30 May 2013

Today's Topic: Why Do People Delay Pregnancy?


A discussion for your afternoon... :)

When I was asked to be on Headline News, at first they had a list to debunk some of the "The Myths of Infertility."  We ended up speaking about other things on the air, but I thought I'd still address one very important topic here...

"Age matters.  You really do lose eggs quickly."

You know the #1 thing that people have said to me for years?  "You've got PLENTY of time!  No worries!"  I must have heard this 1,000 times.  OK, let me just put this out there:  our culture seriously needs to stop saying that.

THERE IS LOADS OF RESEARCH that says the prime time to have a child is in your TWENTIES...as in 26 years of age and under.  Fertility and egg quality begins to decline at age 27.  Yet, it's practically taboo in some areas to have a baby in your mid-twenties!  Strange (& tricky) that our cultural ideals do not line up with our biology any more.  It's like a career, traveling, and living together for prolonged periods of time, and delaying "growing up" have taken the place of thinking about settling down, preparing body, heart, and mind to start a family, making real commitments and getting married (for both men and women).

Why do you think that is the case?

I think there are so many deep-rooted cultural shifts...but here's my stab at a few that come to mind after being among urban career women, working mothers, stay at home mothers, and infertile women for the last 13 years in NYC...
-It's unbelievably difficult to juggle a career and a family.  I think many women feel the pressure to choose a career path (and hold off on kids) for as many years as possible because, unfortunately, most companies and work demands are not family-friendly.  I think it can be a conflicting thing for women...as self-worth and dreams can be wrapped up in a career and successful pursuits, though sometimes that path often doesn't match up with our biology as women to give birth in our mid twenties and begin nurturing young kids.  (It's so tricky, I know!)  I'd love to hear your thoughts if you feel you might be in those shoes - either feeling conflicted about your career vs. motherhood or feeling like a career needs to reach a certain level first before you have kids.


-Many women and men don't feel any rush to settle down.  I think birth control and the acceptable norm of living together before marriage has taken away - for many - the norm of getting married, settling down, and starting a family in your mid twenties.  Do you have any experience with this?  Do you agree/disagree?  Do you think these things have caused less real commitments from happening between men and women (at a younger age)?  I'm so curious to see what you think.

-People have adopted to the "norms" of our money/success focused society.  I mean, it seems very normal for many men and women to feel the need to seek wealth, education, experiences, worldly success, security, and even luxuries first...before pursuing family life.  It didn't use to be like this.  People used to just have kids earlier and make do.  But it seems priorities and expectations have really shifted.  Do you find yourself saying, "I want achieve this or that before I have kids?" Do you worry that you'd live in poverty if you had kids too soon?  Do you hold off because you worry you can't provide for a family (whether it's just the basics or more luxurious ideals with homes, cars, vacations, items, large bank accounts, etc.)?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.
-So many women really are fooled into thinking "they have time" to have kids.  Maybe they hear of women in their thirties and forties having babies...but because infertility is such a silent journey for the majority of women, you don't often hear about the journey they went through to have a child...including often $20-$50k (or more) for fertility treatments, freezing eggs, and/or adoption, loads of dr. appts., and often the use of egg donors  Also, there's a lot of sugar coating going on...people try to comfort one another by saying "You have time" when really, people are blowing smoke!!  The U.K. is taking this very seriously right now. It turns out that on June 3rd they're launching a campaign called, "Get Britain Fertile" to try and get the message out that it's a good idea to think about having kids at a younger age.  They're worried about the decline of fertility in their country and the decline of happiness of it's populace.  Also, they found that "despite most women planning to leave their first pregnancy until their early 30s, 3 out of 4 women do NOT have concerns about being able to conceive. They believe they will have an average, or easier time becoming pregnant compared to most women." Yikes.  The campaign is quite a controversial topic, because some feel it is shaming women (here are two articles in the Slate and the Huffington Post.)  But you know what - the stats are there.  People clearly are not catching on that the FERTILE YEARS ARE IN YOUR EARLY TO MID TWENTIES.  I don't think educating with facts is shaming.  Since 3 out of 4 women don't know the facts, I say it's worth trying to educate people in a big way.  Perhaps it can help change the script that we think and repeat to each other and grow up with...and perhaps that can lead to people re-thinking their life plans (at least among those who do desire to have children) and seeking partners who are on the same page.

Of course, even when we know the facts and desire a marriage and family during our fertile years, it doesn't mean either of those will happen.  (I know that all too well.  ha!)   I hope women don't feel shamed by this.  I hope they can carry on with hope and purpose.

And now I would just LOVE to hear what you think.  Why do you think people (men and women) delay marriage and plans for a family? (did you?) Why do you think people say that they have "so much time"?  I'd love to hear from anyone who has both waited to have kids by choice - or those who have not.  I guess I'm just a sucker for this important topic.   :)

(Images:  I love this "Photo Drip" Series by Markus Linnenbrink.)


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128 comments:

  1. I think it's really super important to start educating men about this as well. I think women are more aware of their declining fertility than they may let on, but if they voice this at all they seen as the crazy, "biological clock is ticking" lady.

    Men too have internalized the idea that you get to start thinking about kids at 35, and it is really difficult to convince them otherwise. Things do need to change, but both parties need to be on board for this to work, not just women.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more! It seems so many men are in no rush at all. And yes, sadly it's practically taboo for women to talk openly about their desire to have children. Some say that men have gotten comfortable NOT stepping up and committing to a woman because she's willing to live with him / have sex before marriage / etc. and that she goes along with accepting the path of delaying marriage. Do you think that plays a part?

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    2. Gosh, I would hope not, as the idea of a man agreeing to marry me so that he could finally get to have sex is pretty sad, not to mention offensive to my worth as a human being.

      I think it's more about a fantasy of time and endless youth that has crept into our culture: the whole "30 is the new 20" ethos. I also think the idea of parenting has become so overblown that we assume we need endless resources and maturity, and that we need to be ready to end life as we know it by the time the kids come along. There is a sense of, "everything fun stops when you are a parent" so people feel they have to live it up beforehand, and thus delay it as long as possible.

      I know my parents, who had six kids, still hosted dinner parties, went out to movies, and lived life as adults, and it would be nice if we could recast parenthood as a normal part of life that doesn't immediately put an end to all that came before.

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    3. I think you make a great point Annie. I've always looked up to my friends that manage to carry on a very "normal" social life, even with kids. It's so easy to hear of parents actually shutting down all that other stuff and getting into a more isolated mode...but it isn't necessary.

      Though, I guess you'll have to check back with us in a year or two to see how I feel then :)

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    4. I am a young mom (early 20s) and I have found it is really hard to find friends who are close in age to me. My husband and I felt like it was the right time to have a child and we are so glad and thankful we did.

      On a different note, I would caution you, Danny, when you pass judgement on others who "shut down all the other stuff." It might be necessary for you and your spouse. Adjusting to parenthood is quite a difficult transition regardless of how much you prepare for or how badly you yearn for a child. When you are sleep deprived for months on end because your child is not an easy sleeper, you might give up keeping up with your social life to put your baby to bed...early. Very early. That is one of the beauties of being a parent though...your whole world view changes.

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    5. That's why I said "Check with me in a year or two" because I can only imagine what a world changer it will be for me and I'm sure we'll be talking about how much more difficult it was than we ever could have imagined. I know I currently speak without experience...no judgement whatsoever, just observation.

      Again, I've just noticed some friends do it one way, and some do it another way. I'm aware much of my life will change significantly, and my hope is that I'll be able to find the balance that allows for time with friends as it is a great way to recharge your batteries. When I was in Boston there were three families in particular that managed to carry on a very healthy balance and I always admired them and hope I can do the same.

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    6. I think life a while ago was more conducive to family life. Now having a social life is hanging out with only adults or seeing a movie in the middle of the night. But for some reason, I don't see people doing this 100 years ago. The very wealthy did similar things, hence people had wet nurses. But for most of the world, your children were your life, and I think that's totally cool. I hope people don't look down on me for hanging out with my kids all the time (not saying you are looking down). I like the kids. I like the company they give to me. We can't afford babysitters, so we don't get out much, but ya know, it's all cool. I believe there are many things that go into the view that parents need "breaks from their kids" or even that they should delay having kids. These are: 1. Because their friends are delaying kids, having kids has, indeed, become socially awkward. 2. Parents don't "need" kids anymore to help on the farm, etc. Kids are a liability, whereas they used to be an asset. Also, a SAHM now has the job of cleaning this humongous house with a billion toys and gadgets in it, and all kids do is get in the way and keep making messes. Women's work used to take place outside, and kids were either helping, or just playing in the dirt. Maybe I am disillusioned with the past, but from reading, these are the things I see people describing. 3. Kids are harder today that before. They are overstimulated with singing, blinking, and wiggling toys and video games. They are eating sugar up the wazoo. I know some people say ADHD is overdiagnosed, but I don't think so. I think kids are bouncing off the walls more now than they did 100 years ago. And that is exhausing for a parent. And you are expected to take these hard to manage kid and put him into all sorts of formal this and that lessons, and it's all on mom and dad's time and dime. So it's definitely a combination of factors that has led to this.

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  2. As I read this, I felt a little bit of shame since I'm one of those women that is currently in her 20s putting off pregnancy (granted, very EARLY 20s). Yes, I do worry about finances- paying maternity insurance would currently cost more than I make. Yes, I gauge my success by my career and don't want to quit. But I think the biggest factor for me is that I have never ever wanted kids. Even as a little girl, I never wanted to hold babies and neighborhood parents knew better than to ask me to babysit. Now that I'm married I really just feel obligated to have children because of my faith and my husband, not because I truly want them. I know this sounds awful, but it's just how I've always been and I honestly wish it were different. Maybe I've just got a whole lot of growing up to do? Let's pray that happens before I turn 26 ;)

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    1. This was me exactly!! Never ever felt baby hungry. I was married 4 years before I decided to take the leap of faith and get pregnant...and in the back of my mind was a little scared my whole pregnancy that I wouldn't even like being a mom. But a funny thing happens when you have your own kids. You love them! So so much! Don't worry. :)

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    2. Thank you for this comment- reading all of these comments is making me a little panicky because I'm SO aware that the clock is ticking. Everything is right: I've been married three years, I'll graduate with my M.A. in December, my husband wants kids (and has for years, oops), and I'm at a good baby-makin' age (25). Still, I don't feel ready! I'm 0% maternal and not even totally sure kids are for me, but as the huz really wants them and our faith puts a lot of emphasis on having them, we'll probably go ahead and start trying for our first in the next few months. I'm scared, and bummed to probably be a SAHM for a while or maybe years before ever really putting my two degrees to use, and feel weird that most of my friends are years away from having babies but I might be a mom by next year. So it's good to hear that leaps of faith work out sometimes :)

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    3. Your degree won't be wasted. An educated mother is an asset to her children. Just celebrate life the way you want to with your kids. I am super blessed with five kids and the financial support of my husband to stay "home". But I have a rich and varied work life. Being a SAHM is completely what you make of it! I have always prefered the term homemaker. I create the entire world that my kids experience! What could be more important, more creative, more demanding, more rewarding!

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    4. Hi Beth, I feel the same way about not wanting kids. After we got married, I acquiesced thinking it would be something I grew into. One year in and I am struggling with infertility (I am 30)for the kids I now want, but can't have. On the bright side, I just received a promotion! Life is so weird. It's a frustrating cycle.

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  3. Well, if I had children with the man I was with before I turned 26! Would not have been a very choice I think....it took me a while to meet the person I would *want* to have children with.

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    1. I completely agree! I've always known the clock was ticking away, but coming from a very broken and dysfunctional family, it has always been more important to me to find the right partner than it is to have biological kids. I was engaged to my college sweetheart when I was 24 and thankfully had the wherewithal to call things off. If we'd rushed into marriage and kids, I wouldn't be the happy person I am today, dreaming about kids (bio or otherwise) with the man that I love who is right for me! For those of us with troubled pasts and unhappy families (and sometimes those of us with happy pasts!), it's not just delayed adolescence that keeps us from settling down. It's working on ourselves to be the best partners and parents that we can be. I would have loved to be ready for kids in my early twenties, but I'm so happy I waited.

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    2. Thank you Stella. Your words speak to my experience too. It is a hard topic for me - I am about to turn 35 and given my own traumatic childhood I know it has only been the past year I have even been 'available' for this type of life choice. I am very happy I didn't become a parent in my 20's, but now with the realities of my biological clock at hand, and no partner to speak of... I wonder if it is indeed in the cards for me.

      Do us with more complicated past, who pause to sort things out an heal, have to come to grips with the fact that not being a parent or having a family of our own is the sad consequence of not wanting to perpetuate the experiences we had? I wonder...

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  4. I think another big difference is education (as in, most people go pursue undergraduate and even graduate degrees) just to GET a good job, and put off a family until that point. That easily puts you at 25. And then it takes meeting someone, if you haven't yet, getting married, etc. It isn't so easy anymore when everyones priorities have shifted.

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  5. We were the first in our circle of friends to get married (I had just turned 26, my husband is 8mths younger than me) and have kids (first daughter born when I was nearly 27, second daughter born when I was 29). I guess that's not *really* young but when I get together with my friends and see my 15 year old daughter with their toddler... well, I'm glad we had our kids when we did. When our younger daughter is 20 we'll only be in our late 40's. I know someone who completely reinvented themselves after her kids had both left home - new partner, new job, new country, new life. I'm sticking with my husband (!!) but who knows what else we'll be able to do with "so much time"?

