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When is the right time to become a mother?

BIG DECISION: Is there ever a right time to embark on motherhood?

The Voice's fashion editor Emma Olanipekun was 20 when she gave birth to her daughter Elsa.

I FOUND out I was pregnant a few months after my 20th birthday. At that point, it wasn’t in my plan to have a baby as I was going into my second year of university studying Law.

I had never discussed having a baby with my daughter’s father, and I just felt this was the wrong time in my life to become a mother.

But at that point in my life, I was also trying to develop a relationship with God and during my time at church, I came to realise that although I’d had sex out of marriage, it didn’t mean an abortion was the solution. I prayed about the situation and decided that since I’d got myself into the situation, I would have to face the music.

I come from a Christian background and I was the first in my family to have a baby out of wedlock, which was frowned upon by some of the elders in my family. However, my mother, aunty and grandmother were always supportive, and so was my church.

I had my little princess on April 22, 2008, and thankfully it was an easy delivery, as I gave birth within five minutes of being in the hospital! We named her Elsa and she was the most be beautiful child I had ever seen. But after I took her home and the sleepless nights began, things got tough.

At this point, I decided to take a gap year from university in order to look after her. I was very blessed to have a few good friends who always came over to help me look after her while I got some sleep, and my loving aunt was also on hand to teach me how to care for her.

Still, I don’t feel that anyone could have prepared me for what it means to be a mother, and I don’t feel words are enough to describe the rollercoaster of emotions that a mother goes through.

I returned to university in September 2009, to complete my third year and I began to worry about how I was going to juggle being a mother and a student at the same time. Bearing in mind that I was still breast-feeding at that point, I found it extremely hard to concentrate during lectures, and occasionally, I’d have embarrassing milk leaks!

But after a while, I got into a routine and I am proud to say I have now graduated with my Law degree and my daughter is now three years old.

Though her father and I are no longer together, she spends her weekends with him and thankfully, he and I remain friends.

I would advise any woman thinking of embarking on motherhood to think about it very carefully, as it is very important to be both financially and emotionally prepared for the adventures of parenthood.

But I must say that I am happy that I had my daughter at the time I did, as I feel that we will have the opportunity to grow and enjoy our youth together.

At age 28, The Voice’s entertainment editor Davina Hamilton is still cautious about embarking on motherhood

FOR AS long as I can remember, I was always adamant that I didn’t want children until I was married. As old-fashioned as it may sound to some, it was always my mantra that if I was good enough to have a man’s children, I’d have to be good enough to marry first.

I was never deluded enough to think that marriages always have fairytale endings. Still, I always believed that a couple who made the effort to show their commitment to each other through marriage, were at least setting themselves off to a good start. That, to me, seemed like the best foundation for starting a family.

Last year, after almost six years of being together, my boyfriend and I got married. Suddenly, there were no more excuses to put off motherhood but I just didn’t get that urge to start procreating. Even though I know plenty of working mums, I started worrying about having to give up my career and panicked that there’d be all sorts of things I’d never be able to achieve once I became a mum.

Even with my sister having given birth to my gorgeous nephew in 2009 – earning me relentless “you next” comments from family and friends – I still didn’t want to jump straight into it after marriage. In fact, I loved that I could enjoy my nephew for hours on end then hand him back to mummy when I got tired!

On top of that, getting ‘up the duff’ (I find myself always using that expression, having married an east Londoner) wasn’t entirely straightforward for me. Thanks to a hereditary medical condition, I had to go through countless hospital appointments before getting the green light to get pregnant.

Ironically, during that period of frustration, I actually did feel broody. Perhaps it was that typical notion of wanting what I couldn’t have.

Since then, I’ve been given that medical green light. But having waited so long for it, I felt somewhat indifferent once I got it. Suddenly, it was like, ‘Great, I can have a baby… but what’s the rush?’

But at age 28, I am starting to feel the pressure. Lots of people have told me, “you’re still young, you’ve got plenty of time!”
But I can still hear my biological clock ticking. And shows like the recent ITV1 programme Too Old To Be A Mum serve as a reminder of the complications that can arise for women who wait ‘too long’ to have kids.

Also, I don’t want to be an ‘old’ mum. I still want to have the energy to run around with my kids. So perhaps it’s time for me to get cracking after all. But I’m still not sure. All in good time, I say.

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