[Pt.1] Childfree By Chance
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
You may want children, but sometimes the universe has other plans. Learn about how, at 28, I discovered I probably wouldn't have children.
The Best Laid Plans…(aka How an OCD Person Maps Out Her Life Based on Society’s Recommendations)
When I was in my twenties, I met many women who were beautiful, intelligent, and single. They were on their way to successful careers and making names for themselves. Despite our individual successes, when we’d hang out, we’d fail the Bechdel Test, and discuss the men in our lives or, more often than not, the men we’d hope we’d find. We’d dream about our futures of being happily partnered up, and in jobs we loved, have a book or three published, or owning thriving businesses.
In these discussions, though, there’s one thing I wanted that some of my friends did not: to be a mother. It surprised me how many of my friends didn’t want to be parents, how kids weren’t a default option. I felt sorry for them, and confused by the entire situation. Who wouldn’t want to have children? I thought that’s how life worked: you got a partner you loved, you bought a house, and you had kids. You raised the kids in the same town until they went off to college, and then you retired to a warmer climate so your bones didn’t ache from the cold as you age. The grandkids came to visit you a few times a year, and then you died, happily leaving a living legacy behind.
Needless to say, this baked-in assumption of how life was “supposed” to go changed pretty quickly as I got older and grew up.
My Late 20s (aka The Low Egg Count)
At this time, I was still painfully single, a mom to two dogs, in a career I love, and owned a small condo in a not-always-safe part of the city. I had debt up to my ears because of school, a low-income job despite my MFA degree, and credit cards that helped me maintain the lifestyle I wanted, not the one I could afford.
I saw an ad in the local newspaper: Sell your eggs. $20,000. I saw this ad every day for six years on the back page of the crossword puzzle section that I filled out while drinking my morning coffee. I was 28. Very much alone...wasn’t going to have kids anytime soon...and I needed the money. Egg donation didn’t sound like a terrible solution. $20,000 was going to change my life. A LOT. I could pay off all of my credit card debt and a good chunk of my student loans. I would be closer to freedom and not being stressed out about money. I applied.
I made it to the very end of the process--passed the psych evals, the doctor interviews, the blood tests, the physical exams...now all I had to do was wait to get the official go-ahead from the clinic to start pumping myself with hormones so they could harvest my eggs for a woman in need.
My phone rang:
DOCTOR: I hate to make these kinds of calls, but I’m afraid that you have too few eggs left. Even if we gave you hormones, you might only provide 4 or 5 eggs, max, and that’s not enough. From my estimates, you will probably be out of eggs by the time you’re 32. I imagine you’ll be a client of ours soon.
ME: I’m sorry. I think you have the wrong person. My eggs are fine.
DOCTOR: I know this is hard to hear. This happens more often than you think. I’m sorry and wish you luck.
I hung up with the doctor in a haze, stunned by what she said.
I quickly did the math in my head:
I’m not dating.
If I met a man today, I’d want to date him for at least two years before getting engaged.
I want to be engaged for a year before getting married.
I want to be married for at least a year before getting pregnant.
By those calculations, I would be 32 by the time I would be ready for my hypothetical pregnancy. And, since I wasn’t dating anyone, I definitely wasn’t going to be having kids by the time I was 32. I was going to be barren before I even had a chance to try.