Thirty. The age that we’re ‘supposed’ to be married, own a home, have kids and have our ‘shit’ together, right?
I may have checked off some ‘societal successes’, but as I’m approaching my 31st birthday, the hardest thing I’m having to confront is the inescapable biological reality that my fertility is decreasing with age. And I know I’m not alone.
We spend our younger years fearing pregnancy, and believing there is a 100 per cent chance of falling pregnant if we don’t use protection. Then, in our thirties we learn that this is absolutely not a certainty. Far from it. Instead, we find out about the 25 per cent chance of miscarriage, and that infertility affects one in six Australian couples of reproductive age. Let alone the physical and financial hurdles that same sex couples have to overcome to start and grow their family.
The ‘fertility window’ is something I worry about often. I know that I’m not ready right now, but what if I wait too long and miss my chance, and then wish I’d started earlier?
I’ve had my AMH levels tested, along with other hormones. I ordered the test online and it honestly took me 18 months before I did the blood test. I wasn’t worried per se, but I think by avoiding it, I wouldn’t have to deal with the results. In my case, I was fortunate, my egg count was ‘good’ for my age, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone – which can add another level of stress. But even so, these results are no guarantee, as the quality of eggs wasn’t tested, which play a vital role in conception.
We recently spoke with Dr Sneha Wadhwani, on the KICPOD, who raised a really important point that I hadn’t thought about. If I want to have children, especially multiple, I really do need to plan. Let’s say I wait until I’m 34 to start trying. Dr Sneha shared that 50% of couples who have no problems conceiving will take at least 6 months to fall pregnant, and 90% will fall pregnant after 12 months. So, chances are I’d likely conceive when I’m 35, which is when the quality of our eggs can start to decrease – therefore reducing my chances of falling pregnant naturally.
For some reason I have two children in my head. So, I’d need to allow enough time for pregnancy, postpartum and navigating life as a busy-working mum before Dalt and I decide we’re ready to try again. The time-line to grow a family of 4 is honestly overwhelming.
I have spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the above. The science, the calculation of years, the ‘clock’ but recently the other part of having children has crept into my mind. The non factual part. The part that up until recently I was afraid to say out loud – right now having a child seems like the scariest thing on the planet.
I worry about whether I have done enough or given enough in my career before kids, but I’m also equally afraid of the guilt I know I will feel if I put career before family, and then struggle to conceive.
I’m a creature of habit, I thrive off routine, and honestly really struggle to cope without it. I’m worried that by having children, I’m sacrificing the ability to prioritise myself during the very little free time I currently have. But then I feel guilty for being selfish – shouldn’t I want to sacrifice those things to become a mother?
If I were to really dig deep right now and ask myself why I am not ready, I think the answer would be a combination of the worries I’ve just shared, and the thought of losing control of my routine, and ultimately, myself.
As the CEO of Kic, I place a lot of pressure on myself. Not only to provide the best environment for my team, but for our global Kic community. It’s a heavy weight to carry, which I carry by choice, but it’s not easy.
I’ve got a toolbox which I lean on to make me 1% better, like running, doing a Kic workout or eating healthy (but delicious) food. I’ve learnt that my work days can be uncontrollable, but I’m regimented outside of this to help me cope.
So, I’m terrified that when my ‘me-time’ is taken away from me, with the busy demands of motherhood, how will I cope? How will I be there for my team, my community, my family, and myself? I feel scared that I will lose myself and forget who I am by having a child, but equally scared that I will not understand or realise my true purpose until I become a mother.
Everyone tells me that you are never truly ‘ready’ but I thought I would be closer to ‘ready’ than this by now.I do hope to have children, I just don’t know when, or if it’s even possible. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Laura Henshaw is the CEO and co-founder of health and wellness app, Kic.