Oh, look, is that an elephant…?

A week or so ago a friend of mine posed the question few dare ask out loud, but plenty mutter when they don’t think you’re paying attention.

Do you regret waiting?

She meant, do I regret waiting until my 30s, and my mid-30s at that, before trying to have children. Especially as I’ve known all my adult life that I wanted them, yes, even way back when, like when I was 23 and stuff. For now I am trying to fertilise the ovaries and finding I can’t, it’s all very possible (though no-one really knows for sure) that my age is part of the problem.

It is the question I’ve occasionally pondered while hanging about the waiting rooms of IVFland. Or I should say: The Question. In bold type, and all. Have I waited too long? Have my decisions and choices in life so far had the unwittingly result of me not ‘getting around’ to having children until it is, ultimately, Too Late.

So come one, come all, and meet the great big megafauna sitting in the corner of the room. By the bar, what’s more. Well, somebody’s got to drink all the gin, now that those of us in the wanna-get-pregnant crowd have sworn off all alcohol, in case even the sniff of wine tells our non-compliant bodies that we’re still not suitable to conceive.

Yes, I’m afriad the elephant in the room is slowly getting drunk.

Anyway, my friend – a young woman who has always known she absolutely does not want children (and I envy her for it sometimes, I really do) – asked The Question straight up, with genuine curiosity, because she knows I’ve always wanted kids. And I think it is a valid query. Why on this blue-green ball floating in space would I wait until I was in my mid-30s and edging towards ‘Too Late’ territory before trying to conceive?

Her question was something of a relief compared to those who fill the op-ed pages of the local broadsheet, or the opinion websites of choice, or come scurrying out from behind their rocks to publically opine about these women today who leave it all too late because they’re too selfish, or too stupid, or too picky. Or something. There’s always something. Because a non-breeding woman is suspect, and if you don’t believe me just go look at how many times the Prime Minister’s childlessness gets mentioned in the media, as if it is in any way related to her ability to govern the country.

But The Question is a question that should be asked, when asked genuinely, with curiosity and interest. It’s only those who don’t ask, because they assume they already know, who are the problem. Those who come to the subject loaded with implication, weighed down by subtext, drowning in assumption.

Drinking with the elephant.

That type can go bugger off, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not talking to them. But to those that genuinely wonder, and those who want (or think they one day might want) children, I believe it’s a Very Important Question worth a Serious Answer.

So. Why did I leave trying for kids until I was practically in my mid-30s, which is possibly one of the reasons I’m now finding myself at the cruel and fickle mercy of IVF? Especially considering my mother has been telling me on almost a daily basis since I was about twenty that “menopause comes early in our family”, like it’s some kind of impending apocalypse, or something.

Well, it’s not like I made any deliberate decision. I certainly wasn’t ill-informed about the brief window of breeding opportunity I might be facing (not with my grand-child clucky mother.)  And I’ve never been that wedded to my career that I’d put off having children for it, or indeed, not junk it at a moment’s notice should I ever win the lotto.

I wasn’t ‘too picky’ either, putting everything on hold waiting for Mr Absolutely-Perfect when I could have settled for Mr Fertile-And-Willing-To-Procreate, as if it’s the only thing I ever need be concerned about.

Actually, it was because I wasn’t picky enough.

Now, I don’t want to let you all in on more information than you care to know, but…  oh, screw it, this is an IVF blog, Too Much Information is practically the mission statement around here.

Somewhere in my serial-monogamist 20s, I translated that old familiar mantra “all relationships take work” into “you must stay in this bad relationship even if it makes you clinically depressed”. When I should have been jumping ship at the first sign of trouble and testing the worthiness of potential future suitors according to an exacting set of high standards, I was instead caught in a bad relationship and it wasn’t until I was 30 that I managed to extract myself from its awkward, slime-oozing tentacles of horror.

(What? Too graphic a metaphor? Oh, come one, you’ve all had bad relationships before, you know I was being tame.)

If I’d been picker when I was younger and refused to settle for second best, but instead stamped my foot and demanded only perfect true love as my inherent right, then I may well have found myself having children younger.

But I didn’t. As it was, I hit singledom at thirty, true love at 32, and trying for baby around 34. Maybe The Partner and I could have started trying a few months earlier, but we’re talking only a matter of months – you don’t hook up with someone and then say, ‘hey, want to breed?’ barely six weeks later. 

So it was circumstance which led me here, to this bizarro world of IVF. And it may lead me away again empty handed, not to mention considerably lighter-of-bank-balance. So when my friend asked, ‘do you regret waiting’, and I pondered momentarily the looming “Too Late!” of closing fertility windows, I could only shrug.

The short answer is no.

But the long, in-depth answer, considered carefully and taking all factors into account, looking at it in detail and with footnotes relating source material and extraneous explanation, is… still no.

This is just the way it is. Life happens like that sometimes.

So, why not head up to the bar and grab a drink. Before the elephant guzzles it all, gets you in a headlock and starts telling you it loves you.

Blood-test tomorrow morning folks. I’ll update you all when I know whether the foul-tasting-sniffer has done it’s job and we’re good to move on to the injections…

Kind regards,

The Patient.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] 27.  Oh, look, is that an elephant…? […]

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