I’m 31, turning 32 in about five months. I am starting to think very seriously about whether or not I want to be a mother and it is freaking me out. Help.

Although I was perpetually ambivalent about whether or not I wanted kids throughout my twenties, I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the past few months and have realized that, while I am admittedly terrified, deep down, I do want to be a mother one day.

The thing is, “one day” is looming much larger these days. I know that the idea that fertility declines massively at 35 is largely a myth based on bad science, but I still always had 35 in my mind as a cut-off. I am in a serious relationship right now with a man I see myself spending the rest of my life with. We do not currently live together but are planning to move in together in the summer. We have talked about marriage, not in a concrete way, but in the sense that we both want to get married one day and we see that future with each other. We also had a conversation recently about kids, where I admitted I was struggling with this decision and feeling a lot of anxiety. He said that, while he feels we aren’t ready right now, he would like to have a family with me one day and that we can “reconvene” later to talk about that - i.e. actually make the decision to start trying, etc. Which is great and exciting, but what is starting to freak me out is the question of timing. What exactly does “later” or “some day” mean? Two years from now, or ten?

He is clearly not ready to start a family now, and neither am I. I’m not in a place financially or emotionally right now to have a child, but I think I could be soon. I am worried about waiting too long and the risks associated with having children later in life. But it feels like suddenly shit is getting very real and if I want to have a child by 35, we are going to have to get serious about this soon. Complicating matters is the fact that SleepyGene has expressed that he would prefer to have two children - he was an only child and has said many times that he wished he had a sibling - which means it’s even more important we don’t wait too long to get started.

I want to have a conversation with him that is more concrete than “some day.” I want to ask him at what age he sees himself becoming a father, how many kids he ideally wants to have, what is a reasonable timeline. I know I’m a bit of a control freak, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say, hey, I’m two years older than you and I need to start thinking about these things. I don’t want him to feel like he has to commit to having child(ren) with me now. But I am stressing out thinking about advanced maternal age, infertility, risks, and the fact that if I want to get pregnant by 35, I need to seriously think about starting to try in the next couple years. What if “some day” is still a far-off fantasy for him and getting real about it will freak him out? Yes, it better that I know that now, but that doesn’t make me feel less anxious about discovering that.

So I guess I have a few questions of you, GT. Has anyone here had children in their thirties? How old were you? What was your experience? Were you with your partner for a long time beforehand, or did you meet in your late twenties/thirties? Did you have a hardline cut-off age, past which you wouldn’t consider trying for a child? How did you navigate communicating with your partner about this stuff?