Planning to have a baby before getting married?
March 16, 2013 8:32 PM   Subscribe

So, I'm trying to get some opinions here: My fiance and I have been engaged for 4 months and are in our mid-20s. We are both in school (undergrad for him, grad for me), but due to my income, we wanted to wait one more year, so that it would be financially better for us (e.g., paying tuition, etc). We are both interested in having children, however, something has come up for me health-wise (ulcerative colitis) that would make it less safe (because of medications) to have a baby later on, compared with now. Here are my questions for you: 1) Would you have a baby before marriage? What would be the reasons? 2) Has anyone actively planned this before? How did it work out? I know some would say suck it up and push up the wedding, but it would save us a good 20K or so.
posted by queenba to Human Relations (48 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One of my friends did this and now she is a single mom. Not saying that the same will happen to you (but my friend didn't think it would either).

I would recommend getting a marriage certificate before you have a baby, even if you save the wedding until later on. A marriage certificate can be had for more much less than 20K.
posted by htid at 8:38 PM on March 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify, the 20K would be in tuition because of our combined income. Getting married later would mean our income would be combined later and we wouldn't have to pay the 20K..etc
posted by queenba at 8:42 PM on March 16, 2013

Marriage isn't necessary for quality parenting, so don't let that be your only reason for not having a baby prior to a wedding. In fact, it should be one of the last considerations, after the love you share with the father, your commitment to being an excellent parent, and your ability to support yourselves and your child financially.
posted by Jamesonian at 8:48 PM on March 16, 2013 [24 favorites]

Having a marriage certificate doesn't magically keep someone in a relationship they don't want to be in, baby or no baby.

If you're emotionally and financially ready to have a baby I don't see why the absence of a marriage certificate should stop you.

Good luck!
posted by postpostpostscript at 8:50 PM on March 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

Not really sure what you should do, but just coming here to say that I have UC as well and the meds I am on are safe for pregancy and breast feeding, at least the ones I am on.
I have heard that women tend to flare during pregnancy but with UC you never know when you will flare, so it's just a risk you take.

I think it would be better to wait to have a kid because two parents in college and a limited income would probably have more negative impacts than your UC diagnosis.
posted by thank you silence at 8:50 PM on March 16, 2013 [35 favorites]

The only issue I really see is the idea that people are "supposed to" be married before they have babies. If you don't want people to judge you, you could get legally married and wait to have the ceremony. Otherwise, just do what seems best for you and your husband and your child to-be.

I'd talk to your doctors a bit more if you are going to significantly going to move up your family planning timeline, despite obstacles in money and time being in the way right now.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:54 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Statistically speaking, this is common and yet not the best thing for your child.
posted by Houstonian at 8:56 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

^ That article is not what this situation is about. The parents here plan to get married and are doing this as part of deliberate family planning decision.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:00 PM on March 16, 2013 [12 favorites]

My fiancée and I have a child together and a baby on the way. We are perfectly committed to being a family even though we haven't found the time/money/energy to get married yet. Just throwing it out there!
posted by katypickle at 9:14 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

For a decision of this magnitude (by which I mean feeling pressure to have a baby while you're still in school / before you naturally would have otherwise), will you consider re-clarifying with your current doctor, and/or getting a second opinion, to make sure the medication issue is the way you think?

I say that because with UC, it's damn near impossible to predict how your medications will change in the future. So I feel there's some possibility of a miscommunication or misunderstanding there. Many UC medications are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and it seems unusual to assume you'd need to switch to a different, stronger medication at some point in the future (if I'm reading you right).
posted by kalapierson at 9:14 PM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

The only thing I see as a huge red flag is that being very pregnant or having an infant and writing your thesis at the same time might make you go insane. If you're not in a thesis granting program or almost done though that's not a concern.

Also consider that there can be complications. A small percentage of women end up on bed rest or what have you. If your grad school is super time critical, something to think about. It's unlikely but it does happen.
posted by fshgrl at 9:19 PM on March 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

I don't know how much help this is - but I went through college as a (single) parent and although it was more challenging, some of that was tremendously offset by the substantial aid that parents can get. EITC, etc. really add up, too.

