I know this is going to be a controversial post. I want to start it out by saying that infertility is a problem for BOTH men and women. I am not speaking about the actual health issue of men’s infertility here, nor do I think I can or should because A) Because I am a woman and B) My husband has not suffered from MFI and C) I don’t know much about it. Although, I’d like to say that I would like to see more written about it, to demystify it for everyone. I am specifically speaking about the education (or lack of education) about infertility in general that men receive.
Women’s fertility decreases with age. Starting around age 30, it declines. Yet, we seem to be prepping our children for marriage and children at an older age. I often think about what to tell both my children, my son and my daughter, about the realities of infertility.
I met Darcy when I was 25. He was 24. I’d be a liar if I said that I didn’t want to marry him within a year of meeting him: I did. I was madly in love with him from Day One. (Although, of course, I postured wildly that I wasn’t. This was hard.) He was everything I had ever dreamed of as a girl and a woman: he was romantic, dashing, handsome, challenging, intellectual, funny. We got married four years after meeting. It was challenging for to me to wait. It was. But he needed to have adventures, he needed to figure out that I wasn’t Jewish (and was I worth marrying anyway?) and those adventures and that decision-making process I don’t regret at all. I lived in London with the man I loved. I had a super romantic relationship with my boyfriend for three years: we flew in a single engine plane over Africa, we drove all over the South of France with just an old-fashioned map to guide us, we ate incredible pastries, we stayed in the house F. Scott Fitgerald wrote “The Beautiful and The Damned” in, we chased our desires for good food and culture all over the globe. Will I regret these experiences on my death bed? No. And when he proposed to me, it was so magical and not at all expected and so, so, so his decision. He was a man who was more than ready to marry the woman he loved. That night in Paris, on the Pont Neuf, when he pulled a diamond ring out of my favorite Jane Austen book, I knew I was the luckiest woman in the world.
I have lived a romantic life, in part. My twenties were a dream: a cinematic, lovely story. Had I blogged about my life then, it would have been insufferable. Yet, you would have noticed my underlying desire: my desire for marriage and kids. I wanted what I didn’t have. Don’t we always.
Well, the comeuppance: it happened. My thirties were an utter nightmare. After the dream, perfect wedding, a few weeks after I turned 30 and the honeymoon in Tanzania spent on safari and then on the private island Bill Gates himself commissioned for his own honeymoon, I gloried in my excellent choices and thought how wonderful my life was BECAUSE of my choices. How foolish. And…the fall from grace. It was incredibly painful.
I tell this story because: what if. What if? What if Darcy had NOT needed adventures? What if Darcy had married me on the spot? What if my battle through infertility had never happened? What if I had married when I was 25? Would I have gotten pregnant? Would I have gotten pregnant again? And again? Would I have regretted not pursuing a life of adventure? I don’t think that some of the experiences we had (the safari in particular) would have happened if we didn’t marry later. And I think about that safari every single day of my life. Sometimes the memory of driving in our jeep through the migration of wildebeests suddenly, after a long, flat road: the feeling of driving into the moon, essentially, sustains me when I am bored.
There are cultures that promote young marriage: the Mormon religion, and certain orthodox Judaic traditions (Darcy’s friend had an arranged marriage with a woman who he’s had six children with upon last count: she was 20 when they wed) and others I am not familiar with. But I think the “average” story America tells is: go to college, get your degree. Have fun, then get married when you are ready. Or, don’t, if you don’t find that specific person.
Let’s talk specifically about the heterosexual male perspective.
There have been articles about the delayed and immature young male. We do know men are less likely than ever to go to college, or graduate, or pursue a graduate degree. What’s up with men, and their postponement of marriage?
I don’t know. Is it that marriage is valued less? Is it the economy? Is it that there are more choices? Is it that 50% of marriages end in divorce?
I am asking you, my readers, because I know that you are so, so smart. Way smarter than me.
What should I tell my children? Should I tell them to pursue a life of adventure, or should I tell them to settle down early? Is it a choice?