I'd like a show of hands: How many of you women out there finished last night's episode of New Girl absolutely terrified about the state of your ovaries? I've learned a lot of things from the two seasons of the hit FOX sitcom. I've learned that divorced parents will probably stay divorced, I've learned that beautiful blue eyes can make a career, and I've learned a significant amount about hair chutney. Last night's episode taught me that by the time I'm 30, 90% of my eggs will be gone. Like, gone gone. I've never really thought about my eggs before, even writing the phrase "my eggs" makes me feel a little ill, but after 22 minutes of televised fertilization panic I'm definitely thinking about my eggs now.
The 90% statistic comes from studies published in 2010 by both Edinburgh University and the University of St. Andrews. The studies indicate that women are born with roughly 300,000 eggs, but by the time a woman is 30 only 12% of those eggs remain. Now, I haven't done an extensive amount of research on the subject, but since everything ever shown on television is totally true, I'm going with 90% of eggs = gone.
In New Girl world this information prompted the characters Jess and Cece to go get their eggs counted. In the real world, I think this information will spark hundreds of hushed and mildly panicked conversations between twenty-something women over cocktails. Clustered conversations of egg countdowns.
Women of my generation have been taught that time is on our side. "Use your twenties for exploring," they say. "Find yourself," they say. "You can have a baby later in life ... just look at J.Lo!" Now more than ever, I'm realizing that there was a serious biological egg-y reason that women got married at, like, 19 in Victorian ages. They had to have like 12 kids, they had to ensure that a bunch of those kids would live, and this all had to happen before they got old and shriveled ... at 30?
Obviously, things are different now. We have electricity, 2.5 kids is the norm, and a woman having children well into her thirties, or even at 40, is a total reality (Brooke Shields you are an inspiration.) We can freeze eggs, procreate in petri dishes, and use surrogates, sperm donors, and whatever other combination you can imagine. But bottom line is, having kids is still a numbers game, and quite frankly, that's terrifying.
As a 25-year-old woman, conversations among my friends and I about having children sound a lot like what Jess said in last night's episode re: why she's just not ready to be a mom, "Tonight, I used a bread roll to wipe butter off my face, and then I ate the bread roll. So I essentially used my face as a butter knife." The amount that I sympathize with that statement is disturbing.
So we young women are left at a cross roads with a lot of really complicated ingredients constantly in the mix. We still feel like kids ourselves, most of us are pursuing careers, our peers now get married a lo-ot later in life and, oh yea, maybe one day we want to have children.
So what are we supposed to do, and how on Earth do we prioritize? Do we run out and take panic inducing tests like Cece and Jess did? Do we say "screw it I'm a career woman" and get invitro at 42? Do we have kids young? Do we have kids old? Do we have kids at all?
When I settled in for last night's episode of New Girl I wasn't expecting to have an egg-count spiral. But here I am spiraling, and I doubt I'm alone. How are we supposed to start planning for future generations when we're still figuring ourselves out? And how do we do all this figuring out and still have kids before the numbers just don't let us anymore?
Maybe I need to take a leaf from Schmidt's book and ask these questions to a genius and all-knowing lesbian gynecologist. Maybe she'll have all the answers. Or maybe, no one does.