I am 26. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year and we’re in a happy relationship. Recently I’ve been really ill and thought it was stress. But the doctor told me I’m pregnant! This is completely unplanned. My boyfriend had an operation when he was young and was told he couldn’t have kids. I’m scared. I’ve been laid off work and haven’t found another job yet. I regret not doing more with my life before. I wanted to go back to school, travel and other things. Will I be able to now? I feel really confused. My boyfriend really wants to keep it, no matter what. Anne
Sometimes parenthood knocks and you’re still in your underwear and you freak out for a bit but ultimately the happy overrides the freaked-outness so you roll with it and know whatever happens, you can somehow make it work. And sometimes, parenthood knocks and you literally lose your shit and can’t focus on anything until A Day at the abortion clinic because then you can breathe a big sigh of relief and life can go back to normal.
Which camp are you in? I’m willing to bet it’s the first one, but I don’t want you cursing my name at 3am when you’re trying to juggle a screaming baby and a bottle while propping your eyes open with matchsticks. So I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s all roses and babies don’t put limitations on your life. They do, big time. I’m not going to say you might not have another chance to be a mum. Because at 26 you’ve got lots of time ahead of you and undoubtedly way more chances and a lot more life to live. And if that life includes a drunken Contiki tour across Europe, no judgement.
What I do want you to consider though are these three things:
1. Fertility isn’t infinite. It starts dropping like a stone at 35, in fact. The period in my life from 26 to 35 passed in the blink of an eye, and now I’m 39 it seems like every third woman I know can’t or won’t have babies because they never met the right person. Or because the person they met never wanted babies. Or because their bodies wouldn’t play ball when they thought there was still time. Nothing, but NOTHING, sucks more than desperately wanting a kid and being unable to have one and spending all your waking hours wishing time machines existed so you could go back and buy yourself a few more fertile years. So that fertility window thing is worth factoring in, even if it feels like eons away right now.
2. If you go ahead, be sure you’re doing it because it’s what YOU want. It’s your body and your decision and you’ll be bearing the brunt of all of it: the pregnancy, the labour and birth, the bulk of the caring for your new baby. So while it’s lovely that your boyfriend wants to keep the baby and is stoked (especially after being told he’d never be a dad), I want you to know in your heart, deep down, that you made the decision for yourself and not for anyone else. Especially important at 3am, holding screaming baby, etc etc.
3. Life isn’t over once you have a baby. Heaps of mums (and dads) out there manage to have great careers and study and travel and there’s no reason why you can’t, too. Life with a bubba on your hip might look a little different than how you envisaged it, and you may have to make more sacrifices and become a master juggler to do all the things you really want to do, but it may also open up an incredible new world to you that you can’t even imagine until you’re actually in it. And it sounds like you’ve got a good guy willing to hold your hand on the rollercoaster, which – trust me – becomes harder and harder to find as you get older.
Good luck making what I know is a huge decision, Anne. I hope you come back and let us know how things go.
Love, reality chick
RC readers, help! How old were you when you had kids? If you were young, do you regret not having kids older? What do you think Anne should do?