For most of my life, any reference to "barren women" has conjured the biblical figures of Sarah, Rachel and Hannah—women who were married but infertile, until God graciously intervened. But as more fertile years have passed without a husband, I've started to think that single childlessness is a kind of barrenness, too.

Making a family at the sperm bank is an increasingly common response to that. And even women who presumably hope to raise children with the biological father are starting to bank their own eggs for future use, The New York Timesrecently reported—increasingly, with the financial help of would-be grandparents.

The Times story interviewed women from five different families, but it cites fertility clinic reports of a larger trend whereby parents accompany daughters who choose to bank some of their eggs. One doctor said the majority of his patients freezing eggs in the last two years had parents foot some if not all of the bill.

In related commentary on the NYT Motherlode blog, however, a 58-year-old writer and mother of two childless adult daughters argued that it was almost "too late" for the women in the story to be banking their eggs. (Of those who shared their ages, the youngest was 36.) Ideally, she said, parents would have the egg conversation "when the daughters are in their 20s, when egg freezing is most likely to make a difference." But as her own daughter notes, "To go through egg freezing as a 20-something is to admit an early defeat; to stake serious money and hormonal imbalances on the likelihood that the marital timetable may not go according to plan."

Whatever the ideal age to bank is, I will not be one of those egg-banking 30-somethings, though I'm barely a year away from what was once ...

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