When is the right age to have kids? Even before I complete the question I can already hear random shouts from across the world – “Twenties!”
I beg to differ. For me, the right age to have kids is when I and my husband feel ready for it. What about the declining quality of your eggs and fertility, you ask. What about my life, I counter. How selfish, you exclaim. Isn’t it more selfish to bring a life to this world when you are not ready to take responsibility for it, I counter. You are a woman, being a mother is your life’s purpose, you say. My life’s purpose should be defined by me, not by you or society, I counter. Family comes first, career later, you chide. A strong career foundation now will help my family later, I counter.
All my twenties, most of my conversation with my mom, aunts and well-meaning but quite nosy neighbors have been variations of the above. Initially I used to get very offended. Isn’t this my life? Once I do have a child, will Latha Aunty from Chennai take care of the child? No? Will she at least pay for the child’s upbringing? No again? Then why the hell should I care about what she thinks about my child bearing age?
However, with time, I mellowed down. I started understanding where all the shock and judgements came from. We are, as a culture, taught to believe that a woman needs to get married and produce offspring in her twenties, preferably before mid-twenties, but absolutely before 30’s. And it is not just culture, there are actual scientific studies that peg the ideal age for woman to get pregnant in the early twenties. Despite all that, I still decided to delay my pregnancy to my 30’s. Here is why:
This Is Why I Delayed My Pregnancy To My 30’s
Getting my life in order: When I asked “what about my life?” earlier, I did not mean to sound selfish, I meant to sound practical. By the time I completed 10+2 schooling, 4 years of graduation and 2 years of post-graduation, I was 24. Then I got a great job and it took me couple of years to settle down, make friends, have fun and meet my then-fiancé and now-husband. After a year-long engagement, I finally got married when I was 27. We both decided we should wait for 3-4 years before having a child. And wham! I crossed 30 by default! Of course, there are always outliers. I know people who got married at 24, then did their masters, then had a child and then joined work. I was not sure if I could be that outlier
Trading the baby for a laptop: I did not slog through the best years of my life to have a job. I wanted a career. And a good one at that. This is not to say I de-prioritized having a child. Quite the contrary, actually. I knew that once I have a child, being a mother will be my #1 priority. I did not want to be making a career vs. baby choice every single day. The initial few years at work are very important. I wanted to perform well, make great impressions, build a strong resume and gain confidence that I can sustain the career even with a child or two. That kind of confidence I did not have when I was 25. But by the time I was 29-30 I was very comfortable with my career, my team and my work. I did not, hence, ever have a career vs baby dilemma!
Travelling the world: I wanted to travel extensively. Once I started earning, that dream became much more real. By the time I was 30, I had covered most of the famous tourist spots in India and 9 countries. I know I could travel with a child also. And I am sure I could go back to all the places I visited with my baby and see it in a new light. However, travelling solo or with your spouse alone is a much more care-free and adventurous affair. You are much more spontaneous when you are child-free. Children, for all their cuteness, kill your impulsiveness to an extent!
Strengthening the love and bond with my spouse: I wanted to see my husband as a “husband” for few years before I started seeing him as a “father”. In the 4 years before my pregnancy, we forged a bond so strong that we knew we could deal with the risks, responsibilities, trials and tribulations associated with parenting together. Sure, there are many successful couples who became parents within first year of marriage. No contesting that. But I did not want to take that chance. And I did not.
So, why am I trying to justify my choice? Don’t I already have the last laugh because I did all of the above and still had an almost
uneventful pregnancy and a healthy baby? Yes I did. But I also think that I got lucky…
Delaying your pregnancy to your 30’s is not and should not be a “fad” you try to follow. It worked out for me, yes. But you have to admit that there is a strong positive correlation between age and pregnancy complications. There are, of course, various new age medical technologies that can make the probability of you having a healthy pregnancy higher (IVF, egg freezing, egg donation et al). You need to be aware of all your options – including an impending possibility that you might not be able to conceive at all. Once you have all the options and their repercussions on the table, then, only then, you and your partner should make a decision. And most importantly, once a decision is made, do not second guess yourself because everyone around you are likely to tell you that you made the wrong choice.
It is your life. Your baby is your responsibility alone – physically, emotionally and financially. Take a wise call.