Patria-Kaye Aarons: Mosquitoes mashing up motherhood
Dear next man I hold: Yu lucky is a ZIKV year, because I had plans. It sounds a little crass and a lot desperate, but I am not alone. The reality is that I'm finding more and more women in their mid-30s seriously considering the path of single motherhood.
For me, this was going to be the year. After holding out for the picture-perfect family I had always envisioned, I was one of the many now considering single motherhood. Seeing that the sequence of love, marriage and then a baby carriage was nowhere in sight, and, instead, the looming age of 35 was, I was prepared to reshuffle the cabinet of my thoughts.
Sure, I knew it would be hard raising a child alone, but I have the love and support of my family, I'm as financially stable as one can be in this economy, I see where I can provide food and shelter and I really want to be a mummy. It wouldn't be easy, but my mother did it alone, and I turned out OK.
Suitable partner aside, the biggest obstacle for women age 35 or older is actually getting pregnant in the first place. Experts suggest that fertility rates begin to decline gradually at age 30, more so at 35, and drastically at age 40 - even with fertility treatments. They say that after 35, your chance of a normal, safe delivery significantly diminishes. Some experts go as far as to say you only have five years left after that to conceive without surely putting both mother and baby at risk. Considering I want to have enough children to populate Goat Islands, I'm way behind schedule. And it's concerning.
This year, I turn 34. I was really warming to the idea of burdening the middle-age mother role alone.
The added pressure from my grandchild-less mother is of no help. Mummy, in jest, often purses her lips and does a perfect mash-mouth granny impersonation. In her shakiest voice, she says, "Yu going to wait till I have to say, 'Pass di baby come put her inna mi lap.'" The woman never misses a beat to remind me that my clock is ticking.
Just when all hope was seemingly lost, Olympian and newly-wed Juliet Cuthbert drops the mother of all bombshells; announcing that she is 3 months preggers at 51 years old. Juliet (like many others out there like her) is faced with a double whammy.
A) You are past what your ob-gyn calls the safe age.
B) You're a newly-wed and want to start a family with your husband.
This is the new normal. What's a woman to do? Clearly, 50 is the new 30, and if you look and feel as good as Juliet, all things considered, you can't blame her for running the risk.
This ZIKV bit has left many women in a real conundrum. Stats also suggest that many couples are delaying pregnancy. Where does ZIKV leave them now? When a couple gets married at 39, can they afford to wait out the year before having babies as the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization recommend? Which risk is greater at this stage - small-headed babies or complications resulting from a mother who is just too old? Should older women or newly married couples shelve their paternity hopes? Are these people irresponsible if they proceed with pregnancy, knowing either risk?
I'm no expert, and I, for sure, don't have the answers. I'm open to advice.
Maybe I will have that baby, and just walk around for all of 2016 dressed like a bleacher. I'd just cover myself from head to toe and wear long sleeves and socks - safe from the bite of those dream-killing bloodsuckers.