More and more women are choosing to freeze their eggs even though they know the investment carries the possibility of delivering no return at all.
After the abrupt end of her marriage, Tiffany Angelo gave herself a few months to grieve. Then she moved on. Not to the next romance, but to something she could plan for: the children she deeply desired and would still have. With or without her ex.
"I was married," she says. "I thought I was on the way to having a child."
It didn't turn out that way, so the Maryland-based anesthesiologist gathered up the kind of money that would usually buy a new compact car and submitted to blood tests and hormone injections that she flinchingly gave herself.
Last year, at 39, Angelo became a freezer, joining the growing ranks of women putting their eggs on ice as a way of girbabding for life's great unknowns.
Now, her dreams rest in a row of nitrogen tanks at Shady Grove Fertility, a clinic in a beige office park in Rockville.
In the future, perhaps with a partner, she will be able to return for them and proceed with her childbearing plans. Even if she waits a decade, her eggs, doctors say, remain just as they were when she froze them - whatever Angelo's age, they will still be a vibrant 39.
Among urban women in their 30s, freezing is trending. Suddenly, many women "now have a friend of a friend who has frozen", says Sarah Elizabeth Richards, a journalist who has had eggs frozen twice and written about it in the book Motherhood, Rescheduled.
Only two years ago, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine lifted the "experimental" label long attached to egg freezing, giving women a way to extend their reproductive potential, perhaps long past the natural expiration date.
Since then, "more clinics are offering it", Richards says.
Large corporations are catching on, too, tossing in egg freezing as a perk to enlist female talent: Last month, Facebook and Apple became the first to announce that they would each offer $US20,000 ($25,400) for the reproductive treatments.
In Silicon Valley and in Manhattan (the town that can't seem to get over Sex and the City), empowered ladies have begun picking up informational packets along with cocktails at "egg-freezing parties". Even Kim Kardashian has reportedly frozen and, naturally, had the whole thing filmed for reality-TV posterity.
In Washington, it can cost a woman $US12,500 to $18,000 to put away enough eggs to bolster her chances of having a baby one day. And yet, as the women who freeze know, the investment carries the real possibility of delivering no return at all.
The women who are freezing here defy the stereotype of the start-up worker or body-conscious singleton hoping to squeeze a few extra years out of her career or her 26-inch waistline before a baby. They are not rescheduling pregnancy the way you would an appointment for highlights. The choices they're making are far more nuanced.
For women who still hope to meet cute and fall in love before pregnancy, egg freezing has one little-discussed selling point: It gives them time not just for careers but also to meet the right partner, a tricky business as more people postpone marriage or other committed relationships.
"If you ask women who have frozen their eggs why they did it, I thought the two things - probably neck-and-neck with each other - would be that they haven't found the right partner, and career reasons," says Joseph Doyle, a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove.
"But almost all of them, when you ask them, [the reason] is that they haven't found the right partner."