Am I a fool if I stay or am I a fool if I go?
July 11, 2014 7:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm 24, a year after graduation I'm still in the town where I went to university. I'm living with my partner Jake who has a five-year-old son. Jake and I are very happy together and I've become good friends with the mother of his son, Kaitlyn. We all get along really well now, life is easy, drama-free and steadily improving. The problem is, Kaitlyn, Jake and I are all really keen on adding to our crazy little family by me having a baby. I would love to do that, but on the other hand, I have family, friends and a small part of me shouting NO!!!! You're too young! Go travel the world! How do I reconcile what I want to do RIGHT NOW, what I think I should do to avoid having regrets later and what everyone else wants me to do?

This is the third sort of life-drama question I've posted on here. The plot thickens... so much has changed over the last year, but I'm still stuck in a rut!

At the time of my last post, my partner Jake was being stopped from seeing his son Finn by the kid's mother, Kaitlyn. She hated us, wouldn't speak to us at all and Jake was in a really bad place for that year. I was doubting everything at the time. I don't know, if you want more context you might want to read that post.

But anyway, things have become even more complicated. In February Jake and I moved into a really lovely new apartment that we both are very happy in. Finn has his own room and he loves spending time here. After the court order, Jake started seeing Finn progressively more often, and over time we've now got to the point where Finn sleeps over here every other weekend. We all absolutely love it, we have so much fun together and it's always been totally unproblematic. Now that I've seen Jake be a dad I really respect his parenting skills, I'd never actually seen him parent when I wrote my last question! He's a wonderful parent. Finn is five years old now and we get on really, really well too.

Now here's the shocker – I made friends with Kaitlyn. We're really good friends now in fact. So basically the crux of my last question has been answered, but it opens up a whole new series of questions. Kaitlyn and I both apologised to each other honestly and thoroughly about our past behaviour, and once we were past that, we just became friends and we're both so happy about it. She says I'm great with Finn, she even says Jake is a good dad! She has no problem with us at all any more and even admits there was really no good reason why she stopped Jake from seeing Finn and that she regrets her mistake and has learned from it. We're such good friends that we meet up just to chat about our lives in general, it's not just because we have to, we actually turned out to really like each other. It's crazy, but it's made me so, so, so happy and relieved over the last few months.

The thing is though, Kaitlyn is really keen on me marrying Jake and us having babies as soon as possible, since she has two kids already and loooves babies and wants more more more. This hits me really hard because I've been broody for ages and I want to have kids with Jake, and I want to give Finn another sibling. But oh my god, if I make that decision: I make that decision. I have an IUD, there are no accidents. If I want to do this, I have to want it 100%, and I never want anything 100%, I'm notoriously indecisive. And this advice is coming from a girl who, love her to bits, but she never went to uni, she had a kid at 16 and then another at 21.... is she just a bad influence maybe?!?! On the other hand I was so touched when she said she would help me through the pregnancy and she would love to raise kids with me. That idea just seems so lovely to me, kind of like having a sister. And it's support that I would definitely need if I wanted to have children, because my parents live in a different country and I'm self-employed and can't afford to take time off work to have kids, although I work from home. She said she'd take care of the baby whenever I need her to, babies are her raison d'etre anyway. I think that's really sweet of her.

As for the job situation, I've now set up my own translating business and am doing so much better than last year! I've already earned twice as much this year as I did through the entirety of last year, because I have a nice calm home, no stress, no drama, a wonderful supportive partner who basically handles the rest of my life while I work my butt off.

Jake got a job last year in October and quit this year in March because it was commission based and he was making so little money he could hardly cover his travel costs. Ever since then he's really tried his best to get another job, but the situation with employment in the UK at the moment is terrible, as you may be aware of. He's trying to do several self-employed, freelance type ventures now, as well as continuing to work on his music career. He's an amazing musician, he's prolific, his music gets played all over the world and he has a decent following, he may be on the verge of a breakthrough, but you never know. Again, with music it's not really a reliable business to be in. But what is these days. He has a kickstarter – ha. But basically, we're doing okay, we don't have a lot of extra money but we're getting by, we're better off than our friends and if James got a job or made some money out of his music career we'd be doing really well.

We don't know if we still want to get married though. My family doesn't seem too keen on the idea either. Personally, as always, I have no idea what I want. I wouldn't mind either way. Which is not the best attitude when you're trying to plan your life. I'd rather have babies than get married. That of course would horrify my family. I just know I'd like to stay with Jake, but am I settling?

I want to stay with Jake, I do. I love him, and ever since things have been okay with Kaitlyn we haven't argued or had any problems at all. We're just happy with each other! If I could just get pregnant by accident and be tied to this place, I'd be happy, I'd make the most out of it and I'd still love life some days and hate life other days. But there are no accidents, I have a huge choice of things to do, so it's impossible for me to decide! I've been trying to live by that quote “The grass is greener where you water it” and it's been working well for me, I've made so many improvements and advances in my life. It's just this pressure to travel everywhere and do everything, and that I'll be a loser with regrets forever if I don't! Sure, I'll probably never have my dream life if I decide to stay here, but then again who ever achieves their perfect life they envision in their dreams?!

I feel like I'm so influenced by what everyone else expects of me and I never really think about what I actually want. But to be honest, I've always had pretty humble ambitions for myself, if I ever even had any. All I ever wanted was to have a family and a nice garden and lots of friends. I can do that in the UK. On the other hand I always saw myself settling somewhere with a hotter climate, but I've even never been outside of Europe and the USA. I think to myself “Omg, I should move to Costa Rica” but I have no clue, no idea at all of what being in these places I imagine is actually like.

Jake has absolutely no problem with me travelling for extended amounts of time. I know that's easier said than done, but at least he wouldn't stand in my way. So the preliminary plan at the moment is: 2015 & 2016 – travel as much as I can. 2017 & 2018 – get married and breed. Although I'm really broody now * sigh * and I'm obviously terrible at planning and saving for travel, I've never even travelled really. Sometimes I wish I were with someone who provides me with more opportunities for travelling but hey, you can't expect to get EVERYTHING from a person. Jake is like 90% perfect, is it not really ridiculous to go 'shop around' for someone better?!

Basically what I'm saying is, I've been working hard on the situation and in many ways I've really overcome the problems I had in the last question. Still, I'm living in this town I'm not really excited about at all, I could go anywhere in the world and still do the job I do, am I a fool if I choose to stay here?!

On my last question pretty much everyone was saying I should just get out and leave as fast as I can. I would've, but where?! How do I know that if I go somewhere else I won't just have the same problems? It's like everyone everywhere wants to get out of where they are. People from all over the world come to migrate to the UK, yet I convince myself when I'm depressed that it's a shitty place to live and I will have failed at life if I stay here. My family and friends from back home all think I'm settling for something and I'm meant for bigger things, but that's just so ridiculous to me! What do people want me to do?! Marry a millionaire, run for president, travel the world, I don't know! I could move anywhere in the world, where the hell do I go? It's always been my dream to move to California (lived in Santa Cruz for a while before) and live my life there. But let's be realistic, if I moved to like the Bay Area, I could just about afford to live in a studio, or go back to shared housing, so would my quality of life actually improve? I'd just be starting from square 1 again (albeit in a much more beautiful, exciting place).. would I be giving up too much?