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    1. My maths is all out there - I had just turned 25 when we got married, not 26! Our first daughter was born about nine months after our first wedding anniversary :-)

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  6. I got married at age 22 and wanted to start a family shortly thereafter. My ex wanted to wait 5 years. So I waited. Then we got divorced and I was so sad that I had "wasted" my fertile years on a relationship that didn't work out. Luckily I found and married my husband when we were both 29. We started trying for a family right away. Blessedly I got pregnant 9 months later, and I had my (natural fraternal) twin boys at age 30. We're waiting to try for #3 for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is our sanity (twins are hard but fun). I am now 33. I think we'll try for #3 within the year, but it might not happen. I'm happy with our family as it is now, but I sure like babies :)

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  7. Mara, this post hit home with me SO hard today! I am 26 (27 next month) and my husband and I just welcomed our first child two weeks ago. My younger sister (who's 25) and I got into a heated discussion just last weekend about motherhood and starting families. She was adamant that getting a career jump-started and making a lot of money before having children is more important than having children earlier in life, and was very defensive about her point of view. She does not plan to start trying for children until close to thirty or after (if she's married at that point). She did not like it one bit that I pointed out that 30 is rather late to start trying if one is looking at things from a scientific standpoint - as you pointed out. She took my thoughts on it very personally and seemed to get offended when I disagreed with her and said that I think starting earlier is a better option when given the choice. She even made the comment that people tell her she is 'still a baby' at 25 years of age and shouldn't be worried about getting married and starting a family at this point in her life. I just can't believe that people think 25 is so young anymore. While it's definitely NOT old by any means, it is not too young to start making life decisions, and that's where I think people are so wrong nowadays. My husband and I had no trouble getting pregnant and my pregnancy and delivery were relatively easy. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I am still in my twenties. I don't anticipate future pregnancies being quite so easy as my body continues to age! Thank you for approaching this sensitive topic - I really enjoyed reading what you had to say.

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  8. Well, even though we started trying when I was 25 and my husband was 27 we didn't have any luck. We now have a son through adoption, but those "young, fertile years" didn't work out so well for us! We may try IVF in the future, but not sure if we will have the finances to do it before I turn 30. I like that people are trying to bring awareness to the issue, but in my church community I wish some women would wait a bit longer as the ONLY way they define themselves is through being a mom. I think they would know more of who they are and their talents and gifts if they delayed childbearing a little longer. It's hard that our bodies are more fertile when (most of us) don't really know we are and what we want. It stinks!

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  9. Ah Mara! There are so many things I'd love to say about this. I definitely agree with Annie above - it's difficult to really say "hey - it's time to have a family now while it's still considerably easy to do so" when men are trained to think that it's okay to wait as long as possible (as their fertility does not decline so early). Plus, I think the factor of college really taking up until 23-24 to complete really takes away from being in an adult, family-oriented mind set in your early to mid twenties.

    I would also definitely agree that something that worries me so much about having kids (I'm currently 24) is providing for them financially. Between my student loans and making rent, I can't possibly imaging caring for a human life adequately and give him/her the opportunities needed to develop cognitively and socially sufficiently. Combined with this, people around me regularly just say to wait to have kids. I feel like they would be ashamed of me or disappointed if I did have a kid this early.

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    1. I think it's also kind of interesting that the identity of college is one of delaying becoming an adult instead of preparing you to be one. I know not everybody feels that way, but I always find it interesting how many people view college as their last hurrah and an opportunity for indulged adolescence. Has it always been that way, or is it a more recent cultural shift? I guess I'm too young to know for myself.

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    2. Kim, I totally agree with you on financial aspect. This is the reason that stops me. On the other hand, other people somehow manage to do it, plus some are also getting education at the same time. I am also thinking of changing careers, which will put me back to school for 6 years and a debt. But is it worth it? As Mara mentioned in her post, earlier people just had kids, and somehow they were managing to provide for their families. As for you having kids "this early" according to modern views, don't worry, others would be jealous of you - young and pretty mommy:) If you have a partner you can rely on then go for it!

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    3. Danny, I think, historically (at least since the post-WWI boom of "middle class" people attending college) college has been seen as a way to elongate adolescence. So much culturally tells us growing up will be difficult, will be less fun, will be negative and rarely focuses on any of the real benefits of adulthood. I see why people feel it should be a last hurrah, if they really feel the end of college will be the beginning of boredom (I worked my way through college, so I was always a bit of an outsider in the 'last hurrah' respect). I do believe that it's really pushing families later and later.

      And Julie, thanks for responding too! It's such a hard balance - figuring out schools and careers and then trying to think about family and life and children. I wish there were more spaces in our society that helped us consider life holistically, and less that careers/schooling and families are mutually exclusive. How hard to figure it all out on your own!

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  10. I'm a wedding photographer and so many of our couples can't wait for kids, but they ARE waiting until they're married. If most people have that mentality, as people get married later and later in life, kids come later and later. Honestly, I think when people wait to have sex until they're married they get married younger. No matter how you slice it, no sex until marriage encourages people to want to get married sooner rather than later, once they know they're with the person they'll marry. They don't date for so long, their engagements aren't as long. They fall in love, they get married, and they're ready to have kids because they're married, living together, somewhat settled. So when it was more common to wait, marriage and babies came faster, and now that it's uncommon to, people take their time. Just a guess.

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  11. I'm so glad you brought this up, even though, it's such a sensitive topic.

    My quick story. Married at 22, tried to have babies at 27, and so started our infertility journey. Eight years, and two fresh IVF rounds later, we have a beautiful 3.5 daughter and 6 month-old son. We waited to have babies for the very personal reason (hence the anonymous), of witnessing firsthand the unhappiness that can come, when babies come too soon, too fast, and too many, without a firm and happy foundation. I wanted to be different and give my children a different life. I wanted to be happy and have no regrets. So my husband and I decided together that we would wait until I graduated college, and since we were poor :) It took me until 27! I felt so much guilt for this for so many years. I think I have come to a place of peace. And honestly, looking back, I still don't think 27 was too old. Most of my friends started at the same time, and have had no problem. However, we hadn't anticipated all the bumps in our road, and that it would take us 4 years to hold our daughter. Looking back, I wish I had known that I didn't have an infinite amount of time. I feel like society tells us we can have it all! My journey has defined us, strengthened us, and we have two beautiful children I wouldn't trade for the world. But we want a third, and I'm not sure if that will happen, given our situation. I think we would have been infertile no matter when we tried, who knows. But since it takes us SO long, and it so expensive to have our babies, and we put so much energy and love into a one-shot chance, more time would be great! I feel like this topic has the potential to give women even more guilt than we already tend to have! Hahaha. But, it's just true, that there is a stopping point to fertility. Fear shouldn't form our decisions, but education can help us decide what's best for our own families. I get crazy looks if I ever talk about this, so kudos for broaching this aspect of infertility.

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    1. You bring up some great points. It certainly does have the potential to give more guilt, but I hope it is clear that wasn't the intention.

      I think the main point was that our culture says we can have it all and so wait and pursue everything else...but we need to be more realistic.

      I think it's interesting that Britain is having this fertility campaign...it makes sense with their nationalized health care that they would try to address fertility and encourage a different mindset, seeing as how a rise in infertility is a significant cost to their system.

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    2. I don't live in the U.K., so I can't attest to the campaign's message or effectiveness, but speaking as an outside observer, the campaign's message kind of has a crude undertone, like "People, have babies!! And at a young age!!"

      Along with this type of campaign, there should also be a campaign about good parenting and making smart choices for yourself and future family...What about all of the abandoned kids out there being shuffled from foster family to foster family? Or the kids whose fathers are absent, returning occasionally with money from the most recent drug-sale? (I know, that sounds a little dramatic, but it's the life that many young children are living, at least in the U.S.) Just because one is capable of having children, doesn't mean that one should, nor does it mean that it will make the person any happier or provide the child with a good life.

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  12. This gets me all hot and bothered. Here's why I've not had a baby yet:

    1. I didn't have a serious partner. I won't raise a child alone (as far as I can help), I want a father (for my sanity but the good of the child too) My last 'serious' relationship ended in 2007 when I was still in university. This relationship is 7 months old

    2. I won't start a family with someone til it seems right. ie 7 months isn't really long in life to know someone, their family, their values

    3. I want to marry before children. Weddings take money, and time to plan. Therefore baby offset a little further

    4. I wanted a home. I (alone) now own, as of 18 months ago (when I didn't have a partner). Now I'm content I have a 'nest egg' but I'd need to service a mortgage on maternity leave, therefore a stable partner would be preferable. Even still, the current bf thinks my place is too small for a baby... so therefore we might need to sell and buy before a baby.

    5. I don't want to pressure someone. I could have made university bf give me a baby, but where would I be now? No career, no house, and a beautiful child, that I was doing a $20 per hour job to maintain. Now I could get this bf too, but that's not fair on him - we both want to be 'sure' of one another, our finances etc. Men also have timelines too, and their aren't linked to fertility. They could always date someone younger than me, and not be as pressured. So, we don't want to pressure and lose someone.

    6. My society says '30 for marriage, babies after' (this is secular Australian society, I'm religious, but not the 'get married early' type). So I'm mainly following that trend. I'd like to be engaged at 30 (I'm 28 now) and babies soon after the wedding.

    My mum married at 24 (!!) and had me at 30 (the first, with some issues with fertility). She had 2 more, and 3 miscarriages. I worry, but worrying won't solve it. I'll pray and God has (hopefully) delivered me a husband/father in this guy. But, your 'leave him if you gut says it's wrong' post recently - and then delay marriage babies another 4 years (I'd best guess, to find someone new, and go through some of the above), well that's a tough call, when it might just be jitters/PMS/stress.

    PS I usually post under my blog name, but for the sake of my bf finding this (he's in SEO & SEM industry) I'll stay anonymous today.

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  13. Reading this gives me a mini panic attack because at age 24, I'm nowhere near getting married or having kids! I've never met anyone who I would want to commit to spending the rest of my life with, and even though I would absolutely love to start a family, I'm not interested in being a single parent at this point in my life. Even if I met the right guy today, it would still be a few years until I actually would start trying for a baby. Hopefully I have super-eggs that will be ready for baby making in my 30s!

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  14. Is there any kind of "natural selection" thinking in all of this fertility talk as a whole? I cringe myself thinking about how awful and cruel this sounds because I am not a hater, but really, are some people just meant to adopt? Are some just not meant to have children at all? What about global over-population? Why is there so many children out there who just age out of the system because they're never adopted?

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    1. Very interesting point - though I know in Australia & France adoption is minimal and the system angles towards fostering, which potential parents like less as it's unstable and emotional challenging thinking the kids could go back to the biological parents/relatives. I agree with the system, trying to keep families together, but it makes a lot of adoptive parents going for a smaller pool of adoptees.

      PS Didn't think you were a hater!

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    2. I wish natural selection did a better job if that was the case. The hardest part of our infertility was seeing knocked up teen moms. We were aching for our babies like something fierce, and there are all these children running around with bellies. It killed me. I find it so unfair, yet it goes to show getting pregnant is much easier at a younger age..ha.

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    3. Hmmm, that's an interesting query. Too bad the brain isn't fully developed and mature (for most individuals) until about 25. If all of these stats are correct, it seems that women are in their most fertile years when their neurology hasn't necessarily caught up with their physical biology. (Of course, that's a generalization, so there will always be exceptions; but there seems to be an unfortunate, if slight, disconnect between brain maturity and peak fertility years.)

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  15. Oh, and I don't feel like this article pointed to guilt at all. Sorry, if I sounded that way!

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  16. This is something I have put a lot of thought into and am pretty happy about my current plan/decisions. I'm a vascular surgery resident and my husband is an ENT (ear nose throat surgery) resident. We both work 80-hour weeks. I am 33 and he is 30. We got married two years ago and met three years ago. In my 20s, I completed a dual degree in English Literature/Biology, then went on to an MD/PhD program where I completed a masters and a PhD. During graduate school I waitressed to make extra money and I was able to travel a great deal. I've been to 34 countries and had some amazing experiences, from volunteering at Mother Teresa's charity house in India to working at a hospital in London, England. When I met my husband, I was happy with my life and myself. I had finished medical school and was about to start my surgical training in residency. When I met him, everything clicked. Prior to meeting with him, I hadn't met a man who I thought could be my best friend and go on the adventures with me, challenge me and inspire me. I watched my friends marry people who they felt lukewarm about just because it was comfortable. And I didn't want to be that person.

    Now that I've met my soulmate, we're both working long hours and don't feel it would be fair at all to have a child. Hand the child off at 5am to a nanny and not get home everyday until 7 or 8? I sometimes spend 27 hours in the hospital at a time. I'd be devastated to stay away from a kid for that long. In addition, my husband and I really want to do some more traveling together and enrich our relationship and experiences as a team. We know that having children is part of that, but we're not there yet.

