Why my mum paid $30,000 to freeze my eggs
YOU can't put a value on the gift of human life. But when it comes to cryopreservation and fertility, hope comes with a hefty price tag.
"In total, we spent about $30,000," revealed my mum, Sue.
She and my dad, Kym, are part of a growing number of Baby Boomers making the ultimate investment to put their daughters' eggs on ice.
This year, at the age of 33, single and facing compromised fertility due to severe endometriosis and adenomyosis, I underwent two rounds of egg freezing, with the financial support of my parents.
I'd hoped freezing my eggs would give me piece of mind, but the costly procedure was, financially, out of my reach, with one round alone nearing $15,000.
As a family, we have always been a tight unit and my mum and dad were quick to step in. "I understand how strong the desire to have children can be," she told me. I couldn't walk away from helping you have that opportunity."
Despite things not going quite to plan (in the end, I banked two eggs), the journey was as much my mum's as it was mine. A keen adventurer, photographer and grandmother, she has built her life around the world as the wife of a diplomat, but her commitment to family has always come first.
Here, she tells me her side of the story.
WHY WAS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
"You were always a maternal child growing up. Always the one carrying around other people's babies. It's only when confronted with it that those memories pop back into my head.
"We knew that your endometriosis was likely to cause potential fertility problems down the track. As you started to get into your 30s, I know that began to concern you. It's been clear that you haven't been ready for a baby or been thinking about it in any serious way, but to be confronted with it makes you stop and think about it.
"I think I asked you if you'd been considering egg freezing and you had been, so we decided to look into it further.
The egg freezing became something that was very important to you, but you weren't in a financial position to be able to go ahead with the expensive procedure.
"Your Dad and I were in a position to be able to help you and we were more than happy to do that."
"Initially, we were expecting to get a crop of eggs that would be frozen and that would probably be it. As time went by it became obvious that wasn't going to be the outcome. As more investigations were done, we learned that you had a very low ovarian reserve. That was very big. It became more important that we did something sooner rather than later."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE IN THIS?
"You were single at the time and had no other significant support person, so you asked me to be that person and I was very willing. My involvement ranged from emotional support to doing some of the more practical things like administering the injections and making sure that medications happened on time and in the right quantity, as well as the washing, cooking and warming hot packs for your pain.
"Just generally being a total mum."
"Initially, I felt anxious about giving the injections, as I could feel that you were anxious. Although I was a registered nurse a long time ago, it had been some time since I had given an injection. Once we got underway and we both relaxed with it, it was fine."
HOW DID YOU SEE THE PROCESS AFFECT ME?
"I saw you go from being fit, healthy, bright and positive to hardly being able to get off the couch at times.
"I think that's partly what happened mentally with you, too. Not being able to exercise always has an effect on your mental state.
"There were lots of mixed emotions, headaches and discomfort leading up to the collection, and pain afterwards. Obviously the hormonal effect was quite pronounced at times and there was lashing out and hurtful comments.
"But I think you have to be a parent and try and stand back from it a bit."
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART FOR YOU?
"You're going to me make me cry. The hardest thing for any parent is watching your child go through something difficult, emotionally and physically.
"There were some pretty tough moments, particularly for you. Watching you go through that, especially when you only ended up with one mature egg the first time and even more so, the second time - that was a real blow.
"It was very hard to witness, especially not being able to change it. As a parent, you want a magic wand, but you haven't got one.
"I was extremely emotional both times being in the theatre with you when you were having the collection and just seeing you so vulnerable in that situation. There was also excitement that we were getting any eggs at all."
WHAT WAS THE MOST UNEXPECTED PART?
"The biggest thing for me was how well you coped with the disappointments. You actually went through the emotion and acknowledged it, but were able to compartmentalise it, in a way, and try and deal with whatever life threw up at you.
"That's a very hard thing to do in this situation and it takes time and commitment, and it takes a lot of bravery. It's not a process where you go, 'oh, I'm okay now', it's something that will be there forever, in a way. The maturity you showed through the difficult parts was lovely to see."
WOULD YOU CALL IT AN INVESTMENT?
"The odds of getting a baby from frozen eggs are not all that high, but technology is changing all the time. Knowing that they're there means that you can get on with the journey of your life and not have that fear constantly hanging over your head that time is ticking away and your opportunities are disappearing. I'd call it an investment in piece of mind."
WHAT DID YOU GET OUT OF THE EXPERIENCE?
"It was a very positive experience for our relationship, although there were some really hard bumps on the way.
"Leading up to the first cycle, it was hard for you and I to be on the same wavelength, but we got through it. The second cycle, particularly, was a very positive and maturing experience. People who go through tough stuff together often have a different kind of bond."
HOW MUCH DID IT COST?
"It was about $7,000 for each of the procedures because you were entitled to a Medicare rebate due to your medical history. We spent about $7,000 on accommodation because we were both living overseas and probably another $6,000 on airfares, car hire and living expenses."