In a way, I have everything, a great partner, good relationships to his existing family, he wants to start a family with me, I want to start a family with him, heck we would even get married if everyone insists.. isn't that what everyone is looking for? Wouldn't other people love to have what I have? Am I a fool if I give up what I have or am I a fool if I don't go looking for something even better?

(I am aware how much this all reeks of middle-class-ness and privilege... most people don't even get half the choices I do, but sorry, I just don't know what to do!!!)
posted by mangoprawn to Human Relations (60 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, I only read the first five paragraphs here but this is a HOT MESS OF DRAMA STAY AWAY. Seriously, you should not be a brood mare for another person and I would not get involved with this person who has made poor life decisions and now wants to use you as a vehicle for further poor life decisions.

It would be a really, really poor life decision to have a kid with this guy because his babymama wants you to.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:07 PM on July 11, 2014 [116 favorites]

Just going to second PhoBWanKenobi. Glad things are going better, but Boyfriend's Ex should probably not be dictating your life choices. You should not allow this, and if Boyfriend is in favor of allowing this and not in favor of respecting your wishes and building a life together on those terms (not Ex/Baby Mom's), this is likely a Problem.
posted by Alterscape at 7:18 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

The thing is though, Kaitlyn is really keen on me marrying Jake and us having babies as soon as possible, since she has two kids already and loooves babies and wants more more more.

This should not factor into your decision at all. If she wants more babies, she can have them herself, or find someone to babysit for.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:18 PM on July 11, 2014 [74 favorites]

You're 24. I've not looked back at the other post to see how old Jake is, but if he's under 30, then just wait a bit. Why rush into babies just because his ex/your friend wants you to have babies, and she'll help you out.

You're happy now. Give the current stage of contentment some time. Enjoy it. Let yourself be happy instead of trying to rush to the next stage in life. It's hard to do - I remember being 24. I also remember who I almost married at 24. Things are better now with someone else than I could have imagined at the time.

I think you should take a couple years to travel guilt-free. If it's right, Jake will still be there, and you'll have a stronger feeling in your heart... for babies, for commitment, etc. ... or not, but that's fine too.
posted by hydra77 at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your question honestly scares me. I think you should break up with Jake and move far, far away.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2014 [51 favorites]

Isn't that what everyone is looking for? Wouldn't other people love to have what I have?

Pardon my French, but hell no, I don't want what you describe. I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole.

To be gentle: honey, who cares what other people may or may not want? This is your life. You don't know what you want. That's ok. You don't have to know.

It does sound like you are sure about one thing: you're sure you don't know what you want. So I would take that at face value and say: Jake, I am not ready to have a baby with you because I am not sure what I want.

And then reflect. Don't talk about this with other people, unless you have a therapist - which is probably a great idea, to get a therapist, an objective third party that you can talk to who has no horse in the race that is your life.

Journal, think, take time with yourself and learn about who you are and what you want. Wait a year and see how you feel then. You're young enough that you can definitely wait a year to think about having a child. That is an enormous choice. I don't even know if I want kids yet and I am 31. And I've thought about it a fair amount. It's an enormous decision, to create and be responsible for a life.

Learn who you are and what you want. Spend time alone. Reflect on yourself.

You only have one life. Do not use it to please others at the expense of loving and fulfilling yourself. You know you don't know what you want. Listen to yourself.
posted by sockermom at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2014 [37 favorites]

Kaitlyn is really keen on me marrying Jake and us having babies as soon as possible, since she has two kids already and loooves babies and wants more more more

What? No. You don't have babies just because somebody else wants you to. That has to be one of the WORST reasons to have a baby (and FWIW, her promises that she's going to help raise the baby and babysit whenever you need are worth nothing; do not have a baby because you think those things will happen). Your relationships with both Jake and Kaitlin were teetering less than a year ago. You need waaaaay more time to think about this. Stay with Jake (if you want), be happy, raise Finn, save money. See how things look in 2017.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2014 [23 favorites]

You are getting pressure from your boyfriend's ex-wife to marry and have babies?

I would find that very scary and weird. Wait, at the very least.
posted by xingcat at 7:21 PM on July 11, 2014 [17 favorites]

You sound way more enthused about your relationship with Kaitlyn than you do with Jake. Having a baby when you are this confused about where your life is heading is a really, really bad plan. Figure out what YOU want before you make any irreversible life decision.
posted by Sal and Richard at 7:21 PM on July 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

I'm sure there are 24-year-olds who are totally ready to have kids, but this question makes it very clear that you aren't one of them. Kaitlyn is not reliable, and you cannot have a kid until you are in a position to do so with no help from her at all. You should assume that it is much more likely that Kaitlyn will prove a massive complication in your life than that she'll be a source of free babysitting.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:27 PM on July 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

Don't have a kid because your partner's ex wants more babies around... that is INSANE family planning. Especially while you are supporting your partner! This is a recipe for massive resentment on your part--you'll be bearing an enormous load as someone who is pregnant/parenting a newborn while being the sole household earner.

This is not to suggest that you have to wait for your partner to be hugely successful or that he needs to be able to support a SAHM or anything like that. But you DO need to wait until you know he can pull his own weight. There is no way you should take on pulling yours, his, and a baby's. If you try this, I can promise you that life is easy, drama-free and steadily improving will RAPIDLY disappear.
posted by torticat at 7:27 PM on July 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay wow. Sorry that my life is so shocking to so many of you jeez. I thought I was doing okay. I'd really like to know what you all think the ideal pre-requisites for having a baby are.
posted by mangoprawn at 7:29 PM on July 11, 2014

My family and friends from back home all think I'm settling for something and I'm meant for bigger things, but that's just so ridiculous to me! What do people want me to do?! Marry a millionaire, run for president, travel the world, I don't know! I could move anywhere in the world, where the hell do I go?

What do YOU want to do?

It sounds like you're living life along the lines everyone around you wants you to. Kaitlyn wants you to marry and have babies. Your family wants you to travel and/or marry Jake. I wouldn't make important life choices (e.g. marriage or baby) until you truly know it's what YOU want.

Jake is like 90% perfect, is it not really ridiculous to go 'shop around' for someone better?!

Decent-but-not-great relationships end too. You don't have to be unhappy or the other person doesn't have to be a terrible person to break up. It sounds like you and Jake may be in different places in life, so whether you break up or not at least understand that relationships are more something you continuously opting in to rather than something where you stay in until it's bad.

Identify your priorities and interests then decide what's best for you. Sometimes it's best to walk away from something that's okay to achieve something better. Sometimes it's best to stay with what makes you happy.

