Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Other Biological Clock Is Ticking

"The clock talked loud.  I threw it away, it scared me what it talked."  ~Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle

Most women who want(ed) children have/are/will stress(ed) over their "biological clock". You know, that ticking time bomb buried within the walls of a woman's currently barren womb that is waiting to explode and shatter her hopes and dreams of childbirth by forcing her into menopause... childless? Yeeeeah, that clock. Research (in layman's) shows that women's fertility declines in their late 20s/early 30s. Cruelly, the universe birthed women into this world with a set number of eggs to be "lost" at a set rate over a couple decades. Until they're all gone. Leaving the inside lady parts dried, shriveled, and essentially useless. So if you snooze on fertilizing those eggs? Guess what? You LOSE, literally. Not to mention the older women get the harder it is to conceive and the higher the risk for pregnancy complications. Therefore, many women--single women especially--fear getting older because it means the likelihood of becoming [biological] mothers to viable offspring is greatly reduced. And what's more depressing is that men face much fewer battles with fertility and have the potential to fertilize eggs until they die of old age. Bastards.

I'll go out on a limb and say that women who want to be mothers prefer to have at least one biological child from their own womb. This assumption based on the many women who obsess over their biological clocks and are willing to pay arms-and-legs worth in fertility drugs (octo-mom anyone?) and in vitro fertilization.  Judging by the outrageous numbers of orphaned children in the system, adoption seems to be the last and least favorable option on the "How I Can Be A Parent" list. Naturally, women tend to want to experience motherhood from the very beginning, that is, pregnancy/birth. So approaching/passing that third decade on this earth as motherless creatures, and fertility on the decline, panic starts to kick in. Must. find. man. to. procreate. or. die. alone.

I'm in my late 20s, single with no prospects, and I want to be a mother. I'm sure my biological clock is gearing up to buzz in my tummy in the coming years. Even if it it were possible for me to conceive well into my 30s, I have no desire to be that 43yo mother at her firstborn's kindergarten graduation. Yet, MY age and waning fertility don't trouble me that much. I have quite a few good years left to find a man, marry, and birth children by a respectable age. Not to mention I'm completely open to explore adoption. What does worry me about postponing motherhood is my old parents are getting older (and sicker). I want them to be alive when I have children.

My mother was in her late 30s and my father in his early 40s when I was born. I'm the youngest of 5 children, the only child my parents have together. My closest sibling in age is 14yrs my senior; the eldest are 18yrs my senior. All but one of my siblings have kids (11 grandchildren total). My eldest niece is 20 (or so)!! As I witnessed on my recent family vacation, my parents are slowing down big time and not as agile as they used to be. Quite frankly, I'm worried my parents won't have anything left to give of themselves by the time I get around to having children!

I never got to know my father's parents. His father died before I was born and his mother died shortly after I was born. All I have of them are pictures and second-hand stories, no memories of my own. While I did get to know and develop relationships with my maternal grandparents, they were both gone from this life before I graduated high school. My soul weeps and longs for the presence and love of each of my grandparents. I want the quality time, the imparting of wisdom, the oral memoirs, the vintage views on life, and the old fashioned spoiling. My parents are awesome and they have so much to offer their grandchildren in the ways of entertainment and education. Admittedly, I look enviously upon my siblings and their kids as they get to build a relationship with my parents "the grandparents". It's really a beautiful thing to witness as my parents help my siblings be great parents. Sadly, I don't know if or when I'll be able to share in this experience. I want my parents in my future as a parent! *le sigh*

So, while I do have a few concerns about having kids before my 20yr college class reunion, I'm mostly concerned about having kids before my parents life clocks are busted and they've had a chance to usher me into motherhood and meet/establish close relationships with my kids. I know I have no control over what the future brings, but I can't help but consider my parents when I think of my future as a wife and mother. It's terribly selfish of me but I pray almost every night that my parents will remain alive and healthy for decades to come. I  can't imagine a world without them (least of all mine), I don't want to have to discover parenthood without them, and I dread the thought of my progeny knowing a world without them. Essentially: I want my mommy and daddy with me forever and ever. The end.

Am I the only woman who worries more about the ticking "life clock" of my parents than my own biological clock when it comes to parenthood? Do people with younger parents have the same concerns as they approach lower fertility ages? Are there any men reading that are concerned with age as it relates to fertility and/or parenthood?

Losing another egg as I type,


  1. I worry about the "lifeclock" from a different perspective. Being in graduate school has pushed back the time where it would be "appropriate to have children. Granted I'm not married, but even if I were, I can afford a child let alone find the time to raise one properly. According to most women in the field, there will never be a "right" time to have children since I'll always be advancing. I refuse to put my career first, I still wan to ensure, that I am somewhat ready and have the time and resources to care and nurture my family. I still feel like I have to little time...

  2. my mom was 19 when she had my older sister and 36 when she had my youngest brother. she has 5 children. i think in this day and age things are different. i know i wouldn't want to have more than 3 children. in reality it will be more like 1-2. i'm in professional school and i'm 28. my wife will probably near my age and i don't want to start having children till i'm at least 32-33. i hope my future wife is ok with that. *shrug*

    or i could just find a younger wife because we all know men can have children way into their 60's. lolol #evl

  3. @ivy
    i too worry that grad school is holding me back. if i had a man. but seeing as how i dont even have the man yet to get married and then have kids, there are other life factors getting in the way of my age-to-conceive. but like you said, there never seems to be the right time for a career woman to have children--compromises will have to be made. and like you, i am not willing to always put career before family at the expense of NEVER having one (a good one, anyway). sadly, no matter what it seems like time is not on our side.

    my mom had a similar story to yours (she had my brother right before 20 then me many years later). not to say that i missed out on anything with her being an older mother, it just makes the time that she'll be around when i finally get around to having kids (in God knows when) more precious. its likely i can have kids well into my 30s (which would be ideal if i wanna get this degree, enjoy my newly wed years, new career, etc) and enjoy motherhood, but at the expense of my parents being even OLDER and potentially unavailable. im less worried about me being an older parent than i am about my parents being older grandparents (God willing).

