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Working Moms: When is the best time to have kids?

The answer I get re: when is the best time to have kids is “there is never a best time to have kids.” I’m sure that is true, but there is definitely “a time when it becomes harder / impossible to have kids” (at least naturally), so I’m trying to make that deadline without pushing it too much.

When I was younger, I thought 30 was old. I’m now turning 33 in 3 months. Thirty-three is fine age to have kids, but I always thought I’d have my second by 33. Now I’m looking at not yet even having my first.

I partially want to ignore my biological clock for a few more years and just live my life. I really haven’t found the right career yet — my husband is going back to school for teaching because that is his passion – but what is mine? If I had all the money and time and confidence in the world I’d either go back to school for product design or cinematography or – anything other than marketing. But the whole having kids thing puts a damper on those dreams. I know once I have kids they are my first FT job. After growing up in a home with a stay-at-home mother and “always at work” father who didn’t understand that the concept of love beyond bragging or worrying about you, one thing I’m committed to is being a GOOD mother. I’m still not 100% sure what that means, but my practices in management of younger employees often seem like an exercise in the future interaction with my own teenagers. (More on that another time.)

With my PCOS, there is certainly no guarantee I’ll get pregnant overnight or oven “over year.” This section is a little TMI for folks who don’t want to know the details of my medical history and current story, skip. So, as a teenager and young adult, I would get my periods maybe 2-4 times a year. It was definitely tied into my health and stress levels. I would generally get my period when I ate low carb and exercised a little bit. Acupuncture seemed to help surprisingly but I think only because I paired it with a few months of really focusing on my personal health and eating well. I typically eat very bad (not just too many calories, but probably even worse, not enough good nutrients and protein and way too much sugar) so I think in a lot of ways my body was just protesting my inability to eat healthy. But, now, in the last 2 years or so, I’ve definitely been getting more regular. Not super regular, but in the last half year I probably had 4 periods, which is double what I normally have.

Whether or not that means I’m ovulating or that my eggs are healthy is anyone’s guess. I’ve read a bit about how with PCOS often irregular periods get more regular as you age.

A study found that total testosterone in women with PCOS does gradually decrease to “normal” age-related levels by age 61 and that DHEAS declines with age but doesn’t reach “normal” levels until 20 years after menopause. Older women with PCOS still had lower levels of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a hormone that binds to testosterone, and higher free androgen index (FAI) than controls. Lower levels of FSH persisted after menopause. This evidence led the researchers to conclude that women with PCOS reach menopause later than women without the syndrome and differ in reproductive hormones.

What else did they find? Good news: overall, women with PCOS experienced more regular periods as they aged due to androgen decreases. Improvement in menstrual regularity may occur earlier than you think: women in their early 30’s started to see regular periods, suggesting that women with PCOS may have a better chance of conceiving as they get older. Older women with PCOS reported less hot flashes and sweating than non-PCOS women but reported significantly more hirsutism (64%) compared with controls (9%).

So, there’s that. Maybe I’m just some superwoman who has evolved to give birth later in life, have a less painful menopause, and be covered in hair to keep me warm when my plethora of children/grandchildren lock me in a freezer.

When IS the best time to have kids as a working mother… with PCOS?

The last thing I want to do is wait too long to have kids. I don’t feel that old right now, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I don’t look that old yet. My hands are starting to get a littel, um, dated – but generally speaking, I think I look younger then a lot of women my age. Other people say this as well. I look on Facebook at people I grew up with and they’re starting to look like legit adults. Or some of them have since 25. My pudge means I look a bit younger. I’m sure it won’t last forever, but I think it’s also making me feel younger than I am. I’m still in that “I feel immortal” stage of my life. But 33 is like – I could be the mother of a 10 year old right now and that would be normal in a lot of parts of the country (i.e. I could have gotten married after college AND had a kid that is now 10 years old.) Instead, I’ll be in my 40s when my kids are 10 and in my 50s when they’re in their 20s, and, like my parents, in my 60s when they’re in their 30s. I also think about grandchildren and being around when they’re born (with a heck of a lot of hypotheticals in there because maybe my child/children will HATE kids and decide not to have them or won’t be able to) – but, I guess I just don’t want to be an OLD mom – even though I’d rather be an old mom than not a mom at all.

I do know women who have gotten pregnant after 40 either naturally or with help. I don’t want to wait that long, but do I need to rush into having kids at 33? I JUST got married. I’ve been with him forever but is it wrong to want a year or two to enjoy our honeymoon stage without being knocked up? Would I regret that decision forever?

