I recently had a conversation with a friend who had just learnt she was expecting her first child. Congrats to you lovely!
We spent the evening with a few other friends and our partners and the subject turned to age. A friend of hers had fallen pregnant with her first child at 34 and the doctor had stated that she was at more risk of complications and she was in fact classed as having “geriatric eggs”.
The risks apparently get higher after 30. 30?! I thought it was 35? In that one sentence her doctor had basically decrease the “supple” age to have children for all womankind by a whole 5 baby making years!
I could feel my heart racing and my palms began to actually sweat? Geriatric at 30+? I glanced at my partner in a when will our time come kind of way. It took all of my resolve to not scream at him “Impregnate me now!”.
So, why has society got women (myself included) into a frenzy about biological clocks?
One reason could be the deep rooted stereotypical ideal of what a mother should look like. We think of a new mother being young, vivacious and healthy. A mother with greying hair and skin that shows signs of aging just doesn’t fit the profile of what society has embedded into our heads about motherhood.
Secondly, it is a known fact that women are born with all of the eggs they’ll ever have to conceive – about 1 million. When a woman reaches puberty and starts to menstruate, only about 400,000 follicles remain. With each menstrual cycle, a thousand follicles are lost and only one lucky little follicle will actually mature into an ovum (egg), which is released into the fallopian tube, kicking off ovulation. That means that of the one to two million follicles, only about 400 will ever mature. That’s around 400 chances of conceiving within a woman’s lifetime. Add to that the pressures to “have it all”, a career and meet someone to father children with (unless you go down the donor route), the likelihood of having children younger starts to decline and with it the apparent ability to conceive.
Until recently, it was always thought that at 35 women’s fertility plummets. 1 in every 3 women, won’t conceive within the first year of trying. Turns out these figures are actually based on medical documents of the 1700’s based in France.
Recent studies have shown that the figures for women who struggle conceive natural in the 30s and 40s is no where near as big as first thought.
My aunt conceived naturally at 45 with no problems, despite the suggested increased health risks for “older” mothers. It is actually likely that of 60 women over 40, 59/60 of them will have babies with no chromosomal problems.
I think that perhaps society has been told that it is harder for so many years that it is now drummed into our skulls with a reinforced drill bit.
If your going to struggle, in my opinion that could be a struggle at any age.
It is unhelpful that doctors and society put pressure on women to have their children young. What do you do? Break-up with the guy your with because he isn’t ready for children? Heck, are you even ready for children? What if you don’t even have a man or women for that matter to start a family with? All of this just leaves you in a state of utter panic.
The link between stress and conception is high. So the pressure to start a family ends up being so counter-productive. Despite none of our families putting pressure on me to give them Grandbabies, (2 years isn’t long by any means), I still get an overwhelming sense that I need to “catch up”. The majority of my friends now have one, if not two children and conceived with no problems. Which adds to this whole theory-and I say theory because there is much proof to conceiving in later life-that you need to start young to increase your chances.
Ultimately, the view to have a child later in life should not be deemed good or bad, but autonomous. Based solely on that individual person/couple and the circumstances they could have faced in life, up until the point of deciding to start a family. To say otherwise is scaremongering. The period of optimum fertility doesn’t taint women as barren after 35, it just means things may become harder.
My point? One for myself and for any others in there late 20s or older feeling rushed and panicked into conceiving now, now, now!!! Wait, your time will come. Your eggs are not as geriatric as doctors, society and the media often like to make out.
“We should not blow the topic out of proportion and know that having children in your 30s and 40s is becoming the norm and of those that do, a very high percentage do so with no health concerns at all. We need to stop scaring women in their 30s into rushed pregnancies.”
All this unnecessary pressure just adds fan to flames. I know that in putting pressure on myself, I put pressure on my relationship and on my partner. I start picking at holes that were never really there, but ones in which I created because I start running scared. What if I’m infertile? What if his infertile? Are we even right for each other? Am I wasting time? So with it comes, doubt after doubt over “problems” that aren’t yet even there. I have learnt this week that I need to just “take a chill pill”. My mother always says “Nothing before its time”.
I need to stop buying into this panic stricken fear that when it is my time, it’ll be “too late”.
I’m sure that when the time is right my eggs, however “geriatric” they are will serve me well. Sunny side up.