OPINION: Chance to have children does disappear, whatever your bank balance
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I wrote recently about birth rates being at an all time low since the 70s, the stats showing one of the reasons being financial worry since the country left the EU.
One of the other major factors, according to data, is that women are waiting to have babies much later in life.
Focusing on careers first but not wanting to miss out on having it all is great but what about when you get to the part where you want children and all the eggs left in your basket are fried?
It’s a wonderful world where we can live, and be accepting of others living, exactly as we wish.
While having babies when older isn’t for everyone, if it works for you, then embrace it but, you will have to be prepared for biology to potentially scupper plans.
We can’t go on forever no matter how hard we try and though we are living longer and looking younger (thanks to lifestyle and/or treatment) the hard facts remain that for women, there is a window of baby opportunity that definitely closes at some point.
Regardless of status, bank balance or anything else, if women want to get pregnant one day then choices have to be made.
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I had my first baby aged 30, the same age that my mum was when I was born.
By contrast in our experience I was one of the first of my friends to have children while she was one of the last in her peer group.
As she held a tiny baby me in her arms she was asked by other mothers if she’d had trouble conceiving. She hadn’t, she just hadn’t tried to have children until that point.
She was viewed, at the age of 30, as a rather old mum.
When I myself turned 30, I not only felt young but was treated in society as such too.
Three decades and the world views had done an about turn.
I told my grandma I was pregnant and she was flabbergasted “But you’re just our little girl” she said, as if at my age, with a long term partner, good job and a mortgage, I couldn’t possibly be choosing to have a child of my own when I was but a young ’un myself.
My grandma, however, had been only 23 when she’d given birth.
At the age of 38, pregnant with my third baby, I asked my midwife if I was the oldest mum on her books to be told absolutely not – in fact, I wasn’t anywhere near it.
She said, in certain areas, ones which are more affluent like the village I live in, ages of pregnant women are much older than you’d imagine and I was well and truly not making any eyes blink.
I found similar answers to the same question when I was pregnant again at 41.
Thinking back to my mum’s treatment from midwives, friends and other mums when she was considerably younger than I am now, had she been my age she’d have been considered well and truly over the hill.
I still feel young enough to have more babies if I’m honest– not that I’m planning to, but I definitely feel that I could. I suspect 30 years ago women didn’t feel anywhere near similarly.
So, while I was one of the first of my pals to have children (one other had a baby just before, while another had started when we were still teenagers), the majority of my friends did go on to have children in the few years following.
A few waited, or found themselves waiting, until much later and I’ve seen panic set in with a couple who were pushing 40 thinking it may never happen –
thankfully it did.
I still have three close pals who are very much childless well past their 40th birthdays.
One never wanted children so she’s all set. Another has happily decided it didn’t happen for her and she’s OK with it.
The other is far more miserable about the predicament. She focused heavily on career without worrying what the future may bring though she always knew at some point she wanted to have a family.
She says now she’d always assumed it would happen at some point, but has found herself in recent years realising it perhaps might not.
She hasn’t met her partner in crime yet, and now, single, over 40 and still wanting that family, she has a lot of things to work out which may not have been in her ideal plan.
She can’t simply wait and see what happens now, decisions need to be made if babies are on the agenda.
Does she go it alone or wait to meet a mate and perhaps never have children?
We live in a world where women really can make the decision to have a baby with, or without a man if they desire.
There’s a great book published recently written by Liv Thorne about choosing the route of solo parenting. Liv’s Alone is the hilarious account of Liv’s adventures in amateur parenting (as she calls it) and documents how she came from joking about having to buy sperm when in her twenties, to realising it wasn’t just a quip while in her thirties but something she really needed to look into – and she did, welcoming Herb into the world three years ago.
At the bottom of it, however we have children, whether we can or not boils down to biology.
Leave it too late and unfortunately no amount of money will buy time back.
I’m a massive supporter of women living life however, with whoever and wherever they choose.
Children, no children, big careers or not.
We should do what makes us happy.
However, women need to think carefully while younger about what they might most dearly want when older as we can’t defy time and it could be make or break.
Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk