Storks Everywhere – If and When To Have Kids?

The big one on the right is the stork. He’s got about 4 other stork friends that usually come around at the same time.

One of the things that I love the most about our house is the small lake in backyard that we share with a handful of other homes and a good variety of wildlife.  We’ve had otters, bald eagles, and even roseate spoonbills.  But recently a small flock of storks has started to frequent our little patch of paradise and their timing could not be worse.

Instead of looking at them and appreciating the beauty of their funny shaped bodies and admiring how good they are at grabbing fish from the water – instead of that, I get reminded of a question I told myself about 3,000 days ago that I’d have the answer to sometime in the next 700 days.


If  and When To Have Kids?

I’m not sure why, but I always assumed I’d know my answer to this question by the time I was 32.  But having rounded the bend and formally entered into my thirties (gasp!), I’m finding I’m perhaps even more undecided than ever.

But unlike when we first got married when we were 26, the five year plans that we’re working with now seem to have a giant asterisk next to them that says:

* assuming status-quo on PoP family size – ie. us + Kitty PoP *

And the mental dialogue goes something like, “Well, if we do decide to have small PoPs in our lives, the financial prep work we’re doing now is certainly going to help with whatever that brings… right?”

Factors I Consider

Pain – Yup, I think about pain.  I have a back injury from a car accident a couple of years ago, and I’ve been told there’s a strong likelihood that it’ll worsen if I get pregnant, and the best treatment I have for the pain happens to cause birth defects, so I wouldn’t be able to use it.

Parenting – Would we be any good at it?  Would it depend largely on the personality of the child?  Would Mr. PoP and I be able to parent an extrovert effectively having grown up so introverted?

Money – Along with the back pain, there’s also a higher than average probability of bed rest if I were to get pregnant.  So in addition to actual child costs – I hear costs for the little buggers add up quickly – income losses would probably start months earlier as well.

Aversion To Change – We’re pretty happy with the current status quo.  2012 was a good year for us.  2013 is looking pretty bright.  We have a LOT of fun and don’t feel “unfulfilled” in any way.  What kind of risk to the satisfaction with our current dynamic would we br bringing in with such a huge change?

Hypothetical Kids’ Feelings – There’s not a whole lot in this world that could be worse than to feel as though they weren’t wanted or are a burden.  So if there was any epsilon chance that we didn’t want kids and had them, I worry that the kid would pick up on that and be immeasurably hurt by it.

I’m a bit of a scientist at heart, which leads me to (over?) research and analyze issues in search of optimal solutions.  So even though I’m no longer holding myself to the deadline that I’d have this question answered by the time I turn 32, this is still a huge subject to research, so I’m asking for a bit of help.

My Help Request

Knowing that Mr. PoP and I may come to very different decisions on having kids than you did (will do?), what are some of the factors that you considered in your decision process?  Were there any books or sources that you felt were instrumental in providing clarity?

109 comments to Storks Everywhere – If and When To Have Kids?

  • After just having a kid and talking to all the doctors, I can safely say that biologically – the earlier the better. Financially – the later the better.

    So if you mix that all together then I reckon somewhere in the middle there must be a sweet spot. Probably late 20’s to early 30’s.
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  • I have off and on chronic back pain so I was worried about pain during pregnancy as well. It turns out that my pain didn’t bother me nearly as much a just being a giant preggo did! I was a very miserable pregnant person. (Ask Greg) I didn’t like being pregnant and was always surrounded by women who loved every second of it. I couldn’t relate.

    Anyway, the most important thing to say is that it’s all worth it! All the pain, all the money, every cent. It’s all worth it.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Spring Into Savings With These Money Saving TipsMy Profile

    • I’m sorry you hated being giant and preggo, I’m pretty sure that would be me, too! But I guess on the bright side your back didn’t bother you as much as expected, right?
      Mind if I ask how old you were when you had your first?

