So once it had dawned on me that actually, having children was more important to me than I might have cared to admit, the next question was what I was going to do about it. Going out and shagging randomers in the hope of getting knocked up didn’t really appeal (I know, weird, right? But I’m kind of picky about the genetics of my potential offspring like that…) I didn’t have any male friends, gay or straight, who I thought might like to parent in an involved or otherwise way (and let’s not even begin to think about the complications of that) – and also, I was only 36. I didn’t think it was unreasonable of at least a part of me to cling on to the idea that I was maybe not too past it to do things the old fashioned way – meet someone, fall in love, have a child with two parents that it knows and lives in the same house as, call me an old romantic, or a hopeless optimist but that was how I felt…
Of course I knew about egg freezing, but I’d kind of dismissed it ages ago because the stats were so shitty. (Obviously pretty much everything being done privately means there’s no decent data, but last I’d heard the number of babies born from frozen eggs in the UK was still in double figures – who knows how that compared to the number of attempts, but it didn’t sound great.) Not only that, it sounded like all the worst bits of IVF but a) on your own and b) without any expectation of a baby at the end of it. (I’ll be honest, it pretty much is that.)
But then a few things happened. B, a friend who’s about ten years older than me, a mother of three and a very wise woman, gave me one of the best pep talks I’ve ever had. Over dinner she told me that life doesn’t always work out the way you plan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the things that you want. And that if I wanted kids, she had no doubt that I could do it on my own, that I’d make it work. That I didn’t have to do it now, but that if I froze my eggs, I’d be giving myself choices.
So there was that. And then I heard that the way they froze eggs was different these days and gave better chances of success, and then I heard that a friend of a friend had had it done and so I tapped her up for some info.
Honestly, it sounded fucking horrific. In my head, you did it once – job done. But apparently you didn’t, apparently, because of the number of eggs that fail to make the grade when you defrost them, and fertilise them and implant them, they advise that you do the whole thing about three times over. It had taken her about a year to do three whole cycles – and she had managed to store 18 eggs in all. She told me about ovaries swelling to the size of tennis balls, not being allowed to exercise for weeks at a time due to the danger of twisting a fallopian tube, and the fact that it had cost her the best part of £15,000. But she also said that even knowing everything that she knew now, she’d still do it again.
Like me, she hadn’t given up on doing things the old-fashioned way, she just saw what she was doing as an insurance policy that you hope you’re not going to need. That made perfect sense to me. I think at that point I’d already decided to do it, I just didn’t know where.