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Firstly, I want to thank my readers for all of their support. Just shy of its 3 month birthday, this little blog has been viewed in 65 countries!
I also wanted to congratulate my subscriber Stephanie from Vancouver, British Columbia for winning the subscriber contest. She chose the fantastic sanded and oiled fire roasted birch coasters from the fine artisans of Birch & Grey (http://www.birchandgrey.com/) Check them out, they’re brilliant!
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Now back to the regularly scheduled blog post….
My doctor told me that I’m old.
At first I was stunned. But then he clarified, “your best reproductive years are behind you.” I had only been married a year. I laughed and asked, “when am I supposed to start trying?”
He pointed at his watch and said, “right when you get home.” He then explained that the ideal age to conceive would have been around 18 years old, biologically at least.
At first I was very annoyed. When I was 18, my biggest concerns were midterms and perfecting my eyebrow tweezing technique- having a baby was what “bad girls” did. Plus, sitting in my doctor’s office, I didn’t feel old. I still wear Converse and stay up super late on weekdays, I play bass. In a band. So I left his office and told this story to others, recruiting my friends so we could all call him crazy.
The eggs don’t lie
Then I dug deep into the research only to find that my annoying doctor had a point. Times have changed, but our biology hasn’t. Just because in our arrested development 30 has become the new 20, doesn’t mean that your ovaries feel the same way. Before you write to me about your 48 year old pregnant boss or your 39 year old friend who is pregnant with twins, or your 20 year old cousin who is barren as the winter is long, please remember that those are exceptions to the rule and not the norm.
Don’t bring up cases like Dawn Brooke, who in 1997 became the world’s oldest woman to give birth naturally at age 59. I mean, who wants to be that lady? (That could spark a whole new breastfeeding article– what’s the oldest YOU should be when breastfeeding?) And definitely don’t bring up the twins Mariah Carey had at age 42. For all we know, celebrities can drink a concoction of moondust and horse hormones created by NASA to aid in their fertility. They have different resources available to them than we do. Plus I find it funny that when you mention that a celebrity looks great after having a baby, people quickly respond, “she is rich, she probably has a whole team helping her look like that”… you get my drift.
As I researched I realized that I barely knew anything about fertility. I spent a lot of that unit in high school biology class just cringing or laughing with my friends. The extent of my reproductive knowledge was “don’t get pregnant”. As I looked more into it, I learned that it is as complicated as it is fascinating. While there are MANY contributing factors that affect fertility, age is one of the most basic. As age increases, fertility decreases. Period.
Now, if you’re single, I understand that you may have your hands tied a bit here. And if you’ve just started a new job and need to secure a maternity leave, or are working to cure a health condition, I’m not really referring to you. I don’t think a few more months will make a huge difference. I’m talking to the women who are consistently avoiding pregnancy because they want to take that one more trip, save up that down-payment or start that post doctoral fellowship. You can do those things of course, but you need to accept that time is your fertility’s worst enemy.
In addition to this, waiting to have children increases the chance that you will become a part of the sandwich generation- those who simultaneously care for their own children and their aging parents. If you’re already in this position, I commend you for your patience and the time you give to others. But if you’re not, I wouldn’t recommend putting yourself there.
The kids are alright
I think the real problem boils down to many people thinking they must fit in everything fun, engaging, academic before they have children. As though children are the dream killers. If we can’t see the overlap of kids with other life goals, we’ll continue to keep them separate and risk not having children at all in the pursuit to accomplish other endeavors. But let’s face it ladies, a PhD is nice, but your supervisor isn’t going to eat Christmas dinner at your house in 30 years.
You may think this is unfair, especially since men don’t have the same biological restrictions. But men constantly produce their “product” while women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have. The feminist movement has changed a lot of things, and your ovaries were sitting in your woman’s studies classes, they just weren’t listening.
I’m not trying to scare you, but I am trying to open your eyes. I also don’t think NASA is going to give you that cocktail any time soon.