So, no, I don't think you're off your rocker to consider this. Frankly, I think if you and he feel up to it, go for it.

Do talk to a lawyer, though - your fiancee may need to have his paternity adjudicated to be made the legal father. This is important not just for tax reasons, but also being able to take the child to the doctor and so on. This varies from state to state, but generally doesn't require a great deal of effort.

Good luck!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:20 PM on March 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the comments, all. I've had UC for 4 years and all the non-steroidal stuff doesn't work very well, and my gene profile doesn't work with one of the stronger drugs (azathioprine). At this point, I think my doctor and I think that leads me to infusion therapies like remicade, I think this may be safer but, in this situation, I'm trying my best to make my family-planning decisions based on how I think my course of treatment might go (though as you said, it can be unpredictable).
posted by queenba at 9:22 PM on March 16, 2013

1) Would you have a baby before marriage? What would be the reasons?

There can be legal implications/consequences. And as an attorney, I have seen legal documents that ask, "Were your parents married at the time of your birth?" Knowing the social stigma that exists, I wouldn't want my child to have to answer no—and feel whatever emotions he/she might experience doing that—unless I had good reason. So assuming that I did intend to stay in the relationship, and especially if (as in your case) I intended to marry that person in another year anyway, I would probably get the piece of paper ASAP for the child's benefit.
posted by cribcage at 9:34 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

My partner and I have been together for 15 years and had our first baby 10 years ago. We've never gotten married, but that's mostly because it's not that important to either of us; we are comfortable with our commitment to each other and our children.

If it WAS important to us, however, I think it's important to consider that once you have a baby (and a mortgage and another baby etc etc etc) planning a super expensive party for no other reason than to legitimize/celebrate a relationship that's pretty well established already drops right to the bottom of the priority list. So. There's that.
posted by lilnublet at 9:42 PM on March 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

oh and to add on - we live in Oregon so it probably varies state to state, but nobody has ever given us any problems about paternity, taking kids to doctor, whatever, with the exception of a couple people who have hassled me for having a different last name than my kids.
posted by lilnublet at 9:45 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

In answer to your first question, yes, I would have no problem having a child before marriage (but I mostly see marriage as a legal and social convention). It's planned, it's not going to hurt anyone (assuming you can make sure the father has equal parenting rights legally), and it will save you $20k. Your family will probably be better off having that $20k handy.

I too would be more concerned about the pregnant + grad student issue than order of major life events. Good luck!
posted by aniola at 9:52 PM on March 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Would you feel any better about it if you had a religious-only ceremony or a commitment ceremony with your family and friends where you got "married" now before you start trying to get pregnant, and then formalized it with a courthouse quickie after you finish school? People do that sort of thing, especially when there's complicated health insurance issues involved.

I would say, though, that being interested in having children is different than wanting children right now. If you know you both want children right now, then I don't think it matters a whole lot what your legal status is; people have many different arrangements and make them work.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:08 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the explanation - I was misreading you as newly or recently diagnosed.

On the marriage front, I agree with most of the posters above that it's about your readiness as opposed to the official union. I did what you're thinking of doing (my family can't get legally married, but we had a baby long before we had our public marriage/commitment ceremony; when we did, he was very happy to be the star of the show as a 16-month-old in a tiny tux). We were out of school, well established in our careers, and in our 30s, though. (If you like, it might be useful to clarify your age if you're older than early-20s, because people in the thread may assume they're talking to somebody who's quite young.)
posted by kalapierson at 10:36 PM on March 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, Kalapierson. We are both 27 now. I guess my issue is less about social stigma and more about feeling like I'm being "irresponsible" if the baby comes before we get married? Especially because its a financial matter?
posted by queenba at 10:39 PM on March 16, 2013

Whether we like it or not, the reality is there is still a considerable difference between having children outside of marriage vs. within marriage. This includes legal, social, as well as emotional (which sounds like part of what's concerning you).

