Since I finished the freezing process, I haven’t really had much inclination to write. I think partly that’s because so much of it had been about my personal experience that, once it was all over, I wasn’t really sure what I was meant to be writing. But also, because I wanted to luxuriate in not having to think about Gonal-F, and cycles and scans and all that sort of thing.
Instead, I’ve spent the last few months drinking recklessly, flirting with abandon, buying clothes that I would never have dreamed of buying a year ago because I would have thought I was “too old” or that they just “weren’t me”, and generally having a fucking ball. I’ve got my mojo back. I feel like me again. The old me. Not just the person who I was before I pumped my body full of hormones, but the person who I was before I split up with my ex. The one who had her shit together and was confident and generally pretty happy, the one who wasn’t constantly wondering if she was going to meet someone to father her kids, the one who didn’t have to swallow a lump in her throat and blink back tears when another friend announced she was pregnant. I’m back. And you know what? Whatever happens next, that alone is worth fourteen grand.
But all the woo, yeahing aside, there was something that I came across recently that I wanted to write about. Egg-freezing parties. Yes. Egg-freezing parties. It’s not quite as weird as it sounds, you don’t all get together and collectively inject Gonal-F, or take turns to get scanned. It’s a social event where women go to have a drink and learn from local fertility doctors about egg-freezing. And apparently it’s happening in the US.
In theory I should be delighted about this, right? People are out there, spreading the word, normalising it, getting women to talk about it. That’s surely a good thing. But actually I’m a bit conflicted about the whole thing. Because these cocktail parties aren’t free. You have to pay $45 – a bit under £30 – and for that you get “a free gift bag and complimentary cocktails” oh and a $1000 coupon for a discount on egg-freezing. Again, that should delight me, shouldn’t it? Me who knows how much the whole damn thing costs, I should be delighted that women are getting an opportunity to save some cash.
The parties are run by a company called Eggbanxx who, according to this Huffington Post article “negotiate a flat cost-per-cycle with physicians, connect patients with loan partners and pay the upfront costs of the procedure in exchange for a reasonable down payment from the patient. After that, women will pay an average of $200 per month over a 48-month period.”
Again, it all sounds great in theory. But it all feels a bit icky. In the same way that the clinic that offered me a discount if I signed up swiftly felt icky. (Although I acknowledge that I’m just too used to the NHS, and generally squeamish about the intersection of money and healthcare.) I think that while I’m totally behind it as an idea: the dissemination of information, the opportunities to spread the cost (although I don’t know what their interest rates are like), the flat rate for the cycle, the discount that you get from going through Eggbanxx who are effectively buying in bulk, what I object to is asking women to pay for information that should be freely available, in the same way that it was at the clinic open day I went to. After all, the doctors at the event, and Eggbanxx themselves are presumably making some serious money, you’d think they could afford to stump up for a few cocktails.
That aside, assuming the clinics Eggbanxx are working with a reputable, I am all for it. It’s time that the fertility “community” started catering to egg-freezers in their own right, and not just treating them as afterthoughts to IVFers, and anything that brings egg-freezing into common parlance is A Good Thing.
The right wing press will inevitably take all this as an end-of-days, decline-of-civilisation, this-is-the-start-of-career-women-breeding-a-generation-of-fatherless-children-at-the-age-of-50, type thing, and there will be all the sort of madness spouted with egg-freezing parties being compared to Botox parties and everything, but hopefully, alongside that, will be the start of a conversation about the real reasons women are doing this, and a gradual shift from this being remarkable to it just being something women do.