I'm 33 And Terrified I Won't Get To Have Kids

Is anyone ever really ready?

author with a child courtesy of the author

I want to be a parent and I've always wanted kids. 

It's been not so much a dream, but just a guarantee. I'd grow up, get a job, meet someone cool, and start having children.

I never obsessed about it, I never worried about it, I just kind of figured it would happen.

I remember one particularly bad poem I wrote to my future daughter when I was in college. It was bad in the way that only really earnest, honest, and poorly written poetry can be.


I was sure motherhood was part of my future, as I want to be a parent, but now I don't know and I'm terrified.

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On the one hand, nothing has changed. I still think being a mom is essential to who I am.

I come from a big family, and I'm the oldest. I've been around babies and little kids forever. I'm not approaching the idea of motherhood naively, I know it's hard and there are things I won't ever really understand about it until I do it. 

But here's the thing that has changed. I'm 33, I'm dating someone who I can't have children with, and I don't feel like I'm ready in any sense of the word.


This would be totally fine if I were a man. I could put it off and put it off until my debts were paid and I owned property, but I'm a woman and reproductively the reality is that I very well could be peaking in terms of fertility. There's a clock, and I know it will run out. 

Getting pregnant is like having sex — if it's what you really want, you can make it happen. I plumb my soul for that kind of desperation and I don't find it; instead, I am confronted with the realities of my life as it is now. 

I'm living in Brooklyn and I've got a roommate. I don't have enough time to dedicate to my emotionally needy cat. A baby? Forget about it.

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Because of my student loan debt, I'm barely breaking even each month, and covering the costs of a child would totally break me. 

Photo: Author

Then there's the way I live.

To me, sleep is sacred. I'm not remotely exaggerating. If an opportunity to nap presents itself to me, I will take it with great glee. If I don't get my full eight hours, I turn into a waste of a person.


This is not me being whiny: sleep is essential in my battle against anxiety and depression, and if I mess with it, living becomes very difficult. 

With a partner, that part might be manageable. But who is that partner? Where do we live? What's our financial situation like? Has my cat grown less clingy? It's a picture that's increasingly foggy to me when I think about it now. 

I want to bring a child into this world. It's a biological urge, sure, but it's an emotional one, too.

I want to make sugar snow with a child like my mother did with me. I want a house full of kids singing nonsense songs. I want to watch a brother and sister that I made become best friends.


I'm a motherly person. It's in my nature. I can't escape the feeling that it's who I'm supposed to be. But I'm 33. If I want to do it, I need to really start thinking about it, I need to really start planning.

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But is upending my life a cost I'm willing to pay for a dream that might just be the biochemical result of my waning fertility? It might be. It just might be.

In order to have a child, to one extent or another, we all blow up our lives. We wander around in this fog being like "what did I do?" Nothing is the same. Not one thing. We can try and pretend that nothing has changed, but no one out there is buying that delusion. 


For me, a huge part of having a baby is the idea of creating a family of my own. I don't see myself as a single parent. I see looking at this new person as the person responsible for helping me create this new life.

People go lifetimes without meeting a person who fills that description, and I'm starting to think that I'd rather live with the awful regret of not having a baby than risk losing my chance to find that person. 

Maybe some people only get one kind of love, and maybe it's enough. I can see one day accepting that stone where my heart used to be.

But for now, I'm willing to let the battle rage inside me. Sure, a part of that battle is biology, but that's only one part of a whole that I am just starting to understand. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.