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The Biological Crock?

The Biological Crock? A little rant on what society says my body shall order me to do.

Ah, the bioclock. The preset number of eggs women are given with, that age and die off as she gets older. The body sends a “warning” that a woman doesn’t have much time left to reproduce. This is called the “ticking”. The random dreams about pregnancy. The sudden staring at baby clothes. The passing thoughts, particularly among professional women, who say, “Well, it wouldn’t be so bad to go a few nights without sleep,” or something like that. It’s the nagging poke of the uterus extending her finger into a woman’s side, saying, “Hey. Get knocked up before you can’t. NOW.”

A basic rundown of the process of the clock can be found in this lamely written article from the Chicago Tribune.

An interesting fact that comes into play here too, is the socioeconomic factor brought in by the ever-persistent, fucking useless gender inequality. In this CBS News article, the following quote seriously pissed me off:

“The more qualified, the more successful, the higher earning the woman, the less likely it is she has either a partner or a child. For a man, the reverse is true. The higher earning the man, the more powerful, the more likely it is.”

There’s another bit later in the article where a woman relates something called the “H-bomb”:

According to the fertility charts, Lisa, Ani and Leslie, in their mid- to late 20s, are at the perfect age to have children. But like most men their age, they want to have it all: Big careers in top management and children. They also want husbands, which isn’t so easy for take-charge, high-achieving women.

“It’s actually very difficult,” says Vartanian. 

In fact, at Harvard, she says, they call it the H-bomb: “The H-bomb is basically, some guy turns to us and says, ‘So what do you guys do?’ And we’re like, ‘Oh, we’re students.’ Oh, great. Well, where?’ ‘Oh, we got to school in Boston.’ ‘Oh, great. Where in Boston?’ ‘Oh, in Cambridge.’ ‘Oh, where in Cambridge?’ ‘OK, Harvard Business School.’ And as soon as you say Harvard Business School, or even Harvard, they turn around. I mean, that’s the end of that conversation.”

Why should a woman have to choose when a man doesn’t even have to give the second thought to it? Have kids or have a career? The allusion to the choice of either have a life or have a husband is even more infuriating. 

Yet in all this, even if a woman ends up “waiting too long” either because she is having trouble finding the right partner, or because of career or life circumstances, or whatever the case may be, few of the articles I’ve read through before becoming angry or nauseous with this topic mention adoption as a viable option. And not even adoption abroad — adoption domestically. There are OVER HALF A MILLION children in the American foster care system today, with 150,000 waiting on being adopted.

If you really, really want a kid, adopt. Honestly. While we may feel a call to get children from other countries (which I definitely do stand behind as well), it is easier and less expensive too to just adopt domestically first. These kids need homes and help just as much — they may not be somewhere wartorn or going without food or water — but in the end their needs are the same: a loving home. All that damn clock is telling us is to reproduce, and love what you make. Love is at the basis of it all. Give it to the ones who need it, be they your biological or adopted children.

Is “the ticking” real or is it the result of some kind of social conditioning?

My mom had me when she was 41. This was in 1981. I am 28 now. I was not born retarded, crazy, or somehow dysfunctional. I made it through just fine, and my mother did not go to drop thousands of dollars on a fertility doctor. My parents didn’t have me earlier because they weren’t interested in having kids really. I was a happy little bundle of accident (I think that’s cooler than to be planned, really. The best things happen on accident!). As a woman in the CBS article mentions, women are not their uterus. One can make a decision not to have kids and that clock could be playing the fucking star spangled banner at full blast. My mom didn’t care.

Being 28, I am supposed to be in the beginning of the ticking. I have noticed more of an obsession with furry animals and taking care of things, but outright wanting to have a kid has not crossed my mind. 

Catherine Redfern writes in glorious grumpiness about the choice issue presented by the fucking biological clock:

The idea that there’s a ticking time bomb inside all women, making us desperate, obsessed, and broody – its just horrendous. It’s not the idea of babies themselves that makes me mad – it’s the concept of having to choose whether to have one or not, and being forced into that choice by our imperfect, time-bound bodies. But it’s a decision that the majority of us will have to make at some time or other: do I want kids or not? Well, do I? Do I?

… 

Not to mention the unspoken pressure of expectations. If I don’t have kids, I’m denying my parents the pleasure of being grandparents. And there’s my partner’s parents too – so straight away that’s four people disappointed, not to mention aunts, uncles, etc. Although I’m sure no-one would ever pressure me into it, there’s still a feeling that by making a choice for yourself, you are denying someone else of something they may never experience any other way. The amount of pain mum went through having me – the scars, the drugs – surely I should give something back? Am I selfish not to?

The clock, I conclude, is in the societal expectation. 

“Not everyone wants or has to be a parent,” a wise soul said on this message board

Don’t do it if you don’t fucking want to do it. And if you feel the wild pressing urge to have a child but can barely support yourself, DEFINITELY don’t do it. And if you want one, and can’t find the right person, or your uterus put up the “CLOSED” sign at the cervix, then adopt.

There are 6 billion people on the planet. Let’s take care of each other first.

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About womeninstrangeplaces

I am a writer and artist from New York City. I live in Oslo, Norway. I dedicate my work to promoting literacy, experimentation and expression, women's empowerment, and awareness against sexual violence. I do my best to do what my gut tells me at all times, and on weekends, I go dancing.

2 responses to “The Biological Crock?

  1. jerry ⋅

    A couple of things:
    First: your mom was lucky to just “have you” so simply at age 41.

    Second: you don’t really know anything about adoption. The average cost for a domestic adoption is $65K. Foreign adoptions in Eastern Europe are in the 40s and 50s and Asian babies run about 25-30K. Why do you think people shell out $35K for a donor egg? It’s partly because it’s about 1/2 the price of a domestic adoption. And most adoptions now are “open” which means that the biological parents have the right to visit and continue to be a part of the baby’s life for their entire childhood, so you can look forward to the biological p’s going to birthday parties, communions, graduations, etc. That’s a lot more than people bargain for when they slap down 65K. BTW, if you are over 40, or don’t own a house, most domestic (and many foreign) adoption agencies will simply turn you down.

    1 out of 6 couples will face fertility problems. I hope you are as lucky as your mom. But then again, don’t count on genetics: my dad had 3 kids easily and I haven’t a single sperm in my body (azoospermia secondary to de novo mutation). Good luck.

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