A Decision, A Miscarriage, and the Path Forward to Pregnancy

I’m writing you now from the other side of a decision. It didn’t come about in the way that I’d expected, which I guess is to be expected with anything in life.

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Fertility Issues are Not for the Faint of Heart

A lot has happened since the experience described in my last email where I sat down at a trendy café and forced myself to picture having a baby with an actual sperm donor from a list of potentials.

I decided to go ahead with having a baby alone, with my partner as a sperm donor (slightly awkward but necessary as he wasn’t quite ready yet)

I went through major drama with my completely horrible fertility clinic (we’re talking excessive pressure, inappropriate comments about other patients, ignoring my emails for MONTHS, etc.).

I got pregnant “spontaneously” – this is what they call it when it happens without intervention. The old-fashioned way as they say.

I went to parties and either shared my early but cautious news while I tried out all the best non-alcoholic wines on the market or told elaborate stories about my sobriety which usually ended with me sharing the cautious news with those close to me anyhow (I suck at hiding things).

I went for my first ultrasound, where the technician looked angry and asked me when I was meeting with my doctor. To which I answered, right after this appointment. To which she answered, Good. Not the best sign.

I walked up to my doctor’s office with fear in my heart, but also kept telling myself that I was prepared for this. I had been cautious in getting excited for good reason.

The doc took forever to meet with me while I sat in one of her yellow procedure rooms, with cheap mismatched artwork that clearly no one wanted in their homes.

She finally came in with a stack of instructions and a hospital registration package, letting me know that the ultrasound looked great! What the hell was the ultrasound technician on about (must have been about her and not about a missing heartbeat or lack of evidence of my little embryo – yay!)

I got a due date. I texted my guy. I bought a little something in a shop on the way home to commemorate, barely able to understand that this dream was real. We spent the weekend picking names and secretly smiling at each other, his hand finding its way to my belly as we slept.

Monday rolls around. The doctor calls me back. She got the detailed ultrasound and all was not well (was this somehow not apparent three days earlier?). I was going to miscarry, or I could choose to take a pill to miscarry. But my little spontaneous dream was no more. She was 95% sure.

I had another ultrasound so that I could be 100% sure. She was still only 95% sure, so I made an appointment to take the pill.

I didn’t have to take the pill. On Saturday around midnight I miscarried for 6 hours on the toilet, followed by two weeks of cramps and bleeding.

Two weeks later I was still fatter, but empty. Back to where I started, wondering if any of it even happened at all.

The Path Forward

It was traumatic and I know it’s so common for so many. I wish we talked about it more and I do talk about it whenever I can as I think we need to make it less dark and private and shameful (if we are the type of person that can handle that discussion of course).

But things aren’t exactly as they were before. For a brief moment, I thought I was going to be a mom and it all made sense. And my partner felt the excitement too. So I guess what’s changed is that I’ve now made a decision to try again, and my partner is fully on board. So that’s something.

I’m scared to try again. I’m scared for this disappointment. I’m scared to finally use my frozen eggs for fear that this “insurance” doesn’t pan out. I’m scared he’ll change his mind, or something will happen to change things again. I’m scared of so many things.

But I’m also relieved to have the next step. To know that I can get pregnant. To know that it was something I wanted at that moment.

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It’s been quite a journey, and clearly not done. As change is a constant for all of us, I know that I just can’t predict what will happen next, but I’ll do my best to take steps towards the life I desire while being grateful for the wonderful things that exist in the life I have.

I have so much more to write about, but I’m going to put a pin in this blog for the time being, and focus on writing under my real name. This has all been a bit too raw to attach to my proper name up until this point, but I’m not sure it will stay that way. Stay tuned!

Having Kids or Not: There Will Always Be Regret

Some days I wake up and want one thing more than the other. My intuition regularly gets confused with my fears, but I carry on.

Some people know with every fibre of their being. Others understand that there are so many versions of a good life for each of us and that there will be regret with either decision. There will also be extreme joy and adventure and everything in between.

I wish you all the best on your journey to deciding whether motherhood is for you, and once you decide, I hope the path is as smooth as it can be.

But if it’s not smooth, and there will be those moments, I wish you strength and all of the moments of joy in between.

Keep up the hope! As Matt Haig repeats in his cozy blanket of a book The Comfort Book:

Nothing is stronger than a small hope that doesn’t give up.

