If you ignore this ticking clock it might blow up
According to the latest app on my iPhone I have seven years, six months, 19 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes and 31 seconds left to have any more babies. Wait, 21 seconds. No, 5 seconds. Aghhhhhh.
Count down clocks are by definition a torment. According to deathclock.com I’m set to expire on Anzac Day in 2077, which will make me 101. Only time will tell if that is good news or bad news.
Yes these things are arbitrary, based on sweeping generalisations, and fail to take myriad factors into account. But some times sweeping generalisations are made for a reason.
The Wonder Clock app, which you can buy for $1.99, is on the face of it a particularly unhelpful little device. Based on nothing more than your date of birth it provides a permanent reminder to carry with you everywhere that at some point you’ll be in your early 40s.
Women already bombarded with expectations, both their own and other people’s, could be forgiven for feeling pretty peeved about someone developing an app designed to give an air of dread to a timeline already made hard enough to bear by hormones.
In fact it’s highly optimistic. Judging by the calculation it’s given me, women have got until the age of 44 to get pregnant. It’s an understatement to say by that age a woman’s fertility is significantly diminished.
Not to mention the risks of pregnancy and birth are much higher, and the levels of energy required for looking after a newborn are not as in as high supply as they once were.
The woman who developed the app says she did it to spark conversation about fertility and age.
“Mira” says her own clock is ticking, and “I created this clock to face my own fears. To beckon the elephant in the room so to speak. To release my own power, my own choices. To open a dialogue with other women about fertility, em-powerment, and loving ourselves. We are women, and we are ticking. But we are so much more.”
Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense.
But what she has done, if inadvertently, is point out to women that despite what we see on the covers of the gossip mags, eventually fertility does run out.
I remember when I was at school having conversations with my girlfriends about how were were all going to wait to have kids until our late 30s. That gave us a whole 20 years to have a great time before starting a family, which we thought would be as easy as saying “ok, now it’s time.”
Of course nothing is that simple.
Just ask Virginia Haussegger, one of the first to sound the alarm on this topic, with her 2002 column “The sins of our feminist mothers”.
Haussegger argued women who were raised to believe they could put off children until their career was established were sold a lie. At the time it caused a storm and spawned a book.
Now it seems so obvious as to be ridiculous. It’s just the celebrity media that is yet to catch up, trading as it does so successfully on pre-gericatric motherhood.
Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan added some much needed reality to the coverage of her own pregnancy at the age of 46, recently saying: ‘‘I think people see so many Hollywood stars out there having babies in their 40s. It’s a message that I think women need to understand it’s very difficult to have a baby in your 40s. You really need to start a lot earlier if you want to start a family and I think there are a lot of misconceptions that it’s easy to have a career and then start a family at 40.’‘
It’s an important message for young women. They shouldn’t be scared into starting a family, but they should be informed about the difficulties of leaving it until mid-life.
The Wonder Clock is a very blunt instrument, but it could be argued it needs to be even blunter.
Most of us don’t have until we’re 44.
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