TIME — If she found the right guy, Kari Arenberg could see herself having kids. But her work was never conducive to dating, let alone to freezing her eggs in hopes of leaving her options open. The 31-year-old event producer traveled constantly between New York City and Los Angeles, with long days lifting heavy boxes and running around venues.
Then, in 2020, Arenberg was furloughed, and the egg-freezing process became, for the first time in her life, logistically possible. She moved in with her family in Chicago and visited a clinic. Soon she was giving herself as many as three shots a day to stimulate her ovaries, and visiting the clinic every few days for bloodwork and an ultrasound to determine when the eggs would be ready for retrieval. She was able to freeze 21 eggs, a feat that likely would have been impossible if she had had to give herself shots while stuffed into airplane bathrooms or trying to schedule visits to the clinic around the national events, like Comic Con, that she produces. “I love my work and want to prioritize it,” Arenberg says. “So it’s ironic that my career also kept me from doing this earlier.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, fertility clinics braced themselves for a downturn. People have been avoiding the doctor’s office since the spring, first because they feared exposure to the virus and later because many people who have been laid off or furloughed cannot afford the medical bills. Fertility treatments are expensive, and the cost of egg freezing ranges from $6,000 to $20,000. (Arenberg’s was $12,000—an especially daunting cost after losing work.)
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