She was supposed to be obsolete. The Powers-That-Be at the National Zoo in Washington DC were ready to ship their (no-longer-) prized Giant Panda, Mei Xiang, back to China; she could not procreate.
Top Panda Procreation Experts gave Mei Xiang dismal odds — 10% — of ever bearing live young. That was 2012. By 2015, Mei Xiang had done a remarkable thing. She had done what she was naturally designed to do: spawn cubs. Several of them.
Sure, everyone loves her now . . . but how were Mei Xiang’s future prospects ever so gloomily — and erroneously — quantifiable? The possibility of success deemed so remote?
Similarly dooming statistics are routinely slapped on over-40 women attempting pregnancy in the U.S. Our Fertility Industrial Complex frightens Today’s Woman into rushing to attempt IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) before her moment is passed . . . while at the same time society, ambition, and sheer practicality now often influence her to delay motherhood until later and later in life.
We can’t have it both ways. Though biological clocks are indeed ticking, ripping the emotional rug out from underneath ladies that choose — or simply find themselves — delaying motherhood is counter-productive at best, deeply scarring at worst.
Fortunately for Mei Xiang, she didn’t have to listen to the number-makers.
What does it actually mean for women, men, and their families to have babies later in life, beyond the statistics? The Ten-Percent Panda (& Other Tales of Subfertility) explores this current landscape, chronicling the author’s own “over-the-hill” pursuit of her first baby, and subsequent seven-year (and counting) struggle/adventure.
My name is Rebecca Bryant and I began my pregnancy quest when I was thirty-nine. Today I am forty-six. While chasing baby, I have simultaneously worked as a caregiver to special needs and senior populations, providing me with a unique perspective on health, sanity, positive pee sticks, miscarriage, and the built-in contradictions of a support system — medical, personal, national — that doesn’t quite know how to regard older parenthood.
The result is a “memoir-exposé” part-funny, part-raw — a primal portrait of a declining but undefeated wannabe mom stuck uterus-deep in thought, insight, humanity, and hope.
Ultimately, there is no expiration date on the miracle of life.
I’m hoping to be able to complete and self-publish The Ten-Percent Panda (& Other Tales of Subfertility) in 2017, with the help of an upcoming crowdfunding campaign. Watch for progress updates and announcements on my blog here.
My overall aim is to build a much-needed support community for later-in-life parents and moms still struggling to conceive — the kind of safe, fun, understanding resource I wish I had had back in 2009. Hopefully this can make any hard journeys ahead for other couples a bit more bearable.
Hugs & Bamboo,
Thank you for your interest and support! If you’d like to hear semi-regularly from me please join the Ten-Percent Panda e-mail list. I promise not to send any junk. In fact, I’ll send you the opposite of junk: Ten-Percent Panda’s FREE Virtual Swag Bag! 10PP’s VSB is a fun & informative PDF chock full of useful links to help you navigate a later-in-life TTC journey. Sign up now to check it out! FREE STUFF, wahoo!
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