Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bullshit Woman Pressures

This is Thursday.

I finished my last of 10 progesterone pills on Monday, and still no sign of the cackling Queen of Caca known as Aunt Flo.  (Worst. Party guest. Ever.  Shows up when you don't want her, no sign of her when you do.) If she's not here by tomorrow Bubba is going to have to creatively bang on the end of me like a stubborn ketchup bottle or smoke the bitch out with some sage.

On the upside, my skin looks terrible and they've stopped selling my pore minimizing face wash - so if any of you have any loose change or spare keys, feel free to store them in my face.

... Okay so I may or may not have a serious case of PMS.  Myself and the giant bag of kettle chips I've been inhaling, spitting and frothing all over the place today, remain mum.

If I did have PMS, I may be inclined to warn you that this post will inevitably contain some of my more 'colorful' language capabilities (and they're pretty colorful to begin with). If this offends your ladylike sensibilities (I can't think of one person this describes, but I'll throw it out there anyway) I will leave you with a picture of cookie monster.  Come back a post from now when I'm not hopped up on hormones, sodium and sweets.

(Source that you should be following on Facebook).

We good?

Okay.  Speaking of Facebook, I just posted this as my current status:

"Women of the world: Get married in your early 20s, pop out many babies in your late 20s, and when you've done those things, quickly back away into the shadows, and accept your irrelevance with grace. Skipping a step, doing them out of order or deviating from this plan in any way is to cunt punt Mother Nature."

Why the hostility, you ask?  Why post the phrase 'cunt punt' on a page that my 87 year old grandmother has access to?  Most importantly, why interrupt the flow of hysteria fueled statuses that have been happening over the last week, because apparently something heinous happened on the Tits, Swords and Dragons show otherwise known as Game of Thrones?

Because somehow until today, I have missed this lovely Ad Campaign that's going on. Oh, and here's the accompanying picture to the ad:

(Source).

Basically it's an ad campaign sponsored by First Response to remind women that their biological clock is ticking.  Because, you know, they need a reminder. 

Now I know that we as Ladies of Infertility are much more likely to get pissed off about this.  Seeing an ad with a photoshopped elderly woman pregnant (just a friendly reminder, ya'll!) is like being hooked up to a chemo machine and having someone come in with a megaphone and shout "HEY - you have cancer!  You should probably do something about that!"  But I'm not even coming at this from an infertile angle, this pisses me the fuck off as a woman.

I am well aware that it's important for a woman to have information on her fertility when she wants it - I think we can all agree that there is an amplitude of information available on the internet for when someone goes looking for it.  And please, show me a woman who has reached adulthood without the understanding that fertility is finite and is for the first time really going to understand it as a result of seeing this ad.  Nope.  Not for one second was that a scenario discussed in it's creation - the only possible outcomes discussed for this ad were whatever PC terms are being used for pressure and guilt.

I don't have a problem with the "take charge of your fertility" angle.  I have a problem with using scare-tactics to make your point.  I don't need a wrinkled pregnant woman to remind me that fertility is finite.

Speaking as a pro-choice woman, I can safely say that we would all be outraged if there was an ad featuring a very young pregnant woman with the tagline "Abortion: Something to consider at a certain age!". 

I am really just sick to death of is articles, ads, billboards, magazines, tv shows, etc. etc. etc. telling me what the fuck being a woman is and what the hell I should be worrying about.

When you're little, you have to like pink.  And princesses.

When you're a teenager, you should really start to panic about staying thin and dumbing down for the boys (you want to make them feel comfortable, after all).

When you're a legal adult, you should really start to hypersexualize yourself.  (But you know, not too much because then you're asking for it).

Early 20s, bag that man.  (There is a ton of wonderful info on this in aforementioned media, by the way, but may I suggest doing what I did and just hanging out in a tree with a very large butterfly net waiting for the one you want to walk under it).