    We're both well aware of the challenges of having children when I'm in my mid to late 30s, but I'm okay with that. If we are unsuccessful, I'm just as happy to adopt children. I think having and giving love and knowledge to children is something that will be very fulfilling. The time just hasn't worked out quite yet. I don't feel viscerally caught up in the child having our DNA and I've thought about this a lot.

    For me (and for us), I kind of have a different sort of role in the world as a surgeon with being able to confront humanity on a level many people don't come to grips with on a daily basis. I feel like I'm offering a lot to the world and contributing a lot through my research and clinical work and having a child would be an extension of this -- but I don't want to do it half heartedly. And I definitely feel that my experiences over the past decade have helped to mature, enrich, inspire and broaden me as a person. I wouldn't change them for the world. They'll make me a better, more patient, more self-aware parent.

    There are different paths for everyone!

    Really enjoy your blog :)

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    1. Thanks for this comment...this is something Mara and I were discussing before we posted. There are some with incredibly demanding jobs that serve society and so they delay. I think you represent well the kind of healthy attitude that balances the demands of that particular "calling" and the future demands of a family.

      Besides, you'll never hear a complaint from us about waiting until you find the right person to share your life with!

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    2. Thanks for replying. Incredibly insightful stuff on here. It's encouraging to know that there are people out there thinking thoughtfully on these topics. Thanks to you and Mara!

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  17. Anon above, I think you are right that there is a natural selection about having children. I knew from a young age that I never wanted children. I am so grateful for that! My husband and I (him 36, me 33, married 5 years) are both super-content to wake up late on the weekend (which for me is 6:45am, hehe), work late if we need to (unfortunately), not stress about child care or saving for college. My evenings and weekends are free for hobbies and day-trips (and a few overseas trips a year). It's strange b/c I'm a total domestic-type: I love to cook, sew, and even babysit! I adore seeing pictures of my friends' babies - and often feel left out and that I'm missing the motherhood connection that my friends all have - but I know deep down that children aren't meant for me.

    Beth above, be true to yourself if you don't want children. God didn't put you on this earth to reproduce - he wants you to live a happy and fullfilling life. It feels so alone sometimes, but there are others like you out there!

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    1. I think children teach you amazing qualities that you might not get to learn without children. I have learned more about patience, unselfishness and not loosing me temper since having children than I ever did as a single women or a women married without children. My children help refine me into a better person and sometimes it's rough, but hopefully by the end of my life I will be more balanced, well rounded, kinder and full of more joy. I know life in general will help with some of that, but children help accelerate and magnify the process. I think our world needs more kind, patient, loving, unselfish people and I believe children are great "teachers" for that.

      I did the college thing, but my education has definitely increased since having children because my learning has become more focused. I don't have to take lame classes just to get to the classes I want, instead I do a lot of learning on my own. College definitely taught me to appreciate learning and I loved college and am grateful for the foundation it has given me, but I am grateful for these years of child raising that have improved my education, because my kids can be very unpredictable and I am constantly learning new methods or new information to keep up with them.

      Having children and when to have them is a choice and I am not passing judgement, I just wanted to add that children increase our growth to be better and increase our joy - both our great things!

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    2. I strongly believe that having children is not the only way to learn patience and unselfishness. It sounds like that was your path and that is wonderful! However, there are others who will have to learn those things without the capacity for having children. While I agree with your 'children are great teachers' comment, I disagree with the argument that that is a reason to have children or speed up the choice to reproduce. There are many who prefer that 'classroom' and many who have it available to them. Some go through the rigors of parenting and are still cruel and selfish or even abusive...
      I guess what I'm saying is: I don't think people 'need' children to teach them to be unselfish. I also think it's rather inappropriate to expect children to enact such qualities in their guardians. It places a large burden on our littles that I don't think they should have to carry.
      Surely, we can choose to be adults and learn unselfish and patient behaviors from our own lives (as you mentioned you did)?

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  18. I hope to have children later in life, (34-40ish). I'm 29 and at this point I don't want to have a baby nor do I have the option to unless I went and procreated with a sperm bank or a one night stand. No thanks:).

    There are two things I consider when thinking about this topic. One, infertility is a much larger issue now because of our poor food quietly, excessive daily stress and environmental toxins. Even if you're in your 20s you may end up having issues with fertility because of these modern day deficits. It's not as simple as delaying families because of career, this is a much more complex issue.

    I try to focus on my health and do all I can to get and keep my hormones at optimum and my stress in check. Of course that's not a guarantee but I think it can make a big difference in the long run. Insulin resistance is linked to endometriosis. Endometriosis is linked to infertility. Years of consuming sugar and refined carbs is not going to help when one is 35 and wanting to conceive.

    The other thing I consider when it comes to fertility are the older parents I know. I'm lucky because my mom is a very happy older parent. She had me at 37 and she's said repeatedly how happy she was to have children later in life. Fortunately it worked out for her and she was easily able to conceive, it seems she had plenty of eggs to have my brother and I without issue whereas her earlier years were fraught with miscarriages. Having children later in life has kept her young, everyone thinks she's younger than she is. Yes it was a bit harder energy wise but she has been very active and health conscience and it paid off, then and now. And she has a huge life post child raising years, it just keeps unfolding with more and more joy and I attribute that to her attitude and the way she embraces life regardless of age.

    So for me the appeal of having children when I'm older is tremendous. I believe the maturity I'm gaining as I work through my crap in my 20s is going to pay off in a big way when/if I become a parent. And if I need to adopt, so be it. I've been a nanny and that has helped me understand how immense one's love can be for someone who is not biologically theirs. Love is what this whole gig is about anyways.

    Oh and another thought. Women have been given so many more opportunities these days. Women before us have fought so we can have the option of education and careers. And this has come at a cost in some regards but it's also been hugely freeing to women and directly affected my life for the positive. I want to capitalize on the possibilities that those before me didn't have. Maybe that means making compromises when it comes to how and when we create families but I have to be honest to my dreams and trust life to unfold imperfect timelines and all. Faith.

    Oh how nice it would be to have fertility till 50 but that's not how we're made. I would rather find inspiration for how to creatively and proactively create families as well as careers we love. Lives we love and are proud of. Some of the most beautiful families I know are the most unconventional. The pressure of statistics and former timelines can induce shame, I suppose it's how one chooses to interpret them. To be honest, I think most of us gals KNOW that the clock IS ticking even when we're told we have all the time in the world:).

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  19. Honestly, the real reason for all this conflict in women and resistance from men about children is something no one has addressed here. The Feminist movement is the real reason. I fell THAT was the beginning of a the real change in society that put kids on the back burner. Telling women they won't REALLY be happy as a housewife/mom and will only feel worthwhile doing something in "a man's world" will obviously cause a massive amount of conflict! The majority of women I know (not all obviously) really do (deep down) just want a great relationship, security, and to be able to be with their babies. No women feels great about putting their career before their own kids. BUT if society is telling them they will be miserable, frazzled, all-identity-taken-away as mothers, many they decide to just wait to have kids. The Feminist movement also gives men a way out of their obligations! Supporting women in their careers over motherhood is a great way for men who don't want to take any responsibility for children/their sexual lives to get out of it. Why should men step up early in their 20s, choose a successful career, get the education and spend their money on a wife and kids when women will get a career and do it for them?

    Thus, the feminist movement promotes a society of men who get to use women for their own gains and don't have to step-up for a family (or care about her fertile years) and women who get to their mid-30s and realize their careers are NOT as fulfilling as society was telling them it was going to be. But, by then infertility issues have come up and a (possibly) more fulfilling life with children is threatened. OF COURSE I feel all women should be able to choose what they wish, (and the feminist movement had it's place and importance) but the PRESSURE of careers over families for women is WRONG for many. I think we need to be MORE supportive of women with kids and families in general. That's what many women need-- not a career away from their kids/potential kids.

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    1. Amelia, I think you have a basic lack of understanding of feminism- which is the idea that women have the right to make up their own minds about what they want in their lives- be that family, career, or both. It is the idea that there is no "right" way to be, other than the way individual women define themselves, rather than what men decide is right for women. Feminism has given women choices and rights of all kinds and I don't know any women who would trade those, even for a man and baby.
      I say all this as a 41-year-old single woman, currently pregnant with my first child. I spent more than 10 years in a relationship with a man who was emotionally unavailable, but also a "good provider". Although I had an expensive house, and all the financial security I could ask for, I ended it in part because I knew that having children in a marriage where I was not heard, and where my dreams were not valued, would leave me feeling as if my own identity were obliterated. I did not feel that I could be the mother or role model I wanted to be in that kind of relationship. I believe that valuing myself, and my own inner voice will make me a better mother than I would have been had I remained in my marriage and had children that way- no matter how much financial security I had. I for one am grateful that the advances of feminism allowed me to 1) make the choice to leave my marriage legally, and without fear of being left destitute or in physical danger (which still happens to women who leave marriages in many countries in the world) and 2) could do so knowing that I've had the education to build a career that will allow me to support my child and 3) to make the choice to do this on my own.
      If feminism is at fault for anything, it is for concentrating too much on creating a world in which girls could thrive as independent beings, without also addressing to an equal degree how to raise boys to shift their thinking and learn to take on new roles as equal partners with women. Whether I have a boy or a girl, I will raise my child to be true and honest to their own heart, to reach for their dreams, and to value those qualities in others, none of which would be possible in a world in which gender and identity were still totally proscribed to conform to pre-determined roles.
      That said, to answer Mara's question about why people are waiting to conceive- I think there is a confluence of social trends, including women having access to more education, wanting to meet the right partner, and the longer timeline to financial stability for both genders. But buried in the post seems to be the question of whether women should wait. To that, I would agree that on an individual basis, infertility is a terrible struggle. At the same time, from the point of view of society, fewer births is associated with longer lives, less poverty, and more equitable distribution of resources. In addition, something I struggled with in my own decision to have a child was whether or not the planet really needs more babies. There are 7 billion people on the planet and our natural resources are already strained, and it is unclear how our planet will be able to sustain its increasing population into the future. So I tend to think that overall lower birth rates are better for both women, and society. At the same time, this does not mean that the trade offs that are made at the individual level are not wrenching. It just means that as the world has changed some things have gotten better, and some things have gotten harder. Whether you think those trade offs have been worthwhile depends on how you balance the lives of children against the lives of adults, the needs of individuals v. the good of society. For myself, I decided that 1 child will be all I will have- it is the number I can support emotionally, intellectually, and financially, without hardship, and without burdening society. I am not saying that these are the same choices or considerations for everyone, but they are the one's that are right for me, and for my child to be.

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    2. Bravo Bravo Bravo for this reply, and thank you for sharing.

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    3. Wonderful reply!! I consider myself a feminist and have chosen to have both a child and a career. Thanks to the advances feminists have made in society, my daughter will also have the choice to have a child or not, and hopefully won't have to choose between having a family or having a career.

      My husband is also a feminist. He supports my choice to be a working mom. In fact, he has shouldered the responsibility of caring for our child while I'm at work during the day. He's not "using me for his own gains" - as any stay-at-home parent can attest, it's hard work!! I feel lucky that I have the privilege of being able to support my family financially doing a job that I love, and knowing that my husband is open-minded enough to accept a non-traditional role in the family structure.

      I think if more men were willing to take on some of the hands-on work of child care, more women would not feel the need to decide between having a child or first establishing their careers.

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  20. I agree with all your points and think it is a real shame. People are putting their priorities in the materialistic things of life instead of with other people. I also blame this in large part on men not being educated about fertility too. This isn't just a burden that woman carry, it will come back and affect them too. While I agree you can't always control when you meet the man or woman you want to have children with, once you do there shouldn't be this prolonged waiting. Many married couples wait until they have a better job, buy a house, etc. before getting started. I say once you are married or committed to your life partner then trying for a baby should happen right away. Waiting until you are "settled" seems like just an ignorance excuse to me.

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    1. There are a lot of other factors that go into deciding whether or not to have a child. Maybe these married couples wait some time so that they can provide their future children with a better life. Agreed--these couples should know the facts about fertility issues. But to say that, once a couple is married, "trying for a baby should happen right away" is offensive. Maybe you didn't mean to, but it seems like you're imposing your world-view on others whom you've never met, and you have no idea what their lives are like and why they've made the choices they have.

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  21. I think it's also important to keep in mind that even though fertility does begin to decline in the late 20s, the decline can be overstate. Between ages 30 and 35, for example, even women who are not engaging in assisted reproduction will still have a 75% chance of conceiving within a year. Granted, trying to squeeze all childbearing into your 30s is more stressful and less certain, and doesn't leave you as much time if you do have trouble conceiving. But for most women it doesn't take "super eggs," as one commenter called them, so I don't think that the decision to delay until one's thirties is necessarily the product of magical thinking or failure to appreciate the facts of fertility.

    Someone else mentioned another reason people are delaying more, which makes sense to me: people don't feel mature enough to do it. I would say my peers take commitment and raising a family more seriously, not less. Whereas my mother, who had her first baby 42 years ago, says she didn't give it much thought -- she just wanted to have babies, so she did. My mother was a fantastic 25-year-old mother, but many people do benefit as parents from waiting another several years. I would say that was also true 40 years ago, but birth control and cultural norms make delay more of an option, and childbearing more of a concerted decision, which isn't necessarily a bad change.

