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‘It feels like a lost year’: the women who fear 2020 has stolen their chance of motherhood

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With dating on hold, jobs lost and IVF postponed, many women fear their last chance to have a child may have disappeared. How are they coping?

Saturday mornings are the worst. Claudia, a teacher, wakes up alone in bed in her London flatshare. The weekend stretches out before her, an interminable expanse to be filled as best she can – with walks, and TV, and more walks. Sometimes, she finds it hard to summon the motivation to get out of bed. “It sounds dramatic,” Claudia says, “but I’ll lie there, thinking: ‘What’s the point of getting up?’”

She goes over the arithmetic that has tortured her all year long. She will be 34 next month, single, no closer to finding a partner to have kids with. Even if she did meet someone next year, say, would they be ready to start conceiving within a year? Probably not. That could mean she will be 36 before she even starts trying – if she meets someone next year. And there’s the rub – because the Covid-19 restrictions have made dating nearly impossible. “My friends are either pregnant or looking after small children,” Claudia says, “and I struggle to even get men to talk to me online. It feels hopeless.”

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