Oh My God! I Forgot To Have A Baby!

UnknownI didn’t exactly forget, I just lost track of time.

My mind was on other things: like figuring out my career path and deciding what I wanted in life. I always dreamed of being a wife and mother, and always operated on the assumption it would happen when it was supposed to, in its own time – whenever that was.

I also thought my fertility would last forever, so what was the rush?

I breezed through my 30s, and cruised into my 40s without hearing a single tick-tock of my biological clock. I continued to date, and work, and live life like the independent single woman that I was. And despite the fact that pretty much all of my friends were married with kids, I felt no pressure to join the club.

No one talked about fertility. No one tapped their watch and said: “Treva, you better get a move on if you want to have babies.” I just kept going, without a care in the world, or a thought to my egg supply.

That is, until I had a scare.

That morning when I saw what looked like mid-cycle spotting (a sure sign of menopause) my bio-clock finally went off, and the maternal urge kicked in.

I ran to my gynecologist. With my feet in the stirrups, he confirmed the worst: I was 43-years-old with diminishing hormone levels, and a fertility window about to shut. If I wanted to get pregnant, I’d have to take immediate action – if it wasn’t already too late.

How was this possible? I was in good shape. I was a personal trainer. Certainly my ovaries were in shape too, no?

“You gotta get on the stick,” he said to me urgently.

But whose stick? I had no husband, no boyfriend, no future prospects lined up. Was my doctor really telling me to go knock myself up? Yes he was.

My situation was officially screwed, and the only way to get out of it was to screw. I wanted a baby that bad, by any means necessary. Forget about romance, courtship, and candle light dinners – there was no time for that. What I needed was to get my hands on some sperm, and fast.

I called old friends, old boyfriends, donors of all kinds, anyone who would lend me some spluge, no strings attached. Some stepped up, some said no, and some just wanted to help me “practice.”

I bought boxes of ovulation sticks, pregnancy tests, macha powder and other exotic supplements to improve my fertility. I bought books on single motherhood (my favorite, “Knock Yourself Up” by Louise Sloan) and joined a Single Mothers By Choice group. I had a lot of sex. Oh, and I prayed a lot too – especially on the toilet while peeing on pregnancy test sticks.

As I liked to say back then: “Keep your fingers crossed and your legs open.”

About a year into my baby quest, I met a guy a few years younger than me who would become my boyfriend and partner on my journey. He was supportive, encouraging, and just as enthusiastic about making a baby as I was (we’re still friends today). We tried and tried, but to no avail. At the rate I was going, even Michael Phelps’ swimmers couldn’t get me pregnant.

It was a fucking hell. Literally.

When that failed, I brought in the big guns: assisted reproductive technology. But after three years, many inseminations, several IVFs, a few embryo transfers, and thousands of dollars later, I finally shot my wad. I ran out of time, money and eggs, and had to give up.

The truth is, I was also tired of trying. And hoping. And praying. The roller coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows left me thoroughly devastated, not to mention broke. “If it’s meant to be, it will be,” I kept telling myself. It’s trite, but somehow it helped bring me closure.

Speaking of closure, my fertility window finally did shut, and as sad as it was, it was also a relief. Trying to hold on to your fertility is like trying to hold on to every last shred of your youth – an ultimately depressing and self-defeating experience.

Looking back, I moved mountains and went to the ends of the earth to get pregnant (hey, you do crazy shit when you’re desperate). Unfortunately, it didn’t yield a kid, but it did give me a great story to tell.

Now I have a new story. At age 51 I met and married a wonderful man (who coincidentally never had children either). Together, we’re starting a new chapter, which has all kinds of options: we can adopt, we can foster a child, or we can rescue a dog.

Or, we can just be. And that’s all right with me.

 

Photo credit: Salon.com

Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Costco

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Robby’s happy place: Costco and me.

It was either me move into his man cave/bachelor pad in the heart of gritty, urban downtown L.A., or him move into my charming, old French Normandy apartment on the Westside. Downtown L.A. is cool and groovy if you’re a guy, but not if you’re a princess from Beverly Hills.

We had just gotten married and needed to consolidate and start cohabitating, so Robby came out West. Just like Jed Clampett, he loaded up the Prius, and he moved to BEV-ER-LY. Hills, that is: swimming pools, movie stars, and me.

