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I still get carded but my biological clock couldn't care less

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Reel Mama: I still get carded but my biological clock couldn't care less

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I still get carded but my biological clock couldn't care less

On occasion, up until recently, I have gotten carded. Maybe it was a ploy to boost liquor sales.  Maybe it was an overly friendly cashier’s way of flirting to pass the time.  Or maybe it was just an act of sheer kindness (or worse, pity!). I have to accept the reality that it may never happen again, considering that I am over 21.  Just slightly.    Nevertheless, it’s happened enough that I’ve come to the conclusion that I look younger than my age, and that puts me in a unique category shared by a lot of women.

The New York Times recently ran an article called “Are You as Fertile as You Look?”  It turns out that no matter how young I look and feel, my internal organs are aging at the normal pace and my fertility is decreasing drastically with each passing year.  Women all over the nation are turning back the clock when it comes to appearance, physical wellbeing, attitudes, dating preferences, seemingly every aspect of our lives, but we can’t turn back the biological clock.  We seem to have discovered something of a fountain of youth in the form of diet, exercise, skin regimens, plastic surgery, and new attitudes, and we are drinking from it by the gallon, but, in some cases heartbreakingly, our fertility is immune.  And it’s not fair.

Everybody says that 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40, etc.  But my grandfather had it right when it comes to this: 30 is still 30, 40 is still 40, etc.  It’s your real age, and you have to live with it. I know I feel my age after a long day of parenting a toddler. 

Maybe you remember the show Ally McBeal and the little dancing baby representing her biological clock.  The baby has a glazed look and generic appearance, because I think it represents the biological clock of all women, and the pressure we feel to get married (or not!) and have that baby before time runs out and the dance (or chance) is over.  It’s a desire from deep within, and sometimes it’s a pressure that we women and society place on ourselves.

A new book recently came out by Sonia Arrison: 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith.  I can’t wait to read it, and I’m eager to know if the author addresses issues of fertility in the book.  Arrison was recently interviewed on NPR, and her assessment is that, thanks to scientific advances in health and medicine, the future life expectancy we have to look forward to is 150 (!)  For Arrison, this isn’t adding decades to our life in which we would be in decline.  Her belief is that, thanks to these advances, we would enjoy excellent health and independence well beyond 100.

If we do live 150 years, how would that impact fertility?  We would enjoy a great quality of life for longer, adding an even greater number of years to the time in which we can remain active and continue working well past 100.  We would appear deceptively youthful.  But something tells me that the stubborn biological clock wouldn’t budge. It’s unjust that men could conceivably conceive families until 150, while women would experience more or less 100 years of infertility.  Right now women live longer, yet the idea of being pregnant at 70 is still radical and makes some uneasy because it flies in the face of biology and biological clocks.

The most beautiful thing my doctor told me when he listened to my daughter’s heartbeat in the womb was this: “This heart will be beating for the next hundred years.”  When I had Leilani I was more than 10 years older than my parents were when they had me.  The prospect of living 150 years, if my lifestyle could be healthy and independent, is very enticing to me, because it would enable me to see Leilani grow up and have a family of her own and beyond. 

But thinking of my biological clock, I may already have lost much of my fertility despite the fact that some (underscore “some”!) people think I look like I’m in my twenties.  It’s a reminder that, even if I have my face sandblasted, I won’t live forever.

It remains to be seen if science can keep up with women’s desire to have children in their forties and beyond.  Some remarkable advances have been made on this front, but will science be able to reset those biological clocks, so that our bodies can’t tell what time it is?


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