Because this world is so new, however, there is no roadmap. Sylvia Ann Hewlett and plenty of others have given advice – often contradictory -- based on the experiences of their own generation, but that wasn't what I needed. I wanted advice from someone within my generation who was going through everything I was, and am, going through myself. And since, ultimately, I couldn't find that book anywhere on the shelf, so I decided to set to work using turn the tools of my trade as an investigative journalist to investigate my own options as a single woman at the edge of her fertility. I hope that in doing so, I can help other women think more clearly about their own options, as well.
I began my research very simply – by talking to other women and men. Some my age, some younger, some older. I wanted to hear directly from other people about their experiences of becoming mothers and fathers at different life stages and through unconventional routes. I sought out stories, though not the stories of Hollywood celebrities and other famous women like Elizabeth Edwards, who became a mother of twins at fifty-one. The problem with these stories, I've found, is that most of these women did not use their own eggs – a fact that is rarely played up in psycophantic stories in People magazine. I wasn't as interested in the glossy magazine versions so much as the stories of regular women who were willing to share with me their most personal details of how they got to motherhood through alternative means.
It's not only single women who struggle with these issues. I've interviewed married women who are also uncertain about their careers, even their spouses, but certain their future must include the experience of parenting. They too have wondered how they are going to start a family. They've asked similar questions. How much time do I really have? Can I freeze my eggs? Should I test my fertility? Will motherhood make me happy?
In the course of my investigation, I have explored the most innovative and up-to-date technologies available for women on the edge of their fertility. I've met and interviewed the leading business people, inventors, doctors, and psychological experts in the field of fertility science. I've learned about a wide array of present possibilities, and have also seen a glimpse into a not so far off future. This future may include technologies that allow older women's DNA to be implanted into the working eggs of younger women, the possibility of restocking a woman's egg supply using bone marrow stem cells, or the creation of babies without sperm.
Advanced Reproductive Technology is contributing to these new choices, but just because we have this technology, does that mean we should depend on it? Of course, there is an entire group of women and couples who are facing infertility – not because of their age or because they waited -– who don't view the use of this technology as a choice, but as a last resort and only chance for a biological child. But still, it's important to examine whether the commercialization of reproductive technology is making the act of becoming a parent too much like shopping for a pair of designer shoes? Is it creating a culture of perfectionism in which our ambitions to have it all have become unrealistic projections to create perfect children? How much risk can we take? And how much emotional and physical stress should our bodies go through in order to get pregnant? How old is too old?