While having an afternoon beer at a neighborhood coffee shop I randomly picked up the July 2014 issue of Money magazine and read an article entitled “Waiting for Baby” which dramatically chronicles a 40-something couple’s long journey trying to get pregnant. Not reacting as I’m sure 99.8% of other readers did, I found myself shaking my head and chuckling with the occasional exasperated snort—was I the only person who saw this whole scene as the epitaph for the last 45 years of American society?
You see, Carrie Zampich was 36 years old when she got married to her husband Dan and they began trying to have a baby in 2009. No doubt as a child of the 1970s she was raised within the feminist paradigm that eschewed traditional young motherhood for a college degree and a career, along the way paying hefty income taxes and contributing money to a 401K each year.
But then as always happens the old biological clock chimed in with a little FYI: “Hey, these eggs won’t last forever.” And thus began a five-year, $82,000 journey into the world of infertility treatment which transformed a most natural part of the human experience into a grotesque series of in-vitro injections for her, a trip to a clinic in the Czech Republic to save a few bucks, jumping through hoops and prostrating before the health insurance altar, a first-trimester miscarriage, and even a small surgery to clear some sperm blockage for him. Wait, is this the script synopsis for “Prometheus 2”?
And at the end of it all, after first trying to unite his sperm with her egg, then donor sperm with her egg, we soon come to the final laughable-if-it-weren’t-so-heartbreaking-and-cruel act: merging his sperm with a donor egg to grow in Carrie’s body. She rationalizes this grim last stop by saying, “I get to carry the baby. That’s enough for me.” I’d call this form of self-surrogacy SIM-Pregnancy, a going through of the motions for the ego, for the photo album, for the “memories.”
18-year-old girls don’t have trouble getting pregnant. 24-year-old women don’t have much of a problem either. But in our society we’ve simply declared men and women as equal and interchangeable so I really don’t blame any cynical medical types who open a fertility clinic to cash in on a delusion against the ways of nature that has unnecessarily put millions of people through such an agonizing and at times dehumanizing process. They don’t allow lipstick manufacturers to test their products on monkeys or rats anymore, but it’s amazing in what name we’ll justify the indignities of being used as scientific test subjects ourselves.
Like this entire essay, it is beyond politically incorrect for me to suggest that maybe women should be trying to have children within the most fruitful window of opportunity for their bodies. Perhaps girls should at least be made aware of the biological facts before they enter college. Maybe men, once they’ve established themselves in their careers, should take a younger woman in prime fertility as his wife. Our species used to celebrate the magic and mystery of our sex differences, and we once embraced female power with wild fertility rites. I guess hormone injections and a stranger’s thawed sperm don’t inspire such zesty rituals.
I can only imagine how shaking mad these ideas make today’s feminists—prime beneficiaries of and the object of worship in their own cult—but defiance does not trump reality no matter how tight you close your eyes or how loudly you call a man like me ugly names.
Let’s imagine Carrie had graduated from college in 1995 and within a few years married a successful man 8 years her senior. At age 26 she gives birth to a healthy baby boy who boasts both parents’ DNA, then she stays home to care for the child. They pay less to the IRS because her work as a mother does not produce taxable income, they aren’t paying for a nanny…and they aren’t being ground through the infertility racket simply because they abided by a few of the rules that dictate our incarnation as humans on this planet.
But instead, “they’ve borrowed against Carrie’s 401(k) plan, maxed out their credit cards, taken donations from family and friends, and routinely worked side jobs for extra cash.” Cut to Carrie babysitting a friend’s kids, then pan camera to window as Dan passes by walking other people’s dogs around the neighborhood—just to pay off the bills for a laboratory baby that may never arrive. When can someone’s failure be seen as a warning and an opportunity to consider another way, as opposed to just this endless lament, this pathetic sob story devoid of context or implications?
Along the way the couple experienced some financial bad luck that was icing on the cake of this dark comedy of errors: “$275 to replace Dan’s windshield after a tree limb fell on his car; a $1,300 vet bill when their dog Minnie fell on a tree branch that went through her shoulder; and $450 when their other dog, Mylo, was bitten by a snake.” An ornery snake?! Who writes this shit? I know I’m supposed to feel sorry for these saps but I just snorted out my beer!
I honestly don’t care whose Pavlovian ire I provoke for uttering these “insensitive” but possibly insightful thoughts that may actually be close to the truth. I have had friends and relatives in similar boats and sympathize with their struggles, so I’m not just trying to be sensational or alienate people in my life. And yes, I know that not everyone’s life goes perfectly as planned or scripted, someone’s husband cheated and this and that. But for God’s sake, maybe our society is reaping the consequences of flawed ideas that have had several generations to play out—and now it’s high time for a reevaluation.
At the very least I implore men looking for potential spouses to date women whose age would suggest a high chance of natural conception. “Love conquers all” be damned, everyone has had enough high school heartbreaks and one-night-stands to sink the Titanic. And if women aren’t shamed for marrying a man because he’s successful, I too will not be called calculating and heartless for choosing my bride based on the criteria of what she can provide for me, namely offspring that don’t require the goddamned surgical team from the movie “Sleeper” loading up a turkey baster to create!