Freezing Eggs: More Accurately Entitled Algorithms Know Me Too Well

I’m not sure why Medium is putting “biology on pause” on my homepage. Maybe it was because I finished watching Orphan Black on Netflix the other day. Maybe I read such a story earlier and have forgotten. I really, truly don’t know. But I did read this one. And this one. And they were good. That last one was, I’m going to say, action packed. And it made me want to draw attention to this in a way that didn’t really work as a response to either story. (I also read this one from the same portal but cared for it less.)

A couple of years ago (or maybe even last year) I was on the train and for some reason my friend and I ended up talking about what time was a good time to have a baby. It’s an unusual conversation topic for a commute. It’s even weirder when you remember another friend of ours was there but for some reason I don’t remember her joining in on this subject matter. It’s also not really a “typical” conversation for 20-ish year olds. Indeed, with the friend in question we normally discuss her terrible luck with cars. (Truly terrible luck.) I remember once walking home from school and ending up behind these two girls who were exchanging recipes. Teenaged girls aren’t meant to talk about that! For the eavesdropper on that morning’s commute their reaction must have been similar.

Another anecdote that I guess you’d also class as being about fertility is much older: it’s from 2011. I’m not sure if we were just waiting for the teacher to open the door or if it was prior to a test/exam but for whatever reason (fake names) Sarah and Thomas were talking about having children. Or, at least, Sarah was. Thomas was involved in the discussion too. Sarah was very clear (as a 16 year old) that she didn’t ever want kids. This was my first encounter with such a person… although I don’t know if she is still of the opinion. (I would assume so but all those articles that run “no I’m not too young to decide” usually start with people who can vote.) Indeed the similarly pseudonymous Natasha once told me that she’d like to have three kids. Very specifically three. I don’t believe an age was attached.

These anecdotes obviously indicate that I’d come at this issue with a quite different perspective to most writers who attend to it. I would say that usually the “(when) to have kids” question(s) are usually written by women. I’m not a woman. In fact, these authors are usually older than me as well. There are reasons for this. For one thing, all women are expected to be mothers. This expectation doesn’t exist for men and fatherhood. Hell, there’s an ongoing controversy where dads are unparented and rendered “mere” babysitters. You couldn’t do that to mothers. And my impression from these things I’ve read is that there are two major consequences of this expectation. Firstly, that the Sarahs of the world end up having a rough time of it. Secondly, that many Natashas find time starts to run out… the whole biological clock thing. They have other things they want to do with their lives after all. (A point raised, mostly, in both of the first two stories.) The issue is that I’m more focussed on pointing out that I’m interested in this genre of conversation.

Look, if you’ve read this far you might well be wondering what I think. Hell, I hope you’re wondering what conclusion that train conversation reached. I’m not going to torture you. I’d love to be a father one day. Truly. Honestly. Not sure how it would pan out. But definitely want to see how it does. But the reasoning that I/we (can’t remember) used to decide on 28 is independent of that ambition. You see, my friend, let’s call her Delia, is an accountant. I have several friends who are/are studying to be such. The basic way their lives work is thus:

  1. Go straight from school into a three year accounting degree (BCom majoring in accounting).
  2. During year two apply for internships, especially at the Big Four. (Delia just missed out on one from the Big Four. Another friend got a Big Four internship and another got an internship.) Take this up over January etc. before your third year.
  3. Finish degree and apply for jobs throughout the year. Hopefully you’ve already got one from your internship (both friends who got them) or hopefully you get a Big Four job (e.g. Delia… actually a better known Big Four firm even).
  4. Start working and not see me for months on end. Also, study for CA (chartered accounting). At this point in time you are 22 and probably have a job until such a time the robots take over.
  5. Become CA, start life. (Okay maybe not the whole start life thing but it seemed like an appropriate cliche at that point.)

Within this framework there are all sorts of things going on. But we thought that by 28 you could be reasonably secure in your career. And, importantly, you are on the right side of 30 for the whole biological clock thing. (If you’re wondering Delia already has a partner… they’ve been together for donkey’s years so… I know him also.)

It’s possible that the 28 age is a bit… ambitious? naive? But we weren’t talking about setting up one’s own firm or becoming CEO. We were considering establishment… security and respect as a valued colleague… choose your employment relations buzzword. That’s an equally valid life goal to the often more ambitious desires or, shall I say, more precarious? stressful? busier?positions of a lot of the commentators on this issue. And maybe we didn’t talk about other life goals/hallmarks of adulthood such as owning house and then having kids. Maybe we should have. Maybe we didn’t need to. Whatever. The real question is how did an interest heretofore expressed years prior to my involvement with Medium and IRL end up being picked up by Medium?

Um, I feel like the title promised more but, er, sorry?

University Educated,