Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

October 29, 2008

Tick, Tock Maternal Clock

Last Halloween I said I would dress up as a Maternal Clock. This was after dressing as “Always the Bridesmaid” last year (photo at link above), and an “Old Maid” the year before. Detect a theme here?

I try to make light out of whatever emotional state I might be in. It helps make it more tolerable. So, yes, most of my emotional energy over the last few years has been geared towards finding my future husband. As evidenced by this blog and my previous year’s costumes, I have been able to find some humor in this journey. The ridiculousness of online dating, the miscommunications with guys you just met, the commiseration with other women all going through the same thing. It’s so over-the-top sometimes that you have no choice but to laugh.

But as each year ticks by, I am finding that my sense of humor related to one aspect of “singleness” is quickly waning - Having A Baby. Actually, at this point I can pretty much say I find nothing funny about it at all. Last year I was able to turn being mistaken as the mother of my friend's baby as something worth a giggle. This year, I can guarantee you that the baby wouldn't be the only one ending up crying in public.

When I turned 35 last December it was like someone removed whatever cotton was in my ears that blocked me from hearing the medical term “Advanced Maternal Age.” Now it’s everywhere and I wince every time I hear it. Apparently once you hit 35, that is what you are in the eyes of the reproductive medical world - nothing but an aging babymaking machine that should probably be put out to pasture before it starts malfunctioning and creating babies with horrible genetic problems. (Is anyone else out there getting this message??)

Yet my clock still ticks -- faster and harder. But instead of having a family someday being a wonderful thing to look forward to, it is starting to feel more like outright panic.

And it doesn’t help that so many of my friends and family are expecting their first or even second babies over the next few months. At this very moment I have two baby blanket knitting projects in the works and, if I had more hands and a contingent of child laborers in my living room, I could conceivably be working on three more. And when I take my knitting in public, which I often do, it is inevitable that someone will ask, “Are you knitting that for yourself?” as they eye my belly trying to see if I’m pregnant. My heart sinks just a little when I have to tell them that no, it’s for a friend who’s expecting.

Of course I'm happy for my friends and can't wait to see them become mothers. That isn’t even an issue. But with every “I’m pregnant!” email, comes a pang of sadness and a little panic. When will it be my turn???

And of course Wine Guy doesn’t get it. If I show any emotional reaction to this kind of news, I can see he gets visibly upset. And not for the same reason – obviously. In one fight or another on the issue, he has told me that I’m bitter. I’m sorry but I am repulsed by that word. It implies that my hopeful desire to have a baby and a family is nothing more than negative emptiness. But isn’t that only the case if he doesn’t also want to have a baby at sometime in the near-ish future? Well, you see where my mind goes on that issue…hence the fight that quickly follows (he denies that by the way).

But I am not bitter. Perhaps I am envious of my friends. That’s not wrong to say is it? I’m happy for them and I want the same. What’s wrong with wanting?

And to be honest, if I were 26 years old, I would enjoy my baby fantasies and relish my freedom today. But I am not 26 and my Advanced Maternal Age will eventually become just Age. It’s not a matter of opinion or preference. And it’s not something I find particularly amusing.

Needless to say, I will not be donning a clever Maternal Clock costume for Halloween this year. Instead my costume brainstorming consisted of me simply looking around my living room until my eyes landed on the Lucky Cat perched on the shelf. And Wine Guy is dressing as the houseplant that sits next to it. It’s funny I guess in that our costumes are so mundane, so everyday. Just like life I suppose. But I’m trying really hard to maintain that sense of excited hope for what might come in the next few years – hopefully in the form of a baby. Advanced Maternal Age – could you back off just a little longer, please?



A fair fairy said...

don't worry... being 35 it means that you have AT LEAST 5 more years of quiet times for your FIRST baby - I know LOTS of women who had their first baby when they were 40! no worries! Nowadays when so many women choose to put their career first for so many years it is very frequent to have to wait to find the right father... and with the medical world now, really, a 40 year old woman will be watched and safely brought to term... mother AND child!

Of course yes, you have to endure all those terms around you and believe me, i heard them too, it's how it goes... I really don't know why people are so catastrophist (that might just be a neologism but whatever it sounds good). It hurts so much, do they know?

