Biological Clock, is That You?

Time for another post about babies. Babies are everywhere in my life, it seems. Well, not my work life. But my friends back home are having babies (actually, they’re on #2) and my friends out here are on number one. Yesterday I visited a friend’s nine-month old and today I visited another friend’s newborn. Now I see a whole host of them infesting my Facebook wall. They. Are. Everywhere.

Now that I’m 30.5, I’m really seriously thinking about having children. I’ve spent my 20s saving somewhat wisely and at this point life feels all but meaningless without a family. I could definitely see spending the rest of my life barren of children (easier to picture that then it is me as a mother) and it makes me terribly sad.

If I didn’t have a serious boyfriend then maybe this would be a different story, but I’ve been with the same guy for over eight years and while we’re not married or engaged it basically feels like we are. We moved in together so we’ve done all the steps required of commitment other than signed on the dotted line.

We talk about the future – how we want children – yet the future is now, or almost now. I keep remembering the time I was 15 and went to the gynecologist regarding my hormonal issues (which I later found out was PCOS) and her advice to me at the time was “don’t worry, just have your kids by 30, you have plenty of time.” Well, 30 has come and went and I’m not even married yet. Part of me feels very behind and the other part still wants a few more years of life before being am other. Both parts have no idea how I could manage being a mother with the state of my life as is.

The two friends out here I talked about earlier are married to engineers at big tech companies and they’re both able to take time off and work part-time. I hate bringing up the subject with my boyfriend because I don’t even want that … I think I always want to work full time, and yet it would be nice to have the option to leave the workforce for a while to be a parent, even if it was while working part time. But we just can’t afford the life I want with his income stream, and he has told me time and again that if I want to be able to afford our life on just “his” income then we should break up and I should find someone else.

I don’t want that, but I want a fallback plan. It is hard to know that he’s never going to be interested in earning a larger salary. He is so much smarter and better at working than I am and yet I’m the one earning six figures. Something is wrong with this picture. I want to help but when I offer to help he gets annoyed at me, so I should just leave it alone. I just don’t want to have kids and then not be able to afford them. Sure the $300k I saved up will last a little while, but not forever, even if I move somewhere cheaper. To be frank, I’m scared. I’m really terrified and want to at least find a career I enjoy (i.e. design?) before having kids. But that means taking a whole lot of risk in a short period of time and things may not work out… or I can just stay with what I’m doing and save as much as possible so I can make up for a husband who’s income isn’t high enough to “survive” (at a comfortable level) without a second income in this area.

But I’m also really, really scared of waiting too long with all of these questions, all of this feeling not ready yet, and then for it to just be too late. Yes, we can adopt of course but I’m terribly selfish and I want my own children. I’m a horrible person I know. Maybe if I couldn’t have kids I’d get a foster kid or something later on, but I really want my own kids, if I can have them. And it would be hard to just wait for the sake of waiting because I know I’ll never really feel ready. I’ve saved up nearly $300,000 and yet keep thinking I need to be more successful, have more money, have some sign from the gods that it’s time. I’ll keep waiting and that will never come.

I know a really remarkable woman who is in her late 30s or early 40s (I think?) and her and her husband are trying to have a child now. She’s been blogging about IVF and the challenges with that as they go through all of the modern treatments to have a child. While it sounds like the latest treatment went well and she may be pregnant, the whole process is beyond challenging both physically and emotionally. What really hit me is that even though I see her as young, the late 30s/early 40s are not far away at all. Maybe I can have one child at 35 but if I want a second I’ll be 38 or 39 by the time I’d consider it.

I know, I know, it’s not the end of the world to have just one child, or none at all. There are many, many ways to lead a happy and fulfilling life. I just want kids. Two or three kids. And I want to be able to afford an upper middle class life with those kids, and have a social life where I invite people over to a reasonably nice house for gatherings. I just want to be able to afford what I thought was pretty basic but now seems like it might be out of reach. So I wonder if I should just have kids – now – or as soon as possible (given it’s going to be harder for me to get pregnant than the average woman thanks to PCOS) – or do I wait?

Furthermore, what happens when I do become pregnant? How can I successfully hold down a job in a small company where there’s never an end to the work? How will I be able to take the time off to go to doctor’s appointments? I had a friend who was so sick throughout her pregnancy, what if I’m also that sick? What happens when I actually have a kid… and have no paid time off to take and can’t lose my job because I’m the one with the good insurance and higher salary? I’m sure everything would sort itself out because it just has to, but I’m terrified of it all. Terrified enough that maybe I’ll never have kids. But then what is it I’m working for, if not to have a family of my own?




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7 thoughts on “Biological Clock, is That You?”

  1. I feel like once you’re no longer a teenager/out of college and have a stable job it’s pretty much always a good time to have a child. And I mean that in a there’s never the right time to have a child.

    There will always be one more hurdle to overcome before you think you’ll be able to be comfortable. Save up for X, pay off Y, put Z amount in the retirement fund. You can make it work, perhaps without some of the bells and whistles for a while, babies are easy and require minimal stuff in the first few years despite what we’ve been told.

    While piano lessons on a Steinway, private Pre-K and things like that might be out of the question it doesn’t mean things can’t still be comfy. If you plan on working full time the biggest expense will be childcare. Scope out the options, see how amenable the company will be to a flexible work arrangement and give it a go.

    1. I know and agree. However it’s easy to say I’m more financially prepared for a child now – but what happens when I actually have one? I’ll spend all my money on childcare and not be able to save for many, many years. How will I ever retire? I really wanted $500,000 in savings minimum before kids. That seemed like a good number. $1M would be much better but isn’t possible. If I can save $50k a year I’m 4 years away from $500k, that means my first kid at 33 and after hitting my goal. That isn’t so bad, if I can actually have children when I start trying. So – I don’t know. I kind of want to go back to grad school and move to NY all before having kids. That also stunts my networth plan. Having children really sucks for women in terms of career. I know women have kids and careers, but I don’t know how.

  2. Just have a baby NOW! You have far more money than I could ever dream of earning… if you’re worried about money just send them to a good state school instead of a private one and find some decent, affordable childcare! I am living below the uk poverty line and plan on being a mother before I am 30, I don’t want to risk fertility issues… and besides, nobody needs to be super rich to have babies, I know you don’t think you are, but you are so minted I can’t even comprehend HOW I would ever spend the kind of cash you earn and have saved even if I did have kids now! It’s kind of ironic that your site is called her every cent counts.

    How much money do you seriously need? You have more than most people in the entire world being upper middle class in a very rich country!

    1. I know — you’re right. I’m very fortunate to have this much money and waiting just to have more money is silly. The reality is though that a starter home where I live is $1,200,000 minimum. More like $1,500,000 for anything half decent. Yes I can move out of this very expensive area but then I’d probably lose my well-paying job. You don’t need a lot of money to have kids — I think what I’m most afraid of is losing the opportunity to just switch careers or fail for a little while before getting back up again. I suffer from bipolar depression and I don’t trust myself to be able to have a stable income forever. Right now I’m doing well but that could change. I’m terrified of that. So the money thing has more to do with feeling like I have enough in the bank to support myself if I need some time off for mental health issues, or if I just can’t stand being in my field anymore and want to do something more creative that pays less. The number doesn’t really matter… it’s more about feeling like I have a cushion to fall on when I do fall.

  3. You know that you don’t have to own a home in the Bay Area. I don’t think we’re ever going to buy a home here. It just doesn’t seem like a financially wise decision – putting such a high percentage of your net worth in a single asset. Buy some REITs and get on with it. 90% of the people in the bay area are renters and are quite happy that way. A home means maintenance, large unexpected costs (roof repair, A/C, etc), and more work. Not to mention the fact that you think it costs $1.5M to buy a starter home. You don’t have to live in Palo Alto you know – that’s for the 0.1%. Even there, you can get a much nicer than a starter home for $1.5M. You have it better than 99.9% of the world. Just stop freaking out and start enjoying your life.

  4. 1. Metformin worked for me with the PCOS. 🙂
    2. I didn’t think I would want to not go back to work after having kids and I didn’t want to not go back to work. (As in, I was happy to go back to work!)
    3. We started having kids when we had um… 50K in the bank? (And 50K in the house.) Our friends in Mountain View had about 300K in the bank when they started having kids. And they were both *easily* able to get part-time gigs at their current companies while their kids were small because the SF bay area seems to really value talent. (They bought a house before having their 2nd kid, when they had 400K saved up for a downpayment.) If you rent, you can take advantage of lower housing costs and then move to a more permanent place (and better school zone) when it’s time for school to start.
    4. Wandering Scientist has an e-book about hours and productivity– you may be working too many hours. You may be even more productive with time out for doctors appointments etc.
    5. Ginger tea and making sure you have a short path to the nearest bathroom helps with m/s at work.
    6. If you’re not ready to have kids, or don’t want to have kids with this guy, that’s ok too!
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Kindle stuff besides Regencies that we mostly enjoyed

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