EPISODE #120

Eggs Over Freezy

Last week, we heard from Andrea Silenzi, who’s single, in her early 30s, and wants to be a mom—but doesn’t have a plan on how to get there. This week we talk to a woman who *does* have a plan: egg freezing.

My friend Sahar has a wonderfully wry sense of humor (see Instagram samples below, along with her captions).

What a cute couple

This is some bad kerning

I always enjoy hearing Sahar’s perspective on the world. And so I was thrilled when she told me she wanted to come on the show and walk me through the process of getting her eggs frozen.

So far, the closest Sahar has gotten to parenthood is caring for her elderly chihuahua, Frankie. And Frankie was there for her when she came home with thousands of dollars worth of drugs that she needed to self-inject in order to prepare for… the egg harvest. Yes, that’s what they really call it.

Tune in to find out if egg freezing turns out to be the solid backup plan Sahar is seeking.

More on Egg Freezing
Our pals behind the great website FertilityIQ have done a ton of research on egg freezing, as well as all things fertility related. If you’re considering freezing your eggs, here are some resources from them to get you started. And to find a doctor or clinic near you, use their handy search tool.

Here’s info on the cost of egg freezing and an article on how egg freezing works—including some sobering charts on egg retrieval numbers and embryo quality declining with age, like this one:

Here you’ll find suggestions on what age you should be when you freeze your eggs, plus a helpful video detailing the entire process.

And here’s an NPR story on how some Silicon Valley companies are offering an egg-freezing benefit to their employees.

What measures have you taken to manage YOUR ticking biological clock?
Maybe you’ve frozen your eggs? Maybe you’re thinking about it? Comments, please!

Correction: In this episode, we originally said Clytemnestra was a Greek goddess. She was actually the human wife of Agamemnon.

Our sponsors for this episode are Third Love, Squarespace, 1-800 Flowers (click the radio icon and use code LONGSHORT) and Warby Parker. Use the promo codes at checkout for a special discount.

34 thoughts on “EPISODE #120: Eggs Over Freezy

  1. This podcast isn’t one of my regulars because I’m not a parent, but sometimes my SIL points out an episode she thinks I’d like so I listen on a one-off basis. This was one of those.

    My biological clock didn’t start ticking at all until I was 40, which was actually pretty nice because I never felt the pressure to have children that all my other fellow single ladies were overwhelmed by. I figured I’d meet someone I’d like to marry and that urge would kick in and then, if I had enough time left, I’d have a baby and if not, I’d enjoy my nieces and nephews and then roll around in all my disposable income and wear caftans and drink champagne by the pool all day.

    But then recently, the ticking started — very quietly, but loud enough that I was motivated to get an AMH test to see if I needed to hurry up or HURRY UP. The results were pretty crummy, which made me feel really cornered, and suddenly I was considering things I never would have believed I’d consider. Donor eggs? Maybe. Sperm donors? Maybe. Single parenthood? Maybe.

    Other people have had years and years of thinking about all this but I had it all come pouring down on me within just a few days. It was all very overwhelming and confusing and unexpected.

    The really good news is that I work for a company that offers kick ass fertility coverage — my insurance will pay 90% of most expenses up to $50k, which I now realize, after doing a lot more research, is pretty incredible. I have no idea what I want to do with any eggs they may be able to get (the odds are not in my favor) or if I really do want to upend my life (which is pretty great) to have a baby, but I am going for it because I at least know I don’t want to NOT try to buy some more time. So now I’m four doctor appointments into the egg freezing process and am expecting to start the drugs a month or so from now.

    I’ll add that one of the things I’m dreading most is telling my parents that I’m doing this. I think it would be unfair/mean to go under anesthesia without telling them but I also don’t want to get their hopes up or have to answer 10,000,000 questions about why I changed my mind, what I think I’ll do with the eggs, etc. Mostly because I don’t have answers.

    Bottom line: if it works out, great. If it doesn’t work out, I’ve at least tried and I can get back to the champagne and caftans.

      1. I work for Cisco. My medical group’s insurance department keeps telling me it’s the best coverage they’ve seen, and I’m in the Silicon Valley so that’s probably saying something.

  2. If I’d had the $10-$15k (and had my ish together) as a young person to freeze my eggs I would’ve just had a kid/started the adoption process. Now I’m about to be 40 & however I build my family will be what’s right for me @ that time. Using my own eggs isn’t an option. It’s such an individual thing when it comes to freezing ones eggs. Whatever one does is the right choice for them.

