When is the right time to have a child?

June 30 2010 | arielmstallings
Five Babies are born every minute in the United States (1920)
Photo by Eric Fischer, used by CC license
I want to be an offbeat mom. It has been my plan to grow up, get married, and have kids. Now at twenty-seven, I feel like I'm behind on all of the above and wonder how one "knows" when it is the right time to have a child. Or, is there no right time?

Many parents inform me that if you "wait until you are ready" it "will never happen." The general consensus is that parents make their families work regardless of the obstacles presented to them. Am I being foolish by waiting until I feel financially secure before reproducing?

Ariel says…

Such a great question. I've got a slightly warped perspective on the matter, since it took me five years of trying to finally conceive — five years where we saved up and made sure we felt really financially ready to have a child.

I think back to when I first started wanting a baby at age 25, and I compare my earning potential then (I was making $500/month editing a rave magazine) vs. now (if I wanted to go back to corporate life, I'd be interviewing for Marketing Manager jobs at Micro$oft) and I feel like … maybe one silver lining of infertility was that it forced me to wait — and while I waited, I worked and saved.

But given the option, would I have had the baby in my mid-20s? YES. A million times yes. Not to get all OMG TICKING BIOLOGICAL CLOCK on you, but there's no denying that conception and birth are usually easier in your 20s than your 30s.

Then again, as someone who's worked on her career for over a decade, I also gotta say it's really nice to have a solid foundation to support my family. Not that I couldn't have gotten to this point if I'd had a child at 25, but any young working mother will tell you — it's no walk in the park.

I'm not sure I have a clear answer — on a certain level I do agree with your parents. There's no perfect time, and especially with the way Americans think about money … there's NEVER enough. And the baby industrial complex looooooves to tell you that babies cost a freaking fortune, when the reality is that thanks to handmedowns and second-hands and ingenuity, you just don't need 90% of the crap you worry about needing to save for. Then again, it's nice to be putting money into my son's college fund.

But! I'm just one perspective (mid-30s, infertility sufferer, middle class, etc). What about Stephanie, a mom in her 20s?

Stephanie says…

I love this question! While I totally understand your motivations to wait until you're financially secure, in my experience, financial security isn't always…quite so secure. As Ariel said, you quickly discover that babies don't require NEARLY as much as the media and other parents make you think they do, and you can find some really awesome stuff second-hand or at thrift stores and estate sales. In fact, I'd say the first 12 months are pretty easy on the wallet–you'd be amazed by the deals you can find online! I think the toddler years will prove to be a bit more pricey, but that's because of decisions we're making for Jasper (putting him in Montessori, mostly) that aren't decisions every parent chooses to make.

Sean and I conceived Jasper while still in college–intentionally. I got pregnant in August, and we graduated in December. Granted, we did think that it would take a little bit longer than our first try to make a baby, but we were thinking months, not years. My point: we had always discussed that IF we had children in the first place, we would have them young. This wasn't something we spent weeks or months debating — it was kind of something we just knew. If it was going to happen, we wanted to do it now, and not later.

Pre-graduation, neither of us had a truly realistic idea of what the outside world would be like, job-wise. Both of us had worked part-time jobs for years (since age 15) and a variety of places (fast food, waiting tables, coffee shops, etc.), but we had never really tried to get full-time employment. Fast forward to graduation, a cross-country move, and discovering no one will hire a woman who is a fresh graduate (with a Sociology degree, no less) and 20 weeks pregnant in a recession, and BOOM. Instant "male has to get a job and FAST" scenario.

This didn't exactly pan out the way we thought it would, and after moving BACK across the country, things got a little better. Neither of us are making tons of money (I work from home as a photographer & OBM editor, while Sean is a student and works part-time on-campus), but we're also really great planners and savers.

We don't spend money while out much (the baby really helps there, as well, and we tend to go to more free things than we used to), and we definitely don't eat out–we cook and eat nearly all of our meals at home. On top of that, we're very food-conscious, and don't buy a lot of junk food when we're at the store. Budgeting can be your BEST friend, and also allow you to still do really fun things and travel — you just have to stay aware of what you do and do not have.

And finally, I hate to echo what you've already heard, but I am a firm believer in the "no time is THE right time" philosophy of child-bearing — or maybe that should be "every time is THE right time," since I like to keep it upbeat. I listened to my body, which was screaming "BABY. NOW. WOMAN.", and Sean agreed, and that was the most thought we put into conceiving. This probably isn't a path most people are comfortable with, but we're not big schedulers or planners — just pretty decent budgeters.

And so, there are two perspectives — one from a 30-something mom who waited (albeit against her choice) and one from a 20-something mom who didn't. Offbeat Mamas, what say you? Is there a RIGHT time to have a child?

  1. I got pregnant in college and I have to say, although it is just my experience, it turned out fantastic. I love being in school and a mom. It is rough financially– paying for childcare and college, but you can usually find enough scholarships and grants to make it work if you really dig. School gives me the break I need to have a scheduled time to get out and lose myself in something I am deeply interested in, while still being the primary caretaker for my kids. I was freaked out when I had my first because I was worried that I would never finish school, but I have really loved the life. Also, when I finally finish (after going on for my MFA) my kids will be ready to start school, so that works out well, too, because it will not require me to arrange as much childcare or warp my schedule so much when I get started working.

    I realize a lot of people would balk at the idea of having two kids during your undergrad, but so far this timeline has been ideal for us.

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    • oh im so glad to hear this!
      I'm a junior in college and I just had my baby this summer. I'm taking off next semester to spend time with her, but after that I'm really looking forward to finishing up my education with her on my lap! (Like right now…lol)

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    • Ouch, you guys make my heart ache… At 23, still a master's degree student living in an commune-type appartment in Paris full of friendly but most of the time high flatmates, I chose to terminate my unplanned pregnancy because I simply couldn't picture an innocent baby being born into my woodstock life.
      Me and my boyfriend really felt like we weren't worthy of the priviledge of parenthood until we had a stable job, enough money and a place of our own. At the time, we sincerely thought it would be selfish to keep him, that love wasn't enough.

      I still ache at the thought of it a couple months later. And the more I think about it, the more I realize we may well have been better, more loving and tolerant parents now than in 10 years.

      All of the close friends I talked to (after the abortion) warmly supported my choice but also reminded me how much they would have helped us out had we chose to keep him. It really makes me want to cry when I think about it…

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      • While it's not always clear when is the right time to have a baby, it can be more clear when it is definitly the WRONG time to have a baby. Those friends who offer to help may not have come through for you in the end, or be the responsible type you would leave your baby with (especially if they are stoned all the time). There will be a right time for you.

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      • I am sorry you had to make that choice, it is a really hard one. A year before I got pregnant with our son, I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was 20 and totally freaked out, and to tell the truth, when we lost the baby a part of me was relieved. I still feel guilty for being so relieved about it. Its impossible to try to guess what your future would have been like, but that is why I added the caveat that our experience is only one. Even for us, there are a lot of ways that things could have gone wrong and been much more difficult.

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      • i just wanted to say that, i recently had an abortion for the same reason you did, and while it was not a struggle for me to make the decision, i was still plagued by the stigma around it. the counsellor told me something i will never forget: "women have abortions because we love children. we want to provide our children with the family and support and life we want them to have." this, for me, was a really poignant reminder that, while this may not have worked out, i have my entire life to become a mother and have children. this isn't the end, this isn't the decision that decides the rest of my life. I'm 21 and I have all the potential in the world.
        I just find sometimes when I do feel like I'm struggling, I remember her telling me that and I think about being in a better place in my life, when I can be where I want and feel right about bringing another human being into the world. I believe those of us who have had to make that most difficult of decisions, are members of a private society. I was terrified to enter it, but when I had to, I found it was full of people who loved and supported me, unconditionally, without having to even know me. it made me realize how we as women are the most powerful, incredible, and important people on this planet. our abilities are infinite, and whenever you feel that you are struggling, turn to those women — they will always reassure you of your choice. and as one member to another – i love you and support you! visit http://www.imnotsorry.net to hear the words of other women who have been through what we have, when you feel unsure. <3

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        • That is so sad that so many women go through having an abortion, but AWESOME that your counsellor told you that!

          When I was younger, I was very clear that if I got pregnant (as a very young woman) I'd have an abortion: I wanted to be more emotionally and financially stable before having children.

          Over the last couple of years, I have (finally!) reached the point of knowing that no, I would no longer have an abortion: I am ready for kids. Even if my husband and I hadn't been married yet, even if we are still living in month-to-month rental properties, it was ok!

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          • When I was younger, I was very clear that if I got pregnant (as a very young woman) I'd have an abortion: I wanted to be more emotionally and financially stable before having children.

            Over the last couple of years, I have (finally!) reached the point of knowing that no, I would no longer have an abortion: I am ready for kids. Even if my husband and I hadn't been married yet, even if we are still living in month-to-month rental properties, it was ok!

            This is me 100% – when I was in college or unemployed a few years ago I don't believe that I would have gone through with the pregnancy – I just wasn't strong enough to be a mom then, and wasn't ready. Now at 27 though I am ready to jump in with both feet and have a baby, it is my SO who is worried more about money.

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        • I had an abortion three days before my 21st birthday. I knew even before I slept with the guy I was seeing that I would get one if I got pregnant – and I made him agree, as a condition of sleeping with me. I knew that I would, at that time (which was the lowest point in my life that far), make a really incompetent, resentful mother. Having grown up always knowing I was a "surprise" (to two people who were only together because of me, and who shouldn't have been) made me pretty damn certain I'd never make a child of mine believe they were unwanted.

          Nine years later, I'm really eager to have a baby…we haven't started trying yet, but I'm totally on the babycrack. Whether or not I am ever a mother as far as the rest of the world can see, I know I did the right thing. I loved my baby too much to let that version of me be its mommy.

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          • God, I am crying because this is the first time I've seen anything on the internet concerning abortion without at least one evil halfwit screaming offensive jargon. I had one years back and I was driven close to suicide by the hate I got from friends and family. To be honest, I was confident (brokenhearted but confident) in my decision. I did it because I loved my baby and I knew that it would be wrong to bring him/her into an abusive home. Still, it was astounding how cruel people can be to you for making a decision that was already so difficult. Sorry, I'm ranting. Still I just LOVE this site. All you mommas and future mommas are wonderful people that give me some hope that the next generation is being raised right. ^_^

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    • I agree with you. Im married and pursuing my undergrad and cannot shake the desire to have a baby. I thougt to graduate first.I thought to wait till I have a better income. I considered wisdom, but like you I have faith that planning is the way to go. and I think I would like to also start early because I am in my early twenties as well..

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  2. We are currently ttc, but i can tell you that my husband had more to do with the decision than anything. Ive always wanted kids, but my mother didnt have me until she was 28, so at 24 i didnt see any rush. My husband is 11 years older and definitely worried about being there long term, so when he finally said 'lets have kids' i was all for it. Its about you both being ready at least to take the dive and be there no matter what may come along, child or not. Forgive the punctuation/caps issues, phones aren't very good to comment with!

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      • My husband is also 10 years older and at almost 37…I think his biological clock was ticking louder than mine. We only got married three months ago, but we've owned a house together for two years, we both have stable careers that are condusive to having kids (teachers) and we've gotten a lot of the "to-do" before having kids checked off our list…the next being our trip to Europe in August. Are we having kids before some of my same age married for a lot longer friends? Absolutely…and are they judging how fast we're starting a family? Most definitely. But in the end, we both came to the conclusion that this is where we'd like to take our family at this point in time and it doesn't really matter what anybody else says…they're not the ones changing diapers at 3:00 am after all!

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        • If this makes you feel any better, my now wife and I were together for 4 years before we got married. We got married April 9th. We started TTC in May (we would have started in April, but our donor wasn't available and we were away and on wedding-hangover). We have been preparing for a baby for 2 years and making *huge* life changes (diet, stress level, getting un-addicted to sugar and TV, reprioritizing our lives, etc), always knowing that we would have kids!

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      • My partner is 6 years younger than I am (I am 35), and that definitely moved up his baby timeline!

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      • Yep – same here (hubby's almost 9 yrs. older), though not yet trying . I always have to laugh too, since when he talks about our future kids, he always talks about doing electrical experiments with them or explaining this and that. Like they'll be instantly 7yrs old. 😉

        Also: was feeling a little resentment occasionally (that he had more time to "be independent" and "live" or whatever), but then we made a list of things we wanted to do before we had kids and I realized there's not so much on the list. Now I feel better about (not) "missing out" on some sort of young lifestyle or something by starting a family (once we actually do – ha!).

      • I'm the opposite. My future hubby is 6 years younger, but he's still the one that is baby crazy! My biological clock is not ticking yet; His has been ticking since we met. I think he's also worried that I'll wait around forever and be too old (I'll be turning 28 right after we get married in April). He on the other hand will have just turned 22. I keep saying that I want to be married at least 5 years, but who knows, I may get married and suddenly catch the baby fever.

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  3. I'm currently 30 and for the first time, pregnant. We got married 3 years ago and wanted to wait until we had a house. I think that was really our only stipulation, a house. But, it could have worked in an apartment and we would have so much more money that we do now. I like that we waited, but I think I could have handled it earlier. 🙂

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  4. I personally think the right time to have a child is when you can provide adequate care and physical support for that child. You don't have to live in a huge house, you don't have to buy all the newest gear, but you should be able to provide everything that child needs. Also, I think you should be relatively happy and at peace with who you are. You should never have a child because you think that the child will MAKE you happy. You should have extra love to give to that child. They should never feel as if they are trying to live up to your expectations.

    Personally, my hubby and I have been waiting until he finished his Masters degree. It was really hard at times, especially when I saw SO many people around me getting pregnant. He just turned 36, so he felt the tick tock just as much as me. We found out three days after his graduation that we were pregnant. That's some hella awesome timing. 🙂

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  5. I loved reading this post. I'm 25 years old and have been married for two years. Part of me really wants to go ahead and have kids already (especially because I just finished my master's degree) but another part is afraid. My husband and I are getting ready to move across the country in January and he will be going back to school for his BA. So I'm scared of the financial side of things.
    We're not really sure how long to wait for…but I know I want to wait until my 30s.
    Bah! Decisions decisions…

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  6. I can't contribute a clear-cut answer, because for me, and me only, this is how it goes. I had my first son at 25, and my second at 28. Before my first son, I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life (yes, it is STILL taking me this long to figure that out), but I was on a good path at my job, and had the freedom to throw myself into my work. Introduce child. And my 'career' choice changed. I wanted to be a mother to him more than anything. I wouldn't trade it for anything now. Granted, there are days I wish I would have waited until I had gotten myself accomplished, but it is what it is. Now, having my kids, I love having them early and I'm enjoying raising them. I definitely am on the lower class scale of life, but it's giving me a ton of skills and tools to be creative with raising them, and once they are in school, I will be able to refocus my mind on what I want to do.

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    • "Now, having my kids, I love having them early and I'm enjoying raising them. I definitely am on the lower class scale of life, but it's giving me a ton of skills and tools to be creative with raising them,"

      I love this! I totally agree–not having a lot of extra cash definitely amps up your creativity when it comes to teaching and entertaining your child(ren)! It's not the only way to be creative, but I know a lack of money has pushed us to a more creative place, as parents, than we might have been otherwise.

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      • one of my fav. story's from my mom has to do with those rides outside of shopping centers. We were perfectly happy to get up on them and play till some one came up one day and put a quarter in them and ruined my moms charade.

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  7. I'm 25, and I'm about six weeks pregnant with our first. My partner is 30, and for us the decision was a combination of me being ready (FOR YEARS) and him coming to a place where this felt like the right thing to do. Helped that his older brother had a baby recently.

