How to have a baby and a life?
October 18, 2011 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Pregnant and Scared: How to have a baby and a life? Advice desperately needed: Were you somehow able to fulfill your dreams (travel, career, etc.) with a baby, especially if you were middle class (or lower) economically? If so, how did you do it?

My husband and I are almost 30 years old and just found out we are pregnant (about 5 weeks along). We have been married for a little over five years and are very, very, very much in love. We have never wanted children, not because we think we'd be horrible parents (we adore other people's children), but because we wanted to have the freedom to travel (once we were financially sound) and maybe start our own business one day without dealing with the humongous financial, emotional, physical and time commitment of children. My husband will be graduating in May with a BS in engineering, and we were looking forward to finally having a little more financial stability in our lives once he starts working full-time (we have virtually no savings yet, as most of our money going to medical bills [finally paid the last of those off last month] and school loans [$30K left to pay]). We were planning on both working very hard for a few years, saving up some money, and traveling a little bit (not luxuriously, but at least being able to see the world and explore other cultures together), and maybe in ten years starting our own business.

But now with this totally unintended/unexpected pregnancy, I feel that our life which was finally about to get on track has hit a huge, huge roadblock. Now I fear we will continue to be "poor" (by Western standards) and in debt for years and years to come, which I am so worried basically shatters all our dreams of traveling and starting our business. From watching friends and family raise their children, I know that babies are expensive, time-consuming and exhausting, and I honestly just don't know if I can do it (or if I want to do it - yes this is cold and selfish and mean-hearted and I feel terrible for even thinking it, but I feel like I need to be honest about how I feel at this point). Any thoughts or advice from those who've done it (or links to blogs, etc.) would be most greatly appreciated. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (65 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
You are scared, excited, nervous all wrapped into one big ball of WTF! A baby is easy, they fit into your life, not the other way around. Relax, enjoy and give the baby the privilege of going with you on this journey to meet your dreams. I've been there, it's a scary place but you will be great parents and nothing needs to change, except you may need a pamper or two!! Congrats!!! Enjoy!!
posted by pearlybob at 3:09 PM on October 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

I've never been pregnant, for all the reasons you list and more. And since you asked, if I were you, I wouldn't continue to be.
posted by BostonTerrier at 3:10 PM on October 18, 2011 [40 favorites]

Obviously this is touchy, but you don't have to have a baby that you don't want to have. Just pointing that out because you sound more like you know what you want than ambivalent.
posted by threeants at 3:12 PM on October 18, 2011 [31 favorites]

First of all, babies ARE expensive, time-consuming, and exhausting, and if you are in a situation wherein you feel that you may come to resent your child for a variety of extenuating factors, I think that it is perfectly valid to be scared, disappointed and worried. You are trying to be responsible and make sure your needs are met. There is no shame in that, or in not wanting to be a mom. I don't think that continuing to be pregnant is right for you, but I am a stranger on the internet, and I have no way of knowing that for sure.

Since you are 5 weeks along, have you considered taking a trip to your local Planned Parenthood clinic to talk about your options? There are people on-site who can counsel you about going forward with the pregnancy or terminating it.

Good luck. It will be okay.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:12 PM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

If you don't want to do it, don't do it. If you're morally opposed to abortion, you could put the child up for adoption (assuming you still feel the same way after carrying it to term). Your "unwanted" child could make an infertile couple very happy.

I got pregnant when I was 20 and at university. IMO it would have been completely irresponsible to bring a child into the environment we were living in and I have never regretted having the termination (it was 9 years ago).
posted by missmagenta at 3:15 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I will just note that if you don't want to have a child in your family one great option is to give the baby up for adoption. I know lots of parents who would be very happy to have the chance to raise a child. I have family and friends that have adopted children and they are very thankful that the birth mothers of those children chose to have the baby and give it up.
posted by bove at 3:15 PM on October 18, 2011 [7 favorites]

Babies are time-consuming and exhausting. They don't have to be expensive -- if you have health insurance, that'll take care of the biggest mandatory expenses -- if you don't want them to be. There are plenty of people who live the lives they want to lead, and adapt the kids into the goals they already have. Here's one example: The Pedouins, who gave up their comfortable life to criss-cross the country, first on a bicycle-built-for-five, now in a schoolbus.

BUT -- you have to want to be a parent. That is really at the core of this dilemma. And thankfully, for now at least, you have the right to not be pregnant any longer, if that is what you desire.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:19 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

I got taken to a whole lot of places I don't remember at all, because I was a baby when I was taken to them. It's certainly possible to travel with a kid.

It isn't selfish to think about your priorities and your resources when great change is in the offing - it's an adult thing to do.
posted by rtha at 3:23 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You need to talk to someone. Do you have a Family Planning equivalent in the US?
posted by zemblamatic at 3:23 PM on October 18, 2011

I've been there too, in so many ways! It doesn't feel like it now, but the baby becomes part of your dreams. The whole "exhausting, expensive, and time-consuming" thing is partly true, but in my eyes, the beauty of being a family-with-kids far exceeds the small setbacks.

So, don't take too much advice to heart (new parents seem to have an invisible, indelible sign on their foreheads asking for unsolicited advice) and enjoy preparing for a new family member who was created out of love. How excellent is that?

Congratulations Mama!
posted by mamabear at 3:25 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've taken my child to a lot of places. And she's the best decision I ever made.
posted by zia at 3:25 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

BlahLaLa wrote exactly what I wanted to say. Babies don't have to be expensive, and you can fit them into your traveling, but you have to want to do it.

I'm also another person who had an abortion and never regretted it. (I was 27, it was ten years ago.) It was not a decision I made lightly, but it was the right one for me.

You are not cold or selfish or mean-hearted for not knowing if you want to raise a child.
posted by Specklet at 3:25 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nothing at all cold and selfish and mean-hearted about your reaction. You're scared, but you're also facing this dilemma head-on in a reasonably mature (yes, mature) way. I can't possibly tell you what you should do, and I can't assure you it'll be all right because I'll never have children myself, but recognizing that this may not be right for you (or the baby), in spite of the conventional wisdom and the usual societal and peer pressures, is a very unselfish response. Agreed that you should talk to someone at PP.

