Recently I went home to Delaware to visit my parents.
Over a breakfast bowl of cereal and apropos of nothing, Mom asks:
“Do you think you’ll ever have your own children?”
Me: “Um, no. It’s too late. Basically biologically impossible.”
Mom: “Huh. Is that because of your PCOS ?"
[PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, is an endocrine and reproductive disorder that, among other things, makes it difficult to get pregnant]
Me: “Um, yeah.”
What I didn’t say is this:
“Remember that REALLY IMPORTANT conversation I had with my gynecologist around the time I turned 37? The conversation that kind of changed how I envisioned the rest of my life? It went a little something like this?”
Me: “So, now that I’m 37, how long until my eggs expire?”Dr. R: “If you really want to have your own biological children and you’re psychologically and financially ready to do it on your own, you need to do it now.”Me: “Financially ready? Ha. On my own? No, I decided long ago, no baby daddy, no baby.”Bing, bong.The reproductive window is closing. I repeat, the reproductive window is closing.
It’s not like this was a complete surprise. I’m a health writer. I knew that a normal woman’s—let alone one with PCOS--chance of conceiving goes down rapidly in her 30s. I could feel the biological nosedive. And I knew that I could always adopt. But something about hearing that window creakily making its way down to lockdown was kinda, um, MAJOR.
And apparently, not only did my family not fully grasp the significance of my retelling of this story—THEY DON’T EVEN REMEMBER!!
I love my family – they’ve always been a great source of support. But people, come on!!
The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I really wanted kids. And hello, did no one in my family notice the change from the obsessive worrying throughout my 30s: “What if I can’t have kids? What if it’s too late?” to statements like, “I’m not even ready to have kids. Maybe I never will be,” and “Maybe being the world’s coolest aunt to Ethan and Sammie (my nephew and niece) is enough.”
[Meanwhile, a craven and selfish part of me whispers, “But who will take care of me when I am old?”]
And honestly, I think that my eggs have been committing hari-kari for years when faced with some of the guys I’ve dated. Like:
The paranoiac—We met as contractors on a job. When the job became permanent, he wanted to keep things fairly private. “Private” started out (on the work mornings after the nights we’d stayed together) at “let’s not be seen walking up together from the parking garage,” to “Drop me off a few blocks from work,” to “Drop me at the Metro on your way in.” And oh yeah—don’t talk about me on the phone at work—people are listening.
The neat freak/closet-redneck-cracker—At his apartment, he once asked me to take off a shirt that was shedding some sparkles (don’t ask) onto his carpet. Which I did, after first running into his bedroom and rolling sparkles all over his sheets. And the last time we saw each other, in a Mexican restaurant, a history of subtle questionable remarks bloomed into statements such as “that waitress better get her chalupa ass over here,” and (after I threw a piece of candy at him) “you’re leaving a mess for you’re illegal immigrant friends to clean up.” I all but dragged him out of the restaurant by his collar and that was that.
The exhibitionist—An old college relationship with a lot of baggage. We’d been out of touch for many years when he popped up to resolve some old issues. Great, but in the meantime he has become obsessed with his own body. He sends me naked pictures of himself. All the time. Even from the South Pole. Seriously.
My eggs are very smart.
Besides, I really already have a child. He has curly reddish-blond hair and a cold nose. Yes, I consider my dog my child. Anyone got a problem with that?