      • Of course! I was 29 when I had my first. I gained almost 60 pounds with my first pregnancy. Do yourself a favor and don’t let that happen! My second pregnancy was at 31 and I only gained 35 pounds. Much better. I’m a fairly small and petite person so 60 pounds rocked my world. It fell off fairly quickly but it just wasn’t good to get that big in the first place.

        My back didn’t bother me as much as the heartburn, the sleepless nights, my inability to roll over in bed or to ever get comfortable. Oh, and don’t forget getting kicked from the inside!

        But, as bad as it sounds I look back and laugh now cause it’s all over. And like I said before, it’s very worth it….every pain, every discomfort, every cent. I look at my kids now and can’t even fathom that they were once something I even considered not doing. Being a parent is amazing! However, it is also something that you don’t realize how amazing it is until you’re already there…and if you don’t find it amazing it’s too late to change your mind. =/
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  • I’m asking myself very similar questions, but for very different reasons. I’m 34, and always assumed I’d be married with children by now. I’m in what I would consider my first really serious, long-term relationship. He’s 54, with 2 children in their 20s. He’s not sure if he wants to start over again, especially given his conviction that he’ll only live another 20 years. So I’ve been asking myself a lot of hard questions: Do I really want children, or do I want the idea of children? I love our current lifestyle; How will having a child change that? I think I could happily live with him without children. But then, if he’s right and he does only live another 20 years, how will I feel when I’m in my 50s, single and with no one? What if our relationship doesn’t last that long, but long enough for me to miss the window of opportunity to have a child?

    I never realized how complicated it could be! But I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to make a decision today. I still have at least a few years to think it over. Hopefully time will provide a little more clarity! I also can’t help but feeling that what’s meant to be will be.
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    • I hope what’s meant to be will be. Or if not, I think we can learn to be happy with what we have.
      If the comparison is worth anything, Mr. PoP is the child of a second marriage and has half siblings that are 15-22 years older than he is. His dad is 75 now, and always thought having a second set of kids kept him young. He also got to spend more time with them since his career was set (ie he was already tenured) by the time Mr. PoP was born.

  • Sitting here 32 and pregnant, and enjoying it just about as much as Holly did, I can still say I had a very similar debate. Because we could never officially take it off the table – definitively say Nope, not for us – 7 month into this journey (that is barely scratching the surface) I’m still happy with the decision made. Uncomfortable, and ready for it to be over, but really looking forward to meeting the person who’s been inhabiting my guts. 😉
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  • There is a baby boom at my work and it means I am guaranteed employment for the next year instead of worrying about having my hours cut.

    Children are exhausting and the older you are when you start the older you are when you are dealing with teenagers. I am in my late 40s and I need sleep and I don’t recover as quickly if my sleep is interupted. Teenagers keep you awake more than babies and mine were good children who didn’t give me much grief.

    My post for today was also about the stork. Something must be in the air.
    Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle recently posted..A Financial Present From The StorkMy Profile

    • There’s been a baby boom on my facebook feed the past few years, too! Glad that it’s keeping your employment nice and secure. =)

  • This is something that me and W think about all the time. I’m pretty sure that we want kids, we just know that we want to wait at least a couple of years.

  • You can wonder for years about whether to have kids or not but nature says the earlier the better. I would want to do lots of things with my kids that I won’t probably be able to do in my 50s if I have them at 40. I went through a “I want a baby so bad” phase a couple of years ago and now am reconsidering it altogether, but this is a serious topic to think about now or you could lament not having done it while you were younger.
    Pauline recently posted..Little house in Guatemala, week 18-19My Profile

    • If you don’t mind me asking – are we about the same age, Pauline?
      Is living in Guatemala impacting your thoughts on the matter? On the one hand, you’re more settled in a house, but on the other – how is the medical treatment there? Would you worry about that?

  • Don’t worry about the parenting, money, or hypothetical kids’ feelings bullets. You will be fine with those. Honestly.

    Re: the rest. It’s something only you can decide.

    I HAD to have our first kid. Even though I’m not crazy about kids, I was desperate for a baby (at the old age of 26, though infertility pushed off the birth to age 28). The second I felt I could go either way, but DH really wanted another, so that tipped me. She’s wonderful (and took a lot fewer medical treatments).

