‘Maybe No Baby’ is the headline of a feature I wrote for The Sunday Times today on infertility and childlessness, particularly among women of my generation, late 30s, early 40s, and the difficulties of meeting eligible partners. It’s on page 20 of the newspaper if you have it to hand, or online, but behind a paywall so you have to be a subscriber to read it. Before I go any further, I should mention that I don’t get to choose the headlines, subheads or graphics/photographs and I’m very aware those used on this article might seem insensitive to women and men who are struggling with infertility or are childless, but not by choice. Hopefully, if you’ve met me or have read my blog, you’ll know I’m very much aware of the sensitivities around these issues.
Right now, after seeing the feature myself in black and white, I feel a little exposed and rather codependent – aware of the potential for being judged, as a writer/journalist, and very responsible for the feelings of all those people I interviewed for the piece. It’s really challenging to give everybody the space to speak and to cover all aspects of a topic when you’re writing to deadline and with limited space. As usual, I question whether I’m tough enough to be in this profession, but I continue to feel compelled to write.
At the same time, though, I’m doing my best to muster up some gratitude for everything that’s happened this week and some pride in my work, particularly for pulling together a well-researched 1900-word story for the Times in 24 hours.
I’ve been wanting to write about these issues in The Times, The Sunday Times or The Guardian for a good while and my determination finally paid off. I was also delighted to be asked onto Newsnight on Wednesday night to discuss IVF, late motherhood and childlessness. If you want to watch it, you can fast forward to the fertility feature, which starts around 36.15 (minutes), although it’ll only be on iPlayer for a few more days. It was quite a surreal moment, sitting there with Gavin Esler and Mariella Frostrup on one of my favourite news programmes, discussing a subject that’s very much close to my heart and referring to the book I’m writing – a book that was little more than a vague idea about eight months ago.
Of course, the irony of my situation hasn’t escaped me: I was at my computer until gone midnight on Friday night, checking over edits on the story, rather than out salsa dancing. And I was too shattered to get up to much fun for the rest of the weekend. So here I am, working hard on stories about singleness, the difficulties in meeting eligible men and post-40 childlessness, while I should probably be out there socialising. The key, of course, is that elusive thing called BALANCE. I’ll try and find some of that this week.
The main point I wanted to make about all this, though, is that it all started here, on this blog, at the moment I decided to trust myself to write about things I really care about and to put myself out there with my heart on my sleeve. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster journey and I’m sure there are many ups and downs to come, but I can see now I was always moving in the right direction.
So if you’ve got an idea for something – a book, a business, an adventure – but that little voice in your head is saying to you, ‘who do you think you are? that’s a ridiculous idea, it’ll never work out’, I reckon you should just go for it and see what happens. You might surprise yourself.