Mid 20s, get married.  Fairytale wedding, preferably.  If you've reached your wedding day and you're not in debt, on Xanex nor have you bullied your fiance and attendants into performing a coreographed dance number, you've done something wrong.

Late 20s, pop out as many babies as humanly possible.  And start to cover your shit up because now that you're practically elderly, nobody wants to see that.

By early 30s you should be a cheerio dispensing, breastfeeding, baked good producing sexless ball of awful.  You should be a Carrie Bradshaw meets Martha Stewart monster, and if you can't manage that, by all means get yourself a pill or a wine problem. Or eat a lot of kale.  Kale solves everything.

Mid 30s to early 40s, you should have recovered from the previous description, have washboard abs, a thigh gap and be readily able to prove to anyone that 40 is the new 12.  If you don't accomplish that I'm sorry to say, any problems in your marriage are your fault.

Beyond 40s?  Step back quietly into the shadows, accept irrelevance, don't be seen or heard, and wait to die with a smile on your face unless you are Helen Mirren.

And as I said, skipping any steps in this plan, doing them sloppily, doing them out of order or gawd forbid deviating from it entirely means you are less than a woman... and you should probably be panicking because that next step is just getting closer.

Believe me I get that other people get pressure.  Being an honorary member of the gay man mafia of Los Angeles I can assure you boys are fed a bunch of horseshit about having to do things a certain way to be considered "men".  And heaven help you if you're a lesbian - the media pressure on women does not advocate a deep seeded love for Home Depot.

But it's not quite the same for men, is it?  I've met 40 year old men who casually mention that they'd like to get married someday and/or have children.  Casually mention it. There's not the same built-in, lifelong panic going on where they've been constantly thinking for 15 years "if you want this you're going to have to do it YESTERDAY".

So fuck this horseshit.

I already know I can't bake a pie, I've never had any interest in pink or fairytales and I sure as shit don't need anyone suggesting to me that I should start panicking about my fertility. I'm well aware that whether or not anyone likes it, making a family is no longer a simple or straight forward line.  For anyone.  For me as an infertile, for men, for the LGBT community, for sea monkeys, carnies, certainly the Starks on the Dragons & Titties show and even for perfectly fertile 35 year old women who just aren't there yet.  It's no one's fucking business to pressure you about where you are or should be in family building.

Much like people who blindly ask married couples "sooo.. when are you having kids?", people who imply "you're not getting any younger!" whether it be in words, ads, spelled out on some fucking beach somewhere or through carefully coreographed hand gestures should be brought out into the street and shot.

I can't believe anyone sat in a room and thought "you know what?  Women need more pressure about performing their womanly duties" and yet people keep sitting in rooms and deciding that we do.


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to violently dismember a cauliflower for dinner... and my husband is going to eat it whether he likes it or not.


44 comments:

  1. Ahhh, love it all! Especially since I recently tried to get my aunt flo going with progesterone and I got all the symptoms.....no period. My period will show up when it damn well pleases. Grrr. Going for my 6th IVF once I can get this ball rolling, and I'm wishing you much luck with your next one as well. This post made me laugh, I needed it. So thanks.

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    1. Hello lovely lady! Oh well thank gawd it at least happens to other people... I mean it's shit that it happens to any of us but you know what I mean. ALL the PMS symptoms, no pay off. Damnit.

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  2. Mmmm, cauliflower.

    And yes, to this post :) Well said. I think there needs to be more education, but not by age shaming or rubbing salt in the wound. I got married young, started trying for babies when I was 22, and we got derailed by infertility and recurrent loss. I was a month shy of 27 when the little bugger finally made it. We got the "When are you going to have kids?" and "It's a shame you don't have kids yet," from idiots everywhere. In a few more years, I'm sure I would have started getting the "You're not getting any younger," card too. Ugh.

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    1. He was a smart man and ate it without complaints. ;)

      YES. I'm all for educating people on fertility but it's the freaking scare-tactic of it... there's enough of that going on with how things are presented to women and they could've gotten the message across differently.