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  22. This also really hit home with me and I definitely relate to some of the commenters. I married my husband when I was 25 and he was 29. We've now been married almost 3 years and are still waiting to have kids :) We have waited to have kids for several reasons:

    1.) "Us" Time
    We wanted to enjoy being newlyweds with just us the first few years. We waited until getting married to move in together and with that came learning a little more about each other and figuring some stuff out. It's been great to have this time without the added stresses (and joys of course) of another little person :) We also enjoy taking advantage of our relatively greater "freedom" before kids to travel. Not that we can't or don't plan to travel when we do have kids, but that brings some different challenges to the mix.

    2.) Reality Check
    We both work with kids...lots of kids...challenging kids. It's exhausting. My husband is a therapist and works with emotionally disturbed teens. I am a second grade teacher. We both receive great joy from our jobs, but are also slammed in the face with the not-so-rosy realities that can come with children. It seems to me some people forget that babies eventually become kids...Even my sweet little second graders are enormously challenging some days. Something that starts off as 'cute' quickly becomes 'not cute.' Now, that's not to say we're not up to the challenge or have an enormously negative view of children (we both got into our professions because we love children), but I think we have a more well-rounded view of the joys and the challenges than a lot of people.

    3.) Financial Reasons
    I know we can make anything work. Neither of us wants or expects to live in luxury. We didn't get into our careers for the money. That being said, we want to be able to support our family. We also want to be able to swing it so that one of us will be able to stay home at least most days. We live in a very expensive city (not NYC expensive, but pretty darn expensive). If we had a child right now, we would probably both have to continue working full-time at our very stressful jobs. We could maybe survive off of one income but with great sacrifices. These sacrifices might be well worth it, but the point is, something big would have to give. We've been saving away these last 3 years in preparation for starting a family. We're considering moving to a different state and I'm looking into applying to get a second masters for a better-paying job in the long run. Which brings me to...

    4.) Personal Development
    I'm glad I've waited. I have grown so much as a person these last few years. I've really enjoyed this blog because I've struggled with confidence and self-esteem issues. I've been working with a therapist and am making good progress. I'm thankful I've had this space in the last 3 years for my own personal development. I know I could have worked and will continue to work through these issues with kids, but I think it would have been much so much harder to do these initial steps if I also was figuring out how to be a parent. I don't think I would be pursuing a second masters right now. Not to say that dream wouldn't have happened, but it would have been delayed for sure.

    I hope my reasons make sense. There are others, but these are the ones looming in my mind currently. It's hard for me to articulate some of the thoughts that have been rattling around lately. Having said all of this, I still have doubts and fears about waiting. I'll be 29 this year and reading posts like this makes me anxious...Thank you for the post though and thanks for reading :)

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  23. I am blessed to be one of those who finished my college degree, married at twenty, and had my first baby right before turning 23. LIke some of those who commented already, I was never natural with children. However, my husband and I together felt that it was right to pursue having a family. It has been difficult. I got my degree in high school English education, and love those kids. Giving up a "normal" adult life does feel like a sacrifice just like you think it is going to! But, oh, is it worth it.

    We live in a world that sometimes make me feel a bit worthless for making this choice. My husband works like mad, but we don't have much money, and we will go without a lot of things while we pay off student loans. I am almost 24 years old, and even though glamorous isn't a word I could use do describe what I do, it is the most fulfilling thing I could imagine. (cliche much?) I am still not great with other people's children, but taking care of my own baby feels right. I couldn't tell you why it is different, but it is. I wasn't even natural at it at first, but it comes. My point: don't listen to your fears if that is what holds you back. It is different, but it is the most wonderful kind of different you can imagine. As corny as it sounds, the hard days are harder, but the good days are better than you can even imagine.

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    1. Thank you for this refreshing comment. I'm in the exact same boat - just a couple years older than you. The happiness and joy that come from raising children is so powerful and so fulfilling. I'm so glad that I started young and that I have many years to enjoy more children, if that's what my husband and I choose. Our life is definitely not easy - especially financially. And because of that I can really understand if a woman wants to wait (and for other various reasons). But, like you said, it is so worth it.

      Thanks, Mara for starting this discussion! I've really enjoyed reading all the comments and it's opening my eyes more to different points of view that I've never thought of before.

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  24. This is a really good and complicated question. I think there's a huge amount of peer pressure though i guess the critical question is where it began. I got married at 26 and then pregnant at 27 by accident (a reproductive endocrinologist had told me when I was 24 that I would never conceive without clomid, I'd gone off the pill to see about getting my period back, and I never did, but I was pregnant) and then had my second baby right after turning 30. I feel wildly out of sync with most of my peers and friends but I'm also glad for the way it worked out. I don't know why it is that people wait. I do think that in many cases it's simply not having "met" the person yet, but I guess that's sort of an excuse and we need to look back and figure out why the expectation isn't that people will marry in their mid 20s, right? Interesting topic. Fascinating!

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  25. you might enjoy this TED talk Mara
    30 is NOT the new 20
    http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20.html
    not exactly the same subject but similar ideas

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  26. As a young mother (24), I really love my decision, but it is a hard one to live with. Amusingly enough, even though we live on $15,000 (with no debt and government help), money has not been an issue at all even though we have a 5 month old baby. The harder part for me is the judgement I feel from other people my age.

    I am constantly judge for my choice and have had complete strangers in parks and restaurants tell me that I should have thought about having a baby a bit more before I had one because of all the things I have "missed out on". My peers from high school have gone off to graduate school, big jobs, and travel the world and they all seem to shake their heads at me. I feel that some of my friends who are jealous of the life I have (they have told me in private) are worried about being judged. Everyone expects them to do what many of our peers are doing and by not doing it are disappointing people. I realize at 25 most people consider them adults, but we are still seeking guidance and approval from past generations.

    While traveling and school are more difficult now that I have a baby, I don't see my life limited by her.

    Here are some of the perks I have found of having kids early is that

    1) I have learned to live on less
    2) My baby has grandparents in their 40's and great-grandparents in their 70's who love and adore her.
    3) While my identity has partly been define as being a mother, I have also learned to search for an identity greater than that. It's been an amazing experience that has been difficult yet beautifully enriching.
    4) With so much judgement about my age and parenting (if you are young, you get a lot of unwanted advice), I have learned to find joy within myself and in my life independent of others around me.
    5) I'm a lot more compassionate, in a way that I think for me only would have come through motherhood.
    6) I value life and time in a way that is so drastically different before I connected to my small baby.

    and then finally 7) Life is really a personal thing (which in a world so full of media, we seem to forget). Judging someone for when they choose to have kids or get married or how they parent is a close hearted view. I have learned that women facing not being married when they want to be, infertility, and being a new mother to name a few, are all very difficult in their own rights and one should not be considered more difficult or easier than others. One of the most heart breaking thing was when I was struggling with adjusting to being a mother having a friend with infertility tell me that I was being selfish by struggling since I already had a kid. I understand she was hurt, but it opened my eyes to how personal trials are and how you should never judge the pain of another person.

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    1. Great thoughts in general...but I particularly love your #7. Well stated and something each of us needs to embrace more fully and be reminded of regularly.

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  27. I think this is an interesting subject and maybe there is also truth in the 'you cant have it all'.... it really is hard to push mothering/parenting, big career, travel, saving money etc etc in the same few years.
    I've given up career for mothering at the moment but that doesn't mean I wont go back to it. Its ok to have get a career in my late 30's/40s surely ;)

    as to the overpopulation problems many countries actually have the opposite. It only takes a generation or two to delay having kids and your country call fall into chaos. Noone to pay the tax, do the jobs, look after the elderly. Having kids is actually kinda important. The country I live actually paid $5000 to each person to have a kid as a tax break due to declining birth rate.

    I also don't get all the no sex before marriage complainers. Sure, there will be some people who end up in sexually unfulfilled marriages but I really believe that number to be lower than the number of problems caused by un-careful sex before marriage (think neglected kids to single parent households, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, overwhelming abuse happens to kids from 'moms' new live in boyfriend,) and I've met plenty of people who don't subscribe to this more traditional way of life who still have unfulfilled sexual lives anyway so I agree with Mara that sex before marriage is not as good as everyone seems to want it to be.

    Also when smart loving wonderful people put off having kids, that's one less child that will grow up in a wonderful, smart, educated, loving family. If the world gets filled with kids from other families not as wonderful it wont take long before the world is filled with kids/people with major issues that the downfall of society can be placed upon this topic. Sometimes I wonder if people really realise this??

    thanks for being brave enough to tackle the hard subjects :)

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  28. What a delicate subject. Thanks for broaching the topic in a sensitive way - often, discussions in the media really do shame women for their choices.

    There are some really deep-seated economic/systemic issues at play (in addition to all the personal reasons that inform a woman's decision to get pregnant). I finished college in 2009, at the height of the recession, and I watched so many of my peers struggle to find stable, well-paying work. That has a huge impact on the possibility of starting a family! If we're really concerned about empowering women to have children when it's right for them, I believe we need to address the economic realities facing young people today. Things like - the cost of higher education (and crippling student debt), the cost/availability of health insurance (which is an unaffordable luxury for too many), the woefully inadequate parental leave policies in most workplaces, the lack of affordable/quality daycare...

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    1. Yes. Yes. Yes! I completely agree with Lauren, as I'm in a similar situation. Graduated college in 2007. Got a teaching job with health insurance. Went into a different career, becoming self-employed without health insurance. Married my husband in 2011 at the ripe age of 26. The health insurance through his company is horrible (small company, so small pot). It would cost over $400 a month for both of us, which we can't afford with his student loans. We have a $11,000 deductible plan for a catastrophic event, which we pay $200 a month to have. If we wanted to add maternity coverage to our current plan (because maternity is currently seen as a preexisting condition-- until Jan. 1, 2014 when that part of the Affordable Care Act begins) it would cost us an additional $150 a month BUT we'd have to wait 18 months to conceive. That's $2,700 down the drain. Healthcare in this country is a joke (because it's a business). Maternity and paternity leave in this country is a joke.

      We're supposed to be "responsible adults" but it's hard when there's so many cards stacked against us. If the United States wants young, intelligent societal contributors to breed, in hopes of producing more intelligent offspring, then they need to lessen the financial burden of procreating.

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    2. Totally agree with Lauren. Well said!

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  29. P.S. For the record, I am 28, unmarried, and fiercely committed to my work (as a lawyer with a human-rights NGO). If I lived in Britain, I would be the target audience for those advertisements! And yes, I worry about reconciling a demanding career with having children (hopefully that will come soon).

    But above all, I feel an incredible sense of privilege and responsibility - to have received an amazing education, which I can use to make a real difference in this world. I loved Maria's comments above, about taking advantage of the freedom and the opportunities that women before us fought for :) That doesn't mean there aren't tough choices along the way, but at least those choices are OURS to make.

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  30. I am sort of rare in that I was married young (by NYC standards) at 24 but didn't have any interest in starting a family until after I was 30. I can't really pinpoint the reason, just didn't feel ready. It was DEFINITELY ME though, My husband was ready for kids years before I was. We had successful jobs although he is/was always more passionate about his career. We traveled but not excessively. We were never into staying out late or partying. Years went by and we just enjoyed spending a ton of time doing things together so by the time we were ready for kids we had talked about what kind of parents we'd be countless times. I ignorantly never really thought about fertility and luckily I got pregnant at 31. (My son was born when I was 32 and my daughter almost 4 years later - last month!) Sometimes I think that we could easily have a 10 year old and it makes me wonder how different our life would be...

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  31. So I am one of those gals who had her first baby at age 40...the same year I finished my PhD/dissertation and started my post-doc. I am expecting babe #2 at age 43. At times I've been told I am a selfish woman. I don't think I am at all selfish. When I was in my 20s I assumed I would get married and have kids before I finished my undergraduate degree. I dated, I had relationships, and my life and expectations just did not match up. It took many, many years before I found the right guy for me to marry when I was 39. I assumed I couldn't have children because of a long complicated history with endometriosis, but when the time was right, I was lucky to have a healthy baby. I would have been very happy to be a stay at home mom in my 20's with a passel of kids, but it was not in the cards for me. I'm educated and the primary breadwinner because I spent my time productively as a single gal and this is just how my life ended up. I prefer to look at my choices and the choices of others as people making the best choices they can at that particular time in their life.

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  32. Interesting topic. Of course it's the reality that fertility declines with age (and I'm going through this myself now) but when I was in my 20s I had no interest in being married or having a child. It wasn't about my career it was just not something that interested me. I never thought marriage was necessary - it's just a piece of paper, etc., etc, and I still respect people who decide not to marry their partners because they see no need for it - and I respect those who feel it IS necessary. However, my spouse and I went through a series of traumatic events, culminating in 9/11 (he was on the other side of the country for work, I was in NYC at the time) that made me think about being more serious, i.e, what if something happened to one of us? So, we decided to get married. I was 30. We'd been together (and lived together) for eight years at that point. But again, I don't think being married is for everyone and completely support anyone who isn't interested in being married or having children. It's really not for everyone. I didn't start thinking about having children until I was in my early 30s . . . and then I had major problems on that front - which, interestingly enough, had nothing to do with my age (I miscarried multiple times for reasons to complex to get into here). Anyway, now that I'm in my late 30s I can't get pregnant at all! And it's most likely due to my age. Do I wish I'd started earlier? I really don't. I was not ready to have a kid when I was in my 20s. And my husband and I had a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous time when we were in our 20s! And I think we've been able to really devote ourselves to our children now that we're older in ways that we wouldn't have been able to then. We're so in love with them and don't feel like we're missing out on anything like we may have felt if we'd had children at a much younger age. Anyway, I wish you guys the best of luck! Fingers crossed for your three embryos!