    #2 on our blog is very happily child-free and I don’t see that changing any time soon. She loves babies, but prefers to be able to give them back at the end of the day.
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    • Any way I can get you to explain the feelings behind “HAD to have”? I’ve just never experienced that kind of feeling – so don’t really know if that’s what the missing factor is here.

      • Like being really thirsty and wanting water, or not able to breathe and wanting air. Or maybe like really wanting to get into a specific school or to win a game so your team can be in the playoffs, if you’ve ever been the kind of person to pray about something like that. Suddenly thinking babies are adorable instead of wet sticky things. Being jealous of pregnant women. (Why Brittney Spears TWICE and not me?… I have since forgiven her.)

        From what I understand, it isn’t as likely to happen that way with people who actually like kids (Note: I like my kids– their snot and spit-up is the adorable kind). Also, there was a year and a half of infertility treatment in there and some pretty messed up hormones. Plenty of people decide to have kids and have them happily without emotional pain or desperation beforehand.
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      • Here was us before having a second: In the end, we did go for it.

        None of that desperation for me this time around, but she is still every bit as loved and amazing as her big brother.
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  • I wish I had a good answer for you. I’m sure it’s one of life’s toughest decisions if you’re on the fence. I’ve always known I didn’t want kids. I just don’t have that gene (whatever that gene is) that felt motherly. The odd thing is I totally wouldn’t mind meeting a guy who had kids. Kind of strange huh? This does and has made dating hard because it seems like most guys want them. I hope you can come to a decision you’re happy with!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Fear of Not Having Enough MoneyMy Profile

  • This is something I think about quite a bit since I’m 31 and will be getting married later this year. I’m still uncertain while B says he knows he wants kids because he would regret it otherwise. I know, we should really iron this out before we make it official. You’ve considered the potential negatives, maybe you can think about the positives a child would bring into your lives?
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    • We clearly didn’t come to a hard and fast decision before we got married. We both had our levels of uncertainty, but made the deal that if either of us decided it was a necessity, the other would be 100% on board. And that’s still pretty much where we are.
      You’re totally right that I only wrote about the negatives – but that’s mostly because I don’t worry about the positives =)

  • We are quite familiar with that roller coaster. And having just gotten off the ride and still feeling a little woozy, I can tell you that these two new parents are grumpier, happier, groggier and more complete than ever.

    Those are all valid concerns. Try to resolve one at a time until you feel as ready as possible. I’d liken it to bungie jumping/skydiving/repelling. You’ll never ever feel perfectly ready. But address as many concerns as you can, and then make the leap.

    And if and when it happens, it might be worth sitting down with Kitty PoP and having a heart-to-heart with her about being neglected for a little while.
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    • haha, Kitty PoP would have to learn to share his bedroom.
      And is there any way that you can explain what you mean by “more complete than ever”. I’ve heard so many people say that, but I don’t really know what they mean by it!

      • I won’t try to explain what everyone means by “complete,”but for me, it brought back the same feelings as when Joanna and I got married. Not necessarily the moment of exchanging vows, but that overall sense of “this whole being together for the rest of our lives feels right.” When Baby Girl was born, it just felt like we had reached the next phase of life — one that, consciously or subconsciously, we had been waiting for.

        That probably made things more confusing, but that’s the best way I can put intangible feelings into words.
        Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget recently posted..Our Almost-Splurge WeekendMy Profile

        • No, I think it helps. I always call marrying Mr. PoP joining the best team ever. So I’m extrapolating your emotion to be like adding to the best team ever. If that makes sense?

  • We wanted children, and it got to the point where we were waiting for the “perfect time” – and we just decided that there will never *be* a perfect time to have kids, so just do it. I wasn’t scared of the pain, but the needles involved in the whole process. I went with a midwife and a homebirth (after research). So yeah, there was pain and no meds to help with it (or even take the edge off), but it’s a limited amount of time – it *will* end and with a baby at the end of it. After an all night labor (and a day of working beforehand), I was super excited and pumped up once our daughter was born.

