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Career vs. baby book sparks controversy

New mother Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta says the idea that women should give birth at a younger age "seems too old fashioned."  

From Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Unit

(CNN) -- A new book that minces few words about a woman's professional and maternal life says too many working women in their 20s put their careers first, figuring they can have babies later on.

They often end up disappointed, according to Sylvia Ann Hewlett's "Creating a Life." Instead, the author writes, these professional women "subject themselves to humiliating medical procedures, shell out tens of thousands of dollars and derail their careers. Mostly to no avail."

Not everyone appreciates her message.

The topic of talk shows and feature newspaper stories, the book has succeeded in scaring potential mothers, say some critics.

New mother Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta, 31, says she and her friends aren't willing to put off childbirth just for professional attainment. "They don't want to wait 'til they're 40," says Lupo-Zulueta, an actress whose son, Rogelio, is 9 months old. "They know that there are higher risks once you hit 35, 36, 37."

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CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports on the controversy surrounding a new book by Sylvia Ann Hewlett that suggests women face fertility problems when they postpone having children till after 35 (April 15)

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Lupo-Zulueta and her friends may be the exception, according to Hewlett. The author says her research shows the majority of high-achieving women in their 20s and 30s are ignorant about infertility statistics and embrace briefcases instead of babies.

Caryl Rivers of Boston University, who writes on women's issues, says the book -- and the media buzz it has created -- can be misleading.

"The message that is coming across from the media is clearly, 'Watch out, women, if you're ambitious. If you don't get married and have kids right away, you're gonna be miserable the rest of your life'," says Rivers, who says she has not read the book.

Melissa Ludtke agrees. The author of a book on motherhood, Ludtke was 46 when she adopted a daughter. She's read the book, and says if she'd listened to its advice, she'd be unhappy today.

"I was married at just about the age [the book's author] would suggest one be married and that was in my late 20s," says Ludtke. "Had I followed her prescription and had a child simply because I was fearful, it would have been one of the worst mistakes I could have made, because the marriage was not a solid marriage."

Ludtke's marriage ended after four years. Still wanting children but unable to find a suitable man to have them with her, Ludtke did it on her own.

"This is the best time in my life to give what I have to give as a mother," she adds.




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