However, the part one should always keep in mind is how this affects your child's immediate and future life, and then, how it affects you and your partner - independently of each other.
posted by Kruger5 at 10:54 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You maybe able to get more financial aid with a dependent... Not entirely sure how it works, but worth checking.
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:10 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you projecting the $20,000 estimate just from financial aid eligibility numbers? Because, if so, there's a pretty good chance that the extra cost will be more than that, because unless you are both less than a year out from graduation (and aren't planning to go on to another program), it's quite likely that having a child now will delay one or both of your graduations. So keep that in mind, because it may even have a greater financial effect than being married-on-paper would.

But, on the other hand, there's no optimal time to have a kid. Three years from now, it might be the wrong time because you're both early-career; three years from then, you might want to push it off until your student loans are paid; three years from then, it's because of the cost of moving to a kid-friendly neighborhood, and if you plan to wait another three years after that, you're running the risk of a more difficult pregnancy due to age, and so on. Pick any year of your life, and there's always something that makes it not quite the right time, whether it's money or school or work or health. Eventually, pretty much everyone who wants to have a kid has to shrug their shoulders and say "Well, if not now, then when?"

That's not to say that every time is equally good; you should absolutely be sure that you and your SO are equipped for this, financially/physically/emotionally, both as individuals and a couple. If you both really want the kid now and both feel ready for it, and are only worried about whether or not to get married, I'd say just stay unmarried for the moment. While having a kid while not being married can be slightly more logistically/legally complicated than not (depends on where you live), it may not to the extent that you may think (my aunt and uncle didn't get married until my cousin was about 5, and never really ran into many legal or social issues, to my knowledge. My cousin's in high school now, so this was true even 10-15 years ago; this was in Hawaii.) In most cases, what will matter from a legal/administrative standpoint is that you and your SO are the parents of your child, not really what your relationship with one another is. What other people will think of it is and if you'll get any informal social blowback, again, really depends on your own circumstances and environment, but there's nothing stopping you from saying that you and your SO are married (or even telling the truth and saying "We're waiting a little while before formally getting married, because of logistical issues.")
posted by kagredon at 11:31 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

People can and do analyze the financial ramifications of marriage and pregnancy timing all the time. You wouldn't be the first or last couple to do so.

That said, if I were you and doing this cost-benefit analysis, I would try to make that analysis complete as possible. Other financials that are really important to consider (I assume you are in the USA):
1. Timing of marriage/baby/tax returns/FAFSA. You could get married after you submit the FAFSA, which would have the previous year's income amounts.
2. The accuracy of the $20k figure. Keep in mind that the combined income would be supporting 2, and then 3, people, not just 1, so you might not lose as much as you think you would. I think you can use FAFSA calculators online to help you figure out what your expected family contribution would be, and maybe from there you can back out a projected aid award.
3. How much is the pregnancy, delivery, and first few baby visits going to cost you? Health insurance for the baby? That could eat away the $20k pretty darn quickly.
4. How much childcare can you afford while you and your husband are finishing your degrees? Childcare while one or both of you are job-hunting after graduation?

Another thing to consider is potential impact on your careers. I had my daughter while in school, in my 30s, and I think I unwittingly screwed myself. In my field there is a specific, short period of time of recruitment, and I was heavily pregnant and could barely move during what would have been my recruitment season. You can guess how that went ...

Another thing to consider is family/friend support. It's really, really important to have emotional and practical support. Are they likely to treat you differently because you chose to have a child out of wedlock (and to save on tuition of all things)? More practically - would you not receive the same sort of financial support (wedding/baby gifts) that you could count on as a recently married couple?

Yet another thing ... this is going to sound awful but would an out-of-wedlock child come off as charming, bohemian, and liberated, or will you be fulfilling some ugly stereotypes? And then, is that going to have a career or financial impact?

Also to work into this equation - how sensitive is your UC to stress? Would the challenges of pregnancy and childrearing, on top of the grad school and paid work, give you a major setback in terms of your health? That can also have financial implications - perhaps you need to spend more on childcare, one or both of you has to cut back on school, etc.

How's it going to feel to you when people comment on your "accidental pregnancy" or cast aspersions on your fiance's perceived commitment to you and your child? Or ask why you didn't abort? I mean, screw them, really screw them, but it is aggravating to feel you have to justify yourself to others.

