Women In Their 30s Now Having More Babies Than Women in Their 20s

For the first time in over three decades in the US, women in their 30s are having more babies than women in their 20s.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released data last Wednesday that the birth rate among women aged 30 to 34 last year was slightly higher than that of women aged 25 to 29. Also according to the data, women are having their first child at age 28 on average. Consider that in 2014, the average age for women having their first child was 26.3 according to the CDC. That seems like a pretty high jump in age to me, considering it’s been only 3 years since 2014!

Experts say that the change is partially due to a reduction in teen pregnancy rates. But that’s only part of the story. A lot of women, including myself, feel it’s okay to have children later. I’m 35, and I want children and haven’t had them yet. I don’t feel societal pressure to have children, only biological. And even that biological pressure is somewhat tempered by knowing many women who have had babies over 40, and the fertility options that new technology brings. I’ve definitely calmed down a bit more in the past year or so, because I know I’m just not ready yet and that it’s better to feel that I have the right partner and financial situation to raise a child than to ‘just do it.’

But, for my own peace of mind, I’ll be making an appointment for fertility diagnostic testing at USC.

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Will Male Birth Control Become a Thing In Your Thirties?

Let’s face it- the thirties are a time when we think about babies. If you haven’t had babies yet and want some, you might be thinking, ‘hmm, how old is too old to have babies?’ or ‘when can we get started?’ or ‘when will I find someone to get started with me?’ If you don’t want babies, you may be thinking, ‘wow, all my friends are having babies- how do I hide everyone I know on Facebook?’ or ‘what would happen if I accidentally had a baby? Would it ruin me financially?’ or ‘what’s the best way to stop from ever possibly having a baby? (Besides abstinence, duh).’

Whether you’re female or male, and whether you want kids or not, babies seem to pop up all around you during your thirties. I bet you have at least one friend who recently had a baby and at least 5 Facebook friends who are posting pictures of their little ones right now (I probably have at least 30 proud new parent Facebook friends…and no, I don’t mind. If any of you are reading this, I like it, seriously, post away).

If you’re female and don’t want to have kids- at least at the moment, there are many types of birth control options, including a pill that you annoyingly have to remember to take at the same time every day. This pill, a popular form of birth control, puts the responsibility of avoiding pregnancy squarely on the woman. The same can be said of BC options such as IUDs and Nuvarings, and patches and the like. But soon there might be another option.

I was reading an article just yesterday about a male birth control study done with human males (as opposed to mice males in the past), that used a new form of male birth control in the form of an injection. The injection was given to the males at set 8 week intervals for a certain amount of time, and after a few months, couples relied solely on the injections for birth control. The subjects were followed for about a year, and in that time about 2 in 100 women got pregnant. With regular, correct and careful use of condoms, about 3-5 out of 100 women will get pregnant, so the male birth control injections in this study have proven to be more effective birth control than condoms.

The problems the researchers are still dealing with are the side effects of the injections- some males complained of acne and mild depression…although female birth control methods like the pill can also have side effects- including crazy mood swings and weight gain- and those are out on the market anyway! 75% of the males in the study said they’d continue to use the method despite the side effects, so that’s promising, at least. And it’s nice to know the guys are into it.

As of now, there are bound to be many more studies before this form of male birth control will actually be out and useable. So maybe we won’t all still be in our thirties by then. But technology moves fast and I’m optimistic- so who knows?

If you’re a male reading this, would you take male birth control? Why or why not? If you’re female, do you feel like the burden of birth control rests too squarely on the woman? Or are you perfectly happy to be in charge of birth control?

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What If You’re Ambivalent About Having Children?

When I should have paying attention to my professor in class this afternoon, I found myself riveted by this article in NY Mag, I Was a Proud Non-Breeder. I Changed My Mind by Michelle Goldberg. In the article, she talks about how she never wanted children and publicly declared so in an essay on Salon when she was 27 years old. But by the time she turned 35, her perspective started to shift. Her realization began this way:

“My own transformation didn’t begin with an unbidden outbreak of baby lust or a sudden longing for domesticity. It began, weirdly enough, when I learned about corpses becoming fathers. In 2011, I reported a piece for Tablet Magazine about the strange Israeli campaign for posthumous reproduction. Israel is the world capital of reproductive technology, and a legal group called New Family wanted to give parents who had lost adult sons the right to extract their sperm and create grandchildren. I have mixed feelings about making dads out of dead men, particularly if they hadn’t donated their sperm while living, but I remember being seized by the realization that if my husband were to die young, I’d want to be able to do it to him.”

