Dr Jane Goldberg waited until her late forties before she experienced motherhood.
Here she shares a very honest account of why her difficult journey there was worth the wait…
Like most of the events in my life, waiting until I was 47 to become a mother was neither a deliberate, nor particularly well-crafted decision. Rather, it evolved from a series of circumstances combined with choices I made without being able to predict the consequences.
I didn’t actually have a desire to become a mother until I was in my late 30’s. Of course, we know now that that is a chancy decision, not likely to result in success without resorting to fertility drugs. With the history of cancer in my family (my mother and sister had both died from cancer), I was unwilling to take that step of drugs. I felt that they had not been tested over the long-term effects, and that taking them might stimulate a bourgeoning cancer in my body. And, coincidence or not, one of my patients had taken fertility drugs to get pregnant, and when her son was six, she herself did contract cancer.
I got pregnant when I was 37, and I remember it as being a wholly satisfying experience. I miscarried in my fourth month. Gregg and I tried au natural for several more years. A friend suggested that I see an infertility doc who specialised in difficult pregnancies. I was puzzled. Why would I want or need to go to a doc who worked with difficult pregnancies? Then I realised that my age per se was the difficulty. Since my body had always been a well-oiled machine, doing whatever I had asked it to do, it had never occurred to me that it would fail me in this endeavor of becoming pregnant that was so natural to most women. I had done it once; I expected to do it again. But the statistics were just coming out at that time about the problems with later-age pregnancies.
I have heard that women fall in love with their fertility doctors. It took me a few tries before I found a doc I could work with. I was kicked out of the best doctors’ offices in New York City. As soon as they heard I was unwilling to go on fertility drugs, they refused to work with me. Finally I met one who was willing to do it my way: no drugs. He was devastatingly good-looking, kind and compassionate. I didn’t fall in love, but I did feel immensely grateful to him.
I asked the good doctor what my real chances of getting pregnant were. I was 45 at that time. He said in his entire career, he had only gotten one woman my age pregnant. I thanked him for his diligent efforts, and left his office, never to see him again (though I have made referrals to him).
I have never wanted to adopt. I had said to myself that if it came down to adoption, I wouldn’t be a mother. I thought, “I don’t need to be a mother that badly.” But as the months went on, I came to feel that my need to be a mother transcended whose genetic baby it was going to be.
I began a two-year long process of searching for a baby. I signed up to go to Romania. And just as Gregg and I had finally gotten our paperwork completed, the country closed down its adoptions. I met with a Cambodian group, but there were problems with that. I can’t even remember the problems. I looked into Russian and China. For some of the countries, I had aged out. They only allowed adoptions to woman under 45.
Finally, the last step I took was to sign up with an adoption agency in Louisiana. This felt fated to me, as I heard about the agency from a friend in New York, but I was originally from Louisiana. I took a trip down there to meet with the women running the agency, and although I never fell in love with my fertility doc, I did fall in love with these two southern women. They felt so familiar to me, so like all of what I had grown up with and missed living in the north. They promised me a baby within a year.
I waited for a girl. I wanted to buy frilly dresses, and teach her how to do her hair. I wanted her to be emotional and close to her feelings. I wanted her to know that she and I were the same in the most important way other than biologically related to each other—that we were both girls. Girls in heart and soul.
When I saw my Molly’s biological mother’s photograph for the first time, I knew that her baby was the baby I had been waiting for, searching for. I knew that this child was going to be mine, meant to be mine. I was ready to slay dragons for this child. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. I just had to wait another few months, and then she was in my arms.
She is still in my arms. At 23, she has now graduated from college, is searching for what the rest of her life will be. Currently, she lives near me in NYC, and, in the fall, will be attending graduate school in the same field I am in: psychoanalysis. There are times when she feels particularly sad—after a breakup of a three-and-a-half year relationship was one of those times. Or, when she has a headache, or a flu. Or, when she gets good news about some important aspect of her life. And we fall into each others’ arms, and our bodies melt into one another – just as we did when she was an infant.”
As a psychoanalyst, Jane has authored eight books including The Dark Side of Love. She has hosted her own television talk show and featured on countless American talk shows to voice her expert opinion, as well as writing for Huffington Post. In her new, self-revelatory work ‘My Mother, My Daughter, My Self’, Jane shares her experiences in becoming an adoptive mother, shepherding her own mother through illness and death, and combines them with insights gained from working with patients for over 45 years as a psychoanalyst. In combining intimately personal stories with so much academic training, she demonstrates how the ways we think and feel have their beginnings in our relationships with our mothers. The book explores an essential truth: that our relationships with our mothers affect our other significant love relationships, our values, our self-esteem, and our sense of satisfaction, often throughout the whole of our lives. RRP £12.99 Published in the UK by Free Association Books.