Please continue to message me if you need any support! I’m still here…

How I Tackled My Sperm Donor Selection Anxiety

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Out of the many things I’ve procrastinated on as I’ve explored the idea of single motherhood, looking into the sperm donation process has been at the very bottom of a long list. But as I’m approaching having to make a decision, I can’t really delay the process any longer. Tadpoles rejoice!

My fear and hesitancy around sperm donation aren’t logical. It’s so empowering that a woman, who has a limited number of years to reproduce, can tip the scales in favour of becoming a mother, without having met the love of her life. It’s a thoughtful decision, and there’s such a huge opportunity to give your child the best chance at succeeding in the world genetically. You can ensure that genetic testing between you and the sperm donor aligns (i.e. you don’t have the same genetic markers for certain diseases), and you can make a checklist of all of the things you consider to be important in the selection of a life partner, amped up to include considerations that might seem vain when selecting that partner (height for example).

A Different Kind of Love Story

Despite all of the pros and the increasing popularity of this method, I still can’t get past this desire to find a partner, someone to love, and then making a baby with them. I shared this concern with a good friend who’d recently gone through the process. She said that while she did feel a bit sad that things hadn’t worked out for her in the order she’d expected, she didn’t regret her decision in any way. There was a lifetime to meet the love of her life but if she wanted a child, and she really wanted a child, active steps needed to be taken.

And she hasn’t missed out on the great love story, it’s just a different love story. A love story between her and her child and how much she wanted him to be brought into this world and to be a part of her life. The active decision of choosing to become a parent and making this selection seems to be quite a purposeful and loving way of bringing a child into this world.

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You Have to Start Somewhere

I can’t pinpoint why I have so much anxiety around it. As a result of my fear, I was avoiding the email sent from my doctor that contained all of the sperm bank links like it would catch fire once I opened it. So I decided to turn the whole experience into a fun event that was accompanied by other pleasant feelings that would trump the doom I was feeling at taking this next step. Literally opening the email was a huge relief. Sometimes avoidance amplifies fear, so just tackling that small piece of opening the email helped. I had selected some mantras to repeat to myself as I started the selection. Things like:

Opening the email doesn’t mean I’ve made a decision to go it alone.

Opening the email doesn’t mean that I have to pick a donor right away.

It’s just research.

It requires no more commitment than starting a dating profile and swiping left or right.

Opening the email is “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”.

Tips to Make it Easy Peasy (ish)

  1. Talk to your fertility doctor about certain things that you should consider when selecting a donor. There’s a lot of conflicting advice on whether blood type or other common markers matter, especially when considering pairing with your eggs. They will likely send you a list of available clinics for your country.
  2. Make a list of all of the characteristics that are deal breakers for you, vs. nice to haves (again, a bit like weeding through the extensive dating sites). Height, background, education, medical history, family medical history, etc. You can refine this list as you start looking. Some things will become more important as you explore, others will drop off of the list entirely.
  3. Add in a category for “general feel”. I got this sometimes by listening to the donor’s voice as he answered certain questions, or simply by looking at his picture. Having “no picture” was definitely a deal breaker for me.
  4. Set up a time to go through the list, in a location or setting that makes you calm or happy. For me it was a local coffee shop where I knew there would be other people around (so I wouldn’t feel so alone), where I could order a fancy latte and where I could treat it as a fun research activity.
  5. Open the email and take a deep breath and approach it with an explorer’s eye. Something new and interesting to learn more about.
  6. Make a short list. And then go back with a more streamlined set of criteria. Put some time in your calendar every day to devote to this task and those little chunks will add up to a great list.
  7. I didn’t get to this next step, but I imagine I’d want to do a sperm selection party similar to Jennifer Aniston’s conception party in “The Switch” just to make it all seem fun and celebratory.

At the end of the day, you have to start somewhere. Doing research into one thing doesn’t mean you’ve discounted any of the others. It can be a fun exploration and tracking how you feel during the process is quite telling. It will often either make you feel more comfortable with the idea, or reaffirm that it’s not the method for you.

Still Not for Me?

For me, it really amplified my desire to have a kid, and also my desire to have a kid with my guy. I would look at these other potentials and think, I want it to be him instead. I want his quirks. His adorable smile that makes me feel warm all over. His practical views on the universe. His dedication and loyalty to those that he loves.

