On the cover of the July 2010 issue of Marie Claire magazine is the headline, “Take Control of Your Sex Life.” It caught my attention the other day as I was sitting in the breakroom at work, looking at some of the old magazines my coworker brought in after she’d finished reading them.
I love sex articles. I love the trashy suggestions Cosmopolitan gives every month, as though every month, hard-working female “researchers” are finding new parts of the male anatomy that no woman has ever discovered before; I love reading Redbook sex tips especially, since they’re geared toward a slightly older set of women, and therefore assume that we’ll be trying these things on the same man that we’ve been trying other things on for a number of years. I don’t subscribe to, or even singularly purchase, any magazines, but reading these articles when and where I can – beauty shops, waiting rooms, occasionally online – has been a guilty pleasure of mine for several years.
So I was eager to see how Marie Claire would suggest I take control of my sex life, being that control of my sex life is exactly what I’ve been trying to regain since my miscarriage.
But when I flipped to the page, I was greeted, not by a naughty, delicious list of sex tips, but by a study of different types of birth control. The ridiculous images showed a woman wearing a string of wrapped Trojans like an ammo pack; a woman in nothing but a pair of lacy, white underwear, using two round packs of pills to cover her breasts; and a woman holding a diaphragm sponge over one eye (her other eye was overly mascara-ed, straight off the cover of A Clockwork Orange). Still, I skimmed to find the info on IUDs, and learned that only about 3% of women use them; the pill is the most popular form of hormonal birth control.
Then I made a grave mistake. I kept reading. And there, in a bright pink sidebar, under the heading, “Egg Alert,” were the following two quotes:
“By age 30, almost 90 percent of a woman’s eggs are gone. By 40, a full 97 percent have disappeared.” -According to a January study from researchers at the University of St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh University in Scotland
(“Can we ultrasound my ovaries?”)
“I believe the do-it-now age for freezing eggs or having an ovary biopsy is 30.” -Dr. Sherman Silber of The Infertility Center of St. Louis
(“Will you take out my IUD?”)
What the fuck, Marie Claire?! Why are we telling women these things? As though we aren’t already paranoid enough that we’re going to run out of time to have babies before the time is even right.
The question I’m asked most often when I explain my situation and my suffering is, “Why don’t you just have a kid?” In fact, my youngest brother, Martin, just asked me that very question last night. And the short answer is, I don’t know. The long answer is only slightly more conclusive. It touches on wanting a more stable environment for the raising of a child: marriage, a house, a yard, a more regular work schedule. It explains my need to heal before I rush into anything, so that the darkness I’ve been harboring in my heart since my miscarriage – no, since my divorce, by which I thought I was so unaffected – doesn’t taint the joy of any future marriage or pregnancies. And every time, it concludes with the assumption that I still have time for all that grown-up stuff, and that I need to re-learn to enjoy this unmarried, non-parental life before I wake up one morning, ten or twenty years from now, wondering why I didn’t realize how good I had it.
The fact of the matter is, that while I do have some friends who are wives or mothers or both, I also have a lot of friends who are neither of those things. I am not the last of my urban family to enter adulthood, I am not ten years behind the median of the normalcy curve, so why rush it? It’s a hard thing to see when I get into these heart-verses-head debates, but there it is.
And furthermore, should I happen to have one of these debates out loud, what I hear most often, or second to that “Why don’t you just have a kid?” bit, is, “You’re only 28.” My mom had me when she was 33 (she was 39 when she had Martin). Dawn started her family at 31. Forgive me for ever mentioning it, but the Duggar mom is 43 and apparently making good use of the remaining three percent of her eggs.
So if you don’t mind, Marie Claire, tonight I am not going to heed the egg alert you have given me. Instead, I plan to share a frozen pizza with my boyfriend, watch some football and some stand-up comedy, and then go to bed and see if there might be a more constructive way for me to take control of my sex life right now.