When my friend learned I was turning 30, she asked when I intended to freeze my eggs.
I told her I had only planned on having cake.
Still, it was enough of a kick in the heels to attend a conversation concerning infertility and the workplace with Dr. Shefali Mavani Shastri and Karin Ajmani at the recent Metro Women’s Leadership Summit at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott.
Their presentation, while extremely informative and encouraging, admittedly resulted in a mini-life-crisis:
I had spent my 20s growing my career across industries, including film and television, theater and journalism. I also had been single for lengthy portions of the decade.
Times and my relationship status may have changed, but my ambition hasn’t. It has only grown into new fields, such as penning children’s books and writing musicals.
I still have a lot of success to achieve. I also now want biological children.
I listened intently on what the procedure would entail and how much it would cost to freeze my eggs, knowing I (ahem, “we”) am not yet in the financial or emotional position to begin a family yet.
But, I would like to know we will have options when we are.
Had I known this five years ago, would that have changed my career decisions or encouraged me to start saving earlier?
I suspect the answer might be yes.
I always had wanted a family; I was just happy with my plan to adopt. (That, too, costs a lot of money, I’ve learned.) Now that I have become “we” in what I would consider to be an equitable, feminist relationship with a man who is four years younger, our conversations around the dinner table suddenly have changed from Friday night plans to long-term life plans.
What did we think about surrogacy or adoption? How might we be able to afford both? If he were to look for a new job, were fertility health care benefits important to him? (They were.) This should not only serve as a wakeup call for us, but also for employers looking to keep their best employees.
Sometimes, the pool tables and free lunches in the break room are enough.
But, sometimes, it may behoove employers to encourage millennials to move into the next stage of their lives by reaffirming their commitment to their physical and financial health.
That is how the workforce can continue to grow — and our families right along with it.