I had children in my late 30’s because of my career….
Actually that’s bollocks.
I had children in my late 30’s because I thought I had all the time in the world…..
Actually that’s bollocks too.
I had children in my late 30’s because I just wasn’t ready in my 20’s…..
Nope…………..well, you get the picture.
ACTUALLY “I” wasn’t the only person responsible for having my children in my late 30’s. My husband was also responsible. There was TWO of us. It wasn’t solely my decision. So why the hell does every report in the newspaper and on television start with:
“Women leave it too late to have children”.
It winds me up so much I could scream, to be honest. Like we are all floating around making these decisions (whether we are doing it unconsciously or consciously) and blokes are walking behind us like idiots, merely pawns in our game of fertility roulette. Which is ridiculous. Not only are we not solely responsible but it suggests the men in our life aren’t having any say, when they are (most of the time).
I’m not saying that some women don’t make these decisions based on their career and I’ll mention my views on that further down, but I think for a lot of women it’s got a lot to do with marrying later in life due to various reasons and the need to be in a better financial position before embarking on the very big deal of bringing of a human being into the world. I just wish someone would acknowledge the complexity of why we are having children later rather than simplifying it or targeting women.
I don’t think my story is unique. I have had 3 long-term relationships. 2 of which were with complete idiots and the third with my now husband. I was 18 when I met my first boyfriend. Fell in love for the first time and believed this was it! Engaged at 19 and then 2 years later realised he had no intention of marrying me but was “bagsying” me so I didn’t run off with someone else. The relationship was quite horrific really, he was an alcoholic and violent and I didn’t know any better. It’s only when I started fancying someone else that I had the guts to call it quits. Which I did thankfully. I was 21.
I started seeing my 2nd boyfriend. We moved in almost immediately, had lots in common or so I thought. We eventually moved to the UK together but he had always been a bad egg. This was my emotional abuse relationship. The guy was horrendous. Treated me like absolute dirt one day and then cooking me a surprise meal with candles the next. I felt trapped as I didn’t know many people in London and was barely pulling the minimum wage. He really didn’t love me anymore and we hung on for another year, moving to a flat and trying to make it work. I supported him through drama school and the deal was that he would do the same for me the following year. 2 weeks into my course he didn’t come home one night and 3 days later we talked it out and agreed to leave each other. Of course, true to my form I felt stronger because my weekends were filled with the drama school and I’d met lots of new people including my future husband (although I only made a move 2 months later). I was 25.
My relationship with my future husband worked very differently. He didn’t play games. He had not had a difficult childhood. He was normal. He didn’t like it if I tried to get highly strung over small things. He taught me to be polite and considerate. He changed me and made me realise that relationships were about trust. He also taught me to enjoy my own company. He didn’t see me as often as I would like because he had his own friends and his own space that he enjoyed. He grew to fall in love with me and slowly we spent more time together. I would have rushed this all much quicker. I was aware of my ticking clock. We had “words” one day about where we were going. I think it did the trick. We moved in together when I was 29. He asked me to marry him when I was 30. I was married at 31.
My husband wanted us to enjoy some time being married and as we were buying a house as well, we took a year out from thinking about children. On our 1st anniversary I broached the subject and he got a bit panicked. I now realise (as does he) that for some men, they are never ready to have children, so waiting for that moment could take forever. We had a difficult chat and then agreed to start trying. I was 32.
For 2 years we tried without getting too hung up. I occasionally used an ovulation kit but nothing was happening so we saw our doctor and got referred. We then embarked on IUI with the NHS. We had 5 go’s involving scans every two days, a trip to another hospital for my husband to “provide” sperm and then his dash back with it to the hospital I was at for it to be inseminated. Then we had trigger injections at midnight at the same hospital. I was 34.
We accepted the inevitable and had the choice of going on a 2 year waiting list with the NHS or paying privately for IVF. We had some savings and my in-laws offered some help and we opted to go privately rather than wait. We were very lucky. I got pregnant. I was 35.
I eventually had my daughter 2 weeks before I was 36. My son came naturally but despite our attempts to have them close together by trying when my daughter was 6 months old, he arrived 3 years later. I was about to turn 39.
You can see how these things snowball. Not many people set out to have children later in life. They find themselves in less than ideal relationships without the emotional strength to leave, they find themselves not wishing to push partners away by rushing decisions. I felt I’d pushed my earlier two relationships too early and they had quickly fallen out of love with me. I didn’t want that to happen again. Things went this way, because that’s life, but two of us were in the driving seat (technically probably my husband was more to an extent, then) and this is what happened. Children in my late 30’s.
AND as for women who have children later in life because of a career. If we could climb the corporate ladder by popping out children left right and centre, then we would. Sadly that is not the case. At my work there are 2 women who are at Senior Management level. One has chosen not to have children at all. The other has chosen to have one child, whom she spent 3 months maternity leave with and is now back working at 8am-8pm day whilst she has her child looked after by her husband and childcare. I’m sure it’s not what she would have liked, but she has to be around for those important meetings which inevitably happen around 6pm. This is a good video to watch about some of the barriers women face.
So please, journalists, stop putting the blame of late motherhood on mothers. Look deeper, find the cause and deal with that. If we can’t, then face the inevitability of an increase in IVF, the need to make it more accessible.
This is a bigger issue than the women of this world putting motherhood on hold for purely selfish reason and I’m, quite frankly, fed up with the accusations.