“Don’t you want children?”
“The clock’s ticking…”
“You don’t want to leave it too late…”
“You’re focusing on your career are you?”
I’ve heard all these. And more. To my face or through the media- a media which seems hell bent on reminding you that women’s fertility ‘drops off a cliff’ after 35, wrapping it up with presumptions about childless women in their 30s and beyond.
It still amazes me that anybody considers another person’s child status fair game. Of course nobody intends to cause offence but they need to know that they often are. They are picking at an emotional scab- infertility, miscarriages and relationship issues which women, and men, may be dealing with. It’s also the case (horror of horrors to mainstream society) that some people just don’t want children. They shouldn’t have to be put in a position to justify that either.
My ‘issue’ was that I was in my mid 30s, single and childless. This hadn’t been my plan, it was just circumstances. Of course I was focussing on my career but, unlike what’s commonly suggested, I wasn’t ever using it as a barrier to other parts of my life; I still had a social life, I was still dating…
When I met my husband at the age of 34 we were pretty much on the same page. We both valued our careers but were both agreed on the importance of family and having our own if we were lucky.
We were lucky. We welcomed Harriet into the world when I was 37.
But before I was even pregnant the media scare stories about fertility came back to haunt me. I thought we’d be in it for the long haul if it ever even happened at all.
Surprisingly we didn’t have to wait that long, but the age thing was still preying on my mind, not helped by my mum being classed as a ‘geriatric mum’ at the age of 28 when she was pregnant with me!
At my first midwife appointment I blurted out how worried I was. For the first time I felt reassured and understood that a lot of what I’d taken to heart was scaremongering- facts taken out of context (where have we heard that before? Read my post from 27th July 2018). She explained that my age was a risk factor, but one among many, and as an active woman with no underlaying health conditions, and who didn’t drink or smoke, there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t have a normal pregnancy and healthy baby. And breath…
Now I’ve got Harriet, and the new friends I’ve made through having her, I realise just how common it is to have first babies in your mid to late 30s, even your 40s. No doubt every older parent has their own story to tell about the journey that’s led them to this point.
Now we’re all waiting for the next set of questions and comments from well-meaning people- questions and comments that can dredge up as much heartache as being asked before baby number one. So if you’re about to say:
“When are you having the next one?”
“Don’t you want him/her to have a brother or sister?”
“You don’t want to leave it too late”
“You don’t want to have too big an age gap”
Please just stop and think.