A discussion for your afternoon… 🙂
When I was asked to be on Headline News, at first they had a list to debunk some of the “The Myths of Infertility.” We ended up speaking about other things on the air, but I thought I’d still address one very important topic here…
“Age matters. You really do lose eggs quickly.”
know the #1 thing that people have said to me for years? “You’ve got
PLENTY of time! No worries!” I must have heard this 1,000 times. OK, let me just put this out there: our
culture seriously needs to stop saying that.
THERE IS LOADS OF RESEARCH
that says the prime time to have a child is in your TWENTIES…as in 26 years of age and under. Fertility and egg quality begins to decline at age 27. Yet, it’s practically taboo in some areas to
have a baby in your mid-twenties! Strange (& tricky) that our cultural ideals do not line up with our biology any more. It’s like a career, traveling, and living together for prolonged periods of time, and delaying “growing up” have taken the place of thinking about settling down, preparing body, heart, and mind to start a family, making real commitments and getting married (for both men and women).
Why do you think that is the case?
I think there are so many deep-rooted cultural shifts…but here’s my stab at a few that come to mind after being among urban career women, working mothers, stay at home mothers, and infertile women for the last 13 years in NYC…
–Many women and men don’t feel any rush to settle down. I think birth control and the acceptable norm of living together before marriage has taken away – for many – the norm of getting married, settling down, and starting a family in your mid twenties. Do you have any experience with this? Do you agree/disagree? Do you think these things have caused less real commitments from happening between men and women (at a younger age)? I’m so curious to see what you think.
–People have adopted to the “norms” of our money/success focused society. I mean, it seems very normal for many men and women to feel the need to seek wealth, education, experiences, worldly success, security, and even luxuries first…before pursuing family life. It didn’t use to be like this. People used to just have kids earlier and make do. But it seems priorities and expectations have really shifted. Do you find yourself saying, “I want achieve this or that before I have kids?” Do you worry that you’d live in poverty if you had kids too soon? Do you hold off because you worry you can’t provide for a family (whether it’s just the basics or more luxurious ideals with homes, cars, vacations, items, large bank accounts, etc.)? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
–So many women really are fooled into thinking “they have time” to have kids. Maybe they hear of women in their thirties and forties having babies…but because infertility is such a silent journey for the majority of women, you don’t often hear about the journey they went through to have a child…including often $20-$50k (or more) for fertility treatments, freezing eggs, and/or adoption, loads of dr. appts., and often the use of egg donors Also, there’s a lot of sugar coating going on…people try to comfort one another by saying “You have time” when really, people are blowing smoke!! The U.K. is taking this very seriously right now. It turns out that on June 3rd they’re launching a campaign called, “Get Britain Fertile” to try and get the message out that it’s a good idea to think about having kids at a younger age. They’re worried about the decline of fertility in their country and the decline of happiness of it’s populace. Also, they found that “despite most women planning to leave their first pregnancy until their early 30s, 3 out of 4 women do NOT have concerns about being able to conceive. They believe they will have an average, or easier time becoming pregnant compared to most women.” Yikes. The campaign is quite a controversial topic, because some feel it is shaming women (here are two articles in the Slate and the Huffington Post.) But you know what – the stats are there. People clearly are not catching on that the FERTILE YEARS ARE IN YOUR EARLY TO MID TWENTIES. I don’t think educating with facts is shaming. Since 3 out of 4 women don’t know the facts, I say it’s worth trying to educate people in a big way. Perhaps it can help change the script that we think and repeat to each other and grow up with…and perhaps that can lead to people re-thinking their life plans (at least among those who do desire to have children) and seeking partners who are on the same page.
Of course, even when we know the facts and desire a marriage and family during our fertile years, it doesn’t mean either of those will happen. (I know that all too well. ha!) I hope women don’t feel shamed by this. I hope they can carry on with hope and purpose.
And now I would just LOVE to hear what you think. Why do you think people (men and women) delay marriage and plans for a family? (did you?) Why do you think people say that they have “so much time”? I’d love to hear from anyone who has both waited to have kids by choice – or those who have not. I guess I’m just a sucker for this important topic. 🙂
(Images: I love this “Photo Drip” Series by Markus Linnenbrink.)
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