Somewhere between last week and today I turned 29. Tweeeenty Niiiiine. The near-end of my twenties – over the hill and all that jazz. There are few things in life that I despise more than my own birthday: The pressure. The expectations. The aging. Yeah thanks guys, it’ll be real fun to go out and celebrate the slow deterioration of my body as I head towards my inevitable death (I really know how to keep things light at a party). If you’re also not a big birthday fan, don’t worry: it gets worse! “Age is just a number” becomes irrelevant when your eggs go by dog years and are celebrating their 70th birthday before you even turn thirty. It’s not just a number, it matters. And let’s be real, 21 is the last good “big birthday” (sorry 25 – no one cares that they can finally rent a car). After that, you’re left realizing that you’re stuck on a rollercoaster that has no intention of stopping – that is, until it makes the big stop. Suddenly, you’re developing new aches and ailments on a daily basis and oh did we mention that at 35 you’ll be the most infertile you’ve ever been? Apparently the Three-Five marks the end of the safe zone before your fertility plummets and you’re left overdrawing your checking account to pay for IVF and egg freezing. Doctor’s will begin using words like: donors and unlikely and high risk, so that your preconceived notions of ‘young 35’ are shattered and you feel as if you’re aging like a corked wine.
My Husband: What do you want to do for your birthday?
Me: Worry about my fertility.
Six years away from D-Day seems doable, but then you factor in the time it takes to conceive and incubate and birth and recover and oh my god I should’ve had a baby three years ago if I wanted any hope of doing this more than once! My last birthday, I didn’t know that an ectopic was around the corner, or that I would most definitely not be conceiving at 28. How adorably ignorant, my dream was once to have baby #1 at 28 and #2 at 30 and now I’m all, “Am I going to get one in before my expiration date?” The ticking has turned into a foghorn blaring through my ears – warning me that I don’t have as much time as everyone else. Apparently, my ovaries thought that we were already done with this trying to conceive business. I’m toeing the line between ‘young’ and ‘for your age’, and I’m not prepared to still be meeting with an RE when I cross over to the other side.
There’s also the growing pressure from family and random acquaintances, demanding that you procreate (and NOW!) which worsens as the years go by. “It’s about that time…” “You’re not getting any younger.” “Tick tock!” All said as if they have my biological clock ticking on their wrist. The weight of their words land heavily on my shoulders – prepping me for my future hunched-over-elderly-woman status, because in the end it’s all my burden to bear. My husband will be excessively fertile until the day he dies. Me, though? Six more years – if I’m lucky. Guess youth isn’t the only thing being wasted on the young. What about all the teens and young twenty-somethings who are popping pills and slapping on patches in a desperate attempt to avoid seeing those two lines? Why hasn’t evolution caught up with us and figured out that maybe the fertilest of years should occur in the late twenties and thirties? Instead, we spend our entire lives dreading the possibility of not getting our period, move on to getting depressed when we do, and end with feeling incomplete when it never shows up again. How many more of my years are going to revolve around this monthly monstrosity? When is anything going to change?
There’s something disorienting about finding yourself in the exact same place as you were a year ago. Same city. Same apartment. Same job. Same barren, cruel uterus. Like you’re being thrust through time while everything else around you stands still – a harsh reminder of what we’ve been unable to achieve. A new year, a birthday, an anniversary of when you first started trying: they all scream out CAN YOU BELIIIIIEVE HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN DOING THIS SHIT!? and make you take note of the time you’ve spent drowning in sticks and needles. Occasionally I can find a small piece of comfort in the passing of time. A positive remark that with how quickly the months, the years, are going by that I’ll be done with all this before I know it. Hell, 2018 is already halfway over…maybe this wasn’t The Year Of Babies after all.
I’ve seen two birthdays now. Correction: I’ve now wasted two birthday wishes on my uterus (oh come on, I can tell you my wish – we all know it won’t come true anyway). I’ve watched family member’s belly’s grow and burst with gurgling babies – and the only thing that looked like it was about to pop in the last year was my right tube. I’ve discovered white hairs (one of which threw me a solo surprise party on my birthday because that’s just my life) and deep wrinkles. A forehead that’s weathered from furrowing my brow as I dive down another Infertility Forum rabbit hole. My uterus is developing in all the wrong ways: empty, empty, polyp, empty, cyst, empty…maybe it’s best if when this is all said and done, we part ways. Removing your uterus is no small thing, but it’s the only leverage I’ve got. “Okay, I get it – we’re clearly not compatible, but IF YOU DON’T SHAPE UP THEN SHIP OUT LADY!” So, now I’ve begun threatening my organs. Trying to Conceive really doesn’t leave anything left unscathed.
Maybe I should’ve wished for peace of mind – relief from the anxiety that drifts through my veins. Or wished for acceptance of my ever aging body, “help me to accept things that I cannot change” – that kind of thing. But I know that as long as there are birthday candles or shooting stars or turkey bones in my life, I’m going to keep wishing for a smiling, chunky baby of my own, until my wishes run out.