When is the right time to have a child?

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Five Babies are born every minute in the United States (1920)
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?

Comments on When is the 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.

    • 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)

    • 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…

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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

        • 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!

          • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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. ^_^

    • 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..

  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!

      • 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!

        • 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!

      • 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. πŸ˜‰

        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.

  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. πŸ™‚

  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. πŸ™‚

  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…

  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.

    • “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.

      • 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.

  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.

  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!

  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!

  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.

  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.

    • 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.


      • 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.

        • 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.

  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. πŸ™‚

  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.

    • 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…

  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!

    • 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!

      • 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.

          • “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?

          • 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.

          • 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.

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

          • @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.

          • 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???

      • 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!

        • 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!

  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 πŸ™‚ 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.

    • “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. πŸ™‚

  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.

  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.

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

      • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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!

  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!

  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.

    • 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!!!

  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.

  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. πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ™‚

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