So for now I’ve decided to postpone the sperm donor search and have decided to focus on opportunities with my guy. I mean us deciding to not use protection is, in essence, a decision. He would say a calculated risk based on the odds of someone my age getting pregnant “spontaneously”. But a decision nonetheless.

Any good tips I’ve missed?

Good luck on the search! Start by opening that email…

Fertility Doctors Can Really Suck

And suck it as far as I’m concerned.

I’m in the middle of the deepest depths of my reflection period around whether or not I want to have a kid. The reflection I’ve been doing on an off for years, while never quite allowing myself to get too close to my intuition, or whatever you want to call it that might make this decision clear as day. But as is the case with everything this past few years: dating, preserving my fertility, holding out hope for a partnership, exploring doing it alone; I’m stuck in the position of exploring multiple realities at the exact same time. And it’s exhausting.

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In that vein, I returned to my fertility doctor to determine the final steps and timing in order for me to squeeze in under the age requirement for one funded fertility treatment in my country. Back when I chose to freeze my eggs, it was this doctor’s straight talk that made me finally decide to commit. She was good, balancing on the wobbly fence between harsh and kind but firm. But this time around the stakes are higher. Because I’m not just committing to intense medication, lots of cash and a $500 yearly storage fee, but to a lifetime of being a single mother. It’s a big decision, obviously.

And during this appointment she was a total monster (in my likely quite biased eyes). I mean, in between fits of crying and frustration, I wanted to punch her in the nose. She said a series of incredibly helpful things like,

You’ve been contemplating this for years, c’mon it’s time to make a decision.”

Most women who come to me are sure they want a baby. If you’re not 100% sure then maybe this isn’t for you.”

All while sighing with frustration and rolling her eyes slightly. Part of me felt scolded and wanted to just accept what she was saying with a,

Yep, you’re right. I probably don’t want kids after all. Who the frig knows why I’ve been wasting so many years of my life thinking about it. Decision made. Thanks!”

She then went on to ask me if I wanted to batch my eggs, if I knew if I wanted certain testing, and if I’d sent them sperm to the clinic yet, all of which were totally new topics for me. Wasn’t this the appointment where she was supposed to tell me about next steps? Was I missing something? She was just spouting off a bunch of crap in what felt like a different language and it was all so very confusing. I snapped like three times, asking her to imagine being a single mother in a small apartment without a fancy job and having to make this decision. The lack of comfort and the business of it all can be so awful.

I’m so freaking frustrated with all of this. I have to remember that this is, of course, her job. Her fancy house and kid’s education depends on her getting us all to decide. In the past I’ve gone to these appointments with someone else (my mom in that case) and it softened the blow. Made it less like the harsh doctor against terribly emotional me. A bit of a buffer to hear the salient points and hold me back from losing my shit. I think it’s probably a good idea to bring someone to my next appointment.

One of the key things that came out of this session was that if I had any hope of getting in on the timeline and using a donor, I would need to have the sperm selected and sent almost immediately. Which sent me into another internal tornado of panic as I have been avoiding even opening the “sperm” email for months.

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I have to get my act in gear. At least open the bloody email. I also have tell my boyfriend what I’m thinking and what I’m going through. I’ve given him two months of me worry-free, but enough is enough and I need someone who’s going to be a partner in life. If he can’t even handle holding my hand through this (even if he’s not ready to have a kid himself) then I’m sure I can find better supports. Wish me luck.

Why does this all feel so damn scary? Am I the only one?

When “Never Married, No Kids” Becomes Your Acronym

I closed off summer with a week at a rented cottage with my guy and his family in shifts. It was lovely, but tiring, and of course I procrastinated on journalling and focussing on the kids stuff. It felt very rude to say to the people who had come to spend time with us for a short period that I wanted to go off alone to think. It provided a stellar excuse.

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For the last couple of days we stayed at the cottage of one of his friends, who head down to the beach every day to sit on matching Tommy Bahamas chairs with the other local cottagers, sip white wine, take turns on jet skis and play badminton. It was all very posh and lovely and privileged AF. I was the new girlfriend, and therefore the sideshow. Questions, deeply personal questions, were volleyed at me at such speed I barely had time to think of the appropriate response given the fact that a number of them were friends with my guy’s ex and might very well report back with the deets.

