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THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK

A conversation with girlfriends about 4 years ago would have sounded something like this: “Oh I definitely don’t want to get married yet, it’s still too early for me. I still want a career and travel and there’s a lot I need to get out of my system before I make such a huge commitment”.

Today, things may sound a little different. It is not that I have changed my mind about my career, or the travel I want to do, or the “things” that I need to get out of my system, it’s just that now I (and most other women of my age) am on a biological stopwatch.

Let me put it to you this way. My biological clock hasn’t started ticking yet. In fact, it hasn’t even been manufactured. I have friends of mine who go absolutely gaga if in the same room as a baby. I’m not that type. I have friends who stop women with prams to get a closer look at the baby. I’m certainly not that type. I have friends who will offer to baby sit simply to have the “joy and blessing” of being beside a baby. I’m definitely not that type.

I’m not particularly crazy about children as you may have gathered and while my maternal instincts have not yet matured, my logical self keeps telling my biological self that I may one day decide to have children. I would like to keep my options open. After all, I have known women whose motherly instincts had not appeared until after the age of fourty… there is hope still!

Men often think that women who are in their mid-twenties are just dying to get married. They fail to understand that it is not necessarily marriage that women are after, it’s just that women are on a different timetable altogether. Even for us “child-phobic women”, the thought and pressure of having children is always lurking in the background.

Recent studies suggest that women who postpone childbearing face some special risks. Women generally have some decrease in fertility starting in their early 30s. It is not unusual for a woman in her mid-30s or older to take longer to conceive than a younger woman.

The risk of bearing a child with certain chromosomal disorders increases as a woman ages. The most common of these disorders is Down syndrome, a combination of mental retardation and physical abnormalities caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21.

At age 25, a woman has a 1/1250 chance of having a baby with Down syndrome; at age 30,she has a 1/952 chance; at age 35, a 1/378 chance; at age 40, a 1/106 chance and at 45, a 1/30 chance.

The rate of miscarriage in older women is significantly greater than that of younger women. Studies show that this risk is 12 to 15 percent for women in their 20s and rises to about 25 percent at age 40.

It is quite safe to say then that older women who become pregnant need to be more careful than younger women. They would probably need pre-pregnancy medical check-ups. They would need to obtain early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy. They should eat a variety of nutritious foods and achieve proper weight before conception. They should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy and should certainly not smoke.

So where does that leave biologically un-ticking me? Let us picture this scenario for a brief moment:

TOMORROW I WILL MEET THE MAN OF MY DREAMS. Let us assume for the sake of the point I am trying to make that he also feels I’m God’s gift to the world. Things start getting serious. It would take us about one year to get to know each other well. Assuming that all has been smooth sailing since we laid eyes on each other, he would propose marriage one year after we met (at the very earliest). I accept his proposal and we are now engaged. It would take a year of engagement to work out budgets, furnish the house and plan for the wedding. I am the type who would like to enjoy life as a couple for the first 2 years of marriage before thinking of children. So we do that. By the time I have my first child, I would be thirty-one years old. Thirty-one is certainly not too late to have children. It is just right…or is it?

The whole dilemma of when to have children is happening in my body and in my mind, but not really in my man! He perhaps thinks of having children but does not necessarily have to meet the same deadline that I have to adhere to. He can go on having kids till he is 60, and thanks to Viagra, maybe even later than that. So at the end of the day it is really my responsibility to figure out the timetable according to my biological clock. This may explain why women panic about marriage and children so early in their lives.

So if I did have a baby at the age of 31, and I looked after myself and did all the things I mentioned above, my baby and I should be perfectly healthy.

Remember though, this is all assuming I meet the man of my dreams tomorrow!

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