‘But you can’t have a baby…you’re single’
The fact that I am single and have been throughout the vast majority of my 30s plays heavy on my mind. It’s not the fact that I’m not in a relationship that distresses me, but what this means for my chances to have a baby.
I’ve read the research that says your fertility goes into rapid decline at 35. I have 2 months until my 35th birthday.* I tell myself I still have time, but I am doing constant calculations in my mind. How long will it take me to meet someone, date them for long enough in order to consider having a baby together and get pregnant?
Based on the fact that I haven’t met anyone to consider embarking on this journey with for the last 5 years, I’m not holding out much hope. Although I do try to remain optimistic. Even if I am lucky enough to meet someone in the next 6 months, I’ll still be in my late 30s before I have children. This is taking into account feeling ready to try for a baby together, time trying to get pregnant and the 9 months of pregnancy itself.
I know solo motherhood is an option for me but I keep thinking, ‘I’ll just give myself another 6 months to meet someone.’ When do I put an end to ‘just another 6 months’ and decide that going solo into motherhood is the best option for me? I don’t know how to make that final decision. I’m struggling to give up on the hope of creating a family in a more traditional way.
I’m the only one of my friends who is in this position. Many of my friends are already married with children. A few of my single friends have shared that they don’t want to have children. Others have met people they are settling down with and children are their next step. I don’t have another friend in my immediate friendship group who is in their mid 30s or older, single and worried they might miss out on motherhood. I am the only one. This makes me feel quite alone.
I share my feelings with my friends. They really hope I meet someone, they know how much I want it. They want it for me as much as I want it for myself. Nothing would make them happier. We discuss another friend who is struggling to conceive naturally and is going through IVF with her husband. It’s taking a toll on her. Everyone is sympathetic.
I feel sad that I am not shown the same levels of understanding about my fear of missing out on motherhood. They hope I meet the right guy, but no one mentions children. I’m not shown the same compassion in this area as everyone is focused on the fact that I’m single. When questioned one person actually says it out loud. ‘But how can you have a baby, you’re single, you need to focus on finding a partner’
That’s exactly the point! How can I have a baby when I am single? My desire for children is no less than any other women who wants children. My relationship status is irrelevant. It doesn’t change my longing. It just makes it more difficult to make it happen. Their comment was not made because they don’t agree with solo motherhood. It’s because they haven’t even considered it, so can’t comprehend that motherhood is even an option for me at the moment.
It feels like I’m lagging behind my friends who are starting fertility treatment. I can’t even get to the stage of trying to conceive to see if I have any fertility issues. It’s not a competition. I know that. So why does it feel like I am falling so far behind? Not even just behind my friendship group, but late biologically for my fertility.
Everyone is well intentioned. All the people in my life want the best for me. Some just can’t see that I am in the same place as those in couples struggling to conceive. We share a common anxiety. The fear of missing out on motherhood.
I think I probably haven’t explained this well enough to all the people in my life. I’ve mastered the art of pretending all is great. I’m living life to the absolute maximum and that is what people see.
My friends and family are amazing and have all been there for me. I just think people don’t always understand that social infertility impacts women in a similar way to medical infertility. They are both different. Of course, I realise that. But the commonality they share is that having a baby is not straightforward and the fear of missing out on motherhood is just as real.
*I am 41 now, this was written from the point of view of how I felt as I was approaching 35