I’m Almost 40 And This Is Not What I Wanted My Life To Be
I need to come to terms with the fact that my dream may never come true.
I’ve just turned 38, and I’m single.
I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POCS) and am currently on day 23 of my period (as in I’ve been bleeding for 23 days).
It’s still so heavy I was washing out bloodied bedsheets at 3 am this morning. Today I slumped into the couch, my body heavy and weak with the weight of being a woman and I thought to myself, it was all for nothing. In a world that values the male gaze above all else, as my fertility declines, as I become closer to menopause, as the fat gets harder to shift, I am no one’s wife, I am no one’s mother – I become more invisible. This is not what I wanted my life to be.
I never realized how carefree my 20’s and early 30’s were. I was always under the impression a man would come along ‘when I least expected it’ and sweep me off my feet. He would have financial stability, a house, and be ready to have a child with me. We would holiday together, laughing and enjoying life. I would get pregnant or we would foster children, and I would walk around our kitchen barefoot, baking cakes as music filled the house. Even as I write it, I am laughing. Though I am not sure if I am laughing at my delusion or my failure.
I focused on being the best person I could be. I focused on having a full life, trying new things, going out, getting drunk, casual sex, unrequited love, intense friendships, traveling, living overseas, and exploring. I noticed my friends began to couple off. Partying on weekends turned into attending 30th birthday lunches, then engagement parties, then weddings, then first birthdays. Still, I didn’t worry about getting married or having kids, I knew that it would happen for me. Of course, it would, I was a catch. I continued to look for ‘the one’ and bad dating stories and avoidant men continued to pile up. I seemed to gain a penchant for the wrong men (that’s another story). Still, I never wavered in my belief that I would find the right one for me and have a family.
At 32 I met the guy I thought I would marry. We lived together briefly, I fell completely in love with him. He loved me, he told me he loved me, he showed me he loved me but he didn’t choose me. It left me broken and took me five years to get over it. Pathetic, I know.
This is an unfamiliar place. A place I never dreamed I would be. Trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never have the family I wanted. All the heartbreaks and bad dating stories – for what? All this bleeding and cramping– for what? All the dieting, weight loss, hair coloring, waxing – for what? All the self-improvement, focusing on being the best person I could be– for what? I cannot wrap my head around what I am supposed to do now. I know there are women out there who don’t want to have children. I have friends who are well educated and have found their purpose in contributing to the world through their good work and knowledge – it’s just… I am not one of those women. So, what now?
Dating has become incredibly difficult. With dating apps becoming mainstream it has meant that sex is free and words are cheaper than ever. Increasingly married men and f*ck boys lurk the keyboards, the lies flow freely and the sex costs them nothing. It is not fun anymore and I’ve never felt so unattractive. Feeling unattractive coupled with the pressure and panic that these are my last moments to fulfill my lifelong dream – is crushing. It’s crushing down on my soul and the spark that once ignited it.
It was around 36 that I felt the first sign of panic. I started to look into my options. I gathered information and costs associated with egg freezing and I asked my doctor to order an AMH blood test. The AMH blood test basically checks ovarian reserves and determines if you have an average amount of eggs left for your age. Pleased that for the first time in my life I was above average, the test results put my mind at ease and gave me a bit more time and space to keep searching for a baby daddy.
People have told me to have a child on my own. I saw my sister be a single mum for years and I know the struggle. Plus, it isn’t only the biological factors that need to be considered now, what about the financial implications? Having a child at 38 or 40 means having a teenager at 55. It means that by the time I will want to retire or to wind back to part-time work, I would have a 20-year-old, probably still living at home, still somewhat financially dependent. But a blessing is a blessing, right? Having been single for many years and not being financially responsible – I don’t own my own home. I rent. I am good at paying attention to my superannuation but still, it is unlikely I will ever be in a comfortable position to purchase a house or apartment. Maybe I am over thinking it? Maybe I should deal with it if and when it happens? Maybe I will be so joyous at having a child that I will just deal with it. But it seems irresponsible not to consider the financial challenges.
I need to come to terms with the fact that my dream may never come true. I need to re-assess my purpose in life and look for joy in new adventures. I need to rediscover who I am, who I can be and what I have to contribute to the world. Even though I don’t want to. I sit alone in my rented apartment, happy that I am safe, happy that I have had wonderful experiences in my life, happy that I am alive but my heart hurts. Without this story in my mind of me one day being a mother and wife, I don’t know who I am anymore. What I am preparing for?
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