And I don't know if you are part of a religious community, but if you are and feel comfortable that your religious leader won't push you in one particular direction, a talk with him/her might also help. Good luck.
posted by tully_monster at 3:26 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't sacrafice your dreams for a baby you're not sure you want. The kid deserves parents who want to devote themselves to him/her, and speaking from experience, you may grow to resent the kid for crushing your dreams if you feel that that is what it has done.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:27 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you want to bear and parent this child, you can absolutely do so in a way that's consistent with what you want. You can travel with a baby, you can start a business with a baby. Babies are definitely time consuming and definitely exhausting, but they don't have to be expensive. A baby will only derail your life if you let it.

If you don't want to bear or parent this child, though, you don't need any other justification not to do so except that. It's not cold-hearted, mean, or selfish to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I have two children whom I fought to conceive and bear and whom I love tremendously, and I'll be the first one to tell you that parenthood isn't for everyone. It's OK. You don't have to be "forced" to terminate, you just have to choose to.
posted by KathrynT at 3:27 PM on October 18, 2011 [15 favorites]

There certainly are ways to have some semblance of "it all" once you have a baby. If you limit your family to one child, the economic hit and the really time-consuming chunk will both be very limited. You'll still be able to drive a small car, and live in a house or apartment as small as two bedrooms. You'll only have a few years of daycare expenses before the kid starts school. You will easily be able to find friends who will watch your single child while you do things together. Travel will be only a bit more expensive and difficult than traveling with just the two of you. As a mother of three, I would say that you are very likely to be able to meet your goals even with one little person in your life.

That said, as a mother of three who very much wanted each of my children, I have often found myself thinking that, as hard as it is to raise kids you want, it must be extremely difficult with kids you don't want or are ambivalent about. And so I would second those above who recommend considering all your options, and being very gentle and forgiving with yourself whatever choice you make.
posted by not that girl at 3:29 PM on October 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

My husband and I have a 9yo and a 6yo. The kids have had passports since they were three months old. They're fantastic travelers, flexible and adaptable, and having the children along has greatly increased the pleasures of travel for me. My husband joined a startup after daughter number 2. So your hopes are not at all unreasonable. That said, we live and work in a tech mecca and have all kinds of privilege, including education and no debt.

As the other commenters have pointed out, you have plenty of choices, including terminating the pregnancy, relinquishing the child for adoption and keeping the baby. I want to add my voice to the chorus supporting you in any of these choices. Only you know what is right for you.

Most of all, as someone ten years older than you, I want to apologize for the position our society has placed you in. You guys are in love, you're educated, you're ambitious, you're curious, you love kids; I am sure you would make spectacular parents, and you're just the kind of people I like to see spawning. You should be in a position to take this pregnancy as serendipity, and you're not, and it's not your fault you're not. I am so, so sorry you've been saddled with that godawful fucking debt and this godawful fucking economy. I am politically active precisely because of the monstrous injustice that's been inflicted on you and millions like you. I'm really, really sorry.
posted by rdc at 3:32 PM on October 18, 2011 [51 favorites]

Were you somehow able to fulfill your dreams (travel, career, etc.) with a baby, especially if you were middle class (or lower) economically? If so, how did you do it?

Yes. When I got pregnant with #1, we were newly married and had student loans and no savings. By living extremely frugally for several years (thrift stores, coupons, no travel, very small gifts, etc.) we were able to save for our first house and get ourselves out of debt (on just under $60,000 per year). With some very lucky and shrewd decisions, my husband worked his way up through various companies and in the past 14 years (our oldest child is 14, the second is 11), we've traveled the world with them. We've been considering starting our own business but to be truthful, it's not the kids who are making us pause, it's the economy. Also, realize that in 10 years you may have changed your mind about the business, or you may find another path that you never knew existed. Nothing is static, up to and including parenthood.

Anything you put your mind to do you can do while raising children. You save for things. You budget. You live in the future instead of the present. But you have to want to do it. I don't regret having my children in the least, and I never ever thought I'd have children (for many of the same reasons you list). That said, I fully understand your ambivalence and fear and continuing this pregnancy is not something you have to do. You know that or you wouldn't be here asking this question.

So, can you have a child and still fulfill your dreams? Of course you can. It just takes a little bit more planning. If you need someone to talk to, please feel free to memail me.
posted by cooker girl at 3:34 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

The thing about babies is that they tend to skew your perspective on everything else. If you do decide to have the baby, you likely will find yourself wondering in a couple years how you could ever have considered "business" or "travel" on the same level of importance.

For me, and for most others with kids they love, children occupy a plane of importance way, way above everything else. Not because they force you to view them this way, but because they're just so damn cute and loveable and awesome.

...And, of course, they are the largest time, energy, and money sink imaginable! :)
posted by zachawry at 3:38 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mother of three here. We started a business within a few months of the arrival of our first child. We've traveled quite a bit with the kids and are currently both self-employed. Kids are now 16, 19, 21. They were and are expensive, time-consuming, a source of enormous stress and worry and the joy of both of our lives. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. It's been far, far more fun than I ever would have guessed as well. That said, we both knew we wanted kids from the get-go. We were 28 & 32 when the first one was born.

I agree with what everyone else has said - think through your options and make the choice that works for you and be kind to yourself. It's realistic to be more than daunted by the changes parenthood brings. For many of us those changes include unalloyed love, joy and happiness - along with frustration, exhaustion and financial challenge. I say this as the parent of teens and college kids so we're still very much in the midst of the financial challenge!
posted by leslies at 3:47 PM on October 18, 2011

I think you're mashing up all your factors into one giant thing that feels unapproachable:
1 - All things being possible, do you and your partner want this baby? Not in a "yes, but we'd rather have/do/be" but do you want a kid or not?
2 - If the answer is no --> no kid
2b - If your answer is yes, then you figure out if you can afford (the time/money/stress) to have the kid right now.
2bi - No we cannot, even if we stretch the limits of what's possible --> no kid
2bii - We could, but it would would have to sacrifice lots and we would resent the kid and each other for the rest of our lives --> no kid
2biii - We could. It would take lots of changing of expectations and plans, but part of both of us is a little happy and excited --> sit down and do planning, take a folic acid vitamin

I terminated a pregnancy when I was in college after being married a few years when we had no financial future and lots of debt and we had lost our only post-college job prospects. I don't regret it in the least bit (but it was an emotional trainwreck for me for a while).

However, part of the reason it was OK for me was because I had my daughter three years later when we had jobs and stable housing (but still lots of debt). She's traveled all over with us and knows that travel isn't about fancy hotels and room service and Disney parks. The childcare was the killer expensive part but the rest -- they don't eat that much, they appreciate what they have until you give them lots.