“So never married, no kids?” was a question I got asked more than once. And it made me feel so small. Like I was being reduced to an acronym, NMNK, with the associated stereotypes. Like I has so little to offer amidst this melee of generational connection, kids running through the frigid water while the parents watched on, husbands and wives gathering in cliques and conversation.

Another question, by the woman who knew his ex the most intimately “So, do you want to have kids?” My brain barely had time to process. If I was amongst my girlfriends, or even strangers I would relay the whole story. But I’m trying to keep the water calm and not freak anyone out with my desires. What should I say?

I ended up responding that I had always wanted kids (is this really true?), but that I was getting a bit old now, however had frozen my eggs sooooo… I tried to leave it as open as possible. Always feeling the need to throw in that “I’m well aware of my age” caveat (people like to remind you of this if you don’t bring it up yourself. Like maybe they will be the first to tell us about the biological clock). They were kind, despite the inappropriate questioning, and said that I had been smart to do so. End of conversation. Phewf.

But I of course left the weekend feeling totally depleted. Like I had failed. Like it was too late. Because even if I decide (and finally stop procrastinating) that I really do in my heart of hearts want to have a kid, I have to get started immediately, me and my guy will be back in that difficult spot we were in last Spring, and I will need to go it alone. The how, as opposed to the why that I’ve been instructed to focus on, would come back into play and I would probably flip out and shut down…again.

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My psychologist would ask me why I keep procrastinating on tapping into my intuition, finishing up my course, opening the email with information on sperm donations. And it’s not hard to figure out. I don’t want to know that answer, because the weight of it will be hard to carry (though the weight of no decision is pretty fucking heavy).

Back when my beau and I were in trouble and he was overwhelmed, I made the decision to wait until September to address anything serious with him again. I wanted us to reconnect over a fun summer with no pressure. COVID and issues with his daughter and the kid pressure on my end and everything else had just burnt us out.

So I need to approach the conversation again next week. My summer of reprieve is officially over. I’m very afraid. But fear is a given, I’ve gotta do it anyway I guess. Power on!

But First, Do You Want to Be a Mother?

I have spent years thinking about this baby decision. Taken courses, frozen eggs, talked to anyone and everyone who’s had a kid or decided not to, attended support groups for single mothers, catalogued my fears, made practical plans, spoken to therapists, read books, written pros and cons lists, listened to podcasts exploring the topic of motherhood, written this blog…all with the hopes that at some point all of my knowledges and soul searching and life events would collide into some obvious decision.

No such luck. And I’m exhausted.

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But What Do You Feel?

As the deadline looms for funding I decided to go back to my fertility clinic to set things in motion in case I decided to go for it. There are a few things that need to be checked off before the whole process starts (either IVF or IUI) and one of those things is talking to one of their therapists that specialize in counselling clients who are contemplating any of the treatments. As I regaled this new counsellor with all of the things I’ve done and thoughts I’ve had along this journey, she seemed quite impressed with my level of attention and effort. And then she said, “but what about the good stuff that a child would bring to your life? You’ve been focussing so much on the why not, and the how, but I think maybe you need to devote the next little while to all of the positive things that a child would bring into your life. This doesn’t mean you have to ignore the fears or the practicality of it all, but those are all getting in the way of you really tuning into the why. Do you want to be a mother, and why?”

I see her point. We all know that the negative voice in our heads, the critical, fearful voice is often quite loud. If I could somehow turn the volume down for a bit, maybe I could give the joy and the excitement around having kids a chance to creep in.

Another thing she iterated, which I’ve heard so many times before, is that I will probably never been 100% sure. There are always the unknowns and there will always be some part of you that wonders on the path not travelled. But at the end of the day I need to decide if I truly want to be a mother. I’ve been almost afraid to think about the good stuff for fear that I’ll decide I want it badly, and then it wont workout and I’ll never heal from that devastation. But I can’t afford to keep protecting my future self at the expense of living the life that I want.

Focus on the Joy

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So for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to focus on the joy and the good that a child would bring into my life. Seeing the world anew through a child’s eyes, introducing deep and unconditional love into my life, raising a good citizen of the world, the bedtime stories, the inside jokes and road trip memories, the family of my own, the first words, the pride of them learning and loving life, the joy of sharing my life and all I’ve learned in my many years alone on this earth.