    Other things that help: We own our home. We both have good, consistent incomes, and I have fantastic health insurance at a really flexible job. Things are going to get rocky in the next couple of years as I go back to school for another degree, but we are really stable right now. Most importantly, we have a LOT of support from friends and family.

    I always wanted to start having kids "early," and I'm feeling very grateful that I have that my life and my body are amenable to it.

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  8. For me it was important to wait until I had everything situated and stable – which mostly meant finishing my house – before bringing a baby into the mix. I had some serious baby jonesing in the years leading up to it, but managed to hold on to the idea. And then when it finally seemed like time, we discontinued birth control and…. waited. Not 5 years like Ariel, but it did take a full year of near-daily sex (I didn't say it was a bad year!) to get pregnant. Our son was born just after my 33rd birthday. So yeah, later than planned. And I'm sure that some things would have been easier earlier (I don't recover from sleep deprivation like I used to!) but all in all I'm quite happy that I waited. My hubby and I have a great, mature relationship, stable jobs, and a lovely home to raise our little nuthatch in. It's all good!

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  9. This is amazing!! You ladies must have been reading my mind!! And it couldn't come at a better time. My husband and I have been together almost 7 years, married for 4, and bought a home a little over 2 years ago.

    We have been moving towards TTC and that has been the major issue, when is it right? I think having kids is like most big steps in life in that timing is different for everyone and is not a genertic rule of thumb.

    Also, having kids, though full of responsiblity, should be fun!! Just like marriage or being commited to someone, just work hard, laugh, and love … thats all you can do!

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  10. The only thing my husband and I are waiting for is for me to have the ability to have a paid mat leave for a year, and still have a job waiting for me when I get back. It doesn't have to be a great paying job, but has to be a job.

    Our parenting values require that one of us stays home at least until the child is in school, if not longer. So I will stay home for the first year being that I have the feeding components, and my husband will be the stay at home pop after that. He may do some school or some work at the same time, but he will generally be your all around stay at home parent.

    My industry is a pretty predictable industry, so that time will come when I am about 25-27, which is about 3-5 years from now.

    In my life, the oldest parent I have been close to was 37, and the youngest 17. Both have done well with their kids. Most people I know wait until they are in their early thirties to start having children. I think this is definitely an each to their own kind of thing.

    Our only two requirements were a stable marriage first which has been in place for a while now (since before we were married lol), and the mat leave thing.

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  11. I thought it would be interesting to note that in Canada the average age for a woman to have her first child is 29.7 years of age, according to a government stat thingamajig.

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    • Sara, that isn't just interesting, it's a really nice reality check for me.

      I feel like I'm behind in all my plans – including (especially) baby making. Does it matter that none of my friends my age have babies either? Not usually, I just figure it's another weird thing we have in common.

      But this is a good fact to hold onto – I'm 28 now and while I might feel like I'm falling behind, I'm actually keeping pace with the national average… and while I might not normally AIM for "average", it's still really comforting.


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      • I feel way behind on the baby making. At 37, all my friends have already had their 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th kid. I feel like I missed the window of blissful ignorance. I see how much they run around and are exhausted all the time and I think it's turned me off to the idea of having kids yet I'm out of time to make up my mind. I wish I would of had kids younger.

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        • Are there other factors that make you "out of time to make up your mind"? 37 doesn't seem too late to me at all.
          Kim Gordon had her daughter at 40, easier earlier doesn't mean impossible later.

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  12. This is such an interesting question for me because my pregnancy was a definite surprise. I'm currently 30 weeks pregnant and at the tail end of my Master's program. How can we define a "right" time? When I first found out I was a pregnant I thought it was the absolute worst time. My partner and I had only been together a couple of months, I'm teaching and going to school, and had not done any planning at all. But now I realize – it's perfect. I've been thrown into mamahood unexpected but have decided it IS the right time because, well, it's happening now. Our little girl is coming a few months before my 25th birthday and my partner and I are just taking it one creative, mind-blowing, tricky, overwhelming, exciting day at a time to make it work. 🙂

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  13. My father gave us great advice. He said, "You'll never have enough money or enough time. The timing is never 'right' so just do it when YOU (meaning, ignore the presure) feel it's right. You'll make it work no matter what." I think he's pretty smart.

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    • I having a sneaking suspicion that your Dad, & my parents (who have a similar philosophy!), are right. I suppose their wisdom is gained from a few years of experience! I'm currently 31, & am getting reasonably well established in my career (I'm a helicopter pilot). I was never really concerned about having children, but now the ticking if my biological clocking is so loud it's starting to keep me awake! Probably a lot to do with having met Mr Right. I'm very much a JUST GET ON & DO IT, kinda driven type, & although I'd like to wait until we're married (in a year or so), my man, who's pretty clucky himself, wants to wait until we've got our own house & he's got his dream job… I'm starting to feel a little of the 'babycrack' effect I've been reading about. Has anyone got any tips on the best way to deal with this??
      I don't want to have to explain to the air crash investigators that I was daydreaming about being pregnant when I crashed into a tree…I can hear all the women-pilot jokes now…

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  14. oh wow, this is a great post – my partner and I are both 30 and getting married in August, and my bio-clock is going ticktickticktick, and I'm getting more and more freaked out that I'm waiting too long for a baby. So after a lot of tears and discussion and me trying to explain women's fertility to my boy, we have decided that after the wdg I will make an appointment to get my IUD taken out and we'll start seeing how it goes. We are poor, and we have loads of things we want to do that will be more difficult with a wee one, but we're going to give it a shot.

    thanks for a great article!

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    • I have an IUD too, but our/really my plan perfectly coincides with the 5 year expiration on my Mirena. The doc that put it in said every patient she had that had them got preggers nearly instantly, good luck!

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      • oh shit, really? haha well I guess we will see how it goes – I kinda plan on using the 'withdrawal' method for a couple of months, anyway.

        • You could always NFP for the bit before you decide to go the pregnancy route, plus when you do want to get knocked up, then you will know your cycle really well.

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          • "NFP"? Online parenting acronyms confuse the heck out of me, so I try to avoid them on Offbeat Mama. Can you spell it out for those of us who aren't familiar with the term?

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          • I'm going to take a gander and guess Natural Family Planning, which uses the same knowledge of your cycle to avoid having sex during a fertile time that many people having trouble conceiving use to get pregnant. Basal temperatures and charts, etc.

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          • This is what I did. I got off the Mirena in March, then used condoms for a month while I tracked my period and ovulation times and got pregnant at the end of April. I wished it worked so easily for others. I really don't think that the Mirena will affect your fertility at all.

            My apologies to those who have/had a harder time. I always thought that I'd be a serrogate one day because of it.

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          • @Ariel: Thank you for your one woman fight against the Over Acronymization of the Internets! OWFATOAOTI is a pretty sweet acronym though :).

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          • @Kate: Yeah, I'm realizing I feel strongly enough about the acronym issue that I actually just added it to Offbeat Mama's values.

            Because if NFP stands for Natural Family Planning, what the heck happened to FAM, which stood for Fertility Awareness Method? Are they the same thing? This is why acronyms totally confuse me.

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          • I ended up having to go look up the difference between "NFP – Natural Family Planning" and "FAM – Fertility Awareness Method" because it bugged me that I didn't know. Only difference is that the FAM method allows the use of barrier-method contraception where as NFP doesn't. NFP is more of the "Catholic" name and Fertility Awareness Method is more the of secular version of the same process.

            P.S. I don't mind acronyms, but I hate BM for bridesmaid. Am I the only one who reads Bowel Movement before Bridesmaid???

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      • My OB told us that the first three months after going off birth control are your most fertile, which explains how I ended up getting pregnant on the honeymoon, despite having only stopped taking my BC two weeks before the wedding!

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        • Sometimes you're most fertile coming off bc. I had Mirena and when it came out, my cycle didn't resume. 10 months later, we found out that synthetic hormone can interact with your body's insulin, potassium, and a couple other things. I was almost diabetic, and the dr thinks thats why my cycles haven't resumed. If you have periods on your iud you should be fine, but my dr said I should've gone for an appointment when I went a year without a period. I thought it was normal

  15. Is it a smart thing to wait til you are financially secure? I'm gonna give it a "Heck yeah, if you can!" But this may be because my hubs and I are dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, a move cross-country back home, and are dealing with the joys of unemployment (when Stephanie said "…discovering no one will hire a woman who is a fresh graduate and 20 weeks pregnant in a recession, and BOOM. Instant "male has to get a job and FAST" scenario."….NO FREAKIN JOKE!!)…so, financial stability may seem a little glamorous to me right now.

    BUT I think it is way more important to find the ability in yourself to be a completely loving, caring, responsible parent than to be financially stable. My husband and I are definitely making personal sacrifices because we weren't financially prepared (like moving back home, holding off his grad school for at least a year to work for "the man", putting off my finishing of school to be at home with baby) but it all seems worth it now.

    Would there be a time "more right" for us to have a baby than this one? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows if our plans to have a baby in 5-6 years would have been the right time…it's all based on the assumption of "financial security" and that we would be "ready" but even now I have a hard time REALLY knowing what that really means.

    I def think it's smart to wait til you are a little more stable than we are, but no matter what…you can make it work! Just love your baby!

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  16. I'm 25 in a very stable, happy relationship but very crap career path with a huge amount of debt. After studying for a MA, now in a dead end job with (what feels like) no hope for my career. No one seems to want to employ my graduate butt in the UK public sector. My boyfriend is endlessly studying computer hardware with no end in sight.


    I get "it". I'm in a really happy contented place that rocks 🙂 and sort of works for us. The thought of turning two into three makes my heart skip a beat and feel really excited. I day dream about telling his parents (because they don't have grandkids, mine do) and how my nephews and niece would love having a cousin about.

    On a recent camping trip the only thing in the whole time both us commented on was camping with children, walking the length of the country before we have children and a baby carrier for hiking with. Trying for a baby seems to be an unwritten/spoken thing between us that we both want but think of a lot of things in the way because now isn't the right time because we don't have everything society thinks we needs, like home ownership or (in my case) a grad job.

    Sure it's not perfect but what is? So long as our child is loved and cared for everything else will fall into place.

    5 agree
    • "Sure it's not perfect but what is? So long as our child is loved and cared for everything else will fall into place."

      This is totally our mantra! For having a child and basically everything–as love as we love each other and make sure we show it, then everyone will be great. 🙂

      6 agree
  17. I am 20 weeks pregnant with our first, I am 29. We decided to just take the plunge. We have reasonably stable jobs, and make enough for us to be comfortable. However, it's not perfect. We don't have a house and live in a very high cost of living area. The biggest thing we didn't think of that has become our biggest conundrum is health insurance. I had planned to be a stay at home mom, but because of the cost of health care, it is looking more and more like I will be forced to go back to work. However, even given this hiccup, I don't regret our decision to have a baby. I think it will all work out in the end, even if it isn't as picture perfect as we planned.

    1 agrees
  18. As far as the baby costing a lot, I'm due in 3 days. People have been telling me for months that it is going to cost sooooo much and we are going to be soooo broke once she gets here. I can't see where all that money will be going. We got everything we need for the baby's room from baby showers and secondhand, probably spending a total of $250 in all on baby supplies. She has enough clothes to last the first nine months, breastfeeding is free and we plan to do cloth diapers. Where is the expensive part? Unless of course you need daycare. That could get expensive.

    5 agree
    • "breastfeeding is free" – I plan to breastfeed, but does anyone else worry about the cost of formula if breastfeeding is close to impossible?

      4 agree
      • This is one of the things that I like WIC for. In case you do need to use formula, most people qualify for WIC even if they don't qualify for any other services.

        2 agree
        • I'm glad you say "if" you need formula. There was another great post on Offbeat Mama a while back about breastfeeding and what happens if it just doesn't happen. I have several friends that really wanted to breastfeed and for different reasons they just couldn't.

          1 agrees
    • I'm not sure what country you're from but in the US I think a big part of the expense is the actual birth. We have insurance and are using a brithcenter/ midwife (cheaper than a hospital, though this was not our reason for the decision) but will still be paying $2000 or so out of pocket IF everything goes as planned.

      1 agrees
      • Wow, I can see how health insurance would contribute to the cost! I'm from New Zealand, & I think we have it easy – all of the pre- and post-natal care as well as the obstetrics care is free through the public health system. We're extremely lucky!

        3 agree
    • From this article in the Atlantic: "[Breastfeeding is] only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing." I don't agree with the article, but the author's point about the "free-ness" of breastfeeding really stuck with me.

      2 agree
    • childcare costs are HUGE. across the US, full-time (40 hours/week) childcare is comparable to the cost of rent for a 1-bedroom apartment. where we live, if/when we have a kid and i then return to to school, childcare will costs over $1000 per month. gross.

      1 agrees
  19. I had my (unplanned) daughter when I was 24, just finishing up my MA, with my partner just starting his graduate medicine programme. Financially, it's worked out great for us, because we get bursaries & grants, so although we live on the poverty line we are fine to be here for a while & I stay at home with our 2 year old. However, the lingering question in my mind is over my career – I didn't have one before having her – & it's hard to get a part-time or even flexi time job in the areas I want to work in as a mum. Since having her, I've realised that while I've always wanted to have children, & I love our family more than anything, it's also important to me to have a successful, challenging & rewarding career. That's the bit that is easier to put into place before children, I think. But horses for courses!

    2 agree
  20. I just had my first baby at 27, dh 28. My husband and I were ttc for over a year; then I got laid off, then I went back to school, and got pregnant the second week of school! It was not the right time at all, but we make it work. I think your planning shifts. Now we think in years instead of months, like, "Okay, I will be done with school around her first birthday, then you can go back to school and that will take you three years, and by then we will have another kid hopefully." It seems daunting to think of not being financially stable for years, but having a great relationship and awesome kid makes you happy no matter what!

    3 agree
  21. Oh man…this has been on my mind for a couple years now. My partner and I, when we first started dating, always talked about wanting kids around age 26. Well, 26 came and went, and I'll be 28 in July. I stress and fret about things like childcare costs, because right now neither one of us makes enough to have one stay at home parent. We'd have to be dual income to make ends meet. We're not poor and we've become stellar budgeters, and mentally/relationship-wise we're very ready, but the financial stuff is very scary. The timeline right now is starting the baby ball rolling next March, after I run a marathon (my third). But I want to have enough money saved to make sure I can take at least 4 months off…and the thoughts keep a spinnin.

  22. this really struck a cord with me. My husband and I were off and on for years(we started dating when we were 15 and 16 respectively)after making amends and later getting married I got hit hard in the uterus with the baby stick. I am currently getting my Masters in voice and am now DYING to get knocked up, but I love my work and if I don't finish my masters I won't be able to continue with it professionally. So I devised a plan that has been doing my last recital at the beginning of my third trimester (if all goes according to plan, like I get prego right away) with time to recover before hopefully moving to Philly and beginning my awesome career at AVA (cross your fingers) can you tell I like to plan. I never thought of having a family till my guy and I were stable and now the only thing standing between me and pregnancy and family is the other thing I love Opera, its really hard. But I don't want to wait because there is always a reason pregnancy would be inconvenent so I figured out the most convenient time to start but man its hard to wait, really really hard. Its nice to hear everyone else's perspective on this.

    1 agrees
    • ANOTHER OPERA SINGER!?!? Whoa. This excites me to no end. I'm only 23 (and don't plan on having a baby for another several years), but I am constantly pondering how to balance an opera career with a child. I've always been told that you "have to" have a baby early (before starting a career) or wait until after the peak of your career (mid-30s). I'm almost past the point of being able to do it before my career gets going, and I really don't want to wait another 10-15 years. My Mom tells me not to try to plan so far in advance, but it's really difficult not to think about it. (Especially for me, who likes to have everything planned out 20 years in advance…) I think that there are definitely timing-related challenges for would-be-moms in the opera world. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts about it!