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  33. This is an interesting discussion! I think that it is important for people (women in particular) to know about the science, so that they can make informed decisions. But if the question is: "why do people delay having babies?" there are so many different factors and situations... And many different solutions needed. Like making work environments more family-friendly, to name just one!! I find the UK add campaign, which is aimed ONLY at women and the issue of fertility to be overly narrow. If the government wants to encourage younger families, they should encourage BOTH men and women to start a family younger... They should address the obstacles, the prejudices that younger parents face, etc. If the goal is simply to educate women, this can be done in other ways and at the times that really matter (at school, through doctors, etc.)

    I wonder if one reason why the fertility stats have been downplayed is the inherent "unfairness" between the biology of men and women, where men stay more fertile longer. By insisting on the declining fertility of women, this makes single women feel in a pressure cooker... while single men can simply look at the stats and decide to wait, then date and marry younger women. This seems to devalue older single women as potential partners. Therefore, in some way it becomes in women's interest to downplay the fertility stats. Does that make sense?

    One part of the solution for me lies with the parents of younger children. It's about how we raise our children, guide them to become mature, happy adults, and give them the tools to make informed decisions. When you are 29 and single, it is a bit late to be told about fertility stats! (And the solution is NOT to settle down with the first guy to pass by...)

    Also, I think when you are in your 30s and still hoping to get pregnant, by that time it simply MAKES SENSE to focus on the positive side of the stats (the x% chance of getting pregnant rather than the x% chance of not being able to). And by that time, hopefully you have learned the really precious lessons taught on this blog and you are ready to accept whatever outcome, and you know that your self-worth doesn't depend on having childrenn. And adoption is still an option!

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  34. Some people have hopes and dreams beyond just being a parent, there is nothing wrong with this! Some feel that it is necessary to be more financially stable, they do this for the benefit of their family, not only for the financial aspect but also because it is so much harder to be there for your kids while you are still in school/working/poor/trying to start a career. This is something that is truly important to some people and it is unfair to judge otherwise. Then there are those who just aren't ready to have kids, when/if they do, is a VERY personal decision that should not be pressured. Pressure is not a good reason to reproduce!

    YES! Everyone should absolutely be education on the facts of infertility! That being said they should then be able to decide what is best for their own self and future family and not feel pressured or shamed. While I don't think it was the intention of Danny and Mara's post, I could help but feel that the underlying tones were pressure to have children younger. And I feel that many of the commenters above cross the line of shaming. Everyone is different, every couple and family is different. Just because starting a family young works well for one couple, does not mean it is the best and right choice for everyone else. Older parents also make great parents!!! As long as everyone is educated then they can decide if they want to start early, or take a risk starting late and possibly weigh other options.

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  35. I live in England, and I've been finding the whole national campaign to get pregnant earlier horribly difficult to deal with. It just happened that I didn't meet my husband until I was thirty. We are now dealing with infertility, and I have to sit in my doctor's office looking at posters telling me I should have started earlier. With whom? My husband and I have an extremely happy marriage. Even if we don't manage to have children together, I still think that waiting to meet the right man was a better decision for the future happiness of my family than marrying someone else just because I felt my time was running out. I attribute part of the success of my marriage to the fact that I was happy when I was single: when I met my husband, I was already leading a fulfilling life as a single woman. I think I would have been less happy if I had been lying awake at night worrying about my fertility. I would love to have children, and I won't pretend that discovering it isn't easy for us hasn't been hard - but I think the National Health Service campaign is doing no favours to women, who have enough to worry about. There is more to babies than just the making of them. They should also be born out of love, and sometimes love takes a while to reach you. At least I was ready for it when I found it.

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    1. Thank you! I love your line: "There is more to babies than just the making of them. They should also be born out of love...."

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  36. Interesting discussion! Now that this is an issue, I think we need to start educating people at a younger age... instead of just trying to educate women (and men too, I guess) who are already in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. I hear a lot of people who say things like, "I'm so glad I waited till I was X years old to have kids because when I was in my 20s I was a mess, etc." And that's fine; I understand that not everyone has a good upbringing or is raised by parents who nurture and protect them, or are in positions to make those decisions. But, for those of us who do have children and are responsible parents, I think part of it is now educating and raising our children to be people who are capable to making those kinds of important decisions (marriage, children) in their 20s. We can let them know that it's okay if they want to get married and have children in their 20s.

    I guess I have a unique perspective on this. I'm LDS/Mormon, like I'm sure a lot of your readers are. All of my life, I've been taught about how important families are. I was also always taught how important education is. I think thing about the current ideas of waiting until your career is established and financially successful is that people don't realize anymore that you really can start families while you're establishing yourself. They think it's an old-fashioned or simply impossible idea. But, being Mormon, I know so many couples who are still doing this today. My husband and I got married when he was 22 and I was 18 (yes, very young!). He was finishing up his bachelors and I was just starting mine. We were, of course, very poor. But he found a good job after graduating, got his MBA, I finished my bachelors, and worked for a year before we had our first child when I was almost 23. We were still able to be married without kids for several years, getting to travel and have a lot of fun together, and still start having kids at a young age. I'm now 26 and expecting our third child. I am so glad we are having them while we are young and while my parents are young and can enjoy them too. I'm grateful that this has been an option for us. I'm grateful that when they are young adults who are my age, I will be still in my 40s and 50s. I'm not saying that this is this best option for everyone, and don't judge people who live differently. I just don't think some people realize that it really is an option for them to get married and start families before they're fully established and "ready."

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  37. This is a really interesting discussion. Many people know that it's ideal to have children at a younger age, but it doesn't always work out that way for them. I dated quite a few people and none were anybody I wanted to marry until I met my husband at 26 and we got married six months ago (me 28 and him 30). Having a baby in my early to mid-twenties was never even an option, so we have to deal with the situation we've been put in. We wanted to have a few years on our own before jumping in to something else, but I realize since we got married older we might not have get choice, or it might screw us over later. I think a lot of people wait for the reasons that have been mentioned above - the thirties are the new twenties, the fear of growing up and getting older, the fear of becoming a "boring" parent who can't do anything fun anymore, more women want to do more with their careers. The pressure to be "successful." There's a lot of people really hyping up traveling around the world while you're young. As for me, I can't find a job in the area we live for what I'm qualified to do, so I've been plagued with feeling unsuccessful for a while. It's either go back to college for me or try to make do on mostly one income and my little part-time jobs, which makes me feel bad for having the burden of supporting us fall mainly on my husband (he doesn't complain, but I know it's easier if there's 2 incomes to work with). That leaves me in a panicky sort of state, because if I go back to school then by the time I'm out I'll be even older and just starting a career, so how could I quit then to have kids? But if I don't, raising children on this kind of income seems about impossible knowing we're just breaking even with only ourselves. I think we both want kids, but we got married older and with the money thing to think about, it makes the decision really hard. Besides all that, we've both wanted to adopt, which also takes a lot of money. In my heart I think I'd be fulfilled raising some children and working part-time while staying home. But that's not a realistic choice with our financial situation. It's a difficult issue to navigate through...add to that a current condition I'm dealing with that would make having biological children impossible until that gets straightened out (which has cost a little more money), and for us having children at the "ideal" time was never a choice and might never be. I think with any place in life, there are sacrifices and people put off having kids because they are trading one sacrifice for another. The ones who have kids early might miss out on social things, careers, traveling, getting more education, having freedom, and having spending money. The ones who have kids later will just deal with those things ten years later, plus the difficulties with having children at an older age. It's fortunate for the people who can do things by the ideal timeline, but we won't be able to. We have to remember we can't compare, or wonder "what if we had done something different," or wonder if everybody else has it figured out and we're behind, because for us, this is the way our lives happened and we are choosing to be okay with it.

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  38. There's an excellent TED talk about this (among other things) titled "Why 30 is not the new 20" that's very interesting.

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  39. I live in Germany, and I'm also married to a man who is 14 years older than I am. I'm 26, he's 40. We unfortunately lost our first pregnancy and are trying again now, but I'll never forget the look of surprise on the doctor's face when I came in to confirm the pregnancy and she asked me how old I was. "You're SO YOUNG!" she said. I feel old already, actually, knowing that my mom had me when she was 26 and that even if I got pregnant again now, I'll be 27 by the time I have my first child. And that's just if everything goes well.

    But it's true that here in Germany, most women (and men too) don't even DREAM of having babies earlier than 35-40. My doctor's average patient probably has a much higher age than 26. I just found a figure from 2004 that said that the average age for married Germans to have their first child is 29. I'm guessing it's increased at least a little bit in those almost 10 years. They seem on par with Britain.

    Schooling in Germany is usually longer, and people are definitely very focused on careers here. I think those are the main reasons. But most people I've met here were surprised that I got married "so young". 25? Please. It's just interesting to me how pervasive this feeling is in the culture - it really is a cultural thing.

    No wonder there's a declining birth rate in Germany. I found an interesting .pdf on that topic here:
    http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/10/2850.full.pdf

    This part was particularly interesting:

    "Regarding the age when ideally the first child should be born, two trends were found in the sample of those who have remained childless so far: 38% of all respondents articulated the wish to have their first child between the ages of 25–29 years. Another 38% wanted to fulfil their wish of having a child between the ages of 30 and 35 years; the first child was desired at a mean age of 29.9 years."

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  40. I apologize I haven't read all the comments, so I don't know if someone else has the same theory as me, but here's a theory I've been working on the past few years: My mother and especially grandmothers had 5 options for careers when they graduated from high school
    1. a housewife/mother
    2. a nurse
    3. a teacher
    4. a secretary
    5. a hairdresser
    Today, because of their efforts in the woman's suffrage and rights movements, MY generation of women has the opportunity to do and be anything we want. If I want to be an Astra Physicist, then I can be one. For the first time in history we have every option available to us and we are taking advantage of it. Do woman purposefully put off marriage and family? Maybe some do, but I think it has more to do with thinking there is time for everything we want to do and not realizing that some things in our lives do have expiration dates.

    I know I've always felt like my calling in life was to be a wife and mother, but for whatever reason that opportunity has been withheld form me so far, so I'm pursuing the career route in the meantime. I do wonder that when that opportunity comes if I'll struggle with being the stay at home mom, not having coworkers, mind engaging work, and wonder if I'll feel like my work is meaningful when it's doing dishes and changing diapers and reading story books.

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  41. It's a tough subject, for sure. I agree that educating young women and men about fertility isn't necessarily "shaming" them for their choices, and I agree that the "no rush" sentiment seems to have taken hold in our culture to a certain degree.

    However, I believe strongly that there needs to be a balance. Just as it might not be wise to promote the "no rush" belief, we should NOT be pressuring young women and men (i.e. facilitating their "rush" into having kids) to have children when they're not emotionally, mentally, physically, etc. ready for such a huge, life-changing commitment.

    As a 28-year-old new attorney, I can say without hesitation that the pressure is great on me to "have it all." I can also say without hesitation that I'm not ready to have kids and, had my ex and I succumbed to the various pressures on 20-somethings these days -- such as getting married before 30 and having kids -- I wouldn't have been in a good place generally speaking, knowing what I know now about my ex and how our relationship ended.

    Thus, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think it's important that women have kids at the time when they feel that they're ready for such a commitment (and that they have all of the information necessary to make such a decision)--instead of rushing into pregnancy because of their biological clock.

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  42. You're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't.

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  43. Clearly the answer is just more natural disasters, which global warming seems to be taking care of. Yay global warming! http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/nyregion/preparing-for-hurricane-babies.html?hp&_r=0

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  44. I'm troubled by this post, as it seems to assume a blanket best policy for everyone. That if 'older' women, such as myself, had been told earlier on that I'm at my best baby-making in my 20's, that I would've made good on it, or considered child-bearing during that supposed peak stage of fertility. Thankfully, I would not have.

    I'm 31 and have been living w/my 37 year old boyfriend of 3.5 years for the past 3 years. I want to assume the best in people, but the question posed that asks why people may be delaying 'making real commitments and getting married,' is rather insulting. It assumes that marriage and the possibility of children are the only real commitments in life, and to do so is lacking. What about gay couples that live in States where marriage is not recognized? Or secular individuals? I have a different definition of commitment. Personally, I am making commitments to myself, to my partner, and to my community - through my job as a social worker and volunteerism. Commitments that have an effect beyond me. Commitments that allow me to grow and become that much more capable of being a good mother, if/when that may happen.

    I want a child more than I want a marriage. But more than that - I want to fulfill my hopes and dreams before the possibility of devoting myself to a child. I know that if I wait until I am 'ready' for a baby, and have had every adventure I hoped to - it will be too late. But I know the time is not now, either. It's not for lack of finding my life partner, but out of selflessness for possible future children. In fully finding myself first, preparing, saving, considering the enormity of having a child, etc. - I am hoping to create a better environment in which to welcome a child.

