Thursday, 23 January 2014
Frozen eggs, with a side order of anxiety (or Laura Linney had a baby aged 49)
Laura Linney and her husband have just welcomed their first child to the world- congratulations!
That first sentence omitted what every headline I have read said- that Laura Linney is 49. Most headlines were a lot more along the lines of 49 YEAR OLD WOMAN HAS BABY, IT'S LAURA LINNEY. WOAH. SHE'S 49, DID WE MENTION SHE'S 49? (I'm not even going to mention the men who have children in their 60s, even 70s, who get barely a mention).
I am trying to stay well clear of the sidebar of shame but this story- and other pregnancies of high profile woman (French politician Rachida Dati, Halle Berry, Carla Bruni)- do always receive lots of attention.
I thought this piece in the Huffington Post was well written and raised some good points. Namely that just because a very few women with enormous ammounts of money manage to have children in their mid to late forties it doesn't mean it's going to become normal or that you should think it's going to be an option for you. The article basically says what the media is all too keen to tell women every time they can, in the words of Helen Fielding, tick tock tick tock- don't wait too late to have a baby- but I think in a less hysterical way than is usual.
I think the article does raise the 'taboo' of possibly some of these pregnancies being achieved via donor eggs and obviously some high profile women have used surrogates. However it appears Cherie Blair fell pregnant at the age of 45 without any trying at all. My Mother has always said to me, and I think she may be right, that although it's not very scientific it does seem to be easier for women who have had a child at what is deemed a good age to have a child later- like Mrs Blair. Historically of course in an age before birth control women who survived child birth had many children and often into their forties- this is of course not mentioned by the mainstream press- nor does it seem to be an area of research in the medical community. How did women who were probably less well nourished, who had a lower life expectancy and lived in much poorer living conditions go on having children naturally well into their forties when many women struggle now? I am sure there are answers to do with chemicals in food, stress and modern medicine- and of course there were far more women who couldn't have children and who had no hope of having children at any age in those days.
I am from the generation when it really wasn't even normal for an educated girl, particularly a University educated girl- or to be fair boy- to have a child before 30. Honestly a very few people maybe went for it at about 28 but they were quite often religious and they were far from the norm! I think things have changed a little on this score in the UK. Basically though I felt like I was bombarded with information about not getting pregnant from the age of about ten to the age of about thirty and then suddenly I was told ooh well if you want a big family you may have left it too late (I don't want a big family personally but other people over the age of thirty might do).
This swell of stories and a recent birthday have made me think more on this question. If I had a child or children I would want to do the best for them and of course be as medically well as a I could. I suppose in the back of my mind stories like Laura Linney's do calm that anxiety I sometimes have about what if it doesn't happen in the next year or two.
I am not even certain about children- I currently would like to try I think if I meet the right person but am not at the stage of thinking about going it alone or settling with a partner for something other than love, or the one night stand route (all of these I have heard discussed and even taken up by educated, grown up women who felt they always wanted to have children, worked hard in their twenties and then realised in their early thirties that things had changed and women in their twenties were concentrating on marriage and babies over careers or as careers in a way that just wasn't discussed by our generation).
Yesterday I found myself googling freezing eggs- surely my subconscious is trying to tell me I know things are getting a little later and I'm trying to make an insurance plan. Planning from someone who doesn't really like to plan their Saturday nights too far in advance. It was probably a moment of madness.
It's a tricky old world for us girls- I'm pretty sure I don't know any 32 year old men worrying about this issue... (though actually in my experience it is often actually the men who do have the issue in the end, but the media don't write stories saying: men! check you can reproduce before it's too late! tick tock).