Eggs Over. Not Easy.
By mmcbeach on February 03, 2012
Eggs Over. Not Easy.
I was never one of those women who turned 30 and became a heat seeking missile of Motherhood. And, it’s not like I was hitting the snooze button on the oh-so-tired biological clock cliché. I wasn’t even sure I had one.
I was married a couple of years by age 30 and knew I wanted kids, but I also knew it was too soon--for me. I was still young (in my generation’s estimations) and was having too much fun being a carefree grown up, enjoying my career and content that I had plenty of time. Well, that and a nagging cramp in my uterus warning me that my now “Huz-Was” was mating elsewhere. And, it turned out, he was… with two of my best friends, who just happen to be sisters. (Feel free to take a break to wash your hands, shower, or at least get a breath mint. I’ll wait.) To say that I dodged a sperm bullet is an understatement.
By the time my starter marriage, or what I now refer to as “The Episode”, went off the rails like an Amtrak on the way to Grandma’s, I was in my mid 30’s, divorced and despondent. But, as my doting father advised me, “Give it time, sweetie. You’ll see. That asshole did you a favor.” How soothing—and accurate. It took a few years of sampling therapists, trying on new boyfriends and suffering through countless auditions to make life bloom again …but it did.
By 34, I was in a great new relationship, had a great new job and a whole new lease on life. I was thinking it was time to start a family, a much smaller one than I had originally envisioned, but that was fine by me. There was one glitch, however. My boyfriend was 16 years my senior, with three grown children and two ex-wives. He wanted a baby as much as he wanted—well, a baby.
Yet, I still thought I had time—until I got a wake-up call from my gynecologist. “So, Doctor-So-Handsome-It’s-A-Shame-You’re-Married-and-We’re-Not,” how much time do the ‘ol eggs have before they’re fried?” I said with a wink, enjoying my 3rd grade play on words.
“I’d say five good years,” he answered matter-of-factly.
“Five years?!” I squawked as I clamped my knees shut. “And, just good ones? Not even great?”
I looked past him at the bulletin board festooned with photos of all the babies he’d delivered. They taunted me with their drooling, toothless grins; their chubby, dimpled fists clutching stuffed Pooh Bears and Sponge Bobs; their “I’m a Turkey Baster Twin” bibs spattered with perfect pools of organic strained peas.
Instead of imagining myself blowing raspberries on their tiny baby bellies, I tried to distract myself with visions of these cherubs as seething, hormonal teenagers slamming their bedroom door in my face, hiding plates of congealed nachos under piles of their weeks old dirty underwear, rap music blaring from my car as it comes squealing up the driveway with an empty tank of gas and a fender dangling— 3 days shy of turning in the lease. I envisioned my image burned in effigy hanging from a basketball hoop—dangling like a Suburban Saddam Hussein. And then, let’s talk about the bills. Twenty two years (if you get off that early) of watching your hard earned money sucked into the earth by someone you can’t guarantee will visit you in the home someday. Who needs that shit?
This negative imagery was working until I looked back up at Dr. Bad News Bearer and launched right back into my baby fantasy. He was going to have to leave his perfect wife and children immediately. I would leave my boyfriend immediately, and we’d run off to some deserted island and try to populate it immediately. After all, he’s the one who told me I only had five good years.
“Marianne,” he said, snapping me back from our beachfront hideaway. “That doesn’t mean you only have five years. Women are having babies well into their forties.” “Yeah, I know!” I desperately responded. “Jane Seymour had twins at like 50. And didn’t some woman in Norway have her first baby at 68—or maybe it was 63. Okay, maybe I read that one while I was waiting in line at the grocery store.” He gently took my hand and guided me to sit up. “What I mean is, statistically you have about five good years to get pregnant naturally, without fertility treatments or complications, and you’ll have much less chance of having a child with “issues”.
“Oh, issues!” I said with a chuckle. “Like what? A cowlick? Peanut allergies? Stroller Envy? C’mon, Doc! Nothin’ a good Nanny can’t handle!”
“No, Marianne,” he said as he snapped off his rubber gloves, “I’m talking about serious health issues.” “Ooohhhh. Wow. Gotcha, Doc.” It was awkward for a minute… not quite the romantic ending I had planned. I shook the sand out of my imaginary sandals and nodded. He handed me my birth control prescription and said, “Take care.” After he left I cried a little, blew my nose on my tissue gown and got dressed. Then I did what any woman would do in my situation. I got a puppy.
I was now on the brink of 40 & back in the dating game. Those five good years had become 2 ½. Tick tock. Tick. Tock. Oh, how I hate this fucking clock.
