Giving birth is not something we would ordinarily think of as a “medical marvel” — it is, after all, our primary means of propagating our species. But when Diana Hayden gave birth last week, the particulars were intriguing enough to make it a very special case indeed.
On Saturday, 42-year-old Hayden, the former winner of the Miss World pageant, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in Mumbai.
The curious part? The child was born from an egg that Hayden had frozen eight years ago.
“A career woman need not think about her biological clock and get pressurised into getting married earlier than she wants to or have a baby when she isn’t ready,” said Hayden, speaking to the Times of India, “I froze my eggs for two reasons: I was busy with my career at that time and, more important, I was very clear that I was going to wait to fall in love and marry before having a baby.”
She was 32-years-old when she first heard about egg freezing. Intrigued by the possibilities, she froze 16 eggs between 2007 and 2008 with the help of Dr. Nandita Palshetkar, an infertility specialist.
Hayden’s gamble paid off. She was 40 when she fell in love with and married American Collin Dick. But that was also when she discovered that she had endometriosis, a painful condition of the uterus that is also a cause of infertility for many women. This news spurred the couple to revive the frozen eggs in an attempt to have a baby.
Hayden’s baby girl Arya is the picture of health.
The big change in egg-freezing technology, making it more viable, came about only within the past decade.
While it is done frequently for medical reasons, Hayden may be among the first women in the country to have frozen her eggs as a lifestyle choice. This may just signal a shift in how Indian women juggle work and family in an increasingly fast-paced society.
However, a word of caution. While egg-freezing may seem like (and indeed, often is) a blessing for many women, there is a significant monetary cost involved, along with a fair bit of risk. A 2014 report says that, per attempt, this procedure can cost up to Rs. 2 lakh. And neither is there any guarantee of success. Till fertilisation is attempted, there is no way of determining if the egg is viable. Even when fertilisation is successful, all the uncertainty associated with in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) remains. For women who do choose this route, a healthy age to get your eggs frozen is 35 or younger (as opposed to 38 — the current average).
Either way, medical technology is opening up a world of possibility for women and couples. And a society in which everyone is freer, not bound (at least, not too tight) to the ruthless forward march of their biological clocks, is nothing to scoff at.