You get the idea. It's not just ulcerative colitis vs. $20,000. There are a ton of variables here to work through. There is nothing wrong with working through those variables and discussing them as a couple!!

I wouldn't have a baby outside of marriage, but that's just me. I think it was both important and good for us to have gone through the ritual of getting married (and the pre-marital counseling!) before having our child. We did do some financial planning early in our engagement, to determine the optimal timing of the wedding.
posted by stowaway at 11:32 PM on March 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Everybody optimizes. This seems to call for high trust levels, but if you have them, the rest is economics. Your choices are your choices and generally, you can make them with good reasoning. Folks have been having babies outside of marriage for a long time, so letting morality issues or other irrelevant things in only clouds the economics and logistics.

You don't need permission to do what's right for you. Reasonable risks for reasonable rewards is a perfectly suitable paradigm.

Good luck. UC sux, from what I hear and motherhood ain't no picnic. I wish metafilter had a "Hug" button. I'd hit it twice.
posted by FauxScot at 12:49 AM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have nothing to add about grad school, motherhood, or the institution of marriage.

However, with regards to UC:

I also have UC for which the non-steroidal medications don't work very well (or the steroids, for that matter, or even the infusion drugs as you call them -- by the way, Cimzia has been studied quite a bit in pregnancy and is actually very safe, comparatively speaking). Over the span of a very short period of time, a severe flare landed me in the hospital and eventually resulted in a total colectomy. I'm much better now, but I did have major abdominal surgery and will need to have some more.

I'm fairly young and it wouldn't have been "socially acceptable" in my culture and neck of the woods to have a baby at my age. I don't even have a partner. But I do kind of wish that I had had a child already. It's not to say that it isn't possible to have a successful pregnancy with an ostomy or a j-pouch, but it is much more difficult to get pregnant at all, and a much higher risk pregnancy and delivery.

UC tends to get worse over the course of a lifetime. If you're healthy now and you have a strong support structure and a loving partner and you feel ready, don't put it off because of a piece of paper. Unfortunately the one thing that you cannot buy later in life when you have lots of money is the good health you may be lucky enough to have now.

And you've probably heard this already, but the numbers show roughly 1/3 of pregnant UCers experience spontaneous remission, 1/3 have no change, and 1/3 get worse.
posted by telegraph at 1:03 AM on March 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

Here in the UK it's very very common to have a kid and then get married a bit later. Often people's toddlers can be seen in tiny tuxedos in the wedding party. Indeed, I know a number of people who've had kids and never been married, usually due to moral objections to the institution of marriage. Half the kids at the schools round here have parents with different names for whatever reason. Some of those are married to each other, some not, and nobody cares.

I've an alternative for you, if "baby before wedding" makes you uncomfortable: Get married. Just not legally married. (and check with a lawyer first whether this will work!)

Nothing is stopping you saying vows; nothing is stopping you having a low key party with family and friends, or having any of the trappings of marriage except the "government recognised" part which is apparently of no help to you right now. Nothing is stopping you changing your name, or making a will.

You can always rock up at a courthouse in a while and get the certificate to go with it.
posted by emilyw at 3:22 AM on March 17, 2013

I spent a couple of years immersed in a university setting in Finland recently and the approach to parenthood taken by the Masters and Doctoral students was eye opening and refreshingly different and pragmatic.

Most couples referred to their partners as "husband" or "wife" and (while legally different) were eligible for family leave. The first time I discovered that student X hadn't actually been married to the mother of his daughter was when they got married *because* he'd been admitted to a prestigious PhD program at MIT and thus, traveling as a legal family would make it much easier from the visa and benefits to spouses point of view.

That was when I realized that 9 out of ten couples weren't legally married and most had no plans to marry, until and unless something came up where the paperwork was required, like the example above.

I'd say do what you and your doctor and your "husband" deem best.
posted by infini at 3:51 AM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Will having a child out of wedlock affect the support that either of your families will give you?

Do you have a solid plan for childcare while both of you finish your degrees, and a good grasp on how much time and money that plan will cost you? Do you have a supportive community around you, ideally with other couples who have had children and can offer you hand me downs, advice, and competent babysitting time?