As he proceeded to cram the contents of his 1,850 square foot loft into my teeny two-bedroom, something occurred to me: MEN ARE FROM COSTCO. They are different animals. They don’t live like us women. They have lots of man stuff: junk, supplies, gear, equipment, electronics, toolboxes, miles of cable and cords, unexplained wires, and gadgets of all kinds and sizes. If men aren’t from Costco, then they’re from big box stores for sure.

Maybe I’m just not used to a man around the house, or maybe I’m too used to living alone, all I know is that Robby moving in has been a fascinating study in how men live and function. Remember, I’ve never even lived with a guy, so this is all new and intriguing. I feel like I’m Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom, observing a most unusual creature: my new husband.

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A little light shopping.

My Baby Buys In Bulk

If you’re single and anything like me, you buy just enough food for a week. A couple bags of potato chips, a loaf of bread, a few frozen Trader Joe entrees, some wine maybe, and not too many perishables lest they go bad (single people dine out a lot).

Robby, as I’ve discovered, likes to buy in bulk – everything from bulk paper goods to bulk food. This I don’t understand. What single guy without kids shops at Costco? Where exactly are you going to put those 24 rolls of paper towels?

You should see my pantry now. It’s now stuffed to the brim with industrial size jars of peanut butter, and crammed to an inch of its life with canned goods. I get claustrophobic just looking at it.

If you ever run out of toilet paper though, come on over. We’ve got enough to cover everyone for the next two years.

Guys Like Projects

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Drill baby drill!

Robby loves a project. The minute he moved in, he started retrofitting, wiring, re-wiring, installing, hooking up, dismantling, and assembling. He tossed out all my ancient cordless phones, and replaced all my light bulbs with energy-saving LEDs, which I hate, but marriage is compromise, and I love the environment, so the bulbs stay. He’s outfitted our place with lots of other much-needed things, which as a single woman, I never thought to buy.

For this reason, he’s made up a song for me. It’s called “The Absence Of A Man,” (sung to the tune of “The Shadow Of Your Smile”).

Robby is very handy. He loves to build shelves, organize stuff, and hang things. And I let him because I love a Jew with a drill.

Men And Their TVs

Robby wasted no time in giving away my old TVs, and installing his new big screens into every room of my apartment. You know the fancy kind with all the bells and whistles and super complicated remote controls? The HD quality is fantastic, but now I don’t know how to change the channel.

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Welcome to NASA West.

He also promptly renegotiated my cable bill, which was way too high. Who knew?

Hey Time Warner, stop ripping off your female customers!

Robby loves his TVs, and his laptop, and his iPad. His office looks like a cross between Mission Control and Command Central.

Houston, we have a problem: NASA is now in Beverly Hills.

So now we’re all settled in, but the debate still rages on whether women are from Venus and men are from Costco. As soon as I get back from shoe shopping and Robby returns from stockpiling jars of relish, the discussion will certainly continue. So stay tuned (to one of Robby’s TVs of course).

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Need. More. Condiments.

Late Bloomers: Marching To The Beat Of Our Own Drummers

Are you in your 40s and just hitting your stride? Are you in your 50s and finding your groove? Are you in your 60s, 70, and beyond, and are finally getting your shit together?

Do you march to the beat of your own drummer? Do you follow your own cadence, create your own tempo, and set your own pace, regardless of the rhythm around you?

UnknownIf so, then welcome to the late bloomers club. You are in good company. Other members of the club include artist Paul Cezanne, poet Robert Frost, scientist Charles Darwin, as well as tons of other great literary, scientific, and artistic masters, whose finest works came later in life.

David Galenson, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, has written about late bloomers and has this to say: “Late bloomers muddle ahead, experimenting and failing and trudging forward for decades before they’re a success, or even noticed at all.”

Social commentator Malcom Gladwell wrote about the old masters vs. young prodigies debate in his insightful October 20, 2008 New Yorker essay “Late Bloomers.” He notes that “Doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth.”

But the beautiful truth is that one’s talent, gifts, and self-discovery can bloom late.

So if you’re not where you think you should be in life, if you haven’t accomplished all that you set out to, or if you think you haven’t realized your potential yet, take heart. There’s still time.

Unknown-1Success happens at all stages of life, and sometimes having to wait, or do the necessary work for it, makes the success that much sweeter. Whether it’s learning to cook at age 49 like Julia Child, or getting your first novel published at 59 like Pulitzer Prize winning writer Frank McCourt, or getting discovered at age 48, like singing sensation Susan Boyle, or getting re-discovered like folk singer Rodriguez, who at age 70, finally got recognition after years of working construction jobs and living in obscurity (his story inspired “Searching For Sugar Man”, a MUST see documentary about Rodriguez’s incredible journey).

