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The Baby Dilemma: Hope in a Tank

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I walked home stone-faced. “Normal for my age” sounds good, unless you’re almost 37 and talking about babies. It didn’t matter that I exercised, wore sunscreen, and ate lots of squash. The hard truth was that my egg supply was dwindling. I was hurtling toward 40, which, in egg years, is not the new 30.

By the fifth day, the hormones were starting to take their toll: I was sluggish, had a headache, and could feel my ovaries pulsating. And I was sick to death of talking. It seemed like every female over 30 I met wanted to know “all about it.” Or they had a friend who did and would be contacting me shortly. My mother had been cheering me on — but now she asked how long it would take to get her grandbabies “out of the freezer.”

All I cared about was my egg count. By the 10th day, I was down to nine. My arms were bruised from all the blood draws, and I was so bloated I actually looked pregnant.

As I left the clinic that morning, I started to tear up in the elevator. (Yes, the hormones were working.) “Why are my eggs dying?” I sniffed. Then I wiped my eyes and braved the streets of the Upper East Side until I saw a toddler coming toward me. I noticed her yellow dress and matching hair bow, then thought about what I wanted for lunch. A block later, I stopped. This was big! For the past few years, I had felt pangs of regret whenever I encountered a cute child, as if I were watching my own chance at motherhood fading away. But now I was thinking of salad.

“This is it!” I whispered to myself. “This is the value of egg freezing.” For once, I didn’t have to be that anxious girl trying to beat some fertility expiration date anymore. I could simply admire a baby and wonder what mine might look like someday, the way I used to before the biological clock started. I also got to stop ruminating about where my relationship was going. (I still wanted to know, of course — just not every week.) I realized that the decision of when and whether to have kids wasn’t dependent on the wishes or acquiescence of some guy right now. It could be about — get this — the relationship. We could nail that part before bringing in kids. If it didn’t work out, I still had my eggs.

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