  4. pass me the alcohol, chocolate and kleenex!!
    *wipes tears, bites chocolate, takes shot.
    my answer is yes.
    my dad passed when i was 18 months, so all i have is my mom. who is my heart. my shero. and while im not the oldest, i am the closest to her. i was her first to do things in the order parents hope for (grad hs, go to university, grad university, move out, get a career).
    i am hoping that, even though she's not quite 60 yet - that she's be around to watch me get married and become a mother in law (she's already been a gran for 21 yrs). more than anything, thats what makes me itchy to settle down and get married. (well, that and the fact that my wedding will be fa-bu-lus! with 3 snaps and a twist).

    i am not quite at the everymanimeetismyfuturehusband stage, and i would be lying if i said being a wedding planner doesn't affect things too..but yes.. turning 30+1 makes you face that soon you can't run from.

    as for adoption, i hope to have the means to do that someday, but in addition to the kids i have naturally.


    le sigh.

  5. As a man I have never had to think about a clock. I have experience life without grandparents. They all passed a decade before my oldest sibling was born. There was always an empty feeling when I was a child from the loss. Unfortunately my parents have already passed, so if I were to have kids, they will not have a paternal m'dear or pop pop.

  6. I spoke about this child bearing thing with my friends (20 year old) and honestly there are women in their 60s giving birth. I dunno. I want kids too but I'm scared. I want to get into the whole dating thing first. I'd hate to hit 30 and I'm not already baking. *jumps up and down to prep for race* I got 10 years.

    Don't worry Gem. You know that wack ass cliche about sh!t happening when they're supposed to? Yeah, I have to give it to you here. And I have to give it to myself too. *pout* Our days will come soon. Even if it's at *gulp* late 30s.

  7. My wife and I were married in our senior year of high school. One year later we had our first child. We now have a total of five children. During this time we both attended university (Columbia University for my wife and NYU for myself) and obtained Master's Degrees (both of us kept a 3.95 as well; it was hard.) Having said that, it's a matter of choices. I don't believe that you, Gem, are in any risk of having your workshop shut before you begin and complete the interview process to find someone to tend that afforementioned shop. I think you are rightly concentrating on your education. While I love my children, I will admit that it created a much more difficult situtation for me during school. I'm not sure if this helps at all, but I do believe that you will be fine. I will say this one thing: GENERALLY SPEAKING, I WOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER WANT TO MEET SOMEONE IN COLLEGE AND MARRY THAT PERSON. I find that college creates people who are enlightened and stupid all at the same time. Many folks end up being Politically Correct Smart, which has nothing to do with actually smart. Love has to be base on REAL AND ACTUAL interest, which, unfortunately, is not very enlightened. It involves very low level emotions that don't take well to being enlightened. People end up getting together for causes that fade, for academic interests that lose their luster, greek organizations that lose their luster, etc...

    Just a disorganized thought.

    Sorry Gemmie, I'm all over on this today.

  8. @kb
    i LOVE when you open up and share. you always meet seem to meet me where i am. im sorry to hear about your dad! i cant imagine... but i think its great you are so close with your mom. so im sure you feel me in hoping that she is around to help you become a mother and other milestones. and like you--i dont look at each man i meet as if he's the future Mr. Gemmy and some one im plannin a wedding with, but i do get antsy about the next step in my life and wanting to meet a good man to spend my life with. it'll happen for us both!! SOON!!! *hugs*

    thanks for the encouraging words!! i remember in my 20s it seemed like having a husband and children were so far off and now that im approaching 30 im like WAIT NO HOLD UP!!! i need more time as a 20-something lol. ugh, how the hands of time get ya boy. *smh*

    thanks for your insight. you always bring an interesting and unique perspective. in reality, i really do want to focus on the tasks at hand (namely graduating with my doctorate) but at the same time i dont want to get so consumed with my career that i forget to have a family until its too late. i want things to happen as they're supposed to, i just cant help but wonder if it'll slip away from me if im not careful to pay attention to it. but im NOT willing to compromise or rush into something thats not meant to be for the sake of saying "hey lookatme, i's married now! and barefoot and preggo". but again, its about balance *sigh*

  9. i sent my mom the link for this post and since she couldnt post a comment (oops, my bad) im cutting and pasting part of an email she sent me *em effing tear*

    "my dear daughter, thank you for all the love you have given daddy and i, we have really loved being your parental units, and plan to be here for while! but, as a scientist, you know, things are never certain or promised, so we just have to muddle along and hope for the best - GO LONGEVITY!!! watching you with [lil ma'am] and all the boys, it is obvious that you get it, and will be a great mom, even if your kids turn out to be brats they will be adorable brats!!! i plan on spoiling those little monsters and having them crawl in my lap, so i can feed them french fries, chicken strips or snow peas and sushi! whatever :) we have been truly blessed, because we get to be a family..."

    i love that woman!!!