Earlier this year, Bachelorette veteran Kaitlyn Bristowe went refreshingly public about deciding to freeze her eggs — a choice, she tweeted, motivated by her desire to take control of her reproductive future. We have serious respect for any woman who can make such a bold move and then own it so passionately, but the process of egg freezing is still fraught with tons of questions and, unfortunately, misconceptions. Add the opinions of friends and family into the mix, and you’re bound to have concerns about being overwhelmed by judgments and uncomfortable inquiries.
We talked with Kristen Mancinelli — Director of Education and Partnerships for NYC-based egg-freezing service Extend Fertility — about the challenges associated with these conversations. “We don’t seem to talk much about fertility or fertility treatments with our families or communities,” she agrees. “It’s a subject that tends to have a lot of secrecy around it.” While Mancinelli says that many women do not experience difficulty talking about this topic with their loved ones (according to a recent study from NYU, 90 percent end up discussing it with family and friends), it’s important to make the most of these talks from the very beginning. Keep scrolling to read more about Mancinelli’s five suggestions for keeping conversations about freezing your eggs warm and fuzzy (get it?).
1. Set a positive tone. If your friends and family see that you are excited and confident about the decision you’re making, it will be a lot more difficult for them to question your judgement or to rain on your parade. Prior to the big conversation, take some time to consider how best to communicate in a positive manner the ways in which freezing your eggs will address your specific concerns, make your life easier, and ensure a less stressful future. “Tell [your loved ones] about the options it is going to create for you,” Mancinelli suggests. “Above all, [they] want you to be happy and for your life to go well, so craft your message in a way that places this decision into their vision for your happiest life.”
2. Find your allies. If you’ve already had preliminary conversations about the possibility of freezing your eggs with the friends and family members in your innermost circle, contact them again to have one-on-one conversations before you break the news to the whole crew. Chances are, the people who are closest to you will have an immediate positive reaction, which will give you the extra boost of confidence you’ll need to spread the word even further. You may even consider enlisting their more vocal public support, should you get more lukewarm responses from others.
3. Make it a party! We’re pretty sure you’ve attended your fair share of engagement parties, bridal showers, and baby showers to support major milestones for other people you care about, so why not throw a party to celebrate your own exciting, life-changing decision? Mancinelli recalls a patient who did just this — and got tons of positive feedback in return. “We thought it was brilliant for flipping the notion of the ‘life plan’ on its head,” she shares. “With egg freezing, women today have more options for their life paths than any generation before us. Why not celebrate?” We hear that.
4. Know your audience. Anticipate the various ways in which members of your family-and-friends group might respond to this major news flash, and approach the conversation accordingly. For example, if your parents generally do a lot of research before establishing an opinion about something, consider sending them an email with plenty of reading material and helpful references to help answer their (understandably long) list of questions. You know your loved ones better than anyone else, so take the time to think about the concerns that they’ll bring to the table, and be ready to address them head-on.
5. Don’t stay silent. Even if you face skepticism from those around you, stay vocal about your experience! Find a community that will support you, either within your existing personal network or among others who have walked the same path. “It can be daunting to face an unfamiliar situation without support,” Mancinelli admits. “Don’t put yourself in that position! Instead, connect with other women who have frozen their eggs and find out how they navigated the conversation with their loved ones.” Your fertility specialists may maintain a network like this, so don’t be afraid to ask the experts for guidance as you seek these connections.
What are your tips for handling tough conversations? Tweet us ideas @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)