The more I think about it, the more I realize that waiting until I’m 34 or 35 to try for my first child would make more sense logistically:

  • In January 2018, Mr. HECC will be finished with his teaching program and he would likely be looking to start his new career as a teacher in Aug/Sept 2018. I’m very worried about having a newborn during his first year of teaching, because I’ve read and heard that time is the hardest for teachers. But I worked out a basic schedule below and really cannot wait any longer – I’m ok with waiting until he finishes his credential program to have a child (for other reasons noted below too) but we’re just going to have to have a baby (*if I get pregnant naturally) during his first year of teaching – and I will HAVE to return to work after 6 weeks of paid leave to some high-powered job that pays well (which terrifies me) but I guess we just have to make it work…
  • Overall, if I follow this plan, that would make more sense for me too. That gives me more than a yaer before I would start trying to get pregnant to do things like –  travel the world, focus on improving myself and get a sustainable routine down where I keep things clean, eat healthy, enjoy the time I have before running around for the good part of a year like a giant watermelon and then spending the rest of my life as a mother – which I’ll love, but I should really enjoy my time now that I’m married and theoretically stable / earning enough to enjoy single life.
  • Having a kid in April-June’ish 2018 (assuming no IVF is required) means that I want to be at my job for 1 year before 1 month of my due date. So Feb 2017 is when I would need to be in that “right” job that I want to keep through my pregnancy and for years after it (ideally.) This gives me nearly 6 months to really make a dent in quantifiable outcomes for the company, and, if needed, to walk with a solid resume that can land me a more stable role.
  • We don’t have to rush our honeymoon. Well, we still do, because he’s going to be in school starting Jan 2017, but – maybe we wait until summer 2018 to go on an epic trip. This means we’d have more time to save up and I could focus on my job vs taking 2-3 weeks off to travel the world. It is not a good time right now at work to go on a vacation anyway. I honestly don’t want to plan the trip of a lifetime for Dec of this year – I don’t want to spend that much money this close to the wedding and I just am not in the mood to plan anything right now other than work projects. I need to be 100% focused on my job, not take a vacation. I have the opportunity still to knock this out of the park. I’m not sure my boss believes that yet, but I’m feeling like things are starting to gel. I’m feeling strangely good about the next year as long as I’m not distracted by being pregnant or going on a big vacation. If I do get another job at some point closer to summer 2017 (when we’d take our big trip) I could negotiate the 3 weeks off into my offer, even if I do start earlier.
  • In May this year when our lease is up, we move closer to my job, wherever that is, which makes it easier to not be so exhausted when I’m home.
  • Overall this just provides a ton more time to save money at my current income level, assuming I can maintain my job (I’m still not sure about that as I think my boss has a plan to replace me at some point but I still have time to change his mind in the next 3-6 months. I usually have a good sense about this things, and if I can get done the things I need to get done I’d actually say I’m “good” at my job and a huge asset to the company.) Not only do I want to be good at my job, I really need to be to set me up for the rest of life. I need specific skills and I need a good, quantifiable story to tell. And, it doesn’t hurt that I can save more $ while I do it to provide more flexibility when I do have kids.
  • I can, potentially, focus on getting a job at a company that covers at least one cycle of IVF. That’s a long shot – but some companies do provide this as a benefit, and it could be one that I look for as even if I get pregnant with my first kid naturally at 34 I may still need to go IVF for my second.

So, quick recap for my own planning purposes…

  • 2016
    • Sept
    • Oct
    • Nov – I turn 33
    • Dec – $400k net worth? (assuming I’m still employed, same job / start looking for new job if needed)
  • 2017
    • Jan – Mr. HECC starts teaching program
    • Feb – I need to be in the job I plan to be in when I am pregnant / have child by this month
    • Mar
    • Apr
    • May
    • Jun
    • Jul – (hit max PTO accural, take 3 week honeymoon / can get pregnant starting here??)
    • Aug
    • Sept
    • Oct
    • Nov – I turn 34
    • Dec – me= $500k net worth?? *goal for before I get pregnant
  • 2018
    • Jan – I get new job at larger, stable company with good maternity benefits
    • Feb
    • Mar
    • Apr – earliest I have first child
    • May – Mr. HECC finishes Teaching program, starts to look for job
    • Jun – if I give birth in April, I return to work FT here (ah!)
    • Jul
    • Aug – Mr. HECC (hopefully) starts first year as teacher
    • Sept
    • Oct
    • Nov – I turn 35
    • Dec
  • 2019
    • Jan
    • Feb
    • Mar
    • Apr – earliest first child turns 1 
    • May
    • Jun
    • Jul
    • Aug
    • Sept
    • Oct
    • Nov – Turn 36
    • Dec
  • 2020
    • Jan
    • Feb
    • Mar
    • Apr – earliest first child turns 2
    • May – start trying for second child?!?!
    • Jun
    • Jul
    • Aug
    • Sept
    • Oct – need to be in job I will be in when I have second child here
    • Nov – Turn 37
    • Dec
  • 2021
    • Jan
    • Feb
    • Mar earliest second child is born
    • Apr – earliest first child turns 3
    • May – if on schedule, I return to work here (*or by now have job at company that provides more paid maternity leave!)
    • Jun
    • Jul
    • Aug
    • Sept
    • Oct
    • Nov – Turn 38
    • Dec

… and so on.

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