Friday, January 12, 2007

Historical Fertility

Oh hey it's national delurking week, so, like, come out and play, ok?

I realized yesterday that I play this little game I like to call "Fertile.... or not?". Usually with celebrities. Julia Roberts had twins... assisted? Un? Is she.... fertile... or not?

Yeah, it's fun... but any time a celebrity magically gets pregnant with multiples or has a baby in their late 40's or in their 50's, I automatically throw 'em into the "Not" category. I think it's supposed to make me feel better. Because it's a rare, rare thing to have a public figure admit to infertility (shameful as it is, right?), everyone's fair game. Especially the ones who swear their children were 'natural' even though they birthed triplets at 60. With a surrogate.

So yesterday I was reading an article about Laur@ Ing@lls WiIder... when I realized that she only had two children (one living). In the late 1800's. When large families were common, and birth control was not.

Things that make me go hmmm... Does it count as an obsession to retroactively apply Fertile or Not to historical figures?

Am I the only one who wonders about this stuff?


Erin said...

What's really weird is that I remember wondering the same thing about Laura Ingalls Wilder when I read those books (OK, re-read) in high school. And that was before I knew that I was infertile, before I even knew enough to wonder about her only having two children. I just remember thinking that it was strange since both of them came from big families, and in farming families, they liked having a lot of kids to help out.

Wow, too much from me. Anyway, yes, I play the (In)Fertile? game also.

Cricket said...

I play it a lot as a genealogist and used to have several posts devoted to it.

One example, ex's great grandparents were married about 10 years before they had any children. Then after 1910, they had 3 in 7 years. What gives? That grandpa was very tall and none of the sons were. I've always wondered if they got one of his brothers to do the deed - they both came from incredibly large families.

Another example is my great grandparents around the same time. They lived together in Greece for at least 10 years and only had one daughter toward the beginnning. He came here to work for five years and was finally joined by his family. They cranked out another five kids over the next 8 years. I wonder if her diet changed or what changed her fertility. I'd inquired with family whether she'd has miscarriages in Greece (I always tried to record them) but even her census records did not indicate additional children.

You've touched on something I think of often - and I know it's none of my buisness!

DD said...

My mother's aunt and her husband did not have any children. I think of our trips to their home often as we were always reluctant to go since they didn't have any kids to play with.

I also think about the many times I would ask "why don't you have any kids?" and they never really answered, but I wonder how badly that must have hurt.

It's too late now to try to understand. He passed away in the 80's and she died almost 10 years ago. It's very, very sad.

Kris said...

I play the same game. In fact I just read someone famous in her 40's just had a baby, and that's the first thing that popped into my head.