      P.S. Ooooh, AVA! Good luck! I'd like to meet you there in a couple of years!!!

      1 agrees
  23. This is definitely interesting! I had my first set of kids in my early 20's (well 20, 22 and 25 to be exact) and now I've just turned 40 and got remarried. My husband does not have kids so I agreed to one more but only if we did it before I was 42 … and WHOOPS, preggo. It is definitely easier on the wallet now because we have mor $ than I did when I was 20 … but man, my body is definitely not acting the same as it did before! I agree that it is never the PERFECT time … but nothing compares to looking at your children and feeling the love.

    4 agree
  24. I think this is a great question. I'm 26 and due any day now. Our choices on this are definitely not conventional. My partner and I are not married, we don't own a house, we both have steady jobs and have insurance, but have enough debt and credit problems that we aren't in a great financial situation.

    I've been craving a baby for a few years but my partner and I have had some personal issues we have been working through. Although we have been together almost 5 years now, we haven't been able to get to a place where we feel good about getting married. BUT I know that however things turn out, he will make a great dad and I trust that he is the right person for me to have a baby with even if we don't decided to get married. Plus, we were both much more exited about making a baby and building a family than about planning a wedding. 🙂

    3 agree
  25. My husband and I are coming up on our first wedding anniversary, and we have been talking more and more about starting a family. Especially because of the current state of the economy- owning a home is not a feasible marker on our ttc time line. I would like to be physically and emotionally strong/healthy before we start trying, but we don't have any other caveats. One reason in particular we would like to have a child sooner rather than later is that my in-laws are in their mid-60s. It is really important to us that our children have the opportunity to be close to all of their grandparents, so we would like to have a child soon-ish. I think my husband and I will likely start ttc within the next year 🙂

    2 agree
  26. There is no Perfect time, or one could argue that the baby chooses the perfect time to come along. But there are definitely WRONG times to have babies. When youre so poor you cant feed yourself, when youre in an abusive relationship, if you cant afford basic health care, if youre addicted to drugs and alcohol, these are not the times to have a child. But if you wait your whole life for everything to be "perfect" so you can have a kid, you will never have one.

    4 agree
    • I'd like to make a counterargument to your "in an abusive relationship" comment. A lot of people in abusive relationships (especially women) can be coerced into pregnancy, or they can get pregnant accidentally (or, sometimes, "accidentally"). And even if they want to get an abortion, their partners may not let them.

      I have a colleague whose daughter was born into an abusive relationship… and, in fact, her daughter's wellbeing encouraged her to LEAVE the relationship (basically, it was the kick in the pants she needed).

      3 agree
    • I agree so much with the "there are wrong times to have a kid".

      On a lot of levels, I know that I could make nearly any situation I am confronted with work, however, thinking personally, since my husband and I are barely making ends meet now… to have a child intentionally strikes me as irresponsible and unfair to them. We figured that having his education done would mean finding a decent job (in Seattle no less!) would happen, and that was naive. Bringing a child in seems so naive on top of that, that I am weary. In addition, being at the point I am in my graduate program (which is to say, just started), and being the bread winner on that graduate stipend… I'd essentially loose my job to have the child, negating the ability to feed it.

      I mean, perfect times will never happen, and I realize that life is rough… but it seems so idealized to use the "If you wait" as a sort of brush to hold it against women for trying to be fiscally responsible.

      4 agree
      • Hi, I just wanted to say that you can have a child in grad school, and the three women that I know who did it, two have a stay at home husband and lived off their graduate student stipend. My adviser, who is one of those three told me was extremely happy she had three during graduate school and her post doc because she had way more time then now, trying to get tenure. (I am not sure what that says about my future, eeek). Graduate school is usually quite flexible, and most everyone is extremely understanding, and universities often provide super reasonable child care.

        My husband, recent phd, is also struggling to find a job while I finish my phd so we are currently living off my stipend. We have talked about how it wouldn't be too bad to have a child now as he could stay at home, but probably will hold off as it would sink his potential career, and sounds crazy stressful even if this is the least stressed I am going to be.

        Good luck with gradschool, and partners finding awesome jobs:)

  27. a lot of this discussion is about finances. Im worried about something else. Im turning 34 this year and my husband is turning 39. We are having trouble deciding whether to have children. We keep putting if off. Both of our sets of parents were very young when we came along and they have commented that at our age we wont have the physical energy to have sleepless nights and run after toddlers. Are we too old already? Would it be a mistake to start now? Any older mums and dads out there able to relate their experiences with this?

    3 agree
    • People much older than you guys have babies, but that is a question only you can answer! I am 25 and I don't think I am handling the exhaustion better in age-based-degrees than my 35 year old husband.

      1 agrees
    • I had my daughter at 34 (she is 10 months old). It's true you get less sleep. And then that baby starts sleeping more, but moving around and getting into things, and it's a different kind of tired. But you adjust, and eventually the sleep you used to get is a distant memory. But being Aspen's mom is so fun and entertaining, that it's so worth chasing after her, and feeding her at 4am, and getting up with her at 6am.

      I think your parents are wrong. Plenty of people are waiting till they are older. The parents group I joined after Aspen was born has 6 couples in it. My partner was the youngest at 28, and all but 1 mom is in their 30's, mostly late 30's.

      2 agree
    • My mom was 36 and my dad was 47 when I was born and they were able to keep up with my energetic self ;).
      I am now 23 and they are 60 and 70 and can still keep up! My mom says I keep her young.
      So don't hold back just because of your age, and then regret your decision down the road!

      1 agrees
    • My mom and dad (who are the same age) had me at 38 and my sister at 40, and they never seemed lacking in energy to me.

      1 agrees
    • Dont you worry about age. My mother had me when she was 38 and her sister had my cousin at 42. and i think we both turned out fine 🙂 and the joy my aunt experienced has surely made her the happiest person in the world. she had been trying for 10 years for a child, and at 42 she finally succeeded and my cousin is doing spectacular.

      1 agrees
    • My father had his four children when he was in 20s/early30s. Then, he had two more when he was in his 40s. He says that he feels that he is a better parent the second around for being older and wiser, but he is also in great physical shape.

      1 agrees
    • Both my husband and I are adopted, and we were both adopted my women over 35. I am sure my Mom wishes she had adopted my earlier, but she loved the fact that she had stability in her life, and maturity. I think there are pros and cons to being a young Mom and being an older Mom. However, my Mom was awesome, and hand no issues keeping up with my energy level! She was always spending time with me. That said, she DEFINITELY knew she wanted kids and her passion for children probably overrode any lack of energy.

      2 agree
    • I'm 36. I had my first child at 33, and the hubs and I are getting ready to try to conceive soon–he's Navy and about to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for a year, plus 2-3 months of training before that. If we waited til after he came back, I'd likely be 39 by the time the baby was born.

      It CAN be exhausting, but it's worth it. I have a 2 1/2 year old who still doesn't sleep through the night most nights, and a 6 1/2 year old (step)son to get ready for school every day, but I make it work–and I love it. It's the best thing I have ever done. There will never be a perfect time–hell, this baby will be born while my husband is across the world in a warzone. If you really want it, you can make it work. The things we often regret most as we grow older aren't the things we did, but the things we didn't.

      4 agree
    • I waited until now (34yo) to try for a child for a range of reasons. My previous partner of eight years didn't want kids, then after I met my now husband I wanted to be married first, also my husband has three kids and needed some convincing, time to adjust to the idea etc etc.

      Now that we're ready, I am fit, healthy, young-looking – and have age-related fertility issues!

      I didn't know before, but there are LOTS of women in their early, mid and late thirties who kept being told they had all the time in the world, only to find that their age is now against them having a child, even *with* expensive, painful, stressful fertility treatment.

      When I went to my doctor to have my ovarian reserve checked, he tried to talk me out of it based on the "plenty of time" argument – but he was wrong and I have severely diminished ovarian reserve.

      We are *all* doing women a disservice if we say or imply that we have years of fertility left to make up our minds once we reach our thirties.

      Contrary to common perceptions, IVF and other fertility technologies are no guarantee of having a child of your own once your ovarian reserve has diminished or your egg quality has dropped. So you can't put off kids and tell yourself "Oh well, if I want to later, I'll just have IVF." One IVF cycle in, I can attest that there's no "just" about it!

      It's one thing to choose not to have kids, but for goodness sake, make sure it's an informed decision, because not having that choice anymore, or having to "choose" fertility treatment with an entirely uncertain outcome, absolutely sucks.

      I don't want to be a drama llama, but if you put off having kids into your thirties, you have to be really, really clear that you run a significant risk not being able to have them at all.

      1 agrees
  28. I had my first daughter at 19. Definitely not planned, and considering my age and the fact that I was working at a bookstore part-time while my husband was working at a grocery store, our financial situation wasn't ideal. We struggled for many years. Then, when we became stable (meaning we were comfortable, as, in truth, I don't think anyone is ever as financially sound as they want to be) we decided to try for another. We spent a few years on and off with no success. Then one day we found out I was pregnant. We had our second baby nine years after our first, just at the point when we had resigned ourselves to having only one child. Of course now, we're pregnant with #3, and our second is only a year old. It wasn't how either of us had expected it to be, but I wouldn't trade anything for the world.

    As far as money is concerned, don't stress too much about being completely "financially stable," but make sure you're able to pay bills and have a little room to save and play. As someone else said, when they're little, they're not as expensive as they seem. And there are so many ways to save money without missing out as well. If you're truly wanting to try for children now, and don't mind the schedule changes, and so on; go for it. The time is probably right for you. 😀

    1 agrees
  29. i was 22 when my son was born and not @ the best time financially in my life…. i had just given up my business 6 months earlier, my boyfriend was still (and still is) chasing his dream so money sucked but we made it work and i didn't have hand-me-downs nor did i have a baby shower. i think being so young and having a baby is actually cool because i really am enjoying him and i know down the road when i'm better off i'm going to give him brothers and sisters a little more planned than him

    1 agrees
  30. I think like most have said, there never is a perfect time to have a child, but I think there is a right time. I'm really kind of bummed by all the people who have said their clock is ticking at late 20's, even 30. I am lucky that once we decided to try we immediately got pregnant, but almost all the people I know who are parents all became parents in their mid 30's. I guess I'm just saying, 31 isn't a death sentence for having a child.

    As for when is a good time to have a child. I had a lot of struggle in my 20's, and I can 100% say I wasn't ready. My mind wasn't ready and financially I was so far from it I couldn't tell you. I would have been a horrible mother. Which is why my thinking then was I never wanted to have a child.

    A few more years of life experience and I am a completely different person. I have a very Zen attitude towards things that I would have been a disaster trying to handle before. I think I would have had to deal with a lot of postpartum depression had I had a child then. And I'm really happy to say, I haven't really had any depression issues now. I got out all of my me time I needed. And most importantly, I have a husband who is the most amazing father I could have ever hoped for. I really believe if I had done it earlier, while I would have loved my child, I think I would have had some regrets whether it was not being able to provide for her or missing something for myself. By waiting I don't have any regrets.

    So imho, there isn't a perfect time, but I think that if you relax and look at where you are in your head and heart, that will tell you if the time is right to start trying.

    1 agrees
    • I don't think the 20-somethings that feel their clock is ticking mean it in a way that their years of being fertile are going to end soon. I know that personally, at almost 27…this is the first time in my life that I actually would be JOYFUL at the sight of a + on that pregnancy test. I feel a "ticking clock" in the sense that I love my husband, I love our home and I love our life…and the thought of bringing a child into our lives is pretty exciting. Maybe we should refer to it as "yearning for a child and family" and not a "ticking clock?"

      6 agree
    • i totally agree with siouxzi and coach. i was a mess for most of my twenties, financially, professionally and personally. my husband and i were on-and-off dating back then and i got pregnant and terminated. which was the most difficult decision i've ever had to go through with, but also the one life decision i am most sure of. 100%.

      whereas now, i'm in my thirties, i'm married, i've sorted myself out in all ways. And as coach said, i would be joyful at the sight of a positive test. something that's only changed in the last year.

      i think people think the "right time" is the time it's going to be easy. but it'll never be easy! but there IS a time where it will be "right for you".

      1 agrees
  31. Wow. This came at the perfect time for me too. I just turned 29 and am in my first year of grad school. My partner is 27, just finished Law school and will be taking the Bar exam next month. Right now I'm a nanny and she wants to go into private practice. I still have 2 years of school plus an internship. Oh and I currently don't have insurance. BUT we are going to start trying to conceive in Dec/Jan. WHY? Because we're ready. We are sooooo ready. Do we live in a tiny apartment? Yes. Are our finances up in the air right now? Yes. Are we going to be AMAZING mommies? HELL YES. And I can't wait.

    5 agree
  32. I've been in the "no right time" camp for a while now, although I think I'm switching it to the "anytime is the right time" camp!

    I am 35, and have a 10 month old daughter. My partner is 29, and until 2 months before our daughter was born, he was a student. I work for a non-profit. We were using savings to get by until he got his job as a nurse 2 weeks before our daughter was born. Now, we spend almost 50% of our income on our mortgage, but we still manage to save some money every month.

    If we waited till we were financially secure, I would be in my late 30's to early 40's. And I didn't want to wait that long. When we met when I was 30, I was already wanting to have a family, and I think we talked about that on our first date (when he was all of 25 years old). Because of the difference in our ages, we compromised. I waited a little longer than I wanted to, and he became a parent sooner than he would have otherwise.

    We've spent very little on our daughter-less than $1000, and that is including the birth, stroller and bike trailer (her 3 big ticket items!). We've gotten hand-me-downs like crazy, the nicer things that we didn't like, I took to baby consignment stores, and been able to buy what we did want for free.

  33. I definitely think that there is no perfect time to have children. When my fiance and I found out we were expecting, it came as a huge shock, I had been very sick, but as it turns out, one of the million perscriptions I was on interfered with my birth control. All in all, its been a blessing. It taught me to relax and be flexible with my plans (I am going into my senior year of college). Also, during the process of OB/GYN appointments and pap tests, we found out I had some wierd cells on my cervix related to HPV. I never would have gone to the doc in time had we not had our little suprise. So, I am a firm believer that getting pregnant was something that was meant to happen, ready or not. I feel it makes you a better person and a better parent if you are able to accept what comes your way, afterall life is an adventure!

    3 agree
  34. For me, I think having a child doesn't have a right time, but rather a right mindset. I'm coming up on my last year as an undergrad, and there is absolutely no way I would have a child now or anywhere in the near future. I have a fiancee, yes, but we've both agreed there are things that need to be done before children – things for us. Teaching English as a second language in Japan, starting and finishing with Masters and Doctorate programs, travelling, and the list goes on. But that's our list, and to some having a child would be first on their list of "things for us/me" but for me it's not yet. So I don't have the right mindset for a child, but maybe when I get to the end of "the list goes on" and I'm comfortable in my home with my wife and we've seen the world and done our things and are teaching happily I can see having a child being next on the list of things for us. Maybe that won't happen until we're 30. I'm okay with that. For others, it will happen when they're still in college, or living in their one bedroom apartment with their lover and six dogs.

    Rather than a time, it's a mindset. I feel like I would have the potential to resent my child, if I had one before finishing the big things on my list of things for us and it made it harder or impossible to do those things. But, you won't resent your child if it is number one on your list.

    Therefore, the right time exists when your mind is in the right place for it. Finances certainly play a part, but I do not believe they are they only thing involved.