  3. This episode would make a great segue into the topic of having just one child, as many of us who begin our families later in life end up doing. I had my child at 37, and am fairly sure we’re not going to have any more, in spite of being told by my midwife, just minutes after delivering our child “you were MADE to have BABIES!!!” (my internal response: “like HELL am I ever going to do THIS again!!!”) Several of my friends who have started later in life are also planning to just have one, and all of us have been feeling pressure to have more. I think this choice is becoming way more common but it’s still pretty stigmatized (I still get people–including complete strangers- asking me “when is the next one due?”) I’d love to hear an episode that looks at how families with only children are maximizing the positives and minimizing the negatives of their “one and done” choice.

      1. Thanks, I did check out that one from the local library, but wasn’t able to finish it before the due date. Besides, I really like how your podcast approaches things and I think you’d do a kick-ass job of the topic! Also, I don’t manage to get through many books these days (time to sit down and read….What?) but I can always listen to a podcast while doing dishes, laundry, or any of those other seemingly neverending tasks that are so hard to stay on top of with a kid in the picture. I love audio candy 😁 ❤

    1. A one and done ep would be great! We’re also in that camp. :) It’s fairly common in the Bay Area but there’s still internal/external pressure to have more.

      1. Thirding it! (If that’s a thing.) Would love to hear from people who are one and done, because people sure do have opinions when my husband and I say we’re done.

        1. Can I fourth this idea? I had my first child at 36, after 4 miscarriages and then a period of infertility. Our daughter is now 4 1/2, and even though I have an embryo frozen, the thought of attempting another pregnancy feels very frightening for me and my husband. Still, I can’t seem to get rid of our baby gear.

          1. Fifth! Like Sahar, I’m in my early 30s and know that I’d like kids (plural) in the future, but do not feel ready yet. I fear that when I finally am ready, I’ll barely be able to bear child, let alone children.

            I’d love to hear from women who wanted multiple kids and ended up stopping at one, whether due to biology, life circumstance, or a change of heart.

            Thanks, Sahar, for sharing your story. Perhaps someday we’ll be treated to a follow-up? :)

  4. I froze my eggs twice – once at 35 and again at 36. 21 eggs on ice. I swing back and forth between panic that none of them will work (unlikely, but you don’t know for sure until you try to use them) and overwhelming gratitude that I have this option as I approach my 40s. I spent about $25,000 all in – it was completely out of pocket. I have zero regrets about spending the money. The hardest decision is actually when to stop as your fertility window closes. I can use the frozen eggs well into my 40s, but I know my remaining fertility/eggs are winding down and that still lingers as it’s own door closing moment.

  5. So, I’m really enjoying the new episodes about women’s biological clocks.

    As someone that had to get pregnant via IVF due to my partner’s fertility issues, this whole process is extremely familiar to me. It was so ironic to me that I ended up going through IVF because I always, always had that reverse timeline in my head from the moment I graduated college. I went the other way from many of my peers wanting to have children earlier because my parents were “old” for my area (really not: 30,31 when they had me) and I had only one grandparent growing up. I wanted to have kids earlier so they knew their grandparents.

    In the end, I started IVF at 30 and was 31 when he was born. So much for that plan! We ended up with 18 eggs retrieved and have 9 embryos on ice, which is wonderful but also just bananas that we could theoretically have that many kids. (We won’t be.)
    We too had to pay for this out-of-pocket and it is a huge, huge financial burden. Luckily we had the resources to do so, but it does make me somewhat resentful when others can just get pregnant. I have to remind myself you have no idea of someone else’s struggles regularly.

    A slight criticism of the tone of this episode. It was little “Gee….golly I had no idea this was a thing. She had to put her shots in her tummy!!” It felt quite incredulous. Given how common IVF/fertility treatments are these days and the number of women that go through this, myself included, I guess it rubbed me a little the wrong way. This may just be an oversensitivity on my part, but something to think about.

    I’d encourage you to perhaps follow a woman on the roller coaster of fertility treatments for a show. (I did enjoy the two-part one with the lesbian couple). Another idea, women often turn to message boards and online communities for support, because they know of no one else in their lives facing infertility and it can feel so isolating. I’ve made amazing friends on such boards and we now have a private Facebook group where we watch our kids grow up, cheer each other on through round-whatever of IVF and, when we are lucky, their next pregnancy.

    1. I admire Sahar for going through this process, and even sharing that she had financially planned for the expense of egg freezing. That’s a huge thing!

      I would also love to see an episode (or series of episodes) about a couple or a woman going through IVF, and all of the psychological, physical, and financial implications of the process. I ended up doing IVF, and instead of feeling like somewhat of an insurance policy that I’d have a back-up plan in case I didn’t find a partner, it felt like a last-ditch effort to have a child after so many other options had been exhausted. It was emotionally very hard to go through.

