Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

You Waited Too Long: The Jennifer Aniston Syndrome January 21, 2011

“You waited too long!”

Any of you heard that comment before? Well now it has a name: The Jennifer Aniston Syndrome.

According to this article on Babble, poor old Jennifer Aniston was just another of the “career-driven women [who] realize too late that it’s not always easy to get pregnant after 35.”

Hear that funny noise? That’s my blood boiling.

When I was 18 and head-over-heels in love for the first time, a teacher told my boyfriend and me that 18 was the height of a woman’s fertility and the perfect time to start a family. Yes, I am serious. This was during a conversation about our plans to go away to college.

Fortunately I didn’t listen to him, but maybe I should, because, by the time I was ready for a family, I was 34 and my eggs had other plans.

So what was I doing for all those years between 18 and 34? Striding my way to the top of the corporate ladder? Smashing glass ceilings? Taking the world by storm? No! I was looking for a man!

Because at 18 I could have married my college sweetheart and had his babies (I think.) He was a nice guy, but I know myself well enough to know that I would not have been happy in that life and would most likely have blown up somewhere in my mid-20’s and hurt all concerned. I know that because it’s exactly what happened with the next serious relationship (but without the babies, thankfully.) And the candidate after that didn’t want kids at all. I was 32 when I finally found Mr. Fabulous and 34 when we swung our family plans into action.

So did I wait too long to have kids? Yes!!! Of course I did! But not because I was trying to conquer the world. I waited too long because I know that motherhood is a serious and lifelong responsibility and I didn’t want to pump out babies with the first man that jiggled his pheromones in my direction.

Call me old-fashioned, or call me selfish, but don’t call me a career-driven woman who just waited too long.


18 Responses to “You Waited Too Long: The Jennifer Aniston Syndrome”

  1. loribeth Says:

    Even when you meet Prince Charming, as I remember one financial writer writing once, he’s likely to be driving a pickup truck & needing help with the payments. ; ) We waited 10 years before we began ttc, not because either of us was totally career driven, but because, as you said, we realized that children were a huge responsibility & we wanted to ensure our ducks were in a row as much as possible before we tried to bring them into the picture. I realize there is no ideal time to have a child, but when you can barely pay the rent, let alone afford a mortgage on a house (as was the case during the first years of our marriage), it’s probably not the right time either.

  2. Christy Says:

    I was 33 when I met my husband, 36 when we married. Both my husband and I suffered layoffs (and the perils of job searching) in the years surrounding the wedding. We heard a million times over, “There’s no good time to start a family.” And you know what? Maybe not. But we sure knew what a bad time looked like. So we waited until things were a little more stable. (We thought it irresponsible to do anything less.) I was 38 when we started trying.

    Our infertility is of the “unexplained” variety. If we’d known each other at 18 it might not have worked out any differently for us. In all my discussions, book reading, blog scouring, I don’t think I’ve encountered one woman who forgot she was fertile then had an “aw, shucks” moment when it was too late.

    We’ve all had different experiences and life circumstances. What’s so hard about finding out what they are before judging us?

  3. Nicole Says:

    It seems to me to be such a short-sighted thing to say “you waited too long”. There are so many things that come up in life, beyond a career: finances, buying a home, finding the right person.

    I heard a woman who had 3 kids before she turned 30 say once “it’s good to get it out of the way early” – in reference to having kids. As if it is just something she was checking off her to do list. Needless to say, her kids were poorly behaved and I always dreaded having to be around them.

    Everyone has to have children when they feel ready – for some people that opportunity comes at 22. For others it is 32. I hate that people try to place rules on birthing or say “there is no good time, so might as well do it now”. Everyone has to do what is right of them. And if you wait until you are older, and have a hard time having kids – you shouldn’t be looked down on upon.

