Last night's episode of NEW GIRL was called "Eggs" (baby, not breakfast-maker variety), and it raised an important/scary issue that many women approaching their 30s experience.
Can you tell me how many viable eggs I have left?
Or, in the words we actually mean, can you tell me exactly
how soon I need to start thinking about having a baby?
SPOILER ALERT: Jess and CeCe enlist their newly pregnant, lesbian gyno friend to perform a test that determines how many viable, baby-making eggs they have left. Jess is panicked about the whole thing (shocker), while CeCe could care less (same). Then, wouldn't you know, Jess' results come back very positive (high numbers of remaining, very peppy eggs!) and CeCe's come back very negative (not so much). Jess is happy (she has tons of time to find the adorkable man of her dreams!) and CeCe is freaked (she was basically told to start having kids immediately, if she's going to have them at all).
NOW, I realize this is a sitcom, not an after school special. I realize they don't have time amongst the jokes to really explain what this testing is, and what it really means. BUT, I was still irked by the way the CeCe storyline was treated. She has the test, and the only results we hear are, "the doctor told me I need to start having kids immediately, if I'm going to have any." Whoa. Wait. What?? A. Doctors don't provide advice in quite those terms. And B. Way to exaggerate a prognosis sos to pander to female fears through comedy. (I'm pretty sure that sentence doesn't make sense, but I'm really worked up here you guys).
Couldn't CeCe have said, "the doctor said my egg numbers are unusually low, and if I want to have a baby I should start to think about it sooner rather than later." Then Jess could sing, "OMG CeCe, that's nuts, how soon?!" and CeCe could say, "She didn't say. She can't really say. But it's bad up in there Jess." Whatever. I don't know. Just anything other than, "the doctor said I need to start immediately."
I went to bed thinking about this whole issue. I woke up thinking about this whole issue. I actually contemplated calling my gynecologist here in L.A. this morning, then getting a second opinion from my former gynecologist in New York so I could write a thoughtful blog post about how everything that was wrong with NEW GIRL'S depiction of this testing process.
Then I realized that the episode irked me because it scared me.
No, the exact details of this fertility test were not explored in the episode. No, the CeCe storyline wasn't handled as well as it could have been handled. But bottom line, I was annoyed because the issue hit home, and instead of saying, "yes, that is a scary issue that has real-life ramifications," I got defensive about the way women's issues are treated in comedic television. There are way bigger issues to be mad at surrounding the way women are treated in comedic television than this episode od NEW GIRL. Properly handled or not, the "viable eggs" issue is a real issue.
I literally have a pit in my stomach right now thinking about the fact that a simple test could determine if I should start having children this year or if I can wait four or so years from now. Would the results of that test change my life? Yes. Absolutely. Would they mean I should have children immediately if the results show that I'm running out of time? I don't know.
I'd like to curse the fact that this test exists, but I think that's a defense mechanism as well. If you ask a 40 year old woman who can no longer conceive whether or not she would have liked a warning around age 30, what would she say? I'd venture to guess she'd say yes. Give me that warning. Scare the crap out of me.
These are real factors that we really need to consider as women, and as many of us inch toward and into our 30s. They're no longer the stuff of Busch Lite-induced promises made between girlfriends on the dorm-room couch (I'm not having kids until I'm at LEAST 34! Screw that! I need time to establish my career!). Now they're the stuff of expensive wine-induced sob-sessions between girlfriends sitting at the bar (OMG what if the doctor told me I should start having kids right now?? What would I do?? What should I do??).
I don't know what you should do. I don't know what I would do. I don't know what I will do. But I think it's okay to be freaked out about the whole situation. I think we might actually be lucky that we can be freaked out about it versus remaining stubborn, defensive or blind to the realities. Knowledge equals power, and if there's anything in your life you want to be empowered over, it's your baby-making.
Now for the after school special section:
There is a wealth of information available on the Internet about these tests that NEW GIRL referenced and fertility testing in general. Here is one article from the UK Daily Mail and here is another helpful resource page from a very well-respected fertility clinic.
These tests are often referred to as tests of "ovarian reserve" for your Google searching purposes.
And finally, It would be nice to have a reliable test to determine how many eggs remain and how good the eggs are in an individual woman at a point in time. At this point some screening tests exists, but they are not perfect. Do a little research on your own (if you'd like) or talk to your gynecologist (if you're more comfortable with that route).