Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Straight Man in my Life

I am not used to hanging out with straight men.

Seriously, this is true. I work in a job in the arts, where out of 60 employees in my institution, there are only a handful of men. Even the director is a woman. Most of our meetings consist of all women; the 2 male colleagues of mine with whom I work with frequently are gay. I have developed most of my close friends through work, and guess what: they're all females, or gay.

This is a very rarefied world. What's fantastic about it, is that at work, there are NO sexual politics. Zero. In fact, being a mostly-female institution makes it feel incredibly sane and supportive. The other thing that is conspicuously lacking at work is...practical joking. I didn't even know this existed at other work places until I dated a guy about a year ago who was telling me constantly about the funny things his colleagues did to one another's cubicles. I kept asking him what he meant: grown men? Putting v*seline on someone's phone? You're kidding, right? He also told me that there was a long "runway" that everyone in the office had to walk down when they entered the office. Everyone could see it from their cubicles, so they would rate one another's outfits (male or female). Very "Mad Men" if you know what I mean.

Of course, sweeping generalization here, but practical joking is just so....male.

And, because most of my close friends are women or gay men, I am so used to exuding, emoting, and connecting when I have conversations. So much so that, when a conversation doesn't go that way I feel somehow disappointed.

And then there's all that traditional guy stuff: sports? yea, right. Computer geekdom? not so much. People who don't take pride (or spend hours and hours thinking about) decorating their home, or their wardrobe? Or gardening? Do they exist? One of my closest friends is actually....the only male member of the Northeastern African Violet Society. And a fiercely talented artist. And an avid Jane Austen fan. I love him.

So, you see what I mean.

Which is all an introduction to say that I had a wonderful 2nd date last night with the guy I will call James. Being an academic, he and I have tons to talk about. We easily navigated topics like politics, family, prejudice, growing older, being lazy, being vulnerable. It was pretty great. And yet I found myself saying, what's going on here? He's so unemotional!! Oh, and he brought up football. A shock to my delicately guarded sensibilities.

A real, straight man. How exciting.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Days...and a Date

This is hard this week...for blogging. I am staying home from work to write an essay that will be published, and it's taking up all of my mental not to mention writing energy. So I am preoccupied. And tired. I've written 30 pages of the essay since Monday. On the other hand, during my downtime I've been reading a lot of blogs by some pretty amazing women. It's so encouraging to see SMBC actually in the midst of pregnancies ! Definitely a fantasy that I still can't imagine actually happening to me, yet.

And. I feel extremely, well, HAPPY this week. Maybe it's that I like being away from the office and setting my own schedule. Maybe I'm just happy, because I feel like, recently, I've been confronting things and taking action (finally). Heck, why analyze? I'll just go with it.

One bit of news is that I have a second date with the promising young man I mentioned a few posts ago. Well, he's not that young. He's my age. And a professor. And really sweet. We're going out on Friday. I need to give myself a pedicure and make sure I've done some laundry. Oh, yea. I better go throw a load in the washing machine---I need my black shirt! My wardrobe repertoire for dates consists of two outfits. I haven't been on a third date with anyone for a long time. Here's to hoping that I need to come up with a "third date outfit!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Being Childless is My Fault, Right?

I read a blog post yesterday, and one that will remain anonymous, but it was another ALI blogger. I was really hurt by something she wrote. I wondered why I was taking it so personally when I read it. When I woke up this morning still thinking about it I thought: better get this off my chest.

She wrote that most people are under the misconception that going without children is a choice. She said that for her it isn't a choice. It's not as if, after all, she put off trying to conceive, got a Master's degree, went to Europe.

Guess what? I put off trying to conceive (or rather, my failed relationships put it off for me). I got a PhD. I went to Europe. The latter two things may very well have contributed to my failed relationships. But I still don't think this puts me in the category of "choosing" to go childless.

If there's one thing I've learned in the last 5 or so years, we can only plan our lives so much. We can want many things, but that doesn't mean we'll get them. Perhaps one of the points of being on this planet is trying to find happiness whether or not things go as planned.

