The XX Factor

Surrogacy and the “Womb Calculus” of the 30-something Woman

Jessica , Kerry , Sarah and Meredith . I have a confession to make: I’m 34, separated, and because I would like to have a kid one day but not right now, I’ve caught myself indulging in that intimate calculus unique to the 30-something woman: What if I try to get pregnant at 36 and a year or so passes and nothing happens? What if I only feel ready at 40 but my womb has expired? Although I don’t want to set a deadline … what might that deadline be? This “womb calculus” flares up when I am reminded of my fertile powers: around the time of my period; when I get a sign I am ovulating (sharp sudden cramp, or spotting-I am not on the pill); when a friend tells me she is pregnant.

On the one hand, it seems like a good idea to include surrogacy in my calculus. Worse comes to worse I could always freeze some eggs or extract them and hire a surrogate. Paying another woman to carry and grow my genetic material seems like a decent backup plan, should it come to that. I’m not morally opposed to it. But because surrogacy is prohibitively expensive-it costs a minimum of $75,000, but with legal fees and multiple attempts it’s more like $200,000-it isn’t something a middle-class potential mother can consider.

What I ultimately take away from the Times article , and all surrogacy coverage for that matter, is that middle class women are the “Handmaids,” to borrow Margaret Atwood’s term, but not the patrons of surrogacy. I guess there is always reproductive tourism to India, where a poorer, younger or more fertile woman will opt to grow genetic material at a severely discounted price (about $7,500), a small but significant fortune over there.

How do you guys feel about that, and, if you have reasons to be concerned about fertility now or in the near future, does surrogacy enter into your calculus, or do you think about adoption?