We all talk a lot about choice and one of the biggest choices we make is whether to have kids and when to have kids. These days many women delay having children because they are focussed on their careers, worried about the effects childbirth will have on their body, or simply because its not a convenient time. The same way men choose to delay the process because they don’t want to be tied down or worry about their sex life being affected. Couples are choosing not to have kids because of the cost of raising a child today if you want to give your child a certain lifestyle and access to the best education. Couples are also worried about bringing up children in a world where terror and pollution and violence continue to raise their ugly heads ever so often. So it would be fair to argue for some that there are enough reasons not to bring another life into the world, particularly with our population.
The thing is all of the above are okay as long as you are making an informed choice. What many of us don’t realise is that like it or not, women do have a biological timeline. According to research by some of the best doctors in the field today, pollution, lifestyle ( yes – the copious amounts of alcohol, cigarettes and even recreational drugs consumed) and environmental factors are contributing significantly towards a greater percentage of Indian women hitting menopause early. This means that you start depleting your egg reserve faster than you thought was possible so by the time you’re in your mid to late 30s, while you think you still have time, your chances of conceiving may in fact be very slim.
Which brings me to the other factor to consider, which a lot of women seem to be doing of late – freezing their eggs. Firstly, you need a very good personal doctor who can guide you through and recommend if this is indeed something you need to look at. You also need to be aware of the fact that it is not a simple procedure. It involves multiple hormone injections (lots of time away from work to keep those appointments), it is an invasive procedure and you may need to do multiple rounds of it. On top of all that it’s important to be cognisant of the fact that you are only preserving a 30-40% possibility and not a guarantee that you will manage to fertilise, transfer and deliver a child. Neither is IVF an easy process – on the mind or body. There are many women who are far more qualified than me to speak about their experience but from what I gather they have been through a lot and many also give up. If you go online you can find several examples that give you hope but this is something where science plays one part, and destiny/ genes/ luck/ karma/ relationships play their own part as well.
If your husband doesn’t want a child now, remind him of that 3 years later when you’re going for those multiple procedures and your doctor says its looking slim – it’s not all your fault.
There are moral and psychological implications to this. There are people who for religious reasons don’t believe in the process of freezing an embryo (a fertilised egg). There are legal implications in the event that there are extra embryos left after a successful IVF transfer. Mostly they are destroyed and for some thats unthinkable. Again, while there are enough clinics for IVF, am not sure there is enough counselling done to really explain the implications to women and men both – at the end of the day it’s a joint process. If your husband doesn’t want a child now, remind him of that 3 years later when you’re going for those multiple procedures and your doctor says its looking slim – it’s not all your fault.
Abha Bakaya’s powerful commentary on freezing eggs and decisions for women
Its not always in our control. While we are busy making our way in the world we forget about these things. We may be spending on luxuries and travel and not have the required funds when we want to go freeze our eggs; it can cost about 3 lakhs for one cycle. Generations before us didn’t really have to think about these things as they started families early. Today a lot of people, in urban metros especially, leave these decisions very late. A little pre planning, a little insight never hurts – because then you are truly making an informed choice about when you want a family and whether or not you want to go that extra mile to bring a new life into the world.