It all boils down to if you want a kid, you can make it work and still do awesome things, but it does take work and sacrifice, so it better be worth it to you. And if you don't and you both think that you can emotionally terminate or put a child up for adoption, then you'll make it work.

This has to work for both of you, for the rest of your lives, either way. Whatever you decide, make sure you're both there for each other, not against each other, and it's a mutual decision. You'll never see what kind of partners you'll be for each other more than what you're about to go through -- either way.

Good luck and love and happiness and whatever else you need. Seriously.
posted by Gucky at 3:51 PM on October 18, 2011 [7 favorites]

I just had a kid. Am an adoptee and have friends desperately trying to adopt right now. Having a kid has changed my perspective on all sorts of things and it's moved my ambitions somewhat. However, it's also opened up the world in unexpected ways. And my daughter is amazing and so worth it. However, we may stop at 1 for reasons similar to you.

If you do decide to have the baby and go the adoption route, that would be difficult but pretty awesome, too. I know one "older" mom who did this and placed her daughter through an open adoption.

Abortion is tough, too. Only you can know what the best decision for you is. I'd examine all the options carefully (and quickly). Good luck - I know this is all scary. Keep in mind that one path or another, things tend to work out.
posted by amanda at 3:52 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You are not obligated to have a child just because you are married and have a stable home. If you never wanted one in the first place, you are not (hopefully) going to be forced to have one because of that.

You probably can do it if you want to do it, but...if you don't want to do it, then don't. As the mother, you are the one who is going to be forced to do most of the work (breastfeeding, labor, etc.) anyway, and if you're doing it when you don't even want the baby...well, that doesn't strike me as a good situation. I tend to think women in particular need to really want that baby, for that reason.

I would advise not telling too many people (or any) that you are pregnant unless you decide to keep it, though. Most people you know IRL will probably want you to keep it, and you don't need that pressure on you right now. Since you're in the possible miscarriage zone right now anyway, you can get away with that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:53 PM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

You should keep in mind that you ultimately might not enjoy your dream and good life according to western standards so much if you get rid of your baby to make it possible. It can be a Faustian situation.

I have multiple children under 5 and started a business. It's totally doable. We can't really travel and build this kind of business at the same time (children don't change this), but we were taking vacations with our children easily before that and did manage to squeeze a small one in last year. And, we aren't rich either. It's really enjoyable to mix family and personal ambitions.
posted by michaelh at 4:01 PM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

You don't have to do this if you don't want to. If you decide you don't want to, it's okay. You're not less of a person or being selfish or anything like that--you own your life and it's yours, first and foremost.

If you decide you want to, there are lots of resources and people who can help you figure out how to live through those first few years and how to plan longer term and live the life you want to live.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:02 PM on October 18, 2011

Oh, quickly, how I did it:
- Not a lot of sleep
- Swing and a bouncy seat -- used -- bounced it with my foot while I worked on my thesis project
- Returned expensive baby gifts and clothing and used the cash/store credit for cheap onesies, binkies; was honest with generous relatives when they asked if I needed anything ("Costco gift certificates for diapers")
- Costco diapers (I tried cloth and our water & power bill outweighed the cost for us)
- Lap infant flies free, so I traveled a whole bunch on cheap flights/package deals when I was off work
- Each of us got one night a week sans baby out of the house, no matter what
- Lots of cheap home entertainment/had people come over/potlucks rather than restaurant meals
- Not a lot of stuff
- Found a daycare I could confidently trust, took a lot of vitamins because man, do kids bring home germs
- Appreciated her to make it all worth it
- Got freaking lucky and both of us did better in our careers than when she was born, so it got easier -- just as daycare got cheaper, darnit
- Ignored everyone's well meaning unsolicited advice about what she needed, had to have, etc. and just made it work
- Cried a lot, felt like it was impossible a lot, got really proud of what I was able to pull off, enjoyed the moments I did like with her (read: after potty training. I find non-talking babies boring)
- Treat her like a human being who has to cater to our likes and whims sometimes. She thinks City Arts and Lectures with Wallace Shawn is boring? Tough. I found Barney boring. Quid pro quo.
posted by Gucky at 4:06 PM on October 18, 2011 [26 favorites]

I know people who have had kids and still travel. I know people who have been camping at festivals with their two week old baby, and people who are moving to another country with a one year old. I also know people who find dealing with their kids really stressful and who I can't imagine coping with any such thing.

I suspect that if you're laid back, flexible, you travel light, and you're good at living on a shoestring, that you have a pretty good shot at whatever kind of a life with a baby you like.
posted by emilyw at 4:15 PM on October 18, 2011

Don't panic! Having a baby does not mean you will not be able to travel or start your own business. Have a look at this blog from a couple who are travelling with their child. There are many more examples out there. Do a search for family travel blogs. Connect with people who are actually out there doing the things you want to do.

As an added bonus, most of the children I've met who have traveled extensively with their parents have better social and vocabulary skills than kids who have never left their hometowns. They seem to adapt to new situations and people better.
posted by Ariadne at 4:27 PM on October 18, 2011

yes this is cold and selfish and mean-hearted and I feel terrible for even thinking it

It's none of those things. On the other hand, half-heartedly raising a kid that you didn't want is terrible. You don't want a baby, so don't have one.
posted by crankylex at 4:39 PM on October 18, 2011 [8 favorites]

I am always AMAZED!!!!!!!!!!! by people who can genuinely respond to things like this with "Kids are no big deal, go for it, it's easy!"

I don't know, maybe some people are just more mentally flexible than I am, but for my family, going from "couple" to "parents+baby" was like the apocalypse.

We did it. You do what you have to do. You stick it out. It gets a little easier. If you and your husband decide to keep this pregnancy, you will be okay. You will make it work, you will do what you have to do. Your lives will form themselves to this event, and you will figure stuff out.

But for us - ambitious, kind of self-directed people who had never really had to give our egos over to something else before - it was TOUGH. It is still tough. I think there are real longterm upsides to this - it is an interesting spiritual exercise to learn to put someone else in front of myself all the time, forever - but I would never tell anyone that it's easy. It is far and away the most difficult thing I have ever done. It has changed my life completely, in almost all areas that were meaningful to me. You know those studies that show that having a kid makes you unhappier than you were before? Those studies are not fucking around for most people. I don't think it's the kid that makes you unhappier, I think it's that throwing your life over, from one day to the next, to something else, in a totally new direction not really chosen by you, is a massive, uncontrolled mindfuck.

