Dilemmas: I'm desperate to get pregnant

At 36, Wendy hears her biological clock ticking and she longs for a baby. Her partner of three years is also broody, but theirs is an on-off relationship. Should she try to find someone more stable, at the risk of never having children?

VIRGINIA'S ADVICE

When it comes to women in their late thirties getting pregnant with any old bloke just so they don't miss out on motherhood, mutters of "What about the child?", "Not fair it not having a father", "Selfish", start being heard in the Ironside household. Of course, it's quite easy for me to say that, as I already have a child, but I hope that were I now 36 and getting broody, I'd at least try to find a man to have a child with who was committed to being a father, if not a partner.

And this, it seems, is the incredibly fortunate position that Wendy finds herself in. She may not have found Mr Right, but she's found that rare bird, a broody bloke. I've had lots of letters from married women who want to have children, but their husbands' minds are set against it. I've even had letters from men whose wives have refused to have children. But Wendy's man is up for fatherhood. And I think she should grab this chance of a family while she can.

We've all got anecdotal evidence of friends who've had late babies. But the truth is that women's fertility starts to plummet after the age of 35. No one knows exactly why, but one theory is that some older women's eggs start getting old and wrinkly, like seeds that have lain in a cupboard too long. Another theory is that the lining of a woman's womb starts drying up and fertilised eggs simply can't implant there, like seeds thrown into a sour field. (Excuse the medical aside, but I write as one who tried to get pregnant at 39 and failed.) Even if Wendy were to meet Mr Right in the next year - and there are few enough nice men available, as anyone in their thirties will tell you; they're not left in the stable for nothing - it would probably be another two years at least before they'd consider a family, and by then she'd be 39. Her chances of pregnancy might have been lost for ever.

Now, what about the child? Since Wendy's relationship with her boyfriend is so unstable, I think they ought to make contingency plans, quite coldly, about what happens to the child should they split. They should agree, before it's even born, whether it should live with her or her boyfriend most of the time, and that whatever happens each would always allow the other to have unlimited access. They should agree that they would never stop their in-laws from visiting, and that neither would leave the country for the next 15 years - or, if they do, to do it in tandem. They should agree that they're not having a baby to save their relationship or to bind them together, but because they have a lot of love to give a child, even if they don't always have enough love for each other.

By openly acknowledging the instability of their relationship, and discussing the options in the event of a split, they have, paradoxically, a chance to make life for their child more, rather than less, secure than that of children of parents who aren't prepared for divorce. And if they can't agree on these ground rules now, then perhaps they should think twice about pregnancy.

Finally, they should remember that having a baby together is far more binding than marriage. You can always get divorced, but once you have a baby you're related, as parents, until you die.

READERS' SUGGESTIONS

This may work well for you

Go for it only if you are happy, willing and able to go it alone. If this man also wants to have children, hopefully he will be able to provide the stable, committed relationship with them he appears unable to have with you. I was in a similar situation - our son is now nine years old. Co-parenting works well for us and our son. However, it's not everyone's cup of tea.

CAROLINE BUCKNALL

London N4

Full discussion is the key

It is wonderful that Wendy's man is broody too. They should "go for it" - but discuss and confirm their relationship first. Wendy is intelligent and will have chosen to go out with a man bright enough to be father to her children. Sharing the fun and trials of parenthood will bind them together as never before. Wendy knows she has not many childbearing years left. Perhaps her man realises that his ability to become a father reduces with age.

JILL WILLIAMS

Knebworth, Hertfordshire

Take a responsible attitude

A child, ideally, needs two loving and committed parents. We often hear claims of people's "right" to have a child, yet we are in danger of widening the chasm between rights and responsibilities. A child is neither a commodity nor an accessory to life; it is a life in itself. Too many women regard the menopause as a "closing down sale", so they'd better procreate. Wendy should examine her motives and ask not "what can a child do for me", but "what can I do for a child?"

NANCY RYAN

Wirral, Merseyside

Next Week's Dilemma

Dear Virginia,

Since he was two, my 10-year-old son from my first marriage has spent equal time at each parental home. I now have twins of four with my new partner. The problem is, my son's mother and her husband have a life of conspicuous materialism, while we're more frugal. And at his mother's the boy is allowed to watch films he can't watch here, and can go to bed when he likes. My son is starting to find the standards of our home relatively Draconian. He's starting to behave like a spoilt brat. I love him, but question whether to-ing and fro-ing between different lifestyles is good for him. I feel we could bring him up better, but his mother would never consent. Should the status quo continue, or should one parent let go and allow him to spend more time in one environment? How flexible can children be?

Yours sincerely, Simon

Anyone with advice quoted will be sent a bouquet from . Send letters and dilemmas to Virginia Ironside, 'The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, fax 0171-293 2182; e-mail dilemmas@independent.co. uk, giving a postal address for a bouquet

News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'