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To Be Fertile—Or Not To Be Fertile
By Sue Kolinsky

If I only knew in my twenties how important it would be to have my eggs in my forties I would have stashed some away like one does on an Easter Sunday.

To say that trying to get pregnant at 43 is difficult is like saying the Mets had a chance of winning three in a row against the Yankees in the World Series. For those of you who don't appreciate a good baseball metaphor, it's like trying to fly Southwest direct from Los Angeles to New York.

I began my baby-making journey at the tender age of 39, with my then 39, going on 20 year-old boyfriend. We had been dating for some 12 years at that point and thought, if we don't get cracking to have children soon, both of us will be in diapers.

I remember so vividly our first attempt, which was down in Florida at his mom's who, (heavy Jewish accent) "had taken a place in Boca for the season." One night, in the TV/Guest room we inhabited, he grabbed me as I was getting undressed and said to me ever so romantically, "You wanna try to have a kid?" Totally caught off guard, I, in my romantic way responded, "I don't know. You wanna?"

The next morning I awoke with a smile on my face, and a craving for pickles and ice cream. I thought, wow! Does it really happen that fast? No - unless you're seventeen, living at home, with a book report due.

When you tell people you're trying to get pregnant they say, "That's great! You must be having sex all the time." Yeaah… but when you're having a hard time conceiving, sex isn't just for pleasure anymore. Just having an orgasm isn't good enough. Now you're going for the two-point conversion. And every time you don't succeed you feel like the kid at the amusement park playing that crane game that feverishly attempts to win those toys they can never quite grasp.

After a futile year of trying on our own, we retained the services of a fertility doctor. He came highly recommended through a good friend of mine whose selling point was that he was once a minor league ballplayer in the Mets organization. Apparently, he didn't have what it took to make it to "The Show," so he traded in his leather glove for a latex one, and from the baby pictures that lined the walls of his office, in the field of medicine he was batting well over 500.

During our first visit my boyfriend and I sat with him for almost two hours, as he explained to us what procedures we needed to take in our attempt to produce a child. They consisted of temperature taking, with a basal thermometer, sans mozzarella and tomatoes, to be done every morning before conception. This is accompanied by a graph to chart the rise and fall of degrees. If your temperature continues to climb over the course of a couple of days, you are at the gates of ovulation land - "Enter at your own risk."

If this method proves to be unsuccessful, then the purchase of an ovulation kit is in order. This entails peeing in a cup, and not having to put a label with your name on it, unless for some reason, there are other women in your house trying to get pregnant by your boyfriend, which in that the case, trying to conceive isn't your biggest problem. The "sample" is then placed in a plastic applicator which houses two small horizontal lines, one on top of the other. After five minutes, if the bottom line appears darker than the one above, it's off to the races to gather sperm in yet another cup to be brought to the doctor within an hour for the sole purpose of insemination. And of course, before doing all this... relax!!

Now when you're having sex with all these rules and regulations, after a while sex becomes a chore. I recall on many occasions when my boyfriend turned to me and said, "Do we have to?" "Can't we do it later?" He even resorted to making deals with me like "If we do it tomorrow, I'll walk the dog too."

When we arrived at the doctor's office, the sperm is then taken for a ride in a carousel of sorts, for about an hour, where it is washed and checked for mobility. If the little fellows can master the art of the backstroke, or any stroke for that matter, it's time for their close-up, inside of me, as I lie on a table in my cute little sexy paper gown. I never imagined that trying to conceive a child would be as dreamy as this.

After insertion, I lie there with my legs bent for a period of fifteen minutes, trying to think positive thoughts - as well as begging god to forgive me for the jacket I stole from Macy's when I was sixteen years old.

When my doctor told me what the sperm has to go through to fertilize the egg, it's any wonder that women do actually get pregnant. It has to swim up a canal, climb over the uterine wall, and shoot a rifle. What is this? An Iron Man Competition?

And sometimes for some strange reason, it loses its bearings and ends up in the bladder. I picture the egg holding up a map telling the sperm he's not in the uterus, and as they pass the ovaries and fallopian tubes she turns to him and says, "Maybe we should ask some of this scar tissue because that tunnel back there looked really familiar." And sperm, being the men that they are, vehemently refuse to ask for directions.

Since conventional medicine wasn't doing the trick, I decided to venture out into the world of "alternative." I went for acupuncture twice a week. Even boiled and drank the stinky herbs, which by the way are the most disgusting combination of odor and taste any one person should have to endure for… anything. I went to my trusty health food store and purchased a bevy of vitamins, whole grains, and an assortment of organic fruits and vegetables. I started taking yoga thinking that if all of this didn't work, I'd be limber enough to actually go inside my body, and check on things myself.

After years and years of trying every method known to man, with no result, I thought to myself, what does one have to do to have a baby around here? Then as I sat on the couch flipping through the channels, I came upon the TV series Cops, and there's this forty-year old, overweight woman, puffing on a cigarette, with a can of beer in one hand, and three of her fifteen kids in the other. Apparently, the egg has a far better chance of enticing the sperm if there's unsavory activity going on.

So now after fifteen inseminations, and nothing to show for it, (except a large co-payment) I'm sitting here with a pack of smokes, a bottle of gin, and an ounce of coke hoping that my dog does not remain an only child.

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