So I’m going to focus on the joy, the good, at least for a little while. I hope it brings some clarity!

The Baby Deadline Looms

Alrighty I said I’d provide an update, but then I went all “living in the moment” on this whole thing and suddenly it’s the end of August and I’m not really any further ahead. Perhaps a few steps behind.

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To recap my life’s biggest dilemma and where I stand today.

When I first started considering this single parent situation, I was never unable to let go of the idea of meeting someone. Part of me questioned if this meant that I really didn’t want to be a mom, but I would argue that choosing to be a mom on your own, or with a partner, are two entirely different propositions. Making the decision to do it on your own from the get go, paying a bunch of money to do so, shopping for sperm, and not feeling confident that you’ll adequately be able to support a child on your own all add a lot of difficulty to the decision. Even if you want to have a child, choosing this life requires, in my opinion, a great deal of thought and consideration. Unless you happen to be a person who can accept the challenge with a calmness that it will all work out somehow. I am not that person…yet. And so I hem and I haw and I start this blog to figure it all out.

But I had decided to make a decision by July of last year, until the pandemic hit in March…and I gave myself a bit of a reprieve. Heck the clinics weren’t even open so it made sense to give myself some breathing room. And right around the same time, I met someone. Re-met is the more appropriate term as we’d dated a few times a couple of years back. I reached out and pursued him this time, and then we were thrust quickly into lockdown which is a strain on any relationship, and just plain confusing with a new one. You don’t know what your relationship looks like in the real world, and now that person is your entire world. Your bubble so to speak.

Add to that the fact that he has a teenager who is also struggling to be a teen in the middle of a pandemic (this has all been especially hard on kids and teens I think), a very sick family member, a lack of interaction with anyone else that knows me or makes me feel normal, and it’s been a year full of total joy and crazy disorientation.

The Big Question

But time moves on and eventually I had to start having talks with my boyfriend about the realities of potentially having a kid after only having dated a year, during a pandemic, when he’s obviously dealing with a lot and has the baggage of a failed marriage to add hesitancy to his forward momentum.

I had to ask myself the same question. I mean how does one contemplate having a baby with someone they’ve virtually just met when the whole world is flipped upside down?

The SMBC “The Stork and I” said that when she was 36 she realized that she would have to either meet someone and for it to be so good that they’d want to have kids right away, or she’d have to go it alone. Going it alone seemed less scary and a sure bet for her. She knew that if she’d ended up in a situation like I’m in now that the decision would be much more convoluted. And yet…here I am. Where was this advice when I was that age? To be honest, I think it was there and I ignored it. I romanticized living in a rom com and meeting the guy and it all falling into place. Those fucking movies.

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The added complexity is that my government only pays for one fertility treatment up to the date of my last birthday. So I was feeling the pressure to decide in time to get a bit of a break from paying for yet another treatment (two rounds of freezing eggs really put a dent in the old savings). This added a lot of pressure to the conversation.

I did get a bit of a reprieve from my doc when she said that I had a few months grace period after my birthday to figure out if I wanted to go in on the funding. So that gave me a bit of breathing room, until…

The Break

So this shit situation went from confusing to worse when my boyfriend blindsided me by saying that he was overwhelmed with everything and needed a break to figure things out. I’ll spare you the details of the terrible month we spent apart where my main goal was to figure out a way to continue the relationship.

We are now back on after a bit of a “living in the real world” reset. But he’s not ready to join me on this journey yet. So I have to once again figure this out alone. I’ll be using this space in the next few weeks to document what I’m doing to get there.

Please send your stories back at me! It helps to feel a bit less alone in this…

We’ve Reached The Climax of My Baby Making “Panic Years”

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I’m still here. And I’m still panicking.

A bit of a recap…

I’m doing all of the right things, according to me. The research, the difficult conversations, the prep. The things that lead to years of procrastination mind you, but I’m really taking this “conscious choice to become a mother…or not” quite seriously. It’s a serious thing, so I don’t feel too badly about it. But I’m in a bit of a major deadline-looming panic. I’ve mentioned before that the government in my country only pays for IVF up to a certain age. And I will soon be that age. Of course, my doctor is suggesting that I just bite the baby bullet and get on with it, but now I’m in this situation that I tried to avoid, but also actively pursued. I’m dating someone relatively new, and now I need to decide to have a baby with this gent, or to end things and choose the still not so easy route of single motherhood. Or, of course, letting go of the dream all together.