You're the only person who can decide that.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:30 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ok, I just went back and read your previous 2 questions and both were just as chaotic as this one. In October you were sure you were at the end of your tether and had not even met his son. You also mentioned in your previous post that you have BPD. Are you currently in treatment? If not, please start there. And if you are, print this question out and show it to your therapist so he or she can help you sort this out. The internet can't help with this.
posted by Sal and Richard at 7:34 PM on July 11, 2014 [25 favorites]

You have a great plan for the next four years. Stick to it for the next two years and then decide of you want to settle down.
posted by raisingsand at 7:35 PM on July 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd really like to know what you all think the ideal pre-requisites for having a baby are.

Probably by your own choice instead of being pressured into it by the ex-wife of your boyfriend would be a good start.

On the other hand I was so touched when she said she would help me through the pregnancy and she would love to raise kids with me.

Maybe you should break up with Jake and date her instead? I don't have the slightest clue why she is so deeply involved in your relationship with her ex to the extent that she seems to think any future children you might potentially have with him would be hers as well. Tbh this is the kind of thing I expect to hear from people who have unwittingly joined creepy cults.
posted by elizardbits at 7:36 PM on July 11, 2014 [40 favorites]

Best answer: You know, my reaction was similar to a lot of those above, but I think it's NOT because you don't have "the ideal pre-requisites" for having a baby. You could have a baby, you would be fine.

What gives me a case of the "OH HELL NO"s is easy to pinpoint: Kaitlyn.

Just one year ago this woman was causing major problems in your life and relationship. I understand that things have improved, and that's great. But it hasn't been long at all, just a few months, really, and now she is encouraging you to have a baby, and you seem to be considering her a big part of your family and your decision to have children sooner vs. later. When I read above the fold about your "crazy little family" I thought it sounded pretty cute and sweet, really nice actually, but I was imagining you guys getting close together over a period of more like two, three years. A crazy little family like that needs, I think, a bit more of a stability track record than a more conventional romantic partnership before you make Big Life Decisions based on it. You, Jake, and Kaitlyn, don't have a stability track record. You have a detente.

Also, I notice that you mention how you feel about having a baby (and I totally understand you, I've been broody at many times in my still-pretty-short-so-far life, too!) and how Kaitlyn feels about you having a baby. But how does Jake feel about it? The two most important people in this decision need to be you and him, not you and his ex.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:39 PM on July 11, 2014 [41 favorites]

You are admittedly indecisive, on just-barely-stable financial footing, only inches removed from the precipice of extreme drama. Live the life you currently profess to enjoy, making no major changes, for a few years and the next step will become clear.

You should absolutely not have a baby. It is the hardest thing you will ever do. It will test every relationship. And it is profoundly unfair to the resulting person to not approach it with the best preparation you can muster.

Any promises of support that are not contractual should be treated as lipservice at best. Caring for a kindergartener on alternating weekends is an absolutely, entirely different universe than pregnancy, childbirth and raising an infant.
posted by keasby at 7:43 PM on July 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

Prerequisite #1 for having a baby: Knowing for sure you want to have a baby.
posted by Asparagus at 7:43 PM on July 11, 2014 [18 favorites]

Would you support her having babies with Jake, and you babysit? If she plans to live through you vicariously to be with him through your body, then might as well skip the middleman. I'm not being facetious, that might be a better fit for you at this point in time. I don't endorse you getting pregnant to satisfy someone else's whims.

Frankly, it sounds like you are entering a 3-way polygamous relationship. That's fine, if that's what you want - but there's a lot more at play here than what is on the surface (with damning personal and financial consequences if things go awry, as they are likely to given your previous questions).

Nthing therapy, and ensuring your BPD is being treated effectively (not sassing you, just saying that it changes your perspectives sometimes).

As for baby pre-requisites: your partner Jake needs a STABLE FULL TIME JOB with stable income. No if ands or buts - random musicianship doesn't count. 3 years of stable pay from both of you will lay a good foundation - kids are expensive. And so are baby-mama support payments.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 7:43 PM on July 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

The only pre-requisite for having a baby is really and truly wanting to have a baby, deep down inside. When you want to have a baby, there will be no question in your mind, and you won't even want to ask us about it.
posted by bleep at 7:43 PM on July 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Just commenting to stress that it would be my own choice. I wanted to have a baby way before she brought it up, knowing I would have her support just encouraged me. And I don't like how some people are acting like I'm totally insane and am in the worst, dramatic situation anyone could ever be in. I'm 24, I have a degree, I run a business successfully from home, my partner doesn't make as much as I do but I don't support both of us, he pays his way. I don't see why that's such a hot mess and why other 24-year-olds apparently would be in so much better a position to have kids.

On one hand I'm told to do what I want, on the other I'm told I make bad life decisions... this is exactly my problem.

I think it's true that the internet can't help this. I'd get a therapist but you'd be surprised how difficult that is in the UK, especially with BPD. Unless of course I pay loads for it, I guess. I've been in therapy before, it's never really improved anything. I'm fine anyway, I'm just indecisive!
posted by mangoprawn at 7:47 PM on July 11, 2014

Response by poster: "The only pre-requisite for having a baby is really and truly wanting to have a baby, deep down inside. When you want to have a baby, there will be no question in your mind, and you won't even want to ask us about it."

I think most people just get pregnant by accident and then make up that stuff afterwards.
posted by mangoprawn at 7:48 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, but if you have an IUD then you're not in that group. I'm talking about people who don't get pregnant by accident.
posted by bleep at 7:50 PM on July 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'd really like to know what you all think the ideal pre-requisites for having a baby are.
I don't think there are ideal prerequisites, unless they're something like: have an absolutely perfect relationship with a partner who wants a baby as much as you, with a fantastically supportive extended family and a spare million bucks. Of course, the species would die out if we waited for 'ideal'.

That, however, has not much to do with whether YOU should have a baby, now, with Jake. And honestly, I think you shouldn't. Sorry to be brutal, but your post comes across as very confused. (On preview: I'm assuming BPD means Bipolar Disorder? Do you have it well-controlled at the moment? How would pregnancy affect that?)

You've got at least ten years of fertility left, probably a lot more. I mean this in the nicest way possible (no way could I have been a good mother at 24 myself, and I had a degree and an excellent income too), but - you need to give yourself time to mature and settle down. In this post, and your last one, you're all over the place.
posted by Salamander at 7:56 PM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think most people just get pregnant by accident and then make up that stuff afterwards.

Uh, no. One in six pregnancies in the UK are unplanned. If this is your feeling about how "most people" have children, then you definitely need to take a step back before you proceed further.

I know people who have kids in polyamorous relationships -- which is what you're signing up for here, make no mistake. I've seen it go well, and I've seen it go poorly. If you want it to go well, wait until you've been in a stable situation with both of them for at least two years, and don't do a single thing without consulting a lawyer. Make that two lawyers -- one for your triad, and one for just you. Certainly don't do anything without having a legal relationship (i.e. marriage) to at least one member of the triad, or you and your child will be desperately vulnerable if things go badly.

