Why women leave babies too late...
London - Ringing a clinic to cancel my IVF treatment was undoubtedly the worst phone call I have ever had to make.
I couldn’t think of a dignified way to explain to the doctors that my boyfriend of three years had pulled out of the sessions we were about to start.
We had been for all the tests and I had psyched myself up to start injecting myself with a cocktail of hormones. I was just about to go to the pharmacy to pick up the drugs that would kick off our quest for a baby when my boyfriend, a successful broker, phoned me.
His voice was emotionless as he told me he didn’t want to go through with it. “It’s all too much,” he told me. “Maybe next year…”
Maybe next year? The sad truth was I didn’t have many years left. I was 37 and increasingly desperate to start a family. But despite my ticking clock, I had heard those three words many times before, from him and a previous partner to whom I had been engaged several years earlier.
Indeed, the truth is that I have experienced nothing but trouble whenever I have attempted to persuade a man to have children with me.
To suggest, as some experts do, that somehow the age at which women conceive is within their control, is naive and misleading.
There are still some stubborn taboos about conception, and one of them involves the myth that deciding to have children is something women and men do together in an open and honest manner.
For some lucky couples it may be like that. But that is not my experience, nor the experience of many of my girlfriends.
I’m sorry if I offend any male readers by suggesting that they do not always play fair in matters of fertility. But in my experience men increasingly behave with terrible selfishness when it comes to giving up their bachelor lifestyles.
Yes, perhaps women should try to have babies early — but not because that is the best time to have children, but because it might be the only time to have them. For if, like me, you have spent your thirties being involved with a series of men who enjoy their freedom, you will know it is simply a statement of fact that today’s young males really aren’t keen to become fathers.
I have a friend who has been married for 10 years and her husband still disappears into his own space every evening to play computer games for hours. He has banned her from having a second child because he is already freaked out by the responsibilities posed by the beautiful toddler she gave birth to a few years ago.
Every time I go around to their house, he disappears into his man-baby playroom to lose himself in Nintendo. How pathetic.
Men of my father’s generation would never have dreamt of telling their wives they could not have another child because they wanted more time to themselves. They just got on with it.
To return to my situation. I called off a wedding in my early thirties amid serious doubts about the direction in which my fiancé and I were heading – doubts made worse when he kept saying “maybe next year” to the prospect of a baby.
Then I met the broker. We had been together for three years – six months of those casually trying for a baby, before I went to see a specialist.
I was nearly 38 by then and as there was no sign of a pregnancy, I had my suspicions that it was not going to happen without intervention.
The specialist told me in no uncertain terms that I had to be more proactive. He could run endless tests, which would take time and money, to find out why exactly I was having trouble conceiving. But the best thing I could do to maximise my chances was to give up on the idea that I might get pregnant naturally and embark on a course of IVF. The sooner we got started the better.
When my boyfriend and I were trying for a baby naturally, I think he found it manageable. He liked the idea that it might not happen. It made him able to cope.
While initially he seemed keen about IVF, when it came to actually signing up to a medical process geared to making children happen, he took fright. The most shocking thing was the gulf between his cowardly decision to back out and the caring impression he gave me at the start of our relationship.
A few weeks in, he had whisked me away for a weekend with relatives who had brought their young families. As the children played on the lawn, he put his arms around me and said: “Wonderful, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling pangs. “Although you wonder how people with so many children manage.”
“Oh, you’ll manage,” he said.
If that isn’t a man promising to have children, I don’t know what is. But years later, his excuses ranged from not having enough money (despite earning a six-figure salary) to not wanting to make “the biggest mistake of our lives”.
As we descended into bitter rows, he insisted we had counselling. The therapist told him off for wasting my time. “You can have children any time, but your girlfriend can’t,” she said.
He stormed out.
His last-minute change of heart, after promising to go through with IVF, was the final straw and we parted in extreme acrimony.
Looking back, it was a bad relationship. I don’t know if any other woman convinced him to start a family, but perhaps it’s a blessing that we didn’t have children. But how many years did I waste with him, on a false promise?
Many women are coming to realise the same thing – that when you are dating men in your late thirties, they pull you in by promising children, knowing it’s what you want to hear, then push you away the moment you ask them to deliver. They are practising nothing less than a fraud.
Behind the smile of every stoical so-called “freemale”, who says she doesn’t mind being childless, is probably a woman like me, with a story about a difficult man. For the real problem with leaving it “late” is that when your fertility is rapidly fading, you need to get the man to sign up to the battle of trying to have a baby. And that is a whole new ball game.
Trying for a baby in your late thirties or early forties tends to be an all-encompassing project that focuses the minds of both parties on the prospect of impending parenthood. There are discussions about what day of the week you will both be free from your hectic schedules for a romantic night in, and when your most fertile time of the month might be. And if just trying for a baby becomes a chore, how must that make even the most supportive man view fatherhood?
Once you reach the age where your love life requires plotting things on charts, then I’m afraid to say you are in very choppy waters.
I’m not too unhappy to be childless now. I have a wonderful life for a 41-year-old and I have learnt to be grateful. But it is an attitude I have had to cultivate, striving to be positive about something I once grieved over.
Recently, a girlfriend in her twenties told me she was feeling broody, but felt it was too early to ask her new husband to have kids. I wanted to yell: “Then don’t ask him.”
Feeling all that resentment surge back, I felt a shameful urge to tell her to secretly stop taking the Pill. But I restrained myself and said: “Don’t assume he’s going to want them more as the years go on.”
In fact, from my experience, I would warn girls like her that the older men get, the sad likelihood is that they’ll want them less. – Daily Mail