One of the interesting topics that readers wondered about when I announced my pregnancy was WHEN to get pregnant. So let’s talk about it today. This is kind of a long post, so I’ll start with the questions: When is the best time to get pregnant? What considerations should you factor into the mix?
Psst: you may want to check out some of our more recent discussions on family planning and pregnancy, including our top tips on preparing for pregnancy. Over at our working moms’ blog, you may want to check out advice on work-life balance from working moms to their pre-mom selves.
(Pictured: Pregnant, originally uploaded to Flickr by Phil Of Photos.) Social media pictures via Stencil.
When Is The Best Time To Get Pregnant In Your JOB?
You need to build a bank of credibility before you get pregnant. I recently attended a panel discussion at the New York City Bar on when women should get pregnant, and I loved one of the phrases I heard: “the bank of credibility.”
Realistically, when you start a new job, you need to build up a bank of credibility so that people know who you are and what you’re capable of. I think this is key — as I mentioned earlier, the first trimester can be very trying (particularly on your energy) and you may not want to tell your superiors or coworkers that you’re pregnant until you’re into the second trimester.
Furthermore, your bosses will want to know what they can expect both when they send you into a maternity leave (will you get all of your projects off your desk that you need to? will you be responsive to occasional emails or questions during your maternity leave, or will you completely disappear for 12+ weeks?), as well as how responsive you’ll be when you come back from maternity leave. The nightmare (if you haven’t built up enough credibility) is that your job will basically be gone entirely by the time you come back because your bosses didn’t think they could rely on you to juggle your job and your new role as a parent. On the flip side, the dream would be for your boss to say “Oh, I had this great project and I knew you were coming back to work so I held it for you.”
Personally, I think you need at least 2 years on a job to build up a bank of credibility.
So build up a bank of credibility — but aim to get pregnant when you’re still replaceable. I’ve heard that planning for maternity leave is basically like planning a vacation — but with 3x more stress. That stress is much, much lower if you know that your coworkers can do much of your job as well as you could.
A lot of tasks can be assigned to other people very easily — yes, there may be some teaching involved, and yes, you may need to spend some time supervising your coworker, but ultimately you’ll be happy that you can take your maternity leave without being bothered too much by work concerns.
I’m sure with enough help (paid or unpaid), anything is possible — for example, both Victoria Beckham and Ivanka Trump have planned as little as two weeks of maternity leave! — but it may not be the kind of motherhood experience you’re hoping for.
Don’t worry too much about job stress factoring into the health of the pregnancy. During the City Bar panel discussion, the doctor noted that when articles and studies discuss “stress” as being a factor in conception, miscarriage, and the health of the baby, they generally mean stress more along the lines of “I was being physically abused,” “I only ate one meal a week,” or “I didn’t quite manage to kick that crack habit” — not “I had a big project due and had to work late to do it” stress.
This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Career Considerations: When Is The Best Time to Get Pregnant?
We’ve talked before about jobhunting while pregnant.
We’ve also talked before about how to insulate your career if you want to be a SAHM mom for a year or two.
Medical Considerations For The Best Time To Get Pregnant
Fertility peaks in your 20s. It starts declining (for most women) when you’re 27 — I’ve heard that whatever your fertility is at 25, it’ll be half that by 35, and half THAT by the time you’re 40.
If the mother is over 35 when delivering, the medical profession considers it a “high risk pregnancy.” (For those of you uncomfortable with the term “high risk pregnnacy,” another super fun term for it is “geriatric pregnancy.” Yes, seriously.)
According to the doctor on the City Bar panel, fertility problems appear (for most women) at age 37 or 38, but she noted that women can have babies with help well into their 40s. She did note that egg freezing is still an experimental technique, though (and readers should note that both egg freezing and IVF are very expensive treatments).
You’re born with all of the eggs you’ll ever have — so as you get older, not only do you have to worry about aging eggs, you also have to worry about dwindling supply. (But as Dr. Oz says, how many eggs do you really need, anyway?)
Relationship Considerations On When To Get Pregnant
May you all be lucky enough to be in a strong, healthy, loving partnership when you want to have kids.
Two notes if you’re not:
Single motherhood has to be one of the hardest things out there — huge props to any of you readers who are doing it. I’m in the midst of Lamaze classes right now, and the other day we all went around the room and shared our “worst pain, ever” story. My answer (“the two days of the NY bar exam”) got some guffaws, but the teacher nodded seriously and said that sometimes emotional/stressful pain is far far worse than anything physical that you’ll go through — and related that one of her previous students had answered “being a single mother.”
I cannot imagine pregnancy or parenthood strengthening a bad relationship. Just in pregnancy I’ve been leaning on my husband a lot. (Sorry, hon.) An acquaintance of mine who’s a divorce lawyer has said that marriage is one thing, but she’d think long and hard before she had kids with someone.
“Being Ready” Considerations:
- Ha! Just kidding. You’ll never be 100% ready to have a kiddo.
For my $.02, I think for a lot of women the question of WHEN is a luxury. Personally, I didn’t meet my husband until I was 30; we got married when I was 32. By this point I was extremely freaked out by all of the medical advice I was reading (plus the fact that I was a very early bloomer (ever the over-achiever!) and had gotten my first period at age 10 — so I was convinced my eggs were dwindling).
Still, I was adamant that my husband and I have a *wee* bit of time together as newlyweds, to ourselves — so the plan was to start trying around my 34th birthday. Business-wise, this could not have been a worse time — I really wish I’d had more time to get used to doing the blog full time before I tried to juggle motherhood with it! — but I just really didn’t want to test fate and my fertility.
(As it was, I freaked out so much in the months leading up to the “Time to Start Trying” that we ultimately decided to go off the pill 3 months early, figuring that by that point it really just did not matter.)
The funny thing is that so many of my close friends have been pregnant along with me over the past few months — about 10 all told. (Just in the past 2 weeks, 3 friends have given birth to 4 babies.) Apparently we all got the “you’re 34 or older so it’s time to procreate” memo…
Readers, what do you think the best time to get pregnant is? What other considerations would you factor into the mix?
P.S. – For those of you wondering about the Corporette Moms Newsletter — it’s here, and it’s a full blog for working moms — come join the fun!
2020 image updates (young woman wearing a pink dress standing over crib) and 2015 updates (baby nestled in white fluffy rug or blanket) via Stencil.
this is very interesting topic but i’m already dreading the inevitable storm of sensitivities, fears, hurt feelings and whatnot that something like this evokes.
let’s try and be supportive and kind in our comments and have empathy for people who are/were pregnant, are planning to, can’t, didn’t, simply don’t want to .. whatever it is.
You can’t plan for everything .. i wish the corporette community well, whatever your fertility plans are.
ditto. I am excited and nervous to read the thread. That being said, excellently written post, Kat. Very well reasoned and thoughtful.
And I would point out that Kat is speaking “generally.” Of course there are always exceptions, but this is a general post with general advice . . .
I think the best time is when you are emotionally and mentally ready, so is your partner, and you both jointly decide you want children at that time. And as a woman, I’m more than a little offended by the implication that the feelings and concerns of my (probably male supervisor) should somehow come into account on what I do with my own body and personal life.
I can’t really agree with your last sentence. Yes, what you do with your body on your off time is none of your supervisor’s business, but to the extent that it will impact your job, and there’s no way that a pregnancy will not impact your job, I can’t imagine how you can expect that it is none of your employer’s business. It definitely needs to be considered in your career planning, if you have decided to focus strongly on your career (and there’s nothing wrong at all with anyone (male or female) deciding that they do not wish to focus strongly on their career at the expense of more time with the family, of course).
Well said. Having children is a personal decision between you and your spouse. You should have kids when you are emotionally ready to commit to them. The business factors are one factor to consider, but family planning is a personal decision. Period.
Right. Business could drop you at any moment. They have no loyalty to you and your family (said neutrally, not negatively), so you can’t plan around them as if you have a tripartite mutual responsibility to work, partner, children. The work part is not forever, no matter how important you are to your work or your work is to you.
NYCMom of Two
My two cents- do the best you can and keep your fingers crossed. (I know, not overly helpful for all of you Type A types.) I was a “geriatric pregnancy” for both of my kids (and high risk due to more than age). I had been a partner at a law firm and was offered and accepted a job offer inhouse when I was three months pregnant with my daughter. (The interview process significantly pre-dated my pregnancy. I disclosed my pregnancy to the General Counsel on the phone before I accepted the offer. His immediate response: “Congratulations! Do you still want to make a change?”) At the end of the day it was a little odd that EVERYONE at my new job knew of my pregnancy before most of my friends and family did –and I ended up paying more in medical bills because of the change in insurance between the jobs plus I hadn’t been working long enough to qualify for FMLA. But the job stars and the family stars all aligned at the same time, and I figured what the hell! I wasn’t giving up the family stars–and great jobs in great legal departments at family friendly companies don’t come along every day. I am still at the same company as a full time lawyer in the legal department and my kids like to visit dad’s office better because my office is boring (per my now 4 year old).
Good for you! Your story makes me happy. :)
I’m sure that I’ll have more, but some reactions right off the bat:
* I’m so happy for Kat and her husband! I do, however, fear that it will be much harder to keep up with something that’s flexible (like a blog) than would be something where you leave the house and go to do a set and specific job each day.
* Re: the having a bit of time with your spouse first- My husband and I actually did the opposite- we married very young (by 21st century standards). Now, with our 10 year aniversary behind us, we’re starting to think about kids, and it’s really hard to imagine life with anything more than just *us* and our relationship.
* I don’t have a solution to this, but I think that it is and is going to continue to be a bit of a problem that we’ve delayed getting *ready* for kids (and even marriage) for so long. I’m 31, and I did delay finishing school for a bit, which hurt me, but if you want a professional degree, it’s going to be hard to settle down until you are at least in the late 20’s, which is not really what our bodies are designed for. I dislike what I’m seeing in my peer group these days, which involves a long period of education/credential building followed by a mad rush when, at 30ish, to get it all done before that scary 35 hits (and I don’t think that 35 is scary just for the “high risk” aspect- 30ish is also when you start to realize that you’re really going to get older, and maybe you don’t want to be contemplating retirement when your kids graduate and on social security by the time you have grandkids.
* I expect that Kat will get a lot of pushback for the 2 years rule. It definitely will be situation dependant. For example, I started fairly recently at a small, laid back firm where there’s not really much competition- I think that 6 months will be fine. (and, of course, I also have to consider my age). Things might be different at a more stressful and high pressure job, where you are more of a cog which can be easily replaced. Even so, I would say that 2 years is probably more the ideal than a hard and fast rule.
Not judging or criticizing or assuming, just an honest question: are you sure you want children? There is nothing wrong with it being just you two. I made that choice and at 40 with 7 years of marriage behind me, it just keeps getting more wonderful, and we keep falling more in love. Children are wonderful; I love them and am great with them, but do not want them.
(side note: I have had people tell me it is my obligation to do so (!) and who will per perpetuate the species if “everyone acts selfish like you” and my jaw just drops. There are plenty of women and men procreating, and I think it is more selfish to bring a child into the world for the wrong reasons than to refrain. )
But anyway, I just wanted to let you know that it is A-OK to just be you two if that is what makes you happy. Good luck and much happiness to you however you choose.
