My Facebook timeline is heaving, literally about to break at the seam (because, y’know i’ll accidentally on purpose push my laptop off the table) with people I went to school with having babies.
When I say people I went to school with, I mean people two years younger than me, as well as my actual classmates.
And when I say people I went to school with I also mean random people I have on my Facebook that I once worked with for two weeks over a sixth form summer holiday.
Sometimes it feels like me and my close circle of friends are the only people not rubbing Bio Oil onto our growing bumps, posting statuses about how scary One Born Every Minute Is because OMFG!!!111!! that’s going to be me soon, and showing off engagement rings that i’m 97% sure came from Argos or a knock off jewellery shop down a Worthing side road.
So I did some research, I had a dig around the fabricated stats and statistics that litter the internet about WHEN we really should be shooting beloved babies out of our vaginas, whilst pooing ourselves spectacularly in front of our partners and tearing on such a catastrophic level we won’t be able to have sex for months without wanting to weep and scream.
So yeah OK, we are obviously doing it earlier than our parents were.
It’s creepy that statistically i’d be married with a baby right now had I been born a generation earlier.
The UK actually has one of the youngest ages for first time mothers out of the Western world which isn’t something I knew until I started Googling random averages and started putting worrying search terms into my boyfriend’s laptop for him to find at a later date.
Australia, Italy and Japan are just three countries who now have an average first time birth rate of over 30.
The U.S. on the other hand, has the youngest birth rate for a country with a high GDP (the averages in third world countries hovers between the age 18-21 mark) and in 2013 their average age for first time mothers was 25, up two years on the generation before.
I’m OK with the UK average – 28 just sounds right.
Sometimes I forget to take a couple of my contraceptive pills and I spend the rest of the month wondering if this now means i’m accidentally pregnant. Emotionally i’d say there’s this niggly 2% that hopes i’m pregnant, but it feel like in today’s society a 24-year-old girl with a degree and a career shouldn’t feel that way. Shouldn’t want a baby until she’s at least 30. Weird, eh?
Then as my period approaches and i’m half a day late I go into meltdown. OH MY FUCKING GOD I’M PREGNANT, OH MY GOD I’M NOT READY FOR THIS. ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS AND OH MY GOD HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED AND NO, PLEASE NO. WHAT DID I DO TO SERVE THIS CRUEL MISFORTUNE.
Then my period comes and i’m like, oh.
Oh so there’s no baby. Oh yeah, sure that’s fine, didn’t want one anyway. It’s totally cool.
*Goes and wraps self in blanket and drinks tea and eats family size bar of chocolate whilst watching Teen Mom*
Women are made to feel like it is wrong to want a baby before we’ve hit the age of steep fertility decline.
We’re not allowed to want one until we’ve put ourselves in a risky battle against nature to make one.
Maybe it’s just me, but my brain, even if it is a measly niggly 2%, has always wanted a baby, and I don’t think that makes me mental. I think that makes me normal, it means that my body and my brain are wired in the way in which nature intended.
Nature wanted me to make a baby whilst my body was as fertile as it could be, simple as.
And yes, there are stats that suggest women who give birth in their forties go on to live longer than women who gave birth younger, and yes having a baby in your twenties might mean you ‘miss out’ on things as childless women in their thirties often like to warm me – but the stats are there, the stats that tell you the younger the better for physical health.
Here’s a cute few bulletin points from Wikipedia (LOL, soz, it’s probably true) about the likelihood of birth defects dependent on age of the mother.
And you’ll remember this cute one about declining fertility that i’ve used before. That sweetly informs you that your fertility is ALREADY declining. Not seen it before? Oh, sorry. Try not to have a breakdown.
I’m still not saying I want a baby right this minute, but it’s not because ‘I can barely look after myself let alone a baby’ as so many people love to quote. It’s because I’m selfish.
It’s because I want to go on holiday, I want to keep blogging and see where it takes me, I want to keep jumping at all the amazing opportunities life has been throwing my way of late. I’m not ready to slow down for someone else yet.
It’s not because i’m not ready it’s because I want to be me for just a tiny bit longer, even if it means increasing all the risks associated with having a baby up by 1% or however much it goes up for something to go wrong by waiting another couple of years.
But we shouldn’t be telling people they’re too young for a baby, because, by the looks of the people on my social media (and yes, we all know social media doesn’t tell it exactly as it is) they’re doing OK. They’re not living in poverty and disease and depression because they had a baby before they were in their late twenties or thirties, if anything some of them will probably say it was the best thing they ever did.