The other side of 35.

So… after several days of apprehension, wariness and significant self-imposed trauma, I finally turned 35 yesterday. While, in all honestly, I have to admit that it was a particularly nice birthday I won’t be lying if I say I am glad the milestone is past me. That’s just another quirk of mine I suppose. I tend to magnify the impact of events, snowball style, as the concerned event draws closer. Once I am past the date, I always feel a rather invigorating sense of relief.

It’s a strange precondition of living in a social setup (assuming, of course, that you’re one of those that subscribes to this commonplace notion of urban dwelling!) that we must spend a vast majority of our time speculating on things/ circumstances/ events which often (read: always!) never end up being quite as catastrophic as we initially imagined them to be, so strong is our conditioning to feel a certain way. Looking back, five years back to be precise, I can recall with strikingly vivid detail how every fiber of my being was resisting turning thirty. How a rather (clearly my word of the week!) raucous birthday party put together by some truly caring friends did nothing to assuage the sense of impending doom that I was wallowing in at the thought of stepping up on this crucial pedestal with no one whose hand I was holding, not even a shadow of a person. Today as I think of that achingly lonely woman, desultorily sipping cabernet in her shared Boston apartment, trying so hard not to dissolve into a self-pitying pool of tears, I feel anger then irritation then sadness at the sheer uselessness of it all. Who says that thirty and single spells loser in scarlet letters, font size 78? Why did I have to believe so strongly at that time that being alone (single) on my 30th birthday was something to be deeply sad about? Look how that turned out! Today I am married to a wonderful man who is a partner in every sense and who has given new meaning to togetherness, something I probably never would have believed at the time!

Similarly, even though I know there is a whole thriving industry thanks to women choosing to have babies later in life, yet why is it that turning 35 seems to signal the very nadir of a TTC journey? By no means am I doubting the factual portion of this argument; my point is that why should there feel such a vast, looming impasse between 34 and 35? As several doctors and acupuncturists have told me, while our fertility does tend to decline 35 onwards, the difference between 34 and 35 is not all that huge. Yet, the AMA (advanced maternal age) stamp that many clinics are only to eager to decorate you with adds to that sense of growing frustration; if only I could leash time.

Ahhh… too morbid.

Fact is that I had a really nice birthday courtesy the best husband in the world! Presents and shopping and the most divine Italian food (you guys I had BREAD!! after 5.5 months!! freshly baked, spongy soft, melt-in-your-mouth bread!) followed by a leisurely stroll and a peaceful hour spent browsing my favorite used bookstore … blissful and content is how I felt.

Some highlights:
–the spouse was insistent on wishing me at midnight despite my not-so-subtle surliness… I had Friends on in the background and just as the clock chimed (beeped) midnight, a very pregnant Phoebe’s water broke and all the cast shouted “the babies are coming!!”… my husband and I feel this was a special sign! No seriously, the episode was followed by four back to back ads all featuring babies!
–as I entered my acupuncturists clinic after shopping, she asked me how the week had been. No sooner had I started telling her how I just turned 35 than my eyes teared up and before I knew it, hot angry tears were running down my surprised cheeks! I kept saying I DON’T want to turn 35 like a petulant child being asked to vacate the sandbox because its getting late. sigh!
–at the Italian restaurant, my husband had to gently remind me to stop chowing down the bread like a woman possessed because we did have appetizers and a main course and dessert coming up!
–once we finished dinner, the restaurant’s owner and his cronies sang a delightfully operatic, Italian-style rendition of Happy Birthday for me, complete with cake, candle, ice cream! It was just so adorable!
–my neighbor and her toddler came over to wish me today with a delicious gluten free, wheat free cake and flowers. I spent a merry hour with the little girl on my lap, eating strawberries and icing from me, both of us getting happily smeared in the process!

35, here I come 🙂


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