Happy Birthday to Me.

WARNING:  This is another “woe is me” post–but before I drag you all down, I wanted to send out big thanks for all the support, and especially to those of you who’ve had similar experiences and are so willing to share your personal ups and downs with me.  You are all amazing!

And I promise a happier post soon!

*      *      *

Today is my 34th birthday.  Which means I have one year.  365 days.  Before my eggs are officially declared “old.”  Before my chances of a successful IVF drop off a cliff.  Before the possibility of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities skyrockets.  I know they’re just statistics.  Numbers based on averages.  I know that one day one way or the other doesn’t make a difference for me.  Probably.

Hubby turns 40 this year (40!).  That’s the age his father was when Hubby was born.  Except Hubby was his parents’ second (and last) child.

When I was growing up, my parents were always the “old” parents.  My mother was 37 when I was born; 39 when my younger sister was born.  Compared to my parents, my friends’ parents were young, cool, full of energy.  Of course I know better now.  One of the “coolest” of my friends’ parents seemed that way because she was only 15 years older than us.  I had sisters who were older.

But I was often embarrassed by my parents.  Hubby has confessed to the same feelings about his when he was a kid.  Maybe it’s karma that we’re now going to be the old parents on the block.  I know it’s different now.  Lots of people wait until they’re our age to have babies (whether it’s by choice is another matter).  Based on my experiences at work, though, I can assure you that plenty of girls still push babies out of their teenage vaginas.

I can’t exactly compare myself to my mother.  She was 37 when I was born, but she was only 38 when her first grandchild was born.  She was both the young, cool mom and the “old” mom at different points in her life.  I never thought to ask her which was better.  Of course, she also had built-in babysitters.  My older siblings were teenagers when I was born.  They learned how to change diapers real quick.

Hubby and I will be on our own, old and tired.  I’m grateful to have a supportive partner, but can you guess how many diapers he’s changed in his almost-40 years?  I know I’ll be teaching him as we go, as well as figuring things out for the first time myself.

In my head, my relative age varies with my mood and the situation.  I feel old when I’m working with moms in their late teens/early 20’s; or with someone my age who has five kids; or when coworker after coworker who’s younger than me, been in a relationship less time than me and/or wasn’t planning it announces a pregnancy.  Basically, just about anything work-related can make me feel old.

But it’s not even the feeling old that bothers me.  It’s that I still feel so far away from our goal.  If I think in 9-month increments (and, let’s face it, when don’t I do that?), I know that we’re going to have to hurry if I’m going to become a mother before my 35th birthday.  That’s a deadline I never thought I’d hit.  Even getting married at 28, I never thought I’d have to wait this long.  But baby-making kept getting pushed back.  Maybe I’ll be 32 when I have my first child.  Thirty-two isn’t so bad.  Okay, maybe 33.  I can handle 34, if I have to.  35?  Are you freaking kidding me?

Thinking about the future makes me feel ancient.  There was a family I used to work with, and the mom had told me once she calculated that she’d be 35 when her youngest turned 18 and moved out of the house.  I’ll be lucky if I’m 35 when my first child is born.  That was one of those days I almost cried at work.  Don’t get me wrong–I would never want to be in her shoes.  But it was a just another not-so-subtle reminder that I didn’t need.

I dreaded my 30th birthday.  At first, I thought it was because my mom always used to say she was “29” at every year (until my oldest sister turned 29–then it jumped to “39”).  Even when she was in her 40’s, she never wanted to be 30.  And back when she was 30, she had four kids already, with another one on the way.

Of course, actually being 30 wasn’t so bad, even though I wasn’t yet where I thought I’d be by that age.  But 35 feels like another huge milestone–and not in a good way–creeping ever closer.

On the other hand, it’s the first birthday since we started treatments.  By my next birthday, we should have something to show for it.  But that’s not a guarantee.

Today is my birthday.  It’s not the end of the world.  I should enjoy it.  But every birthday that goes by without a baby in my belly or my arms feels like a failure.

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35 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Me.

  1. Happy Birthday! I can remember having those same feelings and they are hard to work through but I really hope 34 is your year. 34 was the year a fertility treatment worked for me and ended with my 1st daughter who was born almost exactly a month before I turned 35 (my husband was 41). I hope 34 is as good a year for you. There are certainly negatives to being an older parent but there are a lot of positives too. I know you know this but a friend reminded me around my 34th birthday that my eggs wouldn’t suddenly get old on my 35th birthday – it’s just another number on a continuum that happens to get focussed on a lot. Sending birthday wishes and lots of hope for the year ahead.