Suddenly I’m obsessed with any human under 3 feet tall, especially ones wearing light up sneakers, who are game for a round of peek-a-boo with a stranger (i.e. me ) in the frozen food aisle at Ralph’s , and who can’t pronounce their “r’s”-- like my niece who used to say her favorite color was “pupple.” I now would find myself stalking toddlers at Target, tears streaming down my face as I’d wail, “Oh. My. God. Your baby is sooooooooooooo cute!” Most mothers just put the stroller in fifth gear, whizzing past me to the safety of the checkout. But, occasionally one would scream for security as I ducked into a sale rack.
I have to tell you even I found my behavior strange. Yes, I wanted kids. But I was never obsessed with them before. I always thought, “Sure, when they’re clean and in a good mood, they’re adorable. But when they smell like poop and their caterwauling can be heard above the din of The Cheesecake Factory, they’re a pain in the ass.” I had always cringed at the thought of going to “Mommy & Me Class” fully expecting when I had a child it would be “The Nanny & You Class” instead.
I always knew I could never choose to be a single Mom, like a brave friend of mine who went to a sperm bank for her baby. Nor could I see myself whisking an orphan out of a dung hut in Africa like some Hollywood celeb. I wanted a kid with my DNA--and specifically the smart genes that gave my family all its doctors, lawyers and MBA’s—and not the random gene I got called the “Acting Bug.” (There should be some childhood vaccination for that.) I wanted a kid who looks like me, but who won’t need braces, a shrink, and a nose job. Is that too much to ask?
But if it was meant to happen, I wanted it to happen the old fashioned way. Meet some great guy. Fall in love. Date for a couple of years. Get married. Then, when we we’re both ready-- have a baby. I promised myself I would never be that woman who only dates men who like playing “what’ll we name the baby?” on a first date.
Speaking of first dates, Bob and I fell madly in love on ours. But, (and you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?) he was done with marriage and kids. He was drowning in alimony and ulcer-inducing b.s. with an ex who made Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” look like Taylor Swift in a Disney flick. And, he had what he always wanted—one child, and a son--The Holy Grail for a sports fanatic. He was done. I remember thinking I should say, “But, now you’re in love with me. What about what I want?!”-- only to hear the words “I don’t want to lose you” coming out of my mouth instead.
So, I stayed… for my last two “good” years, falling deeper in love yet deeper into frustration as each stroller passed me by. When I did leave, however reluctantly, I knew I’d done the right thing for me.
God, it sucked.
Screw therapy. This time I went to a psychic. “I see a tall, dark, handsome man,” she said as I walked in. I looked behind me. “Oh, you mean in my future” I said. Well, that was a no brainer--I’m five ten in heels—I don’t date short guys. I wasn’t impressed. I sat down attempting to exude some positive Karma as she dealt her fancy Tarot cards. Then she started to talk about my life in frighteningly accurate detail. This was years before Google and Wikipedia, so how did she know? I leaned in closer, now fascinated, “Go on…what’s gonna happen?”
Turns out it was the best id="mce_marker"20 bucks I ever spent.
Months later, exactly when she’d predicted, Bob called desperately wanting to come back into my life. I was cautiously optimistic. Then, 4 months later, exactly as my turban-tressed friend predicted, he proposed—but he still didn’t want more children.
I called up Madame for a refund. “Sweetheart, I never promised you that. I did not see it in the cards.”
And to think I was going to invite her to my wedding.
Bob and I have now been married for over 7 years and we have an adorable baby boy, now 6, named Dunkleman--a 95 pound Labrador Retriever. Obviously dogs don’t completely replace having your own child, but they do have their advantages. You can’t leave a two year old in a crate for a couple of hours while you’re shopping a shoe sale at Bloomingdale’s.
I do actually have real kids, my stepson and six great nieces and nephews, whom I all adore. But as often as that makes me feel needed and maternal, it often makes me feel like I’ll never be chosen for the dodge ball game.
So, here I am at 50, contemplating getting another puppy and wondering if I’ll ever feel like more than an unfinished jigsaw puzzle.
But aren’t we all in some way unfinished? Are any of us ever really done? Perhaps one day, sooner than later, I’ll celebrate that what I have is enough and that having my own child won’t necessarily “complete me.” I want to feel that anything beyond enjoying my given life and nurturing other’s people’s lives, with or without children, is an unexpected treat.
Okay, maybe I’ll need an occasional trip to The Cheesecake Factory to witness strollers full of screaming babies to remind me of my life’s abundance, but that ain’t so bad, is it? Besides, I really like the food there.
In the meantime, I think I’ll go get myself a pair of light up sneakers, play peek-a-boo with my dogs and color something “pupple.”
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