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I’ve developed a severe case of baby fever. It arrived without warning and has rooted itself noticeably on social networks, billboards, the radio and even the literature I escape into. I coo whenever I see photographs of Blue Ivy in her adorable Timberlands and smile as I package and send clothes and other spring essentials to my small nieces. I’m cringing on the inside as I imagine succumbing to the urges to ditch the birth control and fill my womb.

I’m not the only woman considering motherhood.

The New York Times found more than two-thirds of children are born to unwed mothers under 30 and indicates the statistics a “symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.”

It’s a new phenomenon that’s stricken my 23-year-old ovaries. I’ve never bought into the patriarchal concept of the “biological clock.” In fact, I’ve regarded it as an emotional shackle used to reign in women’s ambition, but it’s beginning to tick louder and overshadow my feminist doubts of its existence.

Warren Miller, MD, a psychiatrist at the Transnational Family Research Institute in Aptos, California, who’s spent four decades researching the reasons women get pregnant, sees this as a normal phenomenon.

He told ELLE the childbearing urge is an element of the “nurturant bonding system” (i.e., caring for a more helpless creature). It’s an adaptive urge to raise, love, and care for a needier being than ourselves—”nature’s plan for ensuring that we take care of the children we produce,” he explained.

“The nurturant bonding system varies in strength from one woman to the next and is dependent upon factors including genetics, family history, and cultural influences. Those who are oriented strongly toward having children ‘channel themselves in that direction,’ because having a baby makes their brain feel like it’s getting a huge reward.”

Motherhood is calling and it’s quite the normal impulse. I’m witnessing close friends and relatives jumping the broom and popping out blessings via Facebook and other social networking sites.

Dr. Anna Rotkirch, director of the Population Research Institute at the Family Federation in Finland, has concluded baby fever is normal in post-adolescence.

In 2006, she solicited testimonies on “baby fever” through a column in a popular Finnish daily newspaper. She then analyzed the responses of 106 women (only two men wrote about their own longings) and in 2007 presented her findings in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. Of the respondents who experienced baby fever, 40 women said that it had come as a surprise in adulthood, sometime after adolescence. And many corroborated the stories I’ve heard from friends; one described a “physical, compelling, painful need to be pregnant…. If somebody had earlier tried to describe such a feeling to me, I would probably have rolled my eyes, encouraged her to climb out of the swamp of motherhood myth and get a life.” Others reported graphic dreams about cuddly newborns. They said baby lust was something the “womb demands,” something “biological” that goes against “common sense,” that could be triggered by age, falling in love, previous pregnancies, or peer pressure. According to these respondents, baby fever cannot be satisfied by caring for other people’s children or for pets. “When women say, ‘I want a baby so badly but I cannot have one now. Should I get a kitten?,’ others reply, ‘Pets don’t help, they just make it worse,’?” Rotkirch says. “That’s the core question: If it were just a general nurturing instinct, baby longing should more easily be substituted by partners, pets, friends.”

In other words, this sudden urge to pop out baby Zora is shared by dozens of women, but the research does nothing to quell the loud tick-tocking of the biological clock.

How do you fight the biological clock?

  • au napptural

    Wow. Perhaps my clock is late but I just turned 24 and it’s not ticking a bit. I do want children but at the same time I could probably be cool with never having any. And I want to be wayyyy more established when I do have them. It’s like I always say to my mother- women with these overwhelming cravings for kids must not have much younger siblings. That’s the best birth control there is.

    My parents had my youngest sib. when I was already 14. I feel almost like I went through teenage motherhood. I woke at 3 am- not to care for the baby, but b/c if there’s a baby crying chances are you won’t get much sleep either. I changed diapers, rocked her to sleep, missed things babysitting. So I guess I tend not to romanticize it.

    Plus, people only think about cuddly babies. I’ve seen my sibs grow and I can testify they will be yours for a hell of a long time. Hell my mom is still “raising” me and my twin brother in a way. We are both grown and support ourselves, but who do you always run to for advice? Who is your emergency contact, if you aren’t married? And my parents had us at 23. I’m in no rush b/c once you have the baby it is yours for the next 20-something years, including college. There’s plenty of time.

  • mluv

    omg I thought I was alone! Im in between having a quarter life crisis and baby fever. I just graduated college and I teach early childhood. Post graduation I’ve really been thinking A LOT about my future; In my mind constantly I just want to hurry up, meet the man of my dreams, get married and have a BABY. I see all my peers getting engaged, getting married and I say to myself “when will it be my turn ?” But I try to be patient and work in God’s plan for me. There is no need to rush but some how I feel the need to rush! lol

  • Wong Chia Chi

    I’m seriously ambivalent about children.Time will tell but I don’t see my feelings changing.

  • Job

    Healthy conversation here. I hate seeing women shamed for wanting children. It’s natural. The biological drive or clock is programmed into our DNA. It’s not a “patriarchal concept.” Women only have a limited opportunity to bear children. That’s a reality.

  • Miss A

    I am in my 40′s and engaged to marry a man with adult/teenaged kids. I was on the verge of being depressed because I never had kids and eventhough we were trying, I couldn’t get pregnant. So, we decided to take care of his 3 month old granddaughter while his daughter goes to school. First, this is the most adorable and cutest little girl ever! BUT….NOW I realize how much work kids are and I cannot imagine having to care for a child 24/7 at this stage of my life – hell, even when I was younger!!! I don’t see how single Moms do it! The diaper changing, feeding, waking up at night, constant watching her so she won’t fall out the bed, fevers and runny noses, etc. My fiancee is an exceptional grand father and does most of the work…lol….and with my limited duties, I am beat at night! So…I am fine being a step-mom/step-grandmom without having to put in all the work!!!

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