That said, the money part of kids, in the early years, is not that big of a deal. Having a baby has not substantially increased our expenses, because we are not people who ran out to buy matching nursery furniture. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, all of that hippie stuff has the benefit of being very, very cheap. In many cases verging on free.

Babies do become expensive if you need childcare, though. And of course when they're older, things start to add up pretty rapidly once you get into things like tuition. (Or if you need to buy them their own plane ticket when traveling!) But in the beginning, if you can swing a parent at home with them instead of buying childcare, they're cheap.

One thing I have noticed since having a kid is that my husband and I are pretty constantly gaming out various future scenarios for relative levels of stability and income. Our lives are in service to something greater than ourselves in a way they weren't when we were "just a couple". If we think about moving to City X, we have to think about what it's like to raise a kid there, are there good schools, is it a family-friendly place, how important is it to us to give our kid a sense of rootedness in the world, etc etc. And when we think about career moves, which we do a lot as ambitious people, these things just pile on top of each other. Everybody has to be pointed in the same direction in a way it didn't feel that we needed to before we had a kid.

I don't know, I'm rambling.

Basically what I want to say is: before I had a baby, I was pro-choice.

Now I am PRO-CHOICE. Because having a baby is a huge life thing. Huge. If a woman thinks she can handle it, I think that's great. And if a woman thinks it's not for her, I trust her. She doesn't need to explain any further. I trust you, sister.

Feel free to me-mail me if you need an ear. I'm familiar with the emotional place you're in.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:39 PM on October 18, 2011 [66 favorites]

You may want to check out this question. It's not the same, but there are a lot of great responses there about how maybe their family didn't have a ton of money growing up, but it didn't negatively impact them. Kids are expensive, but they don't have to be as expensive as our culture seems to make it. It is possible for you to have a happy, healthy child without constantly springing for all the newest, coolest stuff. My parents were much like you are now when I was born and I wasn't a death sentence on their finances. They scrimped and got things second-hand and saved and paid off their debts and started their business(es). It's possible.
posted by coupdefoudre at 4:41 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and: Were you somehow able to fulfill your dreams (travel, career, etc.) with a baby, especially if you were middle class (or lower) economically? If so, how did you do it?

Career: yes. Travel: not really.

Career-wise, we have actually found that having a kid has put a kind of clarifying pressure on our career choices that weren't there before. It's much harder to do good work now that I'm a mother (I'm a writer) but all of my professional success has come post-baby, because I think it has such weight now. I don't dick around anymore. My husband has a similar thing happening. Pre-baby, I think it's possible that we would have kind of been creative drifters for a few more years.

Travel: we visit family, some of whom are pretty far-flung. But that's it. I am going to be honest and say that I am apparently just not one of the cool people who love traveling with a kid. I find it stressful and anxiety-producing and until the day my dream of traveling by zeppelin is a reality, I don't do if it I don't have to. But that's my problem. If you and your husband are cool, laid-back people, I see no reason travel couldn't happen for you. (Also, we traveled a TON when our kid was a baby, and it was pretty easy. Much easier than when he was older and mobile.)

I think you can, if you decide to continue the pregnancy, totally combine travel+career+baby, but I don't think those things are easier to do with kid than without kid, exactly.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:47 PM on October 18, 2011

Career - well yeah, you can progress in your career. But be aware that childcare is incredibly expensive and you both need to really think about the return on investment. If one of you doesn't make more than $X ($30k? $40k?), it probably isn't worth it to work unless you need to work up to the next level in your career. Find out what daycare and nanny prices are like in your city NOW. (Could be $1500/month, depending where you live.)

Travel - we travel a lot with our kid. We traveled a lot with our kid as an infant and baby. The challenges are that you will probably have less money than you would otherwise to travel at will. You also won't have as many vacation/sick days because you will use them up on kiddo being sick/going to the doctor/preschool tours/etc. But it is totally possible to travel with a kid. Don't worry.

If you can -- emotionally and professionally -- moving closer to family that can help would be really beneficially. If you have a mother, mother-in-law, aunt, etc. that is willing to provide some childcare - best case regularly but even occasionally -- you'll save SO MUCH MONEY. You'll also have a 3rd adult in your life which will make so many things easier for you. Knowing that you can drop off Little Angel with Aunt Sue so that you can get your teeth cleaned or hair cut or whatever... you have no idea how wonderful that would be.
posted by k8t at 5:02 PM on October 18, 2011

Babies are time-consuming and incredibly exhausting. You no longer go on vacations, you go on "adventures." Childcare for an infant easily exceeds $1000/month for a reputable center.

We can't go out to eat unless we go somewhere off-hours, because I don't want to subject other diners to a potentially-crabby toddler.

That said, I love my kids, but don't believe anyone that tells you it's easy.

But -- if something's important to you, you'll find a way to make time for it. My husband was an English major, but he loves finance and real estate. He's been really successful in the finance field, despite the demands of parenthood. I'm a freelancer and I fit work in where I can. We're both pretty happy.
posted by Ostara at 5:23 PM on October 18, 2011

I was in a similar mental state to you when I found out that 'we' were pregnant. For me, travel was the #1 issue, as there's nothing I love more than getting away to a developing country for a month or two a year.

Almost a year on from the birth, and we managed 6 weeks in Indonesia, and are considering an outback Australia - East Timor trip in the near future. Remember that kids under 2 are generally free everywhere: accommodation, planes & ground transport. It just means a slightly different style of travel - for us it was renting a place & exploring the one area over a longer time period with a few day trips thrown in, as opposed to my earlier approach of backpacking, continually on the move. Looking further ahead, I can see possibility for similar kinds of trips to places like Malaysia, the Phillipines & Vietnam. Having a baby or young child can really open doors for you overseas too - don't discount that. Everybody wants to meet & cuddle & play with the little one.

Career-wise, I'm happily going to a 4-day week for a year starting soon, as Ms Ubu returns to her previous job. She's also interviewing for a new position, with a nice bump upwards in pay.

I don't find the baby to be particularly expensive yet. Childcare will cause a bit of a hit soon, but still well within the realms of affordability, and that only lasts a couple of years before we get into the state preschool system. We also save a lot of discretionary spending, because we're eating out & going to concerts & plays & things a lot less.

You might worry about that kind of impact on your lifestyle, but speaking for myself, I really don't give a shit. I love hanging out at home with the baby, and spending my time nesting, with gardening & little DIY home improvement projects, as well as cooking - we eat really well. This also includes eating out weekly, but instead of fine dining, it's busy & noisy ethnic eateries (yum cha, vietnamese, turkish, indian etc) that tend to be very family friendly, tasty, and easy on the wallet.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:40 PM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

I was on a journey in life - it was great - travel, work, friends, the normal stuff - then my wife fell pregnant. Yep it's been tiring, expensive and far from hassle free - but I have learned more about myself and the world by being a parent than a million trips would have given me and we're having the second one in a few weeks.