I don’t think the 2 year rule is correct. People change jobs more often these days, so it is more that people expect women of X age to get pregnant than women of X age who have also worked at Y company for 2 years. That said, if you need to have been at your job for 1 year to be eligible for FMLA, I would wait 3 months after you start to start trying.
Also, PLEASE don’t wait to try just because of your job, if you are otherwise ready, and particularly if you are over 35 (and really, over 30). I know many women who have had trouble getting pregnant…going through all the stress of fertility treatments, etc., and they had postponed trying for a long time because their job was busy.
I agree 100%. As far as lawyers go, I think waiting until you’re two years out of law school to start trying is a valid option. New attorneys (myself included) are barely competent as lawyers until we’ve actually practiced for over a year.
But, as someone who just lateraled to a new firm this year and is now pregnant (I will have been there 12 months before I have the baby, though), I’m not worried about my credibility bank being low. The hubs and I have been trying for a long time and I knew that pregnancy was an option and that I wouldn’t postpone it just because I changed jobs.
Basically, as soon as I got to my new firm, I made sure that I turned in good work product. I made sure I was accountable and reliable. I tried to make as good a first impression as possible with all my coworkers. I quickly found a mentor and made sure that I have someone advocating for me. As a result, I feel completely at east being pregnant relatively soon after changing jobs. It can be done!
I agree. I was 6 months pregnant when I started my big law job (as a 2nd year lateral). I had been here about 3 years when I had my second baby (and took my second leave). So far, so good, on all accounts. Though I only got 6 weeks (I took another 5 weeks unpaid) paid w/ my first b/c I had nto been at the firm long enough to get any more — I got 18 weeks paid with my second.
My personal opinion is that the best time to have kids is “there is no best time.” If you have the ability to “plan,” do it when you feel as ready as you ever will. Either way, you will make things work at home and at work.
Runnin' for it
I agree. Years ago many people said women must choose between having children and having a career. Now apparently the message that we can have a career and have children, but we should first devote two full years to our career to get an appropriate “bank of credibility.”
I think 2 years is a little much, especially if you work at a larger law firm. A lot of those firms laid off associates like nothing over these past few years. The firm will do whatever is best for its bottomline, so an associate has to do what’s best for her. A “bank of credibility” is not going to stop some members of the firm from secretly thinking, “She was great, but that’s probably going to change now that she’s pregnant.” Just do what you have to do if children are important to you.
Totally agree. Plus, as a junior at a big law firm you are doing work that can easily be passed on to someone else. At my firm, they don’t even start looking at your hours until you’re a fifth or sixth year so so the advice I’ve received is do what you gotta do early on.
I meant, they don’t start looking at your hours for partnership until you’re a fifth or sixth year.
i have a related question –
my sister started her current job when she was 2 months pregnant. ahh, timing!
her supervisor has openly left her off of projects that she could have mastered due to her pregnancy. and since having her baby, her peers and supervisors have placed extra scrutiny on her productivity. for example, there have been times where she hasnt responded to an email within the hour and emails flew around, saying that she must not have responded because she was distracted by the baby. (Her whole office works from home and is all-male). Any tips on how to deal with this?
Honestly, I would have her document everything that they say (email? really?) and see an employment lawyer – it sounds like a hostile work environment. And/or look for a new job. That sounds awful!
Does she work from home, also? Does she have childcare at home with her? I agree they’re being hostile but she may need to CYA a bit, too.
I think she needs to reply to each instance with something like “nope, baby is in daycare! I was on a call with client x” and then save the emails.
I think it should be whenever you can, b/c you will not always have the opportunity. Too many times people wait, then they cannot do it when they think. So if you have a relationship, go for it right away. You will not regret it.
Is anyone else finding this to be a pretty gross oversimplification? I’m 23, and I’m pretty sure if I had a kid right now both my career and my relationship with my fiance would suffer significantly.
I’ll go for it when I’m good and ready, thank you.
You’re so right at 23. You might find though that 27 comes around before you know it. Which isn’t late but is when you realize that it isn’t early either. Things are only finite black and white very briefly, and then cme years of grey before you get to the red zone of urgency. Enjoy being 23, it’s lovely!
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past couple of years trying to conceive, it’s that this is just one thing you can’t control. Oh, you can adequately control when NOT to get pregnant, but not the reverse. And yeah, it’s painful. If I were to do it over again, I would have gone for a much more challenging career, although I’ve done fairly well. I wouldn’t have idealized the notion of the SAHM. I wouldn’t have given much thought to “flexibility and family-friendly cultures” when assessing job opportunities. Because doing all those things didn’t guarantee that I’d ever have that family I’d planned so carefully for. But it did close a lot of other doors.
I would still have held out for the right man/husband, even though it took me longer than I’d hoped to find the right one though. But once I found him and we were ready, I sure as hell wouldn’t have let my career/job status cause me to give up on any precious time conceiving. I wouldn’t have waited two years after we got married so it could be “just the two of us.” Not in my mid-30s.
And now, starting grad school in August, pushing for a promotion and at the same time an external job opportunity that would require a major relocation, and more, we’re still trying. I could be pregnant now, and if I get that new job or promotion, they’ll/we’ll just have to deal with it. The “bank” is a great idea in theory – but *F* the theory at this point. My only concession to planning right now is that I’m not doing the “executive” program in school. I’m doing the “part-time” program that would allow me to take time off if I were to become pregnant. But I’m still doing it. That much, I can control.
I think these are great points. There are some things in life you just can’t really plan on. May I ask how old you were when you met your husband and when you started trying to conceive? I’m 32 and single and it scares me on a regular basis–but not as much as it scares me that I could’ve wound up with one of my (lovely but not right for me) exes.
We met at 29 (me) and 32 (him). We are 37 and 40 now, and we’ve been trying for about 3 years. The first year we just thought we’d let nature take its course. Nothing. Then Clomid. Then IUI with injectible hormones. Then adoption. Now I have an offer from a relative to do surrogacy/IVF after the 1st of the year, but I don’t think I/we can handle it. My advice is to hold out for the right partner, but try to find a partner who is ready to start a family relatively quickly. (Again, these are also things we can’t really control.) But I believe that in your 30s, you don’t need quite as much time to “take it slowly.” You’re smarter, he should be smarter, so you should know a good thing when you see it. I think my husband regrets waiting as long as he did to propose (4 years ago), as well as his insistence that we wait a year after we got married to go off BC.
I also experienced infertility; it’s so very painful. I hope you can find a way not to beat yourself up too much for waiting until age 34 to start trying to conceive. I don’t think that was at all an unreasonable decision on your part. And of course you might’ve had fertility problems even if you’d started trying sooner — there’s no way to know.
Thank you. Actually, the most difficult part (that I am facing now) is knowing when to say enough is enough. The guilt of “quitting” is the worst sort of guilt I’ve ever felt. We quit TTC when we were almost absolutely sure that we were going to adopt. But then when we ruled that out, we started trying again. And then we started planning to try IVF in January (on my own, then possibly with a gestational carrier). But I’m not sure I can go through with it. I’m almost certain. But. The guilt. I compare myself to women like spacegeek who suffered through far more than I have and eventually succeeded. If I quit now, I wonder if I’ll always feel like I didn’t do enough. Or do I quit and regain control over my life? How much longer do I want to live with my subconscious eaten up by the stress of TTC? I want my life back, even if it wasn’t the life I planned.
Good luck to you, BB. I can’t imagine how hard that must be to go through. Don’t beat yourself up–whether you keep trying or go another route or decide to not have or raise children at all, you’ll have a life you’re proud of, I’m sure.
Wasn’t asked, but still… met my husband when I was 26. We married when I was 27, he, 31. I’d just finished my PhD and wanted to “use” it for a bit before becoming a mom. (FWIW, I still work full time 15 years later, but we have much help. I’ve posted on that before.) Then when I was 33, we discovered there were problems. Took us 3 years, massive drugs on my part, 7 IVF cycles, 2 clinics and $150K to conceive. Now we have amazing funny 5 year old twin girls, I have a messed up hormonal system, and many years of anger on both my husband and my part along the way.
Thought I could control it all… TTC was just the first step in the parental learning curve of you-can’t-control-kids, just guide them. LOL
Also infertile here, just commenting to share with you in the pain of IF. Started trying at 27, now 30, four failed IVF’s, and considering the dreaded when-is-it-time-to-quit decision. If only my dilemma were when-is-it-time to have a baby. If only that were my choice, instead of when is it time to stop trying.
Best wishes to everyone else planning — for most, everything will go to plan, and I just ask that you recognize and celebrate how fortunate you are.
Thank you sincerely for this reminder to be grateful.
NYCMom of Two
Your posts struck a nerve. I married at 38, got pregnant quickly and suffered a late term miscarriage at 21 weeks. We then embarked on a two year period of miscarriages before I connected with a MFM specialist who figured out a regime that worked. Now, as I’ve said before, I have 2 great kids and feel blessed by them every day–even at 4 am when I would rather not be awake! But we had periods of “how long is too long” and well meaning friends who asked intrusive unwelcome questions. FWIW, circumstances permitting, don’t wait too long (40 isn’t the new 30 in terms of fertility, for men or women) and all of those celebs who have the 40+ pregnancies may or may not be using their own eggs and may or may not be spending buckets on fertility treatments. These are personal decisions sometimes driven by circumstance… best of luck whereever you come out.
For the Corporette moms thing, what about having it be a listserv instead of a newsletter? I find the comments here to be really helpful because there are moms of kids of all ages who are in different career stages.
That’s a neat idea. I’d love to see anything that brings about discussions like we have on the main posts here.
a different anon
I also think that’s a great idea. It would be more helpful for those who do want to talk about kids and also better for the people who have been saying they’d like to see less of the baby/wedding/similar stuff on the main posts.
Though as someone who would not seek out the seperate site, I find the sprinklings of these topics here to be eductaional and fun– the fullness of womanhood is not something to hide and ghettoize. That facet isn’t the main dish here but I like it as a tasty side.
Any thoughts on trying to get pregnant 3L year? I’ve returned to school later in life (going to be 33 when I graduate) and am worried about things like health insurance and job hunting plus possibly trying to get pregnant during 3L year, but since we want 2 kids, I don’t want to wait too long to have the 1st and some of my lawyer friends have strongly suggested 3L year for kid #1. TIA for ANY comments!
Someone I went to law school with had her first at the end of first semester of 3L year. She seemed happy and healthy and she got to spend lots more time with the new baby on a student’s schedule than I assume she would have at whatever post-graduation position she took. I think she had health insurance through her H, but I’m not sure. You might also look into student health insurance, but I’m not too informed about that. Looking back, had I been married during law school, I would have thought about having a baby at the time instead of during the first few years of post-law school working world.
Anon for babies
A – we seem to have posted at the same time. I’m a rising 3L and we are TTC now. I’m about five years younger than you, though. For us, major considerations were that my husband has an established career and we would be financially fine if I did not have a job lined up when I graduate, but if we wait, I’d want to wait until I’m a couple of years into my career. If it doesn’t work out in the next couple of months though, we might “take a break” from TTC until after the bar/starting new job etc.
When I asked about having babies during law school on corporette before, the general consensus was absolutely do it if possible.
We found out I was pregnant on Valentine’s Day of my 3L year (baby was planned.) It worked out well for me. I had a rather light class schedule and was doing clinic–which we could set our own ours for. This made it very easy to shedule dr. appointments and even to go home and rest in the middle of the day if I needed to. I then took the bar while 7 months pregnant, which was not all that difficult. Sitting all day was hard on my back, but that was all. I then started working a few months after I had my son. It was nice to have the last two months of my pregnancy to be home and relax. I then had my daughter a little more than two years later, and it was more difficult to arrange dr. appts, etc, and I worked all day the day she was born. I felt stressed out trying to get everything done at work before I went into labor. So anyways, 3L year was a good time for us to have a baby. It helped that my husband had a good job and this was before the legal market crashed, so I was not worried about finding a job (though I did interview and was offered a job while 6 months pregnant.)
gah–hours, not ours…trying to do too many things at once!
My classmate had a baby her 3L year and said in retrospect, it couldn’t have been better timing, for all the reasons the posters below reference, such as more flexibility and time with the baby.
I also happened to be slotted into the “family obligations” section my first year, which meant our classes started after 10 and ended before 4, which was designed to accomodate those with child/elder care obligations. As an added bonus, I think the shenanigans and gunner antics were kept to a much lower level than the other sections, both because there were so many parents in the room that couldn’t be bothered with such silly things, and because so many parents gave great stink-eye when one of the students was being a jackass. Go ahead and try to hide a law book from or make a snarky comment to a mother of a 4 year old – see how well that goes :).
I started my law firm job with a new baby. I gave birth right after the bar. I would NOT recommend this timing. You don’t want to start your new job with a newborn. When you first start working, you are trying to prove yourself. Newborns are a lot of work and unpredictable. You’ll be exhausted and you’ll still be adjusting to having a new baby. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t have a baby in law school – plenty do – but the ideal time to do that is during 2L or during first semester of 3L to give your life a chance to settle down before the bar and before you start your job. If you can, read this blog (http:lagliv.blogspot.com) because the author had a baby between 2L and 3L. As you’ll see, it’s TOTALLY doable to have a baby in law school.
With some caveats, 3L is a great time for being pregnant. Caveats–you need a financially stable and supportive partner (also emotional, etc.) and hopefully a clear plan for post-pregnancy. After looking ahead a bit, and in light of the fact my H was older and waiting (even the two years that Kat recommends) meant that he’d be a first-time father in his mid-forties, we decided to go for it at the start of my 3L year. We were lucky and our timing worked out great; I gave birth in June a few weeks after graduating. I knew I’d want more time home and decided to take the February bar, which was great. My big law job was fine with me starting in March (only about five months later than I’d otherwise have started) after I’d taken the bar, and that timing allowed me to stay home/recuperate all summer and fall, then slowly ramp back into things with the bar. 3L was a great time to be pregnant–you can easily schedule and attend all your doctor appointments, no one particularly cares if you feel low and need to bow out of a class, you can arrange your schedule so that you get plenty of rest, etc. Being able to ease back into things with the bar study schedule was great. That pregnancy was super easy–I ended up with a crazy year (EIC of journal, crazy stressful clinic, full course load, planning a shotgun wedding) but I barely noticed I was pregnant physically because I could usually move at my own speed. For Baby No. 2 I was working full time and commuting about 2.5 hours each day, and man, was I dragging by my third trimester. Working even a reasonable work day takes a lot out of you, not to mention the agita of missing work for all those doctor appointments, etc. (There were days towards the end that I had false contractions and was literally on the train trying to determine if I was going to be the novelty woman who gave birth on Metro North.) (Thankfully I was not.) Not to mention I was also juggling a toddler at home. So in the scheme of things, pregnant in school is WAY better than pregnant at work, and I highly recommend it.
As a newly married, first year associate (almost second!) at a small firm, with no maternity leave policy in place I am very interested to hear the replies to this post. I get panicky every time I think about being pregnant while working at this firm because I’m not sure how it will we received. Then I think about having to look for other work, well in advance of TTC and then I think about my loss of earning potential and being the breadwinner… and then it’s too much to think about. Thank you, Kat, for addressing such a sensitive issue and I look forward to the replies.
I wouldn’t worry so much. They knew you were a young female without children, right? They probably assumed that at some point you would have a baby (or two), but decided they liked you enough to hire you anyway. If they were that opposed to it, they would have opted for a male associate (illegal yes, but it happens).
That perspective never occurred to me. Thanks for the insight!
You’re welcome! Also, not having a leave policy in place is not necessarily a bad thing – you might be able to work out a custom arrangement that will work better for you than a standard leave policy (e.g. come back from maternity leave earlier, but stay part-time for awhile). Anyway, good luck!
I totally agree. I just took a new job and we are in the contemplation phase of having a second child. My attitude is that they hired me knowing that I had one (if I had none they might be able to fool themselves into thinking I wasn’t going to have babies), and that it won’t be a shock if I have another.
I hate to be pollyanna-ish, but I think more and more employers have accepted that women in their 20s and 30s procreate, and more are starting to take a long termview about women and fertility, in that supporting them through the early childbearing years makes them loyal for the longterm. I know that isn’t true a lot of places, but I work in a very old-school, male dominated field, and I have seen increasingly enlightened viewpoints. My cigar chomping, old school Texas trauma surgeon mentor was the best — when I was just back from maternity leave as a fourth year resident he said something along the lines of “fer Christsakes, yer a good surgeon. I’m not going to forget that just because you’re responsible for bringing children into this world” it was hysterical because it was so enlightened and yet so traditional at the same time. At anyrate, more and more places are being run by my father’s generation, and a lot of them believe their daughters can do anything they want. I believe it’s getting better.
I personally, all things being equal, would not TTC for the first three months of a new job, so that you’d deliver sometime around your 1 year anniversary. Exceptions apply, such as advanced maternal age, etc. And really, if you want to try to have a kid and are willing to accept some consequences in the job related to that, I would totally support you in going for that.
Anon for babies
Great timing for me. Hubby and I are in our first month of “trying”. We are in our mid/late 20s, I’m a rising 3L, hubby is well established in his career, we have no debt and a good amount of savings.
In addition to the above, we considered that we would like to have 2-3 kids, spaced 3-5 years apart. If everything with #1 goes according to plan, we’d be ready to try for #2 about 2-3 years after I start working. And if conceiving in the first 2-3 months of trying doesn’t work out? We’ll deal with it – probably wait a few years until I’m a couple of years into my career. My family (on mom’s side) is insanely fertile – everyone has always conceived in the first month (mom, grandma, great-aunts, great-grandma) and had easy pregnancies each time. I hope I was lucky enough to get those genes!
On another note, one thing that concerns me in these discussions is the complete disregard for adoption as a viable option. I know adoption is complicated and expensive – but why is it not more common? I so rarely see it mentioned here…
I wouldn’t assume a complete disregard for adoption as an option. My husband and I waited nearly a year to get into foster/adopt classes, then realized after several weeks of classes that it was not for us. Private domestic and foreign adoption are not for us either, after obsessively researching both for months. We have very, very strong feelings/opinions on the subject, but they are far too personal to debate, period. (The only thing I’ll add is that none of those options was ruled out b/c of a need to have “our own” child. People tend to make assumptions about that as well.)
Agree with BB. We investigated adoption during our 3 year journey TTC. Both are extraordinarily personal choices that every couple must decide for themselves.
ARGH. I wrote a long reply and it got eaten by WordPress. Short version: it is a viable option. People just don’t talk about it as much. *I* don’t talk about it so as not to seem preachy, though I am adopted and I have an adopted child, as well. I’ve mentioned my 3 kids here. I don’t know if I’ve ever explained that 2 are biological and one is adopted.
Adoption is also very expensive and very intrusive. I think on average an international adoption these days runs around $30k. Not sure on domestic.
And there is no reason to explain it! I have adopted siblings and my parents didn’t walk around introducing “hello, this is our one biological child and our other adopted children” . . . it was “these are our children.” period. and then when you would talk and know them, the would easily share that they adopted, just like they would share I was an “accident” ( or miracle, depending on how good I was that day. ha). It was just the story of how our family was put together. I can’t imagine identifying my sister as my “adopted” sister. she is my sister. the end.
Thanks for saying this. I just cannot conceive (heh) of distinguishing between/among children. They are ALL your children; please do not ID them as adopted or biological. Ugh.
LE — are you somehow implying that I did that? Not really getting the “ugh” there.
Anon Career Girl
Threadjack – I’ve been wanting to post this for quite some time so I was excited to see this post. I’m in my early twenties, single, and just starting out at my dream company with aspirations of one day becoming COO (lofty, I know).
I was always the girl who wanted the high-powered career but I also want to come home each day to a husband and children. The thought of being a stay-at-home mom just doesn’t appeal to me personally and I know my parents will be able to help me with taking care of them while I’m at work.
With there being so much flexibility today in terms of working from home, going part-time, and job sharing, I sometimes feel like it’s expected for women to take that route and I don’t want to do that. I enjoy waking up every morning and putting on a suit to go to work. The thought of not leaving my house to do my job gets me stir-crazy.
Getting back on topic, ever since college I’ve had this terrible fear of being “mommy-tracked.” As a woman of child-bearing years, I don’t want supervisors to think, “Oh, she’s going to get married one of these days and then get pregnant and quit.” I realize that is an exaggeration but you get what I mean. I’m afraid of being passed over for these reasons and while I know there are laws in place to protect against this, it still happens.
Is there any subtle way to get it out there that the stay-at-home mommy route is not one I want. I’d never want to insult a woman who wants that or a man whose wife stays home but I want it known that that is not me. I realize that this is all years in the future for me but I’ve always liked to have a plan for my life and this is no different.
Any advice/similar situations are very welcome. TIA.
I see why this seems like a major issue as you think about it internally, but it sounds like you actually don’t have any complicated message to send. You want kids, so in that sense the assumptions about women do pertain to you, and there’s nothing to correct. The only thing you have to convey is that you plan to return to full-time, on-site work without any extended leave after you give birth (provided that all goes well). That’s a very concrete thing to tell your supervisors at the time that you tell them you’re pregnant. If they don’t believe you, despite your credibility bank, then that’s the problem.
I’m in your shoes but several years ahead of you (and you’re ahead of me, in that you seem to be in a carreer already, when I was still in school at your age). My not very clear experience is that the person that you most need to ensure that understands what you want on that is not your boss, but your (future) partner. You will need his support most of all. If you want to be a chief executive and have kids, it will be extremely difficult to be married to someone with similar career aspirations- you need someone whose career can take a back seat to yours and take the primary child rearing role (so often the model when the sexes are reversed).
A supportive spouse, which I have, is the most wonderful thing in the world. Another note: I’ve long said that I would be the breadwinner to his stay at home or similar dad, and that’s fine with everyone- him, both of our super-conservative and traditional sets of parents, etc. The people that give me pushback, ironically, more frequently are other successful (or ambitious with intent to be successful) women, including some of the women on this site. (This doesn’t bother me, BTW, I’m interested in their opinions but, of course, live my own life.)
