Friday, 15 March 2013

# 41 (2013) Emotional Infertility

Have you ever heard of emotional infertility - no? Well neither had I until this morning when I watched The Wright Stuff.

Emotional Infertility is a label assigned to women who delay child bearing because they want everything to be 'just right'. Generally it'll be career women wanting to have succeeded to their own satisfaction and be financially secure. It also often refers to those women looking for Mr Right to be the father of their offspring. These women might spend the whole of their fertile lives trying to tick all these boxes and never succeed or for it to be too late for them to conceive naturally.

All the way through my twenties this was most definitely my stance on things. But whilst I commanded myself to get everything in order - find the right partner, have a stab at my career of choice and be financially secure - it was quite clear this was never going to happen within the expected time frame. Control freak? Quite possibly. And I was quite happy going through my twenties and early thirties making these excuses. It suited my agenda. I didn't think I was in any rush.

The truth of the matter is that if I was going to wait I was never going to have children. Because here I am in my late thirites and I have most definitely failed to get any of those components to come together. In fact, what is clear is that I will probably be well into my forties before any one of these things looks like they may happen.

Not everyone wants children and that's okay (source)
But you know what, the problem wasn't that I was putting off having kids. All I needed to do was admit to myself that I didn't actually want kids. Even if we won't admit to it there is psychologically a lot of expectation on women to settle down and have a family.

The reality of the situation is that there isn't a maternal bone in my body. I have a suspicion that my first job after leaving school for two years, as a nursery nurse, pre-school teacher and babysitter for children aged 3 weeks to 6 years, probably had a lot to do with that. I am under no illusion what hard work kids are and I envy no woman their motherhood status whatsoever.

It was about three years ago that I was finally able to admit to myself wholeheartedly that I had no intention of ever having children. And I am happy to tell anyone that I am very happy being child free. In fact, I'm quite proud of my choice because I guess it takes quite a lot of guts to stand your ground and do what you want for yourself.

I hope my state of mind never changes and I secretly hope my menopause comes early so I never have to worry about accidentally becoming pregnant. But equally I am aware that things may not always be in my control. If it does happen and all of a sudden my body clock mysteriously appears out of nowhere, I shall have to deal with the fall out because I doubt I will be in a position to reverse my decision.

But there are women out there, the age I am now, still beating themselves up about not having everything in place to be able to start a family. My first thought is that many women who want children just have them often with little regard of the situation these children will find themselves living in. If these career women wanted children, surely there would come a point where they would just do it. Hormones after all can be tricky buggers to deal with. If you are able to keep your maternal instincts in check on that basis perhaps you should be admitting to yourself that you don't want children at all?

Just because all your friends are doing it, it doesn't mean you have to. There should never be an expectation on any individual to settle down and have children just because that's what you do. There are already too many people in the world, a few more career women really wouldn't hurt.

Older women may be responsible for the latest baby boom (source)
Statistics suggest that the number of women in their forties having children has trebled in twenty years - that caters for nearly 30,000 babies born in 2011. That many of these children will have been born at all thanks to advances in modern medicine is perhaps a worrying sign. Many would suggest that you should have your children whilst you are physically able rather than because it fits with your lifestyle aspirations. These are children, not financial commodities after all.

But modern life is changing us. Women's roles have altered and many are expected to be main earners and home owners as well as housewives and mothers. But these roles were never meant to overlap. It was why the standard set up always used to be husbands and wives, breadwinners and homemakers. Both are full time jobs. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm 40 this year. All my life I have abhorred the idea of having children, and all my life I have been told that I'll change my mind. Well, I haven't. Kids leave me cold; give me my animals, and I'm happy. It's not misplaced maternal instinct. I like animals. I don't like children. Simples.