Reason vs emotion: Can't afford baby. Want a baby
August 3, 2012 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Coming to terms with circumstances. Baby fever edition. I need help doing it. How did you decide to be ok with waiting to get pregnant? Alternatively, how did you decide to go ahead and attempt pregnancy even though it was a bad idea financially in the short term? What books or articles or blog posts can I read (the library is right down the street!) that address this?

I have a mystery illness (frighteningly a likely ovarian teratoma, which may or may not be causing everything else, the tumor needs to come out but there is a lot of red tape between me and surgery), no job, and a boyfriend in 3rd year of medical school. I'm 30 and have always wanted to be a mother, this desire grows stronger every time I begin day one of another menstrual cycle. I'm taking birth control pills. I'm job searching and have geared up for volunteering here locally.

I've recently moved from one big city to another with better health care options for whatever is going on.

Boyfriend is very confident that he wants kids. We have moved in together and discuss these things with a great deal of candor. He has the privilege of being male, and not having the female egg quality hysteria that I worry about. (close family members of mine battling with not conceiving, and/or miscarriages) He has asked what he can do to help me with this, and I don't know. When I see the doctor about everything else I'll be asking about longer acting birth control, like depo-provera.

Other worries I have for delaying pregnancy are my being so much more exhausted than when I was 20 or 27. the prospect of starting (maybe) a 'real' career in the meantime and then putting it on hold to either give birth or adopt.

Financially, having a baby now would be a nightmare. I can't get my family to front me $100 so I can get the labs and lap required for the. Ext step of my medical care. They'd probably go nuts buying tiny baby clothes, but my married sister just had a miscarriage....recently. Her pregnancy and subsequent loss both definitely have something to do withy asking his now. I don't want to be a jealous monster when she does carry a baby to term.

Obviously, my health is a priority, and there is a (small, tiny) chance that my lady bits are trying to kill me anyway and getting pregnant may be out of the question entirely. But I'm pretty sure that if I wait 5 years and cannot bring a pregnancy to term, I will have some...regret? Anger? And it's not necessarily healthy to worry about how I might feel in 5 years.

Yes. Therapy is in the works. But the aforementioned labs? Also required to get a referral to affordable mental health care. So that's. Why I need your reading suggestions and/or anecdotes to help me get a handle on this issue. I have participated in DBT in the past, have a work book and still find it very helpful. Therapy is awesome.

I'm familiar with sociological theories of delaying childbearing (I am firmly in the group that waits to have a kid until you're established as an adult, not the group that is likely to join adulthood - my circumstances, this economy leave me feeling like here should be a third group!), know about sliding vs deciding, am not wanting a child to tie me to this particular man (we already express a great deal of commitment to each other), not wanting a baby to 'have someone to love me,' and might be wanting permission to just go ahead and have a baby after my health is sorted out.

(we live in the US, which is not super pro-mom, and many would argue is actively anti-motherhood.)
posted by tulip-socks to Human Relations (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you asking if you should get pregnant or not? Or just asking how to deal with not getting pregnant...?

I would suggest that the timing of a pregnancy is something that should be talked through with the potential father, as his career will require lots of long hours for the forseeable future. He might also not be ready, period. Alternatively, if you did decide together to start a family, he ought to do whatever he can in terms of helping you with your health care costs. I'm not sure how reasonable that is while he's in his current situation.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:06 AM on August 3, 2012

Also, I am sorry for your current medical condition. When I had a potentially fertility-limiting condition (hydrosalpinx--turned out to be something else that was fixable with surgery) I found it very difficult to deal with and spent a lot of time crying on the couch. Allow yourself to mourn, it's okay to be sad about this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:07 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

You say you might be wanting permission to have a baby after your health is sorted out.

It's not up to me, but you wouldn't have my blessing to have a baby as a single mother with no job, no insurance, and no $100 to her name. It sounds beyond unfortunate financially and into "untenable" territory - you'd be completely reliant on social safety nets/welfare from the sound of things.

