggs led Richards to Canada and to the internet, where she bought generic fertility drugs from a Spanish manufacturer via a British pharmacy (the US Food and Drug Administration considers online overseas drug purchases too risky and advises strongly against doing so). She tried different kinds of egg stimulation therapies. She spent a year bloated and cranky but, $50,000 later, she’s got 70 eggs frozen and is waiting for her to make the final decision when the time is right for her to become a mother.
Source: Richards, Sarah Elizabeth Richards. “Freezing Eggs, and Hoarding My Fertility.” The New York Times / Motherlode. The New York Times Company. Jan 26, 2014. Web. Jan 29, 2014.