Sometimes I am still shocked by where I am in life: a widow, former caregiver, film writer/director who still works a day job and barely scrapes by, at 42 years old. Not feeling sorry for myself, just stating the facts. Actually, I was reminded of the facts yesterday.
Before leaving said day job, whether next month or next year, I’m using my health insurance to get everything checked out. There I was with a new OBGYN, from whom I need a referral for a mammogram, getting thoroughly probed and questioned about my family, medical and sexual history. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, the conversation found its way to a subject which I had not anticipated discussing, and inadvertantly brought up the reality of my situation.
“Are you thinking of having children?” the doctor asked.
“I’ve… thought about it,” I answered slowly. “But I’m not really sure what my options are at this point.”
The good doctor briefly explained the options:
The old-fashioned way. Meeting a man, falling in love, making a baby.
The Baby Daddy way. Asking a friend to donate his stuff and sign away his paternal rights.
Cryobank. Shopping online for an anonymous baby daddy.
Eggs on ice. Freezing my eggs for later.
“If having a biological child is something you’re even remotely considering, the first step would be to test how fertile you are and what your time frame might be,” the doctor suggested.
“Okay,” I said. What the hell. Let’s see what this body of mine is capable of, and just how fast the clock is ticking.
Then she asked if I want to take the BRCA1 and BRCA2 test, which would tell me if I have the breast cancer susceptibility gene. At first, I was skeptical. I already know breast cancer runs in my family (both my mother and sister had and survived it). The doctor explained that the gene test would either confirm my increased risk (in which case I would start a vigilante early detection program), OR it would give me the peace of mind that I’m actually not at more risk than the average woman.
She further explained that as of this year, thanks to new health insurance and Obamacare laws, if a woman tests positive for these genes, her subsequent early detection procedures will be covered by insurance, AND if she switches insurance at any point, a positive gene-test won’t be considered a pre-exisiting condition.
Again I thought, what the hell. Let’s test everything. I should have all the facts before making any big decisions.
As I left the appointment, tears started to flow in the hallway. I put my sunglasses on while waiting for the elevator with a mother and her two children and drove back to work, the whole time thinking about how different life would be if Kaz were still alive.
Facing these decisions alone is daunting. The idea of having a child alone is even more daunting. I know women do it all the time, but I’m not sure I want to – or if can afford it, to be honest. There’s all kinds of considerations, but the truth is, if it’s ever going to happen, the window of opportunity is closing. Anything could happen but my gut tells me the traditional route is the least likely option. Dating takes time, and who’s to say any potential partner would want to have a baby right away?
The good news is, I don’t have to make any decisions right now. The test results will come back within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’m focusing on my writing and Ruby, who I’m proud to say graduated Obedience 1 last weekend and begins Obedience 2 and Agility 1 this weekend. At the very least, I’m a dog mom (a good one). But as I told the doctor yesterday, “Sometimes I wonder if she’s enough.”