Scrambled Eggs: Births Among Women Over 40 Are Rising

Kimberly Seals Allers
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Photo by Chandra Lanier

Lately, I've been feeling like some sort of fertility fossil. A few weeks ago, I was thumbing through a magazine while waiting in the doctor's office, and I came across an ad looking for women to sell their eggs.

Hey, we're in a recession and almost all money making ideas are up for consideration. I have no plans on using any more of my eggs, but before I could even snap myself back to reality, there it was it large bold print: Only women under age 35. What? My eggs were no good? I couldn't believe it.

I consider my eggs to be very much like their host --- sassy and lively. They know how to dance a mean salsa, and can still rock a pair of 4-inch stilettos, if necessary. But to the medical science field, I might as well have dinosaur eggs. 

That's why I was so excited to see a report this week from the Centers for Disease Control stating that births among women over 40 are on the rise. While the rates for teen mothers and women in their 20s and 30s declined in 2008, likely due to the recession, the birth rate for women in their early 40s rose a surprising 4 percent over the previous year.

Who said our 35 years-plus eggs have little to no worthwhile fertility factor? And isn't 40 the new 20? Or, at least, the new 30?

I mean, Halle Berry had her first child at 41. And Jennifer Lopez popped out twins at age 38. 

In her book, Ready: Why Women are Embracing the New Later Motherhood, the author, Elizabeth Gregory argues that older mothers are usually more emotionally able to deal with motherhood and have had more real-deal life experience to turn into hands-on mothering moxie. Gregory, who also heads the Women's Studies Department at the University of Houston, also found that older mothers were more likely to be married (85%) and were in more stable relationships.

More importantly, the data speaks to an empowering trend of women waiting on motherhood. In the mid- to late-50's the median age for marriage was 19. Today, women  are in no great hurry to marry or have children. We are choosing to fulfill our career goals first or build stable relationships. We are no longer victims to that "ticking clock" mentality and the pressure that comes with it. And thanks to advances in science, we have been given us a whole new clock -- one that's on our time. 

You may not want my eggs, Mr.-Scientific-Study-Looking-to-Pay, but I know I can still experience motherhood, even at my age -- if I ever choose to do so.

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