Maybe babyThe biological clock maybe ticking, but it is up to a woman to decide if and when she wants to have a baby
There is never a perfect time to have children because there is always something happening in your life. Either they are too young or too old, they are not financially stable enough or ready for the responsibilities or want to travel.
No one else but the woman should decide when it is the right time for her to have children. Sometimes, telling a woman that there is never a right time may end up in her having children at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons. Many of us know someone who decided to have a baby to save their marriage or due to societal pressure.
“Women are born with a certain number of eggs and as women age, it is harder for women to conceive due to a decrease in the number considerably. Also, women may have a certain percentage of ‘abnormal’ eggs that when fertilised may result in miscarriages,” explains physician Sujan Rajbhandari Joshi. “It does become difficult for women to conceive after the age of 35, not saying that it is impossible or hopeless, but the probability of having a successful pregnancy is much higher at 25 or 30 compared to 35 or 40.”
It is important to consider nature and biology when it comes to having children, although the magic of modern science has made many things possible. I know women who have had their first child at 40 and I know women who have been struggling to have children in their 20s— these experiences are subjective.
Biologically speaking, a woman is physically healthy to bear children from her late teens to her early 20s. Fertility can also depend on age and genetics, so the sooner a woman can decide what she wants or does not want, the easier it is for her to work towards it.
Preserving her fertility, or learning if she has any health issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis or genetic history of reproductive issues, may affect her ability to get pregnant as discovered by many women. If you know you want children for sure but happen to be unsure when, it helps to know the best time to start freezing your eggs.
There are ways of having children in the late 30s and 40s, but it may be more expensive and difficult because fertility treatments and In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) may not always be successful. Another important factor is that if you have a male partner, his age will also affect his fertility and that may determine whether you can have kids.
It is important to respect women’s privacy because some women may be trying to conceive without telling their family and friends, they may have suffered miscarriage or encountered unsuccessful IVF treatments. So telling them there is no right time, without even knowing what they have been through, would be cruel and hurtful. We can only plan and control so much about having a baby, the rest is up to chance.
Also, it is important that you and your partner are on the same page about having and raising a baby, so you must consider if they want to be a parent too. The help and support of family do affect a woman’s ability to raise a child because affluent families have more resources to raise kids compared to someone from a low socioeconomic background.
In Nepal, the pressure on women to have male children to continue to family lineage is just as great. Maya,32, is a successful working professional who has been married for five years. “I get pressure from my in-laws to have a child, preferably male. It makes me feel like everything I have done so far in life is inadequate. First it was the pressure to marry and now to have a child. Should I have a child for society if I have no desire to be a mother?” she questions.
Are you willing to give up your spontaneous life of socialising to wake up in the middle of the night for a baby? Are you willing to give up the joys of being a mother to have a successful and happy career? There are sacrifices and losses on both sides and understanding what they entail would help a woman decide.
If you did not want children for years and suddenly decide at 50 or 60 that you want to be a mother, you may be able to adopt a baby, but you must consider if it is in the best interest of the child. It is not enough to want to be a mother, but also important to be a good mother.
Every decision related to having a baby has consequences. Factors, such as your age and fertility, financial stability, support of a partner, job, family, ambitions and how much are you willing to give up for what you want should be taken into account. This major decision can cause confusion and anxiety, and clash with other expectations.
It is easy to allow society, parents, or your own biological clock to tell you that time is running out and feel guilt and shame for not wanting what a woman ‘should’ want. What other people say or what you read may influence your thoughts and views. But, you have to be honest with yourself, take the time to listen to your inner voice and do what you know is right for yourself.
Anjana Rajbhandary writes this fortnightly Nepali Times column Life Time about socio-cultural issues, mental health and physical health.