I’m well aware that I have so many more choices than women who came before me. Diving into womanhood with enough luck and access to the right resources, I knew I could set out on any career I wanted, create as much success as I wanted, and thanks to IVF, I could have a baby whether a man was involved or not — and I could possibly even get pregnant later in life than has ever been possible before.
For many women, all these options bring torturing decisions: Do I have children? Do I not have children? If I do… then when is the “right” time to have a baby?
For me, this inquiry was particularly intense. As a child, I had always imagined growing up to be a world traveler — not a mom. As a teenager, I hated babysitting. As a young adult, I was never on the marriage track. I wanted to taste independence and paint the world with my dreams. At 16 years old, I got a job to earn my own money and loved it, and I never turned back.
I did pursue my dreams. I went to a top college out of high school; I won an Emmy in my early 20s and progressed up the ladder to run a travel network. When my OB-GYN started warning me, when I was around 33 years old, that my fertility window was going to close, I knew I had a dilemma on my hands. I wasn’t ready to do the family route just yet.
First of all, I hadn’t met the right partner — and I wasn’t interested in dating with a marriage agenda. Second, to me, children represented the end of my personal freedom. After all, they certainly had been for my mom, and I had no other way to think about the endeavor. Third, when I stopped and got quiet with myself, my intuition said, “Don’t worry. It will all work out.”
But it wasn’t that simple. If I was clear that I did not want to be a mom, it would be no big deal if my so-called “fertility window” closed. But I did want to be a mom — just not yet. So my doctor’s warning weighed heavily on me.
It was hard to follow my heart, but I did anyway.
With blind faith, I took no action toward conception and kept pursuing my mission. Each year, the warnings at the gynecologist’s became more intense, and so did my fear. And yet I let go of panic and continued to trust my gut no matter what my logical mind had to say about it.
Fast-forward to 38 years old. I finally met the right partner. You know… the one. And suddenly, the idea of having a baby looked a little more interesting. We got pregnant quickly and immediately went into full celebration — looking for new housing, etc. Little did we know, we would lose that baby and then another and another and another. We went through so many periods of intense mourning.
It turns out, waiting to get pregnant so late in life had a harsh consequence for me: a higher chance for miscarriage. The losses took their toll on me (and my partner). Wrecked by grief, I would rely on the part of me that loved freedom to cope. After all, life with no kids is easy. You can do whatever you want whenever you want. There is no college fund to save for, no schedule to keep.
It was hard, but I made peace with my choices. I decided to harness our double-income-no-kids lifestyle for all it was worth. I sat down with my beloved to coauthor our book. We labored intensely, enjoying the fact that we could. There were no dependents to care for. We could throw caution to the wind and spend all day and all night writing for a full year.
Ironically, on the same day I turned in the final draft, I noticed I felt a little queasy. My periods had been wonky for a while. At 47 years old, I assumed I was hitting perimenopause. But once the nausea set in, I knew something was up. And sure enough, I was pregnant again.
But instead of joy, Justin and I both felt dread. Here we were again: another loss setting itself up. We shared the news with no one. But as the weeks rolled by, the pregnancy proved viable. Sure enough, at 47 years old — against all odds — I was gifted with a healthy baby.
As my belly grew bigger and bigger, so did my desire to be a mom. I could finally allow myself to feel how badly I had wanted to create a family with Justin all along. I could tap the side of me that wanted nothing more than to love a little life into full bloom. Nine months later, a beautiful baby girl came into our lives.
In the end, the timing couldn’t have been more “right.” By the time this gift came along, I was fully ready. And I’m glad I waited.
Today, when I kiss our beautiful little girl, I know life may not always seem like it’s working out — but it is. Life is full of incredible surprises, and only in hindsight can we see the whole picture. The key, for me, is to trust my intuition — not as a passive follower, but with a big openhearted yes to each and every moment along the way.