Let’s Talk

So I’ve opened up the conversation with my dude, and not surprisingly he’s responded with the standard guy mentality around these things, “We’ve only been dating a year. Why rush things? Things are so complicated anyway right now, shoudln’t we wait until life gets back to normal?”

For me the answer is “No”, I can’t wait for things to get back to normal. And if we’re honest, if it’s not this pandemic it will be something else. Life has a fun little game of throwing a bunch of curveballs at us at the least convenient times.

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Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner

Yes, that’s what I’m calling him now. Sometimes. When calling him boyfriend at our age seems silly, and until calling him partner feels a bit dumb. Further discussions with my partner lead to him uttering words that I wish I could unhear. Now keep in mind, we were having a very heated conversation and I’d had a bit of Gin to relax, which is never a good way to start such a serious conversation. I was being a bit unreasonable, a bit of a baby in terms of dealing with the situation, and he uttered the words that will haunt me for a while, “I’m not sure I want to have a baby…with you. I’m not sure you’ll be a good mother.” Sucker punch. Something I was not expecting to hear at all, and probably one of the cruelest things you can say to someone who, at the back of her mind, is always considering single motherhood as an option.

He of course apologized profusely. This was all new territory for him and I pushed things hard right out of the gate. I was slightly aggressive and he responded by being defensive. Unfortunately the words he chose were sharp as daggers. But I believe him. And he still wants to talk about it. He’s brought it up with his mother (she’s totally on board. Not that she needs to be, but it makes it feel less scary). And we’ve opened up the conversation in a less threatening and more collaborative way.

My Personal TikTok

Time is of the essence however. We are going step by step but the steps are coming quickly and I’m scared. We’ve both gone in for testing and really the next step is to engage in some thoughtful conversation (maybe steering clear of the subject of whether or not one should bring a child into this mad, overpopulated world) and come to some sort of decision. It isn’t going to be easy or perfect and I’m sure I will shed my fair share of tears, but I know we’ll be better for it in the end. Part of me just wants to drop the timeline of the IVF funding and just do things when they feel right.

I’ll update you on the decisions as they happen. Any tips out there for how to manage this kind of convesation effectivley and with kindness? Drop me a line…

Fertility Treatment PTSD and my Partner Box is Still N/A

Well I’m back on the fertility circuit. Making the call to the doctor that I went through egg freezing with launched me into part depression, part extreme anxiety, and it had me questioning if I even wanted to go through any of the treatments again. I mean, it was a lot. Sticking needles in your butt, hearing bad news about your fertility on the daily, dealing with a rollercoaster of synthetic hormones. I feel like that’s not actually the scientific way to describe it, but you’re definitely manipulating your body in a way that isn’t entirely natural.

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I’ve spoken before about how the government in my country pays for fertility treatments up to the age of 43. Being four months away from that led me to a bunch of sleepless nights, anxious and accusatory talks with my boyfriend, and a desire to reach out to my doc to find out if I could even get ahead of the line to get the free treatment. You see the government only gives out a certain amount of funding every year so there is a waiting list for the treatment. Most clinics operate under a first in, first out scenario. I specifically chose my clinic years ago because they consider other factors when deciding who gets the treatment next. A combination of when you come in for treatment, how old you are (i.e. if you’r about to hit the end of funding then you move up the list), and risk factors. I thought that this was an intelligent and kind approach to the whole situation.

A small part of me was hoping that the doc would say that it’s too late. Then I wouldn’t have to approach my boyfriend with the whole deadline conversation. If there’s one thing I know about men, it’s that they feel a little bit sorry for us that we have a biological clock, but they aren’t usually willing to take on the burden themselves. But when I did talk to the doc, she basically said, “Let’s do this. Now. Do you want me to talk to your boyfriend?”

Oi Vey, so I wasn’t going to be given the out. I was going to have to decide if I wanted a kid enough to try to get in under the wire and get the funding, which would require some difficult conversations with my boyfriend who definitely thinks that we have more time to decide. Or decide if I want to go it alone, or wait it out with my boyfriend and accept another the probability of another major outpouring of money at some point in the future when I most certainly will need some kind of assistance to get pregnant if that’s the plan.

