The problem with living in the baby gap is that going with the flow no longer seems a viable option.
If we’re not careful, we end up analysing every choice, every turn in the road through the ‘maybe baby’ lens. If I make this career move, will there still be time to have a child? If I go on this holiday, what are my chances of meeting a prospective partner? If I date this guy who’s indifferent about children, will I waste valuable childbearing years I’ll never get back?
Every decision – right down to which online dating site to join – seems to carry so much weight.
Sometimes, we become so obsessed with trying to control our future we forget to live in the present. We become so worried about orchestrating a certain outcome we forget how much we love spontaneity and freedom.
It’s a shame – given we can never get a day back, never mind a month or a year.
And what if all this worry, stress and advance planning are in vain? What if the best way to fulfil our dreams is to surrender our roadmap and see what life brings?
And, even more worryingly, what if we’re chasing a dream that isn’t actually ours? What if, after so much stressing and orchestrating, we wonder whether we actually want children after all?
Why am I posing this last question?
Partly because it’s something I’m asking myself right now. And partly because I just read a piece in The Guardian: I wasted £30,000 trying to have a baby I didn’t want.
Reading Claudia Connell’s account of three failed IVF cycles that she began at 41 as a single woman, I couldn’t help thinking her story could be mine (although I’d have to remortgage or sell up to find that kind of money).
Imagine the stress, the investment of time, energy and money and the emotional and physical toll? And at the end, she says, she realised she didn’t want a child.
That really got me thinking about the choices so many 30- and 40-something single females, including me, are facing right now – and the consequences of those choices. But it also got me thinking about the women I’ve interviewed for my book who have very different stories to Connell.
I’ve spoken to more than a dozen single women who, finding themselves in the baby gap, decided to go down the solo IVF route, using their own or donor eggs. And they all said they’re absolutely delighted with their choice – and their child. Some of these mothers got pregnant first time; others had several failed attempts before conceiving. But they agreed the outcome made it all worthwhile.
Unfortunately, neither Connell’s account nor my interviews with so many contented mothers has got me any closer to an answer for my own life. I still feel torn.
All I do know is that I’m not ready yet to go it alone and that trying to orchestrate a particular outcome when it comes to relationships has so far made me miserable.
Going with the flow at this stage in my life (aged 42) has its consequences, but for me, for today, it seems the only way.