Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day 2013

To all you Mom's out there, Happy Mother's Day! In my timezone, it is still technically Mother's Day for another 90 minutes.

This year's Mother's Day mimicked a real day in the life of a Mom, not a holiday. Even though the calendar said today is Mother's Day, being Mom doesn't stop just because the calendar (or Hallmark) gave Moms their "day."

Don't get me wrong, I had a terrific Mother's Day! Rolling over at 5:30 am and ignoring my alarm clock was heavenly. Along with a great workout, followed by my latte from Caribou Coffee. Then the marathon began. Let's just say that who ever planned the finale orchestra concert that consumed most of the afternoon of Mother's Day was not a mother. Again an incredible concert and always a joy to watch my daughter perform. But would I rather have been outside in the sunshine on a cloudless May afternoon digging in my garden and planting out my window boxes? Perhaps.

To all of you Moms out there who cooked brunch for your entire extended family, volunteered your time at the local resale shop, ran a 5K race with your kids, or attended your son's Little League baseball game, thank you for being there. Being a Mom really is all about giving your all, even on Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Egg Freezing: Not Really Stopping the Clock

Don't stories of women who give birth well past the traditional child-bearing years always amaze you? A 45-year old actress or a random 60+ French woman. I always wonder why?

Naturally yesterday's Wall Street Journal Review article captivated me: "Why I Froze My Eggs (And You Should Too)". The author of the article, who is heavily into her own career, decided to have her eggs frozen when she was 36. The eggs have been in a frozen vault awaiting fertilization at a future, more convenient time in her life. This is known as "social freezing." Years down the road when she has time to take a pause from her career and when the right partner presents himself she will have the eggs thawed, inseminated, and have a healthy baby. The author is now 42 and hopes to give birth to her first child by the time she is 44 and a second at age 46.

She makes it sound so easy and convenient and sterile. Having a child is none of these. Social freezing does not sit right with me for a number of reasons. I started my communications career when I was 21. My first child was born when I was 28, and my second when I was 30. At that time I made the conscious choice to put my career on hold to stay at home and raise my kids. Not a choice every woman would make, but my choice. My third child was born when I was 34. 

Let me tell you. There is a world of difference between having a baby when you're 28 and when you're 34. I felt like I was about 74, not 34! There is a reason that women are biologically designed to have babies when they are younger. At 28, having a baby is physically much easier on your body, you have more energy, and you can survive months (if not years) in a sleep-deprived state. Speaking from experience here. Honestly, I could not imagine having a baby at my current age of 44.

Here are a few truths that get lost in the excitement about "social freezing":
  • A woman can decide on the best time to have a baby. Let's be honest, there is just never a good time to have a baby. Babies disrupt life in so many ways, both good and bad. Life rarely presents that optimal time to have a baby.
  • A woman can have a baby when she is 44, 50, or in her 60s? True, but why? Why would you want to have a child when you are 44, 50, or older? Social fertilization does give a woman that flexibility. But have you done the math? If you have a child at 46, you will be pushing 65 when that child graduates from high school and that child may be pushing you around in a wheelchair for their college graduation. 
  • Social freezing frees a woman from career penalties associated with a baby. The "Mommy Penalty" is inescapable. This career woman, who is at the top of her game, will still have to take time off of work to deal with pregnancy, birth, and raising a baby. Her employer may not reserve her stellar position she is while out on maternity leave. She may not maintain her marathon work schedule with a baby in her life. There is just no escaping being a mommy unless you are so rich that you can afford to have a surrogate mother birth your child, have a nanny to raise the child, and have a housekeeper to cook for and clean up after the child. If that is the case, why are you having a baby after all?
Social freezing blazes a new path for women and might be a great choice for women who must delay childbirth until much later in their lives. But it can also be seen as a selfish choice for a woman who is trying to have it all, stopping her own fertility clock and literally buying time. A couple rounds of egg harvesting and freezing (not necessarily including costs of banking the eggs for years) can cost upwards of $50,000. Still there is no guarantee she will give birth to a healthy, normal baby.

For some it might be worth waiting for a baby until you are past your youthful prime. It is quite remarkable that a woman can now control when she will conceive. All "social freezing" aside,  time still staggers on.

For more information on "social fertilization" please view: