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. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.”

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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 🙂

  12. 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:(

  13. 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. 😀

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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”?

  17. 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,


  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

    • 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.

      • “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.

        • 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.

  22. 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… 🙁

  23. 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?”

  24. 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!

    • 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. 🙂

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