It never seems to be the right time when you're young these days. There's too much going on, or you're not sure if the guy you're with is The One. Then suddenly you're in your mid thirties and the realization hits you that your fertility window is almost completely gone.

That happened to me. I was never a serial dater and only had three guys that I was in long relationships with, but I focused a lot of my attention on school, then college and then my job.

With the benefit of hindsight, I also made a lot of demands of them that were no doubt exhausting and contradictory. I'd tell them that I want them to take charge more and then get annoyed that they weren't doing it "properly". And that's just one example of how I sabotaged myself.

Now I'm 34, single and childless. It's a special kind of existential dread when you realize you've crossed a line that you can't go back from.

Funnily enough, this realization came because of a gag gift from a friend. She knows I like fantasy novels and hate bodice rippers, so she naturally bought me a bodice ripper with a fantasy setting for my birthday.

With a title like "Bindings of Lust" and a cover featuring a demon pinning a girl against a wall, it was pretty obvious what it was about, but I got curious in spite of myself. As expected, it was a fairly standard bodice ripper, but what really struck me about it was the protagonist.

Just a young girl whose primary desire in life was to get married and have babies. I'm not even sure what my primary goal in life was aside from grinding through my education like I was supposed to, but I know that I put marriage and babies in some nebulous "later" category.

Well, it's "later" now and I can almost feel my womb seething bitterly for how I neglected it. I can't imagine that I'll manage to find a man willing to marry a woman my age and start a family before what few eggs I have left rot away.

I made this account after lurking anonymously for years both because I wanted to share my story in the hope that it would spare someone my regrets, and because I can't really talk to anyone about it IRL. They'll just assure me that I'm still beautiful and amazing and that I'll definitely find a man. I might find a man, but will he want children with me, or will we both just be getting together because we're "leftovers"?

On a final note, does anyone have any suggestions for what to do with my unfulfilled maternal instinct? I'd rather not become a cliche cat lady if I can help it.