“You have a perfectly healthy cervix, uterus and ovaries,” she says to me. I can see the black and white swirls on the screen in front of me transmitting the picture from the small camera that is currently inside me. It doesn’t look like anything I recognise from anatomy books, but I trust her opinion.
It is strange to look at a part of my insides that is hidden and secret. It is the part of me that makes me a woman, perhaps the true physical representation of my feminine essence. Yet the eggs from my ovaries have never been fertilized and my uterus has never nourished a growing baby. About to turn forty-seven in a few weeks, I know that my fertile days are numbered and my ability to have a healthy baby has vanished.
I don’t know why I decided not to have children. In some ways I didn’t decide, I just put off making the choice for far too long.
First of all I had to be married and I didn’t manage that until I was twenty-nine. Then there was my career to work on. I made thirty-five my cut-off date and then it became forty. By the time I was forty I knew that I no longer wanted a child with my husband, but I was too scared to admit it to myself. That would mean admitting my marriage was a failure and I never failed at anything.
My husband not only didn’t want kids, he actively disliked them. He hated their noise and mess while at the same time surrounding himself with toys, games and DVDs more appropriate for a twelve-year-old than a grown man. It was like he was the only person that deserved to indulge in youthfulness. No one else was allowed. But it wasn’t endearing in a man, it was pathetic and strange.
Sometimes I would feel the rush of maternal instinct, curiously after I had been away somewhere for a while, and come home with the idea that it was time to have a baby. He was never interested and the closest he got was saying “if that is what you really want, then I suppose I could cope.” But then he would remind me “you can’t even cook and keep the house clean for the two of us so I don’t know how you would look after a baby.” I believed him.
So my chance has gone. I have a healthy reproductive system that will never be used. I feel guilty that there are so many women desperate to have babies who can’t because they don’t have the same blessing. It seems unfair that I should have a gift I haven’t used when others aren’t so lucky.