Do you have a vision of your child's first years that will be difficult to realize if both of you are in school or planning a wedding? I could forsee teaching/attending classes throwing a wrench into attachment parenting, for instance.

In addition to the other financial considerations regarding your tuition, I would not move ahead with this plan until I had done three things. One, confirmed exactly what prenatal care, postnatal care, and portion of labor and delivery your health insurance will cover. (This might be none, it might be everything) Two, spoken with your graduate advisor about maternity leave policies, how soon you would be expected to be back to work, what the plan is if you require bed rest or other intensive medical intervention, and gotten this all in writing. Three, I would find another woman who has been in your graduate program and had a child during it, and pick her brain about how it went. HOw was she treated, were people supportive, was she able to finish, etc.

The reason I bring these questions up is that I was a graduate student and had a classmate get pregnant, only to discover that as graduate students we were not covered by the undergraduate maternity policies. We also were not employees of the university, and thus were ineligible for FMLA or any sort of maternity leave whatsoever. Our insurance covered bare-bones prenatal care and 80% of labor and delivery, which still left she and her husband with quite a bill. Her advisor wanted her back in the lab within four weeks. There were no nursing facilities available on campus, and the daycare was full of professor's kids and had no openings. I watched as she took a lot of completely undeserved flack for being so undedicated to her graduate degree as to choose to have a child with her husband at this particular time. Both of them did finish their PhDs, and she is now joyfully pregnant again and job searching. I admire her commitment to seizing the right moments for her family.

My final bit of advice is this: it's your right to decide when or if you have children. Even if you didn't have UC pushing this decision on you, it's still your right to decide when is the right time and the right circumstances.
posted by House of Leaves of Grass at 4:44 AM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

All three of my stepbrothers had children with their girlfriends before getting married (to the same women, I mean). I think all of them wanted to wait for the wedding until they could splash out on a big party, while the point in the relationship where they felt settled and ready to start a family came sooner. It worked out well for them. This is not uncommon in my hometown.

I can't tell you if it's right for you but wanted to point out that it absolutely can work. Good luck, whatever you decide, and good luck with your health too!
posted by daisyk at 6:10 AM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Depending on where you live, some states in the US have both civil unions and marriages. If you get a civil union, federal student aid is not affected because the federal government does not recognize them, but your state will individually. That could mean that you are eligible for joint health insurance (along with your offspring) if administered on a state level, medical/visitation rights, etc. It will not effect debt, student loans, etc. If you have a chronic health condition, it may be beneficial to have a civil union anyway instead of a marriage, because if you rack up medical debt, it will not commingle with your spouse's finances on a federal level. If you'd prefer to get married now but just don't want to be out $20K in student aid, consider a civil union if it's available to you.
posted by juniperesque at 6:27 AM on March 17, 2013

We planned our wedding and my pregnancy... except that we planned it would "take a while" for me to get pregnant. It didn't. So, our son attended our wedding in the world's smallest tuxedo.

We did get *legally* married during the pregnancy for health insurance reasons. If you are in the US, this is something to look into if your partner's insurance has better coverage of birth costs. Also made the birth certificate process easier. In our state, I would have had to file a separate petition to name my partner as the father of our child had we not been married.

I really recommend this. Go to the courthouse and get the paperwork done now. Have your big party in the future when you can have your child join the festivities with you. Best of luck with everything!
posted by sonika at 6:33 AM on March 17, 2013

I see others are recommending getting legally married after the birth - if you're going to do the ceremony and the paperwork separately, I really recommend doing the legal stuff first. In terms of birth stuff it does make a lot if paperwork/visitation protocol easier. Not that it's not doable if you're unmarried, but it's way less hassle.

It was also comforting to me to know that if anything happened to me during the birth (or after), that my husband was legally my next of kin and wouldn't need to file for custody of his own child.
posted by sonika at 6:41 AM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Becoming a mom opens you up to all sorts of judgmental people's opinions. Your kid will only leave the house wearing last year's Halloween costume and they look at you like you are nuts. It's slightly breezy and your baby isn't completely bundled up and you will get 'the look.'

