I was a month shy of my 38th birthday when I filed for divorce. I knew my biological clock was fast ticking down, and if I wanted a child I’d need to do it soon. But I was in the throes of starting my life over. I had just moved across the country, embarked on a new career and needed to put the broken piece of my heart back together.
A baby would have to wait a little longer. When I met a guy who was so much of the guy I was looking for, I tried to ignore the fact that he was less than enthusiastic about adding more kids to his family (he already had three boys ages 5, 7 and 11). At 39, I convinced myself I could wait another year and see how our relationship unfolded. Maybe he would come around. I scoured the internet for women who had babies in their 40s. I soothed myself with the stories of Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, and other 40-somethings who had done it. They gave me hope. I told myself I had time to wait a little longer.
Fast forward three years and that time to wait is finally gone. It’s literally “now or never” time. When I went to a fertility doctor, he bluntly told me my chances at pregnancy were fading fast. “I’d want you to be pregnant by the end of the year.” Apparently, 42 is a magic number, our last gasp at fertility. After that, our eggs quickly deteriorate and statistically, our wombs become a baby wasteland.
Pregnancy happens, but it’s rare.
Yet the timing is still not right. I’ve made progress on my new career but financially, I am still insecure. My boyfriend and his children are a huge part of my life now. I love them all and deeply value the emotional bonds I have with them. But he still does not want to have another child. Maybe later, he says. Unfortunately for me, there is no later anymore.
I know I am not the only woman facing this uncomfortable dilemma. As women increasingly delay motherhood into their 30s and beyond, we are also increasing the likelihood we will fall in love with men who already have kids. Not all of those men will want more children. And that puts us in a painful position. What do we do?
Should I give up the love and the relationships I cherish with my boyfriend and his kids to set back out alone in search of a baby-daddy? Can I really hope to find a compatible partner who wants to raise a child with me in the span of a few months?
The fertility doctor suggested I freeze some of my last good eggs to remove the immediate urgency to get pregnant, but all the statistics assure me that egg freezing is no guarantee of success. Meaning, the sooner I start trying to get pregnant, the better my chances. My best option at the moment is to make a baby with a sperm donor – instead of my boyfriend. It is an unusual choice and will raise all sorts of challenges and questions, but if I want to raise my own offspring, I might have to do it very soon. In this scenario, my boyfriend would not be responsible for my child financially, and if we split up, I would be on my own in every way just as any other single mother would be who uses a sperm donor.
There is of course the option of adoption. If I can’t get pregnant, I could look forward to that. But the process also takes years, and it’s questionable whether anyone would let a financially struggling single woman in her mid-40s adopt.
During the next few months, I will have the difficult task deciding which path to take. None of my options are ideal. But they are options, and that’s the very point. Those of us chasing motherhood into our 40s have so many choices that past generations did not. Those choices, however, also mean we must walk uncharted, sometimes harrowing territory. But then again, no one ever said motherhood was easy.
About the Author
The author is a former newspaper reporter, now working as a freelance journalist while pursing a career in screenwriting. The story of her unique journey toward motherhood can be found at www.babyinthefreezer.com. She hopes her experience will inspire other women to be pro-active about determining when, how and with whom they will have children. Find her on Twitter at her username @freezerbaby.
Image courtesy of JanPietruszka / FreeDigitalPhotos.net