The cursor is blinking at me, looming at the end of the first line of my to-do list, beckoning me to hit delete, delete, delete.
“Have a baby.”
I want to have a baby, but would I be able to conceive? My Anti-Müllerian hormone, which predicts one’s ability to produce eggs, is akin to that of a 50 year old, maybe worse. A high AMH test result also forebodes IVF success rates, which would have allowed me to have a future baby. But at 0.3, whereas the median level at my age is 1.5, that option is removed from consideration. I just turned 39 and IUI (the procedure which places sperm directly into the uterus) is now the only intravenous option not eliminated from the list, but success rates for people in my cohort are still only around 10%.
This brings me to the sperm. I bought sperm! I paid $2,000 for a young man of German, English and Cherokee heritage (like me), who is a doctor and on the taller side, to deposit his semen into precious vials that I can use to make half a baby. I work in sales, make decent money, but the financial worries of a one-income, one-parent life plan are a daunting factor in my decisions. Every six months, I need to pay $600 to a Manhattan reproductive endocrinology clinic to keep those vials on ice – fancy ice, I snark.
If all the money and my shoddy odds align, how and where will I raise the kid? I live in Brooklyn with a roommate and her three pets where boxes of wine accumulate on the floor. And my mom’s dead, so my kid would have but one grandparent – a grandfather, who already told me he wouldn’t be able to help out, “not emotionally,” he said. He loves the idea of having his first grandchild, though, and a little one to carry on the family name.
When to commence this 21st-century turkey-basting? I think I should do it in about a year, maybe less – I don’t know. Too many statistics and apprehensions wake me up in the morning and haunt me while scrolling through dating apps. Would IUI work into my 40’s, if I wanted to wait just a little bit longer? I really want to snap my fingers, fall in love and have a baby that way, but I haven’t been in a relationship in seven years and the one before that was an additional eight years prior. So, I don’t have a lot of luck in that department. The chance of me getting what I “really want” seems the least likely option of all.
Or could I be happy childless? I think if I hit 45 and there are no children in my life, effectively turning the page on that chapter, I won’t live and work like everyone else, droning on and on at a useless job confined to one place. Wake up, go to sleep, and everything else done during the day that would be done alone. I could make the most of my final decades. I could be meeting fascinating people in far-out cities instead of watching Disney shows and eating leftover mac and cheese. I can see myself drinking margaritas in Key West with few bills and no dependents to interrupt my lifestyle. It sounds OK. Sort of.
Back at the top, the flickering cursor is like a ticking time bomb of fertility, shame and happiness wrapped into one. I feverishly want to strike all the options from the page, except for the one that’s hiding in plain sight: the one that just wants to be loved.
Sadie S., NY
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