It is my firm belief that when a doctor hands any woman an "Age and Fertility" chart, he should also give her a bag of chocolates and some alcohol.
I got married when I was 34 years old and started trying to conceive when I was 35. Although I knew I didn't have too much time before the sun set on my fertility horizon, I didn't realize that it was already considered dusk by some standards.
I would eventually be diagnosed with something called "Unexplained Infertility," which in my mind translates to, "Wow. We can't figure you out so here's a category we'll throw you into." It's incredibly frustrating when you're not able to conceive and no one in the medical community can explain to you why it's not happening. Apparently, I have the equivalent of a Rubik's cube for reproductive parts. I left that out when composing my Christmas newsletters.
After several years of fertility treatment and three in-vitros, I had only one embryo to transfer. One is technically all you need, but the reality is that when it comes to fertility treatment, I paid for more. Much more. IVF ain't cheap. Luckily, though, thanks to stubbornness of that lone embryo, I now have a 2-year-old son. I should note that he's still stubborn.
When all was said and done, I spoke to my reproductive endocrinologist and asked if we had any theory on what my issues were. Her only guess was that despite my blood work checking out as normal, she suspected I had an egg quality issue due to my "advanced age." I was 38 at the time.
Now, 38 in the real world isn't old. In the "fertility world," however, I should be hanging out with Abe Vigoda reminiscing about the good ol' days.
This is why when, through my role at Fertility Authority, I recently got a call from a 50-year-old asking me to find her a doctor so she could freeze her eggs, I was astounded. Short of her using these frozen eggs to throw into a glass of Scotch, the odds of them being even remotely viable are zero to none.
Between my infertility blog and my job, I've received numerous inquiries from women over 45 saying they want to use their own eggs. I'm not at all saying this is impossible. We all have a friend who knows a woman who has a sister who got pregnant when she was in her 40s. What I am saying is that the odds of that happening are very low.
I've handled calls from women who aren't menstruating anymore insisting that they still have eggs (in your fridge doesn't count), some who say they don't "feel" 48 (but sadly, your eggs are still 48), some who tell me they get their periods regularly (that's great, but means nothing with respect to egg quality) and some who tell me that their friend got pregnant at 44 (I had a friend who won the lottery once, but I never did).
I can't help but wonder if any of these women have ever seen romantic comedies. Remember My Cousin Vinny, when Marissa Tomei said, "My biological clock is [banging her foot on the floor] TICKING LIKE THIS!"? Marissa Tomei was 27 when she filmed that movie. TWENTY. SEVEN.
To those of you who may be yelling at your computer screen, laptop or iPad screen right now, I promise you -- I'm not trying to be mean. I'm trying to make sure my fellow women are aware that age really does matter when it comes to fertility. That is the harsh reality and I hate it as much as you do.
I'm 40 now and have been told that I have a one to three percent chance of ever having any more children. Being raised as a Roman Catholic Italian, to only have one child is considered a failure. I should have a table full of children causing chaos and throwing spaghetti at one another, but that's not going to happen. This is why, for Easter this year, I plan on dyeing my eggs and giving up. I've clearly made peace with this but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try and help others in their fertility goals.
So please don't settle and marry the first bozo you meet just to ensure you're fertile. And please don't feel like you can't pursue your independence, freedom, career or individual passions. Just be aware that if you do ever feel like you want to have children down the line, either look into egg freezing or, if nothing else, go and get a fertility work-up to at least know how things are looking.
Knowledge, as they say, is power, and even if you're not seeing anyone special, staying on top of your fertility can only serve you in the long run.