  4. Kathleen Guthrie Says:

    I can’t bring myself to read the full article, but I have to wonder why this writer feels entitled to be so smug. Is she jealous of Jennifer Aniston’s success? Does she consider herself superior to all of the women who “waited too long” because we wanted to be in a solid relationship first? And somehow she feels it’s okay to condemn women who also seek fulfillment in careers in which we benefit from using our talents and experiences? I wish Ms. Aniston every happiness, and if she wants children and it works out for her, great. From my experience, some times things don’t work out the way you planned or wanted, and if that’s the case for her, I hope she finds other ways to have a fulfilling life. I won’t put into print what I hope for the writer who felt she needed to make herself feel better by trying to shame childfree women for our choices and the fates we didn’t choose.

  5. Artemis Says:

    I have to say, that pressure on women to have kids and have them before 30 just pisses me off. I believe it’s just another way trying to control women…
    And I don’t believe that age it the only thing causing infertility nowdays. I had a friend who tried to get pregnant when she was 40 years old and suceeded in about a month or two(!). BUT, she had not been on “the pill” and other hormons for years and she had only one sexpartner…

  6. Laura Nye Says:

    I feel like a double loser when I read about how women chose career ladder-climbing over babies in their 20s and 30s. I spent my 20s and early 30s in bad relationships and dead-end jobs while dealing with family issues and trying to sort myself out. So no baby and no high-status career either. I’m a bit of a late bloomer but my ovaries didn’t get the memo. But now I’m in my late 30s and I have a wonderful husband and an awesome career in the works.

    When I told my best girlfriend that I was infertile, she said,”I hope you don’t wish you had kids earlier with any of your ex-boyfriends.” Nope, I’m much happier childless with my husband than I’d be if I had kids with anyone else.

    • Kathleen Guthrie Says:


    • Beth Says:

      I have to say i really appreciate your comment. I have felt the same way. Like is there any women in the between career ladder and baby makers? I saw so many bad relationships – i had bad relationship skills- family issues- helping raise a younger brother. I found a wonderful husband late 30’s. he has two wonderful boys that i love being a step mom too. sometimes i wish i’d been able to have children but i do know that i’m glad i didn’t with the loosers i was with before.

  7. Colleen Says:

    I always look at Jennifer Aniston as pretty amazing. I don’t know if she had/has any desire to have kids but if she does, just looking at the magazines probably breaks her heart day after day.

  8. Kate B Says:

    That’s me. I waited too long. It will haunt me until I die – the not knowing if had I tried earlier, would I have had a successful pregnancy. But what was I supposed to do? I didn’t meet “the one” until I was 40. I chose not to deliberately become a single mother. At the time, I thought I was being responsible. Now, part of me wishes I had gone out and found a sperm donor. I’ll never know if I could have been a mother.

  9. Elena Says:

    Yes i’ve heard it and from one of my best (male) friends. That was a year ago and in still hurts. And i still haven’t gotten round to telling him that it hurts. Of course what makes it worse is that 14 years ago i was in love with that guy and he turned me down.

    I was single from age 21 to 28. And that was f****ing hard. I was also a (part-time) student then and got my masters degree at age 28 (which is rather, but not so very late in my country). And yes i admit: I waited till i was 34 to start the baby making. By then i had been living together with my bf four years (doesn’t seem such a long time for to get used to the idea of spending the rest of our lives, or at least a long time, together) and changed the jobs i got based on my degree three times.

    Was i career climbing? NO! I got a masters degree in social work because i want to contribute something to society – and i want to do it WELL. And once i started doing it, yes i want to work in a place where i don’t have to deal with a horrible boss or tasks i’m not good at. So i changed jobs.

    When talking about mens careers, people normally talk about a persons “committment” , “dedication”, “visions”, “projects” or whatever. Why can’t we have those – and still wish to become mothers? It’s only when talking about childless women that “career” becomes a swear word.

