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JESSIE STEPHENS: 'I'm 31, and I cannot stop thinking about my fertility.'

Listen to this story being read by Jessie Stephens, here.


I am 31 years and seven months old.

Just as those months mattered when I was four, and I needed to make clear that I was very nearly five, those months seem to matter all over again in my thirties. 

I was sure about less things entering my thirties than I was entering my twenties, but one thing I am certain of is that I would like children one day. It is difficult to explain the extent to which this feels like a fundamental need rather than a choice. I am terrified by how much I want a baby; how essential kids feel to my future. Even admitting it seems like too much of a risk, like if I dare say it out loud fate will play a cruel trick on me. 

There are women, of course, who are just as certain they do not want kids. Sometimes I envy that decision, the finality of it. But regardless of where you fall - Women Of A Certain Age are dragged out into the middle of nowhere, accompanied by a ticking time bomb, and confronted with a fork in the road. Once you hit your thirties, the whispering begins. Choose. We are, whether we like it or not, forced to make a choice. It is a choice we cannot undo. It is a choice we can feel rushed into. It is a choice men have (sometimes) their entire lives to make.

While I know I want children, I'm stuck in the awkward, liminal stage many of us find ourselves in. 

Just not yet. 

And the Just Not Yet Stage is underpinned by anxiety, terror, guilt, longing and anticipatory regret. What if I just spent my last fertile years flapping my hands about muttering "just not yet"?

As a millennial, I have absorbed, by osmosis, all the competing messages about fertility that have been spun across generations. 

Spend your twenties getting ahead, because your career stops when you have a baby. Or at the very least you have to press pause.

Your career doesn't end when you have a baby. Never give up your work. It is your freedom.

Your fertility falls off a cliff at 32.

Your fertility absolutely does not fall of a cliff at 32.

You don't want to be an 'old' mum.

You don't want to be a 'poor' mum.

It's easy to get pregnant, look at my friend Samantha.

It's hard to get pregnant, look at my friend Lucy. 

You're not ready.

But you're never ready!

There are so many interventions. People are having babies at 50.

The interventions don't always work. Barely anyone is having babies at 50.

You probably have endometriosis. Or PCOS. Both conditions can affect your fertility. 

But lots of women have endometriosis. And PCOS. They're having babies all the time! And the interventions! Don't forget the interventions.

But the interventions are expensive. And this is at a time when rent has never been higher and I can't afford lettuce and wages are stagnating. 

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