This is a very supportive community and I know the last thing my fellow blogger would've ever wanted to do would be to shame another ALI blogger. I know that her post was about her own personal experience and had nothing whatsoever to do with me. Obviously, it just hit the "shame" button and also made me wonder if people who know nothing about me will think that my childless state is a choice that I should just live with.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Baby Names Or, Putting the Cart before the Horse

Today, I looked on the website where they have a great list of baby names.

Kind of like picking out a wedding cake before the second date. Or while you're still completely single.

But I do these things to myself. Yes, I do.

Apparently, the two categories of names that appeal to me most are "Classic Cool," and "Vintage-y." I like names for girls like Elinor (from Jane Austen!), Violet (just sweet), and Nora (vintage, cool). But if I adopted a child from abroad I would take into consideration her roots and pick a name from that culture (or an anglicized version). For boys, I tend toward the more traditional, early-20th century names. I like the name Gilbert. Gil is a cute nickname. The Social Security website is fun, because it gives the most popular names by decade--fascinating! I love that the 20s was all about Gladys, Ethel, and Beulah--will those names ever come back?

Yea, so. One of the things the woman at the adoption agency asked me, and that I wasn't entirely ready to answer, was whether I would want to adopt a girl, or a boy. Apparently the vast majority of adoptive parents want a girl. She also told me that, barring China, most countries have more boys available than girls. When I asked her why, she said that people, apparently internationally, consider girls easier to raise. I wonder if this has something to do with economics, as well: girls are seen as contributing to the running of the household and staying close to home. Hmm.

Obviously were I to have a child on my own, I wouldn't have a choice, so it's a bit weird to choose. I have two young nephews, so I see how precious little boys can be. Still, and here it is, if I'm going to have only one child I suppose I hope for a girl.

Can't quite explain it. I don't think it's about it being "easier" to raise a girl. It's probably about duplicating the relationship I have with my mother, which is extremely wonderful. We are really best friends, but not in an icky she's-trying-to-be-my-age way. More like soul mates.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Which is the better choice for me?

This evening, I attended an information workshop at a local agency specializing in international adoption. I was the only person to show up at the workshop. Turned out to be a good thing. The presenter was also a single mother (although much older than I and not by choice), and we had an interesting talk.

It's great to get more information on the process. I was so excited, just sitting there thinking about the fact that I could start tomorrow, and have a child within a year.

And that's the thing. When considering having my own child through artificial insemination, vs. pursuing an adoption, I am really torn. If finances weren't an issue at all, I suppose I would choose insemination (although even as I write this I still have reservations about wanting to go through that difficult process). But the truth is that finances are an issue--a big one.

Here's how I see it as a logical, practical human being. Adoption is a sure thing. Yes, I will spend upwards of $25,000, but in the end, I will have a child. The one thing I have learned from reading other women's blogs is that even IVF is not a sure thing. 10s of thousands of dollars can be spent on the process and the end result may still be: no baby.

It sounds like such a commercial transaction when I put it that way! But I guess it's the reality.

Here's the other thing that is affecting my decision. I have endometriosis, one of the primary causes of female infertility. I've never had any fertility tests done, so I could be perfectly fine. I just have a gut (or uterine) feeling that I will have difficulty conceiving.

Either way, I'm going to have to start saving money, and I mean seriously. What I'm thinking--and this plan might completely change--is that I give myself 3 to 5 years to save the money. In the meantime, I try some of the less expensive modes of insemination, which would include, I suppose, home insem (via sperm bank, or dare I say Ex Number 2), and perhaps ICI or IUI. Am I skipping anything? I need to learn more about all this stuff. To the blogs!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Too much information?

Wow, I'm feeling really overwhelmed.

I checked out many of the great blogs on the blogroll, mentioned in my previous posts. I am blown away by the things women are going through (particulary, IVF) in order to have children.

Yet now, as I sit here with a pit in my stomach, I don't know if it's helpful. I'm still at the early, optimistic stage of things. It seems as if that's where everyone started. But now, so many of them have been trying for years. One woman had even sold her home and was living with her family in order to fund her fertility treatments.

It makes me wonder if I am up for all this. Maybe it's BETTER to go into it somewhat blind. Who says knowledge is power? How about ignorance is bliss!? I think it's important that I begin this journey with as much optimism as possible.

