I just wanted to put out there this because I find it’s an issue that constantly creeps up whenever there is a public discussion about infertility treatments. It’s natural that if a woman is ambivalent about motherhood, she is going to wait longer to try to conceive. Clearly, as most of us know, the longer she waits, the slimmer her chances. But does she deserve to be penalized for this?

Why penalized? Well, we’re having a health care debate up here in Canada about covering IVF treatments. Some members of the public — actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a significant percentage given the number of times I hear or read this comment — feel that 35 should be the cut off age.

Yet why shouldn’t a woman feel ambivalent? There is no right time to have a child. Maybe she’s got a demanding career. Or maybe she’s the primary income earner. Or maybe she’s trying to still find herself. Perhaps she has not met the man she’d like to be the father of her children.¬† There are so many reasons and they are each valid.

I believe that if IVF becomes publicly funded, there should be no cut off age. I don’t know what the situation is in the US with private insurance but I would love to hear about the age issue.

Furthermore, 35 is the magic age up until which women still have a good chance. By necessity, this means that IVF should be covered after 35. Thirty-five is not old by today’s standards. In the long term perspective our schooling has lengthened; hey, women actually started going to school and entering the workforce relatively recently given my timeline.

I don’t know about you, but I feel resentment and a mild anger whenever I hear people that know nothing about infertility calling into talk shows to say, Oh, why don’t they just adopt? Or, Why should we cover IVF for over 35-year-olds? Well, because those 35 yr olds’ kids will be covering your health care, for one. But you know, I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent, so why should I suffer physically, emotionally and financially in order to provide for some curmudgeon’s health care in his or her old age?

Seems like ages ago that I first started to think about having a baby. Actually, let me clarify: when my husband first started prodding me to think about giving up the pill. At the time, we were having a blast. My reasons to maintain the childless life, way back then:

  1. My life is perfect. I don’t want kids to ruin it. I have a happy and stable marriage with lots of friends that want to do the same things we do; that is, go to great restaurants and great shows and great weekends away, and are available to do these things at a drop of a dime.
  2. Kids mean no time for friends. We always complain that we never see our friends who have kids. When we do, we don’t like it when they bring their screaming kids to restaurants and we notice that our visits with them are not about our friendship but all about their kids. We find this tedious.
  3. Kids disrupt perfectly good careers. Of course, not the man’s career!
  4. We are globe-trotters. I am always dragging my husband to further reaches of the earth where he does not want to go but is happy he did, later regaling friends with our crazy adventures. You can’t travel with kids; it’s a big part of our lives and it’s my intention that it remain so. Kids would¬† probably have to go to a boarding school, which would make us seem like bad parents, so it’s out.
  5. I don’t want to get fat and saggy and never regain my youthful physique. I’m not kidding. It may sound selfish – okay, it is selfish – but at 35 one can never guarantee that one will ever be more fit than right now. Fitness is tough. I’ve worked on it for 20 years. Not only would heaving reminders of a pregnancy around my hips and thighs be unattractive to me, I’m pretty sure my husband would not find it attractive either.
  6. If we don’t have kids, we can spoil the kids we know. Being the cool auntie would be my favorite role. I have an aunt who held this role in my life and I think she is a fascinating and hip woman. We were like her kids on an as-wanted basis. Enjoy, entertain the kids, but send them back when you’re tired of them. This clearly is not an option for parents.
  7. Which leads me to reason number seven: kids take over your life. Never again do you have control. It’s remarkable that as children, my sister and I never truly caught on to this fact, otherwise I am sure we would have tortured our parents far worse than we did. The fact is that our parents probably endured us for longer than their parents did them. They supported us financially and emotionally during those tortuous first career years. In the long run, the kids will be taking care of you when they’re supposed to be happily retired. Lovely. For some people, this is the meaning of life; for me it is not.
  8. Kids ruin relationships. Part of what makes my marriage so great is that I get quite a large percentage of the attention, so why would I want it to be diverted? Seriously, I’ve heard of couples that cannot even have a conversation with each other when the kids are not around. They grow so far apart and share so little together that they are practically complete strangers without the common identity as parents. Where do you end up as a couple? If not divorce court, then one of those couples we always pity, the ones who sit at a meal together reading their own papers, never once looking at each other or sharing a thought.
  9. Kids are not a “must-do” experience. I am not one of those people who believe that a woman should experience motherhood or pregnancy. It’s never been on my to-do list.
  10. I could die. Okay, it’s far-fetched, but… the pro-pregnancy brigade touts birth as a health benefit and a natural experience. I don’t know a single friend that didn’t ask for drugs. I also know several friends who almost did die, but thankfully lived in a major city in the first world. It’s a risky, risky thing.

So, as you can see, it’s quite remarkable that I ended up doing fertility treatments and am in the queue for an egg donor. How did that happen? Believe me, I ask myself all the time.

Next: The conversation that bested me.