What if We Smashed the Biological Clock?

What if age was not a factor in whether or not to have a baby? What if you could have a baby any time in your life, so there was no pressure to do it before you got into your 40s? How would you feel about your childless-by-marriage situation then? What would you do differently?

No, I don’t know of a new way to postpone menopause. But let’s think about this for a minute.

Last night I listened to a podcast titled “Baby Making and the Fear of Missing Out,” the Aug. 8 episode in a series called “First Time Moms Beyond 35,” hosted by Isabel Prosper. We might not want to listen to most of the episodes because they get into having babies, parenting, and all that stuff we childless people are not doing. But this one really spoke to me.

Guest Courtney Shane, who is an actress, is 43. After several relationships with women and a busy career that made her feel she didn’t have time for motherhood, she married a younger man five years ago and started thinking about having children. At age 40, when she mentioned it to her then-gynecologist, the female doctor laughed and informed her that her chances were poor. Her bedside manner was so bad Shane found a new doctor, a man who encouraged her to go ahead and try.

She had her IUD removed and has started a regimen of daily ovulation checks. But she admits she’s still not sure about her desire to have a baby. The timing is not good. Because of the pandemic, work is scarce, and she doesn’t feel ready. But it’s now or never. “If I was 33, I wouldn’t be trying, no way,” she admits.

In an effort to find others who are feeling like she feels, she went online and found lots of wanna-be mothers trying to conceive. She had to search harder to find women who would admit they were not certain they wanted to do this but the biological clock was counting down the minutes until it would be too late. Once she confessed her own feelings, others began to admit they feel the same way. Shane is still looking for people who want to talk about this situation. She invites us to connect with her on Instagram or Facebook at @itscourtneyshane.

Perhaps because she is an entertainer, this 23-minute podcast was really fun to listen to, but it also addresses an important issue for us here at Childless by Marriage. How does age factor into our situations and our decisions?

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We have received some great responses to last week’s guest post. You can read them here. Do you want to tell your story at the Childless by Marriage blog? I’m looking for personal stories, 500-750 words long, that fit our childless-by-marriage theme. You could write about infertility, second marriages, partners who don’t want children, stepchildren, feeling left out when everyone around you has kids, fear of being childless in old age, birth control, and other related issues. Tell us how you how you came to be childless “by marriage” and how it has affected your life. Or you could write about someone else. We love stories about successful childless women. We do not want to hear about your lovely relationship with your children or how happy you are to be childfree. Not all submissions will be accepted, and all are subject to editing. If interested, email me at sufalick@gmail.com.

How old is too old?

Once upon a time, I was married and got divorced without having children. I married again later and didn’t have children, but that’s not the point of this story. At the time I became a divorcee, or what my mother used to call a grass widow, I was 28 years old. That seems young now, but I was truly concerned about whether I still had a chance to have children. I even checked a book out of the library about childbirth over age 30. That was 1980. In those days, most women still gave birth before their 30th birthday. Things have changed a lot.

This came to mind this week because of a New York Times piece offering statistics about women and pregnancy. Most of it referred to the fact that the majority of pregnant women work up to their ninth month and come back to work soon after the birth, but the stat that caught my attention said that the percentage of first births to women age 30 and older had increased from 4 percent in 1970 to 24 percent in 2000. They don’t go into the reasons, but we all know that women are waiting longer. Many want to get established in their careers before they jump onto the mommy train. Back in 1970, being a mother was the career for most women. They went to college to earn their MRS degree and shortly after the nuptials, they were having babies.

Experts say women’s ability to conceive starts decreasing in their mid-30s, but many women these days figure they can wait until 40 or even a little later to have children. For some it’s no problem. A few get surprised by early menopause. Others count on in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers and other medical maneuvers to shore up their aging ovaries.

So, is 40 the new 30? Is there some wisdom to having children when you’re younger so you have more energy to take care of them? Is it worth the risk of waiting until you’re older and more settled in your life, even though it might be more difficult to conceive? How old is too old to have children? What do you think?

Bringing things back to the subject of being childless by marriage, if you’re dating, engaged or married to a man who says he doesn’t want children, do you have time to change his mind or should you move on because the clock is ticking?

Here’s one more statistic to ponder from a collection of facts and figures posted online last month: of the nearly 1 billion women in the world aged 40 or older, 8 percent are estimated to be childless. That compares to almost 25 percent in the U.S. Hmm.

I’d love to hear your comments.