Fertility clinics may be getting a bit more crowded, as a growing number of women are showing up with their parents tagging along. Why? Wannabe grandparents can hear their daughters' biological clocks ticking, so they're offering to pay to freeze their eggs to improve the odds of becoming grandparents later in life, according to The New York Times. Is this kind of helicopter grandparenting the next big thing? Here, a guide to this new twist on the family dynamics of fertility treatments:
How many would-be grandmothers are doing this?
There are no statistics available, but the Times says fertility specialists have noticed a pronounced trend. "I see these patients come in, and they're with two elderly people, and I'm like, 'What the hey?'" says Dr. William Schoolcraft of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. Dr. Daniel Shapiro of the Reproductive Biology Associates of Atlanta estimates that three quarters of his facility's 100-plus egg-freezing patients over the last two years had parents paying at least part of the bill, which can range from $8,000 to $18,000, depending on the center.
Are women welcoming the help?
The women interviewed by the Times said that, when their moms proposed the idea, they felt everything from pressure to relief. "I can't decide if a gift like this is selfless or completely selfish," says Betsy Shaw at Baby Center. Anything that relieves the pressure women in their 30s feel to "hurry up and procreate" is welcome, but "the idea of mothers pressuring their daughters to do this" seems a wee bit creepy. It is "a little pushy, to say the least," says Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel. But if freezing eggs works as well as these wannabe grandmas hope, maybe our "baby-obsessed culture" will relax and give 30-something women a break from all of the biological clock talk.
Is egg freezing a sure thing?
No. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine still considers the technology experimental, and the process of freezing, storage, and thawing can leave some eggs damaged. Experts estimate that only about 2,000 babies have been born from frozen eggs, many of which came from donors. But one benefit is instant, 39-year-old Brigitte Adams, who froze her eggs with her parents' financial help, told the Times: "No longer was I under such pressure that the next guy I dated would be daddy material."
Sources: Baby Center, Globe and Mail, Jezebel, NY Times