In my career experience, I’m less sure of how this has worked. Of course, I don’t discuss child-rearing plans with my bosses, but I have had an extremely difficult time in the job market (no big surprise, given the market, but I can’t help but wonder if the perception that I might have kids soon might have hurt me. Though, short of major surgery, I guess it’s not something that I could do anything about, either, so it’s not really worth worrying about). My best advice is to just present yourself as competently and dedicatedly as possible and, when the time comes, make your plans clear. This will probably include specifically explaining to your bosses who (not you) will take care of things like taking the kids to the doctor and stuff like that that cuts into work time.
Anon Career Girl
I’m in full agreement with you on being the breadwinner and having my husband stay at home with the kids. While I don’t want to be the stay-at-home parent, I would love to find a man that does. I’ve always been very Type A and wound a bit tight so I need someone more laid back and supportive of my dreams while being secure in himself to have me be the one going out to work and knowing that I love him for being the one at home.
As an aside, where would I find a man like this? All the men I meet are just as career-minded as me and horrified at the thought of their partner making more money than them. I’ll stop there as that’s another rant I won’t get into.
I read an article on this at one point – all about “beta” males, or men who are happy to be much more laid back, don’t need to constantly exert their masculinity and are not hung up on traditional gender roles. My current boyfriend fits that mold, and I love that about him. My advice would be to look for guys who are more shy and less aggressive when it comes to dating. I actually had to ask my boyfriend out because he never would have made the first move! Of course, that doesn’t mean fall for the He’s Just Not that Into You trap of pursuing uninterested men, but I think it’s a good place to start.
My husband is the (most of the time) stay-at-home parent. He works on a part-time/contract basis about two evenings a week once I get home. It gives us some extra income and allows him to keep current in his field. The rest of the time he takes care of our three children (one school age, a toddler and an infant.) We decided before we even got married that once we had kids this would be our plan, and once we got set in our careers, turn out I made twice what he did, so it just made sense. He actually really enjoys it (apart from the housekeeping, but he does it nevertheless) and he is much more patient than I am. So it works out. He does deal with a fair amount of sterotypical, rude comments at the park, library, toddler music time, etc, but some of that it probably cultural (we are hispanic in a large hispanic community, and stay-at-home dads are NOT the norm at all.)
Anon, you just described my life–right down to the ages of our children. Long live the SAHD (with a little contract work on the side)!
You can’t have my husband! Just kidding, but it does sound like what you’re looking for- you can’t look at law school or other higher education places (which is probably where you’re mainly able to look now, I know). My husband’s a college drop out who was working in retail when we met (and he still is- he’s great at it, and an excellent manager). I know a lot of women, for some reason, don’t want to marry “below their station”, as in, a man with less education than them, but that’s definitely a restriction that you would have to avoid. Might try to meet men through family, friends that have less lucrative jobs, hobbies that don’t have much of a barrier to entry, that sort of thing?
Look at me trying to give advice on this- I married at age 21 to a guy whose sister (a classmate-acquantence) just happened to introduce me to at a party. It’s not like I planned these things. :)
Not so fast – my husband is a doctor who plans to stay home with our kids, at least part time!
My husband is a lawyer. We met in law school and now he works part time and from home and does much more parenting than I do. You CAN find him in school!
Maybe you should meet my ex-boyfriend. He said his dream was to be a kept man with a breadwinner wife.
Too bad I wouldn’t have trusted him to take care of a fish, let alone a child.
Seriously, though, I’ve known a few guys who would be open to staying home and Lyssa’s right, don’t look for them in “career” type jobs as there’s a good chance they like that job too much to give it up. In my experience, guys in retail etc. or career students seem a lot more open to the idea.
I am the primary breadwinner as well. Agree with the others that in many people’s eyes, I married “down” and my husband married “up”.
This works for us because my husband does the housework when he’s not going to school (for e.g, we just moved for my job and he took care of almost everything since he doesn’t start school until fall).
When we do have kids, he will be the primary caregiver as well.
That said, I would watch out for guys who don’t pick up the slack at home. You need a nurturing, caring person who takes pride in keeping a good home.
Did anyone hear the NPR story over the weekend about alpha and beta males in the baboon community? I did not, but my SO heard it and relayed the choicest bit–the beta male has the same amount of sex as the alpha male but with none of the stress!
I would also disagree that you cannot find a man who puts family first at an institution of higher learning–met mine at a place where there was a day of mourning when it moved down a spot in the *international rankings.* Knew he was a keeper when he talked about seeing one of his profs doing the school run and how that was his plan, coordinate his teaching schedule so that he could walk the kids to school.
Does that mean he is a beta as oppoesd to an alpha male, who knows. I think the labels are all bs anyway–just look for a partner in the truest sense of the word.
Alpha males are highly overrated and a lot of work. I love mine to pieces, but he sometimes makes me long for the easy-peasy days of being with the beta boyfriend.
Being with an alpha male means you should reduce the number of children you plan to have by one, at least. You’re going to need the extra energy to hold everything else together.
This part of the discussion was the most interesting to me. In my early/mid 20s, I also wanted the breadwinner/mom role. Now that I (and several of my good friends) have it, well, it’s really not what it’s cracked up to be. You have no idea the impact of having children on your priorities until you are there.
So, for my $0.02, try not to box yourself into that role before you really know it’s right for you (i.e., after you actually have a baby). Being an over-achieving mom is great and something I really enjoy. But not having a real choice in the matter because your husband has absolutely no ability or desire to support a family financially adds an entirely new layer of stress to the working-mom gig.
anon – well said and I couldn’t agree more. I can’t help but shake my head at all of these posts by people without children who think they know exactly what they will want once they have children.
I understand what you mean, but your (Lawma’s) comment is so condescending that I find it undermines the type of sisterhood I find comforting about this blog. It is not a terrible thing to be young, as-yet-childless, and have an idea of what you would like your theoretical life to look like in the future. These are called aspirations, and of course all of us know that what we want now may change later. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue these aspriations with zeal now just because they *may* change later…just like we shouldn’t be rigid and unwilling to consider changing these aspirations to suit real life as it unfolds.
I think to react so strongly just bolsters her point– you can’t react to something that hasn’t happened yet. Something biolgical, hormonal, personal. There is no predicting and it’s not you versus her or you versus yourself or anythign combative– it’ll be what you really want when you really know. Be gentle on someone who is trying to make your road easier, and be gentle on yourself when you get there.
I think what Lawma said is right, and I too find you’re reaction interesting because what those of us who do have children are trying to say is that some of you who don’t DO sound like you are rigid in your expectations of what will happen in the future (i.e., I am single and not close to having children, how do I announce to colleagues that I will never stop being hard charging and ambitious, etc). I don’t think anyone should box herself into a position so vigorously, because if you do change your mind and decide to take a different path, you risk looking like you weren’t strategic, flexible, open minded, and worst case scenario, honest. Have all the zeal you want, but my advice is beware taking too strong a position now, before you know all the facts.
Signed, a FTWM who loves her kid more than she ever thought possible and was surprised to learn that she really didn’t want the second kid she ALWAYS thought she would have.
p.s. “sisterhood” is exactly where most of us are coming from, even if it might sound condescending to you. we’ve been there and are trying to offer advice so we encourage you not too read too much tone into a posting here
Others may consider Lawma’s comment to be “condescending” but it is the truth. I have a friend in Anon at 6:38’s theoretical position – she HAS to be the breadwinner, because her husband doesn’t want to work – and it is no picnic. As a mom, you want to be there for your childrens’ moments – it is not enough, for a lot of moms, that “someone” is there. YOU want to be there when your kid scores the game-winning goal or stars in the school play. Not working 80+ hours a week while your husband gets to be “Mr. Fun” and be there for everything.
Similar to the “can’t/won’t get a job to save their lives” men, watch out for the ones who believe that BOTH parents should work high-powered jobs and the kids should just go to daycare 60 hours a week. Have a couple friends in that position too – their husbands basically look at it as, you should make half (or more) of the money, do ALL the housework and lifestyle/household arranging, and the bulk of the childcare and I’ll just go to work and come home and that’s my contribution. Both of my friends are actively contemplating divorce as they won’t have any more to do as single moms than they do now, as a working mom with no help.
Well said, lawma. I know that I had no concept of how having children would change my life, although I knew of course that things would change. Having kids will profoundly affect your life (including of course your career), you just don’t know in what ways until you’ve done it.
Anyone out there take the reverse route and had children earlier in their career and then kicked it into high gear as the children age? This is the path I’m considering (I’m 25 and married for two years, just finishing my MBA, looking for a more entrepreneurial track than Fortune 500/Finance/Consulting) and while I’m well aware of the mommy-gap-trap in more traditional career tracks, I’d love to hear some advice from those who chose to have children in their mid to late 20’s vs. mid to late 30’s. There have been some pregnancy/fertility issues in my female family members that also factor in to this decision to try and have kids at a younger age.
I married my high school sweetheart after college graduation, and I immediately started working in Finance at a Fortune 500 company. I completed my MBA and passed the CPA exam while working. I’m 10 weeks pregnant after being here for three years, and I personally think the timing is great. We plan on having three kids, hopefully spaced two years apart. It makes sense to me to have them sooner rather than later, when I’d have more responsibilities and be harder to cover for on leave.
I think it helps that there is generally a lot of lateral rotation among groups at my company, and it isn’t uncommon at all for those of us below 30 to have kids. In most groups, there is a lot of flexibility for work hours, occasional telecommuting, etc.
Good luck to you!
Married very young, had my daughter while H and I were both full time grad students (I was just shy of my 26th bday, had been married 6 years, worked 2 years before grad school full time). This was a planned pregnancy, and while I didn’t have the role models or insight to realize it at the time, but this was one of the smartest things that we ever did. Sure, we didn’t have scads of money starting out (and those grad school insurance policies don’t necessarily cover childbirth) and it was a tough economy for me getting out of school and it took me 1.5 years to find a job (H was an engineer & found work right away). While these things delayed our purchase of our first home, it got me past being the pregnant and new mommy stages BEFORE really launching into my chosen profession. I was young enough to have the energy to handle a toddler and to grow in my job responsibilities. Fast forward – I’m now 50 and have had a very successful career in my field and am considered a national expert. My baby is now in finance in NYC and I now have to bite my tongue (to avoid pressuring her) when tempted to give her the same advice I give my female mentees – if you can, do it early.
Research, not Law
I was 27 when I had my first and will be 30 for my second (currently pregnant). I completed my masters when I was 25, and had been working in my field for a year. I was three years into my career when I had my daughter, so I had a proven track record and contacts. I got laid off while on maternity leave (the entire team was) and actually found a better job. I proved myself there and was ready to get pregnant again.
I’m extremely satisfied with my decisions. I knew that I (a) wanted a family, and wanted it when I was young, and (b) wanted a career but could wait for it to blossom. Time will tell, but I feel confident that my career will not suffer. In a way, I think it could be harder to step away from your job later in your career. I’m needed enough to be missed, but not enough to not get leave. Also, having children is HARD. It takes a lot of energy, so being young makes it easier to keep pushing at work and still focus on my family. Plus, it feels good knowing that I’m approaching a point when I don’t have to be pregnant or care for babies any more! It’s all up hill from here.