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  3. I dunno....I kind of like the ad for the campaign. I mean, maybe if I'd seen that in my younger years it would have at least made a dent in my conscious mind to know there is an expiration date at some point. Until I was 30 years old and actually stopped taking BCP's I was CLUELESS... scared to death I'd get pregnant, because that's the way I was raised to think one false sexscapade out of wedlock and I was doomed.

    I can still see that nasty pair of smokers lungs in a jar from the third grade, so I guess visual aids work better for me. I totally see your point though. None of us stuck on this God forsaken infertility wheel need a reminder that the clock it ticking. I wake up and go to bed thinking of it every. single. day.

    I really hope AF comes soon for you! I know it's such a bitch waiting, but she will come! Enjoy the kettle chips!

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    1. Exactly. At one point I'd guess that most of us thought we'd get pregnant within 6 months (I did) and many of us did NOT know about how many people are affected by infertility (I didn't). And yet...here we all are.

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    2. I am totally on board with infertility education - totally on board. And maybe women could use a friendly reminder that sometimes making a baby isn't as easy as it's cut out to be.

      Somehow this tactic didn't strike me as too friendly though... it seems shaming. It's like if a gym started advertising by posting pictures of a 300 lb woman sweating on a treadmill and implying how embarrassed she should be. Whatever the message is it just strikes me as... hostile delivery.

      And I feel like maybe I'd be less put off by it if it weren't for First Response?

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  4. I agree, I agree. There is so much pressure for women to do things a certain way, at a certain time. We move away from stereotypes but they still exist. Problem is, the biology behind it is unavoidable. It IS easier to have kids in your 20s. I was thinking last night while literally watching a 19-year-old pop out a baby in the hospital hallway. Ha. But anyhow, the point is to try to do things your way and ignore everyone else's (society's) preconceptions. Good luck.

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    1. Yeah I totally get the message that physically pregnancy is a much easier thing to deal with when you're younger.. I don't know if I'm wrong, but outside of the infertile world I feel like most 30-35 year old women I know that don't have children it's not because they don't want them or they're unaware of biology, it's because they're just not there yet. Not ready, haven't found someone worth having kids with, etc. etc. etc. I just feel like maybe a small percent of people would find this a helpful reminder, and the larger percent in some way or another are just going to feel lousy, even if it's for just a second.

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  5. Hear, hear. Also, you made me giggle a little.

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  6. I get that there's a subset of women that find their life partners in their 20s (or even earlier) and make a conscious decision to put off having children for career reasons or whatever. And maybe more education that they don't have forever is necessary for those people. But it just ends up making people like me, who didn't start dating my husband until I was 34 years old or get married until 35, feel like an old troll who has totally missed the baby boat. Did I make a choice not to have a baby earlier? Yeah. If I'd had a baby with my boyfriend at age 22, I would still be in a miserable relationship with a miserable child. Don't think that's exactly what ad campaigns like this want to have happen either. Some of us are just late bloomers and it's not our fault.

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    1. Agreed! I just think the ad/image makes such a blanket statement - like if you haven't had kids by a certain age it's only because you don't realize your clock is ticking. Plus I feel like I would be less bothered if this were the very, very bold ad of some infertility awareness campaign and not by people who just really want to sell pregnancy tests.

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    2. Amen! Honestly, I hadn't seen the ad 'til your post (thank you for posting), but it truly disgusts me. Your analysis is spot-on. Boycotting FRER. (Not in the market for stupid pregnancy test right now, but still, it's the thought that counts.)