    • Thank you so much! I really hope 34 will be my year, too. We’ve made so much progress in the last 9 months–I just wish it would go a little bit faster!

  2. First, Happy Birthday Daryl! Second, you can be as melancholy as you need – this is your space and we are all here with you through the good and the gloomy. Third: I understand this frustration! I dread being “the old mom.” I am afraid of being the “old mom” that can’t find other moms to relate too. I want to be part of a community of moms who are all friends and our children can grow up together. Is that possible when I’m a decade older than them? This worry, along with a huge pile of other worries, keeps me up at night. I like Mud Hut Mama’s point that just because we turn 35 does not mean our eggs fall off a cliff. Ovaries are not broilers and won’t scorch your eggs in an instant! Big digital hugs today. I hope it brings you delicious cake (or whatever birthday dessert you fancy), wonderful surprises and a delightfully stress-free day at work. xoxo

    • Thanks, Belle. I’m starting to get sick of my own bitching and moaning, but I appreciate the support! Too bad we don’t live in the same city. We could be the old moms together!

  3. Happy birthday! I know what you mean about it feeling difficult to celebrate because it just seems to highlight the one thing you want that you don’t have, and doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon. I just turned 31 and while I don’t mind getting older, I feel like I’m rushing way too fast towards that scary 35 where all the odds for children change. Like Mud Hut Mama, I really hope this is your year. Thinking of you!

    • Thanks so much! It does seem to be speeding by, with nothing to show for it so far. But I hope 31 is your year–and 34 can be mine!

  4. I SO understand this post. I’m a week behind you. I feel old and scared that all my eggs are going to dry up! I can’t believe another birthday will pass me by and my only gifts are empty arms and now a broken heart to boot!

    I hope you found a way to enjoy your day or at least get through it. Or found a great bottle of wine!

    • If it helps, I was not looking forward to today, but so far Hubby and some friends at work have made my day pretty good–along with all the sweet comments on my blog! I’m sorry you’ll be so broken-hearted for your birthday, but I hope for at least one day, you can have fun and celebrate. But the wine sounds like a fantastic idea, too!

  5. I share a lot of your feelings and could totally C&P segments of this post for my own 34th birthday, just around the corner. But like some have commented above, 35 isn’t really the big dividing line it’s often made to be (love that broiler analogy!) but rather just one point along a continuum … uhh, not sure I’m helping with that given what the continuum involves. So I’ll stop, but not before adding that I fully believe in the advantages of older parenting, and have no doubt that your future child will benefit from them in your case, as uncool as he or she might think you are.

    Despite your melancholia, I hope you find a way to celebrate yourself and your 34 wonderful years of life today, as you and they deserve to be!

    • Thanks so much, Elizabeth! I’m sure 35 is bigger in my head than it needs to be. I have done a bit of celebrating today and intend to do more. The day hasn’t been so bad. 🙂

  6. I remember feeling this way on my birthday back in March. Feeling like all that was stretched ahead of me was endless birthdays with no baby in sight. However you make the really excellent point: this is your first year of treatments. Nothing is 100%, but pursuing treatments makes a big difference.

    And remember: at least you’re not 70 and having your first baby! Now that’s an old mom!
    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/09/pregnant-at-70/

    • I think that’s the thing that’s helping me through today–that we’re finally in the midst of treatment. Yeah, 70 is crazy-old. I hope I’ll still be able to dance at my kid’s wedding, even getting a bit of a later start than I’d like!

  7. Oh sweetie, first and foremost, happy birthday. There is nothing I can do to hold back time, or speed up the process, or rewind clocks. But know there are a lot of people out here all surrounding you today. Giving you a hug.

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, Mel! I’m so grateful for all the wonderful comments today. It’s certainly helping to get me through!

  8. Happy Birthday Daryl, I hope you are surrounded by people who love you and will make you feel special today!

    I feel a little out of place with the responses here because I just turned 44. I was the product of old parents, and no this is never where I wanted to be, but its is where I am.

    I am older than most of the people that responded here by a decade. So I guess the long and the short of it is, be happy youre not me.

    • Thank you, Jeanette! 35 is my own personal hang-up. I know it’s different for everybody. I’m sure that no matter what our ages, we’ll both be amazing moms, and our kids will always know how wanted and special they are! And if they want proof–all they have to do is read our blogs! 🙂

  9. Happy Birthday! I struggle with the age thing too. It’s too bad the medical world puts such a strong emphasis on the big 3-5. I bet in a couple of years the emphasis will be on the big 4-0 instead.