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    1. I was definitely very troubled reading this post too. I know many, including myself, who wish for a husband and babies early on but life hasn't dealt that. I think as with all things we just have to find peace in God and brush aside any negativity and judgement. It does give a mini heart attack reading through this post, more so than any other post on this blog. But we can all assume Danny and Mara didn't mean for it to bring worry or harm. I do feel for all of you reading this who wish for babies early on and can't have them for lack of husband, abusive husband, lack of money, infertility, what not. I know it's hard enough to feel as if the years were wasted in singleness or bad marriages, but we can press on knowing that we can find peace and happiness no matter the statistics. We are worthy of love and are loved by God whether we were fortunate to have babies or not.

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    2. Our apologies to you both, and any others that may have been troubled or felt judged. That certainly wasn't our intent.

      Not all posts can be about all things, and so while much of this blog focuses on the attitude described by Anon 2 (peace no matter the circumstances), this post was meant to discuss a cultural trend and ask why people wait.

      Many here in the comments have stated exactly why they choose to wait. What ever the reasons someone states, they are valid, and we don't intend to judge anyone's decision. It is most certainly theirs to make, and I can respect whatever decision they feel is best for them, as I don't think that there is only one right way to approach the hows and whens of a family.

      Additionally, Anon 2 brought up the fact that for some, waiting is the only option that seems to be afforded them by life. For those who are in this kind of situation, I can only add a big AMEN to everything you wrote. There IS peace and happiness no matter the circumstances, there is love in God and there is joy even when things don't go as planned. That is perhaps one of the greatest truths I know. Thank you for stating it so eloquently.

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  45. If you have children when you are younger, you will get to spend more of your life with them. And they will get to spend more of their life with you. And you will have more time with your grandchildren. And your grandchildren will have more time with you. My fear for people who wait to have children until they are older (barring the many special circumstances people have mentioned) is that they will regret not having their children in their lives sooner. Because you just love them. And they love you. So much. And you want to have as many experiences with them as you can. You will get to see their lives unfold. You can grow together. I didn't consider this until after the birth of my first child, when I was 27 and just finished law school and joined my state bar. I love having my daughter as part of my life and was so glad I didn't wait any longer.

    There are many special situations as to why having children younger doesn't work out as many people have mentioned above, so of course it doesn't work to make a blanket rule for everyone and I wouldn't want to hurt feelings again for those who want children and can't. But I do think that we should as a society be combating the idea that it is always best to wait, that you will be happier if you wait, and that there is plenty of time. Time is fleeting - and not just because our biological clocks are ticking.

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    1. What about quality over quantity?

      Having kids if younger and less financially secure, for some people, may mean working long hours or 2 jobs and then being too tired and stressed to put energy into quality time with the children.

      Waiting until your life is more stable and financially established may mean having the luxury of paid maternity leave or being able to afford to work part-time. Sometimes, it's better for all concerned to wait a few years.

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    2. I don't think the idea is to have children before you can take care of them. The idea is that IF you have the choice between more quality time and less quality time, choose more quality time.

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  46. I'm not waiting; I just haven't had the opportunity. I'm 29 right now and not even in any relationship at the moment. I've never had the opportunity to marry and have children. Probably the most frustrating thing people tell me is that I have chosen career over family (nope--I've just chosen to be happy in the life opportunities that have been given to me).

    Hopefully, if/when the opportunity comes, I'll be able to have children. I would rather not be too old to enjoy my grandchildren, but if I am, well, I'll just be blessed to enjoy whatever time I'm given.

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  47. I think it's WONDERFUL that people are delaying having children (other than if it's based on misinformation). I'm mystified when we romanticize the past. In the past, people fell into marriage by default and stayed in unhappy marriages more. They were more likely to have children mindlessly and as a cultural default, even if they didn't want children. Women faced greater levels of physical violence and sexual abuse in relationships and had fewer ways out. Women had fewer viable options outside motherhood because there was more discrimination in the workplace.

    In EVERY part of the world, regardless of culture or values, women delay having children and have few children when they get more educated and have more REAL options. I think it's great that women in the US have more REAL choices these days other than just falling into marriage and children. If someone decides they'd rather pursue a career or travel or anything else, that's great. If they decide to focus on children later, they will be better off for being truly ready and the kids will be better off for having parents who are emotionally ready for children. And if fewer people decide to have children, all the better for the environment and the existing children on this planet - population size is a big concern and it's not as if the world really needs more babies.

    I'm also offended when this discussion focuses just on women and women's careers and other life choices. I always knew I'd never want to have children unless and until I found a man who would do 50% of the child rearing, would make 50% of the career sacrifices and other sacrifices and would be a truly equal partner. I'm interested in greater equality between the genders, and I model this in my own life. I also think it's a very healthy model for children to see and a key way to changing the world for the better for both genders.

    Finally, it's really offensive to use the phrase "starting a family" to refer to having children. I started a family the day I was born. And one starts another family when you get married or choose a life partner. Having the kids is not the start of a family. Thinking that way is offensive to all sorts of happy, healthy family structures.

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    1. What do you mean by REAL choices? Is my choice to have children and stay at home with than an IMAGINARY one?

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    2. No need to be defensive about your decisions. Maybe you need to get a little more security in your own choices. I mean just what it sounds like... a real choice is one where there are multiple viable options and you can realistically choose among them. Many women - in other countries today and in the U.S. in our past - chose to have children or to raise children full-time because that was the only viable option for them... they would be ostracized by their religious or other communities if they chose anything else, employers discriminated against pregnant woman or moms, one's husband might literally have not been willing to do anything related to the kids so the wife had no choice but to do it all. If you are operating in a free environment and want to have tons of kids or stay home with them, more power to you. If your choices are being subtly or overtly limited by cultural norms, oppressive laws or other factors, then your choice isn't as free as you think. In every country in the world, as women get more real choices (education, less discrimination in the workforce, more discretionary income to free people to pursue other interests), women delay having children and have fewer children.

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  48. I am new to reading your blog but I have found it entertaining as well as informative. This particular write up sparked my interest. I myself have a plateful coming in the next few years. At age 23 I will working on my first year of a masters program, searching for a job to start my career, and planning a wedding. In the back of my mind I have been wondering when will I have time to have children. I would love to begin trying 7-8 months before I graduate from my masters program at age 24 but I am afraid of the judgments I will get from family and friends for not waiting until my career has been established. I believe it is just the social norm now to have children after you have been secured in your life for several years. I do think that people who are planning pregnancy should be financially sound but why wait until well over a quarter of your life has gone by?

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  49. It seems to me that the most common reason for most people, and even perhaps for Danny and Mara, is the lack of the best partner at the time when you're most fertile. It seems that many commenters are lucky enough to have found their soul mates at a very young age, but for many of the rest of us, we're glad we waited to find the right partner. When (or if) we bring a child into the world, there will be a happy family environment.

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  50. I am 31 and have 3 children the youngest being 2. I wanted kids before I was 30 so that I could be a little younger when they were out of the house. Plus I reasoned that I could pursue a career when they were all in school. We are only a few years away from that (YAY!) But my realationship has suffered with my husband because we had kids young and so close together all while he was in medical school. We are LDS and I think it is expected to a point to get married and get a family started quickly. However, now because he was m.I.a. during a rigorous education and we spent so little time focusing on our marriage we are on what I think is the brink of seperation. It has been so difficult to have young children young, and I often feel resentful, burnt out and guilty. I was blessed to be able to have children but often envy those who wait and "discover" themselves through work, travel, or whatever first. Not sure if that opinion helps. :)

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  51. I got married at 23 and had my first child at 26. I'm grateful for those first few years where the two of us (hubby and I) had no children and got to really know our hopes, goals and different personalities. It is nice that we had that time. I knew I wanted children before 30 (and I have two gorgeous gals), and I'm glad I did. I'm only 32 and would like at least one more, but I can say the older I get, the more my body changes. Oh I'm getting older and even though I am still young I feel the changes! I'm glad I had my first two when I was young. Plus it has been A LOT of fun!! Nothing h has been more rewarding raising these delightful girls! It has brought Danny and I closer-but I beleive it is because we still focus on our marriage, go on dates read together at night, appreciate one another.
    But everyone has a different journey and I suppose if we all did the same thing life would be quite boring. I was blessed, I met the man of my dreams when I was young, got married,had a few years of play together, buy houses, make plans, build dreams and had kids. We knew when it was time and I'm sure many others out there know when it is or is not their time.
    A side note: I beleive there are pros and cons to the past and present. Freedoms are much better today than they were, but values such as knowing your neighbors, family relations, etc are not as prominent (though again we are lucky we have tons of awesome neighbors! And live close to family). That is something that has changed! Two generations ago families lived much closer to one another than they do today due to jobs. Enjoy the post makes ya think and analyze why we as a society do the things we do, whether it be the fifties or today! :-)

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  52. I'm 28 years old and have been married for 5 wonderful years. We started trying to conceive about a year ago, and haven't had success just yet, but I'm sure enjoying the journey in the meantime. While I love your blog and agree with your perspectives most the time, I must say this post gives me a lot of anxiety and pressure that I hadn't felt before. It makes me feel like each month that comes and goes with out a pregnancy equates potential problems due to my age, and maybe it's my fault that I waited so long. I think everyone's journey is different, and this probably isn't an area we should be exploring in anyone's life but our own.

    I wish you all the best in your journey to get pregnant, and sincerely hope and pray that it happens for you soon. I know that the possibility of fertility treatments, adoption, and/or foster parenting may be in my near future, so I applaud your efforts to move forward with so much strength and grace. God bless!

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    1. You're too young just yet to feel anxious. If you're trying at 28, you're very (VERY) likely to become a mom :) Your body may just need time to get used to the idea of becoming pregnant and in the mean time you can find out if there's a problem - likely very easily fixable. I wish you the very best.

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  53. I'd like to see your references for fertility declining rapidly after age 27. It seems you've worried a lot of your readers so I hope you are standing on solid ground.
    I made a personal decision when I was very young not to have a baby I couldn't financially support. I think every woman should ask herself what she'd do if her husband/partner died or left or if the marriage/companionship become toxic. (I think men should ask themselves the same question-being a single dad is tough too.) If you don't have an answer, well then it is too soon to have a child -- at any age.

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    1. The references were linked in the post. As for the quote "Age does matter, you really do lose eggs quickly"...that was one of the discussion items Headline News wanted Mara be involved in. Looking at it now in light of your comment, it's unfortunate because I don't think the research shows that at 27 your fertility "declines rapidly", nor was that the point Mara was trying to make. She was making the point that fertility peaks at 26 or 27, and begins to decline from there. Having the Headline News quote and the stats about declining fertility makes it seem like they might be linked a little more than intended.

      According to the research, the chances of getting pregnant in any given month drop 10% at between 27 and 34, they drop another 10% after that.

      As for the reasons people delay, personally I think it is great when anyone has carefully and thoughtfully approached the subject of having kids. If that means waiting, more power to them. I can respect any decision thoughtfully made, as it seems you have done, and so many others in their comments.

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  54. This one is such a toss up because there's pros and cons to both ways of doing things. I'm 33, married for 11 years, Mormon, and just had my first child. We waited 11 years on purpose and I'm grateful for that decision. That decision just presents different challenges because I had a career that I didn't return to after my maternity leave, and if I'd had kids when I was younger it wouldn't have been so hard to leave my job. When you're younger you have fertility and immaturity on your side! As an "older" person having children I've seen and heard it all from my friends, so it was even harder to make the decision to make babies. Yet, being older has given me the opportunity to know myself better so I could ensure I was getting my needs met after having our son instead of getting lost in the process of motherhood.

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  55. Hi Mara,

    I am so glad you are talking about this. This topic is something that is personal for me as I waited until my age (35) to start having kids. I chose to live my life in my 20s and explore the world, literally and figuratively. I know I sacrificed saving up to buy a home or a new car or even finding the right man in my 20s. I just can't imagine having had a little one at that age.

    I ended up finding the love of my life in my early 30's. We are now trying to have babies and I am terrified if it doesn't come easy to us. I know I am heading to the "scary" age but my OBGYN tells me not to worry. In fact, she says, "This is LA! Everyone has babies in their 40's!" I don't know if that is false advertisement, but I am feeling the pressure now to have our babies before I turn 40. I am praying it is not a difficult journey and I will then have to pay for my selfishness now.

    However, when I look back, I wouldn't change a thing! My 20's was a gift to myself; something I will forever cherish. I hope to give this gift to my baby one day.

    Thank you for always sharing your heart with us!

    Carmen {shugarlove.com}

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  56. I am 29 and 3 months pregnant with my first. I have to be honest, this post rubs me the wrong way. There are countless reasons for why it's a good thing that women are waiting to have children - emotional maturity and financial stability being two great ones. Honestly, society hasn't evolved enough to allow women to have both a family and a successful career. We all want that flexibility, but very few careers offer it. So putting the question back to women - Why are YOU waiting? - seems a little offensive to me. It's a larger societal question that we should be asking - Why are we so unsupportive of motherhood, especially as it relates to a career?

    I have been with my husband for 8 years; married for four. We lived together and had sex before we got married. He still bought the cow, and he didn't delay because I was giving him the milk, so to speak. I am glad we waited (and we're still on the young side, in my mind), because we focused on ourselves, got our relationship rock solid, and set ourselves up financially and emotionally to create the healthiest family we can.

