opinion

"I'm in my 20's and my doctor is forcing me to have a baby. I'm really freaking out."

I’d never really given much thought to when I would start having children, until one day, during a regular check-up with my gynecologist, he told me I should probably make a start on, you know, making babies.

Also a practicing obstetrician, he was of course offering his opinion on the topic from a strictly biological viewpoint.

A woman is much more likely to fall pregnant – and stay pregnant – under the age of thirty, he told me, stressing that my fertility would begin to decrease after the age of 32.

He was simply presenting me with the facts.

pregnant
"It's probably about time you started making some babies". Image via iStock.

I tried to brush off his advice as part of a general chat about my life. But then I stumbled upon research that detailed the age women should start conceiving, depending on how many children they want.

The study revealed that if I wanted to have two children, with a 90% of falling pregnant without IVF, I should start at 27.

'Oh dear God' I thought. Because that's...that's now.

Graph: via New Scientist

On the one hand, there are plenty of reasons why I could - and should - start preparing for a family. I'm in a committed, stable relationship, I've carved a position out in my chosen career, I'm relatively financially stable and I've ticked off a lot of 'bucket list' items on my list.

But, there are also a lot of reasons why there is no reason for me to start "caving in" to the biological pressure to have a child. Like the fact I might want to move overseas first, or climb more of the career ladder. Or maybe I'm just not emotionally ready.

The truth is, as a young woman who is on the cusp of that "ready for a baby" stage, the information that's currently available is very, very confusing.

Colleagues, friends and family keep telling me that there is plenty of time, that I have nothing to worry about and that I can have as many kids as I want, whenever I choose to have them.

I'm 27 and I'm already having the great baby debate in my head. Image via iStock.
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But there's that niggling feeling, the "what if fertility is not on my side" question, that lurks in the background of my mind during every discussion.

I've had very close friends who have struggled to fall pregnant at 25, and who've gone through heartbreaking rounds of IVF to realise their dream of becoming parents.

How do I even know I'd be able to fall pregnant easily right now, let alone in a few years? What if it's already too late?

I'm bombarded with images of happy parents who, for whatever reason, have had children in their mid to late forties.

While it may not have necessarily been a conscious choice, these women seem perfectly capable and satisfied with their status as "older parents".

But here's the thing that I cannot ignore: fertility doesn't care about feminism.

Speaking on SBS's Insight program during a debate about older parents, Dr Gino Pecoraro, an AMA spokesperson and obstetrician, said that biology "doesn't care about the women's movement or your career."

"It does get harder [to fall pregnant] as you get older," he said.

And that, my friends, is when the sound of my biological clock started ticking loud and clear.

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