I may get flack for this, but it’s my honest opinion: Your career aspirations may be different than they would have been. Having a family changes your perspective and priorities. I’m not as dedicated to moving up the ladder as I was before; I’m more interested in having a job that is satisfying, rewarding, and pays the bills, but gives me time with my family. I’m less interested in being top dog. I think that’s an important consideration if you observe that women in your field who started younger aren’t as “successful” as those who waited. Their vision of success may be different.
I never planned to be stay-at-home. I think that it would be unrealistic to leave early in your career and expect to re-enter at the same point unless you maintain extraordinary relationships with your career network. If someone wanted be at home until their children were older, I’d recommend that they postpone their training/education. It’s easier to enter after earning your degree than after a several year absence.
Great idea! This is not an attack on the personal choice of any INDIVIDUAL woman, but as a society, I would like to see younger moms and dads again. We spend the first 7 or so years of our fertility age with people telling us that sex is bad, and to abstain. The next 10-20 taking the pill, and then we start infertility treatments! As a society, we should support younger moms and dads and that means supporting college aged parents, and sensible leave policies.
Off topic — how was being married in business school? I hear that it’s really rough on relationships– it seems that you’re okay, but i’m wondering (may get engaged soon, planning to go to school full-time). I also think this is a great question — having children early career vs. mid or late. It seems like it would make sense to have children soon-ish after graduating from school, but how do you get back in afterwards?
I went to a very non-competitive, lower tier school for a variety of reasons (my husband was in medical school at the time in a smaller city so it was the best program in the geographic area, very inexpensive, and was accelerated so I did the program in a year instead of two) so while the workload was crazy it was still manageable. The biggest thing was (A) the fact that my husband was very supportive from the beginning, (B) COMMUNICATION of your schedule/needs and (C) being realistic about lifestyle changes while you’re at school. I love to cook and I’m the finance brain in the family so I used to take care of grocery shopping and lunches/dinners but I just couldn’t with night classes three days a week. We ate separately often and date nights dwindled but we knew it was temporary and when time was available we made it worth the wait. Was the house as clean as it should have been at all times? No. Did we spend as much time together as we would’ve liked? No. But my husband accepted and supported me every step of the way and remembered that it was temporary. He picked up the slack as he could and we made through it really easily.
Hope that helps! As long as you talk through everything before, during and after you’ll be fine!
another perspective for you. i went to a top-tier, uber-competitive business school. the joke was that instead of calling it “[name] business school” they should have called it “[name] breakup school.” it was rough on couples: the social scene and the singles scene were overwhelming, and plenty of partners got fed up.
so make friends with other married students – they will most likely form the core of your social circle, not the single ones – and bring/drag your husband along so he can meet your friends too. integrate him into your life at school and consciously work to carve out time for yourselves.
Me. I’m 32 and have 3 kids (I was 26 when my first child was born). I agree with the PP who said that your career goals change. I am at BigLaw but my goals are different than they would have been had I not had children at such a young age. My pace is slower, I don’t make market salary and I’m not shooting to bill 2300 hours. However, I still have my career and it is fulfilling. It is just fulfilling in a different way than it would have been had I started at BigLaw without children. My personal opinion on this is that if you want children then have them when you are ready. You can always focus on your career. Maybe the path is different than what most people straight out of B school envision to be THE path. Success may be slightly different, but there’s absolutely no reason why you have to sacrafice – or should sacrafice – the timing of children for your career. FTR, I disagree with Kat that you need 2 years to establish credibility.
Oh dear. All the best to everyone out there who managed to get an advanced degree, build a well-paying career, find love, keep love, get married, and bank two years of credibility at a job they want to stay at with a good maternity policy and understanding bosses before becoming a 35 year old geriatric. But in my experience and that of most of my friends, life is much more complicated and non-linear than that.
This comment is the only worthwhile thing worth reading on this entire article.
Seriously. We may as well be debating who has the vest recipe for unicorn soup. It’s so unlikely it’s simply not worth worrying about.
That just about describes me, so thanks! No snark meant, I realize how incredibly lucky I am. But to anyone in their early 20s reading this – while not common, this IS possible.
Research, not Law
And I got here by way OF twists and turns, not despite them!
Like. To A-non above, congrats. I don’t think we’re trying to say that it IS or ISN’T possible, but simply pointing out that life is not so straightforward.
Taken a certain way, this thread may make it sound as if getting the stars to align is just a matter of good planning and organization. If only!
Exactly. Don’t forget that we should also make sure our employers offer generous insurance with fertility coverage that includes “gestational carrier” coverage, procedures and hormones. And/or significant adoption assistance.
As is Isreal, in the NYT and editorialized on Slate’s XX blog, which points out that this is not unquivically good since nothing is free but comes with expectations… still, intresting to see a system where these ‘should’ dreams = ‘are’ realities.
anon in nyc
What Fiona said. Life is long and unpredictable and full of choices and luck and chance. All you can really do, I believe, is your best at the time.
Don’t discount intentionally looking for employers that offer flexible work situations/telecommuting/maternity benefits before you need them. I choose my employer 5+ years ago because as a large company they paid slightly less but had stellar benefits. I could have jumped around at smaller firms and made more money, but now that I’m pregnant I’m in a position where I can telecommute, my company would have covered IVF, and I have a good amount of maternity leave I can take advantage of.
I may be flamed for pointing this out, but if a family is important to you why not research firms/careers that will make having a family easier?
no flaming. I think you raise a good point, just like Kat raises a lot of good points. If family is important, there are lots of things you can do (and should do) to optimize for certain outcomes, like a mom-friendly job, a supportive spouse, all that. No doubt most of the women here agree in principle that some planning > no planning.
But it all still comes around to the fact that a lot of life’s twists and turns will be out of your control, so no matter how much researching and planning and organizing and hoping you do — life will happen, and not necessarily in the manner you had expected.
So you plan, and you hope, and ultimately you gotta deal with whatever outcome you get!
I agree with intentionally looking, but sometimes it’s not practical because you need a job, and you’re not trying to decide between one that pays a lot and one that pays a little less but offers amazing benefits. It’s hard to determine a company’s true culture, IVF coverage, or other maternity/family-related benefits until after you’ve already been hired. Or you can finally land a job with a “big” company and what appear to be pretty generous benefits, and a few years later, when you really need it, those benefits can disappear. Right now, my husband and I are waiting for his open enrollment at the end of the year, and our fingers are crossed that they’ll offer fertility/IVF. No guarantees, but it’s gone at my company, so for now it’s the best we can hope for.
As for researching careers that make it easier – that’s exactly what I did, and I am personally regreting that choice.
Ditto to this. I actually fit this mold, albeit only by chance. I got my JD, married, clerked for two years then spent two years at my BigLaw firm before having #1, at the age of 32 and after 4+ years of marriage. *BUT* those two years from 29 until I got pregnant at 31 were spent doing fertility work-ups and treatments, since I ran into fertility issues at a young age. Then we adopted our next kiddo only 11 months after the first was born. Then, lo and behold, I had a surprise pregnancy at 34.
+1. Among my group of friends, 25-45, I’ve seen exactly no one’s marriage/ family/ career advance that way. By the time we’ve reached our late 30s or so, everyone’s got some pretty significant battle scars.
Interesting topic. It’s a very tough, personal decision. For what it’s worth, I am surprised how many of my neigbors (who started having kids in their mid-30s) said that they would have had more children if they had started earlier. Personally, I have 3, and this is plenty! But, I am in the midst of small children with my oldest being 4.5 years old!
I think people sometimes focus on having that time before kids, but it’s also nice to have time with kids. In addition to greatly enjoying being a parent, I think I will really enjoy when my kids have left home, and I can travel to visit them or travel with them or travel without them. So, I wouldn’t dissuade people from taking a few months, but if you are in your 30s, want children, and have a good partner, I wouldn’t wait years.
As far as career goes, it seems that every woman’s career is harmed in some way by having kids. Sometimes, I think this is very unfair because men have children and it can even help their career. Other times, I realize this is just the reality, life isn’t fair, and women bear the children. I don’t have a good solution, but I would much rather have kids and have my career take a hit, than not have kids.
One more thought….I have heard that having children helps maintain your fertility. So, one of my friend’s doctors told her when she was 37 and had just had her 1st, that if she wanted to have more children, she should have her 2nd within 2 years of her first, and have a 3rd within 2 years of the 2nd.
Anon Career Girl
I completely agree with you on how a woman’s career is harmed if she has children. It really isn’t fair how men don’t have any expectations to live up to other than not becoming a deadbeat dad. Women go through nine months of pregnancy and then childbirth and are then expected to revolve her entire life around her child. Men, while supporting their partners, don’t suffer the stigma of “working dads.” Now that I think of it, I’ve never heard that term before, interesting…
I know that if a dad shows up at a soccer game or dance recital, everyone oohs and ahhs at how involved he is with his children. But, if a mom misses even one of her child’s events, she’s an awful mother who puts her job above her family. I’m probably ranting and generalizing but this is what I thought when I read your comment. Life isn’t fair but it should be more even when it comes to parenthood. It does take two to make a baby so it should certainly be up to both parents to adjust their lives after.
Absolutely agree. This has been something that has continued to chafe for the last 5 years as my girls grow. I end up with much of the childcare even though I’m more “career-motivated” than my MD husband. For him, family is “everything” except that his hours are terrible and I can set a relatively regular schedule. It is the path I chose, but it is really hard, and venting seems to help.
As in the comedy of Louis C. K.! He is primary custody care-giver to his two daughters and tackles this double-standard often, brilliantly. He’s not the babysitter, he’s the parent, he doens’t want kudos, he wants to raise his girls.
Yes! He handles the subject so well!
I found your comments about having time together before kids versus trying to get pregnant earlier in a marriage very thoughtful, thanks for sharing.
I agree that it’s not fair, and societal expectations and all of that, but, in my experience, women’s carreers are most often harmed by the choices that they (and their parters, to a degree) make- if I choose to take a lot of time off, that a new dad wouldn’t, and choose to take a part-time or flex-time role when the similarly situated dad is there when the employer needs him, and choose to take time off when the kid is sick while dads (including my kid’s hypothetical dad) are working, then that’s all on me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making those choices, but I don’t think that I could make them, then be surprised when I’m not as successful as the man who’s making different choices.
In all by a few cases, someone has to step back from his or her career when the kids come. Usually that’s the woman, but I don’t think that it’s unfair, unless she for some reason doesn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s important to have expectations set out with your partner before you start planning children.
Lyssa – I think your perception may change when you have kids or see other women being treated differently because they are moms…
“she for some reason doesn’t have a choice in the matter” >> is what happens to many women when they become moms – the ‘mommy track’ still exists, and many women are sent down it through no fault or choice of their own.
I’ve never seen a women’s career suffer who didn’t also take more time off then men with children. I have seen a number of women who complained about not getting ahead while at the same time choosing not to take the extra steps that the people getting ahead were taking. This mommy-tracking just for the sake of mommy-tracking doesn’t ring true to me.