    Women who have children in their early twenties learn maturity and stability wayyy sooner than I did, and I respect them for it. It's not a decision I would have made, but it's just as offensive to ask older women why they're waiting as it is to ask younger women why they didn't devote more time to themselves, their careers, and their stability before bringing children into their families. The question itself is judgmental, even if you didn't mean it that way. We should instead band together and look outward at society - what needs to change so women don't feel shackled by whichever path they choose?

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    1. ETA: I also wanted to share the following. If we're going to talk about scientific studies and what they say about our choices, what do you say to the studies that show that families with older parents are happier than families with parents in their 20s? I've read about these studies in a number of places, but here's one source (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110307065539.htm). So again, asking older women why they delayed in spite of their reproductive decline is just as bad as asking younger women why they had children in spite of findings that their families will be less happy. It's an inherently judgmental and one-sided question.

      I prefer this article's approach (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/age-of-parents-older-parenting-children_n_2273346.html), particularly the following quote: "We’d have to restructure the professions so that the most intensely competitive stage of a career doesn’t occur right at the moment when couples should be lavishing attention on infants. We’d have to stop thinking of work-life balance as a women’s problem, and reframe it as a basic human right. Changes like these are going to be a long time coming, but I can’t help hoping they happen before my children confront the Hobson’s choices that made me wait so long to have them."

      It's a society problem; not a problem to turn back onto women.

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  57. This post really shocks me, but perhaps not for the reason you might think--I'm actually astonished that anyone was/is saying this to you. I'm 33 and it seems all my friends in the age range of 27-40 are pretty aware of their declining fertility. In addition, many have either had or know someone who's had problems getting pregnant. I really don't think any woman today thinks it's going to be easy for her to get pregnant in her mid- to late thirties. The women I know are very aware of what they're up against, but that knowledge, as you mentioned, doesn't make it any easier to find a life partner and have children during your fertile years. (The UK campaign you mention is really addressing a completely different issue, as there are SO many reasons that fertility rates are declining across Europe.) I had my first baby at 31, after being married for two years but being with the man who became my husband for nine--yes, we lived together before getting married, and we have absolutely zero regrets or qualms about this. Now I am pregnant with my second, and if we're lucky we'd like to have one or two more. Although we continue to go out, travel abroad, etc., it's nothing like before we had a child. (There's a moment when you realize that even if you want to and can do certain things, it's simply not fair or kind to your children to drag them along.) And I'm fine with that. My life is certainly richer for having my son, but I also know that it's richer for having had all the experiences I had as a single woman and part of a childless couple for many years. I cherish those days just as much as I cherish my current life.

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  58. I also found this post a little offensive, as if there weren't enough pressure on women to do this, do that and you ought to get it right otherwise you are a bad person, a bad woman, a bad mother or a selfish non-mother! Yiikes!

    Most people who work doesn't make loads of money and won't make a lot of money in their lifetime (yep, we are talking about 70% of the planet!), so maybe you are adressing the few privileged who will make tons of money. Many people have to work just to assure their living and some people actually get to love the job they have, the careers they have and invest in them because it brings them joy and a sense of realization. And I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It's not because we are in the US that everyones buys the consumerism ethos.It's not because you work on your career that you are a selfish and greedy person.

    As it had been mentioned before, there is a societal issue with parenthood and specifically, motherhood. How many women were in job interviews and were asked if you have kids or if you are planning on having a kid. If you are planning,you might not get the job! If you are expecting already no one will give you a job! Men are rarely asked about this, because society expects the mother to leave her work when the kid is sick or when there is any problem. Not the man. So, bosses don't have to worry even if the guy has 7 kids because the woman will deal with it.
    In Sweden, there is a very parenthood and motherhood friendly society... You can actually stop working for years, you will earn money and your career won't be at risk, you won't have blown your chance of having a nice professional life later on.May you be 18 or 48. That is a society who has centered children and the self realization of parents at the center of it's organization. For the rest of the planet, it's a very different reality.
    As people have said here, not everyone finds the right partner at their twenties and since parenthood is a life engagement, maybe people shouldn't rush it. From marriage, you can get a divorce , if things don't turn well, but you never divorce your kids.Even if some people leave their kids. If I had settled down with the guy I was with in my mid-twenties, we would have probably gotten a divorce... I found the right guy almost 10 years later...
    Another point is that not everyone wants to establish a family, or wants to do that at their mid-twenties. I know lots of women who decided that they would like a family much later on (in their mid-thirties). These women haven't dreamt of motherhood or planned motherhood as a life project. And it's not because the "clock is ticking" that they do now, for they don't feel the "urge" to motherhood. It's just because at some point in their lives, they felt that they are ready to start this new path of family, which before wasn't even something they intended to. And this doesn't make them selfish or self-centered or "lacking love" - they have been giving love to the world through their services and jobs and life experiences and have really tons of love in their lives.
    Finally, about the stats. They say that the eggs loose quality...It's true, but it also depends on many other factors and how each body react. It depends on your life style, your food habits, your general health. It also depends when you have started getting your periods. I have friends who have started at 9 and were menopaused at 45. I have another friend who has started at 18, have a 45 days cycle and although she is on her forties, she still has great quality eggs (yes, they were tested, they are as a 22 year old!), and her menopause is expected around 60... so we should be aware of stats, but we should learn to know our bodies better. I am not saying have children as late as you can, but before panicking on the stats, do know your body.

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  59. I would like to comment on an early comment. Being at college doesn't necessarily mean postponing adolescence. Yes, there are some people who don't want to grow up, but they exist even out of College.

    You can stay in College for many years, many years and work over 60 hours a week doing really important research. It's not a play time, it's real work and it can take a lot of your time (and your social life). The only difference is that you are not paid for it as a real job and you have to deal with society despising you as if you were living in a Peter Pan world.

    But those long years create results as internet, medicine and medications, public policies that work better, studies on infertility, a better comprehension on terrorism, on childhood, on food, etc. All that everyone out of College can enjoy as a result without giving so much of their own time to it.

    I am very grateful for College and for everyone out there doing their best to contribute to our quality of lifes.

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  60. I do not think this post was meant to be offensive at all. Just informative. I think it's wonderful to have these fertility treatments (egg freezing, IVF, Clomid) available for women who haven't found Mr. Right in their early 20s (or weren't ready) so they have help/options in their 30s and 40s when the time is right for them. But I also think it's SHAME to make women feel badly about finding the love of their lives early and trying to have children at 24 or 25. Finding love happens at random times. There's pressure on 22 and 23 year old couples NOT to stay together. Their love is questioned - how do they know if they're right for each other when they've only had that one long term relationship!? Yes, Hallie Berry is pregnant at 46. Could she also please admit that this is not a miracle baby? Basically, there's a 0.006 percent chance that she got pregnant naturally. She needs to say, this is what I did to get pregnant so we're not under the false impression that we have all this time. I disagree that women are so aware - I wasn't. I knew it was "better" to have kids before turning 30, however, I also saw Madonna have her first child at 40 so I thought, oh, I have time. My doctor never said a thing to me about fertility & my age. It wasn't until I met with my fertility specialist about egg freezing that I was told egg quality declines at 27, 30, 35, 38, and really (quite drastically at 43). Not for everyone... plenty of women have a decent egg reserve at 40, but guess what... I don't! I'm 38 and my reserve is low for my age (will likely go through early menopause). I go to my fertility clinic and women who are trying IVF in their 40s are telling me I'm smart to do this. No! It would've been much smarter to do so at 30 had I had the knowledge. I wish this post/blogging existed when I was in my 20s. Finally, I do want to mention that the uterus doesn't age... it does, but there isn't really a time line like we have on our ovaries. You can (possibly) get pregnant after menopause, after cancer, etc... with the help of a doctor if you have frozen embryos, eggs, or donor eggs.

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    1. But just as you think it's shameful to cast doubt on the maturity of relationships between 23 and 24-year-olds, it's just as shameful to ask older women why they're waiting to have children, when there are societal, emotional, and financial pressures that make the choice very difficult. I'd much prefer for women to wait until they feel ready to provide a good life to their children, rather than rushing into motherhood because they're scared their eggs are going to rot.

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  61. I didn't read any of the previous comments, so I don't know if this might be redundant..

    I was married at 22 and at first wanted to have kids after about 2 years of marriage. Financial and emotional difficulty made us wait, and now we've just passed our 7th anniversary and although we had plans to start trying, we might decide to wait a little longer because of a recent bump in our marriage.

    I love kids, and I am excited to have them, but I am finding myself become a lot more.. afraid of it as I get older and see the difficulties my siblings and friends encounter as they begin raising children. And also realizing that I have a hard time with big changes, even good changes is starting to make me REALLY afraid. Everyone reassures me that everything is better when you have kids to share your life with, and that is helpful and I believe they are right. My midwife has told me that I shouldn't get any incorrect notions about my fertility lasting into my 50s and that I should buckle down and get started if it's what we really want, but I'll admit that knowing my mother and sisters and cousins and friends have had children well into their 30s and 40s with minimal difficulties makes me feel less urgency, despite realizing that they are probably in the minority.

    A few observations on myself and my changing view about having kids: I am still very immature, so imagining me at 22 having kids scares the crap out of me and I'm honestly glad we had to wait. But I might be barren as a desert since I've waited so long, and that will make me mad at myself. I'm more stubborn and selfish about how my day goes than I was when I was 22. The older I get the less I can see myself wanting a lot of children. I am a lot more informed about pregnancy, delivery and child development then I was at 22, and I hope that means everyone in a potential baby situation may benefit.

    I agree that there are probably false expectations in our culture about family planning that I'll admit I'm falling victim too, even though I consider myself pretty well informed about fertility and women's health for my peer group. But there are so many things that go into a person or couples decision to have a baby. I think it's good to have a discussion like this to help spread information and ideas.

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  62. Mara and Danny, you are such well-intentioned people, and I deeply respect the way you broach delicate topics with such openness and willingness. With this particular post, I can't help but cringe at its assumption: that we are losing sight as a culture of the "important" values--family, commitment, marriage--and therefore delaying fertility longer and longer. With respect, I think the premise is deeply flawed. I would argue that we are a culture in which women have much more freedom to pursue careers and other ambitions than they did in the past (thank god). We live in a culture in which ideas about what constitutes family and marriage are expanding and changing for the better (go gay marriage!). Women who try to have children later in life haven't necessarily been "duped" into waiting--I would imagine that many of them have made the choice to delay pregnancy, knowing the risk that choice entails. Just as you you cite these statistics: "Fertility declines after 27" and "more women are choosing to wait to have children," you leave out others that are equally as troubling: "The world population is pushing max capacity"; or "orphanages are filled to overflowing and millions of children go without homes each year." For these facts, it would seem that declines in fertility would be a remedy, no? To each her own, I say. Marriage, children, family--everyone is entitled to create these things in his or her own time, in their own way. Let's not go back to the 1950s. Please please please.

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    1. I love this comment. It's true that the underlying assumption is the problem. Society needs to change, to allow women the freedom to have children without setting themselves back in their careers. Maternity benefits need to change. As I said in an earlier comment, there are many statistics that show the benefits of having children at a later age, as well - we shouldn't gloss over those facts.

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    2. Thank you both for your comments; I couldn't agree more. While I don't think Danny and Mara intended to offend any readers, the underlying premise is a little hard to take. It seems to imply that there's something wrong with "career," etc. taking the place of older cultural ideals.

      Having a career, for so many people (men and women) contributes greatly to their sense of self and joy, which will ultimately only be a benefit to potential future children.

      Additionally, I'm not so sure that having kids because that's what the cultural "norm" dictates is the best reason to have kids. As a lot of other commenters have mentioned, it's great that women have true choices now (of course, we have a lot more work to do) and that we don't simply fall into marriage and having children because that's what our culture tells us to do.

      Also, thank you for bringing up the other troubling statistics, such as overcrowded orphanages. This discussion has seemed to focus on the act of having kids and the ability to conceive, but we can't forget about the babies' lives afterwards. (I know that that topic probably warrants a whole 'nother post or more.)

      Thanks again for your insights!

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    3. I am so grateful for Sarah's comment. I kept reading this post telling myself "they are good people" and "they have good intentions." Because if I hadn't, I would have ran away from my computer and never read this blog again. I would have assumed they are right-wing lunatics or grandparents from 50 years ago who actually lecture women about "giving away the milk for free." It's hard to continue taking advice from this blog when they sometimes pop out with advice that's based on archaic thinking and very poor (even unintelligent) logic.

      There are so many good reasons that women (and men) are delaying having children. I have no need to go back to the 1930s or 1950s or 1970s when so many women tolerated abusive and miserable marriages, where they had children just because it was the next thing you did in life, when many women didn't have control over their own fertility (until 1965 the government could deny contraception to MARRIED people), when it was legal to discriminate against women in the workforce, when women didn't have many viable options to pursue other than marriage and family.

      I'm glad that, unlike previous generations, birth control is legal and free so I can control when I have children.

      I'm glad that, unlike my mom who was told she could be a teacher or a nurse, I can pursue any career I want and I devote as much of my life as I choose to improving the world.

      I'm glad I can legally marry and divorce, and that if I ever needed to divorce, I wouldn't be too stigmatized. (If this were a few decades ago, Danny and Mara wouldn't even have found each other and would probably still be with their exes.)