About the money: My business crashed in the great meltdown of 2008 - I was in my late 30's and after being quite successful moved into rented accomodation, having lost (bet) the house on the business, and my son was born early 2009. We got pretty much everything second hand and now, just to illustrate change can be a great thing, that's just become a part of our lives and even though we could afford new now, we continue to choose a more sustainable, relaxed way to live. I immediately started another company when my son was born and while we're far from where I had hoped financially - my wife still works - we manage, we're far from starving, have a roof over our heads and are building ourselves up again as a family - a much greater driver than I had before.

I suspect you are over thinking this - yes it's a big decision - but it's just life. But one thing I can promise is it is an adventure - one I thought I would never explore and I now just wish I had done it earlier.

Good luck whatever you choose to do.
posted by fatmouse at 5:50 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

As a new father (my daughter is two months old now) I can only say it's the most exhausting and all-encompassing thing I've ever done. I expect it eventually gets easier, but so far, it's a *ton* of work that leaves *very* little time for anything else. My wife left the house on her own for an hour and a half today. The first time she's done that since the baby was born. We've gone out to eat together three or four times now? And honestly, I think we're doing pretty good compared to some people I know.

I'm fairly well-off (All our bills are paid, we have no debt, money in the bank, and we can afford for my wife to stay home full time) and we elected to do this on purpose.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 6:38 PM on October 18, 2011

I got a passport at 10 months (it's super adorable). Your life isn't over. You gotta roll with the punches. This wasn't the plan, but sometimes the things you never thought you wanted are the things that make you happy.

And really you aren't that bad off. It sounds like you are on your way to financial security in the fairly immediate future. Babies don't have to be crazy expensive. Back in our parent's day your situation was the norm, except they were much younger and less financially sound.

And really you can also just get an arbortion if that's what you want. That's ok too.
posted by whoaali at 6:48 PM on October 18, 2011

Owning your own business is lot easier to fit a kid into, than working for someone else.
Having a baby at your age is cheaper than having one 10 years later.
Babies and kids are as expensive as you allow them to be, barring extraordinary circumstances.
Kids are pretty portable. Mine have gone all over, from Cuba to the Galapagos.
I've been a freelancer my entire career, and my husband is self-employed. It's possible. You might be living in a really small apt. for a while and shopping at Goodwill, but it's not forever and it won't kill you or the kid.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:59 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everybody has those dreams. Very few people achieve them, especially 'middle class or lower' people. If they do, it tends to have very little whatsoever to do with whether they had kids or not. I can only speak for myself, obviously, as a parent who travels with kids, and draw on my observations of other friends with kids who've travelled and started businesses and the like:

Having kids is the single best thing I will ever do in my entire life, and having kids around makes everything else much, much more awesome.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:33 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you want to be a parent? This is the only true question. If you don't, then don't be one. Because you're not doing a potential kid any favors.

Here's something I read in Anne Lamott that might help you, from when she was trying to decide to keep a pregnancy. If this pregnancy spontaneously ended, would you feel relief? Or sorrow? Use those feelings to guide you.

And since you're the woman, you need to be the one whose feelings count the most on this...don't have a baby just because you think your husband might want one. He's not the one taking the physical risks, you are.

So, let's say you feel sorrow at the idea of losing this chance and decide, what the hell. Congratulations! Time to call on/strengthen your support network. Friends, family, cheap teenage trustworthy babysitters, other people with babies that could play with your baby--these are the people you need to seek out and get to know. Two people can raise one child without help, but not if they want to stay sane or ever leave the house together. Get as much help assembled as possible.

We were pretty much busted-ass poor when we had our son. It was fucking hard, because our support network had many holes in it, not just because of poverty, but distant family and a circle of friends who had too many mental issues to ever watch a baby. It's easier now, especially that he's out of daycare and in public school, because our fairly cheap daycare was 500 plus bucks a month.

The US does not make it easy to have kids, but it's not impossible, if you're determined and really want it. Just make sure you are.
posted by emjaybee at 7:52 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing everyone who has asked you if you really want to parent. Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to, and terminating this pregnancy! Also, terminating this pregnancy does NOT mean you wont'/can't get pregnant again later, on purpose, should you and your husband desire to do so. Or that you can't parent if you want to.

However, there is something very wrong, in my opinion, with bringing a kid into the world if you really don't want to have it: wrong for the kid, wrong for you, wrong for your partner-in-child-rearing.
posted by Betty's Table at 8:04 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Congratulations to you both! My wife and I are your age, in about the same educational/financial situation. We found out we were having twins VERY soon after we got married. I remember the panicky feelings well... You don't think you could ever, ever be a parent until one day it happens and you just are and it's one of the best things that ever happened to you and you wish you could go back and tell the scared version of yourself that it's all going to be ok. Because it is.

If everyone waited until they felt perfectly prepared to have a child, no one ever would. Not that it isn't a dramatic, life-changing event––but I promise that it all seems infinitely more complicated and expensive and time-consuming in the view from this side. Mere months after the baby is born your life will settle back down and you will see that a good portion of it hasn't changed all that much. Your priorities shift, certainly, but, as many others have pointed out, there's no reason you can't still travel or start a business or do pretty much anything else. Parents have done far crazier things with far more children!

As a side note––you never said you were considering abortion but since so many others have brought it up as if it were some sort of magic bullet, I just want to point out something (that I know will seem cloying and moralistic, but oh well): Nothing you can do in this life will provide any guarantee of future financial security or freedom or time or sanity or happiness. Getting rid of a baby to clear the way for your plans is indeed a Faustian bargain, as michaelh said. It won't guarantee happiness in any other aspect of your life, but it will guarantee that you will never feel the particular happiness that would have come from knowing and loving and raising that particular child.
posted by Cortes at 8:15 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was in your position, only I was 23 and I wasn't married to my husband yet and he'd just been fired from his job.

Worked 60 hour weeks during most of my pregnancy. Had the baby, brought him home to a crappy little one bedroom apartment. Lost nearly all of my young, child-free friends due to my sudden inability to see movies at midnight and hang out in bars. Got wrongfully demoted at my job post maternity leave. Got postpartum depression. Got almost no sleep for a year. Had to put the kid through surgery at 8 months of age. Had to get him therapy for a motor delay.

