I’ve always been a late bloomer.
I got my period at 15. I kissed a boy (once) at 17. I lost my virginity late, after a bunch of my friends were already married, if not engaged. “Who I am” started to take shape only in my mid-30s, when I switched careers, got a master’s degree, and owned the fact that I care more about “the world” and being comfortable, than having a flashy ring and the “right” shoes.
Throughout my life, I have often been mistaken for someone younger than my age at the time: I looked like an eight-year-old instead of a 13-year-old at my bat mitzvah; a 16-year-old in college (when I stopped growing). Recently, my co-worker’s eyes bulged when I told her my age.
Sure, this youthfulness has had benefits. I’ve never had to dye my hair, and haven’t worried about wrinkles (until recently). But in the past few years, I have been filled with intense anxiety and, more recently, a sense of loss for something far less visible than grey hairs or smile lines: having a baby.
As I feel my fertility window closing, I’m increasingly envious of those who have children, and I blame myself for not making it happen sooner.For some reason, I always assumed I would figure out the “baby thing” when the time was right. I’ve just never known when that would be. But as I feel my fertility window closing, I’m increasingly envious of those who have children, and I blame myself for not making it happen sooner–even if I’m content about my fairly decent life choices.
I started to really stress out about having kids around age 35, with the dreaded “high-risk” tag looming. I decided to take action against my agita – and “preserve” my youth by freezing my eggs. This alleviated the stress, if temporarily.
However, I did this while I was dating a guy who soon thereafter destroyed not only my heart, but my faith in people (long story) making it a particularly emotional experience.
I muddled through the breakup, and eventually went from sobbing to running a half marathon to laughing to turning 40 and feeling OK about things. But I still hadn’t made it happen.
These days, I’m in a relationship with a handsome, good guy, who believes in me, and who wants kids. Of course, nothing is simple, but this is a good place to be.
Recently, I had my FSH levels tested again at my OB/GYN’s suggestion. I assumed that while things had changed (just a smidge) on the outside, surely not much else had.
I was wrong.
Verna, the sweet nurse from my OB/GYN’s office who calls me “Baby” and “Sweetie” when delivering info, told me that my FSH levels had dropped a lot. She then told me that I had a growth in my uterus.
I had had polyps before. Their removals involved a D&C–basically, the procedure used for an abortion.
My previous procedures weren’t exactly fun, but they hadn’t bothered me as much as my intense period cramps and intra-menstrual bleeding. This time was different.
This time, I cried for three days after I heard the news. I couldn’t stop thinking that I would be having another “abortion” procedure, without ever having been pregnant.
I could be a mom and an awesome aunt. This must be what everyone else feels like, I thought.A few days later, before the scheduled procedure, Verna called me again. “Sweetie, you tested positive,” she said. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then, I cackled out loud when she clarified that my pregnancy hormone had surged.
I was excited – and anxious – in a way that I had never experienced before.
I’ve sometimes had a hard time seeing myself as a parent, but I quickly started to re-think my living room and my savings. I read my (pathetic) parental leave benefits. I could be a mom and an awesome aunt. This must be what everyone else feels like, I thought. It felt good. I felt…full, happy.
That didn’t last. I got the results of my next blood test. The pregnancy result was, in fact, a false-positive. A tease. It hadn’t happened until after I was age 40, but I finally understood – just a little – how millions of women of all ages trying to conceive had felt countless times.
A few days later, I had my polyp removed, and returned to feeling like my child-less, but relatively youthful self.
Lately, my feelings are on a bit of a roller coaster. The anxiety that I may never have a kid(s) hits me sometimes. I cry occasionally, especially after too much Facebook-scrolling of babies, pregnant women, or exes with their gaggle(s). On bad days, I imagine myself as a sad woman who “never had kids” for no apparent reason.
At the same time, I feel liberated that my abs are mostly in-tact, that my expenses are mine alone (including my fancy gym membership and frozen-egg storage fees), and that I have a relative abundance of freedom.
And on good days I have hope that the “baby thing” may still work out. I imagine my youth-infused life with kids, whether by myself or in a relationship, whether natural, IVF-induced, or adopted.
Either way, it will be an adventure.
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