Or there’s always getting married for the first time at 56 and 51, like Robby and me.

One of my favorite late blooming stories is Marc Maron, a stand-up comedian who struggled for years with drugs and alcohol, while struggling to get traction in the comedy world. Finally, at 50-years-old, he found his footing and long awaited success with the creation of “WTF,” an original podcast that just marked its 500th episode.

“You know, when I look back on all the things I did. I don’t have any regrets. But I also know that maybe I wasn’t ready for whatever was going on. There was some stroke of cosmic timing in that — out of desperation, I turned to podcasting. Things aligned, so now I can be the comic I want to be and sell some tickets in some markets, and now I got a TV show on the air. And the one thing I can say, whether I changed myself or whether it was a series of events, is that, because I was humbled, and because I let go of a lot of expectation, I was truly ready to show up for everything that’s happened.”

Whether it’s cosmic timing, the planets aligning, patience, perseverance, following your own drummer’s beat, or having good old-fashioned faith, it’s never too late to bloom.

My Vows: A Dream Writing Assignment

Treva Brandon and Robby Scharf WeddingFinally getting the chance to write my marriage vows was more than just this bride’s dream come true. It was this freelance writer’s finest hour.

The dream assignment that had previously been out of reach for so many years, was now mine. I had waited patiently and worked tirelessly, but I finally got the job. Without delay, I immediately put pen to paper and began crafting my vows. God knows I had a lot to say.

Truth is, I’ve been writing my vows in my mind for 50 years so I already knew what they were going to include: expressions of my love and affection, my hopes for marital bliss, and tons of heartfelt promises and praise for my future husband. My vows would also be tear-jerking and knee-slapping all at the same time.

All I would need was the right guy and a mic, and I’d be good to go. I got both: Robby Scharf and a great Sennheiser microphone (P.S. Robby works for Sennheiser so I got the package deal).

That’s right, not only did I finally get to write my marriage vows, I got to read them aloud too! What a gig!

My vows weren’t fancy or flowery; they were just a 439-word count of my love and delivered right on time – just like a good freelancer.

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MY VOWS

“As a writer, I’ve written all kinds of things: from copy to content, branding to blogging, but I’ve never written marriage vows – a dream assignment I’ve waited a lifetime for.

And the most wonderful part of this assignment is that I get to write about an amazing product: Robby Scharf.

When I first met Robby, I knew I dug him; when he told me he liked sports, I knew he wasn’t a pussy; when I heard he was a Jewish rocker, I knew he was no ordinary Jew; when I found out he watched MSNBC, I knew it was a match; when my father gave him thumbs-up, I knew he was something special.

And when I watched him volunteer with the disabled athletes at Special Olympics, I knew I had to have him.

But when I fully experienced the depth of his caring and character, I knew it was love.

Robby, you are my champion, my protector, my BFF, my favorite comedian, my trusty ad court partner, my own personal IT guy, and my new emergency contact number.

You are my Mr. Right in every way.

You are the Ashford to my Simpson, the Burns to my Allen, the Kool in my Gang, and the Earth and Wind to my Fire. You are music and laughter, safety and comfort, strength and support, everyday of my life.

Treva Brandon and Robby Scharf WeddingI vow to you: my love, my heart, my soul, and my spirit. I vow to keep my racquet head up, and keep my eye on the ball. I vow to keep my only child tendencies in check, and I vow to keep the spare toilet paper in the bathroom instead of in my office closet. I vow to keep an open mind about moving to the Valley, and I vow to learn how to make a brisket and spend more time in the kitchen.

As your wife, I vow to keep you happy, healthy, and fit – whether you like it or not. Remember, you are marrying a personal trainer so deal with it.

To your father Eddie, I vow to make a good daughter-in-law. Good, in that I will never stand in the way of you and Robby and Major League Baseball.

And finally, to your mother Fran who is not here with us today, I vow to make her proud. I promise to take good care of her son, and honor the extraordinary man he has become.

E052414A-0605I’ve dreamed of writing these vows all my life, and now, this moment is here. Thank you Robby for making me your Mrs. Scharf, and for making all my dreams come true.”

One Last Blast Before Take Off

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The gang gathers for the big send off.

