December 18, 2008

Fertility

Last night I was hanging out with a group of twent-something friends. We were, in fact all 25 and younger, so a very youthful crew. There were equal numbers of men and women at the get-together, where we sipped delicious tea from Nigeria and looked at the host's (an artist) landscape paintings. It was a lovely evening and very relaxing, until the tail-end, when the subject of the biological clock arose.

The other girls and I all wanted kids, and at least two of them. We were cooing over friends who'd had babies and how badly we wanted them relatively soon, too. The guys, however, reacted to this idea as though we were insane. "We're so young" they all seemed to cry. To which I wanted to respond, "You are, but I'm not." Before you go all crazy, I do not think I'm old. I'm not freaking out about my biological clock at 22. That would be absurd. But, at the same time, I am conscious of it. I know it's there. I know that in around 13 years, it will become incredibly difficult for me to conceive, and so if I want to have two children, I need to start thinking about when in the next decade I'd like to squeez them in (or out, as the case my be).

As much as I love to decry gender, society's views on prostitution as taboo, language, love and everything else as social constructions designed to oppress women and force us into compulsory heterosexuality, there is one restriction placed on me by "nature" that I haven't found a way to shrug off as society's attempt to restrict me; that is, if I want to give birth to a baby at some point, I have to do it before menopause, and probably well-before then if I want a good chance to conceive. As much as I wish the declining fertility that comes with age were a myth, I've seen too many infertile women over 40 with my own eyes to believe that. It sucks that one of the worst sexual inequalities - that men can wait until they are good and ready financially and mentally to have kids but we can't always do that - seems to be something almost impossible for our society for get over fully.

I want a baby and I can't do it when I'm 70. I have to do it kind of soon. I guess that's why my guy friends feel so young- they don't have to settle down for another five decades, whereas many of my female friends are looking for to do so in the next five years....

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