I think about babies a lot. Big, fat tears rolled down my cheeks while watching Kourtney Kardashian give birth on Sunday’s episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” I secretly and selfishly hope my pregnant friend’s baby daddy will chicken out of being in the delivery room and I’ll get to be there with her. I’ve already offered to babysit, oh, constantly. I’ll be deep in conversation with someone and a baby will cross my path and it’s like I’ve suddenly found myself in high altitude because my hearing is muted — I’ve got baby tunnel vision. Needless to say, I am a terrible date at a family-friendly restaurant.
So every time I see a headline like this one, I get a little … discouraged: “Ovaries have not adjusted to many women’s decision to delay having children.” According to the article in yesterday’s Washington Post, a study conducted by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University shows that women lose 90 percent of their eggs by age 30. I turned 30 in November. Researchers studied the “human ovarian reserve from conception through menopause” and using the data of 325 women, they did some math and concluded that the average woman is born with approximately 300,000 eggs and “steadily loses them as she ages, with just 12 percent of those eggs remaining at the age of 30, and only 3 percent left by 40.”Twelve percent does not sound like much. If I had gotten a 12 percent on a test in college, I would have failed. If I gave 12 percent at work, I would be fired. If I left a 12 percent tip at a restaurant, the waiter would probably deck me.
“This adds to the abundant evidence that for women, unfortunately, it’s use ‘em or lose ‘em,” reproductive endocrinologist Robert Stillman told The Washington Post.
Despite his somber-sounding words, the news really isn’t as bleak as the headline made it seem. Twelve percent is nothing to sneeze at — that’s, like, 30,000 eggs remaining! — and plenty of women get knocked up with ease in their 30s and even 40s (my pregnant friend is 33!).
But what’s weird about this study is that it reveals that our bodies have not caught up with many women’s decision to have babies later. Last night, while watching “16 And Pregnant,” it was hard to imagine that female fertility peaks in the teens and early 20s, when mental maturity hardly matches up.
“While we may not be mature enough to conceive at a young age, nor should we, that is still when the body is most adept at conception and carrying a baby,” Claire Whelan, program director of the American Fertility Association, told The Washington Post. “Our biological clock has not kept pace with our ability to prolong our life spans.”
OK, enough with the facts and figures. What is this article really getting at? Essentially, if having a child is important to you, science indicates that you shouldn’t wait too long to prioritize it. That’s an easier goal to achieve if you’re a woman in a relationship. But how, exactly, does a single woman like myself prioritize having a kid?
As I wrote before, I don’t have an interest in dating men who aren’t interested in having children — I consider it a waste of time for both of us. I recently decided to take a more passive approach to dating — I’m going to stop searching for someone to be with; I’m just going to focus on my own personal happiness through my relationships with family and friends, my job, and other things that have nothing to do with romance. If I’m to meet someone, it’ll happen. Should I just trust that if I’m meant to have a baby, that will happen too?