Obviously, this new-found community could be very helpful to me, as well. I just need to ease into things.


Following up on my last post, I received a great response from sprouts about a fantastic blogroll with tons of links to blogs by women going through similar experiences. I can't wait to check all these out. Thanks sprouts!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Shame of the Biological Clock

I've been thinking about the fact that there seem to be very few forums for women like me--single, professional women beyond the age of 35 who want to have children--even online. I have yet to find another blog about this subject (please correct me if I am wrong).

I've noticed, for instance, that it is perfectly acceptable to go on ad nauseum about dating and finding the perfect match. Apparently our culture condones this. However, very few women can bring themselves to acknowledge (at least publicly) that "the" relationship may not happen within the necessary time frame for a family.

I started looking into whether there was any press on this issue and it is all but ignored in the American press. In the UK, however, it's all over the place! Recently, there was legislation passed in the UK allowing single women to get insurance coverage for IVF (see this Times article). The London newspapers have also featured a number of articles about the phenomenon of single women who want to conceive by themselves.

Are we just behind the Brits? I can't believe this concern is any less prevalent among American singles (something confirmed just within my own group of friends). Is it too divisive a subject to broach in America? Were it to come up from the underground, would it become another cause célèbre for the Christian right (and there is reason to fear this, since single women are often conflated with lesbian couples in the press and legislation surrounding this issue)?

But more importantly, why aren't women TALKING about this on blogs, etc.? Perhaps acknowledging it is akin to giving up on finding "the" relationship (even though I do not agree with that).

My experience is that there is shame surrounding this issue. There is embarrassment about being "unsuccessful" at finding a partner (or not wanting to find a partner). There is shame about taking the biological clock seriously (not just joking about it).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ex Number 2

I need to keep focused. That great first date from last weekend (see Maybe It's not ALL that I want) was only a first date, after all, and Ex Number 1 lives in California (whereas I am in the Northeast). So. Do I have any other options for starting a family "the natural way"?

Matthew is more of a friend-with-potential than an ex. We became close when I lived in New York 3 years ago. At the time he was involved with a woman who ended up cheating on him. We had an attraction, but never acted on it, primarily because Matthew decided that he wanted to try to patch things up with his girlfriend regardless of her infidelity. Two years later, they broke up for good. No surprise there.

For the last year, Matthew and I have been dancing around our feelings for one another. We've seen each other intermittently in New York. In June, I decided to throw caution to the wind and invite him to stay with me for a weekend. He liked the idea. No pressure. Just friends. Maybe things would evolve organically over the course of the weekend?

They did. By the end of the weekend it felt to me as if we were romantically involved. And yet, very quickly after we parted, we both reverted to our previous, friends-only stance. I am having a hard time thinking of Matthew as a boyfriend, much as I care for him. It's an odd transition for me--friend to boyfriend. I guess I've always come at relationships from passion-first, friends-second rather than the other way around.

So, I'm not jumping out of my skin, wanting to be in relationship with Matthew. But there are many great things about "us." We care deeply for one another's happiness and well being. He also "deals" with me just right--he's compassionate, gentle, emotional, and almost devoid of egotism. He genuinely respects women. Could I make a family with him? Should respect, ease, and friendship take precedence over passion at this point?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"I just don't like being pregnant"

I had a close friend from college visit me a couple of weeks ago with her husband and 4 year old son. She told me that they are in the middle of the long process of international adoption. They will be adopting a child from Ethiopia.

My friend's reason for adoption was "I just don't like being pregnant" (she volunteered this information--I did not ask). I couldn't help but feel jealous: not only does she have the option to have another natural child if she desires to (and yet chooses not to because she doesn't "like it"), but also, she and her husband obviously have the ready funds to adopt a child.

I've been looking into international adoption quite seriously. Even though most agencies (one that I've been referred to is CHSFS) like to say that the costs range from $12,000 to $30,000, my research has shown that adoptive parents rarely get by with the lower end. The average appears to be around $25,000.