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  7. Why didn't anyone tell me it was harder to have babies the older you get??!!??? Duh, of course 99% of women know this and think about it. It doesn't mean we are all ready to start popping our babies at 25. If I was, maybe I wouldn't be in this situation. Who knows. Or maybe I was destined to infertility no matter what my age. My husband and I have actually talked about it and even knowing what we know, we wouldn't try to have babies any sooner than we did. We did a lot of traveling and other things we couldn't (or wouldn't) have done if we had kids when we were younger. We like the experiences we had. So it's just another ad in the long line of ads trying to shame women into staying in their proper place. I just have to roll my eyes. Then I'll go hang out with all the other old moms. The old working moms who are earning money and destroying the fabric of society.

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    1. Haha Jen YOU ARE DESTROYING THE FABRIC OF SOCIETY.

      Please tell me you watched that foxnews panel of men talk about how women working are doing just that? (It even enraged their female coworkers).

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    2. Yes, and it pleases me to know how uncomfortable my lifestyle make them.

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  8. Have I told you lately how much I love you....because damn this is perfect....pms driven or not, I would slap someone if they showed me that add at 25 or now. Being a NICU nurse, I've always known about infertility. And somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I knew I was going to have a struggle. I also didn't think I'd be in my mid 30's when I finally met the man I with whom I am supposed to spend the rest of my life. If only life was so easily lived. Thank you for this. This should be the PSA, not that old pregnant lady...

    SO in other news...I really hope that Aunt Flo makes her appearance because I'd hate for Bub to have to bang you like a ketchup bottle. The only banging he should be doing should be enjoyable for both of you :)

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    1. Still no sign of the evil twat, I will be expecting Bub to spend the weekend.. creatively banging.

      Yeah I just feel like the effort they went to to photoshop that woman... it just says to me "if you don't do it now, you're going to look like this and you should be mortified about that". blech.

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  9. Add this to your Stork School so that the girls know what to expect. Sigh.
    Here's a nice illustration for the fairytale wedding :)

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  10. I am ASHAMED that the whole probably-some-old-white-man-telling-women-what-to-do-with-their-bodies-thing has seemingly arrived in Britain. And sponsored by a pregnancy test company no less, who will in no way profit from freaking women out....oh? They will?!
    I agree that there needs to be more discussion around fertility awareness generally. Some of my friends are a little too blase for my liking about having 'a shit load of time still' and they are now in their early 30s...Shaming us is not the way to do it. There was a good response article on I think The Guardian about how it is not up to anyone to 'blame' women for wanting to be secure in finances and in a marriage to the right person before having a child, that there are simply too many factors and it's not about just popping out a baby! (As I typed that I first typed pooping out a baby. Which is probably true for many people hahaha!)
    I am sick of feeling like less of a woman in anything media/public ever!
    GRRRRR!!!

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    1. AGREED. I'm all for fertility-education if for no other reason to spare some people from being a member of this group if they don't have to be, and because the women I know who make babies easily are absolutely CLUELESS that it's not always like that. (It's like being rich and being totally unaware that poverty exists).

      But what a fucking way to put that message out... And I would probably have a completely different view of it (or at least a less amped up version of disgust) if it weren't for a company that's profits rely on pregnancy tests.

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  11. Ok this is really wierd, but before we started this last ivf cycle Aunt Flo was running late so I drank parsley tea(parsley steeped in hot water) I drank it for a day straight and she came! I don't know if it was the parsley or not but regardless it came.

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    1. Parsley... oh lawdy lawdy maybe I'll try that this weekend. Lie to me and tell me it wasn't disgusting.

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    2. I've done the parsley tea, it's not bad, but it's also not good. That ad is shameful. It doesn't educate squat. It just sends the message, "omg, if I wait to have kids, I will look hideous as a pregnant lady!"

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  12. I think that the scare tactics of the ad are deplorable. BUT...I do support increased fertility education. So while the angle is off...isn't this part of what big groups like Resolve want as well...education. Educating about fertility is also educating about infertility. There are many women out there who are NOT aware of declining fertility (when it happens, how significantly). I think a better campaign angle would be to run an ad that says if you're concerned...."talk to your doctor".