    2 agree
  35. but what about my career! None of you mention this, but this is the big factor for me, I am happily partnered and housed, I personally think finance makes little difference, but seriously at least a year break in my career seems huge how can I possibly keep progressing at the same rate? Should I wait for that promotion or will that make it worse? I understand 'it's never the right time' but it clearly does effect your life/career so am I definitely ready to put a baby first?

    • This is totally a valid question/comment. I'm lucky in that I work from home, and my husband is a student and works part-time. At our house, the computer's off during the day if the baby is awake and only one of us is with him, so I typically cram all of my working into the hour or so he naps, and then do a lot at night. If I had a career or job outside of the house, I'm not sure what I would have done–but this was also something that made me appreciate getting pregnant while still in college, before I started any kind of "real" job.

    • "None of you mention this"? But … what about me!? In my answer, I tried to highlight that my career is the biggest reason I'm glad I didn't have a child in my 20s.

      I've spent the last decade working my ass off to get to a place where now I can support my family on my own happily self-employed terms. I very much doubt I would have been able to make the same advances had I been balancing a child with all that work. (I'm not saying you can't — just that I'm not sure that I personally would have prioritized things that way.)

      But as far as a child killing your career for a year … it's not necessarily true! I've actually had more career advancement in the 7 months since my son was born than I did in the year prior! Granted, I'm self-employed so it's a little different than career advancements while working for someone else … but 2010 has been a HUGE year for my career development, despite having an infant.

      1 agrees
      • I definitely appreciated your mentioning the career advantages of not having a child in your 20s, Ariel. And it's great that you've had career advancement after becoming a mother. But I do think there is something to Fel's point that is a little glossed over here, perhaps because Ariel and Stephanie themselves have kind of "offbeat" careers. In more conservative and/ or male-dominated fields (law, financial services, academia) there's a ticking clock on your opportunity to earn partner/ tenure, and having a baby during those years, if you are a woman, does often cut short a woman's career opportunities. It's unfair that women face discrimination for their reproductive choices, but I can't fault a woman working in such a field for weighing the career clock and the biological clock and trying to plan for a relatively better time to get pregnant.

        (It's also worth noting, I think, that women with children earn less not only than men but also than women without kids. Of course that isn't true for every woman, but I think ignoring this fact can lead women who struggle getting their career moving again after having a kid to blame themselves, when really, it's the system that's fucked.)

        3 agree
        • I totally recognize that my experience may be colored by now having an "offbeat career," but I just want to clarify that until last fall, I'd put in 10 years of corporate servitude. Part of the jump in career development is that I finally opted out of corporate work and am kicking ass in self-employment instead. So, the career advancement is definitely tied to my departure from corporate work, which is tied to having a baby. So in a weird way, having a baby was the best thing I've done for my career because it gave me the push that I needed to finally stop dithering around working for someone else.

          Your mileage may vary, of course.

          1 agrees
          • Right. I don't mean to be all "motherhood is a career death sentence" and a lot of women do have successful careers while being awesome mothers, but it's a challenge. And not to be a total buzzkill but the stats back this up. The wage gap is wider for mothers than childless women. And mothers who do want to stay on the straight-and-narrow and advance in their firm often find themselves getting mommy-tracked against their will. I mean, self-employment is great if that's what you want, but if it is the result of being pushed out of a career path you chose because you face discrimination as a mother, well, that sucks. Of course this is not true for every woman but I think it is worth acknowledging, if only so that mothers who are feeling crummy that their careers aren't going as planned don't blame themselves for what is a widespread, institutional problem in lots of fields. And because I always think it is better to go into things with both eyes open.

        • I'd like to point out my mother's experience – she had my brother and I quite early (before she really had a career at all – I was born 3 months after she graduated with her BS, and she didn't start working full time until I was 10). Now at 50 she's in upper management at one of the largest non-profits in the United States.

          Now, is her experience typical? I'm thinking no. Did she work her freaking ass off? Absolutely. But it does show that career advancement after kids is possible!

          1 agrees
          • Glad to hear that! I feel like graduating college at 26 years old with two kids is shaky ground for starting a career, so I am happy to hear about anyone who's had an awesome career after taking a break for children.

  36. I'm 25, getting married in 9 (!!!) days and just found out I'm pregnant (planned). I have an ok job and will get mat leave, I'm in the UK so the birth will be on the NHS. But FH is a self-employed acupuncturist just started up his business, so money will be tight. But we firmly believe that we'll be fine, and this is the right time for us 🙂

  37. I think you're ready when you're emotionally prepared to change up your plans and make personal "sacrifices" for your partner and child. How else can you be a parent and make things work? This is a different age for everybody – I hear some people in their early 40's saying "no way am I ready to be an adult and have a child yet!" I also knew a 17 year old who had an unplanned pregnancy and become one of the best mothers I've ever known – even though she never realized her dreams of finishing high school and going to college.

    I don't think there's ever a good financial time. One of my friends is from Cuba. When she was conceived, her parents (and about everyone else) were literally starving. They nearly aborted her because they were worried about the strain on her mother's body, and in Cuba in the 80's, abortions were freely available under Universal Health Care, but no one had any food (it was illegal to own any property, even). Well, they decided to go through with the pregnancy even when my friend's twin miscarried, and my friend is an energetic and wonderful person, albeit very short and mildly anemic. If they could figure out how to feed a fourth mouth in those conditions, then I think most anyone in present-day America can (which is why I think the emotional part of readiness is more important than financial). But of course it's great to have a little extra padding in the nest, can't deny that!

    1 agrees
    • Heather, I need to ask you something about your short anemic Cuban friend: You wrote "…my friend is an energetic and wonderful person, albeit very short and mildly anemic." Did you mean to say that your friend's shortness and anemia have depleted her energy and made her less than wonderful but you're still her friend anyway? Or did you mean to say that her shortness and anemia SHOULD have robbed her energy and made her less wonderful, but didn't? Or did you mean that her shortness and anemia are flaws you've heroically chosen to ignore? Or did you mean she should have been aborted?
      I'm 4'11" short and occasionally anemic and your post confuses the hell out of me. I'd really appreciate it if you'd be good enough to clarify it for me.


      • I'd like to offer the reading I got, which is that although her friend's twin sadly miscarried (possibly due to the shortness and/or anemia, but also likely from all the other difficulties mentioned), the friend went through with her pregnancy. Plus, she is a wonderful and energetic person!

        I think the commas were a little confusing, but I don't think it was meant as a slight on her friend. 🙂

        2 agree
  38. So my partner and I used to be of the "wait and have everything stable" school of thought. We been together for 9 years, married for 2 and waited for my husband to graduate and get a job before trying to have a baby. I'm now 4 moths pregnant and 3 days ago my husband was fired.

    Insert "The best laid plans of mice and men…" or "Life is what happens when you're making other plans" or your favorite saying to remind simple humans to stop trying to control the universe here.

    Though this is my first, the best advice I've been able to glean is that if you and your partner develop really strong skills for weathering change, you're going to be fine no matter when you have the baby. The good times and bad times will always come, so don't worry about that part. Work on the love, understanding and ability to find joy in the process.

    1 agrees
  39. Ok, so I have another question to throw out –

    If we take finances out of the picture, what about the emotional aspects? I hear people saying, "NO time is the right time," all the time when it's *feeling* ready that is being discussed, which seems to me another way of saying, "But you HAVE to." I feel like, all to often (in real life, and in the alt-blog world), I hear people saying, "I'm not ready" or "My partner isn't sure they are ready," and then following it up with, "But hey, you're NEVER ready, so just do it."

    That makes me feel funny.

    So. Throwing that out for discussion. How important is feeling relatively emotionally ready?

    • Here's how I distinguish between the ideas that you're throwing out there:

      When I say no time is the right time(/every time is the right time!), what I mean is that you can never be fully prepared for the inherent unexpected nature of parenthood. I'm not sure that totally makes sense, but basically..I'm going to try again! Ha.


      In an ideal situation, both partners would be emotionally prepared. While Sean and I did not meticulously plan the conception of our child (it was more of a "Let's stop NOT trying to have a baby!"), we were totally THERE. We were ready. We have an awesome marriage, we're solid, and we've together for the long haul. So in that aspect, we were already like "Yes. Baby would be great."

      I really do like to say "every time is the right time", and it's more than because I like to put a positive spin on it. But I don't mean that like…anytime you're in a negative situation is the right time, and I'm not a big proponent of having babies to save a marriage (all 4 of us were "save the marriage" babies, and my parents still ended up divorced). But I think when people say "no time is the right time", they mean that you can't plan it to great detail. Parenthood is inherently messy, unpredictable, outrageous, complicated, awesome, soul-shaking, beautiful, blissful, serene, insane…etc. So I guess saying "I'm not ready" and then saying "but you're never ready" is basically saying "Hey, I'm not 100% sure I'm going to be a kickass parent BUT no one is ever 100% sure they're going to be a kickass parent."

      I was on the bed GIVING BIRTH and like "OMG, SEAN, WE'RE HAVING A BABY, OMG!" So..you know. You just have to be flexible. Roll with it. Yeah.

      Did I answer this at all?

      1 agrees
    • I know some folks who are going thru what you're describing, where one partner is absolutely ready, and her husband is unsure he's ready to change his lifestyle, has worries about parenthood, etc.

      To me (and I will say that I am not a parent yet), if someone says they're not ready emotionally…then they're not ready. yes, I believe there's lots of uncertainty and things to be scared of-having kids is a venture into the unknown! But, I think you should be solid in the knowledge that you and your partner can work through handling the scary unknown things. Does that make sense? Like, there are a bazillion things I worried about/scared of around having a child. But am I certain that my partner and I can communicate and laugh our way through what comes? Yes.

      So I think being certain of your ability to that is something you should have. The rest is just having faith that you'll be able to handle the rest.

    • I was pretty selfish before I met and married my husband. It was about my clothes, my car, my apartment, my partying…MINE, MINE, MINE. I was able to enjoy that luxury and now I have no problem focusing on everything BUT myself. Maybe it's because I teach and spend my days worrying about other people but there has definitely been a shift from inward to outward focus. Regardless of whether or not my husband is ready to have kids (he is, but for the purpose of explanation) I think a woman has to be secure with herself and her position in life in order to turn her attention outward in order to take care of a child. I guess I've just realized that there are going to be a lot of times in life coming up that aren't going to be about me, but instead about our children and our family. And I feel a certain sense of calm and peace with that. Is that being emotionally ready?

    • I think the reality is that we grow in response to our circumstances. I don't think you can anticipate how having a child will change you.

      5 agree
  40. A confession, I didn't read through all the comments.

    However, I did want to re-iterate one thing: I think the question to ask yourself is – "is this the absolute WRONG time to have a baby." If the answer is "yes," then you'll know it. If it's "eh, it's not ideal, but it's ok," then that's your answer.

    Yes, unplanned pregnancies happen and people go on to be fine and etc., but in terms of trying to plan ahead, I think "is this the WRONG time" is a good barometer.

    7 agree
  41. I used to be in the "wait for the right time" camp until one day I realize that there would never be a truly right time, some times would be better than others but it would never be perfect baby time. Upon some reflection I realized that I was using this as an excuse to procrastinate on a major life change (fear of the unknown/ fear of change).

    When I decided to surrender and instead say "when it happens, it will be the right time" (thinking that I would still have a year or 2 left, I quickly got pregnant but was relaxed and embraced the experience instead of freaking out about timing and finances.

    1 agrees
  42. So many comments! I know for our family having our children while we are in school allows for us to be stay at home parents. While we may be broke as hell our daughters get one parent or another at all times. I wouldn't have it any other way!

  43. As a 22 year old writer 9 months into my first year of marriage, this post is MONUMENTALLY helpful! My husband and I are very excited to have kids, though we are collectively confused about choosing a time in our lives to start trying. We keep saying 5 years, though both of are kind of itching to start sooner.

  44. A week after my 17th birthday, I discovered (much to my suprise) that I was 5 months pregnant, and made the choice to have an abortion. Though I in no way regret my decision, the experience increased my desire to have children exponentially. I can still recall the deep, devastating loss that set up camp inside me after the procedure. Even though I knew I was making the right decision, I also know that life happens, and would keep happening regardless of having a child. I still have a connection to the little bean that shared my body for 5 months, who I named Sunshine while heavily, HEAVILY medicated, staring at the bright florescent lights of the clinic ceiling

    1 agrees
  45. So glad this got brought up. I'm in the same boat (27 just got married working on a pretty nice career) Almost everyone one I know who already have children did not plan them so it happened and they've made it work.

    I almost wish I would've been less diligent about my birth control and had a happy accident like all my friends, but alas I am the "responsible" one.

    I do feel that owning my home, being married to my best match, and having an established career will give me a slight advantage when we do finally have our first child, but there are definately worries I have too. Like what if we can't naturally concieve? I don't really believe in "playing god" and doing lots of fertility treatments and such (although I don't believe in "god" either) and adoption as well as medical treatments are so very expensive, so there goes my finincial advantage.

    Also what if I don't want to be away from my little one 40+ hours every week? Then there goes all the work I put into my career and the comfy money situation. If I do keep working, will my relationship with my child suffer? I don't want a babysitter/daycare getting more time with my child than me. Also daycare is pricey.

    So if it would just happen I wouldn't have to make these hard decisions, I'd just deal with it, maybe I'll "accidently" forget that antibiotics affect my BC or forget to take it all together and leave it up to nature.

    2 agree
  46. I am 26, have been married for 8 months and we have just recently decided that now is the right time to go off birth control and see what happens.

    For me, being married was a must before kids (which is strange because we're not religious or generally tradtional like that). Owning a home and both having stable incomes were also on the defintiely want list.

    We would have liked to be totally debt free as well, but we dont want to wait another year for that. As silly as it sounds to the 40 year olds moms I actually am worried about infertility. No real reason to be worried except for knowing that it declines after 25 and being aware that theres a lot of ppl who leave it to 30 and find out they cant. I'd rather have a baby a little earlier than planned than have ppl tutting tutting for leaving it "too late".

    But I digress…My husband has been ready for kids for a long time. I've only very recently felt ready and its because for the first time in my life I feel I am capable of looking after someone else and put another person's needs before my own without any resentment.

    Before now I could have managed a baby but I would always have slightly resented giving up my life and sacrificing things.

    2 agree
    • So, 1: This is a great discussion and a great community and thank all of you for that.

      And 2: I wanted to jump in and say I don't find it odd at all if you want to be married before having children for non-religious reasons. It's a very sensible choice econimically. I only know the law in my tiny european country, but assuming it's similar in many places: Marriage legally is mostly a financial agreemet. Two people sign a contract confirming they want to combine their fortunes, incomes and support each others going forward. This means that in case one of two people ends up being a stay at home parent, marriage is their protection, guaranteeing them a right to part of their spouse's income. It's not romantic, but very important financially.
      I think it's well worth considering marriage as one of the things to do before having children.

      1 agrees
  47. I'm on the slow boat. I'm 34 and just 12 weeks along with my first, even though my hubby and I have been together for 13 years (!) and he's been ready for a long time (but we're STILL not totally financially stable!).

    I never felt my clock ticking, and although I love children and always knew we wanted to have them, I didn't want to jump in without being really excited about it. I'm sure I could have done a great job earlier, but I really enjoyed my freedom and being able to do a million creative things, sing in a rock band, sew and run an Etsy shop, blog, go to Burning Man – all on top of my full-time career. Every time I thought about the huge change a baby would bring to my amazing life, I felt nervous and stressed.