How interesting that what sparked Goldberg’s shift towards the idea of possibly having children was other people’s inability to do so. This article got me thinking about my own feelings about having children. I’m not ambivalent per say, because I know I would like children eventually. But I don’t feel the urge right now, which is problematic being that I’m 33 years old. I feel like I want to accomplish more in Babiesmy career, and get further ahead before I bring a little one into the world. But I also fear that if I have a child before I’ve succeeded, I may resent my child for taking up my time when I could be writing and producing creative work.

Often times, I wish I had a very strong pull towards having children – one that would usurp all other purposeful pulls in my life. However, for now having children seems to rest in a more nebulous area of my ‘life wants.’ In two years, when I’m 35, my soon-to-be husband and I will have to start really diving into that nebulous area and make a solid plan.

So the tricky thing is, what do you do when you don’t feel an incredibly strong urge to have children, but you’re approaching your mid-thirties?

An Egg Freezing Horror Story

If you’re a female in your thirties without children who wants children, you’ve probably at least heard about egg freezing. Maybe you’ve even considered it. I never really dug into researching it, mainly because I can’t afford it (The procedure usually starts at around $10,000 plus additional yearly fees for storage). So, since I didn’t research it, I kind of assumed it was an easy, breezy procedure. An in-and-out sort of thing. A very expensive afternoon hospital visit.

But after reading this scary article by Vicki Rox in VICE online, I Froze My Eggs, Ended Up in the ER, and Almost Lost an Ovary, I discovered that it’s actually a much more complex process which involves amping up your hormones levels weeks before you get the procedure so you’ll have as many eggs as possible. Now, the point of the article is not about how involved the process is, but rather the abnormal side effects she experienced (Ovarian torsions). But regardless, the author got me thinking about what the actual procedure is like, something I had never considered.

It seems a lot more ‘real’ than the ‘theoretical’ egg freezing I had imagined. I’ve never been a fan of playing with hormone levels in my body, mainly because I have intense PMS mood swings and don’t want to mess with that any more than I have to.

It’s worth a read to gain a fresh, honest perspective on what actually happens during an egg freezing procedure.

Baby, Career or Both?

The “Ask Polly” column on NY Mag.com is one of my (and Laura’s) favorite places to find advice. The writer behind the beautiful, insightful words of “Ask Polly” is Heather Havrilesky. She writes truthfully and warmly and she reminds me a bit of Cheryl Strayed (Author of Tiny, Beautiful Things and Wild). The most recent “Ask Polly” column was especially resonant for me as a 33 year old woman in a relationship who feels behind in her career yet also feels the pressure to have children in the next few years.

The letter (email?) writer was stuck in a dilemma. She wants children but she also wants a fulfilling career (and the job she’s in is not satisfying, so she wants to start over and find a job that satisfies her). She feels it impossible to do both. I can relate! I desperately want to find success as a screenwriter (or some semblance of success) before I have kids. But time keeps ticking away and  while my writing is getting better, the paychecks and job offers aren’t rolling in.

Heather ‘s (Polly’s!) advice was beautiful, per always. She advocated for the life of “All.” The life of everything even though it will be damn challenging.

This was my favorite part of her reply:

Bottom line: I was so fearful. But throwing my energy into both my kids and my career turned out so much better than I ever thought it could. And I became much more focused and ambitious after I had kids. I valued my time more. I used my time more wisely. All of the time I used to spend questioning myself and worrying about the big picture is now spent doing dishes and folding little dresses. A lot of the working mothers I know feel the same way.

…Imagine a full life and be true to that vision. Defend it. And put fear aside. You have one person with a steady job in the house. Don’t panic.

You can have it all. You may have to adjust the particulars of “IT” but trust me, “ALL” is what you want. It’s exhausting and it’s a balancing act and it’s way too much for anyone to handle, ever. That’s also what’s so gratifying about it.

This was a refreshing advice column to read, because I think it addresses the “perfectionist” trap we can get into as women. That we must excel in our careers and excel as mothers and homemakers living from Instagram worthy moment to Instagram worthy moment. So we end up feeling the need to choose one or the other.