If having a baby with these folks is the right thing to do, it will still be the right thing to do in two years. If it's the wrong thing to do, you will be so glad you waited.
posted by KathrynT at 7:57 PM on July 11, 2014 [36 favorites]

Are you using "BPD" to mean Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder?
posted by jaguar at 8:13 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I don't think you've made bad life decisions. Right now though, you sound really excited about traveling, whereas the baby-making side of things is mostly being championed by other people. Sure, you're broody -- hanging around an adorable little kid can do that to a person. I still think you should stick with the two years of traveling plan because it's the much more flexible option. If you travel and it's not as amazing as you're hoping, you can come home. If it's even better than you dream, you can find a way to keep doing it, integrating it to your "normal" life. Neither of those is anywhere near as true for a baby. And what if it's not just a matter of popping out your IUD and then you're pregnant? It might seem like that's a reason to start sooner but on the other hand, it could mean months or years of trying to conceive during which you feel like you can't travel because the next month might always be the one. Travel now, find out what it means to you, and then you'll know better how marriage and/or a baby fits into your life and you won't resent anyone (including yourself) for having clipped your wings.
posted by teremala at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Babies are real people. They aren't accessories or toys or things to add to a relationship just for the hell of it. Or because you're feeling "broody". Or because someone else reeeeally wants you to. Don't do this shit to a small, defenseless little real person. Don't create a real person in this situation. For that matter, don't "do" pregnancy to yourself until you're in a far more stable situation.

I think most people just get pregnant by accident and then make up that stuff afterwards.

This is ridiculous. You do not need to be having a kid right now.
posted by Coatlicue at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2014 [29 favorites]

Your last question was approximately nine months ago. In that question, you hated Kaitlyn and you thought she and Jake were lousy parents. If the dynamic among you all can change so dramatically in nine months, it can just as easily change back in another nine.

Nine months is, of course, also the approximate length of a human pregnancy. If you somehow conceived tonight, are you certain you'd be on the same good terms with Jake and Kaitlyn when your due date rolled around?
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:24 PM on July 11, 2014 [48 favorites]

I think most people just get pregnant by accident and then make up that stuff afterwards.

I'm in my late 20s. Everyone I know who's had a child has made a conscious decision to do so, going off birth control specifically to have a child. The one exception is a woman who had her first child at 16. All of the others were explicitly planned. My anecdata contradicts your anecdata--perhaps it's best not to rely on anecdata?

I think it's true that the internet can't help this. I'd get a therapist but you'd be surprised how difficult that is in the UK, especially with BPD. Unless of course I pay loads for it, I guess. I've been in therapy before, it's never really improved anything. I'm fine anyway, I'm just indecisive!

I don't know if you mean bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. Whichever is the case, you will do any future child a great disservice if you are not actively and aggressively pursuing treatment for your disorder. "I have a mental disorder but therapy doesn't work and I'm fine without treatment" is exactly what people with mental disorders who aren't fine without treatment say.
posted by schroedinger at 8:28 PM on July 11, 2014 [38 favorites]

In your last question you seem to have a lot of scathing things to say about Kaitlyn, some of which seem like valid concerns about her parenting skills. What has changed so drastically in the past 9 months that has made you have such a complete 180 in your views on Kaitlyn? Were you factually wrong about all this information? Or have you decided that it doesn't matter anymore?
posted by elizardbits at 8:35 PM on July 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

I knew some people who were collectively in a situation very much like you're describing. They were a very happy, unique family and all best friends! For about a year and a half and then they weren't and then the two women got into a fistfight in the parking lot of a discount grocery store.
posted by Metafilter Username at 8:35 PM on July 11, 2014 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I'm 24, I have a degree, I run a business successfully from home, my partner doesn't make as much as I do but I don't support both of us, he pays his way. I don't see why that's such a hot mess and why other 24-year-olds apparently would be in so much better a position to have kids.

i agree people are being seriously harsh here, when I think what you need is some help to see the wider context of having a baby.

You are the primary wage earner in your household. Jake is not likely to magically evolve the pair of you into a dual-income family with two full-time earners. This is totally fine but also has massive implications for childrearing. You need to be super-clear on your self-employment eligibility for Maternity Benefit, and what those numbers actually are in your case. You need to plan for possible periods of not being able to work in pregnancy, and for how much time you want to take off work with your infant, and how that time will be paid for. You need to harshly confront the realities of being able to rev up your business again after a period of leave.

You also need to be clear on the costs of childcare, and if Jake is going to be able to commit to doing that full or part time or if he will need to gig or tour or whatever. Do not rely on his ex to provide childcare to your infant.

It does not sound to me like you've covered these basics in your questioning, and you really, really need to. Children whack most women's earning capacity, and in the financial structure of your relationship, you need to deal with that, is all.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:39 PM on July 11, 2014 [13 favorites]

I don't see why that's such a hot mess and why other 24-year-olds apparently would be in so much better a position to have kids.

There are many, many 24-year-olds who aren't in a good position to have kids. I wasn't at 24, or even at 34. Stability is the main thing kids need: stability in family relationships, financial stability, housing stability, caregiver stability, etc. It doesn't sound like you have enough of that right now.

Give it a few years, you have plenty of time. Start putting aside money now for it, so you can enjoy your baby in a few years without worrying about how you're going to pay for childcare.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:21 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm 24, I have a degree, I run a business successfully from home, my partner doesn't make as much as I do but I don't support both of us, he pays his way. I don't see why that's such a hot mess and why other 24-year-olds apparently would be in so much better a position to have kids.

I don't think most 24 year olds are in a great position to be having kids, and you are no exception, despite your degree and your job. I am afraid this is going to come off as harsh but I want to be honest with you here - it's not about how responsible you may be with your career and your financial stability here. You come off as not mature enough and not having enough insight about life and yourself to be in a good position to have a child. I have a lot of sympathy for you because I used to be that sort of a 20-something year old too. I used to write in run-on sentences and exclamation points, and have little idea about why I should make certain big life decisions instead of others and how one could predict what might happen based on the choices made, and go from "wow, my life is perfect" to "wow, jeez, I guess everybody just hates me then" over a short span of time too - i.e. I got involved in a lot of drama inadvertently. And I was a very responsible young adult with a promising career who was great at saving money, that had nothing to do with it. It was a 20-something way to be, and in fact, I was just talking with a friend a few minutes before getting online tonight about how glad I was that I had not made any big life decisions like having a baby or getting married until I was older and knew more about what I wanted and was able to choose better.

