Next year my boyfriend and I are planning to try for another baby. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I see next year, the year that I turn 39, or as one of my friends puts it, “your 40th year on earth” as my last chance to attempt to have a baby. And in the wake of the miscarriage I had earlier this year, I can only think of pregnancy as an attempt. I’m now super aware of how falling pregnant is no guarantee of being able to carry a baby to term or even delivering a baby that is alive. I always knew the path to motherhood was fraught with danger particularly for African women. I knew this not just in terms of statistics: the number of African women who die from maternal mortality etc, but also from women in my immediate close circles. From the friend whose baby died in the final month of pregnancy, and the horror of having to go through labor to deliver a child that you knew you could never hold in your arms, to the couple who have had at least 5 miscarriages. Writing about my own miscarriage brought these stories home to me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. Women shared with me their own stories: “I’ve had up to 7 failed IVF attempts and miscarriages” one woman told me, “and finally I have my own child”. I don’t know how these women find the strength to keep on trying, I know that I don’t have that kind of strength. And I worry about the spectre of death that hangs over motherhood especially in our parts of the world. That in the attempt to bring forth life, we could very well loose our own life. I worry about our cult of motherhood, that women are somehow seen as less complete when they cannot/do not/want (to) have children. I admire one friend who has decided that she wants to be a mother, but does not see the need to have her own children biological children, and so has adopted children. I have always felt that I would want to adopt, but adoption feels to me like something that can be deferred, that I can do when I’m 50, when I imagine or rather hope that my life would not be as frenetic as it is right now. But biology cannot be postponed, and I really hate biology for this and so many other reasons – for fucking over women, for designing our bodies such that if we do not have children by a certain age we can no longer have children, or that we are more likely to have children who can have conditions like down’s syndrome. I really hate this. As things stand I know I have already ‘medically’ left it too late to have my own child – which is why if I am going to go ahead and do this, 2017 should be the year of the baby making project.
Are you a woman worried about your ability to have children? Are you a woman who has undergone IVF or considering it? Have you ever had a miscarriage? Do you not want children? Share your stories in the comments box and lets chat.