I was late to work this morning because I was stuck watching The Today Show. The topic was on pregnancy after menopause and is it advisable for women to get pregnant later on in life. When posed with the question on whether older women should engage in the activity of attempting to get pregnant, Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC responded with a question of her own. “Women should ask themselves, do they want to have a baby or be a parent?”
Some women believe the question should be if they want to have a career or be a parent. And for some women, career comes first. Time ran an article, “Making Time For a Baby,” that featured women who chose their career first and ended up dealing with the challenge of trying to get pregnant after 40. Sylvia Ann Hewlett said, “many women embraced a “male model” of single-minded career focus, and the result is “an epidemic of childlessness” among professional women.” The article also presented a terrible statistic. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, once a woman celebrates her 42nd birthday, the chances of her having a baby using her own eggs, even with advanced medical help, are less than 10%. At age 40, half of her eggs are chromosomally abnormal; by 42, that figure is 90%.”
I watched a program on the Discovery Health channel focused on women who were struggling with these statistics. The women featured were over 60 and were very much interested in getting pregnant. They followed the women through the process of contacting doctors to solicit their help and interviewed family members to gauge their response. As to be expected, most of these women had some sort of health issue and were seen by those around them as crazy. But the women deeply wanted a child or for some, another child and were determined to make this happen.
While many of us, myself included would never think of having children so late in life, perhaps it’s not our place to judge. Who are we to judge, when we as working women, are more often than not penalized for having children. If you don’t think so, think about the looks you get when you have to run out the door early to take your child to the doctor or a soccer game and then come back to me. It is easier for career-minded women to focus on being successful in the workplace because they don’t have to worry about maternity leave or being passed up because it is perceived they can’t be a mother and do their job, so they can focus on getting ahead.
Watching these women reminds me of Hannah from the Bible. Hannah struggled in her family because everyone had what she wanted and some of the women around her didn’t mind reminding her that she didn’t have a child to call her own. The agony of having to watch these women with their children must have been terrible. But with a prayerful spirit and a belief that God would grant her request, she received a child at a late stage in life.
Perhaps the women of today symbolize the modern day Hannah. At a later stage in life, after their career has come and gone, they look around and see that they missed out on raising a child. And while for some of them, their biological clocks have gone into retirement, there are some who receive a “late” blessing.
And who can turn a good blessing down?