Category Archives: Infertility

I Hear My Biological Clock Ticking, Ring Ting Tingling Too…

So it happened. I turned 29 without much fanfare and now I’m already nearly a month into my last year before my 30s. Time just disappears, and I imagine I’ll be 40 in the blink of an eye.

What is really starting to bother me lately is how I’m at prime child bearing age right now, and I’m not even married. I’ve always wanted to save up and have $250k in the bank before procreating (and ideally have a husband who had saved at least half of that) but here I am, nearing 30, with $200k in the bank and a potential husband with nothing saved. That said, how many people have kids with less than $200k saved up, or who have loads of debt? Many people do. In fact it’s the people who don’t have money that often have a lot of kids early. Those of us with good salaries wait until our biological clock has run out.

The New Republic author Judith Shulevitz published a cover story on “The Greyest Generation” this past week, which highlights this problem with society.

“American first-time mothers have aged about four years since 1970—as of 2010, they were 25.4 as opposed to 21.5. That average, of course, obscures a lot of regional, ethnic, and educational variation. The average new mother from Massachusetts, for instance, was 28; the Mississippian was 22.9. The Asian American first-time mother was 29.1; the African American 23.1. A college-educated woman had a better than one-in-three chance of having her first child at 30 or older; the odds that a woman with less education would wait that long were no better than one in ten.”

So the more white you are, the later you are going to have kids. But the scary part is the average child bearing age, on the high end, is 29. That’s my age. So no matter what I’ll be pulling up the average at this point. Apparently Advanced Material Age starts at 35. It doesn’t help that I have PCOS and my eggs are already defective. Who knows if I could have kids now even if I tried… and waiting more years is just going to reduce the possibilities. Sure, I could adopt, and maybe I’ll change my mind on this when the time comes, but I really want my own kids, or no kids at all. I guess I’m just selfish like that.

Right now, many of my friends are pregnant or already have had at least one kid. Some of these friends are younger than me by a year or two. This is no longer the batch of friends who gave birth in their early 20s because their entire life goal was to have children and they were content refraining from a serious professional mission prior to procreating. This is the group of friends who are having kids at the “normal age” to have a first kid, 28-32. But I’ll be lucky if I’m married at 31.

There are days when I wonder if I even want children. After all, the freedom of being able to work late and early in order to ensure my professional success is something I take for granted now, but I wouldn’t be able to do that with kids. I’d certainly feel responsible for giving my children a life as least as good as the one I had growing up (which will be a challenge if I were to work since my mother was a full time housewife.)

I’m just terrified of what happens when I hit 33, 34 or 35 and my then husband and I start trying to have a kid. What if I can’t? What if the doctor looks at me and says point blank “it would have been possible when you were 29. I’m sorry, but your eggs are all broken now.”

I’m not being overly dramatic. This can happen to a woman with PCOS even at 35. So I’ve thought about freezing my eggs now, but that process seems challenging when you have a full time job, not to mention expensive. And who knows if that will work. If I start trying to have kids at 33, maybe this isn’t that big of a deal. But what if my future husband and I don’t get around to it until 35 or later? And how about having more than one kid (I want 2 or 3. I think it’s important for kids to have siblings. Plus I like the idea of a mid-sized family.)

I was joking with my boyfriend the other day that I’m going to go to a sperm bank and attempt to have a kid now. Well, I was mostly joking. It’s tempting to think about taking matters into my own hands. Of course, he was not ok with that plan. He does want to have kids with me and get married. He’s definitely the father type. I just am so scared that by the time we get around to trying, we’ll face a painful journey of nothing but failure.

Forget Marriage, She Wants a Baby… or Two… or Three

In 18 months, less than two years away, I’ll be turning 30. While 30 doesn’t feel old, it does send stabbing pangs into my head regarding my biological clock. With PCOS, it’s already ticking faster than most other women, and it may very well be too late to have my own children. Even though I don’t necessarily want to be a mom today, I don’t not want to be a mom ever.

Yes, there are plenty of ways, such as adoption, to have children if you cannot reproduce because you’re too old or infertile, but a tiny, fast-growing part of me wants my own kids. I guess ultimately I feel like the purpose of life — if you choose to believe in a purpose — is to reproduce. Not everyone can do it and it’s not good for everyone to do it because of overcrowding. If I really wanted to not be selfish (unless you ask my mother) I’d avoid childbearing and help reduce the taxing on the environment of yet another human being.