      During my IVF process, I participated in a mind/body program for infertility that offered coping techniques and support. Many people don’t realize it, but women going through infertility often have similar feelings of hopelessness as compared to people with terminal diseases. For me, a mind/body program was a life (and sanity)-saver, but also felt like a bit of a competition, as everyone else in the group was also pursuing infertility treatment at the same time. Those who were successful felt a bit of survivor’s guilt, and those who continued to be unsuccessful felt left behind. 6 years after my program and my IVF cycles, I have a young daughter, and still keep in close contact with some of the women I met in this group.

      For more information on mind/body infertility programs: https://www.domarcenter.com/

      Thanks for covering this, and similar topics!

  6. As a poet (with a job as an editor), my first reaction to “poets who had just lost their jobs” were “you knew poets that had jobs?”

  7. I totally identify with you Sahar! My husband and I did IVF with PGD because he has a genetic disease, but when we got into the treatments, when I was 34 it turned out I didn’t have many eggs! after the first round of not getting any to grow. We tried a new drug protocol and got 7. 4 were viable and shipped off to the PGD clinic in Chicago, 2 were affected by the disease, 2 were unaffected by the disease and one of those arrested. So we had one little zygote to implant and shock of all shocks… it worked. My point being that you never know. You could luck out on the first try and have it work and still have eggs left over.

  8. I’ve been listening to the Longest/Shortest Time podcast for a few years, as I’m fascinated by the stories surrounding child-rearing, care taking, and in general the life cycle. I really love this podcast. Great work, Hillary!

    I’m 41 and am just about to begin IVF with my wonderful (but older) husband, to try for our first child. This podcast, and the previous one, both really hit a soft spot with me – because I spent much of my 30’s either being on the fence about wanting kids – or going through a painful divorce with my first husband. Freezing eggs was something I considered when I was newly divorced, but I certainly didn’t have the money to do it.

    I presently feel a wide range of emotions – from guilt, to shame, real fear, and bashful excitement, at the prospect of beginning fertility treatment. I’m immersing myself in books and podcasts, and discretely talking to friends and family. It’s a crazy journey – especially as I’m in the early stage of it. I feel jealousy at times, seeing all the wonderfully round bellies of expectant mothers, babies in strollers, and small children running freely, now that spring is here. I am in a sort of disbelief — and I’m just really excited that the science really will give me this possibility, after all, and how is it that I am 41?! Life happened very fast. I empathize with both Sahar and Andrea, and I hope they find the good men out there to create a family with. It sure isn’t easy.

    Please send us luck. In addition to science, I feel like we need all the help we can get.

  9. I’m surprised the recovery process is not really touched on. For me, that was the deciding factor on weather or not to go through it all again. I felt it was an understated portion of the process, and this episode does not touch on the severity quite enough. I do love what you captured in the duration and would be interested in additional episodes capturing more in depth aspects of IVF.

    1. Hi Jaimie!

      Sahar here! The most difficult part of the recovery process was coming off the hormones. I just felt a little off. It wasn’t so bad. But that’s just me. I’m sure other people have different reactions. Physically, I felt myself better just 48 hours later and even went to work the day after. I was mostly just crabby like I am when I have very bad PMS. I wasn’t allowed to exercise, take a bath, use tampons or have sex until I got my period again (about two weeks later). So I felt like I was in a weird limbo.

      1. Hey Sahar,
        Thanks for the reply and sharing your story! I guess I just figured details were left out due to how smoothly your recovery seemed to have gone. The process was rough on me physically. I had a rock hard, bloated stomach for weeks post retrieval- couldn’t even lay on my back, or walk normally. It was so uncomfortable, miserable, and I looked as if I was pregnant. With the addition to bruising on my stomach and inner thighs, I was over it. A friend of mine also shared a slimier experience. Shame on me for assuming this was the norm! I would love to hear more stories from women on this since our experiences vary so drastically.

  10. When I was 33, after several years of what I can only call rigorous dating (hoo boy do I empathize with Andrea), I decided to freeze my eggs (hoo boy do I empathize with Sahar). Even knowing it wasn’t really an insurance policy, I couldn’t stand the thought that, a few years down the line, I might look back and regret not having done everything I could to have a biological child. I guess I was paying more for regret insurance than fertility insurance. I’m very grateful that I could afford it.

    Less than two months after I froze my eggs, I met the man who is now my husband and the father of my child. I think the consensus among people who know me is that freezing my eggs helped relieve anxiety about my biological clock that was preventing me from relaxing into the dating process; I prefer to think it’s coincidence and that I just hadn’t met the right person before. Regardless, doing it made me feel that I had some tiny amount of control, that I wasn’t going to be totally powerless against the biological clock. And whether that was an illusion or not, it meant a lot to me, then and now.

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