Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week: What do you do when you’re ready for children – and your biological clock is ticking — but your partner feels like you’ve got all the time in the world? Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
I’ve been engaged to a wonderful man for four years, and we are a blended family. I do not have any bio children, but he has two tweens. I have always wanted a family, and would like to have children of my own. I have been exceedingly clear with my fiancé about this since we started dating over five years ago, and we have seemingly always been on the same page. He wants another child or two, he says. He wants to have kids with me, he says. He thinks his kids would love having a younger sibling(s), he says. But, he’s still not ready he says. I’m in my early 40s, he’s in his mid 40s and I don’t think it’s crazy or incorrect to say I feel like we are running out of time here? He says we “aren’t dead yet” and that he will be ready, but just “not now.” But “not now” has been going on for four years, and I feel like I’m going to lose my chance at being able to get pregnant and carry a baby. If I leave him (which I do not want to do), I would have to start over with dating and all that, and I can’t afford to become a single mom by choice. WTF do I do?
The thing about sperm is that they can make babies, well, forever – there is literally no maximum age, biologically speaking, for a man to become a father. But eggs are a different story. And this is what you’re going to have to make your fiancé understand.
You are neither crazy nor incorrect in thinking you’re running out of time. Not to be discouraging here, or make you feel like a grandma before you’re even a mom, but your peak reproductive period was like 20 years ago. “A woman’s best reproductive years are in her 20s. Fertility gradually declines in the 30s, particularly after age 35,” says the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. “By age 40, a woman’s chance is less than 5% per cycle, so fewer than 5 out of every 100 women are expected to be successful each month.”
This is not to say that you can’t get pregnant, or successfully carry a baby to term; it just means that the older you are, the more roadblocks you may encounter on your journey to parenthood – and the more likely you are to need medical intervention. “[D]ue to the increased risk of infertility in this age range, we typically don’t advise this population of women to try as long before getting an infertility evaluation,” says Dr. Allison Giles in an article for Virginia Physicians for Women. For those under 35, she recommends an infertility evaluation after a year of trying unsuccessfully to conceive; for those over 40, in contrast, she recommends waiting only three months — or even less.
Of course your fiancé isn’t in a hurry; not only does he have children already, but he’s still got a ton of reproductive years ahead of him. You, unfortunately, do not. So it’s time for a heart-to-heart. Let him know how important it is to you, both on a personal and a biological level, to start trying right away. Lay out the facts for him, or maybe even convince him to attend a pre-conception appointment with your gynecologist or a fertility specialist so that he can hear those facts straight from the horse’s mouth. And if that doesn’t work, you can always approach it from the angle that the longer you wait, the more expensive it’s going to be (because reproductive assistance is not cheap, and I know that tactic would work on my own budget-conscious husband).
The good news is that he does want kids with you, and convincing him of that is one hurdle you don’t have to cross. So it’s just a matter of enlightening him as to why you should start sooner rather than later. Hopefully he will see the logic in it, and you’ll be holding your very own bundle of baby joy in no time.