Forgetting logic, though, I really do want to be a mother. Still, I’m terrified for so many reasons…

  • Will I be a good mother?
  • Am I just attracted to the idea of children because I feel like life has no purpose?
  • Can someone like myself actually be a mom? I can barely mange myself!
  • Will I regret having children because I’m terrible at commitments and this is something that clearly you can’t go back on…???
  • What about money? How are you going to afford kids? Yes, you’ve managed to save up $180k in investments and savings, and have a stock package that has a small tiny chance of being worth enough to put you over the $1M networth mark by 40, but raising kids is extremely expensive, and with small houses costing $1.2M, can you really ever give your children the life you want to give them, instead of one that leads you to debt?
  • Wouldn’t you just be better off continuing to work throughout your life and saving money?

Then, I remind myself that there are plenty of people who make much less than I do, and heck, are probably less responsible than I am, who have a child, or a few of them. That’s not to say they should or that gives me a right to go off and reproduce, but it gives me courage that I’m probably not going to be the worst mother on earth. I already know that I have so much love to give and have been waiting my own life to have someone or someones to give that love to.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts online about mothers who regret having children. Most complain about having no time in their lives to do the things they enjoyed — travel, go to galleries, hang out with friends, read a book — and it so happens I don’t have the time for that now with my work schedule, so I can’t imagine I’d miss too much. I’m sure it would be extremely hard for the first few years of having children and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like, but at the very least I feel pretty confident that I’m tired of freedom in my life and want something to life for.

It doesn’t help matters that so many of my friends are posting photos of their adorable first or second children — just born — with big eyes staring out at the world, so innocent and pure. I feel so confused looking at these images — part jealously, part awe, part horrified of what that means. Life is going by so quickly — I return home to my family a few times a year and each time I’m there everyone looks like they’ve aged another decade. My father is ill with termial cancer, my mother is neurotic as always yet turning into an old woman, her skin finally wrinkling as she approaches 60. My cousins and aunts and uncles aren’t who I remember them to be anymore. My family has grown up without me — which is my fault, having made the choice to move away — but I’m ready for a family to grow up with me.

My boyfriend certainly wants children. Half the time all we talk about is our future together with our kids. Other than his inability to obtain a full time job for the entirety of his 20s, he’ll be an absolutely wonderful father. I know that he’s the one — sure he’s not perfect, but he’s loving, smart, and wise, as well as more idealistic than I’ll ever be. I could (somewhat) easily find someone who has a more settled life, but ultimately I’d be too scared to live up to that person’s expectations of a wife. With my bf, I know he loves me for who I am, with all my many imperfections. And I love him in return, and despite being freaked out by the financial story of our relationship, I will always be with him.

It could be worse. He could be in debt, or have terrible credit. The good news is that he’s very smart with money, with the exception of making it. He lives in a free-standing structure behind his grandparents house and doesn’t have to pay rent, just basic electricity and internet. He’s received help for his car and covers gas and food with a part-time job, for which he gets paid to little for his role and experience. But he isn’t in debt. His parents aren’t wealthy, but they’re extremely frugal, and when the time comes both of us theoretically will have an inheritance of some sort from both sides. Today, he doesn’t have savings or a retirement account, which is concerning. Then again, deep down I feel like I’m the one who has to be the breadwinner and I’ve put all my chips on this startup where I was an early employee and – though odds are I won’t get rich from it — where I may just be able to eek out some life security without being a slave to work throughout my children’s lives.

The trouble is — what if that fantasy doesn’t work out? What is my stock ends up being worthless? Yes, I’m still being wise with my saving to some extent (I could be saving more, I bought myself a nice TV last month for $500 and managed to spend another $500 on Amazon odds and ends) but until I hit $1M in the bank excluding housing I won’t feel like I can have children. That cushion would not ensure that I can stop working, but it would make me confident that I could have the life I’ve dreamed of, and to somewhat — as a spoiled middle class person — expected. My bf doesn’t require any of the finer things in life, he’d be happy living in a tent somewhere, but I’d like an average upper middle class life for my family, and one where I don’t need to work 60 hours a week to obtain it.

But how long do I wait until I feel like this life is a real possibility before having kids? I know it is going to be extremely hard for me to have children no matter when I do it, and with 1.5 years left until 30, I’m panicing a bit. I don’t need to have children the day I turn 30, but I can easily see 30 turning into 32 turning into 40. I know I have about two years left until all of my stock is vested, so I’m commited to my current life for at least that long, assuming the company keeps doing well and I keep liking my job. After that — if all is going well — I’m sure I’ll have great professional options where my salary could increase, but I’ll be confronted with the dilemma of deciding on leaving the professional world to have a child or staying and putting off children for another few years, and likely never having them.