I can definitely understand hearing the biological clock ticking very loudly when you've got the prospect of an ovary being removed in front of you. But please focus on your health and getting your life in order here. It sounds like you and your boyfriend are on the same page about wanting children, but it's a long way from there to "want to have a baby right now with me?" Don't count your med student boyfriends before they're hatched!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2012 [15 favorites]

Could you find other projects to distract you? Even if the timing were perfect to get pregnant, and you had plenty of money and good health, there's no guarantee you even would get pregnant. So focus on other things until your health and money sort themselves out.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2012

How close is your family, both distance and help-wise. They can't front your $100, but will they be able to give you time? Because after medical school comes residency, and residency means dad is not going to be around most of the time.

Also, have you looked into food stamps, assistance for women and children (it's called WIC in NYC, and it's money toward food; your state may have different rules,) Medicaid managed care and so on? If you're both broke, you need to get your social service ducks in a row before you even consider getting pregnant. See if you can get in touch with a non-profit or social work group to see what benefits you are eligible for.
posted by griphus at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, even discounting your health issues, your general station in life -- unemployed, significant other with uncertain future (people wash out of medical school all the time,) etc.-- makes this a bad time to have a kid.
posted by griphus at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2012 [8 favorites]

While you may physically yearn for a child, I can't in good conscience suggest that you become pregnant when you're not in a legally binding relationship with the potential father, you don't have a pot to piss in and you're facing a health challenge.

Your desire to have a baby isn't focused on fulfilling the needs of the child, they're focused on your needs. That's kind of backwards.

Slow your roll. Yes, it may become more difficult to become pregnant as you age, due to your health situation it may be impossible. Sometimes we don't get what we want.

Let's discuss your boyfriend. I doubt seriously that he wants to have a child with you right now. Is he committed enough to you to marry you, if not today, sometime down the road. Why not?

People who are putting off life decisions until they..fill in the blank...are keeping their options open. It's that simple.

Do you really want to have a baby with someone who can't commit to YOU? Why?

One year will not make a huge difference in the grand scheme of your fertility. If you do end up having issues, consider having your egg frozen, for implantation in the future.

Don't fret so much, what will be, will be. Don't make a life altering decision based upon panic and fear.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't want to be a jealous monster when she does carry a baby to term.

As someone who has had to deal with infertility, I just want to tell you that this does not need to be the way this plays out. It was an issue* for me until I connected two thoughts: one, jealousy is fear of loss; two, there are not a limited number of babies in the universe.

My sister's baby is a year old now (and my sister is 41, pregnant first try), and I was able to spend my sister's late pregnancy, birth and two post-partum weeks with her without issue. I still skip baby showers, but other than that I am genuinely cheerful about and happy for all my friends who are breeding. Also I super love infants, and it is nice to have more around even if they are not mine.

*By issue, I mean bursting into tears with announce preganancy and avoiding all friends who were pregnant; this went on for a good few years.

and might be wanting permission to just go ahead and have a baby after my health is sorted out.

This is not a good idea given your current financial situation, no. You need a job that pays you enough for childcare and/or a partner who is cool with providing full family support for a given time period. To have a child without this is deeply unfair to the child.

You do not need to roll the dice here. You can get a fertility workup that will give you a very good idea of your egg age, reserves and quality. Do not use not knowing and "maybe" as an excuse to just do what you want to do - work with all the data you can get.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:29 AM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

We are 100% in agreement that neither of us wants to get pregnant now or even in the next two years. Because of my health, his time demands, and my lack of a job. He has several classmates with children and we agree that level of sacrifice is not one we would choose.

In hindsight. It's pretty telling that I'm still assuming that my job situation is temporary, that I chose to not even mention that of course I expect to be employed soon. Luckily I've had a few interviews since my recent scam experience that I posted about in meta talk. I realize now that I'm not actually guaranteed to get a job, much less a career track job (I'm aggressively applying for both). That's the most useful part of having asked this.

Yes, unless he is a phenomenal bullshit artist, he hopes and intends to marry me.

