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History of Surrugate

I BECAME ENSNARED in the terrible, wishful math of infertility. It went like this: I am 36 years and 2 months old. If I get pregnant today, I will have my baby while I am still 36.

I am 37 1/2 years old. If I become pregnant today — this very day — I will have my baby when I am 38 years old.

Almost Baked Cathy Hilling at home in Harleysville, Pa., about a week before giving birth to the author’s baby.

Gillian Laub for The New York Times

I am 38 years and 1 month old. If I become pregnant today — this very day, this very second — and manage to hold on to the baby, I will have my baby when I am 38 years old.

Celebrities offered hope, and still do.

had her first baby at 41! So did

, and two weeks later there were pictures of her wearing skinny white jeans. Not only fertile, but fit.

was 41. Marcia Cross, from “Desperate Housewives,” was 44.

’s sometime mistress had a baby when she was 44. Or was it 43? Who cares? That’s way older than I am!

At the advice of a friend, the mother of a late-life miracle baby, I switched to a private doctor. Every I.V.F. cycle or brief blip of pregnancy offered the hope that I might soon be a mother, might seal the bonds of my marriage with a child, might soon be able to stopper the abyss of grief that threatened to suck me under every day. Every day, I rehearsed the self-enforced posture of cheer. If you saw me during this time, I looked really, really cheerful: my face was a rictus of optimism.

After a total of 11 failed I.V.F. cycles and four failed pregnancies, stretched out over five years, actual hope becomes a mawkish pretense. So I abandoned hope. For myself, at least. With support

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