A few readers comment on the thread:
Actually, I would agree with McArdle (not something I usually do) about the waning energy of middle-aged parents. My wife had our two lovely daughters (now 4 and 20 months) by the age of 33. And they tire her out as it is. However, being nine years older than wife, these kids can devastate me! My wife and I are both professionals, so we have always traditionally split the household duties 50/50. But she is currently finishing her PhD thesis, which means I’ve taken on the lion’s share of the household work and raising the kids, and I can tell you that my mid-40s body/energy level is just barely up to the task. She left me in charge for a week while she was in Germany for an academic meeting; while I kept everything running well, I was also exhausted and in bed most of those night by 9PM!
Raising kids is something that is really meant for your 20s and early 30s, when your energy is less restricted. If companies really want to support working parents (because I think running a household should be split between the responsible adults), there are a raft of other family-friendly policies that could be looked at.
But another reader praises the egg-freezing policy:
So, I’m 41. I froze my eggs one week ago. I don’t have a partner, I’m still hoping to meet someone I actually want to be with, and I don’t particularly want to be a single parent, but family is hugely important to me and don’t want to regret never having children. I hadn’t really thought much about egg freezing, but then I went to my ob/gyn over the summer, and she recommended that I go see a fertility doctor and see what my options are. So I did.
I thought the doctor was going tell me it was now or never, that it was too late to freeze my eggs. But it turned out my hormone levels looked fine, and he said he thought it was a good option for me. He also said realistically, I should start thinking about getting pregnant in the next year or two. In other words, he wasn’t advising me to put off childbearing indefinitely, but he was sympathetic to helping me create a solution in the present while I try to solve more complex issues in the coming months and years.
And then it all went down really quickly. Period, tests, shots, retrieval. Voila! 10 frozen eggs. And you know what? It feels really good. It’s possible none of those eggs will be viable when/if I eventually try to use them – there are no guarantees – but it makes me feel like I took some kind of positive action in the face of circumstances I can’t control.
So I say good for Facebook and Google. They are encouraging their employees to think about their fertility now and, quite possibly, helping them preserve their potential for children before they think about it too late, and it’s too late. I just don’t believe that freezing eggs makes a woman who has a career think any differently about her timeline for having a baby. Most women I know who are in healthy relationships, even those who are killing it professionally, end up wanting a family by their mid- to late-30s (assuming they wanted children in the first place). So egg-freezing isn’t about obsessive, type-A women putting off babies indefinitely; it’s about protecting against infertility issues, which can crop up even in one’s thirties, being honest about the challenging realities of finding a partner, and enabling women to be smarter about their relationships (rather than making a mad, desperate scramble for some man! any man! as they see their fertility window closing).
All of which makes me feel that the pushback against egg freezing is all part of the same alarmist hysteria that springs up around anything ever that has let women have say over when and how they have babies. You have too much sex! You have too little sex! You had a baby too young! You had a baby too late! You had a baby as a single mother! You had a baby with a partner but aren’t modeling a healthy relationship and/or got divorced! You didn’t have a baby at all! Witches, burn them all!
There’s no downside to women taking control of their fertility.