The bottom line is, it's hard to adopt unless you are part of a two-income couple, where expenses can be shared and funds can be saved. I am trying to figure out how to save enough money over the next 5 years to make this happen (not to mention actually start saving for retirement!), but I honestly don't know how I will accomplish that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Maybe it's not ALL that I want

Yes, this blog is about one thing--having a baby--and titled "all that she wants"; but now I'm here to throw a monkey-wrench into the whole darn thing.

A baby is not ALL that I want. It's just the one thing that I might be able to actually control at this point.

In fact, I want much more than that, in a perfect world, and this weekend I caught a glimpse into those feelings once again. They are still buried, somewhere! Just dormant...

I had a really lovely--really great--first date with a quite wonderful man (thanks!). Age appropriate, handsome, very intelligent, kind, and gentle. And funny. Lots of common ground. We met for lunch and didn't part until 3-1/2 hours later, both of us completely unaware of time. I'd say that's a pretty good sign.

I really like this guy. Without "getting my hopes up," which is a really dangerous thing to do, as I've found from previous internet-dates (more on that later), I would say we have definite potential.

It's amazing, and worrying, how the fantasies immediately take over. A loving relationship. A partner in life. Sex (in the fantasy, it's always really good sex). A family. And then the more frivolous things. A date for events. A partner on vacations. Someone to try that new restaurant with. Someone to make dinner for.

Obviously I can't have those expectations yet in reality with this particular man...that would be silly...but I guess this demonstrates that my spirit really has not given up hope for the possibility that my family could be a more traditional one. It's really difficult to have that carrot dangled, since there is so much at stake (and it ain't so great for relationships to have so much at stake, as you can imagine!)

I guess I have to keep focused, and perhaps look at these goals (relationship, and baby) separately. Just because I have one good first date should not alter my quest to become a mother all by myself.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm not the only one

Last night, I had dinner with a girlfriend, also in her late 30s, never married, and still single. Like me, she is a successful professional who has had many boyfriends, including long-term monogamous relationships, but somehow finds herself single at the age of 38.

Karen and I have been friends for almost 2 years, but it was only about 2 months ago that we each sheepishly admitted to the other that we wanted more than anything to have a child, and, that we were getting very worried about when and how that might happen.

Why two women, confident and communicative in almost every other aspect of our lives, would be so hesitant to speak about this to one of our closest female friends is still a mystery to me. I believe that we were so caught up in our personal traumas (what is wrong with me? how did I get here?) not to mention what others might think, that we sacrificed the solace of community. Perhaps we wanted to focus on finding a relationship, without admitting that we had fears about that ever happening--and what the consequences might be.

Thankfully, we "found" each other on this subject and can now offer as much support as possible. We have even discussed going through the process of having a child at the same time.

Karen is much more invested in conceiving a child with a sperm donor than I, to the point that she is almost ready to start the process.

Neither of our insurance covers ANY of this process. In my state, even married couples must somehow prove (and how do you do that?) that they've been trying unsuccessfully for a year (a married year) to conceive before they are eligible for any health coverage whatsoever.

With single women, we aren't technically infertile, are we?...just lacking a living, breathing sperm donor in our bed.

Sometimes it seems as if this issue is INVISIBLE. I can't even find any other blogs on this topic. Ladies, are you out there?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ex number 1

I recently decided to contact two old flames. These are two men who I think about every now and then as I lie in bed.

In the back of my mind, I am wondering if either of these two men would be willing to simply impregnate me.

Last night, I spoke to Evan for the first time in almost 4 years. Evan and I had a brief affair when I still lived in California. A tech salesman, Evan knew what he wanted and how to get it. He pursued me actively, and when I finally said yes to a date, I was so swept away (and perhaps, vulnerable), that we ended up sleeping together that first night. When we met, I was still within a year of my shattering break-up with Marcus (a 4 year, live-in relationship). I felt incapable of commitments and emotional ties. When I got my fellowship in NYC, I ended it.

Here's the thing. I said I wouldn't settle, right? It's not as if I am manufacturing attraction, necessarily, just that the criteria by which I might judge who is right for me has altered as I've grown older (and closer to menopause). So maybe Evan will now fit perfectly into my 37 year old single life?

Here are the things that bode well for revisiting this situation.

