The following is an excerpt taken with permission from Done Being Single: A Late Bloomer's Guide to Love by Treva Brandon Scharf.
Published: May 18, 2023
By: Treva Brandon Scharf
The late bloomer in me had had enough and was ready to take destiny into her own hands.
My clock was ticking louder than ever, and my desire to get married and have kids was only getting more urgent. With few options on the table, I did what any crazy, fearless, gutsy, single woman of a certain age would do: I decided to get pregnant on my own.
This was my midlife crisis. When most people are marking their midlife crises with fast cars, plastic surgery, divorce, or affairs with people half their age, I was looking to get knocked-up.
A woman’s fertility usually starts declining at 35, and I was 43. Time was not on my side. To remind me, my gynecologist tapped his watch and said that if I wanted to get pregnant, I’d have to get on the stick. But whose stick? I was stone-cold single, with no boyfriend, husband, friend with benefits, or booty call. It was bad enough I couldn’t find anyone to marry me; now I had to find someone to make a baby with me.
Being a single mother by choice was not my dream. I did not grow up thinking “I want to be a single mother one day!”—but I had no choice. If I wanted a kid, it was now or never. So, with no immediate prospects to help me conceive—and no time to freeze my eggs either—I went right to getting pregnant with donor sperm.
When I first broke the news to my parents that I was attempting to have a baby on my own, I expected a standing ovation; instead, I received universal condemnation. They called me selfish and irresponsible, and refused to support me. I knew right then I’d have to keep it a secret, and I did. I broke the 11th Commandment of not lying to my father. I swore to him I wouldn’t go through with it, but I secretly stayed on course, full steam ahead. Unbeknownst to them I was getting pricked, probed, and poked every time I ovulated. The only thing I couldn’t hide was my emotional state, which was fragile and subject to mood swings and crying jags (thanks, fertility drugs.)
When my mother and I went to see the 2009 animated movie Up, I was completely blindsided by the scene where the main character Carl Fredrickson and his wife Ellie suffer a miscarriage, then find out she’s unable to have children. I started sobbing. Hard. I was bawling so hard and loud, my mother looked at me like I was nuts and asked, “Why are you crying? It’s a cartoon.” Little did she know I was hopped up on hormones and going through my own live-action fertility hell.
I felt very alone. The baby-making process can test even the strongest of couples, but when you’re single, you’re never more on your own. I never feel sorry for myself, but this experience gave me plenty to pity. Like getting ultrasounds without anyone to hold my hand or sitting alone in my fertility doctor’s waiting room surrounded by loving couples. I remember seeing a trans couple there, which made me smile and sad at the same time. Even they could make a baby.
After nearly four years, six IUIs, three rounds of IVF, two donor egg transfers, days of waiting time, and too much timed intercourse to remember, I ended my quest. I had moved heaven and earth, put my body through hell, and come up empty. And to make matters worse, I still wasn’t even close to getting married. By the time all was said and done, I was 47.
I hit another kind of bottom with this failure, but I had to press on. Questioning why I failed would’ve sent me down a dark spiral of self-recriminations: Was it karma for waiting too long? Payback for bad decisions? Or was it the late bloomer striking again? I’d known failure before, but the failure to conceive was next level: talk about all your past mistakes coming back to smack you in the face (or shoot you in the ass, in my case).
In an effort to stop myself from going to Self-Loathingville, I instead put the experience behind me as quickly as I could. I didn’t seek out therapy, join a support group, or employ any extraordinary measures to help me get over the disappointment, I just forged ahead with my life, sans baby or husband.
What helped me was the pride I got from embarking on the mission in the first place. I have to acknowledge the Herculean task it was and give myself credit. I may have failed in the attempt to make a baby—but I would’ve been a failure had I not tried.
Project Baby wasn’t a success, but I’m not sorry I did it, nor do I have regrets (although I do have many regrets about not doing it sooner). Not being able to have kids does get to me sometimes. Like when I see my friends’ children or grandchildren on social media. It tugs at my heart, then it warms my heart. I’m happy for them, and I’m happy for me. I went for it, gave it my all, put every- thing on the line—and in doing so, it showed me what I was made of. I can give myself those high-fives now.
After my baby journey came to an end, I would tell myself: When one door closes, another one opens. If motherhood wasn’t in the cards, at least a real relationship could be, or maybe even marriage one day. And some dating doors did open, but nothing lasted, and that was OK, because I wasn’t in such a hurry anymore. I could slow down, take a breath, and just be. I also stopped watching the clock, and that, more than anything, allowed me to exhale.
Trying to get pregnant was exactly the thing I needed. I became more aware of time, more respectful of my body, and more appreciative of money (spending a fortune you don’t have on fertility procedures, drugs, sperm, and labs can do that).
Another unintended benefit of my pregnancy quest was the direct impact it had on my dating life. Now that I was back on the market, things would be different. Post-fertility dating would mean no more forcing square pegs into round holes and cutting bait faster when things weren’t working out. As ready as I was to open a new door, life would make me wait again.
Single ladies of child-bearing age who are reading this: if you want kids one day, run to your nearest fertility doctor and freeze your eggs now. Or if you’re a mother, sister, or friend of a single woman who’s of child-bearing age, drive them yourself! The point is not to wait. You can get married at any age; but you can’t get pregnant with your own eggs at any age. While you’re contemplating all this, be aware of what’s happening to women’s rights, and stay informed about reproductive laws in your state.
ABOUT TREVA BRANDON SCHARF
Treva Brandon Scharf [TREHV-a] is a late bloomer, born and raised in Beverly Hills by two Hollywood talent agents. She is the product of divorce, an admitted commitment-phobe, serial dater, marriage first-timer at 51, and badass with a heart of gold.
A former advertising copywriter, Treva is an ICF-certified life coach, dating and relationship coach, and long-time fitness professional. When Treva isn’t dispensing tough love dating advice, she’s a Special Olympics coach and mentor to at-risk kids. She is passionate about politics, policy, and people of all ages and abilities.
Treva co-hosts the podcast Done Being Single with her husband Robby Scharf, a fellow late bloomer. Together, they deliver dating intervention and relationship advice to listeners all over the world.
Treva’s writing and interviews have been featured in Newsweek, Bustle, Yahoo Health, AARP, Business News Daily and UpJourney.