(as far as family of origin and their willingness matching their ability. It absolutely does not and they are painfully open about that with me.)
posted by tulip-socks at 11:38 AM on August 3, 2012

Well, then, no matter what you're not having a baby in the next two years, so it's not something you have to think about now.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:43 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's a forum over at AltDotLife called "Thinking and Talking about Potential Parenthood" - you might get more answers there? It's a great website.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:50 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Based on the assertion that you and your boyfriend are "committed" and talk with "candor" about babies and your relationship, it sounds like you need to start talking with more candor about your fears, what the reality is, and how committed you are to each other.

[How long have you been together?]

Questions to discuss, perhaps:

Do you want to get married? What is keeping you from getting married, like, tomorrow if you're committed to each other? (the legal benefits of being married when having children are myriad)

How serious is this condition? If left untreated, could it prevent you from having kids? If so, what are you doing in your power to have it treated? (Is red tape for treatment related to lack of insurance? If so, could this be fixed by getting married to get on his insurance plan?)

When do you want to have kids? Why do you want to have kids? How does employment factor into this? Are you interested in being a homemaker and/or is that a life possibility that you have discussed as a couple (even if temporarily)? Do you want to always work full-time, even when you have children? Is there a standard of living you want to reach before you have children? How realistic is this goal? If you both want kids, what is absolutely holding you back from having kids?

Y'all need to talk. This is big life stuff you can't begin to "come to terms with" because you literally haven't even talked about the terms!


People have been having babies and making families in all different configurations and terms since the dawn of time. You can do this too. But seriously, Y'ALL NEED TO TALK MORE ABOUT THIS and not in wishy-washy "I love kids!" terms but in, "Let's make a plan" terms. If boyfriend can't handle that, well, there's one of your answers. It's adult time. It's time to deal with some big questions and what ifs head on.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:51 AM on August 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

Also, have you looked into food stamps, assistance for women and children (it's called WIC in NYC, and it's money toward food; your state may have different rules,) Medicaid managed care and so on? If you're both broke, you need to get your social service ducks in a row before you even consider getting pregnant. See if you can get in touch with a non-profit or social work group to see what benefits you are eligible for.

I would suggest really sitting with the fact that having a baby when you're not financially stable will suck. Food stamps, WIC and assistance are - as you perhaps know - far more limited in scope and quantity than most taxpayers believe, and the number of hoops you have to jump to get them is insane. I have a friend who has been dealing with the whole pregnancy/baby/broke/social services thing for the past year or so and it's been horrible from a logistics standpoint. It's also put a lot of stress on her relationship.

My concern would be that, if you're at all like me, you might in a moment of weakness or sleepiness or stress allow your wishes to override your sense, neglect the old birth control, etc etc. Since you know you really can't afford a kid for a couple of years, really really think through and internalize the fact that the "social safety net" is largely a myth and that there simply isn't a work-around.
posted by Frowner at 11:53 AM on August 3, 2012

Given that you know you want to get married and you know you both want to have kids, there are concrete things you can start doing now to be in that kid-having place in 2 or 3 or 5 years. You're at a good time to start thinking about your money and jobs situations -- not just dealing with getting a job right now, but also thinking about what kind of community and lifestyle you want to pursue as your boyfriend finished medical school. You can think about your career, as you start getting job offers, with an eye towards taking maternity leave in a couple years -- does that mean you should put in massive hours now? Look at a particular company or industry? Whatever. You can discuss it when you next move -- should you get a two bedroom? Think about a house? Jettison your large collection of NFL-branded La-Z-Boys that have their own bedroom so that there will be space for a nursery eventually?

You can start thinking about your health in a larger sense -- getting as strong and fit as you can get with your other hormonal issues. Talking to your doctor (when you can ... or Planned Parenthood) about what you should do NOW to prepare for pregnancy in 3 years. Talk to your doctors after your surgery about that. (For example, my doctor had me start on prenatal vitamins six months before we started "trying.")

You can also do some research into Plans B -- fostering? Research foster care requirements for your state so that if you decide to foster, you will know exactly where to start. Adoption? Ditto. Fertility treatments? Discuss how far you'd be willing to go with it. Remaining childless? Some introspection about how you would deal with that. Maybe some reading into how couples dealt with it in the 1950s when babies were booming and fertility treatments weren't available -- because they did deal with it, and went on to have full and rich lives.

