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First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes…

August 15, 2013

Let me begin by saying that I am not pregnant. But what if I wanted to be? The idea of starting a family often niggles at the back of my mind, but is usually accompanied by feelings of anxiety. I used to think I could mark the ideal time to get knocked up on my calendar and sit back and wait a few years for that day to arrive, but these days the mere thought of procreating brings with it a lot more complicated and confusing thoughts.

I recently spent an awesome 3 weeks of vacation back in the U.S. of A., and most of that time was spent with my family and my husband’s family. The fun thing about my husband’s family is that his two siblings are both quite a bit ahead of us in the game of life—they each now have 3 children, well, one is still a fetus the size of a banana, but it counts. It’s always super fun to visit our nephews and niece; I love playing with them, cuddling them, and listening to all the cute things they say. And during this vacation we definitely got our fill of the cute kid-ness. Holding the newest baby, or worse, watching my husband hold her, tended to evoke warm, fuzzy feelings about how nice it would be to have one of our own. But then her older brother would poop his pants, and that rosy romantic idea would vanish. In fact, after living with the whole family and all those youngsters for seven straight days, there were moments when I was ready to swear off the idea of kids forever. Not because I don’t love them, but because there were so many painfully obvious differences between the relatively, fun, easy life I currently live and the lives my brothers and sisters-in-law were living. We slept in—they were up half the night with an infant or woken at the crack of dawn by restless toddlers. We kept our stuff neat, organized, and accounted for—they drove themselves crazy searching for the diaper bag that somehow went missing right before we were supposed to leave the house. We spent our days doing whatever we pleased—they were slaves to the schedules, moods, and needs of their kids.

Observing this dichotomy made me feel like I had two warring voices in my head, like if Smeagol was snuggled up against me going on about the fun blessings involved in creating and raising a new life, but meanwhile Gollum was in my other ear screaming and flinging his own feces around.

The way I see it, there are four stages a person goes through in relation to parenthood:

baby timeline

Up until recently I would have considered myself still in stage 1, with bigger fish to fry like enjoying being a newlywed and starting my career. But now, more than a year into my marriage, I can feel myself sliding suddenly into stage 2. If I got pregnant, would it be the end of the world? Probably not. Every month I find myself wondering…what if I didn’t start my period? Honestly, a small part of me kind of hopes that my birth control will fail.

Damn, that baby isn't even of my own species, but it's so cute it makes my ovaries twitch!

Damn, that baby isn’t even of my own species, but it’s so cute it makes my ovaries twitch!

But simultaneously, I love my life, and having a baby would irrevocably change things. No more traveling at the drop of a hat, no more free time to exercise or pursue hobbies, a huge influx in stress and responsibility…when I ponder these changes, I feel more committed than ever to waiting 4-5 years to start having kids, and maybe more!

Then you add in a variety of other considerations, such as the cost of having a baby, how many babies you want to have, and the fact that the risk of birth defects and other problems goes up the older the parents are. Do I want my kids to know my own parents? Because if I do, I should probably get started soon. But what about my career? If I start having kids before I really establish myself as a teacher, I might never go back. I think I’m too young for all this, but on the other hand it might be fun to be a young Grandma someday. It’s all so darn confusing, and there really doesn’t seem to be a perfect time.

So what’s my conclusion? Nothing really, other than that your 20’s have a nasty habit of throwing life-altering dilemmas like these in your face, and that bites sometimes. I’m sticking with birth control and the 4-5 year plan for now and trying to maximize this time in my life…but I don’t want to wait too long. I’m in stage 2. How about you?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    August 15, 2013 11:30 am

    I honestly don’t know which stage I am in. I mean, yes, I am single and I don’t see babies happening anytime soon- but it is something I think about and ponder. I wonder when the right time would be for me, presuming of course that I find a mate. Like you, Cindy, I also see a dichotomy between the simplicity and freedom of life before children, and the joy I know having my own kids would create. However, I feel like there is yet another variable at play in my consideration. Right now, I am doing everything I can to be competitive in my scholarship and be in a good position to make a place for myself in academia. Professorship itself wouldn’t be so bad for raising children, as it has limited contact hours and quite a bit of flexibility. But I know that the path to getting there will require a lot of dedication, and probably multiple relocations, in the next five, six, or seven years. How does that effect my plan to have kids? As you say, there are just so many things to consider.
    When I take a step back though, I know I shouldn’t worry about it- I can only make my choices now and figure the future will sort itself later. Of course, for me ‘later’ might be a bit further ahead than for you! But I am sure the same precept still applies 🙂

  2. August 15, 2013 1:19 pm

    hmm. if you had asked me this two years ago i would have been firmly in stage one. I seriously considered not having kids at all.

    BUT. Now i’m solidly stage 2. Ideally i still will have 5 more years without kids (i’m not too worried about being a young grandma. i plan to live to 100 anyway) but if I magically turned up pregnant today I’d freak out for a day or two but then be fully thrilled about it. Having kids has become a given in my life – pretty much the ONLY thing i know i want at some point in the future.

    the scarier thing is choosing how i want my life (with them in it) to look. Having kids doesn’t have to mean buying a house and becoming a wife. I want to be able to provide for them but i also know that the best way i can raise them is to live a life i’m happy and proud of. i hope that isn’t too optimistic to think i can still have my own awesome life while raising kids. It will be harder sure, but i’ll hope i never stop adventuring and reaching.

  3. August 16, 2013 12:58 am

    Here’s a fun graph estimating the total cost of raising a kid for 18 years, based on your income and where you live, etc. http://money.cnn.com/interactive/pf/cost-of-children/?sr=fb081513costraisekid5p/gallery/pf/2013/08/14/cost-of-children/index.html?sr=fb081513costchildren

    Spoiler: it’s a lot of money.

  4. snowwhore permalink*
    August 20, 2013 11:02 am

    Cindy, don’t forget that you and me have already made a pregnancy pact for 27. There’s no going back!

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