Author Sarah Elizabeth Richards talks to real women about dating confidence and fertility choices.
After suffering a crushing breakup three years ago at age 34, Suzanne worried that she might not meet someone else in time to have kids. She joined a few dating sites, but except for one casual relationship, her dates never seemed to go anywhere. Soon she started to wonder if her baby anxiety was sabotaging her romantic life.
Even though she never mentioned wanting to have a family with her dates, she couldn't help sizing up every man for his fatherhood potential, asking herself, "What would my life be like if I had a baby with this guy?" If she felt under that much pressure, she reasoned, they could sense it too.
But as soon as she stashed away 31 eggs in the freezer to give herself more time to find a partner, she felt her anxiety float away. "I just don't stress anymore," says Suzanne, now 37, a web developer from Washington, D.C. "I don't feel my biological clock ticking at all. It's the best feeling."
What she hadn't expected was how much egg-freezing would help her feel more confident about finding a partner. She re-activated her subscription to Match.com, which she had let expire. On the nights she didn't have dates, she forced herself to go to wine bars or coffee shops by herself and practice starting conversations with random people or the bartender or barista.
"I used to be such a wallflower, but now I feel comfortable going out on my own," she says. "I really took charge of my dating life."
Despite feeling proud of her decision, Suzanne never talked about her frozen eggs with dates. Frankly, she wasn’t sure what guys would think about it. She didn't even bring up the topic of having a family until the sixth date with a 39-year-old man she met last February at a mixer. And that was only after he had asked, "Do you want kids?"
She replied, "I do. As a matter of fact, I froze my eggs."
She was relieved when he responded, "That's great. I like that you have a different way of thinking."
Suzanne is convinced her relaxed attitude makes her more attractive to men. "If I hadn't frozen, I just know I would have had a different vibe," she explains. "I made it clear to him that I wasn't with him just because I was desperate to have kids. If things didn’t work out, I'd be fine." Five months later, they're now in a committed relationship.
Suzanne doesn't know if her frozen eggs will help give her biological children down the line, but like many fellow freezers, she's enjoying the psychological lift in the meantime. "I'll tell you this, egg-freezing does take the 'craziness' away," explains Dr. Kathleen Droesch, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Long Island Fertility in Melville, New York. "If you want to get pregnant but haven't met the guy, having those eggs in the freezer does make you feel better."
In fact, a Belgian survey published earlier this month found that more than 95 percent of patients who froze their eggs were satisfied with their decision. The proof: They would undergo the procedure again. And the women I interviewed for my book about how egg-freezing changes women's lives said that freezing their eggs made them feel more hopeful about dating and more positive about their futures in general.
Yet here's the challenge that doctors don't talk about: How do you approach dating after you freeze? Specifically, how do you tell a guy about your eggs on ice? Of course, you'd think most guys would be beyond thrilled to learn about your frozen fertility. Not only does it take the baby-making pressure off you, it gives them a break too. They don't have to feel guilty about wasting your time and using up the last fumes of your fertility, if your romance goes kaput six months later. And they don't have to buy into the tired stereotype of frenzied Clock Tickers of a certain age pushing them on the Daddy fast track before they're ready.
Yet communicating those advantages can be tricky. Many guys don't know the facts of fertility, let alone the difference between a frozen egg and frozen embryo (or frozen donor eggs, which are widely available to women who won't freeze or never got the chance when they were younger.)
Some men may feel threatened, since women can have those frozen eggs inseminated whenever and with whomever they wish. Hell, they can even stop by a different freezer for donor sperm. And although women preserved their fertility so they could stop thinking about babies, the fact that they went to such lengths to safeguard their future children may scare off guys who think they're too focused on that goal. And let's face it: Even though Hollywood stars, such as Kim Kardashian and Sofia Vergara, talk openly about the advantages of freezing, some people still regard the option as extreme science. Keep reading...
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