30 And Not Pregnant: How My Biological Clock Is Freaking Me Out

by Erin Russell

I am 30 years old, with no sign of marriage in sight. And, I want babies.

Not this instant, but yeah, having a family is something I want, and I know I only have a rapidly closing window of opportunity in which to do it.

You could even say it is a goal of mine, and you know what they say about goals: Pursue relentlessly until you get what you want. But how do you apply that to relationships?

Obviously the first step is to find a mate (adoption is wonderful, but my genes are selfish), and every woman knows this must happen before 35 or else.

My mother, in a thinly-veiled reminder that she does not have grandkids yet, recently noted, “You don’t have to be married in order to have children.”

But, logistically, it would make everything a hell of a lot easier. (She has also suggested my friends should “line up potential suitors for me to choose from.”)

Plus when it comes down to it, I would like for my child’s father to be someone whose intricacies are known, as much as anyone can know any other person.

I want to know he is a good person, is capable of love and any number of personality quirks that can’t be determined from a one-night stand or stats on a sperm donor sheet. But, do I have enough time for this choice?

My mother did not.

After a divorce and a seven-year rollercoaster, she found herself 34 and single, wanting a baby but thinking she couldn’t get pregnant.

And so, she did what some would label desperate and others would label practical: She had sex without protection.

She had a phenotype she was looking for, was upfront about her reasons for not using protection and went for it.

I really don’t (want to) know much about the duration of this period. But, three months after meeting my father, she found herself pregnant.

Luckily, he turned out to be a pretty good guy. They got married when I was 5 and have been together ever since.

Was it unsafe by today’s standards? Sure. Was she lucky? Yes. Was she desperate? I don’t think so.

Let’s translate this into the Tinder age.

I am not against just-for-fun dating. Sometimes it is what it is, and you can still enjoy it even if it’s not forever.

However, I now find myself unable to muster up excitement for it. How soon is too soon to say, “Look, I want to get married and have babies, if you’re not down to see where this goes, I’m out?"

It’s a fine line: I get turned off when guys tell me they’re not looking for anything serious and when they ask how many kids I want on the second date.

I’m not quite to phenotype-hunting yet, but I do I occasionally reduce men to their genes: “What if my kid gets his flat ass?” or “There’s literally no way our child wouldn’t be brilliant.”

Though it doesn’t have a name, or you know, life, my potential future baby has a college fund and has affected my car and home purchases.

Why shouldn’t he or she be a deciding factor in my relationships as well?

I am more acutely aware of the issue because of my current relationship.

My baby-hope was raised when I rekindled things with someone I’d known and loved for 10 years. But when it ended, I was devastated that my last-last shot with someone who truly understood me was gone.

Then, incredibly, I found someone even better, on Tinder, of all places.

He told me he loved me, he owned a house in my city and I thought we were rooted and strong.

But abruptly, he broke things off. He wanted to move away for grad school, and after which, he planned on working 80-hour weeks.

He didn’t have time for children for 10 years. My motherly desires didn’t fit into his life plan.

It’s the first time someone has ever essentially said, “You’re too old for this to work out between us,” and it felt extra sh*tty.

The problem is, I love the f*ck out of him. Though we got back together, a part of me wonders what I am doing, or if I should be trying to find someone who can father my children.

With the relationship itself, there is only happiness: he’s brilliant, he supports and challenges me and he adores me. The problem lies with its future.

We avoid the subject now because there’s not much to say. It’s impossible to imagine that time spent with someone I love is wasted, but if it is not congruent with my goal of having children, isn't it?

I hold out a strange hope for accidents, if for no other reason than the reassurance that it is possible for me to conceive.

While I am staunchly pro-choice, I no longer think I, personally, could have an abortion, given that I want a baby and am financially stable enough to provide for one.

My period, which once evoked a varyingly paranoid sigh of relief, has turned into a monthly reminder of the fertility difficulties I may encounter, as my mother did.

Do I need to allow extra time in my hypothetical, ever-shrinking timeline for this as well?

Every time I see an engagement, I think of how I want x number of years of dating before getting engaged, and the exasperating length of time between engagement and a wedding, after which I could start trying for a baby.

My friends who had children young — the same ones who I was so glad not to be a few years ago — now evoke a twinge of jealousy within me that they have already accomplished the act of reproducing.

I am a competitive achiever; how have they completed this task when I have not?

We sneered at those in college who got their “MRS” degrees, but didn’t they get what they wanted? They don’t have to worry like I do.

Everyone says that I should relax, that it will all work out. That I’ll meet someone when I least expect it, and we’ll ride off into the sunset, joyful and fertile.

Well look, I’ve tried to actively search, I’ve tried to passively wait, I’ve tried not to expect anything and I’m still here.

Logically, I know there’s still time, but the problem is, it doesn’t work out for everyone. It just can’t statistically happen.

And there’s no way for my friends to know if I will be one of the women I see in my newsfeed, finally jubilant, holding her answered prayer.

Or, if I will be the woman talked about in an I-wonder-why-she-never-found-anyone kind of way.

Obviously, not having children is a completely valid choice, but the attitude still prevails: I’m seen as crazy if I try to make procreating a priority, and crazy if I don’t succeed.

I’m stuck between continuing to do what makes me happy, letting life work in its mysterious ways and actively trying to control my fate.

I feel like a bad feminist, like a baby-crazed lunatic for even thinking that falling in love and having a family is what I want instead of having a powerful career, inner peace or what have you.

I’ve awkwardly tried to explain why I feel this way, but I’ve learned there’s no “right” reason to want children. I just know that’s what I want.

So here’s my confession, an unspoken fear I know I share with countless others: My goal is to have a baby, and I’m scared it won’t happen for me.

I guess only time will tell.