Would I do it all over again?

Hell YES. I have never loved anyone or anything in this world like I love that boy. That beautiful, beautiful smart funny boy of mine. I'd set my self on fire for him. I've had many regrets over opportunities lost due to parenthood but nothing I've missed out on compares to how much I would be missing if my kid weren't here, teaching me what unconditional love really means, reminding me every day what it's like to see the world with the fresh wonder of a child.

Are we destitute? No. We left the crappy apartment long ago, and own a house and a car and we're not in terrible debt and my husband has a steady job and we're actually better off than some of our friends who do not have children. The crappy economy has trimmed our sails a bit lately, but it's done that to practically everyone.

Should you have a baby, right now? Only you can say. This is your choice and no one else's, and I hope you'll just do whatever feels right to you and your partner, and not worry about the judgement of others -- don't listen those who would judge you for having a child, and don't listen to those who would judge you for deciding otherwise. Whichever choice you make, if you make it with your own head and heart I believe it will to lead to a life that you'll want to live in. And you WILL be all right in the end. You have the power to deal with this, and the knowledge to make a good decision for yourself.
posted by BlueJae at 8:54 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am currently pregnant. One thing I think a lot of already parents forget is just how much pregnancy takes out of you. It is rough on your mind and body and there is nothing wrong with terminating for those reasons alone.

That being said lots of people in this thread have pointed out it is possible to do cool things like travel with a baby.

But you don't have to stay pregnant if you choose not to be and your motivations for not wanting to get pregnant in the first place are not selfish at all. They're realistic.
posted by HMSSM at 9:18 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

If your life so far has led you to not want children, and I applaud that decision, then I submit that you should take steps to maintain that decision. Your reasons for not wanting children are still valid and as others have said, you have the means to continue being childfree. There is nothing cold or selfish or mean-hearted about having plans for your life that don't involve children. Despite what people with children tell you, there is in fact more to life than reproduction, and not having children doesn't make a life meaningless or empty. On the flip side, having children doesn't make a life worthy or noble.

I've never known anyone in the middle-or-lower class bracket with children who lives a life I would be willing to lead, in terms of travel, time management, hobbies, money and the other things that I value.

There is no universal law that says parents must love their children, that having children won't destroy your dreams, and that the tradeoff will be worth it. Children are not magic. I know people with children who never wanted them, chose to keep them, and regretted every moment of it. The worst of those people made sure their kids knew it, too. I suspect that the children of the rest of those people knew or suspected it as well. If you didn't want children before you were pregnant, accidentally becoming pregnant is not a good reason to change your mind.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:12 PM on October 18, 2011 [11 favorites]

Both abortion and adoption can have long-term emotional fall-out, depending on how *you* as an individual and a couple feel. There is a huge variation, some people deal quickly and smoothly, other people struggle for a long time. They're as big a decision as parenting yourself is, and as unique and private to you and your partner, with you having inevitably, the bigger responsibility/choice.

I have four adopted kids and one surprise pregnancy on the way. We joke that each kid is a car and a round-the-world trip, but again, it's your individual budget. We scrimp on a lot - living in a tiny apartment for example - but we go to the movies as a family each weekend, and they get any book they ask for and we have multiple laptops for example. We go on sort of holidays to visit their birthfamily, rather than to a beach resort, at least 1-3 times a year which is again a choice.

I am facing a huge NICU bill which is scary - insurance here will only go so far - but I am in the tiny minority of complicated pregnancies. Most pregnant women's healthcare bills are a standard package, and depending on your country's subsidies can work out negligible. Where I live, there'a baby credit that most women qualify for that covers almost all the initial costs.

I spent maybe $200 total on baby stuff - everything else has been hand-me-downs, often unused with tags, or gifts. There is a huge push to splurge on babies, but for the first year of their lives, they are at their basics, cheap aside from healthcare. Formula and diapers are the big ticket items, and if you can breastfeed, that's a big cost gone, and if you have the time/facilities for cloth, it's also cheaper over time. Some parents I know combine them depending on convenience. Childcare is a huge variable cost depending on your family and circumstances from loss of one-income for a stay-at-home, to relatively free with a relative babysitting to full-on paid daycare that might get subsidized.

The rest of the costs - adolescence has been expensive. I have one kid on pricey medication, and there's clothes and transport and school costs (subsidized, but they still have trips and meals and so on) And oh my lord, do teenagers eat a LOT. But depending on your family's lifestyle, this can be a beer or champagne budget. Kids need happy loving parents first, expensive toys and treats way way last.

I know families that travel a lot with their kids - adventure travel is still totally possible. Your perspective completely changes though, because you see the world at their eye-level, and have to schedule around them, but it's enjoyable in a different way.

I think the biggest cost is time. Time away from paying work and your own pursuits. You're exchanging that time for time spent with your kids. It is quite possible to not like other people's children much and still be glad to parent - I can only spend so much time with small children before I'm bored, but I am quite happy to spend a whole day putzing around with my own children.

Your career will go a different path because you have a new giant time-suck in your life. Unless your partner is doing the majority of the childcare, you will have to figure out what to cut down on.

I know parents who regret having children in general, but love their specific child very much, parents who didn't want kids, then wound up with several because they fell in love with their children when they got accidentally pregnant, and people who didn't want their children and only parent them by default with as little interaction as possible.

You have some time to decide. Let yourself dream and plan out things, read essays from all sides of the arguments (Salon is kinda syrupy twee, but has some good stuff) and decide with your gut at the end of the day, not your head. It's your choice - and if it helps, there was a recent article on abortion statistics in the U.S. which said that more than 2/3 of women choosing an abortion already had a child and were adults. You're in a very common dilemma, and while plenty of people will judge your choice, that's because they're a) assholes and b) not you and your partner. Parenting is wonderful and terrible, ditto adoption, and in some minor ways, also abortion.

Don't choose by money alone - choose by what you yearn for.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:29 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

To those saying she's overthinking this, I strongly disagree. I don't think you can overthink this decision. In my own experience, I wish we, and certainly I, had thought about our choices much more than we did.

And also, to those saying congratulations, please stop. Again, speaking from my own personal experience, there's nothing worse than being congratulated for a pregnancy you aren't completely happy about. This may not apply to Anon, but then again, it might, so please stop.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:56 PM on October 18, 2011 [20 favorites]

I'm sorry you're in this situation. I agree that congratulations are inappropriate.

You never wanted a baby. End of story. That's all I need to know.