    One thing I would consider before children is how comfortable are you when things don’t go as planned? If you get anxious and upset, kids are not really for you – and it starts as soon as you get pregnant. How patient are you? How much alone time do you need? – my daughter is 2, and I haven’t peed alone at home since she was born.

    It’s a lot of work, you need a lot of patience, but I think my daughter is worth it – there will be no more kids though :)
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    • I’m not awesome with needles, either. Actually I’m horrible with them and usually pass out, so definitely understand the aversion there.
      And thanks so much for the great questions. Those actually feel like the best questions I’ve ever heard in terms of reflecting on this subject and I am definitely going to chew on them for a while, particularly the alone time one since Mr. PoP and I are both pretty introverted and require regular doses of alone time.

      • I’m terrible with needles generally, but boy was I a human pincushion when trying to have DC1. I even had my favorite phlebotomists. It’s amazing what those maternal hormones can do.
        nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Latte factor vs big item spendingMy Profile

        • even the thought of getting poked enough to have a favorite phlebotomist gives me the chills. I pass out pretty much every time I get stuck with a needle. Definitely not fun.

      • How patient are you? How much alone time do you need? THESE ARE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS!!! My patience is contested every single day. I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. I am 40, and it can be tough as an older mom. If you need a lot of alone time, if you need your sleep, if your patience level isn’t through the roof, you may have a more difficult time adjusting to an enormous change in your life that you cannot undo.

        That said, I love my girls, and cannot image life without them. We planned them, had an easy time conceiving, and I had two great pregnancies. I gained 55 pounds with the first, and 45 pounds with the second. The first weighed 10 pounds, the second weighed 9 pounds. I had 2 c-sections, and now have this weird scar on my stomach.

        I always knew I wanted kids, but I also knew that I wasn’t ready earlier in life. Before I was ready for kids, I was very glad to see the mom come home when I would babysit for a friend. What did it for me was when the moms came home, and I no longer wanted it to end.

  • I think you either want kids or you don’t. If there’s any sense of hesitation, then you probably don’t really want kids, and I think you have to REALLY want kids in order to have them. Because they can be a big pain in the butt. My husband and I have always wanted kids, whereas we have a lot of friends that are definite no’s on the baby decision. I don’t think anyone who has kids actually regrets it tho.

    • I would disagree that just because you are hesitant that means you don’t really want children. I think that there are some people who don’t feel their life is complete until they have a child. Then there are others of us that are happy right now. We may want children, or have always thought we would have children. But then you have to think: How is having a child going to change what we have now? Will we be more happy/ less happy? I have known people who regret the decision to have a child. Usually because they made the decision for the wrong reasons, but it does happen. But then, if you choose not to have a child, will you regret the decision when you are older, and it’s too late? There are some decisions that are bigger than just what you want.

  • Sorry to hear about your back pain. I was always dating guys that didn’t want kids so I was okay with not having them, but now that I’m with a guy that wants them (and am 35 with friends everywhere having them), my clock is definitely ticking. I just want to be in better footing financially before doing so.

    • I deal with the back pain. It is what it is. I definitely get wanting to be on a sound financial footing – that was always one of my non-negotiables when it came to kids.

  • florence

    Don’t do it unless you are sure you want to. It will change everything in your life – maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. If you’re happy with your life as it is, then keep on keepin’ on child-free. Also, consider if you liked babysitting when you were younger. Having kids is a lot like babysitting all the time. Obviously, it’s different because they are your kids, but the aspect of having to look after and help a small person (or persons) all the time remains. I love my daughter, and I think she’s made me a better person, but dang, it’s a lot of hard work! And you don’t get weekends off! :)

    • I definitely liked babysitting when I was a teenager, but the youngest I babysat for was a 2-year-old, so I don’t have a whole lot of experience when it comes to infants.