Don't worry about other people. If you feel the need to get pregnant now, then try. God decides when the time is right. You can't control it anyway. Might as well give Him the chance to answer your prayers.
posted by myselfasme at 6:42 AM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Before addressing the main point, an ideological digression: if you want to, and are ready to, get married, don't let the desire to throw an expensive party, or a sense you are supposed to give advance notice for its own sake, or the notion that a wedding dress takes eight months to be fitted, keep you from getting married when you want to get married. Talk to people you know who have been married for 60 or 70 years and they'll tell you, more often than not, that they courted for three months and were engaged for three weeks, and their wedding reception was cake and sandwiches in the church basement or one of their parents' back yard. If they had a giant party with an elaborate princess pageant, it was because it was a religious or business expectation of their parents, who paid for it and did all the work associated with it, and about which they just as soon have done without.

On the main point, be very hesitant to accept other people's anecdotes about the the social acceptability and economic consequences of partnered-but-not-married parenting. It is very case specific, and what's acceptable or economically advantageous among Finnish graduate students may not be what is works for (say) Texas humanities graduate students or New York securities lawyers. Think carefully about where you will be (or hope to join the near future) and ask yourself if there are many unmarried couples with children who are in the respectable corps of that milieu. If there are not, consider carefully whether a modest savings in tuition (or whatever) is worth putting an inconvenient social marker on yourself.

One thing that was alluded to earlier in the thread, and that I have seen myself, is the practice among Europeans and Canadians (or at least Quebecois) to refer to their "husbands" or "wives," at least in English when they are not, in fact, legally married. This is uniformly not the practice in the U.S., no matter what your religious or political sentiments may be about marriage, and people will take it quite badly if they find you are not married when you've been saying you are.
posted by MattD at 7:10 AM on March 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you want to avoid marriage, you should look at the laws for common-law marriage in your area before representing yourselves as husband and wife.
posted by Houstonian at 7:18 AM on March 17, 2013

I'm unmarried, in a long term relationship with two children. I'm in California and no-one so far has expressed outrage that we're not married. Frankly it's none of their business anyway! We had to sign one extra form in the hospital to declare my partner as the father. YMMV depending where you live. I think the cultural issues are really pretty irrelevant to your decision, and mostly there is no reason for anyone to know unless they are looking at an official form. Your health reasons are real and deserve full consideration.

More important is that you are clear about whether you can finish up your studies with a child, and that you have insurance coverage. Also consider the tax differences either way.
posted by Joh at 7:27 AM on March 17, 2013

1) Would you have a baby before marriage? What would be the reasons? 2) Has anyone actively planned this before? How did it work out?

I didn't have the baby before the marriage but we did plan to get pregnant before we were officially engaged or married. The reason was that my mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness and we wanted her to have a grandchild (I am an only child) before she passed away. It was more important than the big wedding for her and for us. We did have a very small civil ceremony performed by a judge when I was about 5 months pregnant - would that be an option for you? Our son is now about 5 and a half months old. One of these days, we will do a vow renewal/wedding reception and invite everyone who would have been invited to the wedding if it hadn't been so small.
posted by amro at 8:16 AM on March 17, 2013

Late pregnancy and the early postpartum period are likely to coincide with reduced ability to accomplish school and related work. There are potentially many and varied societal responses to both child-rearing and marriage: consider how these cultural milestones are treated in your communities and decide to what extent you are willing to accept, reject, or otherwise respond to these changes outside your control that result from visible changes in your status.

