My 14-year-old daughter asked me the other day — seemingly out of nowhere — if I had gotten divorced before my hysterectomy, would I want to have a baby with the man I have been dating for 2.5 years.
Jesus. That’s one intuitive kid.
It’s a fantasy that he and I play out in the bedroom frequently — him impregnating me. Despite being, to put it eloquently, “old as fuck” to be having kids — him a rugged 53 and me having just turned 40 — the “risk” (or imagining there’s a risk) is very much a part of our fluid bonded sex life.
And I think its because we both harbor grief that neither of us experienced parenthood the way we imagined it long ago.
Both of us failed at mate selection the first time around and have fantasies of rewriting history and choosing a partner who is as invested in parenthood as we are. He imagines raising his children with a dedicated, selfless, intelligent, nurturing mother and I imagine my girls having a wise, decisive, involved leader for a dad. We see these qualities in each other and the way we parent our respective children.
In our minds, the children we may have made together would’ve been some incredible kids, and the idea of having taken the parenting journey with each other is seductive as all hell.
I asked him not too long ago if I got a lucrative book deal and his start-up company took off, would he be interested in pursuing ART (Assisted Reproductive Therapy)?
I had a hysterectomy 3 years ago and he had a vasectomy 15 years past, but…with enough money, we could harvest my eggs and his sperm and employ a gestational surrogate to bring our no-longer-imaginary child into the world.
He hadn’t even considered it. And neither would I.
And that makes sense — because I don’t think that bringing forth a child in this stage of our lives is the source of the want.
I think the fantasy we indulge about rewriting our nuclear family stories is a way for us to process the grief of our decades-old poor choices. We get a no-risk do-over in our imaginations.
He hadn’t considered doing what it would actually take to have a child right now because what he really wants is to plant the seed of a baby deep in my belly, with his cock and his cum, not through a petri dish and a catheter. He wants to find out we are pregnant and celebrate by making love for hours and cooking me healthy, nourishing food to eat, not by writing a check to our surrogate. He wants to sleep with his body curled around me and our baby and feel him or her moving within the safety and comfort of my womb, not have weekly, scheduled phone calls about brands of prenatal vitamins, blood test results, and payment schedules with the woman who, after 9 months, we will talk to only sporadically…and then maybe not at all.
He wants to coach me through the unmedicated birth of our child and marvel at the blending of our genetic code into a tiny little bundle of blue-eyed stardust and creative potential.
And he wants to have done it 20 years ago — not now.
Our procreative ships have sailed. We have both disembarked from the reproductive port, with our respective compasses dialed to the sunset.
The stars did not align for us. And maybe that’s for the better.
We will never know.
But our reproductive potential lives on in our shared “what if” story. It’s a lovely, satisfying and safe place to visit and we do it often. Our sexual encounters are heightened by pretending that there’s a possibility that our unprotected sex comes with the “risk” (promise?) of the kind of domestic lives and partners we wish we had had.
. . .
So I thought about it for a minute and the answer I gave my daughter was this:
“He and I have talked about it, because we both love all of you kids and we both love being parents. But the answer is, ‘No’. You can’t set up a “what if” without erasing everything that comes after it. If I had a baby with him then I wouldn’t have you. And we wouldn’t trade you guys for any other kids in the world.”
. . .
Sometimes I imagine what would happen if an exceptional sperm escaped his cauterized and clipped vas deferens and hitched a ride in his seminal fluid through the tied-off cul-de-sac of my vaginal canal into the vacant space in my abdomen where my uterus used to reside. I imagine that sperm colliding with one of the 25% of my eggs that are still viable, just hours after my single-remaining ovary released it. I picture the fertilized ova settling into my abdominal wall and developing into the rarest of gestations: abdominal pregnancy — and, following that, an even more unlikely outcome: both myself and the baby surviving.
That would be one helluva story.
This post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.
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