I would set the bar even higher than some of the answers above regarding when to have a baby. You not only need to have the financial stability and the solid desire to have a baby (please don't do it unless you're sure! please! We are the voices of experience here, we don't want you to do something you might seriously regret) , you need to have the right person to have babies with. Have babies with the wrong person and you will create massive problems for yourself (beyond the problems generally associated with having a baby already) that can last a lifetime. Jake might be the right person to have babies with, but I agree with the consensus that taking the time to see how things unfold for at least a year or two more would be the very smartest thing you could do right now. You don't have to travel. You can stay right in your little town if you're happy with that. You can travel when you're married, and you can even travel when you have kids, although it's quite different and more challenging, it most certainly can be done. My 1.5 year old daughter has been to 3 continents already. I think the travel thing is a bit of a red herring, and I think your family and friends are mentioning it so much because they might be afraid to voice their underlying concerns about Jake and Kaitlyn and your relationships with them, and they assume that if you take time off and travel you'll gain perspective on these relationships and decide not to continue them. In any case, this is a situation in which there are huge potential negatives, and that's why most of the answers here are going to encourage you to take as much time as you can to weigh the decision. Not because we think you're bad or crazy. Because you are a person in your early 20s doing things that people - all people, including the good and the non-crazy - in their early 20s do, and we have been there and want to help you.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:28 PM on July 11, 2014 [32 favorites]

Yeah, start saving money for a baby down the road.

Just a data point: I felt those pangs in my twenties. Many of my friends from school have kids in highschool now. I had my first in my mid thirties.

Never do I wish I had a baby earlier. My mom was a young mom ( w/ BDP, if you must know.) She was crap at it. Good heart, crap life skills because she was young.

Never do I wish I wasn't the better mom I am thanks to waiting.
posted by jbenben at 9:31 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't think comparing yourself to other 24-year-olds does you or anyone any good. There's still a lot of growing up to do whether or not you decide to have a baby.

I think what most people are trying to say is just think carefully before you decide to bring a baby into the scene. It's not only about breeding, but creating a real little person who will take up most of your time, energy and finance. Are you really ready for it? You can go ahead and have a baby but it's going to be really really hard and there's no way to turn back.

Stick to your plan. Go and travel for 2 years and then rethink about it. You still have time. Don't jump into it just because you feel like you have to.
posted by azalea at 9:32 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think most people just get pregnant by accident and then make up that stuff afterwards.

This is not true, really super truly rooly untrue - but I think it's very interesting you think that, and I think you should take some time to examine why you think that. It's possible you have a false sample around you of people who got pregnant without thinking it through (pro-tip: "accidents" are almost impossible. You are only fertile like three days in a month. Having an accident is different to 'letting it happen'). You should reflect on how their choices have played out for them in terms of: financial stability and wealth, mental health, and marital status. Your BFF teenage mum would probably be a lot wealthier now, healthier now, and quite possibly still married now if more planning had gone into her pregnancies.)

For most people, planning to have a kid (let alone having a kid) is a Big Fucking Deal. It's something that a lot of soul-searching goes into, a lot of hard-eyed assessment goes into, and even more planning goes in to. And believe me as a father of two, the more you do those things the better the subsequent experience will be.

You should not have a kid. There are lots of reasons. Volatile relationship, ambiguous parental skills on at least one side and - for me most crucially: no regular source of income. Jeezy creezy, I have a hunch you're like, "Oh I'll just keep translating with the baby, woohoo!". It won't work like that. Any baby makes you completely stupid in the first three months, and challenging babies can keep you stupid anywhere from six months to a year, or more. You have no conception how tired you will be with a baby. None. You will not be able to complete the volume of work you do now, I swear it.

Absolutely do not have a baby until Jake can support your household, entirely by himself, for a minimum of three months, ideally six. You may not need all that money or time, but you cannot know if you will or not. Especially given your mental health issues, you absolutely need to prioritise stabiity, support, and resources available before you have a kid unless you want to have a complete meltdown - which will be terrible for you, your baby, and your relationship.

From here, at least, it looks to me like you have a loooooong way to go before your life is 1) stable enough, 2) you have promised and needed levels of support from family, friends, and husband, and 3) you have the money and time to adapt successfully to any struggles or strains that may happen when you have a baby.

And you know what? That's totally fine. You're 24. You could literally wait ten years and still be a youngish mum. Do not have a baby. Get your house in order, then consider it.
posted by smoke at 10:00 PM on July 11, 2014 [24 favorites]

Best answer: As for the job situation, I've now set up my own translating business and am doing so much better than last year! I've already earned twice as much this year as I did through the entirety of last year, because I have a nice calm home, no stress, no drama, a wonderful supportive partner who basically handles the rest of my life while I work my butt off.

This is WONDERFUL. Go you!

My mother had my brother at age 24, two years after she finished college. She loves him dearly, of course, and she's an amazing mom. But she admits she was really young. Her only real regret was not giving herself time to enjoy married life and get to know herself a little better.

You ask about prerequisites, so here's my best idea:

- You need to feel 1000% certain about your partner. From these questions, I don't think that's the case.
- You may be happier if you have a bit more financial stability. People can make do, but kids pick up on stress in super subtle ways.
- You need to experience some things in life for yourself, like the travel you mentioned. Some people sacrifice their own desires to raise children, thinking their children will have the life they can't or won't have for themselves. That's unfair to the kid & to you.
- You feel broody. Concentrate on that -- a lot of this is biology. What triggers this?
- You know yourself well enough not to compare yourself to anyone else. I'm breathing down the neck of 40 and juuuust starting to get there.

It's a big world, and there are many opportunities to have children or bring children into your life. I just have a feeling this isn't the situation that will make you confident in doing so now.

Good luck.
posted by mochapickle at 10:05 PM on July 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I think most people just get pregnant by accident and then make up that stuff afterwards.

Well... yeah, a lot of people do that. But accidents fall on a spectrum, and some are devastating while others are more or less okay. Some "accidents" are allowed to happen because the potential outcome of pregnancy is acceptable while not actually planned.

I didn't plan any of my pregnancies and indeed felt really irresponsible for accidentally getting pregnant more than once. And my first pregnancy happened when I was your age or just about, and now I have a son headed for college in the fall and everything worked out fine.

HOWEVER, when that first pregnancy happened I was in a relationship that I was fully committed to and both of us had full-time jobs. There was no potential financial insecurity if either one or the other of us needed to quit working, and there was no second-guessing whether the relationship was where he or I wanted to be in the first place, or if one of us kinda sorta maybe wanted to be doing something else entirely.

And even still, a somewhat-acceptable pregnancy can end up making you feel like your life was derailed. So even as someone who went the route that you are considering (although under more secure circumstances) and doesn't regret it, I would say it's not ideal. The line of reasoning/ train of thought you outlined in your original question just isn't one that should end in "Yes, let's have a baby!" There are too many unknowns, any one of which could make it end badly for you.
posted by torticat at 10:14 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's the thing: maybe Jake is a great person to have a baby with (and maybe Kaitlyn really has done a lot of growing in the last 9 months and is ready to be a great support to you). But there's no harm in waiting a few years to figure out if this is what you want and who you want it with.

