It's spring and everything's blooming except me.
To make matters worse, wherever I look, I see eggs: Easter eggs, chocolate eggs, bunnies in baskets atop Cadbury eggs. It's a conspiracy. I wouldn't be so paranoid if the holidays didn't remind me of my own eggs, the ones in my fallopian tubes. Unlike Mother Nature who is working overtime, my reproductive system is on strike.
The Chinese refer to menopause as a woman's "second spring" but it should be dubbed the "overextended summer."
At 53, the dial that regulates my body's thermostat is broken and my temperature refuses to hover at 70 degrees. Instead, like a cranky electrical system, it shoots up to 110 degrees without warning. Sometimes, I sweat so much it feels like I'm internally combusting.
"It's not fair," I informed my husband.
He sighed. We were gardening. "What now, honey?"
"Why can't we have another child? How is it that we can pay the mortgage but can't reproduce? We've figured out 'parenting' so wouldn't Darwin's Law of Natural Selection makes us better at it now that we're older?"
"Darwin studied evolution not pro-creation," my husband replied.
"But," I stammered, fighting back tears. I couldn't help noticing all the new buds on the hydrangea. "Newton figured out gravity, Einstein did relativity, can't someone explain the life cycle of a woman's hormones?"
"If only," my husband murmured and went back to digging.
Still, I couldn't help thinking of Dr. Bernstein.
Ten years ago, I tried to jump-start my cables. I was 43 -- the far end of the reproductive spectrum. I knew that revving up my engine wasn't going to be easy so my best friend, Mabel, recommended Dr. Bernstein, a successful endocrinologist. "If he can't get you knocked up, no one can," she said.
After waiting five months for an appointment, the first thing I noticed about Dr. Bernstein was that he looked like an egg. Catching me eyeing his bald head, he winked. "It's a great selling point, right? People look at me and 'think egg.'"
But after he had explained in-vitro fertilization, I wasn't thinking "egg," anymore, I was thinking, "I want out." I dreaded the size of the needle that my husband was going to have to inject me with nightly to make my uterus "ripe."
"We have to fool your ovaries," Dr. Bernstein explained.
"That doesn't sound good," I told him.
"Let's put it this way. Your uterus has to think it's going through the motions."
"The motions of what?" I asked.
"Shh," my husband said, "let him explain."
But Dr. Bernstein was wielding a needle that resembled a harpoon. "It only seems bigger than it is."
"That looks like a vaccine for whales," I murmured.
"Oh no," Dr. Bernstein said, "What they use to inseminate whales is much bigger."
Committed to getting my uterus in shape, I underwent injections of Lupron, (a hormone that transformed me into Lady Macbeth), took Clomid pills that left me reeling, and attended "pre-natal yoga" where instructors told me, "to picture my inner baby."
My fallopian tubes didn't cooperate. After an initial round of in-vitro, Dr. Bernstein proclaimed I had "failed" fertilization.
"I didn't know you could fail," I wailed.
"How about a donor? We can sync your cycle with a woman who has a prime uterus." Dr. Bernstein offered. "Refrain from 'you know what.' Romance is good--but no 'activities.'"
I sobbed on the way home. "I'm a fossil."
"A beautiful fossil," my husband said and took me out for an especially romantic evening.
The next visit we leafed through a catalogue choosing a donor who described herself as, "a romantic who likes Proust and walks on the beach."
"I want her eggs," I announced.
As Dr. Bernstein examined me one last time to be sure I was ready for treatment, he became deadly silent.
I glanced at my husband who turned to Dr. Bernstein and said, "She's pregnant, isn't she?"
Nine months later our daughter, Tamara, was born despite scientific technology and our inability to follow instructions.
Now every Easter I think of Dr. Bernstein. At times, I grow wistful and say to my husband, "let's go see him again."
"How about buying a carton of organic eggs, boiling them, and throwing on some decorations? It'll be easier and we won't have to pay college tuition."
"You're on," I said.