And 5 years might seem short by comparison to all that time you have been waiting, but it is quite a long time... with the right person, to develop the right child feelings.

mimi of 'sexagenarian and the city' said...

DT, if it's any comfort to you, i had my first child when i was 38.5 and my second when i was 41...and each time when they called with the amniocentesis result and told me the good news, i burst into tears as soon as i hung up. there are few things more emotional....

but i digress.

in short, as the previous commenter pointed out, you do have some time left. with today's advances in fertility aids, you should be able to get whatever nudge your system may need, if indeed it needs one.

just keep enjoying wine guy's presence under the same roof as you. one success at a time.

xoxox mimi

Sonny Amou said...

What they said. You've got a good 5-7 years to go. My mom had me at 34, and Charlotte was born when her mother was 39. And we turned out moderately okay. Well, she did.

That white cat is awesome.


Mendoza Line said...

Hey, my Mom had me at 37 and her mother had her at age 1933!
That was during the Great Depression!
In a small town in Iowa!
A rural town lacking all the glorious medical technology we have today!

Join me in keeping our chins up and not procreating before our time.

Allison said...

This post is awesome.

Wow. What an elaborate thought by me.

I am 34 about to marry a 26 year old. Obviously we've had many talks, but I'm definitely more ready to get to the baby part sooner rather than later. Plus, I've been patient.

My point is, you have every right to want it, be envious of it or struggle with the concept in general. Under no circumstances are you bitter.

Loverville said...

Yes -- what they said. (sorry, too tired to formulate my own thoughts right now!)

LOVE the costume ideas! Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Having known and admired you for your ENTIRE almost 36 years, I must say that I have been struck by your lack of bitterness and trhe generous and loving spirit you display toward those who are " with child".

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Thanks everyone for your words of support. Believe it or not, they made me feel better!

MichelleB said...

Don't sorry, I just had my first child at age 33, so you're fine!

It was sweet actually, as after our son was born, my hubby surprised me with a gorgeous diamond ring as a 'birthing gift' from so it was really a special day.

You have many years to go still and when you have yours, tell your hubby to pick you up a pretty piece of jewelry from that site as your birthing gift!

kristin said...

I agree with anon about your lack of bitterness toward those damn pregnant friends ;)

From my own experience with Advanced Maternal Age and conception issues, I've learned that everyone knows someone who had a kid when they were 40. And everyone wants to tell you that story! And I would nearly lose my shit every single time.
So my point is yes, you handle your situation with admirable grace and optimism.

Marni said...


Long time reader- first time blogger. I agree with everyone here that there is a difference between being bitter and being hopeful that you someday get to experience being a mother yourself.

But I think the bigger issue is whether Wineguy sees himself being the father of your children. I am not married myself, but I honestly knew in every relationship where we were headed within 6 months. And in my case, it was always the men who were more ready than I to settle and help me pop out some babies.

Although you still have some years left biologically speaking, do you really want to waste them on someone whom after 1.5 years of dating(?) still is unsure about having children and when?

I feel like by him referring to you as "bitter" he is recognizing the fact that you want children and don't yet have them and are obviously with him hoping he will want them with you. If he is making you waste your time knowing you want children and he is still undecided after this long, then you may want to cut your losses and find a guy who wants the same things you do. It's like he is dangling some metaphorical carrot...

Starting over sucks, but the only thing worse than wasting a year and a half on someone with different goals, assuming they are different from yours, is wasting a year and a half plus one day.....

Arielle said...

I'm 27 and my maternal clock has started ticking so loudly I swear I'll go deaf soon. I came across your blog in a search... and I wanted to give you a few words of hope. My co-worker who is 39 at the time of giving birth was part of the "High Risk Mothers". She had to take blood thinners for a clotting disorder, she had to go on a special diet and did EVERYTHING possible to increase the chances of having a healthy baby. Today she is the proud mother of an absolutely normal, brilliant little boy. Another friend of the family was 43 and having never found her "perfect husband" decided to scratch her material desires through fostering a little girl--who is now her adopted daughter. There are tons of options out there--who says you need a man to accomplish them!