    I never wanted to do it out of fear of declining fertility rates or a feeling of obligation. There was a point I was afraid I might never have that "I-want-a-baby" feeling, and was worrying about how long I would wait if that never came? But a few months ago I just decided I was ready to WANT a baby, and I literally consciously changed my thinking around it, and stopped being so fearful, and it totally worked. I feel great about my decision to wait until I was emotionally ready, and I'm hoping I can still juggle at least a few of those passions, but if my priorities change, I'm okay with it, because I know it's my choice.

    We were super-lucky that we got pregnant right away, and all the long-suffering grandparents are thrilled.

    I think there's no right answer to this question, and not everyone gets to choose when they have a baby – but certainly you should listen to your heart (and your partner's heart!). I'm so glad I did. Your own opinion matters more than anyone else's.

    1 agrees
  48. It's interesting that abortion stories have come up a couple times already in this context, because having my abortion last year has been one of the things that has helped me clarify whether or not I want children, and when I might be ready for one.

    Previous to the abortion it always seemed like a decision I would make in the far-off future, that I didn't need to worry about now. But when my birth control failed and we did end up with an unplanned pregnancy six months after we got married, I was faced with thinking about whether or not I was ready.

    In the end, my own readiness was kind of a moot point because my partner was not ready. The pregnancy also brought things into sharper focus for him, and he has said he still does not feel ready for the responsibility.

    One major difference between the two of us is that I'm not sure he has my ability to just let go. He wants the financial stability, the house, the career, etc. before a baby (if there's a baby at all) – and he finds it really hard to see how it could possibly even work without all those things.

    I, on the other hand, am more of the "we'd have love, and that's enough" mentality – but I'm not completely insensitive to the very real challenges that we would face if we had a child right now, and I think a lot of the reason he feels the way he does is because he knows the onus of the financial responsibility at least would fall on him since he makes much more than I do.

    To me, the "are we ready" question is wrapped up in the "do we even want this" question, too. And my conundrum is what do you do when one of you is ready and the other one is not? This is compounded for me by the knowledge that he may never want children. By no means have I decided that I definitely do want any, but I'm here so obviously I am interested in exploring my options.

    Basically, sometimes ready for one half of the couple isn't the same as ready for the other half. And that more than anything shows just how subjective and individualized that readiness can be. There are so many different definitions of "ready", and hopefully you and your partner are on the same page, but what if you're not? In the end, making that determination of readiness often isn't just one person's decision, and it can be difficult to compromise on such huge life-altering decisions. This is something my husband and I are struggling with now, and i just want to add my voice and my experience to the mix.

    1 agrees
  49. After reading this post and the many comments following, I just wanted thank everyone for participating in this discussion in such a respectful, thoughtful, heartfelt way. Your stories are so empowering and shared in such a positive, constructive way. Thank you!

    And the one thing I'm 'waiting' for before having kids? Learning to drive! I know it sounds silly but I'm 26 and have a US driving license, but have moved to another country, so my goal is to at least be able to drive here before installing a carseat. 🙂

    1 agrees
  50. i got engaged at 21 earlier this winter, and soon was too busy devoting my time to offbeatbride to notice the very very subtle changes in my body. by the time i found out i was pregnant, i was 6 months along and had just been offered an amazing job promotion.

    i struggled alot with the timing of everything, being young and missing out on building a "career", but now, at 9 months pregnant and married, i wouldnt have changed a single thing. im so in love with my son, feeling him move and squirm inside of me, knowing hes a part of me in a way nothing else will ever be. no job could ever replace what im in for, a living, breathing person, who i will grow with and get to nurture and love. our pregnancy wasnt planned, our plan was to wait for 5 yrs and be secure and have all our crap together, but life is what happens when we're too busy trying to map out our lives. things could have been different, and i could still be working and saving and planning, but i wouldnt have this little boy, this little treasure thats growing inside of me now

  51. Just to throw out there that there are also folks in their thirties and who still don't have money. So, we don't have money or time in our favor, but here we are. I am 34 and spent most of my twenties in Tanzania working for $60/month on a rural education project that I strongly believed in. As a result it took me a while to find a partner and settle enough to be in a place where I felt I could raise a healthy child. However, having transitioned from $60/month to a graduate student stipend and a husband who has been out of work for nearly two years, we are not the picture perfect couple preparing to bring a child into the world. However, here we are, and I have faith that if we are able to get pregnant and carry to term (we already had one miscarriage), then we will be as good of parents as we can be.

    3 agree
    • good for you, woman. i have a lot of respect for your story. even though you may not have a lot of money, it seems as though you probably have a good chunk of the other stuff (experience, worldly knowledge, and more experience!), which is almost more important in my mind. rock on, sistah. and my blessings to you for a full term pregnancy and healthy babe.

      my man and i are 34 and almost 29, respectively, and i can only hope that when the day comes that we start trying, we will have a lot to offer, other-than-money-wise. so much emphasis is put on the almighty dollar, and i really believe that's not even one of the top five important things in bringing a child into this world.

      1 agrees
  52. I realize I'm in the minority on a family website, but I'm 30 and nowhere near ready to have kids. Not sure I'm EVER going to have kids. But I agree with much of the sentiment- there is never a right time and always a right time. I work in an urban school district, and I can tell you income and financial security have NOTHING to do with a happy child. It's all about the love of the family. If you have love and patience, then it's the right time.

    1 agrees
  53. My husband and I rather spontaneously got married at the end of May after being inseparable friends for the better part of two years. Thanks to high emotions and raging hormones, I'm pretty sure we got pregnant that night.

    Here's the kicker: we live about 500 miles apart. We're both in the military, and unfortunately our jobs don't currently allow us to live together or afford us to visit more than a few days a month. It's probably going to be like that for the next two or three years.

    I get asked a lot whether I'd have done things differently knowing what I know now. Missing him is incredibly difficult, and having to work a crazy beyond-full-time schedule is immensely tiring. But every time I look at my little development chart and realize that my little Nugget is growing one step closer to becoming my (OUR) baby, it somehow makes it a little easier to handle.

    PS – this week he has TOES. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to feast upon tiny little nommable baby toes.

    4 agree
  54. I'm so glad to see this post and am working my way through the comments now, but in the meantime.

    I’m 21, I’ve been with my husband of one year for four, and I’m in my third year of college. Before age 19, I never saw marriage in my future until my mid-to-late twenties. I was going to get a masters, dive into a career and nurse that until I felt ready to settle down, and then I wanted to wait another five years minimum after that before kids.

    Needless to say, I’m a compulsive long term planner.

    This started to change two years ago when it dawned on my that my relationship with my (then) boyfriend was more important to me than than following my life-long dream of studying Russian in Russia. We were engaged for a year and I finished my first year of college at the University of Washington with no problems, concerns or hiccups. I was still going to pursue Russian and a career in the government and be a working mom who valued family and career equally.

    This year, a very interesting question struck…

    …. uh, how exactly do I do that?

    My life is not filled with women who have managed to have a fulfilling career while also being a mother. The women in my life who did have careers all dropped them when the baby came around. I used to think less of them for it, but now am left feeling ashamed for that naive reaction. But I still can’t help but wonder if it’s possible.

    My baby clock is ticking. I want a baby now. It’s not a feasible possibility. I have to finish school, my husband just got laid off. And, on top of it all, thanks to the growing urgency of my biological clock, I have no idea what I want to do with my life in terms of a career. The government jobs I once dreamed of now seem too big a risk to be worthwhile. The likely potential of moving my family every two years for a job simply does not fly.

    But I want to work. I want to help my husband contribute to our bills and our lifestyle. I want us to both raise our children together. And, due to the lack of examples, I’m entirely clueless as to where to begin to figure out how to balance all of this. I went into my marriage with the assumption that I would be the major breadwinner. My husband isn’t interested in school, and this economy is surprisingly difficult for blue-collar work. Russian skills and linguistic training do not have all that many viable career paths outside of the government, and while it would be wonderful if my photography business really took off enough over the next two years to be viable after graduation, I can’t bank on that.

    I’m terrified that we won’t have kids for another five or eight years. I want to start in the next three. Desperately. But there are just so many chips to line up, and what feels like an inequality in earning potential between my husband and myself is starting to become a bigger issue than I thought. It’s all the more frustrating because he could be making good money if only companies were willing to hire electrician apprentices so he could finish his journeyman, or if the competition for blue collar, industrial work in general wasn’t so competitive.

    But in the end, I feel like it’s entirely likely that all this pressure is in my own head and I need to calm down. It’s just so difficult when it feels like everyone around you is having babies and that you spend the majority of your time trying not to think about them and convince yourself you don’t want them right now when really, you want that more than anything else.

    I just want to meet my Owen or Evelyn. And the sooner, the better.

    1 agrees
    • I feel like we might be the same person. I'm also 21 and I'll be going into my senior year at college soon. I'm in a serious, long-term relationship and we plan on getting married once I've graduated. My partner is going to be in school for at least another four years getting a phd, so it is expected that for the next 5 years, I'll be the main breadwinner. Now that my undergraduate schooling is almost over though, I don't really want to start a master's or a legitimate career because I so desperately want to start a family, and the two are hard to compromise. AHHHH!

    • I have a Bachelors in European and Russian studies and a minor in German. I had huge plans to go to Europe, spend a year working and travelling around Germany, and then work for the government, either in immigration or for CSIS (we're in Canada). Instead, I got pregnant in my final year of University, traded in my travelling dreams for baby dreams, and am now married with a 2 1/2 year old and a 17 month old, at the age of 25. My husband (who graduated the same time I did) works retail and is slowly getting promoted through the ranks to support us. I have no idea how I'm going to use my degree, as moving our kids across the country repeatedly for work is, like you, not something I'm willing to do any more. But we're happy, getting by, and honestly, I mourn my given-up dreams sometimes, but we're still going to Europe – just waiting until the kids are big enough to come with us and enjoy it too. Hopefully we'll be able to spend a year or so in Germany, just as I had planned. My pre-baby dreams have somehow managed to fit themselves into my baby-centered life, and I would never trade my kids for anything. It works out, and you don't have to give up as much as you'd thought.

      1 agrees
    • I'm 26 and finally officially starting to try to conceive. If you'd told me 5 years ago that I wouldn't give birth until I was 27, I would have been miserable. I would have cried and probably thrown things. But… it's so clear that now is a "more right" time. My husband is so excited, in a way he wouldn't have been able to be 3 years ago when he was stressing about money and career stuff. I used the waiting time to build up a savings account, so now I have options for the birth without having to worry about what my insurance will and won't cover. Even though if you'd asked me 5 years ago I never would have planned to wait this long, in hindsight it was completely worth it.

  55. Hey all,
    I am 25 and I have had what I call the "procre-ache" since I was about 15. I work with kids, I love them, I think they are the best population of humans in the world. However, my partner and I can barely afford to feed ourselves and pay rent, so we're just going to wait until we can at least have slightly more money than is required for basic needs.

    A few different stories:
    My sister had her first daughter at 19 unexpectedly. Having a baby completely changed her life for the better, bringing an end to her self-destruction. She is due for another daughter next month (another accident!), struggling with bankruptcy, and swimming in debt, but she stil gets by, and her kids are her joy, her inspiration, her reason for loving life and taking care of herself. So I am happy that she has her tiny humans.

    My stepmother never had kids because she was waiting for the right guy to come along. She and my father were married 7 years ago, and decided to adopt a little girl from China. Now, at 49, she is a first-time Mommy and she is completely overjoyed. My dad is 56, and he told me he loved having my sister and I so much that he was thrilled to raise another daughter (he was 31 and 33 the first time).
    Since they are so well-off now, they can afford to work less and spend more time with their daughter, which is a huge blessing.

    My mother was 29 at the first time and she told me that she pretty much woke up one day and knew that that she was 100% ready. Lucky her!!!

    So I guess my experience with my family has taught me what you all have been saying: You can make it work at any time, and any time can be the right time. There are pros and cons to parenthood at any age.

    1 agrees
  56. Whoa late commenting batman… I was on vacation and catching up on my OB reading. This was a great post for me to read, though, because I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Last year, during my master's degree, I thought I was pregnant for about 3 weeks (turned out it was just a late period). Prior to that, I had always thought I'd terminate if I found myself pregnant and still in school, because my partner and I wouldn't be "ready." But when it became a possibility, I found myself realizing that I was definitely emotionally ready to have a child, and that the thought of terminating was giving me serious anxiety.

    Obviously I turned out to not be pregnant, but since then it's been something that I've been trying to figure out. I'm only 23, so I would be considered young, but we are both finished school and have great jobs, so by financial standards, we're capable of having a baby now.

    But… we've both just started careers and want to get a bit of experience under our belts before taking maternity/paternity leave. We want to aggressively pay down our huge pile of student debt (4 degrees cost a lot!). My job will take us abroad in a few years (and then consistently throughout my career) and we want to get the hang of the moving-around-the-world process on our own. So even though we're emotionally and financially ready, we're not… ready ready.

    If I got pregnant, we'd be happy and accommodate a kidlet with no problems. But we're not going to try for another few years, because even though no time is ideal, that's the rough timeline we're comfortable with.

    We are getting a puppy though! 😀 My partner keeps calling it "the practice kid."

  57. i ask myself this question everyday. i'm 30 and my husband is 42. we just bought a house last year and i'm ready to start a family, but he doesn't feel we are financially secure enough yet. my father is in his 70s and his parents are in their mid-60s and i'd love to see them as grandparents– time is ticking… i don't think anyone is ever really ready, are they? i know i want to start soon my family has a history of infertility… i just don't know what else i can do. i save $$$ on my own so that i have something to put on the table in the meantime, but hey, you need two to make a baby!!!! my best friend nearly divorced her husband because it got to the point where she began to question whether or not her husband really wanted kids… i find myself asking the same question now and then.

  58. Oh, hello sisters. I'm also 21, about to start my final year at university, and have been with my boyfriend for 4 years. We're not engaged yet but we are going to get married in the next few years. We both want to be young parents (i.e. 20's)
    When we graduate though, we'll be graduating into a terrible British economy, with fairly useless humanities degrees. I'll be doing teacher-training, he'll be possibly doing an MA, and we'll be living off loans and bursaries. BUT OH MY, over the last year I'm certain a switch has flipped in my uterus. But I really want us to be able to establish ourselves financially as a couple, and I'd like to get married first… So I'm just going to have to wait. It's going to be a difficult wait, but I have to do it. I'm just going to have to remind myself often of how much better it'll be in a few years time rather than in the next year or so, and just think how HUGELY EXCITING it will be when we can finally get down to the business of making a little curly haired baby.
    Kendra, you said it. AHHHHH!

  59. so awesome to read this! I am recently married (09/04/10) and the alarm clock feels more like a time bomb. I am 30.5 yrs and while we both have stable jobs, I would not be able to work for awhile after the baby. Daycare costs about what I make a month anyway! And then what? I am already freaking out about money, but this post made me feel like we CAN do it. Anyone know of any good stay at home jobs? I literally cannot SLEEP thinking about this!

  60. Such a good post, makes me feel like I'm not the only one that thinks about this constantly.

    I'm 26, my husband is 32, we've been married for 2 years and been together for 8. We both want kids, talk about them all the time, have had all their names picked out for over 5 years. Both have post-grad qualifications, and recently moved to the other side of the world. CANNOT. DECIDE. WHEN. TO. HAVE. KIDS.

    When we were talking about it the other night, my husband told me that sometimes he just wishes my pill would fail and I'd get pregnant accidentally so the choice would be taken out of our hands. I told him that great minds think alike!!

    Aaaaargh. Sometimes I think my husband and I plan and reason ourselves into checkmate.

    4 agree
  61. The baby making question is something I think about almost daily and I am so glad I found this post! A big thank you to everyone who have shared their stories.

    I've had the baby fever for at least 3 years now, but before that- I was a mess in my early 20's. I could hardly take care of myself, let alone a child. At age 18 I accidentally became pregnant by a married man and had an abortion. I have always known I made the correct decision, but that doesn't minimize the feeling of loss and guilt I have always carried with me. I lived a perpetually stoned existence until about age 25 when I moved across the country, went back for my Bachelor's degree and met my husband.

    We have been married for almost 2 years now, I'm 29, he's 25, and we just bought a house 2 months ago. Like Zara, we talk about our future kids all the time, have had names picked out for years, and are completely emotionally ready.

    Now it seems like everyone else is getting pregnant around me and it breaks my heart because I want to share my love with a child so badly. My husband feels the same way, but wants to make sure we are planning the best way.

    I have about a year left on my accounting degree, after which I will be the primary breadwinner while he goes back to school. Currently he makes great money working IT and we have excellent health insurance through his job. I bring in about 15K a year as a waitress. I think it would be a good time to start trying now, while we have the benefits and I can study/work part time while pregnant. When the baby is about 2 he can be with her/him during the day, go to night school, and I will be home in the evenings.

    It may not be better than the original plan of waiting until I was a year or so into my career before we start trying, but that puts me at about age 33, and I am already a little nervous about fertility. Plus honestly, the longing might just kill me in the meantime.

    So, now that I've gotten all this out of my head I feel like now is the best time more than ever, and that feels pretty great 🙂

  62. I got married less than a month ago but my husband and i have been together for 5 years, my ovaries have been screaming at me to have a baby for a couple of years now, i'm 29 and my hubby is 39, we are 110% ready emotionally but he is so worried about money which is understandable and he was raised by his grandmother with very little money so he missed out on alot of things and i know this plays on his mind. We bought our home last year and we both had good jobs until last week when out of the blue he lost his job. Now he wants to put off trying for a baby for at least another year, i don't know how much longer i can wait, everyone around me is pregnant or has kids and it's making me miserable:(

    1 agrees
  63. The whole concept of a biological clock is really interesting – mine "went off" in my mid-20s. I had decided that, since there was no significant other in my life, I might as well get started on having a family on my own. I went to the fertility clinic, got all checked out, obtained all the info about sperm donors and artificial insemination … and then told my shrink what I had decided. His response (and he wasn't being mean): "What do you have to offer a child?"
    Going home that night and really thinking about it, I'm so incredibly glad I changed the plan. At the time, I was in a dead-end job that I hated, with co-workers that I couldn't stand (except for one or two) and a fair number of unhealthy habits. None of these things contributed to what would have been (for me) a healthy parenting mindset. I didn't want my kid to grow up thinking that you had to take any job that would pay you, regardless of whether or not you could go anywhere and no matter how badly you were treated and/or paid. I also didn't want to provide an example of how it's OK to give up on yourself and your dreams while trying to tell said kidlet that they could be anything they wanted to be.
    Flash-forward to now: I met someone who means the world to me and married him this July. I'm in the middle of getting my Psych degree and we've decided to start trying for kidlets this coming August. Are we "ready"? More or less – we're both grinning like idiots about being able to show an entirely new person the whole world (even if it's just in a book or DVD). With him running his own practice and being able to juggle his hours, and me being in school and also being able to juggle my hours, we can ensure that the kidlet has plenty of parent interaction (and that we can avoid daycare costs as long as possible).
    Waiting until August to start trying is our way of getting a little more "just us" time in. We love the fact that we're going to have tiny humans – but also acknowledge that we were a couple first. Neither of us wants to feel resentful that we didn't take enough time to enjoy just being together first – which is, of course, something that not everyone feels is necessary ;-). And who knows? It might be harder to get pregnant that we figure, and we might end up with more alone time than we accounted for. In the meantime, we just keep making our plans the best we can … and if life wants to interfere, we're flexible. 😀

  64. I think the timing is just a feeling you get. Only you and your significant other know when it's right for you. I am 27 and the mom of a 7 year old. I'm recently married for the second time. For me, the decision to have my first was easy. My first husband said he was ready. I was 20 and in college, but felt it was the natural order of things. I had always wanted to be a young mom. It seemed like the easiest decision in the world. It's now that I'm having trouble with. My husband now and I have been together for 3 years and married for 4 months. We are in our late twenties and everyone is asking when we are going to have a baby (they are so kind to remind us that we aren't gettin any younger). We both feel the clock ticking, however, my husband is military and we are both a little terrified about moving with a newborn or moving while I'm pregnant because of the financial reasons (me finding a job, finding childcare). He can pretty much be given orders for a new base at any time since he has been at this one for almost 4 years. We are talking about it all the time. I'm beginning to feel that it can't be planned, we are just going to have to take our chances and make sacrifices if needed. I know we have all the love in the world to give another child and our relationship is strong. My son is happy, loves his stepdad, and is well adjusted. He asks frequently if he can have a baby brother or sister. I'm basically waiting for the day my husband says let's go for it! And when he does I'm sure everything will be just fine and it will feel just right.

  65. My husband and I have been talking about babies since we met. It´s sorta our dream since forever, we always wanted to have kids, but we waited until feeling we had financial stability. As impulsive as I am, I didn´t want to wait, but he did and I respected. He is very financially conscious and, since I´m not, I just trusted him. But since a while ago, my body is screeming to be a parent. I´m 30 and feels like I waited a lot, I am starting to get terrified not to be able to conceive. We always talk about it and a couple of months ago, he asked me to stop the birth control. YAY. I can´t wait!

  66. So, I have a question that I don't think was addressed. What about artificial insemination? When is it the right time to start that process? I'm about to marry my lovely partner who is 25. I am 30, with a mild case of baby fever (I'll be the one giving birth). She doesn't seem to have a "clock", ticking or otherwise. She has agreed to start a family at somepoint (vague right?) but not until we are "ready". I know she mostly means financially, but are there other issues to weigh out when it comes to artificial insemination?

    • Yes please, my wife and I are wanting to try but with us there is no accidents. It's all planned and I worry about the cost of insemination and also what if the support isn't there because "we should have planned better"?

  67. We are 14.5 weeks pregnant with our first (and probably only) child. We are both mid-twenties, some college (no degrees), technical types. I work from home (web development), while he's in school (on the GI Bill). We did not plan this pregnancy. In fact, it was the last thing on our minds.

    I've been told for years by more doctors than I can easily count, that I had a snowflake's chance in Hell of ever conceiving again, and that even if I did, I would not carry to term. There is a twofold reason for this certainty:

    Number one, I miscarried badly eight years ago. Hit and run, SUV vs. bicycle. I spent eight hours sitting on a curb in a dark alley in the icy February rain with a blown out shoulder and a severed ligament in my knee, before a Good Samaritan stopped to check on me. I remember him saying I didn't look like I should be sitting in the rain like that, and so he stopped to ask if I needed a ride. I was fading into second degree hypothermia and managed to just say Hospital. The guy skipped work that morning to make sure my I got home alright. He'd even rescued the mangled mess that was barely identifiable as having been a bike once, though I didn't discover it in the garage for a few weeks.

    I was in and out of the ER for days with abdominal pain and trying to get my knee and shoulder properly diagnosed (they tried to tell me at first that it was just my arthritis, and completely ignored that I'd been hit by a car and that maybe that was why I had spent all night in an alley in the rain…), and had a miscarriage at the end of the week.

    I hadn't known I was pregnant, because I had no symptoms. I'd still been getting my period. When they couldn't find the fetus they decided that it must have been ectopic, and that my body had reabsorbed the evidence. What they did find was a lot of scarring.

    The scarring was so pervasive that they were convinced that my uterus would never completely recover. I suffered endometriosis for years afterwards. Then it begun to taper off, until I wasn't having a problem with it at all anymore as much as a year ago.

    The second reason that this is my miracle baby is that I am intersex. I'm a chimera, which means that I have two sets of DNA. This happens when the zygotes of fraternal twins combine at a very early stage (we're talking cell division that you can count on one hand and watch under a microscope) to become a single embryo. I have one ovary that works part time (at most I have nine periods a year, though more often as few as five) on the right, and on the left, an immature testicle. Because I ovulate so infrequently, and my luteal phase is under tend days (it averages eight, being usually seven to nine days), my chances of conception (even if everything else were always healthy and there had never been any damage) would be strikingly low.

    I've always been careful anyway. I'd never done well on chemical birth control, which one doctor had been very insistent on using to control the endometriosis, but which aggravated my acute intermittent porphyria so severely that I was having chronic pain and sick all the time. I became depressed and felt like I would never get better, but within a week of giving up on the medication my general health improved and I decided it was better to just deal with the endo than be miserable with the AIP. We've since realized that I was probably also having trouble with the hormones themselves, as my natural hormone levels are quite low.

    We'd have never made that connection if I hadn't got knocked up. Being pregnant has been a bit of an adventure emotionally. From the initial disbelief and anxiety (that first week seemed to last forever) while we waited for our ultrasound to find out if this was really a baby or some new chemical issue I'd have to deal with. I cried watching the sixth season finale of Grey's Anatomy with my baby sister, even though it's the only episode I'd actually enjoyed (I prefer action over drama). I didn't cry watching Bambi as a little kid. I didn't know what the Hell was wrong with me, I wasn't even upset.

    The thing I remember most clearly about the first few days though, was my guy and I looking at the second positive home pregnancy test and asking each other if we were ready for this. We are always so in sync, it's really zen-like. We realized then that we are the kind of people who are never really ready for anything until it happens. All the planning and preparation in the world won't do you any good if you can't cope with reality, and our world had just become very real very fast. We were okay, though. We were as ready as we'd ever be. We are so incredibly happy to have this chance.

    We'd done everything we could to prevent it happening, but even so, when it happened, we realized it was perfect. It was exactly what we wanted, even though it was the last thing we'd thought of. It hadn't even struck me as a possibility the first couple weeks we were trying to figure out what was going on. Then, finding out that our baby was healthy and that I was healthy and that we were already further along that I'd been since the first (I'd had two chemical pregnancies in between), we began to hope.

    Now, starting into my second trimester, we are becoming more confidant. Everyone is so sure that we will be great parents and we really are such a good match, that really all of our fading anxiety has been focused on my health, and not the huge scariness of actually having a brand new baby next summer. Our baby.

    There is never going to be a right time. You will never be ready. When it happens though, it will be exactly the right time, and you will be as ready as you'll ever be.

    Best of luck,


    3 agree
  68. wow…a right time to have a baby eh? well i dont know about right time, but this seems to be the time. i am 20 years old, i have been with my current partner for about 2 years. i have been working since i was 14, and supporting myself since i was 17. i have managed to maintain a full time position at my job for the past year and a half, managed to feed/cloth/pay bills etc on my lonesome, and with the help of my boyfriend. i found out i was pregnant a month ago. i was overwhelmed, and now when i think about it i am not sure why i was so surprised.
    unprotected sex= babies. PERIOD.
    still, when i saw those little pinky lines on my at home test, my heart went into my throat, and my glass of cider went down the drain…oh how i wanted to slam it, reach for the bottle and drink some more, but even before i decided what it was that i wanted to do, i knew better. i dont think i am ready, but is anyone ever really ready? is it ever a responsible, affordable, over all reasonable decision to reproduce? i dont think so, but people do it everyday. i called my mom almost immediately after i peed on the stick, she said 'well you waited longer than i did!' i am her oldest and she had me when she was 19. i called my aunt the next day, i was almost hysterical. she congratulated me to which my reply was 'really?' then she asked me why i was so scared. i started to prattle off my long list of reasons about why i was not cut out to be a mother, what if this and that, and essentially that i had no business having a child. she turned every single negative thought i had into a positive reason not only about why i was more then ready to have a child, but why this was going to be a beautiful and wonderful thing. my boyfriend and i live together, we have a cat, a snake, and a 6 month old puppy. we have been building a little life together for the past couple years. he is 33 as of dec 26th. he has a son who lives with his parents. i love his son. every time he has come to visit i've always felt a certain completeness to our little home. his son is very excited to be an older brother. i am excited, and scared, and everything else that you really could think of. my mom sent me a copy of what to expect while your expecting in the mail fr x-mas and i cried. i see pictures of babies and cry. i think about having a little bundle of mine and dereks love and i cry, and laugh all at the same time. i am overwhelmingly calm. my boyfriend is very excited. for us this is kind of a fresh start, a new chapter. we always knew we would be together forever in some way shape or form, and it looks like its a reality. i dont know how i will manage with money, or what to expect, or if i am 'cut out' for the job. but i see cracked out mothers pushing strollers down the railroad tracks at 12 in the morning, and i know that i can do 100000+ times better than that! i have sort of rambled….but i conclude saying that i dont think there really is a time, i dont think you can ever really be ready, but i firmly believe that if life deals your a card you play your best hand.

  69. I just want to say – reading all these comments/this article has been INCREDIBLE! My husband and I have been together going on 7 years (married 1,) and we're DYING to have a kid. Alas, we're kind of broke, so we'll probably hold out another year or so until we can save. Reading everyone's thoughts has been so inspiring. Thanks OBM!

  70. What happens when health is an issue? In the past 3 years I have developed severe psoriasis and after a very trying experimental phase I am finally controlling the symptoms with the use of some very strong biologic and systemic drugs, all while under the care of a wonderful team at UPenn Hospital. Due to life becoming complicated and the meds not helping things I've also found myself 30-50lbs over my ideal weight. So for me the "right time" for getting pregnant feels very regimented and out of my personal control. Not only do i need to work on losing weight, but I will have to stop my medications for 3 months before coming off birth control. (absolutely, no "oops" babies permitted here). I fear having a psoriasis relapse when i do come off the medications and having my condition flare so badly that i won't make it the 3 months or more that i will need to get pregnant. Not only that, but if and when I am pregnant I will not be able to take anything if i flare. Hubs and I are newlyweds and know that right now is not the right time. We've discussed (with my doctors) that August 2012 may be when we start pulling back off the medications so that by late 2012 we can begin trying. Just hoping that I am not the only one dealing with life long medical issues and the maintenance that goes with them.

    • I have ankylosing spondylitis, which is related to some forms of psoriasis, so I just wanted to offer the idea of food allergies and/or an anti-inflammatory diet. I had increasingly bad AS symptoms from age 17 to age 25, when I went off nightshade vegetables, and it's helped tremendously. It took a month or so for my system to clear out, and then…poof.

      HOWEVER. I do NOT mean to belittle what you're going through, and if this idea is something you've already tried and you're thinking "duh, thanks for the obvious," PLEASE disregard it. I just know that for me, it was an absolute chance remark from a friend that changed the way I function. I hope you have great luck in healing and being happy. And baby!

  71. You guys – seriously.
    I've been reading every. last. comment. And crying. And emailing my husband. It's so hard and so scary and so confusing.

    We've been together for 7+ years, married for almost 2. We own a home, make a decent living, and have manageable debt (cars, mortgage, school loans). We have a dog and a cat. We live near both of our families, and they are excited to have a grandchild. My husband has the baby fever, I know we would be amazing parents, and look forward to it! If you just read that – everything seems to be in line…

    But, I work full time and on average I commute 1.5 hours each way, my husband also works full time, with a slightly shorter commute. And we can't exist on one salary.

    My biggest fear is that we're going to have this wonderful baby, and then after my dreadfully short maternity leave is up, I have to go back to work, and someone else (likely the grandparents) is going to care for my baby. From 6:30am – 5:30pm. TOO LONG.
    It just feels irresponsible to me. (Disclaimer: this is in NO WAY judging women who do this – my problem comes from the fact that we'd be leaving the theoretical baby with grandparents. I would be MORE OK with leaving him/her with a paid caregiver. I know, it doesn't make ANY sense, but I feel SO strangely guilty being like "Hey, I had a baby! Watch him for 11 hours/day for me. Kthxbai!")

