What about those who are childless by un-marriage?

When I heard that MelanieNotkin, author of Savvy Auntie, was about to publish a new book called Otherhood (Seal Press, 2014),  I rushed to buy a copy. I was sure this book about women who never had children because they never married would be fascinating. But the book let me down.
Otherhood started well, but I found it hard to identify with the women Notkin was writing about. Her study of unmarried childless women is pretty much limited to attractive, successful women in their 30s and 40s living in New York City. They go to clubs, date a lot, and meet at swanky places to complain about the guys they date. It’s very Sex and the City. I love that show, and I sympathize with Notkin and her fabulous friends, but she leaves a world of never-married people out of the story. Where are the women who are shy, fat, disabled, poor, uneducated, ugly, awkward, or living in small towns without a lot of eligible men? Where are the people who haven’t had a date in decades, if ever?
Notkin is childless and so are most of her friends. They talk about their options as they approach 40 and beyond. Some are freezing their eggs. Some are considering getting pregnant with donor eggs. They debate over whether they should have a child on their own. All of these options are so expensive most of us can’t afford them, especially without husbands to share the cost. With all the new ways to get pregnant, Notkin says she sometimes she feels guilty for not wanting to have a baby by herself. Is that becoming the new norm, single parenthood? The latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show that in 40 percent of American births, the mothers are not married. So people are definitely having babies without husbands, but as Notkin notes, it’s not easy.
And then there are those who almost get married but break up over the having-kids issue. I get comments here all the time about couples who break up or are considering it because one of them is waffling about children. In fact, this morning I received a comment from a woman whose husband has left her because she can’t have children with him. I want to turn into my mother and shout “What’s wrong with these people?”
I’m alone now, but I have been married twice. I have known love and companionship and step-children. I really feel for those people who wanted the whole happy ending and never had a chance at it. And I am certain most of them are not living Sex-and-the-City lives drinking cosmopolitans with their girlfriends and complaining about the latest celebrity or Wall Street mogul they dated.
Otherhood is well-written and entertaining, but it only tells a small portion of the story. What do you think about this? I’d love to hear your thoughts on childlessness by way of never finding the right partner.

Don’t expect to get pregnant in your 40s

Women in their 40s who are still trying to figure out whether to have children are not going to like this post, but they need to know the facts.

A reader sent me a comment today that fit right in with a recent news story I was planning to share. She’s 42 and has a child from a marriage that went sour. Now she’s dating a 28-year-old man she calls her soul mate. At first he said he didn’t want children, but now he does, and she’s stewing over whether or not to have a child for him. Read the whole comment here.
The thing is, she’s not likely to get pregnant at 42, even if she decides she is willing. Check out this article at cnn.com. “The‘Big Lie’ in putting off pregnancy” makes it clear that while today’s 40-year-olds may be as youthful as yesteryear’s 25-year-olds, their eggs are old-school. A lot of the reason more than twice as many women age 40-44 are childless as in 1976 is that they’re delaying parenthood while they build their careers and enjoy the unfettered life. Meanwhile their eggs are going stale. By the time they think about having children, it’s too late.
The article notes that a woman in her 20s has a 20-25 percent chance of conceiving naturally per menstrual cycle. In her early 30s, the chances are 15 percent. After 35, it goes down to 10 percent. After 40, the number falls to 5 percent, and after 45, it’s only 1 per cent. It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the way it is.
Well, you can just go to the doctor and start fertility treatments, you say. Unfortunately, most of the women who go that route do not successfully conceive. They spend thousands of dollars, experience lots of disappointment and sometimes several miscarriages before they give up. Sure, we hear about celebrities and others having babies in their 40s, but for most of us that’s not going to happen.
Last night, I lay in bed running the numbers. During my first marriage, I was in my 20s, but my husband wasn’t ready for children. When I married Fred, I was 33. I had time, but not much. Scary.
A lot of readers who comment here are in their late 30s or early 40s, still trying to work out the baby thing with their mates. I hate to put more pressure on you, but there’s no time to waste. Men can wait, but women can’t. In your discussions, show them the numbers. Maybe they’ll get the point.