‘I Wasn’t Sure Pregnancy Was in the Cards’

Katherine Heigl shares news despite her 'advanced maternal age'

by Heather Hunter | Updated 18 Jul 2016 at 8:53 AM

As professional women are increasingly delaying pregnancy, the window for having children has grown even tighter.

Actress Katherine Heigl, who is married to singer/songwriter Josh Kelley and is already an adoptive mother of two, recently announced her first pregnancy at age 37. Heigl wrote on her blog that despite her “advanced maternal age,” she will have her first biological child.

Heigl’s story reminds us advanced maternity is possible, but it’s important to remember how much harder it is to get pregnant later.

The decision came after years of openly saying she had a “lot of physical issues” and that pregnancy was “a terrible idea” for her.

“Seeing as I have never been pregnant and as my OB/GYN reminded me last year, I’m of advanced maternal age, I wasn’t sure pregnancy was even in the cards for us,” she wrote. “Turns out it was very much in the cards!”

Heigl’s story is not unique to career-driven women. But for a lot of women it’s not career that is stopping their baby-making — but the task of finding a husband.

A friend who works as a press secretary for a top government official admitted she has frozen her eggs.

"I'm 35 and I have tried every dating app — Match, eHarmony, Tinder, everything — and finding a guy who is ready for commitment is hard," she said. "Even if I did meet the right guy tomorrow, you have to date a few years and hope he proposes. Otherwise you just waste another three to five years of your clock ... so I froze them."

Many other friends who are successful professionally and tough managers of everything in their life but men have shared similar stories.

An interesting dynamic between 20-something men and women has developed. Men are living longer in a limbo state of pre-adulthood.

When women should be expecting to be wined and dined, men would rather play PlayStation and hook up or binge-drink all night.

Related: The Man of the House

Meanwhile, women are now graduating with bachelor's degrees at a higher rate than men and out-earning their boyfriends.

"They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home," comedian Julie Klausner wrote in her book "I Don't Care About Your Band."

The social order of becoming an active player in the economy and performing the central task of providing for a wife and family has been put on pause for many millennial men. We could blame the sexual revolution, bad parenting, or the lack of male role models. But the procrastination has begun to force women of similar age to push back their time frame for having children.

Related: Older Moms, Slower Aging

It may seem women are work-obsessed, but what other option do they have while they wait for men their age to grow up and become able to provide security, marriage, and parenthood?

"I see a lot of people, when they get to their late 30s, in a rush to get married," Dr. Lisa Ashe, 36, told The Philly Voice. "They settle or they quickly pick someone. I feel like who you marry is the most important decision you can make because it will affect all aspects of your life. My faith tells me — and I believe it — that God has someone specific for me. I look at egg freezing as a resource for me, to help me wait."

The rate of women freezing their eggs has grown from 475 women in 2009 to nearly 4,000 in 2013.

Fertility starts to decrease around the age of 35 — just as millennial men are waking up to adulthood and millennial women are beginning to reach peak earning potential in their careers. It's amazing we have children at all in America with the two sexes having evolving ideas of priorities.

Heigl's story reminds us advanced maternity is possible, but it's important to know how much harder it is to get pregnant later. At some point, men and women in our society should have a talk about why we are delaying children and marriage — and whether the reasons are healthy or detrimental for our cultural and spiritual longevity.

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