  • I’m in the same boat – a couple years off from 30, and not really sure if I want kids. On the other hand, what if I later decide I want to have kids and I can’t have one? Will the fear of missing out on a kid make me have a kid even though that shouldn’t be my driving motivation? It’s all very confusing. I tell myself I still have 4 years until I get to 32, which is when I, like you, hope to have some more clarity on the issue.
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  • Ivy

    We had the first one when I was 34 (after 4 years of IVFs and similar treatments) and the second at 37. So never take for granted when you are ready to have them that they will be ready to make an appearance. I wouldn’t say the earlier the better, but don’t wait for 35 if you think you’ll end up in the “yes” camp

    Thus said, it wasn’t an easy decision for us – we are not “kids people” – we don’t enjoy spending time with other people’s kids, we value our own adult time, we like travelling. Frankly, one of the big reasons we even started trying was peer pressure – all our friends started having kids, the get togethers got a different feel to them, and the conversations often turned to kids topics. It may sound strange to you, but it’s a very valid factor when you have a close circle of friends. The only friend we had without kids has now drifted out of our circle, and even in between friends, the degree of closeness is somewhat related to the proximity of our kids ages.

    I wouldn’t particularly worry about almost philosophical topics around good parenting and kids’ feelings about your feelings. Money at your income level shouldn’t be a deterrent either. Now aversion to change is another thing – it goes more closely to the heart of the problem – could you be happy and comfortable with (or without) kids. Maybe you can try to visualize the future (10-15 years from now, or even 25) both ways – think what you will be doing, what are you saving towards, what do you want to be able to show at the end of the road – and let that weigh in on your decision

    • I can understand the peer pressure part to a certain extent. As some of my friends start to have kids in school, they’re getting more “parent” friends, but so far we’re still staying friends. But a lot of our friends are older (like 50’s and 60’s) so they are either permanently childless or have kids that are in college or older, so we don’t feel a ton of pressure to “join the club”.
      I think the only reason money is really an issue is because it would change plans (postpone early retirement – or at least change what it might look like) – which I guess goes to the aversion to change aspect.

  • trudy

    Just a couple of thoughts –

    Female fertility goes into the bit bucket at about 35, so don’t wait too long if you decide you do want them. Those celebrities having kids in their 40s are using surrogates.

    The poor planet – just my thought that two kids per couple is max. It’s already at 130% of its carrying capacity.

    • I’ve heard that fertility on average goes downhill as you age – but I’ve always wondered how much genetics play a role in that. My grandmother was in her mid-30s – mid-40s when she had her kids, and she’s probably the relative that I resemble the most physically.

      If we do end up with kids, I can’t imagine having more than two.

      • I would agree that genetics play a strong role. I grew up in an Irish-Catholic community. Most of the women started having children very young. You were considered starting old if you waited until your late 20’s. That being said, “change of life” babies were ridiculously common. Women just assumed that after a certain age they were “going through the change” and no longer fertile, then… My Grandmother had my youngest uncle when she was 42. A good friend of mine was a “change of life” baby. So was his younger brother. Lol!
        Yes, fertility declines dramatically at 35, and goes downhill quickly from there. But I think part of the “ticking clock” has more to do with how much pressure society is putting on you, or how much you buy into the hype, than an actual biological response.

  • I am your age and in the same boat. I feel lke I would be happy with or without, but that my life would look very different either way.

    I found this essay and comments very interesting – I feel the same way 50/50.

  • Please don’t have kids if you can’t afford them. Because then that means that I am paying for them via my tax dollars.

    Personally, I think that it’s unlikely that I’ll choose to have kids. I don’t think that I have the right personality to be a parent. I’ve found that cats represent the upper limit of things I want to take care of. I find dogs too needy and imagine that children are much worse.

    If I had kids I would probably be Tiger mom style parent. My parents didn’t pull punches raising me, and I would pull substantially fewer when raising my children, because I would want them to be successful in life. Preferably, I’d like them to make it to the elusive top 1% or beyond.
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    • We wouldn’t even be considering kids if we weren’t absolutely sure that we could afford to care for them. It would certainly change our financial picture – early retirement might not happen in our 30’s – but not being able to afford them wouldn’t be in the picture.
      I don’t think I’d be Tiger style. I lived through that to a certain extent and it doesn’t make for the best long-term relationships in my experience.

