To have a baby or not to have a baby. At age 32, Kasey Edwards was told she would probably be infertile within a year. After more than a decade of trying not to conceive, she was faced with the possibility that she may never be able to, writes Chi Tranter.
"I didn't realise just how hard it is to get pregnant in your 30s until I was sitting in front of my doctor being told that it was quite possibly too late," says Edwards, who has penned a book - Thirty Something and the Clock is Ticking - about her experiences.
"There is so much ignorance around fertility and motherhood, which is bizarre when you think as modern women we take control of every other aspect of our life."
After spending her 20s climbing the corporate ladder, the part-time management consultant and author had only just begun to see babies as "quite cute" and was far from ready to take the plunge. So she started researching.
She talked to parents who said having kids was the best thing they had ever done and others who said it was the worst. She read books on motherhood and got acquainted with fertility statistics.
"I think we need to know more about the truth about motherhood. It needs to be spoken about more so we can make informed decisions," she says. The same goes for fertility."When a friend complains that she is getting old and wants to have a baby we go `oh no, you have got plenty of time, my sister's cousin's roommate had a baby when she was 45', so we are lying to each other to make ourselves feel better."
Edwards also blames the media for perpetuating fertility myths. "We are often fooled by what we see in the media. We hear stories of Hollywood celebrities having babies in their 40s and we think that we can do it too," she says.
"Statistically, it is just not possible for all of them to effortlessly fall pregnant in their 40s, they have to be using donor eggs but that's not disclosed in the article. "We are lulled into a false sense of security because we keep hearing these miracle stories."
On the other side of the equation are people who become parents without educating themselves about what lies ahead. "Motherhood is not for everyone and I interviewed people who said they wished they had never done it," Edwards says. "If you decide that you never want kids then good on you but make it an informed decision. If you do (want to have kids) you have got to change the idea that you have got plenty of time.
"We don't want to think about it but in our early 30s - if you are not dating someone who is father material - then you are wasting time that you don't have."
But it's not just all about the women. "Men have biological clocks too and almost 50 per cent of the cases at IVF clinics are there because the men have problems," she says. And, if you decide to go it alone then you need to be informed about your options.
"We do have options now. I interviewed a group of really inspiring women who did it on their own. "I'm not saying that it is ideal to do it this way but it is an option." But again, it is an option that has time limits. "It's only an option if you do it while you still have time. My IVF doctor said women present to (doctors) too late. I just think we all need a plan and a back-up plan."
Edwards decided she did want to have a baby and she details her challenges trying to conceive naturally and then how she felt indignity and despair with IVF in her book.
"My daughter, Violet, is now 18 months old. I find motherhood really hard but I am so glad I did it and when I think that I almost didn't I cry at the thought of almost missing my chance," she says. "It has given me such a feeling of meaning and purpose and love but having said that, it's really hard and I don't want to advocate to anyone that they have children without realising the sacrifices that you make."
Since Violet was been born, Edwards has lost her job and is finding it almost impossible to find part-time work. "I do miss the social status of having a job and earning money," she says. And it's important people realise that "loving your child and loving the lifestyle of motherhood is not the same thing".
THE FACTS ABOUT FERTILITY
* The best age to have a baby (biologically) is between 20 and 35.
* By age 25 women have lost 80 per cent of the eggs they were born with, by 35 that has dropped to a 95 per cent loss.
* A 30-year-old woman who wants to get pregnant, stands a 22 per cent chance of being successful during any given month. By age 35 it has dropped to 18 per cent. By 40, it's five per cent and by 45 there's only a one per cent chance.
* Male infertility is also on the rise. Almost half of all assisted reproductive procedures are conducted because of male infertility. After age 35 sperm shows signs of increased DNA damage.
Sources: Dr Tony Falconer from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; fertility expert Dr Arthur Leader from the University of Ottawa; medical doctor Sam Tormey's article The Male Fertility Myth in Melbourne's Child.
By Chi Tranter, AAP