I think I may have forgotten to have children. Well, not forgotten exactly, just never realised the urgency of the situation, even as my anxiety ratcheted ever upwards amid a maelstrom of articles about the generation (my generation!) who thought had this very silly notion that they could have everything.
At the age of 30, celebrating my birthday with friends in a dark wood-paneled old pub on the River Thames, it was on my mind – something to do in the next few years, when I found the right man.
I thought I’d found him four years later, but no. What can I do? I thought to myself, as I choked back yet more tears on a miserably cold train station in south London after the breakup. I can go on dates, and to parties and picnics and plays and concerts, I can make eye contact with promising prospects over mounds of shiny eggplants in the markets, or linger a little longer over tea in my favourite cafe… but I can’t MAKE the world offer me up the right match. I had never felt so angry, nor so helpless.
And what is the right match exactly anyway? The older I got, the more detailed the list in my head appeared to be. Romantic notions were slowly being superceded by rational considerations – is he handsome versus is he successful? Is he kind and funny and affectionate versus does he have any assets to support me for a year if I did want to have a baby?
I have always been fiercely independent – like many of my generational sisters from the 70s, I really did think I could have everything. I never imagined that I could one day be a spinster! How could this be? I am educated, attractive, interesting, adventurous, fun-loving, warm-hearted – I was a catch! And yet I seemed to stumble from one awful experience to another – along the way I had some fun, learned some things about myself, and had shared moments I will always cherish. But my self-confidence took a battering, and my faith. Not religious faith – just the simple faith I had always had, unquestioned, that one day I would grow up and as well as my job that I had worked so hard for, I would have a man who loved me and children I could nurture and see grow.
Around 36 I started to think that maybe I would have t forget a man altogether, and have a baby on my own. Or maybe freeze my eggs, but somehow that cruel hope lingered in my head, whispering that I still had time to do it the traditional way.
Two international moves and several romantic mishaps later, I landed in an unexpected corner of the world with that faith all but spent. I did not speak the language. I did not know a single person. I was sad and beaten and very afraid that actually my life was not going to work out after all. This was another throw of the dice, a big leap into the unknown.
I hated the city, I hated feeling like an idiot every day as I struggled to speak a foreign language, I hated feeling alone all over again, even though the move was entirely of my own doing.
But bit by bit I learned new verbs, made new friends, relied on old friends via the phone and facebook and email, and learned to find the beauty in my new home. I had a few more false starts romantically, born out of loneliness. And then I met a man who did not fill any of the top requirements on my mental checklist, and somehow fell in love again.
And we want a baby. Maybe it is too late. We have been “trying” for six months now, and nothing. Everything I read says the average couple takes a year to conceive, but older women, like me (38), should consult a doctor after six months if nothing happens.
I am writing this on the eve of my next expected period, hoping and hoping an
d hoping that it will not come, but knowing that it will. And I need to talk about it somehow, because it fills me with sadness, and I am sure there are a lot of other sad women out there like me who are also trying.
So let’s see what tomorrow brings – a happy little blue cross on a test stick, or a call to make my first appointment at the gyno.