Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
So tomorrow I’m going to find out if I can still get knocked up or not.
I guess I have to go into the Ladydoc’s office to get my blood drawn so they can determine if I’ve dried up like an old prune and am ready to be put out to pasture.
Yes, this is what happens when you spend your 30s flitting around Aspen, buying clothes you can’t afford and eating too much sushi and drinking too much and hanging out with boys who have no interest in your future beyond what bar they’re going to drag you to next.
I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable to cry and kick and scream about how hard it’s going to be to get pregnant now that I’m just shy of menopause.
Oh, calm down. It’s not like we’re jetting off to China next week to adopt a round-cheeked Asian baby or shopping around for a surrogate or going down to Denver to get a dozen eggs implanted so we can audition to star in the next big hit reality TV show. I am not one of these women who is going to leap over tall buildings in a single bound to become a mom.
The truth is, if I could wait, I would.
Like, just the other day I was talking about adoption and I go, “If we could adopt, that would be so cool because time wouldn’t be an issue. Then we could wait until we were more settled and had more financial stability and could, like, afford to have a kid.”
And my friend says, “You do realize having a biological child is going to cost the same amount of money, right?”
Not to mention I need a lot of sleep and one of the biggest luxuries I enjoy among the ranks of the self-employed is sleeping in until 9 (OK, 9:50) and never having to set my alarm.
I’m also not the most selfless or sensible person in the world. When faced with making a choice between buying a new item of clothing or paying the electric bill, I’ll usually choose to go get a mani/pedi to relax and take my mind off things. I’m not sure where childcare fits into all that. I do know I have always wanted a pug, you know, a little dog I can put cute collars on.
So you can understand why I have put off dealing with this whole fertility thing. I’ve always been what you might call a late bloomer and have mastered the art of pulling things off at the last minute, so that’s what I’ve sort of been hoping for. I keep thinking it’ll happen when I least expect it or just forget about it altogether. I’ll just wake up one day and puke or smell something funny or crave pickles and ice cream and this light bulb will go off in my head and I’ll be like, “Oh my god!”
I imagine myself finally getting the nerve to go to the doctor and she’ll go, “You’re not going to believe this. You are already pregnant!” and that’ll be it.
This little fantasy has worked against me for the most part. Considering the degree to which I believe the dream world I live in is real, this fertility stuff could pose a serious problem.
Time to face the facts.
So I go to the doctor’s office and we have little sit-down and before I know it she’s talking about hormones and fertility specialists and surrogates and donor eggs. Soon her lips are moving but there are no sounds coming out. I just keep nodding and smiling. I’m picturing that my 40-year-old reproductive system looks like a dry, dusty desert with mean birds circling around in a big yellow sky making lots of noise that echoes in the emptiness.
When the volume comes back on she says, “You don’t want to wake up one day when you’re 50 and wish that you’d done something.”
Of course everyone has a story, or a remedy, or advice. They know an acupuncturist or an herb or a friend who was sneezed on by some tribal leader in Africa and got pregnant. They swear it was that vacation to the tropics that did it, or the time they got really drunk on absinthe in New Orleans.
There are all those stories about women who were told they would never, ever get pregnant, not ever, and then had triplets even though they had only one dented ovary, a leak in their fallopian tube, and just turned 47 years old.
What people don’t talk about is how most women over 35 who don’t conceive within 12 months are considered infertile and shuffled to doctors who are part of a booming industry that is not covered by health insurance. They don’t talk about the costs of these treatments, and that it rarely works the first time. I can’t imagine going to the bank and going, “Technically, we’re not going to use the money to buy a new car. It’s for a new baby!”
All of a sudden I find myself on the phone with my doctor talking about progesterone levels and how it’s best to keep the sperm sample warm on the way to drop it off at the hospital by putting the jar under your shirt. She tells me there are things we can do, once we “have a better picture.” The picture I see are little babies, diapers and all, being grown in some tube by men in white coats and thick rimmed glasses stuffing their pockets with cash from all those desperate middle-aged ladies who wanted it all.
I’m sitting there wondering how a process that’s supposed to happen with sex has turned into some demented science experiment gone awry.
Then I think, maybe we’ll go back to trying the old-fashioned way. Or maybe we’ll just skip the whole thing and buy a new car.
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