The executive editor of Plum, a magazine for pregnant women over 35, considers the myriad choices available to women who want children but haven’t found Mr. Right.
Lehmann-Haupt’s first book is a personal documentary; she presents statistics, interviews and analysis alongside her own story. She began research on the reproductive options for single women when she was 32, after a relationship she thought would lead to marriage and children ended. The book follows her through a six-year journey: fertility tests, online dating escapades, a serious relationship with a guy who couldn’t commit, sperm-donor shopping and finally oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) at the NYU Fertility Clinic. She interviewed mothers who were single by choice, the Italian doctors who invented the egg-freezing procedure, marketing executives from the company Extend Fertility, gay “bio dads” who donate sperm and “insta-couples” who decide to get pregnant within a year of meeting and aren’t embarrassed by a baby bump under a wedding gown. Most of the stories are positive, but Lehmann-Haupt doesn’t try to sell happy endings. Many of the procedures, including in vitro fertilization, embryo freezing and intrauterine insemination, are so physically, emotionally and financially draining that one single woman’s doctor asked her why she didn’t just have unprotected sex with a friend. The author actively reflects on important questions brought on by this modern reproductive landscape: How old is too old? Would she want her child to meet his half sisters on DonorSiblingRegistry.com? Does the ability to biologically postpone childbearing give career women rightful peace of mind or will it prevent society from “adapting to the needs of working mothers?” Adoption is addressed only briefly; this is a book for women who are mainly interested in passing on their genetic material (or their future husbands’) and in the experience of being pregnant.
A useful aggregation of timely information and personal insight that will provide clarity, if not comfort, for single women over 30 still set on having kids.