I agree with you Lyssa. If you can’t work the same hours as your male colleagues, you won’t get ahead in your field. If you want to be at the very top of your field, there are only so many options: forego a family, find a partner with less ambitious career goals and greater flexibility, or limit the number of childen you have (to minimize time away and costs so you can employ outside help). You won’t get the rewards if you don’t put in the time – sadly there are no shortcuts and biology is not an acceptable excuse in the work world. What was the old adge about Ginger Rogers being a better dancer than Fred Astaire? Because she had to do everything backwards and in high heels. Same thing about combining family and corporate success.
I think you are missing the point. I’ve seen men who take significant family time off in the years right before partnership face absolutely no consequences with respect to promotion, provided they have the right mentors. Not so for women.
Research, not Law
Lyssa, I love this. Well said.
I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. I’ve seen male associates lauded by partners for taking a day off to go to the Father’s Day party at their kid’s school or daycare. I’ve been given hell for leaving the office on a Sunday for 2 hours to see my kid in his Halloween costume. I don’t mean to sound snide, but by all objective measures I’m a superstar for my year at my big firm – my hours are insanely high, I have more hands-on experience than most in my year, my effective rate is high. I’m always here. However, I get it from people about my “committment” to the firm due to my kid. When I got pregnant and had a kid at 28 – married, owning a house in a tony suburb, having a family income in excess of $250K, and with a big law job, you would have thought I was a teenage parent from the “is it planned?” comments I got.
I hate the “was it planned” comment! I heard the same thing from some people at work and was caught totally off-guard – I mean, what do you say to that? Maybe it’s just small talk, but are you supposed to then discuss your ovulation cycle? Or are they prying to see if you planned, which means you put baby before career or something? It’s just rude. I wish I was more religious so I could jusy say, “It’s all God’s plan,” with a straight face.
Wow I CANNOT believe someone would ask you that! How insensitive! I would never ever ask someone if it was planned- unless it was my good friend who came to me freaking out that she was pregnant or something :).
Yes, this. I’ve seen it in my office where if a guy leaves early to coach soccer it’s fine, but women who do the same aren’t seen as dedicated. It’s not a straight up hours thing at all.
I disagree about “banking” two years. I think that, at least as a big law firm associate, you are most fungible earliest in your career. Especially if you might want to be on a reduced schedule when you first come back, it’s much easier to do this as a junior person than as a senior person.
I agree. I got pregnant less than two years after starting at my firm and the timing was really perfect. I wasn’t the client contact on any of my cases so it was really easy for me to reassign work and have someone cover for me when I was out for three months.
I think (and hope) Jill is right. I am due with my second about a month before my 1 year anniversary at a big law firm. No one has treated me any differently and I don’t expect any issues from being gone on maternity leave because I am completely replaceable when I am gone. The more senior associates (and partners) seem to have a much tougher time while pregnant and transitioning to/from leave.
I hope to have a third (and final) baby when I’m 30-ish. If it’s not obvious, I am not on the partnership track and have no desire to stay at a big firm forever. But I think it’s absolutely do-able to have kids while you are a junior associate without it adversely affecting your current job.
Your post raised many interesting and worthwhile questions, but please: can we re-frame the discussion so that the question is: “When is the best time to TRY TO get pregnant?” Not only will this take into account sensitivities on both sides of the spectrum — there are those who get pregnant inadvertently, and then there are those who cannot get pregnant no matter how hard they try — but re-framing the question is also more intellectually honest, because no one has complete control over when or whether they get pregnant. All any woman can do is to try to get pregnant, or take affirmative steps not to get pregnant, or to, ah, let the chips fall where they may. The actual timing of the pregnancy is up to a combination of nature, science, and fate.
Amen, sister. One of the biggest mistakes I see younger women making (I’m 41) is assuming they can plan conception. “Let’s see, a spring baby would be great, so I’ll just get pregnant [checks calendar] next Tuesday.”
I’m here to tell you it ain’t always that easy. I had my first and only child at 34. Seven years and 5 rounds of IVF (including 1 round with donor eggs) later, we are no closer to having a second child.
Doesn’t mean you won’t get pregnant your first month trying; just means you shouldn’t bank on it.
I’m so sorry that you’re having such a rough time.
On the other hand, no one (even us “elderly” ladies) should bank on *NOT* getting pregnant the first month trying. I got married at 41, after a seven-month engagement, and *EVERYONE* (including my parents!) pressured me to start *trying* as soon as we got engaged! I waited until 3 months before the (formal) wedding, figuring that even if we lucked out I’d be able to fit into my wedding dress, but that in all likelihood, it just meant a 3-month headstart on the 6-month period before I’d be able to consult a reproductive endocrinologist.
Well, shockingly, I *did* get pregnant the first time out, which actually freaked me out b/c we didn’t have all our ducks in a row financially (we weren’t married yet, so I didn’t have the financial protections that entails, plus my fiance and I hadn’t yet arranged for life insurance for either of us, and for some reason these aspects hadn’t occurred to me before). I miscarried a week before the wedding, so that was stressful as well.
Nothing to add other than that I hope it’s the right time for us! I find out tomorrow or Wednesday whether things worked for us this month, and I’m really nervous/anxious. I’m having all these “early pregnancy” signs, but I could be PMSing.
Either way, I’ll know in the next 48 hours ! So very, very anxious!!
Good luck and hugs!!! Keep us posted!
Good luck! Fingers crossed for you!
Good luck! Please post back whenever you find out – the waiting is the hardest part!
Thanks to all! I will keep you posted . . . it’s been a long road for us (not as long as some, but long enough to be firmly in the camp that advocates for people to try when they are emotionally ready even if other things aren’t perfect. It won’t happen when you think it will, and fertility issues creep up way more often that at least I realized).
Good luck to you! I may have also been fortunate after 20 months to catch the golden egg (have gotten 2 “Pregnant” CBE digital readouts) — no just hoping it sticks around.
Child-free in Denver
After years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive my husband and I are now happily child-free. Once I got past the hormonal urge to reproduce and came to accept that not everyone needs (or gets) to have children, my husband and I are really enjoying our relative freedom. We can change jobs if we want to, go back to school, start a business (me), travel, and save up for an early retirement. We can walk around naked in the house whenever we want and fool around on the couch if we so desire. So, for those who are unsuccessful in their attempts to have children, please know that life without kids can be wonderful and fun and fulfilling too.
I am so glad someone mentioned this. Not having children is not the end of meaningful life. I hope more people understood this. I am in my mid twenties, currently single and don’t have any burning desire for kids. I come from an extremely conservative culture where it is expected that a women’s sole purpose in life is to produce babies, I absolutely hate this. I want one of the super high powered careers (c-level jobs) and would be perfectly fine if I never have any kids. Now if only I could find a supportive partner with similar views.
anon in nyc
The bank of credibility isn’t really about pregnancy or not. It’s about taking advantage of the times in your career where you have the freedom to just say yes to everything. My experience is in BigLaw, and my advice to new associates is always this: you have a few years at the beginning of your career to just go all in. For those first two years, just do the work. Go to the summer events, volunteer for the pro bono case where you’ll get a depo, jump in when they ask for people to help review documents over the weekend. Get a reputation as a go-to person. Say yes. It’s actually a luxury to be able to just embrace work.
Now that I’m a midlevel with a part-time gig at a law firm and a baby, I am really struck by how hard it is to say no, and how much I wish I had more hours in the day. Whether it’s because of a baby, aging/ailing parents, family responsibilities, or something totally different, there will come a point in your life where you can’t just say yes to everything at work.
Finally, I think it’s ridiculous to talk about planning a baby. As I said before, life is long and complicated and subject to chance. What you can do is embrace the parts of your life while you’re unencumbered by children and then do your best when you have them to embrace both your career and your job. It can be done, even without two years of a bank of credibility or whatever.
anon in nyc
Correction: do your best when you have children to embrace both them and your career.
This is excellent advice. Since becoming a mom, it’s become MUCH harder to say yes to things I once would’ve accepted readily. Most days, I do fairly well at embracing my family and my job — but I won’t pretend that there aren’t tradeoffs on both fronts.
Another factor is childcare/finances.
And, the most financially taxing part of having a child is childcare. I’ve been surprised to find many pregnant couples that have no idea that childcare (depending on part of the country, etc.) can cost $1000-2000/month. And what’s the childcare situation like in your town? Where we currently live, most people have to do nannies until kid is nearly 2 because there isn’t enough baby childcare infrastructure. I had no idea that this was possible but apparently it isn’t that uncommon.
These last 2 together mean — do the math – do you make enough money that it is worthwhile for both of you to stay in the workforce versus having one of you stay home with the baby. But it isn’t just a salary thing — maybe this is or is not a good point in your career to leave the workforce or at the very least be a little busier than normal. Maybe in your field losing your network or skills for awhile is the kiss of death.
And as far as staying home, I am surprised at myself and my friends at how many people, with all the intentions in the world to go back to work, decided that they wanted to stay home with kid. I think that it’d be better to know ahead of time if you could swing it on 1 income, thus know if it is in the realm of possibilities or not.
Anon for this
I agree – the numbers for childcare alone (or, simply having children) are frightening. My fiance wanted someone to stay home with the future kids when they were small, and was fine to be the one to do it, because his career path can be more flexible, and he’ll take less of a hit than me if I were to stay home. But, we simply cannot afford to do it. We cannot afford to both work and have children (and pay for a nanny or have the inflexibility of a daycare center’s hours), nor can we afford to live on my salary alone. Ack!
Yeah, I have to say that I am surprised by the short shrift given to the financial aspects of this decision. Honestly, if I could afford a bigger apartment (gotta love NYC real estate) and a full time nanny (8-6, M-F, at least), I would seriously think about having a kid right this second. As it is, when I factor all the costs in (never mind the costs of school, etc., a few years down the line), I break out in a cold sweat.
And, yes, I know that people have children on a whole lot less than what I & my S.O. make, but that doesn’t really help. I only have three friends my age (29-31) who have kids. 2 stay home, no post-grad degrees; 1 has a law degree. The one with the law degree struggles despite the fact that she has a luctrative job, lots of family nearby, and a husband that has a flexible job that lets him be home at 3 pm most days.
29 year old old lady
Thanks to this posting, I think I am done with Corporette for good. What sexism! What fear tactics! Oh no, your eggs are drying up–go have kids! Oh no, you’re single at 30–you may as well give up entirely. Isn’t this website supposed to be about empowering women and about challenging the antiquated notions that kept women out of the workplace for so long?!
Oh, come on. Absolutely none of those things were said. And you can’t deny biology and think that you can have kids (if you want them) any time no matter what age you are. You’re living in a fantasy world.
Ditto. Nobody is saying just give up; I’m not sure where you’re getting that idea. However, if you have any desire for a family, it is smart and pragmatic to be aware of the ramifications of waiting vs. not waiting. But as many astute ladies point out — planning gets you only so far. No matter what you choose or when you choose it, there is a gamble and no guarantee that everything will work out perfectly or according to how you think it’s “supposed” to be. Kind of like the rest of life, you know?
Ditto. It isn’t a threat that your eggs will dry up- it’s reality. I felt like you in my twenties. Now I’m having trouble trying in my mid-30’s, and wish I’d done it when it’d have been easier by the numbers at least. Really, I felt just like you- did not want to hear it- and now regret not listening.
