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Health & Pregnancy

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What's the Best Age to Have a Baby?

Whether your clock started ticking early or you're feeling a time crunch at 40, deciding when to have a baby is never simple.

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Raising a child alone will be difficult since I'll be the breadwinner and the caretaker. There will be no one with whom to celebrate the milestones, like her first words, and I won't have the benefit of my partner's perspective on weighty matters, not to mention the love and affection of a man. And I'd love for my daughter to have a male role model. But I will be honest with her when she realizes that everyone else has a daddy except her.

Hopefully I'll meet a guy I'll want to have kids with. But if not, I have more eggs and sperm on reserve. I never say never.

Leslie Yazel, 40, newspaper editor
Children: 4-month-old girl
Best age to have a baby? 40

When I announced that I was pregnant at age 39, my Facebook wall blew up. A friend from my hometown in Iowa typed, "My kids are in high school, and you're going to have a newborn!!!"

I always had this vague idea that I would be a mom in my early 30s, but I had a passion for writing and spent my 20s and 30s traveling the world for work, so motherhood fell to the wayside. At 22, I moved from Iowa to London to San Francisco, covering the tech industry as a business reporter. By 26, I was living in Manhattan, writing for various magazines, and then took time off to trek through Bosnia and Croatia on travel-writing assignments. Finally at 34, I became one of the youngest editors on the Style desk at The Washington Post, editing Pulitzer Prize-winning writers.

To say that motherhood wasn't a priority was an understatement. When I was 33, I started dating Jeremy, my perfect match-a man who could be happy with or without children. When I was 36, we got married, and there was an instant expectation that we'd start churning out kids. "Will you start trying after the honeymoon or wait a year?" asked well-meaning but nosy relatives. "We probably won't have them," I'd answer firmly, thinking that if I sounded confident, people would leave me alone.

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