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I had to fill out all the forms again like a new patient. And since I was deciding to start this process on my own and then talk to my boyfriend once I had all the facts, when I got to the section on my partner’s details, I had to enter in N/A. N/A as in I don’t have a partner who is with me on this journey. Who is as invested in the outcome as I am. And that made me so incredibly sad. I felt so alone. Again. I’ve spent a year with a a person who I still don’t feel will be as open to this as I am. I mean he hasn’t been thinking about it for the past 8 years like I have. A part of me wishes i’d just made the decision to go it alone, because now not only do I still need to decide how much I want a kid, I have to decide if I want it enough to potentially have to give up on a good relationship and partner.

I have a friend who is dating someone new, and he actually asked her after a month if she wanted to have kids, as he was hoping for some more. Part of me was so jealous that she had someone that she barely knew who was already planning this potential outcome for them. Another part of me thinks it’s kind of crazy and is happy that my guy is not rushing things and wants to be sure about it before moving forward. I mean he’s been burned before right?

In any case, I’ve set up my initial tests so I have a next step and I guess I’ll go from there. I’ve also set up some time with a therapist to discuss how to best approach the conversation with my guy. I’ll let you know how that goes!

She’s Running Out of Time (and Other Sh*t People Say About Women Having Babies)

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This is a tiny bit of a rant email. The last couple of my few and far between blog posts sang the praises of a podcast “To Baby, or Not To Baby” and while I still do love it immensely, I had to skip over a recent episode as it caused my anxiety to skyrocket. It was the episode where the star of the podcast, facing a potential “geriatric” pregnancy at 36 (while not even knowing if she wants to have a baby), goes into the clinic to check out her fertility. Throughout the podcast she shares all of the amazing things well-intentioned (probably) but totally ignorant people say to someone approaching the end of their fertile years (most of which I’ve heard a million times).

You’d better hurry up, you’re not getting any younger.

Did you know the chance of having a kid drop substantially after 35?

It’ll be really hard to take care of a baby if you start any older than you are today…

I have this one friend who almost reflexively throws out “She’d better start now if she’s thinking about it. Chances are pretty low.” every time conversation drifts to a common friend who is thinking about having a second kid. Despite me mentioning to her multiple times that saying these things to me, someone who doesn’t even have a plan to start trying at this point, is really hurtful and unhelpful.

People can be jerks.

Gold Medal for the Good Eggs?

Listening to this podcast made me feel calm and connected and safe. Until this episode where the host went in for her fertility scan. Her numbers were fantastic, and miles above what mine were at her age. Which immediately sent me into a tailspin of anxiety. Plummeting. The worst was that she was so overly excited about it. Almost like she’d done something right by having abnormally high numbers. I kind of felt like slapping a medal on her and calling it a day.

So I had to put up a boundary and skip past the episode entirely. Feeling like I’d failed somehow because my ovaries weren’t spitting out bunches of healthy eggs to develop into follicles.

And it reminded me of how cruel this whole conversation is to women. How unforgiving. If our bodies malfunction and develop a disease, no one really blames the host. But with eggs, it’s like we’re somehow damaged if we can’t do one of the main things our bodies were designed to do, simply by virtue of the fact that we’re ageing, and not lucky enough to be in a situation where we feel comfortable taking the plunge.

I know we’re not meant to compare any part of our lives with others. We all know there are so many contributing factors to all of this. But it just made me feel like a BIG FAT FAILURE .

Change the Conversation

So I’d really like to propose that we all just STOP.

STOP talking like it’s some big accomplishment to have good eggs. Be sensitive. Can you imagine talking to someone who has a disease and exclaiming with joy “Thank goodness I don’t have that disease and my body is performing well!” We can be grateful for this, but the whole celebratory “in your face” attitude around fertility is a bit much. Because it inadvertently shames women who are struggling in this area. It’s what causes all talk of fertility to continue to hold a bit of a stigma in many cases.

STOP telling women they should hurry up. Sharing stats and opinions. We all know this sh*t already. It’s literally top of mind for a large percentage of women in child-bearing years and we’re not idiots. We read. We know. We hear the clock. So honestly, and I’m not normally so harsh but, shut the f#$k up!