A Regular Lurker
Look, I don’t especially object to the statistics themselves, nor did I object to this post overall – I think Kat handled it nicely, and I didn’t catch any whiff of “Clock’s ticking, better hurry up and get preggers, ladies!” But people keep saying that they’re trying to tell us twentysomethings that fertility doesn’t last forever as if there’s something we can really DO about it. Having a child on your own isn’t that realistic of an option for most women, and I don’t know very many women even my age who would consider it an ideal situation. I think there’s sort of an idea out there that women are just having so much fun playing the field or planning for careers that we put off settling down and having children, figuring we have all the time in the world. But I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate.
Amen to A Regular Lurker. It’s a statistical fact that women with higher levels of education are less likely to marry and/or marry later. It’s stressful as hell to worry about this stuff without having it lurking at every corner (or on every blog). I think it’s a useful post, but it does kind of assume (or many of the comments do) that we’re all out there either living it up or honeymooning it with our husbands and putting off children. Some women do this, but I’m guessing the target audience of this blog (young, highly educated, professional women) are more likely to fall in the camp of “not finding the right person at the right time” than anything else.
I have been trying to pinpoint what it is about this post that bothers me. I’m sure that most of it is that it hits way too close to home for this single 32 year old woman, but I think there’s something more to it, too.
It’s hard to try to achieve your professional dreams while also trying to “land a man” before you’re eggs “dry up” or you have other fertility problems. Talking about geriatric pregnancies is all fine and good (and accurate) but where is the post about how much pressure women are under to be successful, educate themselves, AND somehow find a man to marry before their bodies implode? I just wish there was a little more recognition of how hard *that* can be, too.
I’d love to have children. And I’d love to be married. But I tend to find that while being a lawyer has worked out well for my male friends in terms of landing mates, it hasn’t worked out all that well for my female friends who are all over 30 and single.
Maybe you can view what we’re saying as an opportunity to check your priorities now — if it is important for you to be married and have a family, are you going to do that by billing 2800 hours a year and sitting at your desk 7 days a week? Probably not. So is there something you could/want to do about that? Rather then thinking you might have to drop down/out someday, use our cautionary tales as a reminder that while planning isn’t everything, maybe you shouldn’t wait for the perfect partner to drop into your office when you’re ready for him (or her).
And I REALLY don’t mean this post to be snide or snarky or condscending. I’m just trying to look on the bright side (for once).
How is openly discussing pregnancy sexist or non-empowering? Last time I checked, hubs can’t bear our child for me, so I’m glad to be able to talk about it with other strong, intelligent women who see and have dealt with the reality of pregnancy and having kids.
Honey, your eggs ARE drying up. Facing it is what empowers women, not pretending you can control every thing in life.
Though one thing to note is that stress is toxic and usually makes conception very difficult. It affects hormonal balance and makes it tough to get pregnant, which in turn increases stress. This is why so many women get pregnant right after they adopt. Being in a high-stress job, environment, life, whatever makes getting pregnant harder; it is just a fact.
Not buying a bit of it.
I am one year out of law school, 28, and in a serious relationship. As someone who probably won’t get married for a year or two and would really like at LEAST three-five years with her future spouse before starting to try for kids, it would be so comforting to hear from some women who have successfully conceived in their mid-thirties. I know the statistics and don’t kid myself about my declining fertility, but I would also like to get a balanced perspective by hearing some positive experiences.
Anyone out there want to share some happy stories about later conception? (And thanks to Kat for being one of those women).
When I was pregnant with my second baby, 5 other women in my office were also pregnant. I was the youngest, at 28. Everyone else was over 35. Three of them, it was their first baby, the other two it was their second. Two had to have some kind of fertility treatments. One was because of age (and had to use donor eggs), the other was because of an underlying medical condition and would have had to even before age 35.
My cousin married at 25 but wasn’t ready for kids until she was 35. She ended up having three children at 36, 39 and 41 — all conceived without fertility treatments. She readily admits she was lucky, though.
In my department, I’ve been to 3 baby showers in the past year for women in their early/mid 30s. Two women were pregnant the year before, both of them about 40. And we currently have 4 women in their mid-30s pregnant now. Two with help and two without. They say there’s something in the water, and I hope they’re right.
I also have 2 cousins and several friends that conceived in their mid-30s.
All healthy, all happy.
Now, on the career front, I noticed a disturbing trend that 3 women I know in the finance industry all lost their jobs while on maternity leave. Two became SAHMs. One became a teacher for a while, and I think she may be a SAHM now.
My mother started having kids in her early thirties and ended up having four, even though we’re all spaced with a minimum of 3 years between us (and 5 years between my youngest siblings). She didn’t require fertility treatments and didn’t have problems with the pregnancies, and none of us have health problems associated with her age. It’s definitely possible.
I am the oldest of 4 children, and my mother had me when she was 41. We all turned out ok. No crazy expensive fertility procedures either (my parents could never have afforded it anyway).
My mother had her first child (me) at 38 & my sister just before she turned 40. We are both happy & healthy young adults today. She did this with no fertility treatments, although I know she did have 2 miscarriages before I was born. She also had an underlying medical condition (lupus) that was supposed to make it difficult/near impossible for her to conceive.
Hi Anonymous: I got pregnant at age 41 (one month shy of 42, to be precise) the very first month I ever “tried” to get pregnant. Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, but five months later I got pregnant again naturally (i.e., w/o medical intervention) , gave birth when I was 43 — and now have a happy & healthy eight-year-old. (We didn’t try for any more after that).
Best of luck to you!!
Five babies have been born to the staff of my eight-person office in the past five years. Moms ranged in age from 28 to 41.
My sister-in-law married at 35 and had 3 kids at 36, 38 and 40 with no fertility intervention required. I have a few kiddos already, but am in the first trimester of what will be a “geriatric pregnancy” as soon as I turn 35 in the near future.
Here goes. Married at 24 (both of us). 1st kid at 33 – no intervention etc reqd + completely healthy/normal pregnancy.
Trying for 2nd (it’s been 6 mths & I am depressed now thinking it won’t ever happen).
Friend married at 36-37. 1st kid at 38. 2nd at 40. All 100% healthy, non-intervention type pregnancies.
Keep in mind that your credibility doesn’t only have to be time served, it could be with the person you are working for…. As someone who had both of my children within my first 2.5 years of practicing, it can be done. For me it was age (early 30’s – law second career) and wanting to get it out of the way before I had any real responsibility and therefore inability to disconnect and enjoy my leave. Had first during clerkship and second during first year. But I had summered at my firm, and stayed engaged with the firm fairly regularly throughout my 3L year and clerkship. I met with my partner before I officially started and he was awesome! HAd he not changed firms, I could conceivably still be there…..
Clerk starting soon
Hi Divaliscious11- you said you had a baby during your clerkship, would you mind telling me how that went? How did the judge handle maternity leave? What about health insurance? I will be starting a 1-year clerkship in a week, I am 27 years old, and want to start having children sometime relatively soon. I also have a job at a big law firm waiting for me after my clerkship, and have a great relationship with that firm. I am trying to determine when would be a good time to start trying to have children. Should I aim (I know I can’t plan this completely, but I feel like I should at least take timing into some consideration) to have a child during the clerkship? Right after the end of the clerkship? During my first year at the law firm? I would appreciate any advice on the issue. Thanks!
Consultant in NoVA
I’m almost 40 and have no desire to have kids. I read posts like this purely out of curiosity/fascination.
Me too. I’m in my late 30’s and we’ve decided to not have kids. We’re very content with our decision and while we love our neices and nephews, we know it’s not for us. However, I’m always drawn to topics like this… maybe beacuse it’s a peak inside a world that I don’t know.
Me, too! I love learning about and celebrating womanhood– not every woman goes for every part of it, but all the parts of beautiful.
Me too! I find these posts interesting, in part because so many of the women I know have kids/are planning to have kids, so I like to know what kinds of things they grapple with (and I also think it’s important to support women’s reproductive choices, whatever they are). But they’re just not things I have to worry about at all, by choice, which works for me and my husband.
(Although hearing about the women conceiving without medical assistance into their 40s reminds this 42-year-old not to get careless!)
anon for this
I’m 28 and getting married next year. I always thought I’d have kids “sometime” in the future but thanks to some medical conditions, sometime is now “as soon as you can after you get married,” per my cardiologist. We’ll be together 7.5 years when we are married and we’ll be “old enough” (I’ll be 28, he’ll be 34) but I just don’t feel ready for kids. I am loving ALL the honest responses on this thread.
One of my biggest fears is that I’ll continue to feel how I currently feel about children (“gee, that might be fun someday in the very distant future”) for too long from a biological perspective. On one hand it seem incredibly stupid to have children unless you’re really really sure. On the other hand what if I’m 35 (or 38? or 40?) and still think of kiddos a “distant future” thing?
It creeps me out the way that time passes, and I think that’s part of the problem. You blink, 4 more years pass. And BOOM you’re a “geriatric” pregnancy (ouch).
i hear you. i would look at my relationship with my parents, my cousins, my family … and i definitely want a family, and relationship with adult kids, but the idea of babies and diapers .. not so much
not sure how old you are, but when more of your peers starting having babies and it becomes a bigger part of your world, you may find it easier to clarify your POV on the matter.
You don’t have to be into babies and diapers. I am soooo not a baby person, but I knew I wanted a family, so I just did it. They’re not babies for long! Some people lament that fact; I rejoice in it. :-)
I totally hear you. I’m 30, and my husband is 38. We constantly discuss the kid issue, and both of us are firmly in the camp of “that would be nice someday . . . but not now” It has very little to do with either of our careers, but pretty much everything to do with the fact that we are happy with our lives right now, with just the two of us. I keep wondering when that will change. Many of our friends have had babies (particularly hubby’s, since he is older) and that has yet to change our perspective.
that is just what’s happened to me! no interest, then decided okay, now 34, and no luck trying yet this year. think about it more… and consider doing sooner.. if it’s right for you.
I feel that way and I’m pregant. Happily preganant! I’m sure some people are blessed with certinaty, but for most of us, life is a journey, and adventure, a [pick your evolution-related cliche]. It all works out, wonderfully. For all of time until 50 years ago, maybe more ike 20 socially, and still in most of the world, one didn’t/doesn’t ‘decide’ these things. We get to– it’s the bets blessing ever. But a repsonsibility in which we cna drown, too. Swim instead. If you know you’ll want to someday and you can emotionally, do. Someday gets here one way or another. Whomever you are when it comes, love yourself, love your life.
I am in my early thirties and we are pursuing adoption. I must honestly admit, though, that I really do not know if I want kids. I just don’t have this burning desire. I have been married nearly ten years and ADORE my husband. I adore my job. I love our life. I don’t see a need to ever change it! How selfish am I, right? ugh. the thing is, my hubs is okay now with not pursuing fertility intervention (he had a hard time with it at first, but then took the “it’s your body and I understand” approach), but now we are pursuing adoption. I just don’t know. I have no problem knowing that I will adore the child as if I conceived it — I have adopted siblings and truly believe that God places children in families in different ways. I just don’t know whether I want kids and I don’t know why I would go through with this . . . like, if I can’t conceive, let’s just call it a day and be happy with the two of us?
my one small comfort is I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to get married either, but I met my hubs and knew it would be fabulous. And it is more than I could have imagined.