    I've tried to find another job closer to home – but with the economy difficulties, and the fact that I live in the suburbs, jobs are scarce. And NOW? I'm terrified to get a new job because that means possibly waiting longer to be eligible for benefits, and feeling comfortable with getting/being pregnant and disrupting my adjustment to a new job. Plus I like what I have now, and I've been here for 3+ years, so I DO have flexibility and understanding bosses.

    I share the sentiment that I've read on here a BUNCH of times, "why couldn't my birth control have failed, and saved me from making this decision?"
    Because now? I feel like I need to have intention! And make a decision! And PLAN!

    But I can't. I'm paralyzed by fear. The more I think about it, the more reasons I can find to convince myself that this is a terrible idea, and that we need to rearrange SOMETHING in order for this to work. And the worst thing is that my reasons mostly don't make sense. Am I terrified? OMG yes.

    I'm super sorry. I'm rambling. I haven't really verbalized or vocalized how I feel. I'm not ready to talk to people (other than the husband) about how I really feel about this. I don't want anyone to have expectations, or to even hear the input of people in my life because I know it will affect (effect?) how I think about this, and don't need that – I've got enough conflicting ideas.

    5 agree
    • I'm going through much of the same thing. I worry about leaving a 2-month old in a daycare all day and being stressed when I come home from my job (where I work with kids all day) and then not having the energy to care for the baby. I wonder too at times "what if my birth control just failed" then at least I could say I made the most of it and my husband would have manned up and gotten a good paying job to take care of us. Our parent's generation really pushed for women making careers and the idea of living on one income these days is scary. I think it's a particularly challenging dilemma of our generation to balance work and family life because anymore the economy is set up for either one huge income or two modest ones. One time a new mom said to me "well ideally the mother stays home with her children, but we choose to work to maintain our "lifestyles"" I hold some resentment toward that statement because sometimes it's about having a job with health insurance, or supporting a husband with a disability, or many other circumstances where a mother needs to work.

      There's a lot of pressure on us (by society) to do it all! Get educated, get a job, AND spend time with our children and encourage them, not to mention maintaining a house and providing meals and family activity planning. It's normal to be fearful and worried. Fortunately my husband and I both believe in taking equal responsibility in child raising (we've practiced this in caring for our dogs, doing chores and holding each other to similar career standards), but I think the key is that men take on more household tasks and child care tasks to balance this out. It is possible. My parents were very successful with this and they both always worked and provided us with plenty of encouragement, love, attention and as carefree as a childhood could be. Rambling is good by the way – we're sharing and processing and we don't feel alone.

      • "There's a lot of pressure on us (by society) to do it all! Get educated, get a job, AND spend time with our children and encourage them, not to mention maintaining a house and providing meals and family activity planning."

        Oh, boy, sister, do I hear ya. It's so stressful – I'm supporting myself, my (student) husband, and myself as well as our two cats and our "new" fixer-upper home on only my salary, and it is STRESSFUL. I feel like I'm NEVER up to par on anything, especially motherhood.

        That having been said, I have a beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful 20-month-old son who is the most amazing thing in my world, so obviously my apparent shortcomings aren't harming him too horribly.

        Also, I grant that I don't know the context of the "we choose to work to maintain our 'lifestyles'" comment, but I see what she's saying. Yeah, you COULD quit your job and pay out of pocket for healthcare, etc., but it would drastically change your lifestyle. I see what she's saying, but I'm not sure the person was saying it from the same point of view I'm saying it. I have the OPTION, technically, of quitting my corporate 9 to 5 and taking a lower paying retail type job, but we'd have a much different lifestyle – we couldn't own our home, we couldn't go on vacations and such (hell, we barely do that now, but whatever)… things would change. They would change in such a way that I personally don't think it's worth my quitting to spend more time with my son, because I spend a ton of time with him now, he's home during the day with his daddy, and he's doing FINE. Yeah, I'd love it if we struck it rich or if I were a trust fund baby who could just take care of my kid instead of working, but that's not the way my life cookie has crumbled.

        We all do our best for ourselves and our children with the hand we're dealt – and those hands are different for everyone.

        • Haha, left out my SON in the list of people I'm supporting. Way to go, mama! HAND IN YOUR MOTHER OF THE YEAR CARD.

          Oh, wait… I never got that.

          1 agrees
      • "One time a new mom said to me "well ideally the mother stays home with her children, but we choose to work to maintain our "lifestyles"" I hold some resentment toward that statement because sometimes it's about having a job with health insurance, or supporting a husband with a disability, or many other circumstances where a mother needs to work."

        What's so wrong with maintaining a lifestyle? My husband and I could probably afford a baby, but only if we stopped doing everything that we love about our lives. And that's a cost that is maybe too high for us.

        Maybe that's selfish, but I mean, this is it. This is MY life, and it's the only one I get, and being able to travel and experience certain things is important to me. I know too many people who waited until retirement and then got sick or died before they ever got to the things they'd waited a lifetime to do.

        I'd still like to have a baby, but I vehemently disagree with the notion that a couple can and should sacrifice everything to have and raise one. For us, the right time is when we WON'T have to sacrifice.

        1 agrees
        • I agree 100% that there's nothing wrong with making the decision to maintain your lifestyle, if that's what makes you happy. Our lifestyle has definitely changed (last-minute honeymoon to London? No problem! Would that happen now? No freaking way – we find an extra $2k somewhere and we're saving it, or more likely, undertaking a new home remodeling project), but it was a worthwhile tradeoff for us.

          It's all about what makes life worth living for YOU and people who judge you for your decisions can get stuffed. Um… in my humble opinion, of course.

  72. Y'all are making me want #2 REALLY BAD right now. #1 will be 2 years old in July, and we were planning to get pregnant somewhat shortly after that, but lately my ovaries have just been screaming at me. My body is ready for number two even if our finances aren't quite… 🙁

  73. The concept of "right time" is really a frustrating one for me. I've wanted a baby since I was 19, but logically being in college, I thought it would be best to finish that first. Then there was the job thing – my husband and I who dated throughout college and got engaged our last semester both ended up being self-employed – so no health insurance. So then the idea was to get health insurance first. Now I have a new job, it's incredibly stressful and at times I feel I'm too emotionally unstable to possibly bring a child into the world. We've tried for 6 months and nothing has happened. At 27 I'm thinking not "when is the right time" but instead thinking "is there even such thing as a right time?"

  74. I got married shortly after my 21st birthday. I can't tell you the number of times that I was told I was "too young." I usually countered this by saying that I was perfectly mature, had been with my significant other for over 3 years and was already a college graduate (I finished a year early). I didn't see how years made that big of a difference. Even my SO's parents said that our marriage wouldn't work about because we were too young. I kindly informed them that my parents had been the same age when they married and had happily been together for 28 years.
    I got pregnant less than a month after our wedding. People were shocked. SO's parents asked what we had been thinking. Our friends asked if it was an accident. I kindly informed everyone that I was thrilled.
    I love the fact that I'm just over 22 and about to have a baby. I love the fact that when he is going off to college (if he decides that's what he wants to do) I'll only be 40. When he graduates I'll be around 44. I love the fact that I will be able to be around and enjoy so much of his life!

    1 agrees
    • Your timeline is almost exactly the same as mine! Married my husband when I was 21 + a few months (I graduated college December 2007, turned 21 March 2008, married May 2008). We got pregnant around October 2008, had our beautiful son in July 2009, when I was just over 22 – he had just turned 24. We (were) both employed, had a minimal amount of debt, made decent money – not rich by any means, but we had a good life and it's only gotten better.

      Of course, I come from a family of young birthers – my parents are only 45. 🙂

  75. I'm about to be 24, been married almost a year and am starting to get the baby crazies. My husband, on the other hand, is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I know we're young, but my parents had me young, so I think I just have that in my head to be a young(ish) parent… His parents had his brother and sister very young, but were in their early 30s when they had him. They've always tried to instill in him to wait. His brother is 34 and just had his first child.
    It almost seems like my husband is having a mid-life crisis early. He just got an office job after working retail since high school and seems to be wanting to save up, move across the country and open our own business. He wants to travel to a million places and do all these things before we get pregnant. I try to tell him that having a baby isn't the end of our lives, but he seems to think it is.
    I'm willing to wait because I know we're still young, I just don't want to wait until I'm 30…

    • The first time I was TTC, I was 20 and engaged. My partner was 25 and mid way through his undergrad. We both brought home enough money that our very basic needs were taken care of. We were living in a part of the country that is very expensive, away from all of our family, so we knew we'd move back asap after his graduation. We didn't have a lot of money,or a house, or family to help- but what we did have was time and love. When I was 20, I wasn't knee deep in a career, and having to struggle with taking time off (and being penalized professionally) to spend with my child. I'd be able to give my child all my attention and not have any of the guilt.

      Now, there's more money, a house, a different husband, different worries. I worry that if we wait, it'll be even harder to conceive. I want to travel, eat unpasturized cheese and sushi and drink liberally. I want use my season lift tickets. I like having a flat stomach and sleeping late. And I don't think I'll stop liking those things at any point.

      But I also want a baby. I want a baby now! But as far as actively trying, I don't know. I can't quite take the plunge. I think a lot of it is fear, since I've lost a baby and I'm afraid of being hurt again. We've decided that any baby that comes our way we're keeping. And I can see how much my partner wants a baby. But how can anyone ever know when the right time is?

      1 agrees
  76. I have a 3 y/old daughter from a previous relationship (who my Danny actually now considers his own 🙂 ) but Dan and I are very keen to have more children. Our reason for waiting is, well, me. I would be at high risk of gestational diabetes, Pre- eclampsia and a raft of other obesity related issues. It is really hard for us to stick to it because babies are all around us at the moment reminding us of what we could have (not to mention the small girl's desperation for a sister!) but I feel I have to stick to my guns because the possible risks to our child are not ones I'm willing to take.

    • my future husband and i have made it a requirement to ourselves that we wait until we're both in good physical condition before we have children. this is great in two ways: first, that by the time the kid is around we'd have healthy eating habits and the ability to chase after them without getting easily exhausted and second, it's going to be a long time until we actually reach that point. i hate going to the gym and if a baby is my reward than i think i'll be able to put up with it willingly.

  77. As echoed, I think there is no "right" time to have a baby…it's really based on each individual experience. We're all in different places financially, emotionally, relationship-wise, at different ages… Some of my friends in their 30's and 40's regret not having kids sooner, some are glad they waited. I had two abortions (age 20 and 21) before getting pregnant again at 23 and having that baby. All three pregnancies were with my (now) husband…the difference in my decision wasn't based on my age but where I was in my life. After some enormous growing pains and shift if my attitude, at age 23, I knew I could handle having a baby no matter what our financial situation was. After my daughter was born, we purposely decided to have another child only 18 months after my daughter was born because we wanted to get out of the SAHM "baby-phase" more quickly so I could finish my last year of college and build a career once they are both in school. No right way to go about it. This is just what worked out well for us…

  78. OMG, I'm feeling serious guilt here…

    I'm 27, my husband is 29 and we've been together for 4 years now. I always said that I wouldn't turn 30 without a baby/pregnancy, and that was my limit. We moved in together in the summer of 2008, right before it all went boom. My husband secured a very basic salary for our country, and I was trying to make it as a freelance… which is not going great bc my field has not recovered at all. Still, he insists that I keep trying to work on my work-from-home freelance career while he brings a regular paycheck home. We make it work, we even go on camping trips a couple times a year, but that's about it. We changed my "mommy-deadline" to "when we own a place or when I turn 29", whichever came first.

    Last week, however, we started talking. We really want kids. We want maybe 3. And we don't want to wait until we're 40.

    We have no guarantee that we'll be in a better situation in 2 or even 5 years. We know we can provide our children with everything they may need – we have very supportive families who would provide if we needed it, but also enjoy 100% free healthcare, 100% free education and with me working from home, everything would be easier… Granted, we may not be able to buy 200 toys, the baby would have to share his/her nursery with my office… but we both know we can make it work. My aunt has already packed my little cousin's stroller, car seat, sling, everything for us!

    So, when we realised we have no "real" reason to wait, I went to the doc, got my folic acid and planned the farewell to the pill. It should happen at the end of August. Then, we'd wait a month -doctor's suggestion- and then go for it. And the more I think about it, the more I start coming up with "but we wanted to get a scooter to go downtown… we won't be able to do that anymore" "but we wanted to do a round-Europe rail trip!" "but we wanted to move to Germany for a while -my in-laws have a place there, but no space for 3, barely for 2-" "but we live far from our families now, we wanted to wait until we were closer to them" "but I don't want to lose our scrabble evenings" "but…" "but…" "but…" I actually think is my I-can't-deal-with-change mind making up silly excuses, but I can't stop it! I really, really want children. And soon. But once we take that step, there's no way out, and I'm so bad with change! I cried the night before we bought new sofas for our place because I couldn't part with the ones we had had for the previous 12 months… ¬¬

  79. Wow, the comments are still going on this! My hubby and I have been married for about seven years, I'm 26 and he's 30. The whole time we've known each other we said we wouldn't want a kid, but now we are starting to think it could be a possibility in the future. If we do decide to have a kid, I'd like to do it in my 40s. I have SO much more life I want to live before having a kid, but I also don't think I would want to leave this world without being a mom. I'm sure I will get loads of crap about being old, but I'm used to getting "advice" about everything (goth, pagan, raw vegans usually do).

    This whole thinking of a possibility of a kid is so weird and foreign to me. Are there any moms out there who had their first kiddo in their 40s?

    • I have two girls; one was a happy surprise (single at 20) and one was planned (married at 26). There were a lot of challenges at both points in my life, but I found a way to make it work. It's really amazing how things fall into place sometimes 🙂

      There's a lady at work who is 38 and pregnant with her first child. She jokes about how she feels so old and can't believe that when I'm her age I'll have an 18 year old (AHHH!). It's working out for her and she and her husband couldn't be happier.

  80. I think this has a different answer for each future mom and each couple. Sorry, dad's, but I personally think it is the woman who should have most control over timing when to have children, because it is her body! My career is very important to me, and I felt like my choices were to either have a child before it really got off the ground (i.e. while still finishing my PhD), or wait until after I had tenure somewhere (which would mean waiting until my late 30s or early 40s). I chose to have them early. By the time I'm 46, my youngest will be 18 and on their way out of their house to start their own adult life – I like that! I feel that having children slows your career momentum, whenever you have them. If I waited until I was really building my reputation, I think it would have felt like an interruption and I would have felt resentful. Instead, now I see my children getting older, and I'm getting my momentum back. Having kids in my mid twenties was the right choice for me. (PS I did not stay home with my kids…even if you keep working, having children means you have new priorities in your life, and I think this is, or at least should be, true for dads as well as moms)

  81. I have 2 sons and I am nearing 21. Both of my sons were created in a very loving and committed relationship and even though I had them young I don't feel as if they have ever gone without. BUT not everyone is good with going with the flow. We are just really easy going people and so it was completely cool that our children came out of nowhere and that I was hardly an adult when my eldest was born. You have to ask yourself how much you need to be in control of every situation and decide from there.

  82. We've decided to start trying this month (my ovulation is coming up in less than a week!). Where we are: house is almost paid off, mortgage is low. I work for an ob/gyn practice and my husband is getting unemployment and going to school. We have a HUGE support system in our friends and family. Could we both have full time jobs? Sure. Could we have a bigger savings? Always. Are we mentally ready to raise a human life and prepared for it to be occasionally difficult? Absolutely.

