I am 31 years and seven months old.
Just as those months mattered when I was four, and I had to make it clear that I was almost five, those months in my thirties seem to matter all over again.
I was sure about fewer things entering my thirties than I was in my twenties, but one thing I’m sure about is that one day I will want children. It is difficult to explain to what extent it feels like a fundamental need rather than a choice. I’m terrified of how much I want a baby; how essential children feel to my future. Even admitting that it seems too much of a risk, as if I dare say it out loud, fate will play a cruel trick on me.
Of course, there are women who are just as sure that they do not want children. Sometimes I envy that decision, its finality. But no matter where you fall – Women Of A Certain Age are dragged out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere, accompanied by a ticking time bomb, and confronted with a fork in the road. As soon as you reach your thirties, the whispering begins. Choose. We are forced, whether we like it or not, to make a choice. It’s a choice we can not undo. It’s a choice we can feel we are rushed into. It’s a choice men (sometimes) have to make all their lives.
While I know I want children, I am stuck in the awkward, liminal stage in which many of us find ourselves.
Just not yet.
And the Just Not Yet Stage is underpinned by anxiety, terror, guilt, longing and anticipatory regret. What if I just clapped my hands in my last fertile years over the mumble “just not yet”?
As a millennial, I have, through osmosis, absorbed all the competing messages about fertility that have been spun over generations.
Spend your twenties to move forward, because your career stops when you have a baby. Or you should at least pause pause.
Your career does not end when you have a baby. Never give up your job. This is your freedom.
Your fertility drops off a cliff at 32.
Your fertility absolutely does not fall off a cliff at 32.
You do not want to be an ‘old’ mom.
You do not want to be a ‘poor’ mom.
It’s easy to get pregnant, look at my friend Samantha.
It’s hard to get pregnant, look at my friend Lucy.
You’re not ready.
But you are never ready!
There are so many interventions. People get babies at 50.
The interventions do not always work. Hardly anyone gets babies at 50.
You probably have endometriosis. Of PCOS. Both conditions can affect your fertility.
But many women have endometriosis. A PCOS. They get babies all the time! And the interventions! Do not forget the interventions.
But the interventions are expensive. And this is at a time when rents have never been higher and I can not afford lettuce and stagnate wages.