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Wonder Woman

The perils of motherhood and the middle-aged.
AT
Κείμενο Abigail Thompson
1.12.03

Photo by Brody Baker

What the fuck happened? I’m 30 years old, successful, semi-single, and well-respected by my family and friends. I got a business degree and penetrated the old boys’ club from the ground up, and now I’m told I can’t have a baby? Where did my life go?

I just spoke to my doctor, who is also a fertility expert, and she laid a rather heavy trip on my independent-woman head. Apparently your ability to have kids starts to plummet at 30, it’s all but nothing at 37, and it’s totally gone by 40. When I asked her about all these late-40s babies she told me they were all from artificial insemination. “No woman has her own eggs after 44,” she said with a wincing smile of empathy. “You start losing them at puberty and the hourglass gets turned over after that.” Then she went on to tell me that a lot of these fertility drugs are essentially filling your body with a litter of humans and hoping they don’t all die. That’s why you occasionally get some poor lady having quintuplets.

Again I ask, “What the hell?” What did I do all this for? Would I have been so miserable locked in the “womens’ libber” idea of a prison? I love cooking. That wouldn’t have been such a bad life. If I ever felt trapped I could go to some community-center meetings and argue about the local schools or neighborhood crime or something. And sure, I’m not nuts about cleaning, but when it’s your own house it’s kind of fun. You can move paintings and get new curtains. It sure beats staying up all night with accountants going through budget plans for the rest of the fiscal year. I think I’m even losing my hair. I had a heart-to-heart with my boss about it last month and he was surprisingly profound for a fat person. “My views on women in the work force have always been, ‘If you want to come over into our world, come on in. It’s not that great,’” he said. “And I’ll tell you one thing right now. I do not know of one woman at our office who is happy about choosing a career over kids. Not one.” Then he looked to his right and his left before adding, “And don’t ever repeat that to anyone at work. I could get into a lot of trouble for saying that.”

I used to feel great about my decision. My grandmother had no opportunities and was stuck in a kitchen all day. My mother was saddled with both my grandmother’s lifestyle (she had to cook and clean) and mine (she had a career, too), so I thought I was the next step up. Why wasn’t I told the medical facts? That women who breastfeed when they’re young have a 75 percent lower risk of breast cancer when they’re older. That 40 percent of women in the corporate workforce are childless and a whopping 87 percent regret not having kids.

Somehow I had always convinced myself that I’d get around to it and if it didn’t work out, no big deal. But everyone else is still having kids, more than ever. It’s just people like me who took the career torch from our mothers and said, “Thanks for the liberation, Mom, I’m off.” And where has it left us? Alone and childless in a man’s world. Purchase orders and payment schedules instead of peanut butter and purple nurples. I still have a small window of time and I’m not sure what will happen, but I’ll tell you one thing. If I have a daughter I’m going to tell her, “Relax and enjoy your life. Have a kid when you’re 24. If you want a career then go ahead and follow that dream, but if you do, know that you will be breaking your mommy’s heart forever you fat little bitch.”