There is harm in doing this before knowing it's what you want. I'm in my thirties so I know at least a few people who had babies with the wrong partners. You cannot believe what a horrorshow that can be. Because once you have a baby with someone, you are pretty much tied to that person for the rest of your lives. Think about the worst breakup you've gone through, or witnessed, and then imagine that the person who behaved really badly had the ability to fuck with the other person by telling their child lies about them, or dragging them into court to keep them from seeing their child, or using their child as a way to keep tabs on who they're dating, how they're spending their money, and so on. Or refuse to offer any financial help with raising the kids, even if they're required to by law. I've seen this happen in more than one case, sadly.

My family and friends from back home all think I'm settling for something and I'm meant for bigger things, but that's just so ridiculous to me! What do people want me to do?! Marry a millionaire, run for president, travel the world, I don't know! I could move anywhere in the world, where the hell do I go?

It sounds like they just want you to see some of the world and figure out what you want for yourself before you tie yourself down, which is understandable. Most people have a relationship from their early twenties that they look back and think "that person was lovely but THANK GOD we didn't end up together!" or "that person was lovely but we REALLY shouldn't have had a baby together/gotten married!" That's probably what's fueling your families' concern (and, frankly, many of the comments here).

In fact, when I was 25, I got that "broody" feeling and felt for a while like I wanted to have a baby with the not-super-reliable guy I was seeing. Rationally, I knew it was a bad idea, but there was something about the guy that just made it seem right, even though I knew we probably wouldn't even be together for the long haul. In retrospect, I look back on that with bafflement and relief. It would have absolutely been an enormous mistake.

I actually think that what was driving that feeling in my case was similar to what you're feeling now: I was happy with my life overall, but I was missing a certain sense of meaning or purpose. I just didn't know what I wanted out of life, and I think I yearned a bit for a baby to give me a sense of purpose.

But this yearning for purpose is something most people go through in their early to mid twenties. It's a weird age, because you're old enough to have lived on your own for a while and have some confidence that you can make it in the world, but not necessarily old enough to know what you want or don't want, simply because, unless you had a really unfortunate childhood, you haven't been around the block enough times to know what it looks like when things go really bad. So this is the age when people do risky, throw-caution-to-the-air things. Which is great, it's what being 24 is made for. But it's probably better if those overambitious things are things that 1. you can undo if necessary and 2. only impact you.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 10:28 PM on July 11, 2014 [16 favorites]

Take some of that extra income and pay for a doctor to address and treat your BPD (whichever mental health issue that might be).

As the 40-year-old mother of a 22-month-old, I encourage you to wait to have kids.
posted by Specklet at 10:47 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My dad kind of bummed around for nearly a decade after college.

I don't mean this as a slam on him--he worked hard and supported himself throughout, it's just that he didn't really settle on a career and a family until he was almost 30 and had already spent some time traveling around the world, having relationships short- and long-term, working in a few different capacities, etc.

My mom met my dad when he was doing the teaching-abroad thing, and she was in college (she wasn't his student; she had friends in his class whom she was tutoring). They had their whole meet-cute, sad long-distance correspondence relationship when he came back to the U.S., she moved to be with him, etc.

The point is this: my mom loves me, doesn't regret her (now long-over) marriage to my father or having me, but I think she was always a little sad that she never really got any sort of off-time in her youth, where she wasn't in school or working her ass off (also there were some kind of abortive attempts to reclaim that later in life, but that's not really relevant here.) She was a kid, then she was a student and a worker, then a wife, then a mother--with very little time to really ease into any of those roles, or try new ones.

You have a golden opportunity to take some time to experiment with who you are and who you want to be, to see the world, AND with a clear safety net to return to at the end of it, if you choose to. That's huge. You acknowledge that "most people don't get that choice", but, really, I don't think you understand how rare it is to have that, both the opportunity and the security. My mom didn't, really, because she came from a poor and troubled family in a country that didn't value smart and ambitious girls, so she threw herself into her studies when she was young, and then when she fell in love, emigrated to the other side of the world. Me, I relinquished that chance when I chose a career path that doesn't really allow for much in the way of breaks or gaps (at least not when you're young), but I know that and I accept it. It's not a huge tragedy, she's done well and been happy and everything, I will do well and be happy and everything, but it's just...really hard for me to understand why you'd secure this opportunity for yourself and then toss it off because you don't like the tone some people are taking in their answers or whatever.
posted by kagredon at 11:26 PM on July 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

Look, I'm pleased that you get along with Kaitlyn so well all of a sudden and I hope it lasts, but as far as I can tell, y'all aren't in a stable polyamorous relationship to be making babies in--despite that this post seems to be trying to make it sound that way. There's been a lotta drama in this relationship and while it's settled down now, I'd want to make sure it stays that way for longer before I permanently tied myself to Jake with a baby here. You don't NEED to have a baby right this second no matter what Kaitlyn says. (As others said, she can make her own if she's broody and not mooch off yours. Or more likely, flake on the babysitting.) I'd recommend that you at least wait a few years and reconsider the baby thing then. For all I know you could be in a whole other place (mentally and/or physically) then.

Right now you are pretty young for our culture to be tying yourself permanently down into a semi-rocky-ish situation. I wouldn't recommend committing to that just yet. Even if you don't travel right this second, are you that sure you're ready for Young Wife And Mother status immediately? Passing up anything else? Committing to Jake's drama? I mean, he might be a great dude, but that's a fair amount of baggage that it's reasonable to think about before you go all in this young.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:41 PM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: I see MeFi's Lagomorpha have addressed the age issue above in a through way, and I came here to agree with treehorn+bunny and rabbitrabbit, et al. You're not a hot mess, but truthfully, wouldn't it be better to be in a more secure place, both financially and emotionally?

The major swing from the ex being an evil drama queen to being your BFF in that short of a time frame scares me a bit. When you throw in how depressed you were, how you felt you were deep in debt, and how you weren't sure of Jake's commitment (gotta ring, yet?) and now you mention you have BPD, well, the whole situation is just a bit too tenuous. Me, personally, I would want more stability all around--financial backup, emotional commitment with Jake, better job prospect's on his horizon, assurances there will be no sudden turn-around with the ex, solid housing, etc.

If you read this and it sounds boring or stifling, then I'd suggest you cut strings and go out and take advantage of the opportunities you have to travel and see the world as you build up your career. If you and Jake are really committed to each other, you can have a long distance relationship for a year or two, while you both work on your goals. Finn won't suffer--you can call and write him and he has his parents to take care of him now. They should be good to parent without you running interference now, right? It's quite nice that you're friends with Kaitlyn, but again, good friendships can survive the test of time (and distance.)

I think this calls for a road trip.

You need to take a weekend to yourself and go somewhere you've always wanted to explore. Doesn't have to be an expensive thing, but take the bus or a car and go to an inexpensive B&B on the coast, or go hiking/ camping. Do something fun by yourself, something you've wanted to do, but haven't had or made time to do since you've been caught up in being the Insta-Family with the others.