      I'm glad that I didn't have to marry whichever man was put in front of me at some young age and then start popping out babies immediate. I'm grateful I can wait until I find someone I really love. I'm grateful I can wait until I'm really ready for kids - emotionally and otherwise - and that I won't be shamed by my friends or family for waiting or for having a family structure that doesn't look like a 1950s sitcom.

      There are so many great reasons that women and men are delaying having children. Lots of research proves this. In fact, almost none of the reasons are the ones that Danny and Mara theorize about in this horrible post.

      And for every person who wants a child but is no longer fertile, there are dozens or hundreds of women who are better off and whose potential children are better off because they didn't have babies before they were ready.

      Furthermore, there isn't as big a fertility crisis as you make it seem. The majority of women find success through some form of fertility treatment. Mara is in the minority in terms of how long it's taken and the lack of success. Almost all of my friends who have undergone fertility treatments in their thirties have had successful results within a few months to a year and a half.

      Of course, I can't predict the future, but if I had to choose, I'd much rather go through a year of fertility treatments and the money that involves than have a baby before I was ready and before I was confident I could be a good parent.

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    4. Agree with everything in this most recent comment. It's true that fertility treatments are expensive and have low success rates, but given enough time (and money), most people can have children. It's too bad that these things cost so much, but with overpopulation and the needs of orphaned or abandoned children, maybe that's God's way of urging couples to consider alternative paths to parenthood.

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  63. You can't go back in time. And you can't see into the future. Facing fertility issues myself at 34 I wish I started earlier. Thinking back to the age of 27-28 my body was telling me this was the time. I didn't ignore it but I also didn't act on it because my partner and circumstances was telling me not too. So I fought that longing within myself and now I am struggling to conceive and it's heartbreaking. Listen to your body. A baby is a blessing and the time will or will not come. I guess what I am trying to say is that I get what you are saying. But aligning all those stars - relationship, security, financial and emotional takes more time for some than others. And my goodness the pressure of the ticking clock and where your life is and what decision to make or is it too late is bigger than any project or job or deadline I ever had. But I now tell all my girlfriends in their mid to late 20's don't wait if its what you really want. Start earlier.

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  64. I hate a society which judges a person for having a child later in life. A lot of the time, it is not through choice. It wasn't with me. Before my current love, I was with a man, who at 32 years old, announced he felt he was too "young" to think about having children. So I left him. Took me 6 more years to meet a man who was ready, and then we found out he couldn't. Life sucks.

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  65. Word to the wise: Beware of people and blogs that opine about "values of the past" and romanticize past decades, as if they were better. This is usually based on misinformation and forgetting a whole lot of bad things while focusing on a few good ones.

    I'm thrilled that values have changed and that women are empowered to wait until they are actually ready to have children. The values of this mythical time to which Mara and Danny refer included men cheating on their wives with impunity (see Mad Men), people staying in abusive marriages because religion or law didn't allow divorce, women being ostracized by religion or social communities for choosing not to marry or not to have children, women being discriminated against, people not being allowed to marry between different races, violence and even more discrimination against LGBT people, people married their first high school boyfriend or girlfriend with no idea how to build a healthy relationship, and many other values that I'm so happy have shifted today.

    Women are mostly having children later in life out of conscious, empowered choices. We should celebrate this, not assume that most women want to be or should be popping out babies in their twenties.

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    1. It's no wonder that the divorce rate among people in our parents' generation is over 50%, while the divorce rate in the past 10 years among educated women is only 16%. The changes we've been making to allow women more freedom to choose have resulted in happier, more lasting relationships.

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  66. Super late to comment, but we waited seven years after we got married to have a baby, when I was 32. And in our culture (LDS...), that is completely unheard of and most assumed we were infertile! I think that would have been an easier answer for most that we knew since the real reason was (are you ready?) I didn't want to be a mom. Which is a tough challenge for a Mormon woman. But we waited until I had a crisis of faith. And I've blogged before about what a difficult, faith challenging decision it was for me to go ahead and have a kid. And now that we only have one (who is now nearly 7), it's a whole other thing. For many reasons.

    So I think that there are many reasons people wait. For me, the timing was key. I didn't really think about not being able to and for that, I'm grateful.

    Oh. I could write and WRITE about this topic!

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    1. I would love to read your story. If you see this, could you provide some links to some of the posts about deciding to have a child, etc.? I can relate to some of what you shared...(it has been interesting being at peace with my life (without a child) - and feeling fulfilled in so many ways. The desperation to have a child has just lessened over the years. Though luckily I do have enough desire to try for a family..though it just feels different - not what I would have expected. It's still very much a leap of faith.)

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    2. I found a few posts about the subject, but, oddly, not one definitive post. So odd! I thought I had. I will email, however, the four or so posts that touch on it.

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    3. Mara - you do have a family. No need to "try for a family" as if you don't have one. You and Danny are a family. Done. No need to add children to officially become one. (And you have your birth family, of course.) Please stop referring to "trying for a family" or "starting a family," as it's very offensive and isolating to those who choose to be childless or who can't have children.

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    4. Mara,
      Doesn't your reply above indicate a big part of the reason why people are delaying having children or not having them? When people don't have children young and wait until they are really ready, they have more time to thoughtfully reflect on the decision and to make the decision less naively than many would if making the same decision at a young age. Over those valuable growing up and maturing years, some people confirm that they do indeed want children. Other people realize that life is fulfilling and awesome without children, so they decide not to have them or they delay more. As you've learned, there are many perks to not having children. Many people mature and realize they wouldn't be the best parent or they'd rather travel or focus on their careers or they have enough contentment with their partner without children. Or a hundred other reasons.

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    5. Yes, yes! Most certainly! It's interesting to me because a fair amount of people thought I was saying that delaying a marriage (for all the reasons listed - or for any reason) was a bad thing. I don't see it that way at all!! I honor every single woman and her individual path - no matter what her circumstances! That's what this blog is all about! :) Also, it's just amazing and beautiful that we DO get to choose our path! I wouldn't dream of judging anyone. In fact, I myself delayed having babies for every single one of the reasons I listed (& more). And just a note to anyone reading this...a question in my post doesn't mean I'm disagreeing. It's simply to open up an important discussion so others could share their viewpoints as well - as it is an interesting thing that is happening in our culture (women delaying having children despite our biology). Anyway, I'm so glad people chimed in. And based on the tone of some of the comments, I think people might be surprised to know that I couldn't agree more with so many of their insights.

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  67. I really wish people would stop telling me I am young and there is time. I am 35. I got married when I was almost 29 - so my early/mid-20s were not an option babywise... after three + years of recurrent pregnancy loss (5 miscarriages) we are in the middle of a healthy (so far) pregnancy. However I am worried about the future... I always wanted several children and I feel like that may not happen for us since it took us this long to just have one. I am very tired of everyone telling me I am young and people have babies in their 40s. My father-in-law even chastised us for our concern and told us that women are in their prime in their 30s... where he is getting that information I have no clue!

    As for the previous comment regarding "trying to have a family" - for some of us our families of origin aren't very family-like, and our spouses are possibly all we have. Yes, I love my husband and, yes we have a great life, however, I always envisioned more for our life together. Children were included in that... I have felt so much sadness, despair, loneliness and heartache for the past 4 years trying to grow our family.

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    1. So sorry for your heartache. I think the point above is that you and your husband have already established a family. It's more sensitive to use language like "trying to grow our family" or "trying to have children" or "starting to have children." Defining having children as the point at which a family starts is really damaging.

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  68. Gosh, we ladies can't win for losing, can we? When I was growing up, the message was, "study hard, make sure you have a job, and always be in a position to take care of yourself."

    The other message was that there would "always be time for boys."

    So I studied, got a succession of good jobs, and, when I was 28, it was finally time for boys. I began dating a family-oriented man my age with traditional values. We dated for four years before he finally announced that despite our plans for marriage, he no longer wanted to marry because he needed someone more dynamic. That was the only explanation I ever got.

    I met someone not long after who was slightly older, ready to settle down, and - best of all! - wanted to marry ME. However, at 34 I'm less enthusiastic about having children than I was 6 or 7 years ago.

    Do I regret spending four years of my life and prime fertility with someone who was fickle and uncommitted? Yes. Am I happy I didn't have children with him? Absolutely. My point here is that until these kinds of campaigns are targeted at men and their decision-making, I'm taking them with a grain of salt. (And yes, they are shaming, even if the discussion is worth having - pregnant 40-somethings look nothing like those frightful models wearing stage make-up.)

    On a different note, the other thing I have noticed is that in Europe, where I live, the birthrate has declined precipitously. It has dropped off the most drastically in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece - countries that traditionally have had strong, practicing religious populations and family-centered cultures. Someone (can't remember who) did a study directly linking the birthrate decline to the decline in revenues and social safety net in these countries. It's not just a discussion about career choices and personal values.

    My husband and I each voluteer one afternoon a week at a nursing home in our neighborhood. Other end of the age spectrum, but an often neglected and vulnerable population. Sadly, our experiences there have shown us that having children is not enough to keep families together or ensure the well-being of multiple generations of families.

    In any case, our American and European societies need to envision some major priority shifts when it comes to families and human well-being.

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  69. I personally delayed having children for many reasons. I got married at 20. A BABY! I had some serious growing up to do and I wanted a degree before having children. At 24 I graduated with my RN degree. The plan all along was to get pregnant after one year of working and finish my BSN during that first year of work. Then a BOMB fell into our marriage as I discovered my husband had a pornography addiction. I wanted so bad to have a baby but refused to do so until I was sure he was getting better and we weren't getting divorced. We started trying when I was 26. Long story short I had PCOS and Hashimotos (which I knew at 23) and it took us almost 2 yrs to get pregnant with our miracle drug free baby. I found out I was pregnant right before starting metformin and going down the drug/infertility road. We now have a beautiful baby girl who's 6 months.

    I don't regret any of it.

    Even when I thought maybe I'd never be a mom.

    I truly feel we needed that time just the two of us. I needed to grow up. The woman I am now is not who my husband married. Our marriage needed to grow and heal. This was definitely a test of faith and I didn't have a positive attitude all the time, especially not in the throws of pornography. Our little girl came at the perfect time for us and I wouldn't change any of it.

    Now you may ask what if you hadn't been able to have a baby?

    I think about it often. But back when I couldn't get pregnant I thought all the time about all the wonderful things we could do without children. Traveling, dating, careers, service, missions. Life would have still been wonderful.

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  70. Mara, I would love it if you wrote a post or two more about this issue. I'm 24 and still feel like I have so much time before I "need" to start having children, but my husband is 30 and would love it if we started right now (we've been married just a short while). We both come from big families and love children.... but in the bottom of my heart, I honestly do not want to be pregnant and have children right now. I know someday I'll have kids, and I'll adore them, but I do not want that to happen for at least another 3-4 years.

    The biggest problem here is the pervasive guilt that I already feel, even though we've only been married for four months (!). I'm starting law school in the fall and am SO thrilled and excited to embark on this new adventure, but what with student debt & such, that means we won't be having kids for another 3-4 years. This fits into my little plan so perfectly, but I know it disappoints my husband. (And he'll be 35 before we start trying to get pregnant!) Additionally, as both of us come from traditional, devout (LDS) families, I know already that our situation is looked upon unfavorably by both my parents and his.

    I honestly do not know what to do. I am so excited to go to law school, but I fear that the guilt and unhappiness will only compound over the course of 3-4 years. I feel uncomfortable going to the usual sources of support (religious leaders, my parents) because I know that they will automatically encourage not putting off having a family. And I also hate the trite arguments that "having a degree will make you such a better mother" - I didn't work so hard to earn two degrees already to be able to help my children with their homework; I did it to know how to help our society and serve my fellow man within my chosen field. I don't know what I'm supposed to do: do I let go of all my hard work and my dreams of law school in order to start having children now? Such a scary and sad dilemma that women - especially, I think, women with religious & traditional roots - have to struggle with these days.

    I would love, love, love to hear more of yours and Danny's thoughts on this. Thank you for all you do!

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  71. This article recently came out and showed the stats we are often referred to may be very misleading. Worth a read: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/how-long-can-you-wait-to-have-a-baby/309374/.

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  72. this is also an interesting, nuanced discussion: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/07/08/should-women-delay-motherhood

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  73. Dear getyourexbacksolutionspell@gmail.com, your medication is a must for any woman trying to get pregnant. I was devastated and so was my husband after being told by my fertility specialist at age 38 that I had no option but to consider adoption or donor eggs (according to my doctor I was out of eggs and gave me 4% chance of getting pregnant and a 2% chance of carrying a baby to full term). After much research and dozens of hours reading infertility related articles and posts online, I have found your website! I never believed in anything alternative to western medicine and thought all the other stuff like Chinese medicine was a hoax. But I was soon glad to be wrong as I followed your step. After one month of trying I became pregnant and had a beautiful healthy boy. Nine months after that I did everything in your medication again and after 2 months of trying I got pregnant again and gave birth to another perfect little boy. I would recommend anyone with an open mind to read your testimoney. It just might be the answer to your prayers. Thank you for everything you have done for me getyourexbacksolutionspell@gmail.com visit her website on http://weeblyalishaluraspell.weebly.com/available-spells.html

    ReplyDelete

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