    Info being on the internet is not an excuse to not educate...if that were the case there would be no public education campaigns--everything is on the internet.

    And I hope AF appears for you before it's ketchup slapping time.

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    1. I'm all for education! Totes.

      And I think I would've had a completely different reaction if it was a shocking/bold ad for Resolve, or for some other infertility-awareness type organization.. but the fact that it is sponsored by a company that makes it's money off of pregnancy tests, and that they did it in such a.. shaming way is what grosses me out.

      Totally on board with the infertility, fertility-is-finite message. Obviously it would be great it more people got that.

      But the way they did it.. to me it's like if a company that handled 401Ks advertised by putting up a billboard with a homeless person on it. You know, 'if you don't think about it now, this is where you'll end up and it will be humiliating for you'.

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  13. I agree that there should be more education about fertility/infertility, especially since all these 40-something celeb moms leave one with the impression that getting pregnant is easy-peasy, no matter your age. But I hate this ad. HATE. It pisses me off that women are the sole target of this shaming, as if men play absolutely no role in our ability to have children. Why not level the playing field and create an ad targeted at 40-something boy-men who refuse to grow the fuck up and take on any sort of normal adult responsibility like marriage or parenthood because they have all the time in the world to procreate? Perhaps someone should point out to them that unless they're George Clooney, no pretty young fertile is going to want to date or marry their wrinkly old ass, so they'd better get on it.

    Yeah, I'm bitter. I didn't WANT to be having my first child at 39. I wanted it to happen 10 years sooner. But life didn't work out that way for me, and it's more than a little annoying to be blamed and shamed for that. So...feh. Those responsible for the ad can kiss my old pregnant bottom.

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    1. Hahaha I love your old pregnant bottom!

      Agreed. I'm 31 and in an ideal world I would've loved to have had a kid somewhere in the vicinity of 29, and that was just not going to happen. I have a hard time believing that most of the women who are the target of this ad aren't just going to feel unnecessarily lousy in some way or another.

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    2. I whole heartedly agree with Jenny. I'm so tired of the man-boys in my city. Most women I know want to get married and have babies. My husband (obviously I'm glad things turned out the way they did, don't get me wrong) spent 14 years dating the same girl and never managed to "put a ring on it. Now he's a mid-30s man with azoospermia married to a mid-30s woman with DOR. If he hadn't spent 10 of those years "having fun" maybe he would have been diagnosed earlier and would have had some time to see if the various treatments could work. I mean, sure, I'm infertile, but presumably at no point has sperm even met egg and now time is not on our side. I wish I'd met my husband 10 years earlier, I wish that 10 years ago he hadn't had his head up his ass, and we could have got down to the baby making business before it got so damn hard.

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  14. Personally I feel like this ad isn't as much about education on declining fertility as mocking older women who are having children. It doesn't give me statistics on the likelihood of conceiving or the increase of miscarriages or the increase in birth defects or any of the additional challenges due to AMA... Instead it just shows us an image of an elderly looking woman (who was a 45 year old who was intentionally aged) and presents us with what I can only imagine is meant to be a horrific idea of someone THAT old having a baby.

    I have ranted before about this topic myself... and also pointed out that children of "older" mothers are injured less often, are better cared for, perform better than those born to younger women. it isn't a clear cut 25 is better.

    love your blog, as always.... you rant so much better than I do!

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    1. Ha! A rant on hormones, nonetheless!

      Yeah, I feel like it is mocking. It's totally saying 'this is where you'll end up if you don't try to make a baby young, and obviously the only reason you wouldn't is out of selfish/clueless reasons, and if you wait, you should feel humiliated'.

      I go to the gym because I would like to prevent myself from gaining another 3,000 lbs.. it doesn't mean I'd be too stoked about it if they threw up a photoshopped picture of me at 3,000 lbs on a billboard to try and remind me why I need to be going.

