Baby at 50? Wait! It's Just the Beginning!

© Photo : Mikhail Kharlamov/Marie Claire RussiaSvetlana Kolchik
Svetlana Kolchik - Sputnik International
“Baby at 50? Amazing Advances in Egg Freezing,” a headline on the cover of the May issue of the U.S. Vogue magazine read.

“Baby at 50? Amazing Advances in Egg Freezing,” a headline on the cover of the May issue of the U.S. Vogue magazine read. As I proceeded reading the story, I kind of froze myself. It turns out that egg freezing, a procedure when a woman's eggs are retrieved for freezer storage until she is ready to be a mother is rapidly becoming mainstream in America, with Canada and several European countries soon to follow. More than half of the U.S. fertility clinics now offer this rather costly (around $15,000 per cycle) pregnancy delaying option, and the procedure's advocates insist that could bring the most radical social change since the advent of the pill. Now in America the average age when women who are not yet settled down with a partner opt for egg freezing ranges between 35 and 40, but some experts predict that in a few years, it might become routine practice for women in their early 30s and late 20s.

Purportedly, this remarkable invention could allow us to have children far past the childbearing age, giving the still single 30-somethings more than enough time to meet Mr. Right and start a proper family. Then if a woman fails to conceive in the “old-fashioned” way, she's got a smart back up option. Granted, there's and ongoing debate about this option's safety for both the woman and the future baby's health. More than 1,500 babies in the last three years have been born after frozen eggs are thawed and clinically fertilized. No abnormalities were reported, and yet a great number of fertility gurus insist on deeming egg freezing “experimental” as the procedure’s long-term health effects are still unknown.

And then comes another big question, how old is too old to become a mother?

I have to admit, posing this question made me feel somewhat uneasy. Other questions emerged, to myself in the first place. Answers to some didn't come easy either.

No, I don't have kids…yet. You can also see my age in the short profile in the bottom of my column.

Yes, I do hope to have them in the next year or two, but who I am to judge those choosing to delay pregnancy for longer — for social or whatever reasons?

Yes, I believe in science and all the invaluable progress it has brought to humanity, allowing us to live longer and have more fulfilling lives.
No, I am not in the position to discourage women who are dreaming of kids but want them to have both parents around. Whereas it's rather hard for me to accept when I see single women deliberately choosing to have a baby “just for themselves” which is becoming commonplace in Russia.

But somehow imagining a growing population of “freezer storage creatures” makes me feel like watching one of those futuristic thrillers, like Gattaca or Vanilla Sky, - curious and scared a good deal, but relieved it's only fiction in the end. Except that in case of the surging popularity of egg freezing it's not. I talked to my girlfriends about it. Ironically, the majority of them are still childless in their early 30s. “I could understand egg freezing if a woman or her partner is sick, and that's the only chance for her to get pregnant later on,” said one, a fellow magazine editor, 32, who's living with a long-term partner. “Otherwise the whole idea seems a bit unnatural. And for me, conception is sacred,” she added.

“I believe kids should be born naturally: if you're meant to become a mother you'll become one without egg freezing, and if motherhood's not your destiny, nothing will work,” said another friend, a 35-year-old single marketing consultant. “This option reminds me of cloning — I'd rather adopt in this case,” she said.

“I don't see anything wrong, it's just facilitating the process, a nice backup plan,” said the third girlfriend, 33, the owner of a real estate agency who has an on-and-off boyfriend. She divides her time between Moscow and the Netherlands where the demand for the procedure is also on the rise. Even so my friend said she really hopes to have kids the old way - and soon, without involving facilitation of sorts.

Every woman has her own path in life. Today it’s not unrealistic to stay fit and able until your 50s and carry and raise a healthy baby. One of the women I really admire, Annie Leibovitz, is almost 62 and her daughters are only ten and six years old. She had her first child at 51, not from frozen eggs but through IVF and a sperm donor. She and her kids seem just fine, and she's not the only one. There'll be more women out there who will decide not to have it all together, but focus on their careers first, and then, much later, think about starting a family.

I also find it liberating that a growing number of Russian women feel they don't have to follow their mothers' life patterns and get married at 20 to have kids right away to often get divorced shortly after. The abundance of options in today's world offers us as well the latest advances of science are indeed empowering. They give us an illusionary feeling that we can stay forever young and maybe even live forever. Still, I hope that in this ambitious stride we don't alienate ourselves completely from Nature and her laws.

Women Talk: Shall the Geeks Inherit the Earth?

Women Talk: Why do Russian men drink?

Women Talk: The Art of Being a Wife

Women Talk: The Dream Royal Wedding

Women Talk: Flexisexuality

Women Talk: Why Moscow is unique, why Moscow is inspiring

Women Talk: Made in the USSR - the lost generation

Women Talk: Like Mother, Like Daughter

Women Talk: The Cult of Youth

Women Talk: The Russian Women Myth

Women Talk: Women and Politics — A Trendy Mix?

Women Talk: Krasnaya Polyana - the New Russian Dream?

Women Talk: Sexual Harassment or Attention-seeking?

Women Talk: Material Girls or Why Women Shop

Women Talk: Feminism — A Swearword in Russia?

Women Talk: The Age of Distraction

Women Talk: Blood Sells Better Than Sex

Women Talk: Misanthropy as a National Sport

Women Talk: Men - single, ready and willing

Women Talk: Why he doesn't call

Women Talk: Too Much of a New Year

Women Talk: The Seduction Game

Women Talk: Should I stay or should I go?

Women Talk: The ups and downs of the singles era

Women Talk: Why are our men so socially passive?

Women Talk: A Search for a Fantasy Husband

Women Talk: The Escapist Journalism Dilemma

Women Talk: Have relationships become too easy?

Women Talk: House Hubbies

Women Talk: Russian men don't exist any more

Women Talk: Confusion in Options


Russia has always been referred to as feminine and Russian women have been one of the most popular stereotypes of this nation, both positive and negative. But is this an all-male fantasy? Here is a hip, modern, professional and increasingly globalized Russian woman looking at the trends around her, both about her gender and the society at large. She talks and lets other women talk.

Svetlana Kolchik, 33, is deputy editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire magazine. She holds degrees from the Moscow State University Journalism Department and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has worked for Argumenty i Fakty weekly in Moscow and USA Today in Washington, D.C., and contributed to, Russian editions of Vogue, Forbes and other publications.


To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала