Excerpt: 'In Her Own Sweet Time'

Intellectually, I knew this. But emotionally, I was just as panicked as everyone else. I am now thirty-eight years old and I'm still hoping to start a family of my own. I didn't arrive here by accident. I'm here because of choices – both good and bad – that I have made along the way. When I entered college in 1988, my mom said: "Find your passion. Become yourself." I had always interpreted that statement as an injunction to find and fine-tune my personal interests and career rather than burdening myself too early with the kinds of compromises necessary to form an enduring relationship and a family. So instead of hunting for stability and convention, I spent my twenties exploring my eclectic interests, and the more bohemian aspects of my personality. I spent a semester of college in Nepal studying a culture as different from my own as I could imagine. I climbed peaks in the Himalayas by myself. After graduation, I traveled and danced into the sultry night on offbeat islands in Thailand. I moved across the country to San Francisco, went to graduate school. And through it all, I surfed through different relationships with men.There are some unforgettable romantic experiences – the sexy hazel-eyed water polo player who taught me to play bar shuffle board and once rode me around the island of Menorca on the back of a little red scooter; the geeky magazine editor who was obsessed with retro airplane memorabilia and with whom I once drove all night to see camels race across the Nevada desert There was the guy who drank red wine through a straw on our first date because he said he didn't want it to stain his teeth, and the quirky Mormon artist who was hand drawing the Grand Canal of Venice on a scroll. There was the one who taught me that even if a man says he is going to call, he might not, and the one who took me out twice before deciding to tell me that he was already living with someone. Each move, each professional adventure, and each relationship revealed a little more of what I wanted out of my life; each choice led to new choices.

I followed my instincts and lived for the moment. Sexual liberation was well-embedded in my social DNA. I took it as a given that birth control gave me freedom, and I believed that this freedom would in turn enable me to further refine my passions and interests to choose a career that would give me financial control over my life. From there, I could find a partner who would share my interests and ambitions.

At that age I didn't really think about my potential choices for how and when I might become a mother; motherhood was something that I just assumed would happen some time down the road. I wasn't yet searching for my future family; I spent those years studiously trying to avoid getting pregnant.

It was only in the year after my break-up at the Cloisters that I began to make it a top priority to find the father of my imagined children. As I started out my new life alone, I began to see all of the new choices and the dilemmas and contradictions created by the newfound freedom to start later. I realized that in this new world there are few social rules and little regulation binding our decisions about who to date and when and if to marry, when to start trying to get pregnant, the new array of choices in Advanced Reproductive Technology, forming alternative families with sperm or eggs donors, choosing single motherhood, or adopting.

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