When you’ve been single as long as I have, every night is a sort of a bachelorette party. With no husband, no kids, not even a pet, I’ve been able to come and go as I please. I can get wild, go crazy, live it up, party hard, stay out late or not come home at all.

Let me tell you, single life might sound exciting, but it gets old and boring especially after so many years of it.

I’ve seen it all, dated it all, experienced it all, and have sowed every last wild oat. I have memories and stories and lots of secrets and stuff that I’ve shared with my curious married girlfriends. You know, like the time me my friend and I ended up in a limo with Rick James and his entourage, or the time I had to take a blind date to the emergency room because he got bit by a scorpion, or the like the time I tripped on pot brownies in the middle of the ritzy El Paseo shopping area in Palm Desert.

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A few shots in.

You get the picture.

I look at my single life as one big horizon-broadening learning experience for which I am grateful. Sometimes it was challenging, sometimes it was painful, but mostly, it was a wild, wacky, and wonderful ride that made me who I am today. Now, after 50+ years of bachelorette hood, it’s time to move on to something a little quieter, a little more stable, a little more permanent, and a lot more domestic.

Not before one last blast though! Bring on the bachelorette party, middle-age style, that is!

No male strippers here, no tequila luge, no body shots, no stripper poles in the party van, and no puking at the end of the night, although some of us did come close. We were just a bunch of old friends ready for some fun, a few laughs, and a chance to stay up past 10pm.

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Official bachelorette head gear.

I’d share with you the naughty things we did and who got drunk as a skunk, but you know what they say: “What happens at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party.” The only people that will ever know for sure are our Uber drivers.

I’m ready for take off. I am ready to start this new chapter of my life. The best way to say goodbye I’ve decided, is to let my good friend Joanne Sala do it for me. This was her toast to me; it wasn’t so much a farewell to single life as it was a warm WELCOME to married life.

“I cannot believe your single days are behind you. How am I going to live vicariously through you if you’re not going to have any more crazy single girl escapades? I guess it’s goodbye stolen kisses, brazen flirtations, and hysterical dating horror stories.

This marriage thing is going to be a major adjustment for you, but I know you’re ready. As someone who’s been married for 23 years, I can tell you that you have to be loyal, faithful, trustworthy and have sex with your husband at least once a month, whether you want to or not. But bonus – take it from me – being married means never having to swallow again!

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Joanne Sala, former single gal, current married sage.

But seriously, I wish you and Robby every happiness in the world. My advice to you is to be good to each other. Be kind. Patient. Put each other first. Resolve conflicts quickly. Don’t hold grudges. Let the phrases: ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘You’re right honey,’ and ‘I don’t know, what do YOU want for dinner tonight’ roll off your tongue.

Enjoy this next phase of your life as the happy honeymooners I know you will be. I love you guys so much.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

See ya later single life. It was fun, but I can’t say I’ll miss you.

Sexy Lingerie + Mature Bride = Old Floozy?

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The “Open Bra” worn the mature way.

If you look inside my drawers – not those drawers, but yes, those drawers too – you’ll find a lot of beige. Beige underwear, beige bras, beige everything. Nothing too exciting, nothing too fancy, sexy, lacey, or daring, just a lot of functional, practical beige that gets the job done.

I know what you’re thinking right now. I have boring drawers.

Crazy as it sounds, somehow I managed to get through my entire swinging single life without ever buying a stitch of lingerie. Never owned a garter belt, a thigh-high stocking, or a push-up bra. And what’s really crazy is that I love lingerie! But every time I’d set out to go buy myself a sexy little something, I’d get distracted by other things: like buying new sneakers or some cute workout wear.

Hey, Lululemon is sexy, isn’t it?

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The “Open Bra” worn the right way.

I can’t say I’ve never WORN lingerie because I have. For about 10 minutes, about 20 years ago. It was a creepy crotchless catsuit an ex-boyfriend gave me for Valentine’s Day when I lived in New York. It was so cheap and disgusting I threw it down the trash shoot when he wasn’t looking right after I tried it on. I couldn’t get it off me fast enough. Two weeks later I broke up with him, his tacky taste in lingerie having a lot to do with it.

So just when I thought my lingerie days had passed me by (and who was really paying attention?) something life-changing happened.

I had a bridal shower.

And I scored. I am now flush with lingerie. Each gift box I opened contained the most beautiful, hot, gorgeous, delicate, outrageous undergarments I had ever seen. Everything from Victoria’s Secret to La Perla, to Cosa Bella, to chic exotic labels I’ve never even heard of. I even got some edible undies.

