For the past 100 years, women have been fighting for equal rights, fair pay and equal opportunities in America. In 2017, we’re close but still not quite there. In fact, we are still a long way away from experiencing the full equality that our male counterparts get to enjoy.
Workplace politics and pay differences are still shockingly disproportionate.
Yet, we continue to claw our way to the top, striving for degrees and recognition, and applying for dream jobs in what used to be male-dominated fields. Those who put their careers first must be persistent, brave and determined to get what they’re after — the career, the happiness, and the high-income. Sometimes these careers require decades of training, residencies, internships, post-doctoral research publications, and multiple rejections before reaching success.
Now, not every feminist doesn’t want to bear children.
In fact, most women do. But after all this career-building, women are near or close to the pivotal age of 35. How do I know? I work with these women, I am friends with these women and I am one of these women.
Unfortunately, our bodies have not caught up to the idea of waiting for the right moment when we have established our careers, our homes, and our marriages. Our bodies need to adapt and skew the reproductive timeline about 10 years in order to get everything we want. And yet, our most fertile years are still between 14 and 35 years old. And our bodies don’t wait for our careers to come together, our travel to be fulfilled or our men to grow up. Our clock is unfairly ticking away as we try to reach each milestone of meaning and success.
So how is this affecting us?
Infertility rates are climbing, science is improving and medical advancements are happening — but not fast enough. More women are able to conceive after 35-years-old than ever before because of advanced reproductive technology. Medicine like this is expensive and perpetuates the need for high-incomes, all while we miss the best years of our lives. Are we waiting past our prime? Do we realize our calling to be mothers only after fulfilling our calling to be doctors, nurses, scientists, entrepreneurs, and CEOs? How long can we push the limits of our fertility? What is the age that we come to realize we wanted families all along? Do we want what we cannot have only because it is too late?
As a nurse practitioner in OB/GYN…
I talk to about 20 women a day about their plans for the future. Almost all want to wait until after 30 years old. With modern day contraceptives, long-term methods like IUDs and implants, why not? Women are more in control of their destinies now more than ever. Unplanned pregnancies are at an all-time low. And we are incrementally attaining fair career opportunities, respect, and equal pay. However, the decision now rests on you to find the “right time,” a time that rarely can be found. Women are uncomfortable giving up their independence and freedom for the “burden of bearing.”
So, when women tell me that they’re waiting to start their families at 35… 36… 37 years old. It is hard for me to tell them in good conscience that all will be okay. Some of them will experience infertility as a diagnosis. Some will try to race the clock before 40 by receiving reproductive assistance. The thing is, we really don’t have an accurate measure of fertility and there really is no way of knowing if you’ll have difficulty unless you try. Hopefully, in the future, all women have decent insurance and a fair administration that puts their rights first so that they may strive for the career and the family that they desire.
Just don’t wait too long, because it’s difficult to have both.