A Case for Living Child-Free
The happy-family aspirational blueprint is a farce. It’s time to make a decision for yourself.
“Hazel, I think it might be time to freeze your eggs.”
Mum barely bothered with a “hello” before dropping that telephone bombshell — but she was probably right to convey some urgency. Menopause comes early for the women in our family. Her periods stopped at age 42 and I was only a handful of years younger than that when we had this conversation. If I wanted to be a mother, I’d better act fast.
It’s nothing short of miraculous that we’re able to take a collection of ova out of our bodies, put them on ice for a few years, and warm them up later like a microwave dinner. But it’s not without its tribulations. To better my chances of a good harvest, I’d have to pump myself full of hormones and undergo months of testing and invasive procedures. As a single woman, I’d also have to answer the not-so-simple question of who I wanted to do the fertilizing — all to shelve some rainy-day embryos.
Truth be told, I wasn’t even sure I wanted a baby. I’d never experienced that broody, magnetic pull towards motherhood that other women talk about. But this was surely just because I hadn’t hit the right age yet, I reasoned. The “give me a baby now” lightning bolt could strike at any moment because it’s a natural part of being female, right?
Fast-forward six weeks and I’m staring into the sympathetic face of a fertility doctor, my test results in hand. “You can go through with it if you want,” she said, “but the odds are pretty slim. We’d be lucky to get more than a couple of eggs, and the chances of them being usable aren’t good.”
So, I was fertile. But not fertile enough. At the (not so) ripe old age of 35, the egg-freezing boat had already sailed. And, with neither the inclination nor situation to start trying for a baby naturally, my future as a mother looked doubtful.
But this isn’t a story about the grief you might expect me — as a woman — to feel upon learning that I may never parent a child. Rather, it’s about the lack of it. Of course, I knew this wasn’t good news. But when I searched for the sense of loss I expected, the most dramatic response I could muster was a distinctly…