    I waited for a baby during 5 years. During that time i was successful in my job. But my hidden agenda was to wait for the kids to come.
    Was i supposed to do anything different? But what?
    Propose to my ex to get married after one year of the relationship just on the grounds that i was to hurry up with the babies? He had a say in that matter… which means the time during which he was interested in becoming a father lasted about 1 year and when it didn’t work out, he didn’t care anymore.
    And hey, by the way: It was HIM who couldn’t get me pregnant. So should i have “demanded” a baby within, say, three years – or else i’d leave him? That was the man i loved, hello?

    People just don’t realize that a women at the end of her 30ies hasn’t gotten the idea of having a baby there and then but that most of the time she will have YEARS of waiting, trying, despairing behind her.
    All the while “getting on in life” – since that is what is generally expected for us to do.
    People have said to me that i blame society/circumstances instead of taking responibility for my life myself. That hurts, too. I think i DID take it. And it scared my partner away. So i’m single now. Fat chance of becoming a mother.

  10. Elena Says:

    I read an interesting statistic recently. It said that there are less and less children born (that was about Germany) – but not because people don’t make babies anymore: Because THOSE WHO DO make FEWER babies than they used to in the past. Seems that in history, there has always been quite a big part of the population who didn’t become parents out of CIRCUMSTANCEs (not having the possibility to get married, to sustain a family, etc.).

  11. Mali Says:

    The implication here is that “climbing the career ladder” is selfish and foolish, when of course if you’re a man it is admirable and honourable.

    I climbed the career ladder while I was waiting for the maternal urge to kick in. I didn’t want to have a baby when I wasn’t ready. I didn’t think that was fair on me, my husband, or – most importantly – the baby. When the urge arrived, the baby didn’t, and this is often the case. I really object to the suggestion that in waiting, I was selfish. I wasn’t. I was responsible, and when I started trying to conceive, I was ready to devote my life and my experience and knowledge and love to that baby.

    And I will of course never know whether I could have had children if we had tried earlier.

  12. Diana Says:

    I didn’t realize that this was now a Jennifer Aniston term. I personally have had enough of seeing her face everywhere, I used to think she seemed like such a nice person but now I’m not so sure, she seems to be f*^$#ing her way around Hollywood. Oh well, onto the subject at hand. I also waited too long because it took me that long to find a man who I actually wanted to have children with. We married and started to try both at age 35. And because I’ve read so many different reasons why people can’t conceive, I still don’t really know why we haven’t been able to. We only had the first test which didn’t tell us too much but decided for a variety of reasons not to continue. I think not knowing who’s at fault is very wise.

    However, I’m sure all of us who waited too long can attest to the fact that we found out just how difficult it can be, and we didn’t know that until it happened to us and then we learned that so many other people go through the same thing.

    According to Dr. Oz, being overweight (mainly for a woman) is one of the biggest reasons for infertility….and I know there are several factors. Well, weight is a problem for me and since I’ve been trying to get pregnant, I’ve been at least 40 pounds overweight.

    I now tell young people not to wait, at least try prior to your mid-thirties because the charts seem to plummet after age 39.

    Now the goal is to get over the regret by realizing that it’s in the past and there’s not a damned thing we can do…

  13. lmanterfield Says:

    Wow, ladies! We are woman (women?) Hear us roar!!

    These comments are so intelligent and thought-provoking. They should be required reading for all women, in fact, men too. It infuriates me that we have all tried to make intelligent choices and yet we’re so often criticized by people who just we didn’t think it through at all and just “waited too long.” Grrr!

  14. Iris D Says:

    When I finally told my aunt who regularly talked to me about getting on the boat and having some babies, that we couldn’t, she automatically told me, “It is because you waited to long.” No, I told her, in our case it is a male factor issue. At 42, I’m sure my eggs are not in the best of shape, but we did not use birth control since I was 34.
    One of my best friends, who never wanted children, but finally “caved in” because she essentially got what sounds to me like an altimatum from her husband who did want kids, got pregnant at 40, first try! Her sister had her 4th child at 43, and her friend had an “accident” at the same age.

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