In the glut of books and articles about single women waiting "too long" to "settle," or the collections of stats about how adults are getting married later and later, if at all, there is that one hard-stop, that one thing that often ends up answering the awful question of how old is "too old." That is, to make babies. Women have only so much time, those biological clocks are ticking, all of that stuff you've likely heard if you're in your 20s or 30s or 40s and are still dating and figuring out what you want. It's not untrue that at some point, women will have aged past the point of having babies, or at least, having babies easily. (Yet some still do: Take New York's ASME-award winning cover and related story, which asks, "Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?"). It's a topic we'll continue to discuss as technology helps women (and men) have children later in life, and it's a subject that's sure to draw strong opinions.
Regardless of any controversy-inspiring debate or magazine covers, science hasn't stopped working on its end of things. Technologies have emerged and improved to extend the years in which women can get pregnant and have babies, via in-vitro, surrogacy, and egg-freezing, among other methods that are continuing to be worked on and perfected. While some argue that older parents deny their kids a certain something—running around, maybe? But have you seen 40something moms in Park Slope?—others disagree, and at the end of the day it doesn't seem to matter; people, especially people with money, are going to do exactly what they want to do.
And what if people's parents have money, and want them to do something? What if people's parents just really want grandchildren? According to The New York Times, the latest baby trend appears to be wannabe grandparents paying to freeze their daughters' eggs so that those daughters can, down the road, make mom and dad into grandparents. As The Times' Elissa Gootman writes:
The procedure remains expensive, generally costing between $8,000 and $18,000. And because it offers no guarantees and is still considered experimental by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a professional association, it can seem to some like an extravagant gamble.
But it is a gamble that many would-be grandparents are willing to take with their daughters, even if it means navigating a potentially uncomfortable conversation.
If you are a woman of a certain age, what follows may make you cringe:
“By the time Allison was 35, I felt the clock was tick-tick-ticking,” said Candace Kramer, 61, whose daughter took her up on the suggestion to freeze her eggs — and her offer to pay half the bill. “I viewed it as opening up an opportunity for her.”
A medical director at a reproduction center in Atlanta says not only is this not uncommon, it's actually sort of the norm. At least three-quarters of his recent patients have had parents who paid some or all of the bill, because they wanted their kids to have it as "a gift." How sweet, assuming the kid wants it too.
But recently we were up in arms over a Time magazine cover featuring a mom who was still breast-feeding her rather adult-looking little boy at the age of nearly 4 as part of the technique of "attachment parenting." How does that compare to parents who are basically helping their children have babies? Are we running into some really uncomfortable boundary issues here? Grandparents already tend to think they have a right to tell their kids how to parent; what if they actually made those grandchildren happen? Is this Attachment Grandparenting? Helicopter Grandparenting?
But just as "everyone" wants to experience being a parent (and is going to do it the way they want to), "everybody wants to experience being a grandparent," says Jennifer Hayes, whose parents paid for her egg-freezing procedure, which she blogs about at RetrieveFreezeRelax.com. Gootman writes that Hayes felt strange about it at first, but when her parents asked her if she'd rather have the money in an account "or have a potential grandchild someday," she picked the potential baby and took the money.
Regardless of the judgments, and judging from the comments on Gootman's article, there are plenty, technology to extend child-bearing (or grandchild-bearing) years is only going to get better, and people with money who are marrying later yet want to have kids are likely to take advantage of it. As are, perhaps, their parents. We want it all, or at least, the option of having it all, and egg-freezing to hopefully guarantee the likelihood of having kids when we want to is just another part of that. So it almost doesn't matter what people think. The fact is, it's going to keep happening. The question of whether you'd want your parents to pay to freeze your eggs—and deal with all that that might involve—is up to you.
Image via Shutterstock by Monkey Business Images.