This is the second time I’ve used the title The Baby Gap for a blog post. The first was on April 2, 2011, two years ago. Wow, two whole years. That’s a sobering thought. Have I really been blogging that long? And have two years really gone by so quickly? And am I still pondering and writing about the same things as I was back then without any significant change in my circumstances?
The answer to those questions is Yes.
Of course, some things have changed. I’ve grown – and not just older. I’ve learned more about myself. I’ve had experiences that have helped me identify self-defeating patterns of behaviour and I’ve made some progress in changing them.
I’ve also started writing about these issues in mainstream publications and I now have a literary agent for my book, which will be called, you guessed it, The Baby Gap. Shame I didn’t sit down and start writing the book on the back of that first blog post two years ago! It might be published by now.
It’s really interesting to reread that post from two years ago, though. And it’s also a little frightening to see how quickly time passes and to be reminded that if we want our circumstances to change, we really have to do something about changing them. Or we’ll be in the same position two years from now – at 44 in my case.
So, with a view to changing my circumstances, I’ve thrown myself into online dating. It’s not that I haven’t tried before – I’ve just never been bothered enough to go online much or to write a decent profile or to post some nice pictures. I’ve even failed to respond to guys with promising profiles who’ve suggested we meet up. Oops. This time, though, I’m trying to put a bit more time and effort into it.
I’ve also had a coaching session with dating and relationship coach Jo Hemmings to work out where I might be going wrong (as well as for research for my book) – and it seems there’s plenty of room for improvement.
And I’ve read Salli Glover’s How to Attract Mr Right in 90 Days or Less and I’m reading Get the Guy by Matthew Hussey. I confess I’m a sceptic at heart and can be very British at times and the titles of these books would normally make me cringe. But I picked both up, for my book and my life, and am really glad I did. Salli’s book is great, packed with lots of tips and exercises to get you into a good place when it comes to dating. And I’ve only just started Matthew’s but it seems like it’ll be a fast, helpful read.
Of course, I have handicapped myself a little when it comes to dating. If I tell a potential date my name and what I do for a living and if he decides to look me up online, that could be as far as we get. Because if you put ‘Katherine’ and ‘Journalist’ into Google, my website is listed second, which then takes you to this blog, which then informs you that I write a lot about the baby gap, which could cause any potential boyfriend to head for the hills, thinking a baby is all I’m looking for. So I’d better just say at this point that I’m not some crazy, 40-something lady who’s craving a baby above all else. Honestly, I’m not! I just write a lot about it. (See below – it’s the relationship that’s more important).
Another thing I’m doing – for book research purposes, I don’t think I’d do it otherwise – is getting my fertility tested. I remember talking to a friend about this in my late 30s and deciding back then that there was no point finding out where I stood in terms of my fertility because I wasn’t ready to have a baby with anyone, or rather there was nobody around who I wanted to have a baby with, so what was I going to do with the information, even if it was accurate, which it isn’t always.
But once again, it’s weird to look at how many years have passed since that conversation. I still don’t think there’s a great deal of point in getting tested – other than the fact that I want to go through the process for my book – but it’s going to be interesting, revealing and perhaps difficult.
I’m also writing a feature on egg freezing right now for a women’s magazine, which has got me thinking. Once again, I just can’t see myself ever putting my body through that process, even if I had thought seriously about it a few years ago. And what would be the point of thinking about it now? The chances of getting enough viable eggs at 42 are extremely low. But will I be thinking differently if I’m in the same position at 44 or 45. And should I be suggesting to younger women that they check out egg freezing?
The fact is that having a partner has always been more important to me than having a baby and I think that’ll always be the case. If it wasn’t, I definitely would just go it alone as so many women are.
Perhaps I’m still in denial but there is part of me – the biggest part of me – that just wants things to happen organically when it comes to a relationship and a possible family, and if they don’t, I know I’ll manage. We all will. Many women have already.
It was interesting though, at a recent seminar I went to at the London Women’s Clinic, to hear the staff talking about the way so many women hold on to the “fantasy” of “getting pregnant naturally by having amazing sex with a soulmate” or words to that effect. Yes, we do! And, I guess, many of us inevitably end up disappointed. Although most of us assume, for as long as possible, well into our 40s, that we won’t be the disappointed ones – we assume we’ll be one of the lucky ones, for whom it all works out in the end. Don’t we?
This is one of the issues I’ll be exploring in my book and I’d love to hear from you if you can relate to any of these topics. The book focuses on the phenomenon of ‘social infertility’ – the large numbers of women who are childless by circumstance, not by choice: because they focused too much time and energy on their careers or because they dated a string of undesirables or because the guy they thought would commit decided he didn’t want to just as it was getting too late or because they were unlucky in love for other reasons or because they simply always thought it’d work out.
These are the women who are teetering on the brink of childlessness without ever thinking they would end up in this position and they’re trying to figure out what to do about it. The books looks at how we got here, what it feels like and what we can do about it, by drawing on the stories and experiences of women who have trodden this path before us. And it includes the inspiring stories of women who missed the baby boat but who made peace with their circumstances.
I’m seeking a whole range of interviewees for the book (as well as the magazine feature on egg freezing – deadline for that is April 10th so please do get in touch. For the book I have much longer but the sooner the better). I promise to interview sensitively and to respect your anonymity if desired. I’m looking to speak to:
- Women in their late 30s or early 40s who are unintentionally childless (by circumstance, not by choice) and who are wondering how it all got so late and whether motherhood will ever happen to them.
- Women who are dating (online and offline) who can talk about how challenging it is when the biological clock is ticking
- Professional women working in demanding careers or male-dominated environments (lawyers, bankers etc) who feel their job would be jeopardised if they took time off to have children and who find it difficult to know when is a good moment or women whose careers have suffered because they became mums. What do companies/governments need to do to make this easier for everyone?
- Women who managed to have a baby but felt they left it very late and struggled to conceive/had to go the IVF route etc or could only have one child when they wanted more
- Women (single and with partners) who are taking or have taken motherhood into their own hands (egg freezing, solo adopting, visiting a sperm bank etc). Are you considering this? What were your experiences? Did it free you up to meet men later or did it take up too much time and take you out of the dating game? Also women who have chosen co-parenting.
- Women in their 20s and early 30s to talk about their approach to careers and families and whether they would consider egg freezing or are happy to view IVF as a back-up plan
I’d also like to speak to:
- Men in their 30s, 40s and 50s about what it’s like to date (online and offline) or be in relationships with women who are craving a child or who are of a certain age with a small fertility window
- Men who have opinions about their own biological clock and feel they may be leaving it too late to become a Dad and would be sad about ending up childless
Do get in touch if you would like to share your story and it doesn’t matter where in the world you live. This is a global issue and I hope to use my international experience and contacts to make it a global book.
There’s a contact form on this blog or my email is:
info (at) katherinebaldwin (dot) com
I believe your stories and experiences – collected in this book alongside my own – will help women and men around the world realise they’re not alone as they confront social infertility and will enable women living in the baby gap and younger generations to make positive, healthy life choices so they can achieve their professional and personal dreams.
That’s my hope – now I just need to do a really good job of writing it!