Taking on the Biological Clock

Laura Carroll, childfree by choice

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud Show did a piece on “As We Are: Childfree.” Tiffany Lee Brown, a writer and artist, was a guest on the show, and told an interesting story about her experience of the biological clock.  She decided not to have children in her 20’s, mostly because she felt that living an artist’s lifestyle would be incompatible with parenthood. But at about 40, she says she got “slammed” by the biological clock.

An intense need came over her body, and she was “wrestling it down” to preserve other areas of her life. She is married and is a step-parent to her husband’s daughter. Her husband doesn’t want to have more children, she has an awesome step kid, so although her body was crying out to have a child, she decided to remain “biologically child-free.”

She makes the point that by not honoring our biological urge we deny a most basic need – one that comes from the reptilian part of our brains. This made me think of the many childfree women I’ve talked with about the biological urge.  Most would they disagree that it is denying a most basic need…many women do not feel this thing called the biological urge.  Vicki, from Families of Two, summed it up the way many childfree women would – the urge is not to procreate; the urge is to have sex!

But is there real evidence of the biological clock? I went looking for the latest. The hottest off the press is a newly released collaboration study between St Andrews and Edinburgh Universities. It attempts to solve the inner workings of the biological clock. Based on a mathematical model of the decline in ovarian reserves, it basically says women lose about 90% of their eggs by the age of 30.

Yet Adelaide University Professor and fertility expert, Rob Norman, says that while he was surprised by the sharp drop-off in the number of eggs, it was a “mathematical model that was not predictive for women.”

Beyond the fact that experts seem to disagree on how to predict women’s egg loss, I am left with these questions—

How does the decrease in eggs tie to the longing we are supposed to get? Does the “urge” come when women are getting down to the final few (eggs that is) and it is our bodies saying get about using them?

As we enter perimenopause, women know hormones are a changing—does this hormone shift somehow relate to the longing, the last reproductive stand?

How does this ovarian decline, however it really works, relate to women who simply do not feel the bio urge and have no clock ticking?

Do you know of real evidence of the bio urge and clock, beyond egg counts?

Tell us what you know and think~

Tiffany Brown describes her “mental” desire not to have biological children. But ultimately, her emotional desires won out.  She recently became pregnant.

The jury may be out on the bio urge and the ticking clock, but I sure see how emotional desire is the key.  Beyond all the mental reasons people can come up with to have kids or not, in the end, ultimately it is matter of the heart. Tiffany finally did what hers had been calling her to do. And those who are childfree do the same.

3 thoughts on “Taking on the Biological Clock

  1. I am 64 years old. I do not want any more children to raise, believe me!!! I have raised two wonderful boys. I will be remarrying soon to a wonderful man near my own age.
    What I do not understand is, why on earth, am I saddened beyond my comprehension, by the fact that I am unable to create a child with my husband to be. Is it a natural urge tied in not with the biological clock, so much, as being so totally, head-over-heels in love with someone, that you feel the need to give of yourself in this way. Help me out here…my husband-to-be sent me a letter that was a romantic premade message that spoke of having a baby together and the joys to be faced in the child’s growth and accomplishments. I loved everything in the letter, because he truly meant all of it, except that part. When I came to that one sentiment, I became incredibly saddened that I could no longer bear a child. I mentioned it to him how it made me sad, and he apologized profusely, saying it was just a part of the letter. It made him very unhappy, as he felt he had hurt me in this. Now I am just wondering why I would be so profoundly sad.

    1. Thanks for writing~I guess I don’t get why he would give you a letter that speaks to having children when in one’s 60s…maybe you are feeling sad because you can’t share your love in a way you have in the past…so maybe instead think of something Else you two can create together if not a child. There are so many ways to deeply and lovlingly co-create! ~L

  2. Feeling a “biological urge” for something does not necessarily mean that it is the right thing to do. It could be good natural instinct that’s good to follow, or it could be a biological urge that it’s best to ignore.

    If we humans followed every impulse because it felt totally natural, we would live in pretty chaotic societies. Or, at least we would need to change our judgment about a lot of social norms. If all biological urges must be followed, we would then say that Tiger Woods was just communing with the forces of the universe, accepting his place in the biosphere with many of his fellow biological beings.

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