Evan really, really liked me. Really. That feels good. It works for me.

Evan is a highly sexed man. He wants sex pretty much all the time and would do anything to get it. That works in my favor.

Evan is tall. Smart. Attractive. He's also a very young-looking 43 (or 44?). Good genes.

The outcome of our conversation is that we are meeting up in NYC.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Aging Single Woman's Dilemma

I am still actively searching for a loving relationship with a man who is right for me. But I am becoming less and less able to imagine that happening--at least within the time frame that works for me when it comes to having a family.

Even if I were to meet the man of my dreams tomorrow, it would be months, even years, before we were able to commit. So why should I wait for the perfect man to come along, when I know that I could be a loving, nurturing parent to a child right now? I will never give up looking for a relationship, but in this day and age, do I really have to wait for a traditional relationship while foregoing my dream of having children? The beauty of our modern age is that the answer is no!

I don't "hate men" or "think they are unnecessary" as several people (particularly those who do not know me) have suggested. My problem remains that I am much too romantic at heart to "settle." An article by Lori Gottlieb argues that I will be sorry if I don't settle for someone (anyone?) before I have a child on my own.

Lori wrote that she has regrets about having a child by herself. This deeply upset me, and also rang alarm bells. I hated her article (it was incredibly honest but also presumptuous--as if all our journeys are the same--as if every relationship was somehow in our [the female's] control and ours to lose).

But one thing she wrote did resonate with me: are there men in my past who I rejected, simply because I had "more time" and thought someone better (more passionate, more seductive) might come along? How would those men look today? I'm not saying that I am looking to settle--definitely not--but I can't help but wonder how my outlook may have changed. I decided that, in two cases, it might be worth revisiting and seeing what happens. Evan and Matthew...two old flames...both single.

The question is: what are my intentions? A relationship, or a baby?

All That She Wants

This blog will plot my quest for a family, with or without a man.

I am a 37 year old, professional woman. Attractive, happy, active, very well educated; in fact, a holder of the coveted "PhD" that so many of us sacrifice our 20s and 30s to achieve. I'm exactly where I want to be with my career and
then some. I get to buy, exhibit, and teach about art. It's my passion, and my life centers around my job and the people I have met through it.

After three monogamous relationships of 4, 4, and 5 years each in my 20s, I found my self single again--heartbreakingly, painfully--at the age of 32. With just one year to go before completing my PhD, I moved across the country from southern California to New York to take a fellowship and then go on the job market. I now find myself (after yet another move to a medium-size city in the Northeast) 3 years in to a job I love.

But no man. It's been 5 years now, and I have never gone this long without a relationship. It's not for lack of trying. You name it, I've done it. Especially the internet. Call it what you will--bad luck, or a very very shallow pool of qualified "applicants"-- I'm still single, and the clock is ticking.

Having a child is something about which I will not compromise. With or without a man. I will be considering adoption, IVF, and "the natural way" with one or two candidates (whom I have yet to approach). As a single woman, I expect to meet great challenges and difficulties in the next few years as I go on this quest.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who Am I?

I am a single, 37 year old woman. I have a career that I've worked toward for 15 years, including earning a Ph.D. It's been worth it (I love what I do). From the ages of 20 to 33, I had 3 monogamous relationships with men, each with no more than 4 months between them. The last relationship was the most "significant;" we spoke of marriage and lived together. During that time, I was in graduate school. When I won a 12-month fellowship to do research for my dissertation in Europe, I thought the relationship was strong enough to take it. For my part, I felt this man was the love of my life. However, while I was gone, my boyfriend fell in love with another woman. It has been almost 6 years since that heart-wrenching break-up. I have not had a significant relationship since then. I would not change the choices I have made (obviously career fulfillment has been a driving force in my life), but now that I'm ready to "settle down," I find that my peer males are mostly taken. The fish in the sea have become a shallow pool...or rather, a puddle. I find myself searching for ways to have a family on my own. I am still not sure what the best option for me might be.

Addendum! Using my wonderful known donor, I found myself pregnant on the very first try (June 2009). Now embarking on the wild ride that is pregnancy.

Hi guys, June 2013 here. I'm now...42. And my son is 3.3 years old.