I have a guest post on Mumsnet about how (I think) I came to be a non-parent at 44:
I know a few people who are distinctly ambivalent about whether they want children or not. I have a 35-year-old friend who thinks she should have them, to avoid risking any regrets, but has a host of doubts. These include work insecurities, her partner’s precarious mental health and the fact that she just isn’t that keen. She may also have a (hopefully treatable) serious illness, which would delay things until she is at least 37. Whether or not she will be able to have children looms large in her thoughts, yet she isn’t sure if she actually, really wants them.
I have another Irish friend who is 42 and has been with her partner for 12 years. After a very traumatic childhood, she was always vehement in her decision to never have children. She is now attempting IVF, following late-blossoming fears that she will regret her decision.
It may seem a strange state of affairs in the eyes of women who unequivocally knew they wanted children long before the window of opportunity started to close, yet it seems to be a common condition, this ambivalence mixed with fear of regret.
And I’ve never known a case that had anything to do with “career”.
People may read my story and think: good thing she didn’t have children, if she was having them for those reasons. But how many women were like me and went on to successfully have children? I’ll never know, because those who do have children don’t tend to talk about why they had them, whereas those who don’t have children often find themselves explaining.
I tell my story to show that there are many routes to not having children, and they are not always straightforward. And also, as always, to reassure those who are in the eye of the storm that it will pan out fine if they fall into the percentage that don’t reproduce, or adopt.
It’s as sad, lonely and scary as you want it to be.