  10. Happy Birthday!! Just wanted to let you know that my mom was 27 when I was born and she was still embarassing me 😉 She’s pretty prim and proper and old-fashioned. Not cool. Cool parents can be any age.

    Hoping next year you’ll have a very special occasion to celebrate.

    • Thanks! I guess it wouldn’t matter what age I have kids–once a nerd, always a nerd! I will probably never be the cool mom, but I’d like to think I could at least be cool in my own kids’ eyes.

  11. Happy Birthday. I count the years and plan the future like you too. It does make this journey particularly hard. I hope that yesterday you were able to put it out of your mind for a few moments. You are not a failure. You are struggling with something huge, yes, but that is not all of who you are and the rest of you deserves to be celebrated. So, happy birthday my dear.

    And of course, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you have a child in your arms when your next one comes around. Take care.

    • Thanks, sass. Yesterday was better than I thought it would be. Hubby made me feel pretty darn special on my birthday, which made all the rest background noise for a day.

  12. Happy Birthday!!!!!! Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long. I hope you had an amazing birthday, despite the age/fertility funk that one can’t help but feel on some level. I’m not going to say age doesn’t matter at all, but I guarantee you that it doesn’t matter as much as you think! Every body (literally, body) is so different, you’ll go nuts comparing yourself to “average” all the time. I’m 39 and I have verifiably bad eggs… and you know my story. Just enjoy every moment of the journey. When you do finally pull it off, you will have created a genuine miracle. Lots of love to you!

    • Thanks, dear. I just wish we could get on the IVF train, like, now. But since that isn’t going to happen, I am once again trying to practice patience. It sucks. I just keep hoping that my next birthday will be better.

      Actually, this birthday wasn’t so bad. I can thank Hubby for that!

  13. Happy birthday! Watch when Harry Met Sally. Watch Bridget Jones. Watch all those RomComs with funny women and you’ll see that 30 and 35 are fabulous ages. We women are like wine … we get more beautiful, more witty, more fantastic as we age. Sure you’re creeping toward the “geriatric mother” label (heck, I’m already there), but who cares. You don’t have one foot in the grave … not even close. I hope you celebrated with some good food and drink. Glad Hubby helped make the day lovely. big hug!

    • Thank you. You mentioned When Harry Met Sally, and the first thing that popped into my head was the scene where she’s a crying, snotty mess, saying “and I’m going to be 40!” I guess that’s where my head is right now. But I hope to drag myself out of this head space soon and get back to…I don’t know what. Happier thoughts, I guess.

      • Just remember … when Sally says she’s almost 40, Harry replies with, “In like five years!” =-) Your Hubby sounds like a Harry, surely a man who can make you smile even when you’re a snotty mess.

  14. First, a very happy (yet slightly belated) birthday wish to you!

    I sometimes find it shocking (and yet still comforting) when I find bloggers who I connect to and understand even though we know so little about each other. I have many of your fears and your thoughts and fears in many ways mirror my own. I always catch myself going “wow, me too” when I read your posts. That being said, I’m hitting 30 at the end of this year and many of your fears are my own. I fear being the “old parents” at schools or events with our future children. I didn’t expect to be here at this stage of my life and the moment that really knocked me on my butt and made me feel my age was a few weeks ago when the kid I used to babysit announced her pregnancy. I know that once I hit 30 my fear will hit high gear and only grow from there. I don’t have any magical words but I’m here, and all this time I’m going “wow, me too”. ❤

    • Thank you! I’ve thought that our stories parallel each other, too. Hubby and I are just a couple of nerds, but we’re such a perfect fit for each other, kind of like you and your husband. And, unfortunatley, we’re both dealing with male factor infertility. It’s kind of nice to know that I’m not the only one who has these fears. I’m so glad we have this medium to make connections that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

  15. Happy belated birthday 🙂
    And I’m glad you got some lovely comments and support for this one. I could have written it myself. 30 was my goal at first but then like you write, it got pushed back for each year until treatment. And yes, it’s no guarantee which is really scary but at least with treatments you are on your way of doing what you can with the situation. I guess that has to count for something. I’m turning 35 this winter and now I really hope I can be pregnant again by then. I truly hope this will be for both of us!

  16. “Its my birthday and Ill cry if I want to”…belated happy birthday and dont worry,again you are not alone…nice part of being an older mom in my opinion is you want your child more,you are wiser and you are more prepared for what motherhood entails. I had a youngish mom and she really wasnt prepared for motherhood.If she had had me 10 years ago,I think things would have turned out much better for both of us.

    • I’m definitely becoming wiser/more prepared simply by going to work every day. I hope I’ll be able to put that knowledge to use soon!

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