Take some deep breaths and back away a bit.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:38 AM on July 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you think you are doing ok - then ofcourse that IS most important of all. I've lived in some workable unconventional scenarios. That said as a random stranger I do feel very wary of Kaitlin and have been a tad prone to being somewhat 'dazzled' (?) by relationships before.. only to get a big kick in the guts when I least expected it. Keep meeting people outside of this scenario maybe?.. Friends 'just for you' could help ease the intensity of all this???
posted by tanktop at 1:00 AM on July 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was so touched when she said she would help me through the pregnancy and she would love to raise kids with me. That idea just seems so lovely to me, kind of like having a sister.

Here is another way it could go: You start off thinking "well I don't know what I'm doing with a baby, and Kaitlyn's done this before and loves babies, so I can rely on her advice and plus she'll babysit too, yay!" And then after a couple of months, you're thinking "Jesus I wish Kaitlyn would stop telling me what to do with my baby and stop angling to get me to leave my baby with her all the damn time."

Yeah, maybe it'll be just like having a sister. But bear in mind family can be a great source of tension and conflict over raising kids, especially when there's a family member involved who sees their role as kid's-additional-parent, or source-of-authority-about-babies.
posted by Catseye at 1:12 AM on July 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I had a baby at 23, 23 years ago and his sister two years later. I stayed with his father 20 years. This is what I know now. At 23 I didn't know what I wanted to do with my career, and even though it's still up in the air, I have a much better idea. I didn't know where I wanted to live, or how, or what I valued in a relationship over love and lust. I thought that no arguments meant a good relationship, I thought my partner and I would never change how we felt about each other. I also believed that the people who were my very close friends would be my very close friends for the rest of my life - they weren't.

It didn't work out like I thought. I continued not to have arguments, giving in or taking responsibility for everything. The guy who had problems getting and keeping jobs back then, turned out to be incredibly financially irresponsible. It was incredibly tiring. It's had an enormous impact on my life, and my children.

I was an adult then, as you are now. I coped. I took care of the children, the finances, the housekeeping, the future, the gardening, the tax problems he brought about through his lies and lacks. I worked, at work, and then at home - and helped the kids with their homework, and "interpreted" what their dad was saying, so they knew he wasn't really grumpy and unreasonable, just unable to explain himself to younger people.

I was and continue to be strong. You're surely strong enough too. But is that what you want?

Try this for an option. Plan out the next 5 years where you try as many different things as possible. Jobs, places to live, hobbies, exercise, movies, books - whatever. I had no idea I loved the blues until I was in my 30s, can you believe it? If you and Jake are together still, you'll have a financial eggnest to make that first pregnancy so much more fun - you get to buy the cot and the nursery curtains, instead of your mum or whoever. Finn gets to be superduper big brother. Kaitlyn might babysit still, loving having a young baby around.

I remember a good friend who's advice I didn't take, but maybe you will - "the time to have a baby is when you can't bear not to any more. "

mangoprawn, I swore I wouldn't live a life of poverty, like my mother brought me up in. I swore I'd live my own life and have a career, and do the things I wanted to. But that pregnancy and tying myself to that man for the next twenty years ate me alive.

Raising babies/children is hard, so hard. In my experience, most times the better parents are those who are a bit older, are more financially secure, have had enough fun to not mind all the sleepless nights, who have better answers for the "why" questions, the "I hate you mummy!" screams, the endless colds, and vomiting and bed wetting, and "why doesn't anyone at school like me" heartbreaks.
posted by b33j at 1:35 AM on July 12, 2014 [39 favorites]

Best answer: You're finding life hard because you don't know what you want, and you wish you could be certain. You're looking at two main options to resolve this and give you some comfort and certainty:

1. Have a baby
2. Travel

Trouble is, no 1 is not reversible if it turns out that wasn't what you wanted. Trying it just in order to find out is not a good idea, because if your discovery is that you hate it, you can't undo it.

You can do no 2 without harming anyone, and if it turns out you hate it, you buy a return ticket, having learnt something about what you want. Win win.

So do no 2.

Also, the main thing that will help you discover what you want is time. Nobody knows what they want at 24.

Be patient, enjoy the moment you're in now, and don't create any new people in the meantime just because you're curious about how it would be.
posted by penguin pie at 3:06 AM on July 12, 2014 [11 favorites]

Best answer: I'm going to urge you to move out, get your own place, and put your life together with YOU as the focus, not as a side player for the drama that surrounds Kaitlyn and Jake.

Here's why. I apologize in advance if you find this too harsh, but...

You mentioned in a previous post that you have Borderline Personality Disorder. IANAT, IANYT, but I work therapeutically with a lot of people with BPD.

From the US National Library of Medicine, "Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition in which a person has long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions. These inner experiences often result in impulsive actions and chaotic relationships with other people."

Your current question, as well as those previous, is filled with typical BPD attributes.

Previously, Kaitlyn was vindictive and immature. Now, 9 months later, she's your best friend.

9 months ago, you were heavily involved with a very dysfunctional man and the mother of his child. You brought her cookies; she had a court order keep you away from her child. You felt Jake was a terrible father. You had a horrible fight with your sister, with whom you lived, and you stopped speaking with her.

The advice you were going to follow after your last question was to break up with Jake, but you didn't. So not only did all the bad things disappear, but now you're in a wonderful and glowy space with this woman who previously loathed you. So much so, in fact, that you think you could have a baby with her ex (who she wouldn't let near their child for years) and somehow she'd be your strong support system.

Your questions are filled with classic symptoms of a person with BPD; of a person who needs help. The drama, the intense highs and lows, and now:

actually considering getting pregnant because someone else is telling you it would make them happy.

You wrote, "I feel like I'm so influenced by what everyone else expects of me and I never really think about what I actually want."

This is pretty classic thinking for people with BPD. Yes, it's true of many others, but from everything you've written, you're deeply enmeshed in other people's drama, you take your cues from them, and I really think, no matter how expensive it is, that you have to get outside help for this.

I think you should move out, get your own place, stop thinking about what Jake wants and what Kaitlyn wants and start thinking about what YOU want, because I can almost guarantee that it's only a matter of time before this happy feeling toward Kaitlyn is going to disappear.

And that's not because you're anything but a wonderful person, but you are a wonderful person with BPD and you would really benefit from professional help.
posted by kinetic at 4:41 AM on July 12, 2014 [73 favorites]

Going by your previous questions, Jake is about 22 and Kaitlyn is 20?

You are all so young, kids can wait.

You say you feel broody and want to have a baby, and there's nothing wrong with that. But it sounds like what you need to do is take time to get treatment, travel, figure yourself out, develop a stable relationship with your partner, and grow. You can think of this as working toward being a good parent someday.
posted by inertia at 6:27 AM on July 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

You may also want to consider that the reason she's pushing for you to have a baby is so you have your own baby and leave hers alone.
posted by corb at 8:55 AM on July 12, 2014

Best answer: Well, people can certainly make situations like this work but there are so many things that could potentially go wrong given the history of your relationship with Jake and Kaitlyn that it's making my head spin. This plan seems to rely pretty heavily on Kaitlyn caring for your child, since you have limited family/other resources. But Kaitlyn has 2 (3?) children under the age of 5, and you previously mentioned that Kaitlyn herself admitted that her mother was Finn's primary caregiver. Your relationship with her might be stable now, but throwing a baby into the mix will probably trigger more drama, not less. I can see so many situations that might aggravate her-- Jake is spending more time with the new baby than Finn; you and Kaitlyn have disagreements over caring for your child-- and she's back to her old habits of withholding visits, saying nasty things about Jake to Finn, etc.

