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Tick Tock: How To Get Over The Fear Of Your Biological Clock

Women's Health

It really is kind of crazy, the things we seem to insist only learning, only by hindsight. Even though I've always been told that I would be a good mom and I've consistently had a special connection with kids (including ones I don't even know running up to me or literally clapping for me in random places like the mall), at almost 45, I think I've made peace with not having any. Or, at least not giving birth to any.


It's not for the reason that you probably think either. As a doula, I know that women are having healthy children in their 40s and even 50s. But when I look back over my past choices (including four abortions and opting to not aggressively pursue dating or to even be sexually-active in my 30s), there's a part of me that wonders if I ever wanted to be a mom. I can't help but think that it was more about subscribing to the thought I should simply because, well, that's what people with a female reproductive system are supposed to do…right?

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Every 21st of the month, around noon, my period begins. The blood is bright red. There's no pain or clotting. Eggs are still dropping. Maybe once all of this stops, I'll start to freak out. But for now, if there is one word that I can use to describe how I feel, it's "peaceful." Truly peaceful. About being a 40-something single woman who can have children but doesn't have any.

If you're approaching 35, you just read all of that and you can't even remotely relate because on your Top 5 list of life accomplishments, becoming a mother is on it and so right now, you're not even close to being peaceful about your situation, I'm hoping that I can provide you with a little bit of reassurance that you and your biological clock can live in harmony; that not being a mommy (yet) isn't something that should totally consume you. Not at all.

Do Your Research

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There used to be a time when if a woman was 35 or over and she wanted to get pregnant, her physician would give her major side-eye. "Geriatric pregnancy" was a term she didn't want to hear. But you know what? Most of the women I personally know had children in their late 30s and 40s. A couple of years ago, I was the doula for a 42-year-old mom. My godchild's mom is going to have her second daughter this summer and she's 37. One of my closest friends will be 60 when her daughter is 18.

These aren't random "freaks" of nature either. Articles like "Forty (or Close) is the New 20 for Having Babies" and "Why More Women Are Having Babies at 50 and Beyond" are also evidence that motherhood ain't just for those in their 20s.

That's not to say it's all smooth sailing. Reportedly, 30 percent of women between 40-44 have severe fertility issues, women over 40 tend to have more miscarriages, and after 45, having a baby with your own eggs is…very challenging.

But these are stats and each person's body is different. I'm just saying that you shouldn't assume that just because you're in your 30's or more and not a mom that you can't become pregnant up the road. Women are boldly proving that we can, so do your own research. The info you find just might surprise you in a positive kind of way.

See Your Doctor (Regularly)

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What I said about me and my menstrual cycle wasn't meant to be TMI. I said it for a specific purpose. Knowing the signs of a healthy vs. unhealthy period can reveal a lot about what's going on with you, fertility-wise. If you have intense cramping, big and/or lots of clots, irregular periods, heavy bleeding (especially after the first day), very long or very short cycles, diarrhea and/or vomiting during your period or bleeding in between your periods, you need to speak with your doctor asap (it's also important to get an annual physical too).

Other things that can affect fertility include obesity, smoking, alcohol, too much caffeine, working out more than seven hours each week, Depo-Provera, thyroid issues, and stress.

I'm sharing all of this simply because there are some women who, once they do decide to get pregnant, have a difficult time not because of their age but due to their lifestyle. The better care you take care of yourself, the greater your chances will be of conceiving, even later on in life.

Check Your Motives

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I've got a friend who is only a year older than I am. However, his mother is almost 20 years older than mine. What he is currently going through, I would be freaking out if I had to do it all. His mother is almost 90 years old and he's been the one who's had to worry about medical bills, insurance, and basically providing for her for…shoot, as long as I can remember.

Honestly, watching him is a part of the reason why I think I'm good on having a baby at this season of my life. I'm only speaking for myself when I say this, but I'm not just thinking about me and a little one over the next few years but what the quality of their life will be like as a young adult with a senior parent as well.

My point? Healthy parenting is synonymous with selflessness. It's beneficial to not only want a child "just because you want to" or "because all of your friends have one" but because there are some deeper reasons and advantages—for you and your baby—long-term.

Once your baby arrives, it's going to remind you on a daily basis that having them around isn't just about you. Make sure your motive for wanting one isn't just about you either.

Be Open-Minded

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There's a couple I know who've been having pretty significant fertility issues throughout their entire marriage. They're both in their 40s now. Whenever I mention adoption, while the wife seems pretty open, the husband is firm on "I want my own child." Years later, they still wait. With no child.

I get the whole wanting a baby that's the product of you and your partner. I also get wanting to preserve your (bloodline) legacy. But if there's one thing that gets my complete and total respect, it's people who choose to adopt (by the way, one of the best adoption stories I've ever heard is called "Chloe"; the universe is something!). It's truly love and selflessness personified.

And you know what? Hill Harper, T-Boz, Viola Davis, Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Keyshia Cole, Nelson Mandela, and Tommy Davidson are just some of the Black celebrities who can vouch for the beauty in adoption—either because they were adopted or they adopted a child themselves.

Life has a funny way of giving us what we need far more often than giving us what we want (or think we want at the time). If you really want to be a parent and you don't mind how your child comes your way, this alone should take some of the pressure off. You don't need eggs to adopt a baby. Just sayin'.

Trust the Process

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A quote that gives me chills every time I read it is by a Pastor John Piper—"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them." As far as it relates to conceiving a child, just because it looks to you like nothing is happening, that doesn't automatically make it true. If you want to be married before having a baby, who knows how close you are to running into your husband. If you're over 35 and a couple of miscarriages have already happened, the third time may literally be the charm (my godchild's mom was pregnant twice last year; one was a miscarriage and her next baby is due in June).

If there's one thing that is guaranteed to work against your ability to get pregnant (and oftentimes a relationship too), it's stress (check out "Can't Get Pregnant? How Stress May Be Causing Your Infertility"). If the Most High is in agreement that you should be a parent, things will happen how and when they should. No relationship, no reproductive system, and certainly no biological clock will get in the way. Do your mind, body, and spirit a favor and rest in that. It's the truth.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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