But it seems the best option is this: if you want it all, you should aim for it all,  and not pre-emptively  cut yourself off from options. And yes, your life of “ALL” will probably be imperfect and messy.

Getting the Measles at 30- or Vaccinate Your Children Please!!

My coworker just got a notification from a tradeshow she recently worked. It said:

“We received official notice by the Florida Department of Health that an individual who attended Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015…was hospitalized with a laboratory-confirmed case of the measles. We immediately began working with the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Health in Osceola County to assist them with their thorough investigations and notification process.

The safety and security of our staff, attendees, exhibitors and partners is our top priority. We are working closely with Florida health officials, and are following their recommendations and guidance on the immediate actions we take.”

This is a pretty messed up letter to get after working hard at an otherwise pretty typical tradeshow.

Even 5 years ago, if I saw something like this, I would have been shocked. But now I’m just angry and confused.

When I was a kid, I remember crying about getting vaccines such as the ‘measles, mumps, rubella’ vaccine, but I was dragged to the doctors office, like every other kid I knew. I’d never heard of anyone’s parents opting them out of these vaccines. It just wasn’t a thing. And I also never heard of anyone I knew getting the measles. All my friends in their 30s have never had the measles.

But now measles outbreaks seem to be happening again, and it’s not okay at all. Are future children going to be exposed to diseases that we once thought were eradicated… just because they don’t get the cure that we have in our hands?? We. Have. The. Cure. Now.

I’m a very holistic person, and I believe in alternative medicine. I use ginger tea and apple cider vinegar and garlic and lemon water to cure colds. But sometimes enough is enough…sometimes you simply need to get antibiotics or your infection won’t go away..it will get worse. In the past, before our time, you could have strep throat and then have it develop into scarlet fever without antibiotics. You need antibiotics for strep throat. Holistic medicine won’t cure it.

I get that some people are worried that vaccinations can possibly cause autism and other complications- but there’s no real proof of that. However, there IS definite proof that unvaccinated people- especially babies and children- exposed to measles WILL GET MEASLES.

So please, parents in your 30s, vaccinate your children!

Below is an amazing and hilarious Jimmy Fallon video about vaccinating your kids. Share with others.

The Stigma Attached to Not Wanting Children

Have you noticed there seems to be a stigma around being a woman of a certain age who doesn’t want children?

To preface this post, I’m not writing about myself and my own desires not to have children. I personally do want children, but I also wouldn’t be devastated if I couldn’t have children. I am an only child and I’ve always had a desire to have a bigger family, and naturally I feel pretty maternal.  I’m nearly 33, so this whole ‘having children’ thing is on my mind.

Despite wanting children, at this stage in my life, I identify more with the woman who wants time to work on her projects and her career than have children. I love my alone time to think, ponder and daydream. I love vast swaths of private time with no particular place to be or people to see. Is this me being an INFP? Perhaps. But, I’ve always been a late bloomer in my life, and in this particular area, I don’t have the luxury of being a late-bloomer. Of course I could wait till I’m nearing 40 and chance it with having kids, but that is indeed, chancing it.

When I say I want children, it sometimes feels like the “I” I’m thinking about my future self; specifically, the needs and desires of my future self. The same way I might plan for retirement financially or dream about having two dogs and a jacuzzi, deep soaking bathtub when I’m older and have more money.

I’ve just noticed lately that there’s such a stigma to not wanting to have children. The stigma seems to be this notion that if you don’t want children, it’s because you really did but you put your career first or didn’t find a husband/boyfriend in time, and now you’re subconsciously justifying your ‘choice’  And I hate that! Choosing not to have children can be a very active choice and not some by-product of running out of time, as it is often portrayed.

Another aspect of the stigma seems to be that there’s something inherently not ‘natural’ or ‘feminine’ about not wanting children. So many characters in films who don’t want children are tough and mean, like the evil corporate bitch that is Sigourney Weaver’s character in Working Girl.

This whole post was inspired by an interesting article I read on Dailyworth.com, Why I Never Wanted Kids. The article touched a nerve because I was surprised and intrigued by all of the reasons the author listed for not wanting children. There was one in particular that I never thought about: Having a negative experience as a child and not wanting to subject another person to that. I thought that was intriguing. While I had a good childhood, it wasn’t a reason I could relate to, but I could certainly empathize.

Do you have friends that know they don’t want children? How do you view their choice?

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