All this new lingerie is great, but now I have to wear it. The question is, should I? I’m in my 50s, I don’t want to look like a total idiot in a teddy.

Ladies, at what point are you too old to wear lingerie? Is there a maximum age limit? An expiration date? I realize there’s a moment in life when one can go from being a hot babe to looking like an old floozy. Am I there?

Should I be age-appropriate and stick to what I’m comfortable with – a nice beige Wacoal bra and underwear set? Or should I let out my inner sexy bitch and say fuck it?

Fuck it!

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A sexy bitch in the bedroom and in the kitchen!

My inner sexy bitch says you’re never too old for lingerie…as long as it’s got a crotch.

Look inside my drawers and you’ll see a whole new me. You’ll see an explosion of COLOR with fabric and styles that scream sex! Along with some new hot pink panties, boy shorts, and lacey thongs, my drawers also have a few black silky things that make me feel like a Bond girl. I think I’ll wear them for my next jewel heist.

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Hungry and horny, anyone?

And for those times that I feel a little self-conscious about my body and age, I’ll just turn off the lights and let Robby eat my undies.

5 Ways To Know If Mr. Right Has The Right Stuff

IMG_4286Many years ago, my good friend Kathie Gordon gave me this needlepoint pillow for my birthday. It was in the 90’s, and I was in my late-30s. For the single girl who had everything, it was a perfect gift.

At the time I thought finding Mr. Right was right around the corner, and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to meet him, but I knew he had to be somewhere in the neighborhood. But as time went by and the 90’s turned into the 00’s, and I turned into an old maid, I realized that Mr. Right wasn’t right around the corner, but in fact, he was a million miles away.

That pillow has sat on my couch through countless dates, hundreds of fix-ups, tons more blind dates, boyfriends, break-ups and bullshit, and it always asked the same question:

“Star light, star bright, where oh where is Mr. Right?”

Actually, I’ve found Mr. Right many times – in bits and pieces, that is.

One Mr. Almost Right was professionally successful, but emotionally unavailable; one was age-appropriate, but had arrested development; one was great looking, but couldn’t keep his dick in his pants; one was a Harvard grad, but was a total idiot; one was a superior athlete, but had no moves whatsoever. It was very frustrating.

I would kick and scream, stomp my feet, and yell at the top of my lungs to the universe: “Fuck you Universe! Where the hell is Mr. Right!?”

While I was busy yelling at no one in particular, something happened: I wised-up and started dating smarter. I also became hardened and jaded, which comes in handy out there in the dating world.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Mr. Right comes in many different packages. He’s not perfect, and he doesn’t have to be. All he has to do is THE RIGHT THING.

The following is my MR. RIGHT CHECKLIST, five simple observations that will ascertain early on whether your new dude has what it takes to be your Mr. Right.

  1. He communicates early and often. He isn’t afraid to express his feelings, his thoughts, his values, and his plans. He’s open, honest, and authentic about who his is and what he wants in life.
  2. He doesn’t try to get to know you through texting. A real man who’s interested in you picks up the phone and TALKS not TEXTS. A guy who carries on an all-day conversation thread is simply hiding behind his texts. Too much gets lost in translation, and too much can be misinterpreted, so don’t tolerate it.
  3. He would move heaven and earth to see you, even if it’s for a quick coffee at Starbucks. Having real face time with someone is crucial, and if he means business, he’ll do whatever it takes to see you. Effort is everything.
  4. He pursues and courts you like a proper gentleman. He makes plans, asks questions, doesn’t wait till the last minute, doesn’t push or pressure you. And if he starts sexting too soon, you’ll know all he wants is to get inside your pants, not inside your mind.
  5. He does the right thing. Whether it’s bringing you flowers for no reason, being nice to your mother, or coming to your door to pick you up instead of calling you from the car, a guy who digs you will always do the right thing.

* * * * * * * * * * *

So when you’re out there dating, keep your eyes open. Observe, maintain your standards, and always honor your highest good. Watch for red flags. Being a little cynical and skeptical isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it can weed out the riff-raff real fast.

Demand a certain level of decorum, transparency, etiquette, and protocol at all times. It may sound old-fashioned, but trust me, you’ll respect yourself much more in the morning.

Above all, don’t be in too much of a hurry. Love has a way of finding you when the time is right, and so will Mr. Right.