Treva Brandon, a first time bride at 50, on not having children and why she’s relieved to be past the choice.
Oh My Gosh! I Forgot To Have A Baby!
I didn’t exactly forget, I just lost track of time.
My mind was on other things: like figuring out my career path and deciding what I wanted in life. I always dreamed of being a wife and mother, and always operated on the assumption it would happen when it was supposed to, in its own time – whenever that was.
I also thought my fertility would last forever, so what was the rush?
I breezed through my 30s, and cruised into my 40s without hearing a single tick-tock of my biological clock. I continued to date, and work, and live life like the independent single woman that I was. And despite the fact that pretty much all of my friends were married with kids, I felt no pressure to join the club.
No one talked about fertility. No one tapped their watch and said: “Treva, you better get a move on if you want to have babies.” I just kept going, without a care in the world, or a thought to my egg supply.
That is, until I had a scare.
That morning when I saw what looked like mid-cycle spotting (a sure sign of menopause) my bio-clock finally went off, and the maternal urge kicked in.
I ran to my gynecologist. With my feet in the stirrups, he confirmed the worst: I was 43-years-old with diminishing hormone levels, and a fertility window about to shut. If I wanted to get pregnant, I’d have to take immediate action – if it wasn’t already too late.
How was this possible? I was in good shape. I was a personal trainer. Certainly my ovaries were in shape too, no?
“You gotta get on the stick,” he said to me urgently.
But whose stick? I had no husband, no boyfriend, no future prospects lined up. Was my doctor really telling me to go knock myself up? Yes he was.
My situation was officially screwed, and the only way to get out of it was to screw. I wanted a baby that bad, by any means necessary. Forget about romance, courtship, and candle light dinners – there was no time for that. What I needed was to get my hands on some sperm, and fast.
I called old friends, old boyfriends, donors of all kinds, anyone who would lend me some spluge, no strings attached. Some stepped up, some said no, and some just wanted to help me “practice.”
I bought boxes of ovulation sticks, pregnancy tests, macha powder and other exotic supplements to improve my fertility. I bought books on single motherhood (my favorite, “Knock Yourself Up” by Louise Sloan) and joined a Single Mothers By Choice group. I had a lot of sex. Oh, and I prayed a lot too – especially on the toilet while peeing on pregnancy test sticks.
As I liked to say back then: “Keep your fingers crossed and your legs open.”
About a year into my baby quest, I met a guy a few years younger than me who would become my boyfriend and partner on my journey. He was supportive, encouraging, and just as enthusiastic about making a baby as I was (we’re still friends today). We tried and tried, but to no avail. At the rate I was going, even Michael Phelps’ swimmers couldn’t get me pregnant.
When that failed, I brought in the big guns: assisted reproductive technology. But after three years, many inseminations, several IVFs, a few embryo transfers, and thousands of dollars later, I finally shot my wad. I ran out of time, money and eggs, and had to give up.
The truth is, I was also tired of trying. And hoping. And praying. This roller coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows became a ride from hell that left me thoroughly devastated, not to mention broke. “If it’s meant to be, it will be,” I kept telling myself. It’s trite, but somehow it helped bring me closure.
Speaking of closure, my fertility window finally did shut, and as sad as it was, it was also a relief. Trying to hold on to your fertility is like trying to hold on to every last shred of your youth – an ultimately depressing and self-defeating experience.
Looking back, I moved mountains and went to the ends of the earth to get pregnant (hey, you do crazy shit when you’re desperate). Unfortunately, it didn’t yield a kid, but it did give me a great story to tell.
Now I have a new story. I met and married a wonderful man (who coincidentally never had children either). Together, we’re starting a new chapter, which has all kinds of options: we can adopt, we can foster a child, or we can rescue a dog.
Or, we can just be. And that’s all right with me.