You can take control of things in your life now and make plans towards being ready to try for a baby, so that when it's time to try, you're in a really good place to do so.

"Other worries I have for delaying pregnancy are my being so much more exhausted than when I was 20 or 27."

This is a true fact, but older mothers also tend to get less easily overwhelmed. I've read that women in their 30s have an easier time with the "terrible twos" and disciplining toddlers, and observationally among my friends, I'd say that's true; the extra maturity helps. It's a trade-off for being unable to pull all-nighters without wanting to die. Children with younger parents and with older parents each get different benefits from their parents' ages, but what's important is loving parents who do a good enough job.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:04 PM on August 3, 2012 [9 favorites]

We are 100% in agreement that neither of us wants to get pregnant now or even in the next two years.

I guess it doesn't sound like you are. You want permission to get pregnant after your health stuff gets sorted out...assuming that won't take two years, then the answer is definitely no, because both parents have to be okay with it for you to ethically take the steps to get pregnant on purpose.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:06 PM on August 3, 2012

Hey, we simultaneously posted baby-making hormone questions. I'm here to read comments because I need the help, too. I am also deciding to wait, but find it challenging not to slide. I too want to have one while I have the energy, but you have to make a simple list of reasons why to wait. It sounds like they would outweigh the reasons to have one now. But I strongly think you have to be willing to live with the idea that you might not be able to have one at all and will have to foster or adopt, which is wonderful. That's where introspection and candidness with yourself is required, and maybe therapy, and if you really want to have one that's yours genetically, you have to freeze some eggs if possible.

For now, to help the feeling, I can only suggest getting a cat or dog. I'm dead serious. My cat IS my child and I am placated. For now. Very best success with your health.
posted by Sayuri. at 12:19 PM on August 3, 2012

I totally get the biological urge screaming in the background. I'm 35 and I'm married and we're broke. At this point, I don't ever see us not being broke, at least not in a time frame that would allow us to have kids. Being broke happens sometimes and when you have kids you deal with it, but I personally feel that it's not acceptable for me to create a new person when we're already broke. Since you guys have the potential to not be broke I would focus your energy right now on improving your health situation and getting your finances in order to prep for eventually having a baby.
posted by crankylex at 12:32 PM on August 3, 2012

It sounds to me like you want more reassurance that you will, indeed, get married and have babies after your health stuff is sorted out. I think you should share that with your boyfriend and see what might be done. If he wants to marry you, why not get married sooner so you can feel more secure. Like -- maybe elope (would that put you on his university health insurance and make getting the surgery easier) and then have a wedding later?
posted by 3491again at 12:33 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dealing with the fear and uncertainty about making Huge Life Choices (and they don't get much huger than this one) is always going to be hard. So many variables and what-ifs, you can so easily drive yourself right around the freaking bend.

As far as advice goes, it sounds like your worries stem from a fear of never maybe having a kid (which would break your heart) or having a kid and it being a disaster.

But as you also said, the actual decision is two years off.

So, if you need a mental trick to help you not obsess about it, how about scheduling your decision?

In your smartphone or online calendar, put down "September 1 2014, Boyfriend and I sit down and discuss having a baby."

Lots looks likely to happen between now and then, so that gives you a goal and also an excuse to let this worry go until then.

You could also start a document folder somewhere, label it "baby" and write down stuff that you find yourself obsessing about..fears, health issues, the daycare your friends are using, how you feel about breastfeeding, whatever. Give yourself a place to put Baby Thoughts so that they don't have to take over the rest of your brain 24/7.

And then work on leaving them there until you're actually ready to start deciding.
posted by emjaybee at 1:07 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd like to bring his back to the actual question.
How did you decide to be ok with waiting to get pregnant? Alternatively, how did you decide to go ahead and attempt pregnancy even though it was a bad idea financially in the short term? What books or articles or blog posts can I read (the library is right down the street!) that address this?
Thanks for all the agreement with what I intellectually know - this is a terrible time for me to have a baby. The admonishments to discuss this more, make a long term plan, and not count on our awful American social shame systemsocial safety net, are comfirmation for my brain, but are not answers to the question.
posted by tulip-socks at 1:37 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might find the posts in the "Considering Parenthood" tag on OffbeatMama helpful.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2012

Alternatively, how did you decide to go ahead and attempt pregnancy even though it was a bad idea financially in the short term?

