MY NEW LIFE PLAN will be revealed on Friday, May 31!
One afternoon a few weeks ago, my boyfriend, Paul, and I went for a walk in my mother’s quiet, woodsy neighborhood. My mother lives in a comfortable ranch house in Richmond, Virginia, and I am currently living with her.
It’s embarrassing. I’m thirty one years old with a Master’s Degree, and I’m living at home and working part-time. So many of my peers own their own homes by now. They have full-time jobs and husbands and children. My life seems ridiculous and childish in comparison.
But I wasn’t worrying about that at the moment. At the moment, I was worrying about inchworms. Richmond was currently infested with the tiny, neon green worms, and for the past week I’d been picking them out of my hair and off of my clothes.
“Shh,” I said as we walked past a grove of trees. “Listen.” In the woods we could hear a faint pattering, like a light rain falling. I’d been hearing this all week, thinking it was the sound of the worms chowing down on leaves. But yesterday, after researching the worms on the Internet, I’d learned it was actually the sound of their falling excrement.
“Ahh, the sound of poop,” I joked. “Did you know that inchworm poop is called “frass” by scientists?”
Paul took my hand. “I love how much you know about poop.”
We continued on our walk, batting away inchworms that dangled down from the trees and tried to swing into our faces. Aside from the worms, it was a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining in a blue sky. Azalea bushes had burst open in pink and white flowers, and the tree leaves were still so fresh a green they hardly seemed real. We were discussing a friend of mine who really wants to have a baby.
“Is she going to freeze her eggs?” Paul asked.
“I don’t know.”
“She probably should. How old is she? Thirty-one?”
“Yeah? So?” My voice had an edge to it.
“I mean, have you thought about it?” Paul asked. “Freezing your eggs?”
“No.” I dropped his hand and started walking faster, right into a dangling inchworm. “Blech!” I said, swinging my hand at it. “I don’t need to do that. I’m only thirty-one, for god’s sake.”
But as I said it out loud – thirty-one – I felt startled. My god, was I really that old? Only a few months shy of my thirty-second birthday? By the time she was my age, my mother had had two children in elementary school. She and my father had their own business and owned several houses. And here I was, working part-time and living at home, sort-of trying to be a writer but mostly just drifting along. What had I been doing for the past ten years?
“I’m just saying, as a precautionary measure,” Paul said. “If you’re going to do it, you should do it as soon as possible. Like, now. Because, you know…”
“I know, I know,” I hissed. “My eggs are going bad as we speak.”
“Well, I didn’t say that, but…”
“I have plenty of time,” I said, but I knew I was already past my prime child-bearing years. I was entering the age group where getting pregnant becomes harder and having a baby becomes riskier
“But you don’t. Not really.” Paul’s a scientist, and I knew he was just being logical, but the words stung me. I didn’t have plenty of time. I was getting old. My life was going by, and if I didn’t act soon I might not get to do something I’ve always wanted to do – have children.
“I’m not worried about it,” I lied. “If it doesn’t happen naturally I’ll just adopt or something.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Paul said, taking my hand again. He looked at me earnestly. “But I might want to have kids with you one day, so maybe it’s something we should think about. Just in case.”
The truth was, I’d never considered freezing my eggs. In college I’d considered selling them for money, but the thought of freezing them for my own use had never crossed my mind. Maybe it was one of those “it’ll never happen to me” situations. I knew that women over thirty had more difficulty conceiving, but I’d always been much more worried that I would never find a decent man to father my children. I’d thought getting pregnant would be the easy part. But now I’d found Paul, and there was a new worry – that when we decided to go for it, I would be too old and dried-up to produce a baby. Paul’s words twisted in my gut – did I really have so little time?
“I don’t know. I don’t like this conversation.” My face was pinched into a terrible pout. I felt old and ugly. It seemed as if Paul was insinuating that my baby-making parts weren’t good enough. I felt like going off birth control and getting pregnant just to prove to him that I could.
“Aw, sweetheart.” He put his arm around me. “I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re right,” I said. “I’m almost thirty-two. I still feel like I’m in my twenties, but I’m not. It is something I should think about.”
We crested a hill and walked down the road with the sound of falling poop on both sides. “If I can’t have my own kids,” I said after a moment, “I’d rather adopt a kid who’s already been born than spend tons of money trying to force my body to do something it doesn’t want to do.”
“That’s what you think now,” Paul said gently. “But you might feel differently in a few years.”
“If my parents hadn’t done fertility treatments, I wouldn’t have been born,” he reminded me.
“My mom got pregnant with me on accident,” I countered. “I was a miracle birth that shouldn’t have happened. I think if a person is meant to be born, they will be. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m just saying stuff.” I really didn’t know what I thought at this point.
“Promise me you’ll just think about it and ask your doctor about it,” Paul said. I promised him I would, but at this point I doubt I’ll freeze my eggs. It’s totally out of my price range, and the cocktail of hormones they’d pump me with is frightening. Besides, I really want to believe that if it is meant to happen naturally, it will, and if it isn’t… well, I’ll come up with a new plan.
After that conversation with Paul, a part of me wanted to get started making a baby right away. If my eggs were in the process of turning rotten in the sunshine of my thirties, why not go for it now before it was too late? But I knew that was a terrible idea. Oh sure, we’d make it work somehow, but it would be stressful. I currently have the very cheapest and crappiest health insurance on the market, for one thing. And Paul and I are getting ready to move across the country to live in Seattle for a year, then Minneapolis for a year, then who-knows-where for the rest of our lives. Realistically, we should wait until I have comprehensive insurance and we are settled somewhere, preferably somewhere within driving distance of friends and relatives who will baby-sit for free.
So making babies is out for the next two years at least. But the conversation with Paul made me do a lot of thinking.
TIME, I thought dramatically, it goes by so quickly. I started wondering if I was making the most of my time. Was I doing all the things I wanted to do in my life?
The answer, I realized, was no.
So I came up with a plan….
MY NEW LIFE PLAN will be revealed on Friday, May 31!