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Stop Telling Women They Can 'Have It All': Businesswoman Unable to Mother Children After Freezing Eggs

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Few would disagree that women deserve to pursue their career aspirations, but society needs to stop hesitating and tell them the truth.

Putting motherhood on hold to work toward a desired vocation comes with sacrifices. Despite assurances that women can “have it all” — a busy job and children — it is impossible to occupy both worlds without making some hard decisions.

When women believe they don’t have to compromise their work lives to make room for marriage and children, the outcome is usually far from the triumphant ending they might have been expecting.

The Tragedy of Trying to ‘Have It All’

In 2014, businesswoman Brigitte Adams was featured in Bloomberg Businessweek after spending $19,000 to freeze her eggs. Adams, a resident of Manhattan Beach, California, was single and in her late 30s, but she wanted to continue working before settling down with a husband to raise children.

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At first, egg storage appeared to offer the career-minded woman the freedom to schedule a timeline for her life. Instead of giving up the job she liked to start a family, it seemed as if Adams had found a way to put her motherhood aspirations on hold until she felt ready for the responsibilities.

Her seemingly ideal plan, however, took a turn for the worse around her 45th birthday.

According to an article in The Washington Post, Adams was still single, so she decided to unfreeze her eggs and start a family with the help of a sperm donor. But in contrast to her plans, every egg failed.

Some did not survive the thawing process, while others failed to get fertilized. Adams tried to implant the last surviving egg in her uterus, but to her dismay, this did not produce the results she wanted, either.

Should we stop encouraging women to postpone motherhood?

After her last hope of carrying a child had ended, Adams said she began screaming like “a wild animal” before collapsing to the ground.

“It was one of the worst days of my life. There were so many emotions. I was sad. I was angry. I was ashamed,” Adams told The Post. “I questioned, ‘Why me?’ ‘What did I do wrong?’ ”

The businesswoman’s story is tragic, but she is not the only woman left disappointed by the egg-freezing procedure. A woman who freezes 10 eggs at age 36 has only a 30 to 60 percent chance of having a baby, according to studies referenced by The Post.

But the low success rate isn’t the only reason why women should be cautious of depending on the process to award them the family they want.

Women Deserve the Truth About Egg-Freezing and IVF

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According to Extend Fertility, both egg-freezing and in vitro fertilization involve prescribing women hormone injections to induce their bodies to produce eggs. In the IVF process, the eggs  usually are fertilized immediately in a laboratory, while women who opt to freeze their eggs set them aside for a few years.

Reproductive mental health specialist Robin Atkins commented on the misinformation surrounding egg-freezing and IVF in a written statement to The Western Journal on Tuesday. According to Atkins, women often are unaware of the “ethics” and “mental/emotional complications” involved in many fertility treatments.

“Women are often sold IVF as the answer when it may never work for them,” the counselor wrote. “Or they may lose pregnancies due to undiagnosed underlying conditions … or they may end up with so many embryos they are conflicted about how to manage them.”

In a follow-up statement Wednesday, the counselor clarified that women can do IVF with “fresh eggs or frozen eggs that are thawed.” If Adams intended to freeze her eggs before implantation, Atkins said this would be considered IVF.

In addition to the potential physical concerns associated with the process, the counselor warned that its side effects could be emotional as well.

“IVF is a potential mental health mindfield if it is not approached with complete informed consent and ethical practices,” she said. “Our current culture pushes money, power, beauty, and fame as the standards for success. It often discounts the joy of relationships, including parenting.”

The Illusion of Control

Tragic stories such as Adams’ show how society impresses upon women that their main value is in their career. Instead of promoting full-time motherhood as an alternative vocation, society encourages women to try to control their fertility — as if babies are a product that women can purchase at a later date.

Life often comes with choices, and the hard reality is, many of them require sacrifices. Unlike a job, motherhood usually is different than achieving a career accolade or a promotion.

Women who opt to postpone raising children need to remember that, unlike their careers, motherhood is not a material thing.

It is a life experience that can be incredibly fulfilling, but it does not wait for women to feel ready to step into the role.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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