It seems to have become fashionable among Gen X-ers, roughly defined as those born between 1962 and 1980, to delay starting their families until they are pushing (or even dragging) age 40. I guess it’s not a surprise, since this cohort has been described as a generation who refuses to grow up, that they are trying to delay responsibility and live like arrested development cases, but all this live-for-today partying, jetting off for getaway weekends at a moment’s notice and spending your DINK (Double Income No Kids) disposable income on high-tech toys is not without a cost. When the time comes, and you are ready to pull the trigger on having those kids, you may discover that the physiologically the window is slamming shut.
You can forgive these women for being confused, particularly those who regularly wallow in the popular culture. As this story about declining fertility in the Liberal Death Star (the New York Times), “Fertility is a Matter of Age, No Matter How Young a Woman Looks,” notes,
The unreality is reinforced by Hollywood, much to the growing dismay of many obstetricians and gynecologists. Not only are stars in their 40s now celebrated as bona fide sex symbols (Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, the list goes on), but judging from media coverage, they seem to be reproducing like rabbits.
“All women see is celebrities over 40 getting pregnant,” lamented Shari Brasner, a New York obstetrician and gynecologist.
Just last month, Us magazine ran a list, “25 Stars Who Gave Birth After 40,” which amounted to a who’s who of glamour icons, from Brooke Shields to Madonna. The next week’s cover story had a radiantly smiling Jennifer Aniston (age 42 ½) with the headline “Trying for a Baby!”
And the fixation continues. In the last couple of weeks, media outlets from The Christian Post to celebritybaby.com have been breathlessly reporting that Ms. Aniston was showing signs of being pregnant. She wasn’t drinking at a recent party. Had stopped smoking. Was remarking to friends that she has been sick during a recent Hawaiian vacation.
Then there’s Ramona Singer, a cast member of the Bravo reality show “The Real Housewives of New York,” who allowed cameras to film her dashing into a bathroom to take an at-home pregnancy test, at age 54. When another cast member chided Ms. Singer for thinking she might be pregnant rather than menopausal, she replied that she still menstruated regularly. (Not a good indicator of fertility, doctors say.) “They all think they are more fertile than they are,” said Dr. Ingrid Rodi, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at U.C.L.A., who has a private practice in Santa Monica. “I have patients who say: ‘I’m 48 but everyone thinks I’m 38. Shouldn’t I be as fertile as a 38-year-old?’ ”
The answer is no. As a woman ages, the number of eggs in her ovaries, as well as the quality of those eggs, declines. By age 37, only 10,000 to 40,000 of the two million eggs a woman is born with remain, and a majority of those perish before ever being released, said Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director of the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and co-author of the fertility guide “A Baby At Last!” …
“If Jennifer Aniston said, ‘I want to have children by any means,’ it would be fine, but I don’t think she ever says that,” said Ms. Newman, a journalist who recalls interviewing a well-known 40-something pop star who had just given birth to twins. “She kept insisting that she’d had them naturally. I wanted to reach over the table and throttle her.”
News bulletin, Ladies: We are designed to bear children in our 20’s, not our 40‘s. That’s nature’s way, and as the Liberal Death Star story notes, that doesn’t change just because you look young, or think you look young, for your age.
The other factor is that so many of these women in their late 30’s and early 40’s have bought into a load of feminist hooey about “having it all,” and how they can delay child bearing, only to discover that if there’s any chance of that happening it’s going to require major, and very expensive, medical intervention. And, when you go down that road, it doesn’t always turn out the way you plan, which brings us to this recent post entitled “My Wife Is Expecting Twins and I Am Not Happy About It.”
It is written by a man who, along with his wife, wanted a sibling for their son, and discovering--shocker!--that they couldn’t conceive naturally, decided on the alphabet soup of infertility treatments. Well, let’s hear from Mr. X in his own words. For reasons that I can’t begin to understand this guy decided to publish this post anonymously. Perhaps the story itself can shed some light on that mysterious fact.
To say we're excited would be an exaggeration. More truthfully, we're pissed. And terrified, and angry, and guilty, and regretful. Why regretful? Because we brought this on ourselves. This is what we wanted, so to speak.
We already have a son, and he's wonderful. But my wife and I each have a sibling, and we wanted him to share that experience. We desperately tried to get pregnant for nearly two years, first the natural way, then via several IUIs (intrauterine inseminations). But getting pregnant when you're both pushing 40 is sort of like trying to blow up the Death Star; it's possible, but you need the perfect shot. Each month we checked my wife's fertility; had forced, dispassionate, purely functional sex; and struck out. It hurt worse every time and caused us both to become more jaded than ever. It affected our relationship, and not in a "this-will-bring-us-closer-than-ever" kind of way.
Each IUI (and we tried three or four) was even worse. Oh, how I miss the cup sex and rushing to the fertility clinic, knowing that I probably wasn't the only one on the subway carrying a jar of semen in my bag. (I never did figure out what exactly was appropriate to masturbate to: A bigger house? Moving to the suburbs?)
And then came the decision to try IVF (in vitro fertilization). Given our ages, we knew the odds were only one in four. And with each shot costing like $10,000, we knew this was money that wasn't going to go toward our house, the kids' college fund, or any other future plans. We also knew each failed attempt would add more cracks in the foundation of our relationship.
Thankfully, we nailed it on the first try. But while we were hoping for one girl, instead we got two boys. My initial reaction was full of disappointment, anger, fear, and guilt. My wife, who had been dreading the possibility of twins for weeks, took it worse. In her mind, this was her fault, since she'd encouraged the fertility doctors to put in two embryos to stack the deck. (emphasis mine)
As horrible as this might sound, we found ourselves wishing these twins away.
We considered a reduction for about 30 seconds. (That's essentially an abortion of one twin, not both.) If you thought that IVF involved playing God, a reduction felt beyond brazen -- Machiavellian, even. Give us a reason, we thought, as we had the twins tested for genetic anomalies. None came.
So let me get this straight. This stupid female decided to have two embryos implanted and now she’s “pissed” that she’s expecting twins? Who are these people?
I give this guy credit for one thing. He is honest about being a selfish, immature bastard, but that’s small consolation, especially since he admits that “we don't like the new children.” Is it possible to find this couple and encourage them to put these babies up for adoption?