Look, I just had a baby and have spent a huge amount of time around small children and their parents. You will have no time, energy, or money for years unless you're one of the insanely lucky few who has extended family that picks up ALL the slack, money and time wise.

Having a baby is insanely hard and often really unpleasant. Pregnancy and childbirth suck. I cannot recommend it to someone who doesn't want a baby so badly that it feels like they're missing a limb (and you don't).

Sure, you'll make time for it. I always think it's ridiculous when people say that like it's a positive. You'll have to make time for it. Otherwise, it screams at you, or people call the cops/CPS. You have no choice but to make time!

(Please note when I am writing this comment. I have had no time to myself beyond eating food--and not even that--for the past 36+ hours, and we have spent hundreds of dollars on baby things in the past few weeks. We are even relatively frugal and have generous friends and family. Your instincts about time and money are very correct.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:21 AM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

The idea that you can control the expenses associated with babies/children and choose to do it cheaply is bullshit, by the way. I'm not even counting the basic unpredictable expenses (childcare costs go up, breastfeeding doesn't work out, baby needs special formula, child keeps losing coats and glasses...)

You could very easily end up with a child with special needs. I know someone who had a degree from Harvard Law who couldn't keep a job because her child needed so much care.

There are no guarantees and anyone who acts like there are is not being realistic.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:35 AM on October 19, 2011 [8 favorites]

You could very easily end up with a child with special needs. I know someone who had a degree from Harvard Law who couldn't keep a job because her child needed so much care.

That's a perfect fallacy of misleading vividness, right there.

For "very easily", substitute the actual probabilities. Here are some data that can help you make sense of the true level of risk.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:15 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just on the travel issue. My parents did tons of travelling when I was growing up – it’s made me the man I am today. Having a child will change the way you can travel, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing: A child can open doors to all kinds of experiences that travellers usually can’t access. I have vivid memories of being invited to join in a village sports day in East Africa when I was 9. Or when I was even younger I was taken into the kitchen of a Turkish restaurant and taught all the Turkish words for the ingredients.
Travelling with a child can actually be your passport to access the heart of communities you visit.
posted by sleepy boy at 4:22 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Listen, of course kids are hard. First of all, for a long time, they rely on you for everything. Then, they're hard because it's a relationship, and relationships are hard, in that they take effort.

And of course kids cost money, becuase, see above, they rely on you. But they don't have to be as expensive as everyone and their brother makes them out to be. medical care is expensive, but every state has programs that cover uninsured infants. food doesn't have to be expensive, and if you're truly poor, there is WIC. Now, daycare IS expensive and if you need it, there's no real other way to do it. But babies don't need all the stuff the marketing world tries to convince you that they need, and most of that you can get used.

But here's the thing: I was totally terrified of having a kid for a very long time for some of the reasons you state: young couple, totally in love, not wanting to mess up a rather tranquil life and all the plans for the future. I felt this way until we started hanging out with some people who had kids, who were the kind of parents we wanted to be. They fit the kids into their lives. They kept traveling. They went out with kid in tow. They had date nights at home while the kid was a sleep. They had friends over all the time. They helped their kids behave appropriately in appropriate situations. They reveled in their kids and the fun that kids eventually become. I try to think about them every time I tell my toddler "no". Like this morning when she wanted to dip her toast in her milk - I started to say no, and then was like, why on earth can't she do that? Who cares? If you're the kind of person who can say "who cares" about most of the things (while obviously caring if they want to play with fire or run in the street or never sleep or hit people or whatever), then, I think you can do this without it impacting your life in the ways you find scary. You just have to agree with your spouse on that.

Kids can travel; kids can pay for their own college if they go; kids don't need cars when they turn 16 and they don't have to be in every organized sport known to man. If you think you'd like having kids, and are really just worried about the money and the changes to your life, don't let those things stop you. If you don't want to be a parent, that's another story (and you do have options, as so many have pointed out; one of which is, of course, giving your baby up for adoption to someone who wants a baby and can't have one; you might even consider doing some kind of open adoption if that feels right to you).

Hang in there. Kids are a lot of work. Kids are scary. Kids do change your life, but in very few ways that are inevitable.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:30 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wanted a child so bad that yes, it felt like living without one was living without a limb. My son was perhaps the most planned child in the history of planning. There were spreadsheets.

Pregnancy sucks.

The newborn phase sucks.

But now? My son is 7mos old and holy hell is it ever awesome. He sleeps well enough that if I nap when he does (I'm a SAHM, by choice) I'm doing just fine. He's becoming mobile and starting to babble and is just the most joyful human being I've ever met. I'm so excited about his being more independent and starting to walk and talk and really grow into this amazing person. It's not all kitties and unicorns, it's still a lot of work, but I consider it an amazing privilege to get to mother this dude and watch him grow up.

As for the money, we're pretty middle of the road in terms of stuff acquisition - we've bought what we needed when we needed it, but haven't splurged on any big-ticket items. I would say over the seven months, we've put in about $8,000 total. I'm guesstimating based on furniture costs, car seats, toys, clothes, and food (I breastfeed, but the dude has started solids - which seem cheap until you realize how freaking many jars he eats in a week). We don't have childcare thrown in there because, as mentioned, I stay at home. It's absolutely 100% possible to do this cheaper and it's also very easy to spend more if you want a lot of stuff or if you want any/all of it to be top of the line. We splurged on the car seat and everything else has been totally mid-range in terms of costs - it absolutely would have been possible to do this just as well for less money if we had to.

We're still planning on traveling with the kiddo - we're making our first trip to my husband's home country (Portugal) for Christmas. Interestingly, my husband and I both like to travel, but it wasn't until having a baby that we got really excited by the idea of going to far-flung places. Now it seems like it would be so awesome to be able to show a kid as much of the world as we can and doing things with the three of us seems just infinitely more fun than it would have been on our own. For the first two years, airfare is free - which helps even out the hassle of the logistics of traveling with a very small person.

My husband is starting his own business at some point soon. I'll be doing childcare in our home and eventually opening an art studio to teach art to toddlers/preschoolers. Sure, we factored having a kid into these plans and had him intentionally, but we could have just as easily shoehorned him in if he'd come along without the aid of spreadsheets.

