I'm a 38-year-old single woman and coronavirus has ruined my plan to have kids

Usually I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I flipped things around and decided I would dedicate 2020 to finding ‘The One’.

I told everyone around me that even though I was not very interested in going out with anybody and that the thought of going through the motions on dating apps made me nauseous, it was time to get serious and give it another crack.

My method of leaving my marital status up to a ‘Que sera, sera’ attitude clearly was not working, considering I’d never dated anyone for longer than a handful of months.

And getting back in the dating game was not solely motivated by wanting to find marital bliss, but rather my very strong desire to start a family.

I turned 38 in February and it’s foolishly taken me this long to realise that I’m living with a biological clock that is ticking impatiently and that I should probably do something about it.

But then the world turned upside down.

As the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, mingling with anyone outside of your household suddenly became forbidden – let alone going for drinks with a random stranger to figure out whether he could be your future baby daddy.

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The panic and devastation I felt when I realised I was now at least 12 to 18 months away from starting a family hit me like a tonne of bricks.

2020 was going to be my year. I’d overcome hardships to get to a fantastic place mental health-wise, and I felt emotionally ready to take on a relationship. But now I felt terrified and defeated. 

As I emotionally chowed into my lockdown supply of chocolate, I did the maths. Social distancing rules could be in force for many more months, which would delay me meeting and vetting potential partners.

But I know I’m not going to just walk out of lockdown and find ‘The One’ immediately. Dating and relationships take time to develop, and that’s long before you even know whether you might want to start a family with someone.

At my age, time is of the essence when it comes to not only fertility, but my chances of having a healthy pregnancy and embryo.

Contrary to popular belief, fertility does not fall off a cliff after the age of 35, but there is a gradual decline in the chances of a natural pregnancy.

Women under 30 have about a 25 per cent chance of getting pregnant naturally each cycle, and that drops to 20 per cent for women over 30.

By the time a woman hits 40 it drops to less than five per cent, according to research by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. There are also greater health risks for myself and the embryo if I conceive in my 40s.

Fertility options such as IVF are also not as an easy option as one may think. Qualifying for NHS funding is complicated and the costs when paying out of pocket are astronomical. I’m worried that I might struggle to afford treatment if I can’t get it covered by the NHS and I’m saving my pennies up for that potential rainy day.

And even if you can afford it, the success of IVF treatment decreases with age. 

This fills me with a sense of regret and I wish I’d taken all of this more seriously when things could’ve been easier for me. 

Until this wrecking ball of a realisation hit me, I didn’t think coronavirus would impact me much at all because of my privilege, so long as I stayed indoors and followed government advice. But coronavirus could completely derail my life plans in a very serious way.

I’ve currently disassociated and pushed my feelings way down so as to not completely crumble in an emotional heap, because there’s not much I can do about it for now. But I know that I will be heartbroken down the track if this does stop me from having kids.

Nevertheless, I refuse to rush into a relationship for the sake of procreation, even if the biological clock is against me. I may be keen to settle down, but I want it to be with the right person.

I am also adamant that I want to find my life partner before I have kids, which is in no way to denigrate single parenting – I came from two generations of single mothers who did an amazing job of parenting against all the odds. 

But I’ve seen how hard it can be to do it alone and, after facing many personal hardships myself, I think I deserve to have something beautiful, such as a loving, long-term relationship.

When lockdown ends, after hugging my friends and flying to Australia to see my dog, I’m going to put myself out there to find love. I plan to not only use the dating apps effectively, but also to be open to meeting someone on a night out or through friends. 

Until then, I’m going to re-download the apps and try some old-fashioned courtship until we can meet face to face. Developing a relationship strictly online can’t be so hard, right?

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk 

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