Random Thoughts: The Have A Baby Edition

If you are child-free by choice, or happily child-free by circumstance, I just want you to know, I’m cool with that.

This is a very much none-of-my-business post, but this is also a post that pretty much encompasses what I would tell many a young couple if I were asked directly for my opinion.

If you are in possession of a uterus, I do not think that motherhood is the end-all, be-all of your destiny. If you want to have children, I think that is great; and if you are on the fence about having children, I would hope that this post gives you something to think about.

But if you are really unsure about being a parent, or if you want to remain child-free — that is fine.

It’s fine. Don’t flame me, bro.

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I have said this before in this space: I never gave a lot of thought to having kids. I barely thought much about getting married.

And then I started dating Dan, and then got married (at 30 years old), and then had children. And it’s awesome. (Really, really hard some days, but mostly awesome.)

I didn’t struggle with infertility. We pretty much got pregnant when we wanted to get pregnant. And avoided it when we wanted to avoided it. There was a brief space, the space between Gabriel’s death and Flora’s conception, that was fraught with some of what I see women and couples who struggle with infertility going through.

But that was a short space.

And here I am.

And let me tell you something: Having a pregnancy at 39 with two other children to care for and a full-time job and then having a baby and turning 40 two months later? IS EXHAUSTING.

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If you are married or in a stable relationship and you want children someday? Have them now. You have more energy now. Your reproductive organs are nice and young and (relatively to my 40-year-old eggs, for example) primed for making healthy babies.

Seriously: Go for it.

That Ph.D. program will still be there. Europe or whatever other country you want to travel to will still be there. You can start your career now, continue it as a parent, and/or pick it up again later. Work will be there. Guys: cars and more expensive toys? Will be there.

What may not be there (especially, particularly, and almost exclusively for women) is fertility.

This somewhat harkens back to that Allison Pearson quote . If you listened to the interview at all (and I do encourage you to do so; it’s so entertaining) she talks about listening to young career-oriented woman (although I think it pertains to men as well, although to a lesser degree when it comes to fertility), and how she just wants to tell them to go get pregnant.

Will your life be easier with kids? Will getting that Ph.D. or traveling or climbing the career ladder be easier if you are a parent, especially if you are a woman?

Probably not.

But struggling with infertility in your 30s has got to be more difficult. It’s heartbreaking. Stressful. Hard on a relationship.

Like I said, many things remain possible after parenthood. Fertility is finite.

Are there other concerns? Yes. Of course there are, and that’s why I mention stability in your relationship. Plus, you and/or your partner probably want to have some steady income, health benefits (although there are avenues for prenatal care that don’t have to cost tons of money), and other resources.

Like I said, this is a none-of-my-business post. And I know that blogs that are honest about the difficulty of parenting (which is a lot of my blog) can be off-putting to anyone who wants to be a parent someday. But I know so many wonderful people out there who will make great parents if they so choose. I mean to be encouraging, not judgmental.

If I did that badly, it wouldn’t be the first time.

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7 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: The Have A Baby Edition

  1. It’s funny… I had always just assumed that I’d be a dad one day, but it just never worked out. And I’m OK with that. I love being an uncle. And I see how much work it takes to raise even one kid and I know that there’s no way my freshly turned 50-year old ass would have enough energy to do so now. I don’t even want to get up out of the chair to find the remote.

    It’s a funny trade-off. One one hand, having kids while still young leaves you with more of the energy needed to keep up and stay ahead of the game. But you don’t know anything yet and may not be fully developed emotionally.

    Once older, you are more sure of yourself and may have better ideas on how things should be done, but don’t always have the energy to keep up. Plus you may be used to having set ways and an orderly life, to which children are often the antithesis.

    Obviously, there are exceptions, so this is not exactly universal, but I’ve seen a lot of evidence to those observations. So sayeth Another Childless Douche.

  2. Well, when I say “young” I’m thinking mid-20s. Definitely under 35. I had Flora at 33, Kate at 35, and Michael at 39. M’s pregnancy was *rough*. And now I’m just exausted all the time! ๐Ÿ™‚

    And to be perfectly honest, I was so far from being a mother in MY mid-20s, it’s… shocking. I would have been a terrible parent. I needed a lot of therapy to even be in a place to be married!

    So, yes, it is a trade off. If you are married, etc., etc. by the time you’re in your 20s, I would encourage women and men to not obsess about their careers (IF, that is, they want to be parents) or other “life goals”. Just do it, as the ad campaign goes. You can plan your fertility away without even realizing it.

  3. I don’t really disagree with you. It just didn’t work out that way in my case. I didn’t get married until I was 37, and had my kids at 39 and 41. I know I’d have been a lousy parent much earlier. I didn’t struggle with fertility at all but my second pregnancy was really hard (though delivery and the first year were relatively smooth).

    I like the way you put this. A lot.

  4. It’s funny- I had my first when I was just shy of 26, my fourth when I was…? umm..geez, how old am I now …minus how old he is..oh never mind. Kids destroy brain cells at birth…:)
    I tell my friends the exact opposite. I wish I had waited until I was 30 to have my first. There is never enough time or money to travel once you have kids (or go back for my master’s). Because good parents tend to put the needs of their children first. It’s what we do. I wish I had gone more places, been more established in my career.
    I tell them if they aren’t sure they want kids, then don’t. It’s tough. And it takes more love and patience than anyone ever admits. I love my children every day, I like them about 85% of the time.
    Finding babysitters, finding money to pay babysitters, running to this practice and that game, trying to parent positively and raise healthy, loving, responsible children- it’s a challenge. I wouldn’t change it for the world now, but if I had it to go back and do over- I’d wait and take time for myself. Or maybe even have been selfish and not had kids. I know that sounds terrible- I love them now that I have them, but if I had never known them I wouldn’t know to miss them. Please don’t judge me- just trying to be honest.

    I don’t think you need to have children to feel fulfilled. You’re right- it isn’t the end all be all. Having a great career, seeing the world, volunteering and interacting positively with your community and family and the world at large can be satisfying.
    That’s my two cents from the flip side of the coin.

  5. Honestly, I’m glad that I waited to have kids. I was 31 and 33 when my boys were born and I’m glad that we did it that way. My husband and I were married for 5 years before Jack was born. I’m glad we had that time together. Time to be husband and wife. Time to learn how to communicate, time to learn how to be partners. Time to just be.

    As far as my career goes, again, I think that I needed to spend those years working on my career. I’m lucky that at this point in my career I have a great job that allows me a lot of flexibility. I’m home around 4:30 every day and I can easily take time off or work from home if I need to. Without the hard work that I put in for 10 years before i had the boys, I wouldn’t have been in the position to have this job, this flexibility. I know that’s not true for everyone, but it is for me.

    I think it’s a little to general and simple to say if you want kids, go for it. It’s ok to want your PhD before kids, it’s ok to want to travel first, it’s ok to want to just live your life without kids for a while.

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