Baruch Hashem, I’m not the rough and tumble type. I never go looking for a fight but will state my opinion as well as facts when I believe it’s needed. I hate being involved in arguments. I’m the type of person who hates it if I think that someone or a group of someones don’t like me for whatever the reason. I can accept it, but I don’t like it. One of my attributes, as well as one of my shortcomings, is that I aim to be a people-pleaser, but you can’t please all the people all the time.
I read last week’s “Your Say” section, and what Arlene Ross had to say about my opinion regarding shadchanim asking older single girls about freezing their eggs. Maybe it was my fault that I didn’t make myself clear. The point I was trying to make was that when a shadchan calls you up for the first time and you don’t know who she is and one of the first questions she asks is about egg-freezing. That is an awkward and uncomfortable situation. I may not have mentioned that part, but I thank her for pointing out the inconsistencies with the ages used in the article. I am my own editor.
As I have often written, I’m a busy person, the articles are written weeks in advance, I’m a working mother, a wife, write for a few newspapers… and sometimes, after reading a piece several times for a few weeks, for editing purposes, I don’t catch every error because it all starts to blend together. I’m fine with all this. This makes me human – “To err is human.” I honestly don’t mind that the inconsistencies were found; it just means I must be more careful editing next time. I never would have mentioned any of this, except that I received an email Sunday morning from someone who felt the opposite of how Arlene felt. I like to present both sides of the coin; I like being fair and balanced. So, I will publish a part of the email here. As I read this email, I felt as if the writer was trying to defend me (to Arlene? to the public? I don’t know). She is a single woman in her 40s. She is 43 and has allowed me to share that with you all, but not her name. I will let her tell us in her own words how the egg-freezing question makes her feel.
“…I know I’m not 25 or even 35 anymore. A friend spoke with me when I was 40 about having my eggs frozen. I never thought I would ever have to think about such a thing! Freezing my eggs! To me, that was like saying I won’t get married until it’s almost impossible for me to get pregnant the natural way, so I must do all I can now. I had a long discussion with my parents. This was a big decision for me.
“I could tell that the conversation surprised them. There was no right time to have it, so I brought it up at Shabbos lunch when I was there. It was like you see on TV: I thought my father would choke on his food. And then my mother put her fork down and in a very sweet voice said, “Well if you really want to do this… have you explored all options?” After the awkwardness wore off, we had an open conversation about it. Of course, none of us planned on me being this old and not married, but I am. I needed to decide, and sooner was better than later. After more talking, over the next few days, and lots of research, I decided to go ahead with the procedure. But I also decided not to announce it to anyone, including my siblings. This was a very big and private decision for me.
“Even though the step is taken, and I have done whatever is in my power to help me have children whenever I become a kallah, I’m not proud about it at all. I’m still 43 and single. I took the steps to help, but I’m still hurting that I’m not married and not a mother yet. At every simchah to which I get invited, I’m constantly thinking about my eggs waiting for me. Almost like children crying out to me, “When will we meet, Mommy? I want to be your child.” I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s how I feel. I feel as if my would-be children are crying out to be born and I can’t do anything now. That’s why I find it very crude when a shadchan whom I am meeting or talking with for the first or second time asks me if I have looked into freezing my eggs. It doesn’t matter that they think they are helping singles; some of us are very sensitive about the subject and don’t want to discuss it with strangers. So, for all the Arlene Rosses who think it’s wrong of you to write that it isn’t right to write that the question isn’t correct to ask, I ask her/them: “Are you living in my shoes? Do you share in my hurt?”
“Besides my parents, only two shadchanim know that I have gone through with the procedure, and it took me a while to confide this to them. They asked in a respectful way. No one should think that because you may be a “shadchan” or even a person on the very sidelines watching my life, claiming to care and wants to help, that the subject of freezing my eggs is appropriate, and you can have it with every single you come into contact with over the age of 40.
“Goldy, thank you for writing that it’s inappropriate to ask singles about this question. I’m a big girl. I’m mature, but I can still hurt and have emotions and feel horrible that, because of my age, egg-freezing is an acceptable topic to discuss, just because you want to set me up with someone. Do you know how embarrassing it is for me? All my friends started getting married when I was 20. Their kids’ birthday parties turned into bas/bar mitzvahs which are now turning into weddings and I’m still here needing the help of matchmakers; and now not only that, but they are also telling me that someone at my age should be proactive and take action for when the time is right… Stop!
“I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Don’t think that because you feel in your heart of hearts that you are doing the single women a favor by bringing up the subject that we will all thank you. I find it an invasion of privacy. Can I ask you when was the last time you had a Pap smear? I find it to be on the same invasive level. Some singles may not care and can talk about it, take out a billboard for it for all I care; but I don’t want to discuss it. Hate to burst your bubble, ladies, but sometimes infertility is the man’s fault and not the woman’s fault. Still need sperm to fertilize your eggs! Thank you for addressing this very sensitive topic…”
The email was a very lengthy one, and some of it came from a place of deep hurt. I have communicated with the writer a couple of times. She is a sensitive person and that’s not a bad thing. I and others can learn from this email not to make generalizations for others if we only know of a few people who feel this way or that way about any topic. I do not know Arlene. I’m sure she’s sweet and does a lot of chesed, but apparently not every single woman agrees with what she said about the issue of egg-freezing, and now I know that at least 1 person (Arlene) disagrees with my opinion regarding bringing up the topic of egg-freezing. As with all my articles, I have done research; the research for the egg-freezing article was speaking with four single friends over the age of 40. They, too, found it an uncomfortable conversation to have with someone, but I’m sure many others don’t think twice before starting this discussion. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong. We just all need to consider feelings of others as we should with all topics.
I do not want to start a fight or argument. Everyone is right in this situation, in my opinion, because we all are just trying to do our best and to help out any single, male or female, whom we know. And having so many cheerleaders looking out for you is always a good thing!
Hatzlachah to you all.