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They Call Me Fertile Myrtle

They call me Fertile Myrtle. I take it as a compliment. My husband and I conceive pretty easily, and I know how lucky that makes me. The unlucky part is what happens next. Out of seven pregnancies, I’ve only had one baby — our fabulous 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Viv. The others were lost early — blighted ovums or chemical pregnancies, never lasting more than six weeks.

We’ve taken every medical and genetic test known to reproductive science, and there is nothing wrong with either one of us except an impossible to cure and ever-worsening condition known as “advanced maternal age.”

Here’s the part where I confess that I’m 43 years old. Right now, some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking, “You’re 43 — what the hell did you expect would happen? It’s amazing you can have sex at all without breaking a hip!” That may be true, but hang with me for a minute. Once I explain, I’m hoping you’ll cut me some slack, or at least be entertained.

I’ve always wanted a family, but it took me a long time to find “the one.” My parents divorced when I was 13, and that was traumatizing enough to convince me that I should only have kids with someone I completely loved and trusted, for sure, like, totally. When it came to commitment, I was definitely gun shy.

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After two decades of serial dating, I met Dave at a Valentine’s Day party. I was 38. He was 34 (hey now!). Once we got serious, we agreed it would be smart, biologically speaking, to fast track our family before getting hitched. So we put the carriage before marriage (which is also the name of my blog).

Our wonderful daughter showed up soon after I turned 40, and three years later, she was the flower girl in our wedding.

Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to give Viv a sibling for more than two years, and nothing is working — not acupuncture, fertility drugs, IUI, IVF (three times, oy) or a whole bunch of other crazy stuff that I’ll tell you about in future installments.

I do get pregnant naturally, about every six months or so, but the pregnancies don’t stick, almost certainly due to declining egg quality. (You know what they say: You’re only as old as your ovaries.) Month after month, we’re rolling the dice that there’s one good egg left somewhere up in there.

Recently, I asked my doctor if it was OK to keep trying — like, if all the losses were the universe’s way of saying “Just quit it already.” He said that if I could accept and endure a high miscarriage rate, there was no physical reason I had to stop trying. And yes, some women do have healthy pregnancies with their own eggs in their mid- or even late forties (go Halle Berry!).

In fact, an over-40 natural pregnancy is tied to longevity, meaning that if my body can still make a baby, I have a good shot at sticking around a long time to be its mommy. So we keep on keeping on, armed only with my digital ovulation monitor and some fertility-friendly lube.

Each week, I’ll update you on our progress with a no holds barred account of the lengths I will go to, trying to conceive. Spoiler alert: I’ll do just about anything!

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