“Promise me, Barbara, you’re not going to wait until you’re 43 to begin trying,” my gynecologist pleaded. Well, I made us both proud by conceiving easily when I was 41. Then I became pregnant again at 42. Great. Well, not so great. The trouble was, both pregnancies ended badly. Then my husband and I tried a round of IVF after discovering I still had "Decent Ovarian Potential," as the reproductive specialists like to say. I produced four eggs that were retrieved during what I liked to call "The Great Egg Hunt." However, from those four, only two eggs were able to fertilize. The slimmest of slim pickings perhaps, but they were considered grade one, cream-of-the-crop embryos, which were then transferred from sterile Petri dish to my drug-induced, lush uterine lining. (Ha, in your face, Advancing Age.) Naturally, Advancing Age got the last laugh when two weeks later we got the news that I wasn’t pregnant. The time had come: I needed to take a long hard look at my 40-something body.
From the outside, I must say, it looked good, easily 10-years younger than my chronological age. But inside I heard them. My eggs, clamoring loudly as the elderly and decrepit sometimes do: “We’re cranky as hell and we’re not going to reproduce anymore. Now let’s play bingo.” Next my husband and I explored donor eggs, but I wasn’t interested. Honestly I was pretty much over my body and still angry with it for failing me not once, but three times. I also didn’t like that the donor would be anonymous. I couldn’t imagine growing up not knowing where my obnoxiously loud laugh came from, or the million other traits that I can trace back to the cast of characters who passed along my genetic code. I wanted a child of mine to have this knowledge, too. That’s when we turned our hopes to domestic adoption.
This was also the time I realized I needed to be on friendly terms with my body again. I started seeing a therapist. It helped. There’s nothing better than having scheduled appointments for a good talk and an ugly cry over ill-fated pregnancies and the sobering fact that my tired, old eggs would have no part in creating a child with the man I loved. Then – after 18 months of numerous pre-adoption legalities, another glance into donor eggs, and one monumental, earth-shattering decision from a woman I had come to know in the months leading up to the birth of her child yet barely knew – I became a mother at the ripe older age of 45. From that moment, eight years ago, I have never looked back.
I never held on to the moniker “infertile.” I never wished that I was able to become pregnant, because I could never have been pregnant with her, my daughter. My feelings are confirmed one bajillion times over, each and every time I catch a passing glimpse of her blonde hair, or hear her voice whining away about some toy or treat she has to have. She is it. She is my child. My very heart. I am forever grateful that it is she who calls me “Mom.” This article originally appeared in Adoptive Family Circle.