I waited to have kids.
It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my vast skills (wrapping a nice gift, making an awesome poster) and when I finally did, I loved it, and wanted to focus on it. Pregnancy could wait. My mom had me at 41, I was in no rush. Nobody educated me on how fertility plummets like a skydiver with a faulty parachute, as you age.
Then I got a stomachache when I was 32. It was no ordinary stomachache, of course, it was Stage IV endometriosis. My inside organs were glued together; my ovaries were so garbled they couldn’t get the eggs home from the grocery store. It took a year to figure this out. And then it took another three years to solve it. And the view on the way to the end result was not like a fall foliage tour, but more like a tour of duty in Afganistan. Um, yeah. Infertility is not something to put on your bucket list.
Everything turned out more than ok. I have two children, and they are the best thing I have ever, or will ever produce. When I think that I almost missed this ride, I feel a deep sense of terror in my gut, because for me, it’s been like a PhD program in Giving, Ingenuity, Stamina, Grace and Pure Unadulterated Joy. But miss it, I could have. Easily. I got exceptional help, from a doctor who was one of the only kind in his field, and who was surgically able to use a microscopic tool to clear my insides like a farmer ploughs his fields before seeding. But I was lucky. Really lucky.
So, this thing with Apple and Facebook covering egg freezing has had me thinking a lot. Half of me is happy that we are finally getting real with the fact that fertility does indeed decline as you age, and that a woman’s eggs, once farm fresh, start expiring with every birthday cake she sinks her teeth into. See, this idea that a woman can have it all, is a Bernie Madoff quality lie. We can, of course, have it all. WE JUST CAN’T HAVE IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME. So, women who want to have a career and put off having kids, often have fertility issues. Women who have kids before they begin their careers in earnest, have a harder time getting into the work force, because they’re up against all those woman who’ve been working instead of breeding. Women who try and do both, stress themselves into a juggling act the likes of which belong center stage at a 3:00 Barnum & Bailey Circus performance.
The thing is, only a female can give birth. Fact. Pregnancy and becoming a mom, affects a woman’s career at some point in time (unless her career is being a stay at home mom, in which case, GODSPEED, working is so much easier). Doesn’t this new egg freezing benefit ask women to get in their best years before they have kids? That kind of bothers me. Even though, at the same time, I am encouraged that at least this is a move that confirms the idea that there is a time limit on pregnancy (which for a while, it seemed like we were pretending, there was not). Many women, can of course, get pregnant at 40, but for a whopping number of them, it’s much harder, with less favorable statistics, and no time to re-think the decision to have waited.
Here’s what I’m thinking. Might it be a smarter, more innovative answer for Apple and Facebook to focus on childcare options, creating job sharing, and hiring women who are older, and have already had families, in addition to this new egg freezing coverage? Might that be the truly progressive way to look at the dilemma faced by women all over the world who want to have children, and want (or need) to have a job, too?
Even though I waited, falsely thinking I could easily pop out a kid at 40, I got lucky (and it was by no means an easy, fun or enviable ride). Not every woman gets so lucky. You know what I’d be grateful for Apple and Facebook? I’d be grateful for more options for mothers to be in the workplace, that don’t just include a way to put your eggs on ice for later use. You need maturity for this gig, but you also need energy. We need expanded opportunities for working moms. Apple and Facebook, and other companies, need to think bigger. Like, iPhone 6 Plus, bigger.