“Can I see your ID?” the cashier asked as two bottles of Merlot made their way down the conveyor belt.
“Of course!” I exclaimed with entirely too much enthusiasm.
“Oh, you’re almost 40,” she remarked. As I nodded and braced myself for a pity compliment on good aging, she pointed to my kids. “How old are they?”
“Um, 13 and 8,” I answered, secretly wondering whether their ages reflected mine.
“Well, you better hurry up and have another one before it’s too late!”
I nervously laughed. It’s a thing I’ve been doing a lot lately, what with all the sudden randos now residing in my womb. Last week, a neighbor suggested I hurry up and have a “last-chance baby.” A few weeks earlier, my son’s dental hygienist reminded me that my eggs weren’t “getting any younger.” Then there was that chatty stranger-grandma who practically guaranteed me a daughter, but only if I didn’t “wait much longer.”
Hold the fertile phone! What’s with all the sudden interest in my baby-making business?
Last I checked, reproductive plans were at least kind of personal. When did intimate interrogation replace polite conversation? Was it when curiosity trumped manners or when you assumed my uterus was a democracy? With so much recent reproductive prying, I had to ask myself the obvious question: Was I giving off some kind of rabid baby fever?
I certainly didn’t think I was. Ladies who want babies don’t talk to their gynos about sterilization options like I have. Ladies who want babies don’t bask in the hard-earned glory of parenting older kids the way I do. I may have 99 wants, but a baby ain’t one.
So what’s with this public procreation pursuit? Are my arms too empty? Do I exude some deep maternal sense of longing? Is it the two sons/zero daughters thing? Or is it that I’m looking down the barrel of 40?
Personally, I think it’s the last thing. Life may begin at 40, but not inside my womb.
And as a middle-aged woman, I finally feel comfortable enough to proclaim loud and proud that unsolicited reproductive regrets, warnings, and advice have no place inside my uterus. But unfortunately, they’ve always been there.
From my first child …
When are you going to have a baby?
Don’t wait too long to start your family!
No baby yet?
… to my second child …
When are you going to have another one?
It’s sad to have an only child.
You don’t want your son to grow up lonely!
… and the fertile years that followed.
But you make such beautiful babies!
Oh, come on, just one more!
You know you want another one.
Sure, there was a time I dreamed of another baby, but sometimes dreams simply cannot be. And even if my heart will never be done having babies, I’ve made peace with the decision that my body finally is. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place, now I just want to enjoy the view.
So thanks, but no thanks for your clock-watching, baby busybodies. At almost 40, I’ve got my sights set on too many first chances to focus on any lasts.More On