It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry If I Want To

turning 30

Monday is my 30th birthday. And I don’t want it to be.

I hesitated writing this. What a cliche – woman is afraid of turning 30. I never wanted to be that person. I’ve never been that person.

I’m not afraid of getting older, I never have been. I’m not afraid of wrinkles, of sun spots or saggy bits. My birthday is usually my favourite day of the whole year and I’m famous for always celebrating it with gusto.

I’ve always thought of myself as Jenna in Suddenly 30 (or 13 Going On 30 if you’re in the US) “I want to be thirty and flirty and thriving”. Many kids wanted to be 16, I wanted to be 22. I’m looking forward to having the confidence that seems to come in your 40s and no longer caring what anyone else thinks (although I’m sure many would argue I already don’t given how I behave most of the time).

But the truth is, I am heartbroken on becoming 30 and not having a child.

At 18 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The doctor said 30. My intention was to start trying for children at 28 to ensure I got them before 30, before the deadline, but I wasn’t ready yet. I did start trying at 28, mind you, just not quite as early in the piece as I had planned. Well, the deadline is here, and I still don’t have any kids.

And I’m struggling.

I don’t want to write this post. I don’t want to be that person who has everything become about their failed dreams at becoming a mother. I don’t want to be that person who is too afraid to turn a certain age, even though I know age is just a number and really has nothing to do with anything.

But here I am.

And I am afraid.

I never understood people being afraid to turn a certain age when I was growing up. That always seemed such a foreign concept to me – what does age matter? What if you haven’t done what you thought you would achieve by that age? So what?

It’s only now that I truly understand the paralysing fear that if you haven’t met your deadline you never will. You will  never achieve what you wanted to, because it’s too late.

It’s totally irrational. It’s entirely silly, and I know that even writing this will come with rolled eyes, sympathy, or advice that I need to get help. I know I’ll get over it, and it’ll be just another day. Just another birthday. Logically, I know all of this.

But it doesn’t stop the fear. And it doesn’t make today any easier.

Were you afraid of turning 30? Was there any birthday you didn’t want to happen? 

Image: Flikr

  • Gary

    Happy birthday Tamsin. I really feel for you. I hope you and Viking have happy news soon. I turn 50 tomorrow and like you I’m not concerned by the number, I remember being 30 and thinking what will it be like being 40 or 50.
    Never say never, hang in there.

  • lucy

    This sounds like a really hard situation.

    I just wanted to say thay I currently work with three woman who are pregnant. They’re 34, 35, and 38. They all conceived these babies after IVF and fertility treatments, after a story similar to yours.

    What I’m saying is – there is hope. There is a way for you to get a baby. And what I’ve seen is this struggle for them uas made the experience so much more of a blessing when it actually happens.

    I hope you find some peace soon and 30 isn’t the end of the world. X

  • John James

    I must say, I think it was a little irresponsible for your doctor to put such a “hard-edge value” to your fertility… It may be true that it will be more difficult for you to conceive after 30, but to draw a line in the sand like that? It puts so much pressure on you, the patient – I think that’s wrong.

    So, don’t give up – prepare for the worst, but hope for the best – that’s my advice…

    As for my personal experience of turning 30, well I was really excited by the all the possibilities my 30s would bring me – I found 31 tougher, because I realised by then that nothing much changes – at least not that quickly.

    I found turning 40 was quite easy. The great thing about your 30s is that you consolidate your life – and that’s even more true of your 40s. You have more experience, and have a better understanding of how the world works, and how you fit into it.

    I’m turning 50 next year. At 30, 50 seemed incredibly old – but it doesn’t feel that way anymore. I still feel young. The older you get, the younger each age feels. I actually think the difference between 20 and 30 is MUCH bigger than the difference between 30 and 50… The person you are now – the way you feel now – will, by and large, be the person you feel like at 50. Except everything feels easier.

    • Melissa Savage

      Doctors are atrociously bossy towards women, particularly in matters of fertility. They really need to work on their bedside manner in that area.

      ETA: obviously this is related to the larger social problem where people think of women’s bodies as public spaces for debate and discussion rather than the sole business of their owner.

  • Maryann

    I can truly say at the age of 55 I have never been afraid of a birthday. I think what you really fear is the unknown. To some extent we all fear that. Everyone’s journey is different but true courage is not to be so fearful that we do not live the life we have while striving for what we want. In my experience life has a funny habit of giving us what we need when we least expect it. Happy Birthday T.

  • Monique Fischle

    Having been told a similar thing from my doctors, I completely ‘get’ the fear. I’m really confident that you’ll have your dream realised, even though I know that’s not really helpful to say.

    For me, there are two birthday’s I am dreading: 27 and 41. 27 because somewhere between my 26th and 27th birthday I will have been without Mum for longer than she was here. 41 because I will then be older than Mum ever was. Both of reasons are morbid, but true.

  • Melissa Savage

    I was apprehensive before my 30th too. Not because of the kids thing (I want to have them, but it’s not my ‘dream’), but because of not having achieved other dreams.

    Three years later I still don’t feel great, but I’ve done a lot more things about achieving my dreams. When a baby is the dream though, that’s tough because it’s completely beyond your control. You can do all the ‘right’ things and still not get there. And that’s tough.

    No advice, just a hug. And in the grand scheme of life, 30 is still pretty young.

  • Emily

    Cliches become clichés for a reason. Hugs for you. I hear you – I have PCOS too, as well as a few other things, that meant I was told similar things about having children (although have had specialists later in life lament that I was ever told them).
    I was down about my 30th because we’d been trying for bub #2 for two years by then. And yes, we’d already had one bundle of joy and were so grateful, but all that talk. “Once you’ve had one, your body will know what to do! It’ll just happen! Especially because you can start the treatment straight away and you know what you’re in for this time!” So I was also down about my 30th, but not to the extent you describe. Cry cry cry if you want to. Still sending out good luck vibes. x

  • Annalise

    You have plenty of time. Your dr shouldn’t have set a specific age, it’s irresponsible. Unless your case of PCOS is severe (I don’t know you but from your social profile you seem to not have a lot of the visible symptoms: cystic acne, hairy face, overweight) then chances are you’ll have your baby when the time is right. I’m sorry you can’t see that turning 30 is not traumatic. I have frInds who have had to re-mortgage their homes to pay for endless rounds of IVF and have had to deal with the pain of repeated miscarriages. Quite a few have had beautiful babies (with assistance) in their mid to late 30s. You still have time so make the best of your birthday.

  • Sanch Living Life

    I think 30 is harder for women who want to have kids. I have a couple of friends who struggled turning 30. One of them has been trying for a while now with her husband and has not been successful in having a baby yet. The other, the partner isn’t ready but she wants a couple by the time she’s 35. She’s 32 now. For me, I relished turning 30 but that’s probably because I don’t want kids and my 29th year saw the biggest change in my personality.

    It seems irresponsible for your doctor to have given you an age limit. A friend of mine has PCOS and got pregnant through IVF last year at 34. All is not lost. Everyone’s body is different. Big hugs your way!

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