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  15. Love this blog post. As a young woman who was diagnosed with premature menopause before I had even considered trying to get pregnant at 26 years of age, I feel I have a right to say ads like this do not help. I remain happy that I didn't get pregnant at 18 (presuming that I was ovulating then, we'll never actually know?!) with someone who I did not care about in a short term relationship at university. The reality is that had this been the scenario- I would have never have met my wonderful husband. I would agree with commenter 'Egg timer' - it serves to mock older mothers. I am still a "young mum" at 27 via surrogacy, but I have full respect for women who choose to or have to wait until they are older to have children. And as 'Jenny' says, why not make men aware of their role?!

    Hope you had a delicious cauliflower for dinner last night! :-D

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    1. Agreed... Even though I was officially diagnosed as fertility-challenged when I was 28 (which is by some standards young, some old) I would NOT have wanted to start panicking about it when I was 20, even if it would've been easier. And had I been diagnosed at 38 and for whatever perfectly logical reason just hadn't been able to/ready to start trying until then, I certainly wanted to feel any more shame than the subject of infertility brings in the first place.

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  16. A-fucking-MEN. Ads like that offend me on multiple levels. And as an infertile, how is it any of their fucking business if thats how long it takes me to conceive?!?!?!

    Seriously!

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    1. Or for them to imply that if you're an older mother you should be a humiliated oddity, no matter what the reasons you had to wait were...

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  17. I posted something on my blog a while back about how egg quality declines with age, and my sister told me it never really hit home to her until then. Like many others, I always assumed I would get pregnant just from missing a few pills accidentally or at worst, trying for a month or two. Reality really turned out to be a bitch, 2.5 years later and still no baby.

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    1. I am ALL for people being educated about it! And hearing it from other women, from Doctors, blogs, articles, etc. etc. etc. Yes please. I will chat anyone's ear off about thinking about fertility.

      What gets me about this is the picture - the 'look at how weird/odd/impossible/wrong this is', and that it's an ad for a company that makes pregnancy tests.

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  18. Love your post, and your responses to the comments. I also enjoyed Mel's post on Stirrup Queens about the same ad, but I didn't comment there, and felt hesitant to comment here, and I'm not sure why. I find ads/statements/sentiments like this infuriating, and the whole situation enormously frustrating...and I have no words.

    Thank you for having and sharing your words on the subject. One of these days I'll be able to form a coherent sentence about it all, and when I do...the world better look out!

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  19. Hmmmm my 25 year old self would have been a mess of a mother. This ad is ridiculous. I get what they are saying, but for fucks sake. Since when is it okay to tell a woman when to have a baby. This ad makes my stomach hurt!!!

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  20. Just read this post since I was crazed for the weekend, so of now I'm the 800th poster :) but: Exactly. Yes. Please write a big book. Love you so much.

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  21. I will be 33 by the time I pop out my first, but even if I'd started trying at 22, I would have been on the same kidless shit wagon with the damn pcos until i had medical intervention. I think what I hate most about this ad is that it basically assumes that any woman who isn't getting knocked up in her 20s is somehow ignorant about her "window of fertility" and does nothing to address the fact that gee, maybe some of us dont get to just sptead em and pop one out 9 months later. And not like its a consolation or anything, but progesterone never once started a real period for me...just lame brown blood for a week after 10 days of waiting. Doc said it was due to low estrogen and thin lining :( The only time I would have a "real" period would be if I somehow spontaneously ovulated on my own or used Clomid.

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  22. Oh this stuff just drives me CRAZY... it assumes every woman can meet Mr. Right by the time she's 18. If I had procreated with ANY of my last boyfriends, I'd be a mother already, sure, but I'd also be miserable as fuck. It also assumes women are looking for a Mr., rather than a Ms., for that matter. I do agree that having children later on in life can lead to struggles to conceive, but I don't think women are total idiots about that fact. Aaaaanyway... what's most important is that I've finally started to follow Takei's posts on Facebook. I really should have started doing that in my 20s.

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