Ah, the miracles of science! Just two years ago, I woke up one morning to the ringing of the alarm bell on my biological clock reminding me that my chances of motherhood were ticking away. I was a few days short of 35, and began to firmly believe that the tide of my fertility was ebbing away. So I wrote “Maybe, baby not” – one of my earlier SWOT columns which began with the lyrics of “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music and explained how the ‘sad sort of ringing from the clocks in the hall’ and ‘the bells in the steeple too’, and ‘up in the nursery an absurd little bird’ while ‘popping up to say cuckoo’ were regretfully telling me to ‘say goodbye’ to my dreams of having a baby. The song isn’t about babies and the not having of them at all. But that morning of 2006, with the bewitched age of 35 looming, my menstrual cramps set off alarm bells which stirred and shook me from my slumber to face the prospect of childlessness post-35.
Two years on, I’m happy to report that hope has sprung eternal! Another ringing of bells happened two weeks ago to give me hope anew that I shouldn’t lose hope – not just yet. This pealing of bells happened on a recording of a TV chat show I host on a local channel. As part of an episode about twins, the learned and experienced gynaecologist explained some basic female biology. It appears that our eggs – the ones that when fertilized by sperm produce an embryo that eventually develops into a cuddly creature that brings us gurgling laughter and smelly poop by equal measure – are made when we are in our mothers’ wombs. These eggs are at their prime when we are between the ages of 25 and 35. This is the ideal reproductive age of a woman when she is at her fertile best. But like all products, the eggs have a shelf life – a ‘best before’ date. Which, it turns out, is 35 (surprise, surprise). The quality of the ‘product’ – the aforementioned eggs – begins thereafter to decline. And this qualitative downturn is one of the reasons why twin births happen.
The phenomenon of identical twins (as opposed to fraternal or non-identical) occurs when the egg suddenly splits after fertilization. The splitting happens because of an inferior quality egg, said the learned gynaecologist. Hence, women over the age of 35 are far more likely to have twins. And it isn’t just biology that’s enabling. Science too has increased women’s reproductive years through fertility treatments. Cases in point are Julia Roberts who’s trying for another set of twins via in vitro fertilization and J Lo, who’s also rumoured to have undergone fertility treatment for Emme and Max!
If this isn’t a baby boom, I don’t know what is! Two years ago, I thought I couldn’t have even a single baby. Now it seems, I will likely have two! Whoa! Hurray? Yippeeee!
Although God knows why anyone would want to bring a baby into a place where cows go mad and chickens give us the flu, and where Kaun Banega Prime Minister is a real-life political drama not a reality TV game show. Although, on the bright side, since I share a neighbourhood with a federal minister and a provincial chief minister, we do have power 24/7. Too bad I can’t pop out a baby pronto, or even set about making one, to cash in on this five-year power cut break. No matter. I know someone who’s expecting a stork delivery. And you know what the best part is? She’s single. Ok, now don’t get all horrified. Let me explain.
My anonymous single friend is bringing home a baby. The nursery is ready. A maid has been hired. She’s even had maternity leave approved. The baby arrives in less than a fortnight. It will be a huge change, but one that she has been waiting to embrace for the past four years. Sadly, she cannot legally adopt a child. So it’s her brother’s baby she’s bringing home. In a country where children are brought into this world often to be packed off to a carpet factory where they crouch and inhale fibres that destroy their lungs, or sent off to the Gulf to be strapped on to the backs of camels that either genitally mutilate them forever if they’re lucky, or trample them underfoot if they’re not, I think it is a criminal offence not to allow single women to adopt babies. Anyone capable of providing love, a nutritious diet, an education, and a home to the dozens of babies abandoned in Edhi centres across the country, or murdered and dumped in garbage heaps should be enabled rather than discouraged.
But let’s not dwell on unhappy facts. I’m absolutely thrilled that she has a family who is sensitive to her emotional needs and her maternal desires. And I want to congratulate her and wish mommy and baby happy bonding.
And I too have reason to celebrate. My fertility has a new lease on life and I can stop getting all confused about which nieces and nephews should inherit my postcard collection, tinga tinga art and signed copy of In The Line of Fire. Coz one of these years, I may actually pop out a pooping Tom or Tehmina, or one of each.
And just in case, just in case, I miss the boat again I can always consider adoption. As my niece Mariam, newly 8, said to me the other day, “Phuppo, when we move into our apartment, can you come live with us?”
“Who will live with Abboo then?” I asked her. We both call my father Abboo.
“I’ll stay back with Abboo,” my sister-in-law Maliha piped in.
“And you can be ours!” suggested Mariam, speaking for herself and her sibling Hana, 4.
I smiled and thought, yes, I’m up for adoption.
The writer is an occasional journalist and full-time development communicator as country representative of Panos South Asia in Pakistan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy: The News, 16/4/2008