It’s time; your biological clock is ticking, you are single and you want a baby, now! However, there’s one thing missing… the father.
Meet Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, a woman who was ready to have children, but she had yet to meet the father. Unfortunately, as life continues, so does the age of her viable eggs. In such a fast-paced atmosphere called life, the options available to you through technology are so diverse, you simply have to choose which one. So what did she do? She froze her eggs, of course!
What came about in your life to consider egg freezing?
I decided to freeze my eggs when I was 37 because I was still looking for the love of my life. It helped me feel calmer about my future and about the children I could still have. As a journalist, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Italy before I froze my eggs to interview Dr. Eleonora Porcu and Dr. Raffaella Fabbri, the clinician and the biologist who invented egg freezing. Before that trip I decided to test my fertility with my OBGYN in New York. I learned I had eight antral follicles. Antral follicles produce eggs, and their number declines as a woman ages.
In Italy, I told Dr. Porcu about my fertility test and she said, “That means you’re biologically young,” which was the vital piece of information I needed to be sure I made the right choice. Later, I decided to get pregnant as a single mom by choice at 40. I was lucky, it didn’t take me very many tries to get pregnant. I tell the story of my journey from egg freezing to DIY motherhood in my memoir, In Her Own Sweet Time: Egg Freezing and the New Frontiers of Family.
When it comes to balancing a busy woman’s career and motherhood, where does egg freezing come in?
Technology and feminism have made it possible for women to make choices they couldn’t have made even a generation ago. Many women are intentionally getting pregnant before they get engaged or walk down the aisle. Some women are having children as DIY Moms before finding husbands, or freezing their eggs to donate to themselves further down the road. Yes, having a baby after age 35 is riskier in terms of the viability of the eggs and the chances of genetic anomalies, but the good news is that genetic screening has made it safer to have children at older ages. Other working moms are your best support; women with whom you can talk about work and your kids and how to best balance it all.
This is a process you have undergone yourself, so what has changed for you mentally, knowing that the option of childbearing is available to you when you are ready?
I’m more committed and passionate about my work than ever. I’ve also become more efficient with my time. Becoming a mom has opened up new networks of friends and professional opportunities.
Is it an easy process?
No, but definitely worth it!
Where would a woman/couple go to inquire about egg freezing?
Today, in order to have a career and a family, we have to start planning our fertility and romantic lives the way we plan our careers. “Young women should be checking their fertility like they are checking their cholesterol,” Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, an OB-GYN in San Francisco, told me. So, if you’re concerned about the future of your fertility, remember that it’s never too early to start taking care of your fertility health. Consider getting a fertility test, freezing your eggs, as well as looking into the natural ways to boost your fertility. It’s all preventative medicine. I recommend looking at the “Know Your Options” section of my website, Inherownsweetime.com, and signing up for my newsletter, The ART and Science of Family, to learn about on-going research about fertility and Advanced Reproductive Medicine.
Please tell us about your book and where our readers may find it: In Her Own Sweet Time: Egg Freezing and the New Frontiers of Family?
This is my personal memoir and journey from egg freezing to becoming a DIY Mom. I wanted to offer women a new road map to help them make better choices. This book has allowed me to go out in the world and help other women as a spokeswoman and champion of modern family choices and opportunities. You can find my book here: In Her Own Sweet Time, or Amazon.com.
What would you personally say to the modern woman who is excelling in her career but secretly longs for the family she desires, but isn’t quite ready?
The only thing I can say definitively is that women who want children — or even are on the fence about it — should take the time to think about these issues early on. As women of a post boomer generation, we are used to being in control of our lives, professionally and financially. The fact that we do not have control over the duration of our fertility is incredibly frightening; something many of us would like to ignore for as long as possible. But I have learned that no matter how scary some information was at first, it’s ultimately liberating to understand my own body’s reproductive possibilities — as well as its impossibilities. We have more options than ever; understanding them can empower us and, perhaps most importantly, turn panic into peace.
Photo credits: A.LaBrune, Rachel Lehmann-Haupt