This is a tiny bit of a rant email. The last couple of my few and far between blog posts sang the praises of a podcast “To Baby, or Not To Baby” and while I still do love it immensely, I had to skip over a recent episode as it caused my anxiety to skyrocket. It was the episode where the star of the podcast, facing a potential “geriatric” pregnancy at 36 (while not even knowing if she wants to have a baby), goes into the clinic to check out her fertility. Throughout the podcast she shares all of the amazing things well-intentioned (probably) but totally ignorant people say to someone approaching the end of their fertile years (most of which I’ve heard a million times).
You’d better hurry up, you’re not getting any younger.
Did you know the chance of having a kid drop substantially after 35?
It’ll be really hard to take care of a baby if you start any older than you are today…
I have this one friend who almost reflexively throws out “She’d better start now if she’s thinking about it. Chances are pretty low.” every time conversation drifts to a common friend who is thinking about having a second kid. Despite me mentioning to her multiple times that saying these things to me, someone who doesn’t even have a plan to start trying at this point, is really hurtful and unhelpful.
People can be jerks.
Gold Medal for the Good Eggs?
Listening to this podcast made me feel calm and connected and safe. Until this episode where the host went in for her fertility scan. Her numbers were fantastic, and miles above what mine were at her age. Which immediately sent me into a tailspin of anxiety. Plummeting. The worst was that she was so overly excited about it. Almost like she’d done something right by having abnormally high numbers. I kind of felt like slapping a medal on her and calling it a day.
So I had to put up a boundary and skip past the episode entirely. Feeling like I’d failed somehow because my ovaries weren’t spitting out bunches of healthy eggs to develop into follicles.
And it reminded me of how cruel this whole conversation is to women. How unforgiving. If our bodies malfunction and develop a disease, no one really blames the host. But with eggs, it’s like we’re somehow damaged if we can’t do one of the main things our bodies were designed to do, simply by virtue of the fact that we’re ageing, and not lucky enough to be in a situation where we feel comfortable taking the plunge.
I know we’re not meant to compare any part of our lives with others. We all know there are so many contributing factors to all of this. But it just made me feel like a BIG FAT FAILURE .
Change the Conversation
So I’d really like to propose that we all just STOP.
STOP talking like it’s some big accomplishment to have good eggs. Be sensitive. Can you imagine talking to someone who has a disease and exclaiming with joy “Thank goodness I don’t have that disease and my body is performing well!” We can be grateful for this, but the whole celebratory “in your face” attitude around fertility is a bit much. Because it inadvertently shames women who are struggling in this area. It’s what causes all talk of fertility to continue to hold a bit of a stigma in many cases.
STOP telling women they should hurry up. Sharing stats and opinions. We all know this sh*t already. It’s literally top of mind for a large percentage of women in child-bearing years and we’re not idiots. We read. We know. We hear the clock. So honestly, and I’m not normally so harsh but, shut the f#$k up!
It’s not an easy decision to have kids, especially if you’re not in a partnership that is generally heading in that direction. It’s a complex decision (or at least should be) for most people contemplating bringing a child into this imperfect world, so let’s just talk about it with a little more compassion.