Well, most people won't answer this honestly I don't think, so...we decided based on my partner's deep desire for a baby RIGHT NOW OMG, so basically what you're thinking about doing. There is no rational way to make the decision, it's just "this is what I want". It was a complete financial disaster and we went from being on the brink of paying off all of our debts and saving money for the first time ever, to barely financially solvent with a bunch of maxed out credit cards and medical bills that we can't pay which are an enormous stress on our marriage, along with the stress that comes with having a baby. I can't spend time at home with my kid like I want to, I have to work taking care of other people's kids while mine is in a mediocre daycare. That's how we decided, that's how it worked out.

Good luck with everything.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:57 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

There is no rational way to make the decision, it's just "this is what I want".

Just to clarify, I think one can rationally decide to have a child, but in a situation where you're financially insolvent the decision will likely be made based on completely irrational desires.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:58 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

And to clarify my comments, I think making a long-term plan and taking control now of what you can take control of now IS how you make yourself okay with waiting. It's much easier to wait if you're not just hanging in limbo but you're working towards concrete goals and milestones.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:03 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Perhaps you can look into freezing your eggs. It's not free and it's not easy to find in the US but it's cheaper than having a baby.
posted by bq at 3:50 PM on August 3, 2012

With the love, you need to FOCUS.

That's how you get okay with waiting to have a baby. Focus. Focus. Focus.

Number 1 -- your health. Does your future husband want to be primary caregiver because his wife is too unhealthy to care for their child? I'm guessing not. You need to be a healthy lady to be pregnant and to be a mom. That's the ideal scenario and you have time. Figure out how to eat right, exercise and be healthy to address your current health challenges and recover well. (I'm not saying you're unhealthy but most of us just slide along and for women, starting out your pregnancy in good shape is always good and it's harder to establish good patterns later.)

2 -- your job. DO NOT take your foot off the gas because you think that you might be having a baby or someone near you is having a baby and how hard will it be to have a new career and a baby? Nothing is easy with a new baby -- not staying home full time, not working full time. Yes, the U.S. could make these things better but people deal everyday. Having the most money in your savings and the best resume you can when you hit that crossroads will make more opportunities. Don't slow down.

3 -- your relationship. Get solid. Legally. Emotionally. Partners-wise. You know the worst time to work on your relationship? When you've been up for six nights with a sleepless baby! Talk this all out. Lay your fears on the table -- the infertility fears, the financial fears, let him share his fears as well. Lots of guys have NO IDEA.

So, look how busy this shit is going to make you! Focus. Don't slow down. Get solid. There's no right time to have a baby but there often an exact wrong time. You will be okay. You are not too old. You have a little bit more work to do. Things will be better once you do it.
posted by amanda at 8:37 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

You decide to be okay with waiting by learning to act like a parent NOW--that is to say, by learning how to put the needs of your future/potential child before your own desires. Focus on how you need to get your own adult life in order now so you're ready to be the good, solid, healthy mom that your someday baby needs.

My husband and I both want to have children, but we are waiting until we have our ducks in a row first because we want that for our potential kids. It's hard work and means saying no to ourselves, but it's worth it to us.

Good luck.
posted by anonnymoose at 11:26 AM on August 4, 2012

I'm in a similar situation in that, if circumstances were different, I would absolutely love to have babies, but due to both financial and other issues, don;t have stable foundation to do that. I probably won't for two or three years either. I strangely deal with it by reading a lot of baby blog, but the ones that are really honest about what it's like, especially how financially and emotionally demanding it is. That way I get a dose of 'aww cute baby' but also of reality. And it feel like I am really preparing for parenthood as a long-term project, that I will hopefully be amazing at when it is the right time.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 11:27 AM on August 4, 2012

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