Ideal world, 2015 rolls around, I’ve just turned 31, I’ve been married for a year, and I am ready to take a break from the professional world to have children. And at this time, I’ve also at least saved $300k – $400k, which isn’t enough to put me at ease, but is enough where I could maybe have a child and not feel so scared about commiting myself and my family to a life of living paycheck to paycheck, or worse.

When Parents are Dying: Coping & Planning

Death is never a pleasant experience. As I watch my father slip slowly away, I try to come to terms with reality, but since no one in my family has ever learned how to cope with the cruel nature of life, so goes our lack of outward empathy in death. I’ve never had anyone close to me die, and all that’s going to change — whether in a year or five years, I don’t know, but my father’s cancer is back with a vengeance, and regardless of how much I avoid acknowledging reality, the day will come when I won’t see him alive again.

In the meantime, there are arrangements to be made. Uncomfortable arrangements. Who wants to discuss plans for after they part with the world? My mother and I had a brief conversation today about what her plans are in retirement — selfish as she is, with everything always about her, her sadness only formed in confusion over next steps in her life without the normal next steps for a husband and wife approaching retirement.

The question of what happens to her after he’s gone is one I’ve avoided getting deeply involved in. I told her that I don’t want to be the person to help her decide what to do with her finances because I would not feel comfortable telling her to spend or save money that may have some effect on a one-day inheritance for myself or my sister. I’d rather she discuss this with my father, and make her own decisions, or at least with the help of a trustworthy financial adviser.

Meanwhile, at lunch today, she managed to make me feel terrible, though not on purpose, about previously asking whether she’d be willing to contribute some future financial support for the various fertility treatments I’ll likely have to go through one day in order to have children. As my mother has made numerous comments about wanting grandchildren, I don’t expect her to help me financially with treatments, but if she could help when the time comes, it would be appreciated. But today, in front of company, she made some comment about how I said that she “has to help me” with affording having children, which was a very uncomfortable moment, that took its time to set in before later making me extremely upset. She claims she didn’t mean it that way at all, but it was her friend that responded that she really didn’t seem like she wanted to help me in this situation.

But anyway, I digress. The point here is that these things that will come up in the future are my own costs; but it is up to my mother if she wants to help out ever. I don’t want to be the person to ask her or tell her what to do. I apparently shouldn’t even mention these things, as just vaguely mentioning that I’d appreciate her help if it turns out I’ll need costly fertility treatments turns into a huge deal where she clearly doesn’t want to help, she just feels like she has to. I don’t want her help unless she wants to give it. And she never will.

And, at the same time, I deep down do want to “help” my father at this point — even though he’s often cruel to me — and I can’t. It’s always walking on eggshells around him. His reactions are never something you can guess, and with his illness he’s become, justifiably, even more moody. But I question my own motives for wanting to help — perhaps my motives are inherently flawed and narcissistic, after all I’m still just a little girl seeking her father’s approval. Wanting him to feel comfortable confiding in her about his feelings, without actually being emotionally prepared or strong enough to survive what that actually means. For better or worse, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He wants to mope and be depressed on his own, then get angry over little things that don’t matter, to criticize his family, to avoid his own complete lack of control, his life slowly slipping from his hands as his health manages to fail for all his many medical problems unrelated to the cancer, leaving his last years of life filled with discomfort up to pain. I’m a sick person for at some level wanting him to suffer — but not to die, not to suffer and then learn a lesson in taking your depression and issues out on everyone else — and then to go on with life a new person, a nicer person, one who has learned how to care about other people in a way that doesn’t involve control and manipulation. That’s a story that will never play out. The reality is his suffering only going to get worse. I may be here to see it, I may be home on the other coast, hearing detailed stories from a woman who will complain about having to waste her days helping him, feeling guilty for not being here, feeling guilty for not feeling guilty for not being here, and so on.

The practical questions of what will happen to my mother after my father passes away are ones I haven’t been able to ask, for I can’t bring myself to talking to my father about death. I’m even angry at him because had he gone to the doctor regularly they could have probably caught his cancer early, and with prostate cancer it’s usually curable if caught early. But he didn’t want to go to the doctor because of his weight, which also likely increased his risk of getting the cancer.

Here I am at 27, having finally almost come to accept my own future death, but I am not prepared to watch either of my parents go. Not even my father, who was destined to die early with his morbid obesity, diabetes, and other health issues, even before the cancer.

Life is so short, and it’s passing by so quickly. I was miserable throughout my childhood, yet I’m nostalgic for the few moments of happiness, or even boredom, wasting away lazy summer days, with all the time in the world, all the life in the world. And now, it slips, with ends looming behind every corner.