Despite being unable to align the planets, choose the perfect point in life or brief our eggs or sperm on exactly when to meet, the debate rages on – most recently thanks to this recent media coverage on the matter, suggesting women should try for a baby before aged 30.
So when is the right – and best – time to have a baby? From the time of year to the time of life, there are many opinions. I see it crop up regularly – as well as in the media – on websites and forums, and amongst family and friends. I have partaken, I have listened and I have accepted that timing is, of course, the most vital thing. Not the everything-changing child itself you understand, the timing is what really matters.
With so many factors to consider, when is the best time in life to have a baby? Get those reflecting caps on and face inwards – it’s time to take a good look at yourself.
Don’t have children too young – you need to experience many years of drinking and irresponsible behaviour in order to be a good parent.
Don’t have children when older because you won’t have enough energy for, well, any of it.
Don’t wait until you’ve ticked the settled down, happy ever after box to have children; you might have gammy eggs. These are entirely different from gammon and eggs. Act now!
Don’t have children if you’re single. Remember your eggs might not be gammy and of course, everyone should be in a relationship, right? Independence is so passé.
Don’t have children unless you are in peak physical health (a baby taking over both your body and entire life will not mess then this up, I promise).
Don’t have a baby before you are in possession of a marriage certificate and an over-sized photo of you rocking old, new, borrowed and blue. It is definitely relevant to your parenting and the alternate just isn’t acceptable.
Don’t have children unless you are in the money. You can’t parent children with low material status as they require twenty pound notes for comforters and silver spoons for their puree.
Then, there’s the time of year of course – just as imperative. To be safe, it is probably best to avoid the following months (you have been warned):
January: Everyone will spend your child’s birthday in a post-Christmas black mood and their gifts will be battered sales toys from the bargain bin.
February: Too cold and you might get stuck in the snow on the way to hospital. Delivering in the car is NOT as glamorous as it sounds.
March: Unless you take extended maternity leave, you risk returning to work right before Christmas. Son of a nutcracker, how depressing would that be?
April: Child’s birthday might – at any point – be overshadowed by Easter Sunday or even worse, Good Friday. Damn you solar and lunar calendar issues.
May: Exam season. Do you really want your child to spend their landmark 16th birthday in a drafty school hall with a racing heart and dry mouth? I’m still scarred from when it happened to me. I think it happened anyway; perhaps like many victims of trauma, I blocked it out.
June: It will rain at the outdoor birthday party you plan, because it’s Britain, and that’s what happens in June. And if it doesn’t, hay fever will strike instead causing a sneeze fest all over the fairy cakes.
July: A birthday! In the school holidays! What are you thinking? Do you actually desire a pathetic turn-out for your child’s party? Come on now.
August: Your child will be the youngest in the school. This is really terrible, err, apparently. They will have a massive eleven years to even out with their taller counterparts but you should be mindful and extra anxious regardless.
September: As the oldest in the school, expectations on your child to be a genius will be overwhelming. Also, an extra year at home with them? Bit much really.
October: Two words: Halloween curse. You must consider every eventuality.
November: Too rainy a month to bring a baby into the world. Oh, and all the good birthday cards have been replaced with glittery Christmas junk in the shops.
December: They’ll never get a look-in next to Jesus. Or all the frivolity, merriment and tinsel. Plus, most vitally, you risk going into labour before you’ve had chance to finish your turkey. Big picture.
So the best time to have a baby? It would seem there is no easy answer. So you could just not. Or, perhaps less dramatically, you could combine the right time for you with the universe granting it.*
And although I’m part of the infertility stats, I am pretty set on the theory that there is enough to deal with around starting a family without slinging guilt and pressure at young women doing the things they are entitled to do – you know – experiencing life and building their futures at their pace.
And there are actually much more important things than trying to plan for perfect. Family life is what you make it, and all the more special for its realities. Let us support one another in the paths we take – be it through choice or circumstance – and be thankful that we live in a land where we have free will, not just expectation and biological ideals placed upon us all.
*Failing that, there will always be some random in the newspaper or the supermarket declaring when it is correct to become impregnated. And you should always heed to words of total stranger.
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