To Freeze or Not to Freeze: Future Planning for Children as a Single, 30-something Black Woman
To freeze or not to freeze, that is the question. At least it is the question that I had for my OB-GYN last year. Her answer, "let's discuss it when you are closer to 38." But to be honest, that seems a little old. And why 38? That seems like such an arbitrary age. I think about having children often, especially close to my birthday, as I inch another year closer to 38. Motherhood seems like a distant dream, being that I am single and unmarried.*
Nevertheless, it is better to be safe than sorry, which is why I started looking into preserving my eggs. The only thing that scares me as I get older is the possibility of not having children. The risks associated with pregnancy increase with age, add to the equation that I am a Black woman and the risks go even higher. Black women are twice as likely to experience infertility than White women. Despite having greater issues, our knowledge of infertility is limited and what is even worse is that we tend to not know our options.
I recently set up an appointment with Reproductive Medical Associates of New Jersey a fertility clinic recommended by my OBGYN. I called to make an appointment and the intake process was comprehensive, with important information about your health, demographics, and expectations. You are then scheduled for an in-person appointment with the doctor where she walks you through the whole process of egg preservation. That same day you get an ultrasound that looks at your uterus, fallopian tubes, and all those other reproductive bits to make sure that everything is looking good. You are then walked through the process of what to expect next - financing your egg retrieval process as well as the process leading up to egg retrieval and storage. You are also assigned a personal nurse who will walk you through the process of taking your injections, what time of the month to get bloodwork done, what to expect when your eggs are retrieve (yes, you need to be anesthetize), and finally, how your eggs are stored.
But there was so much that I did not think about before making this appointment, some of which I feel pretty sheepish about, but how do you know what you don't know? Here are some of the things I learned:
When your eggs are frozen and you want to get pregnant, you have to go through IVF - in vitro fertilization - meaning that they just don't stick the egg back in your uterus and tell you to "go for it" with your partner. The doctor does a full check on all the eggs they store for you to check for their viability and they are testing before they are fertilized and then they are implanted. Like, duh. Why didn't I think of this? Because it is not common knowledge, that's why.
36 is the age where your eggs should really be preserved, the earlier, the better. The health and viability of your eggs are at 50% and and after that is starts to get lower and lower. So, our biological clocks really are ticking.
What if I get pregnant 'naturally'? Still keep those eggs frozen, there is a yearly fee to keep your eggs preserved and until you decide you are ready to have children or you have all the children you want to have.
Depending on your health insurance, your doctor's appointments and bloodwork will most likely be covered, but the medications and the actual process are most likely to be an out of pocket cost. Fortunately, RMA offers financing. Be keep in mind, that this will most like cost between $8,000 - $10,000, sometimes more.
What are some of your questions about this process? I am happy to answer them as I continue to learn myself. I will be sharing my fertility journey here and on my instagram page. Thank you so much for following me on this journey.
If you want to do some reading on what to do leading up to the process and everything in between, I recommend the book, Everything Egg Freezing: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Doing it Right.
*I am Muslim and for personal and religious reasons will only have children if I am married.