This is a really long way of saying it can totally work if you want it to. I agree with the piece of advice from Anne Lamott and think about how you would feel if you miscarried. If you'd be relieved, considering terminating the pregnancy or starting the adoption process would be a totally natural next step. If you'd be upset, you've got 35 weeks to start planning fitting a baby into your life in a way that will make you happy. That's plenty of time to research childcare costs and really shop around to get the stuff you need in a way you can afford. If you feel ambivalent, that's ok too. You have seven weeks left in the window for early termination - not all the time in the world, for sure, but enough to really consider the decision without having to make an impulsive choice this second.

In the end, whatever choice you make will be hard. And in the end, whatever choice you make will be the right one for you and your family.
posted by sonika at 6:49 AM on October 19, 2011

my daughter is pushing 2 & i wanted to pipe up to say that kids are often (but not always) more capable of flexibility than their parents give them credit for. i find that when i'm saying, oh, i can't do X b/c of Toddler Oh Really, what i'm really doing is limiting myself. it's not that SHE can't handle the travel -- it's that *I* can't handle traveling with her b/c of my own neuroses about her sleep issues, for example.

she's been exhausting & time-consuming & i was just complaining about how i need 8 more hours in the day to accommodate all of the work/chores/sleep/fun stuff i want to do (b/c the fun stuff is what ALWAYS gets sacrificed), but i ALSO know that things won't always be this way. one day she'll be a good sleeper (or her sleep will no longer affect me!); one day she can help with the chores; one day she will be less time-consuming.

i'm saying all of this b/c earlier this year i found out i was pregnant & it was absolutely devastating; she'd been waking up screaming multiple times a night for hours at a time for MONTHS, i wanted to run away, how could we afford daycare for a second kid, i'd just gotten rid of the breast pump & didn't want to have to start pumping again, how would she deal with a change in dynamic given her mercurial temperament, what if the new baby was just as challenging or worse, etc. we did decide to terminate the pregnancy. it was an incredibly difficult decision -- this was a baby i DID NOT WANT & all i did was cry. & yet i've always been pro-choice. i felt horrible. i posed a hypothetical question to my sister, & she gave me the best advice: you have to do what's right for the family you have NOW. i was fortunate that i was able to make a choice. we place so much importance on being able to cope with whatever's dealt to us -- & yes, we could've made it work -- that we feel selfish for trying to make this kind of decision.

i love my kid. so much. i loved that other baby, too, the one i never had. i just had to do what was right for my family.
posted by oh really at 7:18 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I agree that you should consider all of your options and if you don't want kids then you shouldn't have them. However, if the only reason you don't want them is because you fear you won't be able to travel then there are options. I know a lot of people who travel with their kids. I met a family coming up on a boat through Sudan to Egypt with a toddler and teenager. These kids were so curious and smart and better-off from their worldly experiences. They budget and save and forego some of the wasteful luxuries and spend that money on travel instead.

Here's a few (of many) blogs of families who travel long-term for inspiration and advice:
Six in the World
The Wide Wide World
Almost Fearless
Family on Bikes
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:17 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Many people have already said this, but other than the initial investment of medical stuff like prenatal care and delivery, babies are only as expensive as you make them. Babies all around the world grow up loved and healthy without expensive cribs, name brand diapers, and $20 cans of formula. There is cosleeping, pack and plays that are portable and cheap, cloth diapers and store brand cheapasa diapers, breastfeeding, and thrift stores and hand me downs for clothes. So that's that. And traveling with one kid? Totally doable! We have done road trips, cross-country train rides, and plane rides with our first kiddo and if we had more vacation time available from our jobs, we would have traveled even farther and even more. It's just a matter of raising your kid to be flexible and be willing to e flexible as a parent. Truly, the hardest adjustment for me (newly married, early twenties, in a studio apartment with student loans and unplanned pregnancy) was the initial time factor of new Babydom. But that lasts for a few months and then... baby just becomes part of your life and before you blink you're doing the same stuff you always have, but with a mini human tagging along and loving you.
posted by takoukla at 11:23 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's a few (of many) blogs of families who travel long-term for inspiration and advice:

More of a daily photo blog, but we met these guys on the road - 316 days travelling with a boy & a girl (aged roughly 9 & 6 respectively). Funded on the cheap, the idea was to take a year off for the kids' broader education & development.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2011

DO NOT have a child unless you want one. Do not listen to everyone who's like "lala, it'll be okay, you'll never regret it, it's a piece of cake!" Trust me. It is absolutely possible to regret becoming a parent (even when you did want a child).
posted by feathermeat at 12:55 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

And it's not true that "babies are only as expensive as you make them." Sometimes breastfeeding doesn't work out! Sometimes you have a kid with expensive medical needs! Etc. Things might work out so that the kid will be cheap, but then again, they might really, really not. And lesson one of (potential) parenthood: shit don't always turn out the way you planned it or thought it would.
posted by feathermeat at 12:57 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adding another voice to the chorus that it's possible to travel with a kid - I spent two years of my early childhood in the middle of the Serengeti with my parents, when my dad was a grad student, and most of the non-Tanzanian scientists around us had children with them (including one couple who gave birth while there).
posted by telophase at 1:58 PM on October 19, 2011

Breastfeeding can also be pricey if you need to pump, if you need help from a lactation consultant, if you need to supplement, if you need to quit eating dairy, if you need different bras, if you need to freeze milk, if you need to see a doctor because you have thrush, if you need antibiotics for mastitis...a lot of the cheapness of breastfeeding really comes down to luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:13 PM on October 19, 2011

Look - life is no picnic. There are no guarantees about what happens to a person. Even with the best advantages, terrible things can happen and cause immense suffering and misery. Even in the luckiest life, pain is inevitable. There is a story about two Rabbis discussing whether it's better to have been born or not to have been born. Their conclusion: better not to have been born, but once born, make the best of it.

I don't know why we have this idea that birthing is selfish and aborting is unselfish. Causing a person to be alive is a huge decision to make for someone else. If it won't even make YOU happy, it seems unfair and selfish to impose it on someone else just because of bad luck with birth control.

Don't feel bad. Do your research and your introspection (which it sounds like you're doing) and make the decision that's best for you. That can't help but also be the decision that's best for the potential person inside you.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:54 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oops got it backwards - I don't know why we have the idea that birthing is unselfish and abortion is selfish.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since it sounds like so much of your stress is based on the financial aspects of having kids, I'm wondering... is there someone you could go to to talk the money part through a bit more? Maybe a local credit union, a county social worker or WIC representative to see if there are any programs you qualify for, or (depending on means and time) an hourly financial planner? Whether there's a baby or not, it might be helpful to do that to work on goals and how you'll get there.
posted by hms71 at 8:12 PM on October 19, 2011

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