My anecdotes involve two healthy children, neither born in the context of legal marital status, in Canada and no stigma I was willing to give mind to. Given I've used the phrase "you cross-eyed bastard" in a loving, respectful, factually correct context, and have not been bothered by as many as 5 different surnames collected under one roof as a family unit, I may not be the role model you seek.
posted by thatdawnperson at 8:17 AM on March 17, 2013

I had a baby before marriage (went on to have 3 more, been married over a decade) and I didn't think it was a big deal, even in the Catholic school I was working in. I don't see what the big deal is. Some of the people I know chose to have the baby with a life partner, some chose someone they thought would be a good (or absent, if that was their preference) co-parent. I'm in Canada where legal marriage is just not as important. I can't think of anyone I knew in University that was married (except one super-religious no-sex-before-marriage couple married at 19) but plenty had children. There were lots of institutional and social supports in recognition that it WAS harder for parents than the students without children. Child support is easy and usually cheap to apply for so there wasn't really the worry that the father would skip out financially (likewise, his access is guaranteed).
posted by saucysault at 10:27 AM on March 17, 2013

If your next step is remicade then yes look at pregnancy now. 25-40% of UC patients have surgery, seeing as you have not responded to first line treatments you are inching ever closer to that line. I also think it would be undesirable to do pregnancy with bag/j pouch.

Your UC is the biggest variable, not marriage. If you can afford it now, go for it.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

This part of your question: We are both in school (undergrad for him, grad for me), but due to my income, we wanted to wait one more year, so that it would be financially better for us (e.g., paying tuition, etc). We are both interested in having children, however, something has come up for me health-wise (ulcerative colitis) that would make it less safe (because of medications) to have a baby later on, compared with now. perplexes me somewhat.....babies are not cheap! Even if you've got great insurance or the state/government is picking up the tab for the actual birth and hospital stay, diapers and car seats and all the collateral miscellany that an infant requires quickly strains the wallet. I guess I don't understand why financially you feel that you can't afford to get married but you can afford the birth, feeding and caring of an infant?

IANAL, but if you are in the US there are some benefits in being married when you have a reasons, health insurance, that sort of thing. But I think that a primary concern, outside of the marriage issue, is that the fact that stress tends to cause UC to flare, and caring for an infant while completing your courses might well exacerbate your condition and affect your ability to get your degree in the time frame you have in mind. Forget the social pressure/stigma of having a baby outside of marriage - what about the personal pressure you'll put on yourself to finish your degree on schedule no matter how sick you are? Me, I'd consider this situation terms of immediate life goals (graduate degree, what you plan to do after graduation, etc) and how important they are to you versus being legally wed or not.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:43 AM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

My wife had Crohn's disease, and we actually got married in a courthouse ceremony a year before our actual wedding, just so she could have my, much better health insurance. You don't mention health insurance but its definitely an important consideration in this situation.

In the end, and I don't say this to scare you but as a "sieze the day" sort of message, my wife died of colon cancer earlier this year. My daughter was 17-months-old when she died. If we has waited another year, my daughter probably wouldn't be here. The date at which various parties happened doesn't matter at all.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:44 PM on March 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

One of my very good friends got engaged, got pregnant, decided she didn't want the stress of planning a wedding while pregnant, and happily deferred the marriage till the year after her daughter was born. No big thing.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:51 PM on March 17, 2013

I'd like to add one more point - it seems that this question is fundamentally about risk. Only you and your fiance can judge how much and what sort of risk you are willing to take on. What really pops out to me about your situation is that your risk is not well-diversified. If I understand you correctly, you are the primary (only?) wage earner in your family. You are also the one with the chronic disease, and you are the one who will bear the physical risks of pregnancy. That seems to me to be a lot on one person.

I'd lay this all out to your healthcare providers and see what they say about the health risks in either direction. Also, it may be useful to discuss this on a UC message board - women who have been there and done that may have some specific insights about how best to achieve your goals.
posted by stowaway at 1:08 PM on March 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

When my husband and I got married, our then-nine year-old daughter was our witness. It didn't matter that we weren't married before we became parents, we are not magically better parents or partners now that we are married. We were partners before, we were a family before, it just became a paperwork thing, so we got married. I don't think the wedding is the most important part of any family. Your health and your relationship and desires should decide about having a baby.
posted by upatree at 2:47 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi Everyone, thanks for all your insightful responses! After seeing my doctor, and being on new treatment, my health has gotten much better in the last few weeks. However, my fiance and I decided to get married sooner anyway...tomorrow! Thank you again for your time reading my question and responding :)
posted by queenba at 9:26 PM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Mega Congrats!
posted by sonika at 9:30 PM on April 11, 2013

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