June 17th, 2007
I’m guessing many of you saw this MSNBC article on how women and men who delay breeding (a) because they want to focus on career, etc. first, and (b) because they see fertility technologies as a sort of impregnation fallback, may find themselves getting bitten in the womb when they decide they’re ready for parenthood.
Now before you get your panties in a twist, let me say that the focus of the article was not on pitting mothers against non-moms, or employed moms against stay-at-home moms (thank god). Nor was it on commanding all able-bodied women to squeeze out a litter as soon as humanly possible. The focus of the article was on how many would-be parents who put off breeding till their late thirties and beyond find that, even if they can afford the costly fertilization hacks, the odds are often stacked against them.
As someone in her late thirties, I’ve given the baby thing a lot of thought lately. I have friends my age who are trying to conceive, and it has not been anything close to a cakewalk for them. I have a guy in my life that I feel deeply committed to, and I feel like we need to get square on where we stand on the conception thing, given that the window of biological opportunity is rapidly slamming shut. And in case you’re wondering, my mom-o-meter is currently on pause, which is pretty much where it’s been for as long as I can remember.
Given the above, I initially came away from the MSNBC article thinking, “Hmmm… so… if by the time I’m 40 I’ll only have a 5 percent chance of getting knocked up, I wonder if I can stop using birth control…” To which my far more practical, mathematical boyfriend replied, “That’s still a 1 in 20 chance of getting pregnant.”
After I stopped gazing at my bumpless navel (and purchased another case of condoms), I started to think how sad it was that career and motherhood have become so either-or for so many women in this society. How many women would have a kid sooner if more companies would make it easier for them to do so without career or financial penalty? And by “easier,” I of course mean offering flex and part-time schedules, as well as the same wages and advancement opportunities as their non-mom counterparts. I’ll try to dig up some stats on the number of women who say they postponed motherhood because they didn’t want to sacrifice career. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think on all this.