An acquaintance of mine a mere 4 years older just found out she’s pregnant. Her GYN instructed her to take it easy because her uterus is considered “elderly”. As in old. I immediately started knitting mine a pearly white shawl and googling prices for tiny little Hoverounds. I always said I wouldn’t even begin to think about kids until after 30, if at all, but apparently when you cross that 35 year old threshold it gets all On Golden Pond up in your reproductive system. But let’s face it; if my uterus is going to be a Golden Girl, she’s totally a Blanche.
Since Blanche and I haven’t found anyone we’d want to mingle DNA with yet and ‘advanced age’ pregnancy is fraught with complication it has become increasingly clear we needed to do some research on appropriate birth control methods for the mature lady. I know “Didn’t you learn this shit in 9th grade Health?” Yep, sure did. I learned what pertained to my much younger and lither body. And when I was 17 and in love with my boyfriend that I would spend four years with (and the only person I’ve ever, EVER, considered marrying – mostly because I was young and stupid) I did the smart girl thing and started taking a daily hormonal pill. Thank you Margaret Sanger. We even waited several months for it to take effect and used condoms as a back-up method like the smart, educated, Honor Roll, going to college kids we were.
I spent 15 years practicing being Single Girl Smart this way, my trusty proven pill with a condom kicker for pregnancy back-up and STD’s (because nobody ruins a party like a crasher named Syphilis, that dude will drink all the beer and then start ranting about one of his paranoid hallucinations). But I would be lying if I claimed to be Single Girl Smart every time. I may be smart and responsible 99.8% of the time but I am also completely fallible. Carpe the Diem moment, very humanly, fallible. Having a section of cervix frozen off at 22 after an abnormal pap smear shored up that fallibility for a good decade when it comes to condom use (another story for another day), but even when I was Single Girl Stupid I always had my trusty pill. I only took one overly paranoid pregnancy test in 15 years thanks to those little friends. But then I turned 30. 31. 32.
At the age when the chance of pregnancy complications rise so too does the risk of complications of hormonal birth control. It was all well and good when my hormones were 20, dancing it up with Ortho Tri-Cyclen under a glittery disco ball. At 32 the house lights came up. The risk of hypertension, blood clots, and stroke drastically increase with the use of hormonal birth control after 30.
At 32 I was newly diagnosed with hypertension already and my bedroom was All Quiet on the Western Front as far as activity. The van was not a-rocking in this misplaced, misguided, unintentional celibate zone of my early 30’s when I was ‘taking a look at my life’ and trying to ‘get to know someone first’ (turns out most someones suck and I got over myself). I decided to break up with my birth control pack.
Which brings us to today, Sex and the Single Girl at age 35. The surprise (!) pregnancy of my acquaintance reminded me that even though most of the eggs in my internal hatcheries are cracked or powdered by now there might be some plump, juicy ones left in there ready to work. Couple her announcement with a recent less than Single Girl Smart encounter and I found myself staring at pregnancy tests for 15 minutes at the grocery store. I went in for some lettuce and some eggs. Just trying to get some Vitamin K spinach over here and suddenly I’m contemplating what my life would look like if Sleeping on the Diagonal turned into Never Sleeping Again Single Mother because the 99% effective “Most Trusted” Trojan slipped off/broke at some point. And yes. I considered Plan B. Immediately after said Less Than Single Girl Smart rendezvous walked out the door. But. Cracked or powdered. While I may joke I tossed the biological alarm clock out the window long ago, I fully acknowledge there’s only so many chances left. I don’t go all misty-eyed, goo-goo, mushy when I see a baby but it doesn’t mean I don’t wonder What if? Having a surprise (!) baby now certainly wouldn’t be the massive shock it would have been a decade ago. Plus, I’m going to need someone to visit me in the nursing home. And if it’s a blood relative I birthed, all the easier to guilt them into smuggling in a kick ass Australian red wine when all the dining hall will give me are some pureed peas.
When I was 16 I thought I would have sex and relationships all figured out by 35. Then I turned 35 and realized being an adult is mostly about faking being an adult. We’re all just making it up. So now my quandary lies in my trusty back-up Trojan moved to starter, since the first string hormonal methods are permanently retired, with no drafted third string on the sideline to step up. Yes, I just used a sports metaphor. It’s how Americans talk about sex because it makes several of us uncomfortably tingly in our Puritanical roots.
Get thee to a nunnery is not an option. It’s 2015 and I’m 35. The abstinence only train rolled on long, long ago. I whole heartedly believe in the female orgasm, the male orgasm and all the fun had in between. I believe sex is a natural, healthy, and necessary part of life and that physical intimacy need not be shackled to emotional intimacy. Yes, I acknowledge an emotional intimacy can heighten the physical, but waiting for an emotional connection is like waiting for Brigadoon to appear. I refuse to be shamed by my uncomfortably tingling Puritanical roots into feeling like my physical needs are somehow abhorrent. In the sage words of the Bloodhound Gang: You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals / So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel. Yep, just like I did previously in Cherry ChapStick I’m aging myself via my musical references.
I went into non-hormonal double barrier research mode. Diaphragms require doctor visits and fittings and seem very 1982. Spray spermicides seem so messy and mood killing to the point Barry White himself probably couldn’t perform a mood resurrection. And only 82% effective. Discard. IUD? There’s a tiny conspiracy theory nut in my brain screaming about NSA surgical implants. Perhaps we come back to that one.
After much research I thought the Sponge might be worth a test drive as a back-up to the trusty Trojan. Logically it made sense. Like a diaphragm but over the counter. 91% effective. Can be left in for 24 hours for more than one use (call me an optimist). Has spermicide in it so with a condom it would be like triple barrier barbed wire to any sperm trying to get to the hatcheries. Expensive (like $20 for a box of three expensive) but not as expensive as three years of diapers. So I invested in an experiment since the literature said it could take a few tries to be comfortable with using.
Annnnnddddd….. quickly learned why this is not the #1 preferred method. I spent 90 minutes in my bathroom with diagrams, You-Tube, and many an A-Ha! moment turned to a WTF? exclamation. The loop goes which way? I do Kegels, why isn’t this staying in? There’s no way this correct … Semi-squat. No. Full squat. One leg up? It was all Vasco de Gama and his cartographers up in there trying to chart the unchartable territory. And that was all before the sudsy, foamy spermicide on the thing started to burn. Okay. I don’t think my cervix needs the unintentional chemical peel. She may be getting on in years but perhaps we decide to age gracefully together.
So, what is the ever evolving Smart Single Girl plan now for this 35 year old? Why is it seemingly more complicated than when I was 20? I am alone in feeling this way? For now I’m going to trust the “America’s Most Trusted” Trojan to be a good soldier. And I’ll stick with the added spermicide version. I love a twofer. And if this site suddenly becomes Never Sleeping Again either I’ve switched focus to explore the social complexities in the entire collection of Nightmare on Elm Street OR that trusty soldier failed at his mission. Blanche and I will figure it out if that day comes.