I Wish I'd Frozen My Eggs
At age 37, I thought it was too late. It wasn't.
Back in June 2021 I received a call from my OB-GYN about a lump in my breast that needed to be biopsied. She called with the news and almost as an aside said, “Oh and your blood work came back—you’re in full menopause—but we can’t even really deal with that until we figure out what is going on with your breast.”
It was shocking to hear those words, “you’re in menopause” at age 42. I knew that it was possible to go into early menopause, but this came out of the blue. While I struggled to comprehend the news about my boob, the news about my fertility (or lack thereof) was even more jarring. It seemed so…final. It was as if I could hear the sound of a door slamming shut and being locked at the end of the sentence; or like I missed the last ferry ever to the island of fertility and I was standing on the dock, watching it disappear into the fog.
The doctor was so casual about it, too. Like she was telling me they were out of soy milk at Starbucks. A minor inconvenience, but nothing life-altering. My emotions were all over the place. (I assumed it was the menopause, of course.) I called my friend, sobbing.
“I don’t even know why I’m crying,” I said through tears. “I didn’t think I wanted kids. And now I can’t tell if I’m sad because it’s not an option or if I always wanted kids and couldn’t admit it to myself.”
Until I met my husband, Jeren, I’d completely let go of the idea of having kids. Most of my 20s were spent in the kind of anti-natalist nihilism that is so fashionable these days. When I was about 37-years-old my dad sat me down and said, “This is going to be awkward but…have you thought about freezing your eggs?”
“Dad, isn’t it already too late for that? Isn’t that like freezing the chicken after it’s been in the fridge for eight days? Am I ever really going to thaw out that chicken?”
“Well, I didn’t realize you had a whole chicken metaphor worked out,” he said.
“It’s a comedy bit I’m working on,” I said. He grunted, disapprovingly. The audience usually voiced sounds of pity. “—Clearly it needs work.”
“Bridget, it’s not too late if it’s something you want to do,” he said, trying to be serious.
“Maybe, but it’s insanely expensive,” I reminded him. “And I’m a Poor."
Egg freezing was something I’d considered as a concept but never really entertained the idea of doing for myself. I’d had plenty of friends do it and the process seemed horrible—the daily injections and the egg harvesting and the insane hormones and weight gain. Besides they all had baller jobs and could afford to drop the initial cost (usually somewhere in the arena of $6,000 - $20,000) not to mention the monthly fee of around $100 to keep those potential babies on ice.
When my dad had “the conversation” with me, I was pushing forty, single, waiting tables and just getting started as a freelance writer. I’d been living hand-to-mouth for so long, I didn’t know any other way of life existed. Egg freezing seemed like something that women with designer wardrobes, a 401K, and a mortgage considered. Not someone like me, a woman used to perpetually having $2.89 in her bank account. Women like me got knocked up accidentally in a blackout. We didn’t freeze our eggs and prepare for the future.
“You might meet a great guy someday and I just don’t want you to regret not having kids,” he said.
“A great guy?” I laughed. “That’s the best joke I’ve heard in a while.”
It was impossible for me to conceive of meeting a “great guy” and wanting kids with him as I sat in that restaurant with my dad, age 37, a little over 2 years sober, and as jaded as a woman could be about “great guys” after a decade of living in Los Angeles.
I explained all the justifications I had for not wanting to do it. Cost being the biggest. I told my dad if I can’t afford to freeze my eggs, I probably shouldn’t have a kid. There was also the fact that most women don’t even use their frozen eggs—the numbers I’ve seen cited range from 85% to 97% of frozen eggs go unused. Why bother with all of the effort and investment if it was unlikely I would ever use them? And finally—I didn’t just want a kid. I wanted a partner. A family. That seemed less likely than my chances of using my frozen eggs.
Looking back, I realize, again, I had no concept of how young I was, even at 37. This wasn’t the first time my own ageism would distort my vision and I doubt it will be the last. My other fallacy of thinking was assuming that because things had always been a certain way, they would remain that way.
I’d been on hamster-wheel of addiction, hustling to pay my bills, and trying to live as a “creative” for so many decades, it didn’t occur to me that my circumstances could change. That things would settle down; that I would settle down. That my finances could and would improve. That I’d meet that mythical great guy who inspired the primal urge to procreate. That the warning old timers gave me in early sobriety about having no idea who I was, what I was capable of, and what I wanted — was true.
“What are you feeling right now?” My friend asked me as I tried to comprehend the news my doctor had just casually broken to me.
It took me a minute to pinpoint what it was exactly—because at first it felt like defeat. In that moment I had to admit it to myself that all those women and men who told me someday I might change my mind about having kids—were right.
And then I realized my dad was also right. I should have frozen my eggs. Even at the ripe old age of 37. It wasn’t too late then. Now it was. What I was feeling as I sat in traffic under the 405— was regret; a sickening sorrow as I confronted a missed opportunity. The price of a decision I made, in error, and the cost I’d have to live with.
If there is one thing Present Bridget would tell Past Bridget sitting at lunch with her father is: Do it. Get your eggs frozen. Borrow the money if you have to. You have no idea what the future holds and if this a way to ensure you have options you might not know you want and might not have once your eggs become geriatric, the cost and the effort will be worth it.
There are things you have no way of knowing until you experience them. For me, being pregnant, the excitement of getting to be a parent with a man I love—these are things I couldn’t conceive of until they happened to me. And sure, frozen eggs aren’t a guarantee. They’re a very expensive insurance policy most people can’t afford that might not even pan out.
As I sit here and write this, pregnant with a miracle child, my superstitious pregnancy anxiety lurks in the background. I know that I got lucky and I’m praying things carry on in the very normal and boring way this pregnancy has gone so far—but it’s been a daily, sometimes hourly, effort to overcome that fear. To push away the knowledge that this is probably my last shot and try to enjoy the experience is a challenge.
All of my eggs are in this one basket and I want to be chill and open and trusting and in faith but there is a part of me that feels desperate and geriatric and clingy. If having frozen eggs could have given me just a tiny bit of peace-of-mind in this moment—even if it was a false hope—they would have been worth every penny.