Does Aging Affect My Pursuits?
At the most primal level, my biological clock reminds me of my age most days. And more loudly once a month. #femalebody
I am 37 and a half years young. And in many ways, I feel younger, more alive, more awake, ambitious, and spontaneous than I did at 27 and a half years old.
10 years ago, I had a plan to execute, and I was already late. I was focused on planning a wedding, honeymoon, and then... babies. I had so much tension in my body as I rushed from logistic to logistic during a summer where I planned a wedding alone. The symbolism is not left on me.
The event planning was a fun distraction from the underlying feeling of “I’m already behind where I want to be in life.” Shoved down even further, were the bigger questions around love/intimacy/partnership.
Stillness and patience are required to begin to know yourself well enough to dive deeper into the dark waters of what really matters. This self-discovery I had yet to fully indulge in was unknowingly distant from my heart as I buzzed about, trying so hard to make everything work according to my plan.
My plan crashed and burned and I got thrown into the very deep waters of the ocean where I had to either get to know who I really am, or drown.
Now, 10 years older, I am clear about what I want and what matters. I am still learning who I am (and will be for the rest of my life), and have finally given myself the gift of patience.
As a woman, it is impossible not to feel age. Our biological clock is sometimes so loud it clouds rational thought and good judgement. Men don’t have these alarm bells ringing in the background of their existence in the same way women do. We bleed, cramp, and have hormone surges that affect our appetite, sleep, libido, and weight.
Each year we age, we contend with the question of motherhood whether we are ready for it or not. I remember signing up for my health benefit plan as a young teacher and the advisor asked me if I planned on getting pregnant. I was shocked, appalled, defensive, and mad. "How is this any of his business?" "I've not had time to give this any thought, and now I'm expected to give my 14 month plan at each open enrollment?" He was trying to advise me about disability insurance, but I was 23 years old! I was not ready. And even if I was, I wasn’t ready to talk to the insurance rep about if I *might* decide I want to become pregnant during the next year. Every time open enrollment rolled around, I had to ask myself if there was even a possibility I might decide to become pregnant within the next year. The anxiety, reminder, pressure, and stress was unwelcome, and certainly something my male counterparts never had to even consider.
This year, however, I gave myself the gift of easing the lid off the pressure cooker, slowing down my clock, and freeing myself from the tethered tension of my hormones and disability insurance anxiety. I attempted three rounds of follicle stimulation (the first stage of IVF) in an effort to freeze some of my eggs.
I chose to do this because my age is such that if I didn’t, I would probably be closing the door completely on my fertility. I wasn’t and am not ready to give up on pregnancy and my biggest life dream; becoming a mom.
There are many ways to become a mother, and I am wide open to whatever way that manifests in my life. Freezing my eggs was simply a small step I could take at this point in my life to exert some control around something I felt victim to for so many years. After a decade of relationship toxicity, multiple early miscarriages, an autoimmune disease reckoning, a bitter divorce, and a pandemic, I decided to take my fertility into my own hands and reframe this challenge for my own heart.
This step changed my narrative from hopeless to hopeful. Do I realize these little ovocitos I have frozen might not every make it full term? Yes. There are so many things that have to go VERY right for them to survive (not to mention that whole falling in love and finding a comrade who wants to get in the mud with me on the whole adventure). But I needed to do my part to give my body a chance, to blossom in her fertile glory (partially) and take the power back for something so important to me.
Today, I think about those little eggs my body grew, fueled by so much love, care, and patience. They have a fighting chance to become life one day.
I’ve not written here much since my Grand Canyon FKT. My racing and running felt complete in a certain way for the time being and my energy needed to shift toward my fertility and a new business I created and launched. The quest to align my time with my purpose shifted my focus and I'm proud of all I've accomplished in both domains thus far. I don't have babies yet and my business is still a baby, but I feel successful on the path I've created for myself to run, hike, bike, and live on.
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Ok, back to my fertility and age...Now that my eggs are frozen, I can exhale. A little bit. (Ok, I have about 4 years to use them… So not a complete exhale!).
Coincidence? (Or is nothing in life really a coincidence?): The day after my procedure, I received a message that I was chosen to participate on a low-key Sponsored triathlon female relay team as the cyclist. And for the first time in a year and a half, a little spark in me is excited to train and compete again.
The little eggs I grew are taken care of and a veil has been pulled back. I see possibilities for how I want to spend my time without the clouded question of "what about my fertility?" screaming louder and louder with each passing moon cycle.
"Good things come to those who wait" - Wyclef Jean
So does age affect my pursuits? For me, yes. For most females, yes. Racing, PRs, Street-nodes, and FKTs lost their allure in the quest for my deeper, spiritual "why." And it is in that quest that I uncover and pave the way for my priorities, each day with more clarity.