    We had a miscarriage in January. That was a suprise pregnancy, but we felt as though we had found our calling, like the pieces finally fit. That was bad timing – it was my first ovulation after getting off the IUD, I had sustained an injury that I was on numerous painkillers and steroids for (there was talk of surgery). I was kinda bummed, so I wasn't careful with food and I spent most of my time in bed. Now, my periods have been regular, and I'm going that extra step with eating very healthy and exercising. It's easier to conceive (not to mention much better for baby when you do) if you're healthy.

    Guess my point is: if you're healthy and mentally prepared, go for it 🙂

    1 agrees
  83. I think you know when the right time is (if you are planning a pregnancy). I was 19 and had been married for a year when I just knew that I wanted a baby and I could handle it if we conceived. My husband was going into the Air Force so we said, if I get pregnant before he leaves, good. If I don't, that's fine too. Well I did! He missed the entire pregnancy, which sucked, but he was there for our daughter's birth. After she was born, I finished my first degree, moved to where my husband was stationed, and got my second degree. I couldn't be more thankful that I had my daughter when I did. She gave me motivation and allowed me to focus in a way I wasn't before getting pregnant. Looking back on it (she is 4 1/2 years old) it probably wasn't when most people would plan to have a child, usually people are accidentally pregnant at 19 or married young and plan to stay at home. It just seemed like when I thought of parenting, I knew I could handle it. It worked for our family and we are still making it work. I wouldn't have it any other way.

  84. As a 25 year old getting ready to have my 3rd child I say, if it's something you and your partner know you want, go for it! I met hubby when I was 18 and after 3 months of dating we had the kids/family/future talk. Shortly after (to the horror of my very Catholic family) we moved in together and shortly before my 20th birthday we were pregnant and getting married. No one had high expectations for us (I dropped out of college to have babies and hubby had no idea what career path he wanted) but here we are, paying the mortgage each month on hubby's lineman apprentice salary and watching our happy, healthy family grow. If a family is something you truly want you will find a way to make it work no matter when it happens. That's the beauty of being a woman- we adapt!

  85. My husband is 25, and I turn 25 next month. This September will make 5 years that my husband and I have been together and 2 years that we have been married…and my biological clock has been screaming babies for at least a year already. We both graduated from a university in 2009 with grand ideas that we would work within our chosen fields right away. Unfortunately, both of our chosen fields are government run/funded/public service kind of fields, and there aren't so many of those kinds of jobs out there right now. We both have gone through a period of disenchantment and bitterness about working at way-less-than-ideal-jobs. For almost the last year, my husband and I made a deal that before we have kids we both have to feel at least kind of secure in our jobs, and I want to be healthy and in good shape. Now, we have both recently been promoted, and are doing jobs that are at least tolerable if not likely sustainable from an interest/growth perspective, and I have worked out at least 3x a week for the last 15 weeks. So, based on that things are looking good right?! Now we are talking about starting to try to have a baby around our anniversary in a couple of months. We shall see!

    1 agrees
  86. After moving across the country and hooking up with an old friend (now baby daddy, and future husband)at 23, I was having the time of my life. We worked hard (trying to save so I could go back and complete school), and partied harder. We lived 30 yards from the best live music/ bar in town and we loved our crappy CHEAP apartment with ivy growing through the walls. Then Dec. 1st I peed on the stick. Then I peed on another stick, and started crying. Through a lot of tears and encouraging words from my partner we decided to have our baby. Sure I was an unwed, waitress, college drop out, not to mention I was on the COMPLETELY opposite side of the country to any family, but I new we could do it. And the fist thing my zen master Dad told me when I shared the news was "there is no right time". He was right, my son is the best thing that ever happened to me! Sure it is frustrating struggling because we did everything backwards but I have faith in us.

    2 agree
  87. i'd always thought i'd do the "responsible" thing — finish schooling, establish myself in a job so i can return to it, be settled somewhere for a while.

    only, i'm in medical school and getting a master's degree, which is 5 years, then 3-4 more for residency, then maybe 1 more for fellowship, and looking at the lifestyle after all of that, we decided to start trying NOW, in school, when i still have the flexibility to take a year off and stay home with the kid, wean them, all that.

    not telling that to too many people who know me in real life, though…people would just think we're nuts. =/

    1 agrees
    • Actually, we're not telling anyone either. We know we'd get MANY "you're crazy" "That's just irresponsible" but I work as a freelance translator and proofreader from home, which means my clients have thousands of freelancers just a Google search away. If I am to take a few months leave, I'd rather take it now that I don't have that many clients than wait until the business is back on full swing and potentially lose many clients and a lot more money. Also, having 100% free healthcare and childcare sure helps deciding, too 🙂

      Katie, I'm so glad to have read your comment about not telling… I'm already thinking about ways to admit "no, this wasn't really an accident" once the deed is done.

  88. I have to say that I love this post and it's pretty comforting because my desire to have a baby has felt a little overwhelming. I mean, my husband and I just had a really rough summer financially with a roommate bailing into the wilderness (literally) and leaving us witha mound of unpaid bills and still it's like my body is screaming ZOMG I MUST FILL MY WOMB!!! This feeling hasn't gone away in several months so as much as I want to just attribute it to a weird month of too many hormones or something, I think it's here to stay.

  89. I went through a period of intense "OMG I NEED A BABY NOW" feelings, but those have subsided now and I feel ready. My husband feels ready, too. I think my argument that no time is THE right time finally clicked with him. We are both 25, have been together for 5 years and married for 2, and I have one week of birth control left before we start trying to conceive.

    I know my in-laws would like to see us wait and go to grad school before we have a baby, and my parents just want to see us do whatever we think is best for us- whatever that means. I know there are a lot of things we don't have figured out yet, but for every single thing we don't have an answer to, there is something else that we are confident and sure about. So, here we go!

  90. i am a sophomore in college at age 27. ( cant make up my mind what i want to do. i just know i don't want to do what i am doing forever ). but i desperately want a child. we are on month 5 and still no go. i know I'll never have what the average American has. i just know what i want. and i know I'll get it one day.

  91. I am in a situation of "should I?" right now. Although, my life seems to be much more all over the place than most. I am currently separated (for a year now), working on the divorce soon. I have a 2.5 year old son (planned) with my soon-to-be ex. I have a wonderful boyfriend, whom I've known since I was 13. And last night, I found out I am pregnant, and by accident. I don't know what the right choice is. I know my family and his will be disappointed. Not mad, but not happy. We aren't set financially. And with the cost of daycare, I'm not sure we would make it. But I'm 28, and I don't know if I can give the baby up either. I'm between "No, we can't handle a baby" and "We'll figure out a way". I actually have an appointment at the abortion clinic, and I have an application in for Medicaid. (I can't afford my work's insurance.) I don't know if there's a right answer. But I have a lot to think about.

  92. I'm looming on 23, and yes it honestly feels like 'looming'. We had an 'unplanned' turn to 'miscarriage' 3 weeks ago. Our 'unplanning' is 'not actively charting cycles' though, because although my health insurance for pregnancy doesn't kick in for another 10 months, a happy accident is honestly what I am praying for. I'll be eligible for maternity leave in 6 months, and in Australia I can go through the public system at little cost if need be. My body is literally shrieking at me to have babies, and I really, really want to be a young mum. Hubby is nearly 27, and it quite happy to have kids when I want, but doesn't have NOW NOW NOW screaming at him from his manly bits. Is it just me, or are womanly bits a heck of a lot more chatty? GAH!

    2 agree
  93. For me, if you are in love with your guy… there is no wrong time to have a baby. Money, status, house, career… none of those things matter because you can have it "all" and end up with a nightmare of a kid or you can have "nothing" and end up with a gem.

    My husband and I have been together since highschool. We had 4 kids by the time we were 26. We have lived in big houses and small, had tons of money and had none…. but we raised 4 awesome kids. Our daughter is 18 and out on her own… she is here often and we have had some amazing talks about her reflections on growing up. My sons all work with their dad in our Blacksmith shop and each of them is such an individual… from my 16 yr old, that rides a street bike to school everyday, all year long in Wisconsin, to my 13 yr old guitar player with blond hair down to his butt, to my 12 yr old "farm boy" who works in the field all summer with a farmer's market grower.

    And, as I have recently had my IUD removed after 12 years…. They are all having super fun helping me pick names for the twin girls we are working on conceiving! Wish us luck!

  94. My husband and I are 27 and 28 (married for 3 years). About 2-3 years ago in grad school, I started having baby fever but my husband was not ready yet because we were not financially or emotionally ready to support our same lifestyle with a baby (he is also a musician, but we've given up on that paying the bills). Now that I'm done with grad school, we own our home, have amazing health insurance, and both have a career in technology on the fast track of breaking $100k by the time we're 30, all of a sudden it doesn't seem like the right time even though my husband is now "ready whenever I am."

    I eventually want kids no doubt, but at what point does a woman take the plunge if they have successful career? Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, says that we need to "lean in" to our careers and not "leave before we leave." Meaning that women so often stop trying to get promoted the second after they start thinking about having a baby.

    I'm currently focusing on "leaning in" and once I get the next promotion, perhaps I'll think it's time. But by then, I will have likely added additional things to my to do list before having a baby, like traveling, buying a bigger house, and being ready to give up our wine bars, fine dining and live music scene.

    On the other hand, I have 3 older friends in their mid thirties who wish they would have done it in their 20s. Two of them have serious fertility issues and are likely not going to be able to conceive at all. The other has a husband who just isn't ready and doesn't understand that the biological timeclock of a 36 year old woman is ticking fast!

    In a way, I envy those of you who happened to get pregnant by accident in your 20s before your career took off. Now I have the stress of planning and trying to figure out what really is the perfect time.

    Ugh. Why can't we have it all? 🙂

    1 agrees
    • I think that "leave before you leave" isn't a definite. If anything, I've been more focused on my career since getting pregnant (I was awesome at my job prior to being knocked up, I've been awesome while knocked up – despite the many pregnancy symptoms that have plagued me – and I will be every bit as awesome once I'm back from maternity leave). Being pregnant, knowing I will be going on maternity leave, hasn't hurt my ability to get promoted.

      Maybe I'm just one of the lucky ones, but I think we can have it all 🙂

      • Shelly, that is awesome to hear! Very encouraging. Just wondering, how many weeks are you taking off for maternity leave? As you likely know, in the US, you are only legally allowed 6 weeks of time where your employer cannot fire you. Lucky for me, I work for a European company that offers extended maternity leave by allowing you to use your saved up vacation time. Is 12 weeks enough? I don't see how most working women in America do it in 6 weeks.

        • FMLA allows 12 weeks when you've been with your employer for one year. I think less than a year entitles you to just 6 weeks, but some employers have a more generous policy.

          I took 10 weeks with my son. I had 5 weeks paid through short term disability at 75% of my regular salary, 3 weeks paid with saved PTO, and then took two weeks unpaid.

        • I work for an OB/GYN practice, so again, might just be lucky. I'm thinking between 8 and 12 weeks for maternity leave – I'll have four weeks saved PTO when my daughter is due, then we'll see on FMLA… but we don't desperately need my income thanks to my husband (who wants to take at least 4 weeks paternity leave), so it's pretty much up to my discretion how long I want to take. A girl who works with my practice recently had an uncomplicated birth/pregnancy and is taking four months maternity leave, just to give you an idea of how accommodating my employer is.

  95. I am a firm believer in "no time is the right time" or "anytime is the right time". There will ALWAYS be something else to strive for – getting "settled" will turn into wanting X amount of money in the bank, and then being a homeowner, and then being high up the ladder in your career, and then, and then and then.

    And also, it truly makes me ACHE inside to hear so many people say they would choose abortion if they got pregnant when they weren't ready. Why oh why is adoption not utilized more?? I have been in the position of not being ready for a child – I got pregnant at 19 which was totally unplanned, and I made the choice to utilize adoption. Later, when I got married, our first daughter was an "oops" but things just work out. Our 2nd daughter was absolutely planned and they are both incredibly loved and wanted. Now, I am in the process of trying to have another baby with my new fiance, and at 32 it's definitely a different ball game.

    • I got pregnant at 20 and chose the adoption route. It was tough, but ultimately one of the best experiences of my life. It is frustrating how few people see adoption as an option.

      1 agrees
  96. This is such an interesting question to consider, because, much to my amazement, it actually applies to me now!
    I always wanted to be a young mother. I figured I'd start having kids around the age of 25. I'll be 24 in five months. And that doesn't seem to be what's gonna happen.
    There are a lot of factors, for us. Given our currently staggering amount of student loan debt, we both have to work. We're doing okay, but throw a baby in the picture and childcare would be a nightmare. We don't have "built in childcare" like some people I know do, with parents who can and are willing to watch the kids during the workday. My mom and my in-laws work full time and my dad wouldn't do it (and has told me as much). Paying for childcare would be prohibitively expensive, and frankly, I personally would not feel comfortable having someone else have that large a hand in raising my children.
    I'm also working toward starting my own business, which, as Ariel has pointed out, would be much more difficult to negotiate with a baby.
    For better or worse, I think it's going to be another few years before we start trying to get pregnant.

  97. I'm 33 and never did get any sort of career going. I have a reasonably marketable job skill I've learned that keeps me employed which, as everybody says, is good enough these days. My husband has a Masters and more of a career but with the economy the way it is his career is not as marketable or as lucrative as he had hoped when he got his degree. We have only been married four months and I plan on enjoying our first year of marriage to the fullest: movies, trips, needless expenditures! I've never really wanted kids, but the minute my boy slapped that ring on my finger I got almost baby crazy. Which surprised me, and him! Maybe because I saw my brother support his wife and child on his not-so-big income I know that where there's a will there's a way. My hubby would like every T crossed and every i dotted, but my biological clock isn't going to wait for that! Plus, here I am looking at this person that makes me want to make a baby. We're so good together, so good for each other, and we wouldn't be the best parents but we'd try, and we'd love. Just a few years ago I would've had an abortion if I'd gotten pregnant. I guess a lot can change in a few years!

  98. I'm new to this website and I love it! Thank you for all of your Offbeat ways. I'm 25 and am wanting to start researching the whole baby thing now as I decide when/how/where I will bring a child into the world.
    I recently started a 'career' as a licensed massage therapist and I practice energy healing and herbalism as well, so you can imagine that the prosperity of my business is largely up to me…and since I'm still new in town It's going to take me a while to get to a "solid" financial state….HOWEVER…this isn't what largely determines for me when I feel I will be ready.
    For me, I will know I am ready based upon how my body feels, my intuition, how my partner feels, and also my level of health.
    I am in the process of cleaning house, so to speak. Eating a diet free of refined foods, sugars, and allergens so that I may cut back on my body's level of toxicity having grown up primarily on the standard american faire we all know so well. I desire to be at my optimal weight (another 20-30lbs to go), have high energy levels, a clean colon and balanced hormones.
    I want to pass down health to my child, not toxicity (although some level of toxicity probably cannot be avoided due to the nature of how we live)
    I trust I will feel when my body is ready to nurture another being instead of just struggling to truly nourish itself.
    Thank you all for this space to share.

  99. I am 34 and divorced for about a year. I have been dating someone since I left my marriage and I can't imagine trusting anyone else like I trust him– not just with being faithful, but with taking care of me and being a good partner and potential dad.
    I feel like it's almost time for now or never with my biological clock, but one major issue I have is the insecurity of leaving my job to be a stay-at-home mom or letting someone else raise my child in childcare…? I wish I had relatives living closer who could help with childcare but they don't. Also, I am a teacher and I don't see a lot of good part-time positions out there….

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