It’s probably just fear of change on your part, but, that said, this is something you may want to seriously discuss with your husband, or, at least, to think through on your own.
Amelia, what kind of adoption are you pursuing? And if both you and your husband are OK with stopping fertility treatments and being just the two of you, why are you adopting? I’m not trying to criticise but understand.
I ask what kind of adoption because we adopted internationally. Our son has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and a whole host of other acronyms. There have been good times and there have been very, very hard times. We chose this road and we are walking it. But it is not for the ambivalent.
We researched several agencies domestically and internationally and have decided to pursue adoption with my husband’s home country. So, international. We are hoping his family there can help us through the process – but I am nervous that we will be penalized as I am caucasian and not the traditional faith there. but we will see . . .
From our experience — having ANY cultural link to the originating country is huge, even if it’s only one parent (we adopted from the country that both sets of parents came from). It’s also a huge help to the child in terms of early communication, cultural continuity, belonging.
As for the comment below on fear of being unhappy afterwards … remember, there are plenty of people who ARE happy after kids. Just do your research on what issues you might be facing re adopting from that country and prepare, prepare, prepare. The more the two of you can stay on the same page and work as a team, the smoother things will be for you. This is especially true if you have any challenges with the adoption. Each country has its known issues (alcohol and post-institutional issues in Eastern Europe, ethical issues in Africa and South America, etc, etc) — make sure you know what you might be facing.
I did not think I wanted kids at all and completely freaked out when I got pregnant. It was because of a fear of change, and even though I love my son dearly, there are definitely times when I think about how easy everything was before I had him. I’m just reacting to your comment — children were surprisingly much easier to love and embrace than I thought they would be. But, I completely get not wanting to change a good thing.
thank you SO much, KOB. I think you have hit the nail on the head with me. I just see all these couples who are (seemingly) happy until they had kids and then – not so much. I do not, not, not want that to happen to me. but I hope that is just fear. ugh.
I wonder if you’re still recovering from the process of trying to conceive and are subconsciously shielding yourself from more hurt. The adoption process can be so challenging and, unlike pregnancy, you really don’t know if you’re going to have a child until he or she is in your arms. Also, I think the constant need to prove to social workers and others in the adoption process that “yes! I am ready to be a parent!” is much harder than people who haven’t been through the process expect or appreciate. Maybe you can go on autopilot at this point and reassess when you are closer to being matched with a child.
The decision to have a child touches so many areas of a person’s life. I understand that this blog is for career-oriented women, but I think the way this question is framed sort of distorts the real decisions underlying starting a family. The strengths of your relationship, your emotional maturity, your willingness to put in the hard work of raising a child – those are the important things to consider because they touch more closely upon whether you will be the best parent you can be (as opposed to the best working-mom).
Your comment reminds me of that movie Idiocracy – the premise is that in modern society, natural selection does not favor the intelligent (who are very selective and careful in how they have children) and that less-intelligent people procreate freely and easily out-breed the intelligent. I kind of wish that more smart working woman would just have those babies and pass on their good genes! But then they’re too smart to have a bunch of kids that they can’t nurture and raise well.
ATC, I concur! This is not a politically popular opinion (it’s easily conceived as being elitist, classist, racist, etc.) but I am glad you said it.
I wouldn’t frame it from the movie perspective, which sounds funny but obviously satirical and unkind, but this is the reality of the new cunsus data. Thank heavens for the people who plunge ahead and go for it– largely immigrants now in the US according to the new census– because they artificially and wonderfully inflate our woeful stats and give us hope for affording our future, unlike upside-down demographic states like Japan and much of Western Europe, who may never recover as-is. It is only through immigration and those brave or less-over-thinking than many of us (who understandably and intelligently worry about fiancial and emotional readiness, to our own credit or sadness but to our society’s empirical mathmatical discredit)… no young workers = broken society. That can’t be our motivation to have our own children, but it’s a reminder that those unselfconcious enough to have babies and lots of them are our group salvation.
I know, but it’s so true (even in my own extended family)! Definitely easier to say anonymously on a message board though.
IMO the earlier the better. You can’t imagine how much energy raising children will require. You’ve got it when you’re young.
It doesn’t matter if you’re strapped for cash. It motivates you to work smarter and harder.
Just have’em. There will come a day when you can’t. Plus you’ll be around to see your Grandchildren.
You should check out the seven part series on being a working mom at Ms. JD: http://ms-jd.org/7-truths-every-working-woman-should-know-having-child-part-i (link is to the first of the posts)
Take it from a 52-year-old father of four teenagers:
Stop thinking about whens, ifs, ands, or buts. Have some red wine with your beloved and make a baby.
It will all be okay. Better than okay. Babies are the most wonderful things in the world.
Teenagers not so much.
This post was frustrating to read. As a child-free woman of childbearing age, I have had more than my share of coworker dads encourage me to have children or ask when I’m going to start a family. It is so very patronizing to tell someone else in such a casual manner that you know better than she when she is ready for children, or if she should have children at all.
Unless you are making a serious offer to give birth to and finance the upbringing of my children, I don’t want to hear it.
Ses – I disagree and found this comment humorous and well-intentioned. I think the point he is making is to stop over-thinking all of the work related aspects of this and just have a kid if that is what you *want* to do. If you personally aren’t ready to have kids for your own reasons, then don’t. But it’s probably not wise to sit around waiting for that fleeting perfect moment in your career if you are otherwise ready.
I wish I had more time to read the comments because after becoming a working mother, this topic just absolutely fascinates me. I don’t think there is a *perfect* time — career or otherwise — to have a baby. I felt like I had my baby way too early (at age 30) because almost none of my friends had kids and I felt a little “16 and pregnant” around them at first. Well that’s easy to say since I got pregnant in less than a year of trying. If it were harder, or impossible, I would have lamented the fact that I waited until I was 30 to try.
I think Kat’s post makes it a bit too complicated. The best time can be boiled down to: while you still can. I waited for many reasons, then got an illness for a few years, and am now at the cusp of whether I will be able to or not but trying unsuccessfully so far. I wish I had ignored all of my old reasons, and just done it sooner while I had better chances. Don’t assume everything will go according to your planned timeline.
This might sound like a stupid question- but is there any way to determine your fertility before you get pregnant?
I’m 25, and maybe it would be nice to know if I’m not all that fertile at my age now- which would mean I definitely won’t be so fertile when I’m 30, 35, etc. Or maybe I’m super fertile so I can bank on that risk and wait until my early 30s to try to have children. Is there some sort of blood test for this? Would I look crazy if I went to the doctor and asked about this?
I asked when my husband and I were considering getting engaged. He felt strongly for various personal reasons that he did not want to adopt, and I felt strongly that I wanted kids, so we thought we should both have an understanding of what we were getting into before we got engaged. My doctor really brushed aside my concerns and said that fertility testing was too expensive and invasive to undertake if I had no symptoms to be concerned about. She clearly thought I was a little crazy. I dropped it. Wish I hadn’t and had gotten more information in retrospect.
It’s really not so easy to test for fertility, from what I understand. If you have a super-fertile family history, you’re probably good to go. Most infertility is “unexplained,” but you can tell if you ovulate regularly by tracking your ovulation for a few months. Some women don’t actually ovulate every month, and ovulation can become less reliable as you get older. (In my case, I can feel it when I ovulate, so I know that’s not my problem, yet here I am.) Of course, you can’t be on hormonal birth control and test for ovulation at the same time. You can also have your husband’s sperm tested easily and inexpensively, which could give you an early indicator if there is a problem there. There are more invasive tests, but nothing you would want to undergo unless a problem was suspected, which generally means you’ve been trying naturally for a year without success.
The way I see it, I regret some of my choices and regret waiting until my mid-30s, but I’m also aware that it might have been impossible all along.
Don’t forget the male part of this equation. Sometimes infertility has nothing to do with you.
The answer to your question is no.
No, there’s no easy way to determine your fertility now, without your trying to get pregnant. Sure, you can do some blood tests, do Ovulation Prediction Kits, etc. But so much infertility out there is unexplained so none of this is all that helpful other than when you’re actually going through it. And there’s no way you would want to do some of the more hard-core testing (I’m looking at you, HSG) which is really unpleasant.
Second, your fertility now is no guarantee for when you’re 30, 35, etc. So even if you found out you were super-fertile now, it would achieve very little for later.
I read another blog on an almost daily basis where a woman recently (as in LAST WEEK) had her first child. She trained two temps and briefed her bosses and coworkers on her job duties and was STILL getting texts, phone calls and e-mails about work-related matters withing THREE DAYS of giving birth. She was so exhausted that she forgot her own zip code and didn’t feel strong enough to safely pick up her baby. She finally had to e-mail her boss and flatly tell him to not call her anymore unless the building caught fire!
Wow that is crazy!
Seattle Lawyer Mom
I would not worry too much about Kat’s first point — needing two years to develop credibility. Because of all her other points about relationships and age decreasing fertility, which is a very common “issue” (meaning serious problem) for women I know in big law and other professional jobs that take years to get through school etc., you liked just don’t really have that kind of luxury. So get pregnant when it works for you personally and don’t worry about the job — you’ll just have to accept the lumps along the way and prove yourself later. (FWIW, I started my big law associate career six months pregnant, gave birth 3 months to the day later, took six months of maternity leave, came back, did it all again 4.5 years later, and then made partner a year ago, in my ninth year out of school.)
As a Canadian, I find this debate so odd… There are human rights and employment standards protections here in Canada for pregnant women (although lawyers and other professionals are exempt from some of the former.) Still, in the U.S., the debate seems to be how the pregnant lady can best accommodate the employer, which seems backwards to me.
It’s great if you can plan and have your baby after getting your “bank of credibility” etc. But babies are unpredictable in many ways… I got pregnant and was due a mere month after graduation. It wasn’t ideal by any stretch, but my employer accommodated me and four years later I am still doing “BigLaw” (albeit Canadian BigLaw, which is obviously on its own scale) have two children, have taken two mat leaves, and have an employer who expects the best from me, but is still willing to accommodate my schedule. Barring extraordinary circumstances, I can get kids from daycare, eat dinner with them, and tuck them in. Some days I feel lucky, but other days I think “shouldn’t all employers do this?” If you want to power up the ladder when you’re young, great, but there are advantages to having kids when you’re younger (I was still close to 30, but a brand new grad) and replaceable too… and then being in the workforce when all your peers are off having their kids.
So at the end of the day my advice is, don’t sweat it.
In general, great post, BUT…
I’ve heard that planning for maternity leave is basically like planning a vacation — but with 3x more stress.
If only it were just 3x. I had Mum plus a fulltime helper, but maternity leave (12 weeks for me) sucked all my energy and my stress sky rocketed. I cannot fathom how I would have replied to work emails. Maybe it’s a ‘country/regional’ thing. I’d have been slammed for replying to work email at all….
I’m sure with enough help (paid or unpaid), anything is possible — for example, both Victoria Beckham and Ivanka Trump have planned as little as two weeks of maternity leave!
Yes, and we should all be so lucky to have their lifestyles….