I have been married for almost four years now.
For the most part, my relationship with my husband, Matt, who happens to be a matchmaker and dating coach, has pretty much been “in the public eye” in terms of our views regarding dating, marriage, love, and how men think and how to handle a breakup.
We have written books, appeared on television, and given lots of advice.
But perhaps the one area that we haven’t had too much experience in dealing with: starting a family.
In August 2011, a life-sized picture of me graced the front of the New York Post‘s Pulse section with an article titled, “We Say No To Babies and Yes To NYC: More City Women Are Taking A Pass On The Mommy Path.” To be clear, I haven’t said no to babies, I just haven’t said yes.
But, the article, the comments that followed and the time since have been filled with a conversation in our home that we had brushed aside perhaps once too often: will just the two of us be enough?
The good news is, apparently we are not alone in our procreative uncertainty. The article quotes a study by the Pew Research Center in 2008, stating the number of women between 40 and 44 who’ve never given birth has increased by 80 percent since 1976. What it does not state is why.
There are so many reasons why women don’t have children, whether they are like me and have just not figured it out yet, or they cannot have children or they have not met the right partner. Finally, there is the group that just doesn’t want kids.
So, to baby or not to baby, that is the question we are now facing. And, perhaps like so many other couples, it’s not an easy one.
Our couple friends have split down the middle; half have children and the other half are dealing with the same questions we tackle: Should we? When should we? How many should we? What should we do if we can’t? Should we tonight?
And it’s not just Matt and me who are wondering what we’re going to do on the kid issue. Family and friends—mostly friends—bombard us with questions about it, too, which seems to up the pressure.
My husband and I came to our relationship the same way: we both always assumed we would have a child, we just didn’t know when. Like so many, we thought first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
But, it’s been almost four years and the conversation hasn’t progressed much further along, until we were both staring at my picture in the paper last week with a caption that read, Tamsen Fadal, 40, is one of a growing number of NYC women—who include TV host Rachel Ray—who are prioritizing their fabulous lifestyles over having kids. Now we are talking.
Both of our mothers died of cancer at very young ages, and that is always something we bring up in the conversation. My mother died of breast cancer. She was a great mother. It was what she lived for. But, after she died, I was always very scared to love that much again. And so, the idea of a child was never at the forefront of my mind. I put my career there once I got out of school and never gave it much thought—until now.
We’ve had the Baby Talk countless times in the past, but without any true resolution.
I can’t compare it to any other conversation we have had, in terms of seriousness (though it’s always been a discussion, never an argument—not even close to one, actually). Even when we talked about marriage years ago, that conversation paled in comparison.
This one involves many factors, so much to take into consideration and for both of us, it’s important for it to be the right time. Though all moms tell me, there never is a right time.
We take everything into account: careers, money, family around to help, and, of course, health.
At 40 and 44, we are now faced with the reality that it could be very difficult for us to even have a baby. But, still, we are weighing the pros and concerns (we don’t see them as “cons”). Concerns such as: do we want children at a late age? Will be we good parents? Is New York City going to be a good place to raise them? Can we afford to raise them in New York City? And finally, the question that brings us full circle: when?
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Bottom line: I have not said no to babies and yes to a fabulous life.
Those two things can happen at the same time. I have said yes to allowing myself to take the time to make a decision that is right for me.
Matt and I are being realistic about the fact that I don’t have forever to make the decision, and that we may not be able to have children at all. Mostly, I am thankful for the fact we are on the same page, and that with or without kids, it’s going to be OK.
Tamsen Fadal is a journalist and 3x author. Follow her on Facebook.