It’s not an easy decision to have kids, especially if you’re not in a partnership that is generally heading in that direction. It’s a complex decision (or at least should be) for most people contemplating bringing a child into this imperfect world, so let’s just talk about it with a little more compassion.

New Year, Same Pressure: To Have a Child or Embrace a Child-Free Life?

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Holy Man. Decision inertia has become as much a regular part of my life as my online shopping trigger finger during this pandemic (someone needs to take my PayPal away). I can’t help but think back to that terrible therapist’s comment that “maybe no decision is a decision” and wonder how many more days, months, years I have before my lack of decision turns into a “no” without my consent.

When does No Decision Become a Decision?

It’s a new year, and also the same old story. I said that I’d make this kid decision by last July, but then all of the fertility clinics had closed and I’d met this new guy, and I gave myself (another) grace period. Because…well…COVID (this time). I honestly thought that surely this whole mess would be over by the new year, and that would be my last chance to decide. The last opportunity before my ovaries, or the government pulled the plug (they only pay for one round of IVF funding in Canada up to a certain age, dangerously close to my age today). But then a family health emergency happened, and I found yet another excuse. Mind you, a really good excuse, but nonetheless. You’d think at this stage, my refrain would be all: I made my decision, let me just deal with this and the lockdown…and, and, and.. I’ll be in the fertility clinic before you know it. Or my boyfriend would decide to come along with me for the ride (if that’s the decision) and I’d be on my way. But I have’t even finished the course I started in July that was supposed to help me figure it out. The one I said I needed to finish before I made a decision. I keep putting all of these roadblocks in the way of actually making a decision, and I’m truly questioning the functioning of my intuition at this point.

Which Path Do I Want to Take?

I will say, that things have gotten pretty good with the boyfriend. And I do look at him and think about how much “fun” it would be to have a child with him. Immediately followed by a million worries about having a kid with someone that I’ve not even dated a year at this stage, etc. But for brief moments, either drunk on love or red wine, or just in rare moments when my desire for connection and attachment outweighs my fear of commitment, I look at him and think “Yeah, that’s the stuff. That’s what I’ve been looking for.”

But then, I listen to my favourite podcast To Baby or Not to Baby (brilliant) and they’re interviewing a super cool woman in her 70s who decided she didn’t want kids at a young age, at a time in history (not very long ago) where she got death threats for announcing this on TV (the pronatalism community being so fiercely strong and horrible at the time). I mean if you want kids, amazing. If not, also amazing. We honestly don’t need more kids in the world at this moment in time, we can barely manage to stay healthy as a population and not burn up as a planet as it is.

But back to this woman. She has had a life full of love and mentorship and travel. So much travel. And I can definitely envision this being one of my potential futures. She described her life as one of unlimited possibility. And it all sounded very lovely, and meaningful. One thing she did talk about was how people thought she was selfish for not having kids. I’ve heard this a lot, and I find it to be bollocks. Most people I know have kids for a million different reasons, and some of them have actually admitted to me that they’re having kids so they have company and someone to look after them when they’re older. The natural order of things. What is not selfish about that?

Smells Like Teen Spirits (AKA Hormones)

Another thing she mentioned, when asked how one was to decide whether or not to have children, was to try to spend some serious time, not just an hour or two here or there, with a kid. Really see what it’s like on a day to day basis. But the pandemic has sort of taken that opportunity away from me. I do of course spend time with my boyfriend’s kid. But she’s 15, and let me tell you, I’m really struggling. I don’t think that’s the age this woman had in mind. I mean our relationship is “fine’ now, which is a blessing (I’ve shared some of my early struggles with dating a guy with a teenager here and here). But as I’ve said before, I don’t think any parent really looks forward to the teen years. It is arguably the age when most humans are at their worst.

I am running out of time and feeling the pressure. Usually at the end of a year I give myself a bit of a break on all of the big stuff, saying I’ll tackle it when the clock strikes midnight on day 2 of the new year (day 1 is reserved for pizza and hangovers). But that makes January a very stressful month.

I’m going to try to give myself a break and get through the family stuff in the short term. Really hoping at some point it all just clicks one way or another!

How is everyone else doing this new year so far? Pressure-filled or peaceful?