Even if she follows through 100% with her intentions to help, which is a little questionable given how stormy your relationship has been until recently, will it be enough to make this situation feasible? It sounds like if you had a child now you would be relying on the hope that you would have the easiest pregnancy in the world so that you could take as little time off from work as possible while Jake would somehow rustle up a well-paying job.

I think you need to seek out a neutral figure-- therapist, mentor, objective friend-- and starting figuring out what the hell it is you want to do rather than what all these other people want for you. I can't get a good sense about your preference towards any of the options you lay out here other than having kids at some point, or even if any of these options would be truly appealing right now if it wasn't for others pushing you towards them. Take the time to solidify your own sense of purpose and direction, and go from there.
posted by fox problems at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good advice above. I'd just say, what's the rush? You are 24 - why do you need to decide right now what you want to do in 2017?! You don't. If you're in a good place now, work on making it an awesome place before adding a baby into the mix. Pay off debt, save money, make your relationship with Jake even better, work on you. You can do those things after having a kid but it will be a lot harder. It's not productive in this context to compare yourself to other 24 year olds because you are not living their lives. And you said that this decision will be based on what you want but reread your question - there is very little "I want" and a lot of "other people want." Good luck.
posted by kat518 at 10:06 AM on July 12, 2014

I think they way you phrased the original question made it sound kind of like Kaitlyn wanted you to have a baby more than YOU want one. And what do you think of Kaitlyn's parenting skills, since she would obviously have a large role in your child's life? Most importantly, what do YOU want?If Kaitlyn was not in the picture, what would you decide?

Also, you say you run a business from home. I am going to make an assumption here, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you have no paid maternity leave in that situation. Am I right? So, if this is the case, guess what is going to happen when you have a baby? That business is not going to be able to continue like it is now because you will be a)exhausted and b)taking care of a baby, which does NOT mesh well with working from home without additional childcare, regardless of what you may be thinking or have heard. So if Jake is not able to support both of you, for at least the first 6 months or so, you are looking at a major cash shortfall when you will need it the most.

What kind of insurance do you have? How much will you have to pay out of pocket for your pre-natal care, the birth itself, and the inevitable doctor visits that follow?

Do you have the financial resources to hire a nanny or get childcare so you can continue your business? Working from home and taking care of a baby sounds great, but doesn't work out so well in actual practice. You can either care for an infant OR you can be working. Not both. I have had many friends who thought they could swing this, and you know what? They either became full-time moms or hired a nanny, because it's just too much to do both things at once. What happens if you decide you don't want to work, you just want to be a mom? If Jake willing and able to support you both?

If you want your dream life, and to travel, and all those things, I suggest you do that now. You may regret not doing those things later when you are tied down with children. You can always have children later. Once you have them, though, there's no going back. I think you are making a lot of assumptions based on your preconceptions of the status quo, comparing yourself to others, and putting a lot of emphasis on what others want for you. That is a really good recipe for ending up feeling miserable and trapped in a life you realize is not what you want for yourself.

I suggest you take a good long look at who YOU are and what YOU want, and let that guide your decisions. If part of you is screaming no, maybe you should listen to it and figure out where that no is coming from.
posted by ananci at 12:00 PM on July 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is not possible that, in the space of a few months, a manipulative, self-absorbed mother who denies her kids access to their father can be magically transformed into a sane, loving, healthy person. If she would treat you, your bf, AND HER OWN CHILDREN horribly in the past, there is no reason to assume she would not do it again.

Regardless of whether you have a child now (which, to add to the choir, sounds like a very bad idea right now), you should spend less time with Kaitlyn, find other friends, and get some therapy to help you work on developing healthy boundaries so you will not keep getting sucked into unhealthy people's drama.

The fact that you don't recognize how unhealthy and unstable all of this is (and are getting angry when others point it out to you, instead of considering the possibility that there is something they are seeing that you are missing) indicates that you are not yet ready to be a healthy parent. But you are obviously smart and a good advocate for yourself, so I'm sure with some support you will get there.
posted by ravioli at 12:34 PM on July 12, 2014 [9 favorites]

this advice is coming from a girl who, love her to bits, but she never went to uni, she had a kid at 16 and then another at 21.... is she just a bad influence maybe?!?!


I am aware how much this all reeks of middle-class-ness and privilege...

Take it from someone who was raised in a family that was very keen on adopting middle class norms and hewing to them as closely as possible: what you describe is one of the least middle class thing I can think of. In fact, I can imagine it being used as a story by a family member told to children about how everyone else who didn't come from good families like ours had chaotic family lives and were totally ungrounded. While I don't strictly adhere to my family's, "you must carefully adhere to middle class-ness to get ahead," I'm very good at recognizing and understanding those norms. And the whole situation you're in is not it.

I would also point out that in retrospect, my mom had some small-grade mental health issues -- the same ones that I have, which all became clear when I realized to myself, "holy shit, I am having the same reactions my mom had when I was a little kid!" -- that made having children really hard on her (honestly, less so on the kids. We were surprisingly resilient. None of it was physically abusive or emotionally abusive, but I could tell she was having a hard time of it.). I am glad for my sake that I got my issues under control now before I have children.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 7:24 PM on July 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

I was working from home full-time (not self-employed) when I decided to have a baby, at 34. I went back to work when my daughter was four months old, half-time for the first couple of months, then full-time. My retired mother moved in with my husband and me to help us out for the first six months after I started working again. In addition to my full-time employed husband, this setup enabled us to have a comfortable first year with our baby.

This was all planned in advance, and we had many years of savings in the bank just in case.

My point is, don't just look at how your situation compares to that of the teen mums around you.
posted by Dragonness at 6:55 AM on July 13, 2014

in your question: I feel like I'm so influenced by what everyone else expects of me and I never really think about what I actually want.

in your followup: Just commenting to stress that it would be my own choice. I wanted to have a baby way before she brought it up

This is just one stranger's opinion and you really shouldn't think too much of one stranger's opinion on the internet if you feel differently: before you can figure out what you actually want, you'll have figure out whether or not being influenced by others and never thinking about what you actually want is a problem for you, or if it isn't.

Maybe you should start a diary where every day you write about what it is you want. Then in a year you can look back and see if your feelings about what you wanted were consistent over time, or not. If you want something consistently over time, it's much more likely that the future you would want that than if you wavered between wanting and not wanting something.

In the meantime, save up some money to spend on things you want to do, even if you don't know what those things are yet.
posted by yohko at 3:45 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

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