Older women willing to use assistance to have a child who shares their DNA, don't fare much better. A large fertility study performed at Cornell University showed that 4.4 percent of women over the age of 44 were able to get pregnant by in vitro fertilization (IVF) using their own eggs; just 2 percent carried to term. A few women over the age of 46 were able to get pregnant with their biological eggs but miscarried. By 48, none were able to conceive using their own eggs.
Donor eggs are usually the route older mom-wannabes must take, adoption notwithstanding. This is true whether they carry the child themselves or use a surrogate. "I tell my patients over the age of 45 we can try it with their eggs but donor eggs are more likely to be successful," Sproul said. "About 55 percent of donor egg transfers result in live births."
Yet as Suzanne Schlosberg, a writer who decided to go the egg donor route to have her twin boys pointed out, there still seems to be some stigma attached to using a donor.
"The only celebrity I can think of who has ever revealed using someone else's eggs is Elton John, and that one was obvious. For some reason having a child with someone else's genetic material is still viewed as second rate," Schlosberg said. This is probably how Kidman conceived though she pointedly never mentions it. It's doubtful she froze her own eggs since methods are still cutting edge; many doctors who do these procedures have yet to defrost any.
Schlosberg noted that actress Marcia Cross, who had twins at the age of 44, is the only celebrity she can think of who has discussed donor eggs publically. "But even then she only says it's common knowledge how difficult it is for women in their forties to get pregnant with their own eggs. She always stops short of admitting to using them herself," Schlosberg pointed out.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I had my daughter when I was two months shy of my 45th birthday. For me, pregnancy came out of the blue. It was something of a surprise and there was no helping hand from science.
I honestly had no idea it was such a big deal to have a baby by natural means at my age until someone accused me of lying about it. This woman is so convinced there is no way I could have gotten pregnant without assistance that to this day she is still sure I'm withholding information. Another friend in the midst of her own fertility drama once reamed me out for getting pregnant so easily. She finds it frustrating that a baby just seemed to fall out of the sky for me, especially because it wasn't something I was focused on or even thinking about. After being enlightened about the statistics, I can honestly understand their disbelief and frustration.
I can also understand why Kidman and others who openly discuss their infertility issues are doing a real service. Not that celebrities owe us any information about the particulars of how they procreate. But the ones who stay silent give women the impression that fertility is an everlasting, renewable commodity and that it's never too late to start a family -- although biologically speaking, it sometimes is.