  • I notice a lot of the commenters are discussing age, so I thought I’d throw in my two cents: I’m in my 20s, and my parents in their 70s. Yep, you read that correctly. As a child of an “older” set of parents, I think that I’ve benefited a lot from watching my parents age and retire successfully. And I think that having me around has kept my parents young at heart.

    (For the record, though, I should note that I’m adopted. So I can’t say anything about the biological basis of children/age.)
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    • Mr. PoP’s dad is in his mid-70’s – he was 45 when Mr. PoP was born – and it definitely kept him young at heart. Though having a wife 18 years his junior probably helped a lot with the staying young department, too!

  • Honestly there is no perfect time. There will always be that ‘thing’ you need to do/think about/whatever. Having a kid was the BEST thing we have ever done.We’re closer as a couple and it has brought our entire family together in ways I can’t describe. I had all the same worries as you but honestly you get pregnant and become so concerned with doing everything in your power to keep that little thing alive inside you nothing else matters. As for the kitty. I was also super worried bring a baby home to our spoiled kitten but the cat adjusted so well. We make sure to still give her attention and now that the baby is crawling and getting into everything her favorite thing to do is chase our kitty, and the cat loves playing with her to. You’ll always have unanswered questions. If you think you may want to, do it before it’s too late (not that 30’s is late) but don’t wait too long, you never know how long it may take you to get pregnant either!
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  • bf knows he wants to have kids. I’ve always known I would have kids someday, but the older I get the more comfortable I get with the lifestyle we have. I don’t necessarily feel like something is missing and I don’t have baby fever like a lot of my friends (I’m 30, bf is 43). I guess sometimes that makes me nervous I might not be the best parent.
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    • One of my friends who I now consider to be the best parent I know – she has two toddlers that are amazing! – had absolutely zero baby fever. They were so chill about being pregnant and getting prepared to have a kid. They did it all, it was just another thing though – not the only thing.
      In a way, I think that’s one of the reasons her kids are so awesome. They totally got incorporated into adult life from the get-go, and can go to stores without having freak outs, eat at restaurants without tantrums. And I always thought it was because the kids got incorporated into adult life not vice versa.

  • Wow!! You couldn’t have asked a better question to get responses! 😀

    My ex- and I didn’t have the kid until I was 32. Actually, we planned not to have children at all. I never was fond of children, and I (correctly) anticipated that I wouldn’t make a very good mother.

    I got pregnant because my best friend got pregnant. Keeping up with the Joneses, as it were. And because I realized that if I didn’t do it soon, I never would.

    Be aware that you will be branded with the term “elderly primapara,” and that some doctors can be very hostile toward women who choose to get pregnant in what they consider to be later life. Things may be better today, but 35 years ago finding a woman-friendly OB-GYN wasn’t all that easy.

    There are some huge advantages to having children in your thirties. Number one is that you’ve established your job, you have a home, you have a decent income, and if you’ve been married for awhile, there’s a good chance you’ll stay married until the kids are grown. And because you do have an income, you can afford to hire sitters. This means you can go out to dinner or a show more often and on fairly short notice.

    We also were able to afford to put our son up with adult sitters who lived in the neighborhood, rather than having to warehouse him in a daycare center during the day. This was much, much, MUCH better for him — I did try a daycare center close to my workplace, one that was billed as the best in the Valley, and it was a freaking horror show.

    Also when you’re a little older, you can afford to take the kid with you on vacations. It’s hard to be suave when you’re traveling with a kid… But it’s really wonderful to be able to take your child to new places. Often younger parents can’t.

    You might see if it’s possible for you to begin a regimen of physical therapy about the time you get pregnant, so your back might have some extra strengthening by the time the changes in your body put strain on the back and leg muscles.
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    • I didn’t think we would get this many responses, but I feel so lucky that we have. The different perspectives are invaluable.

      As for the physical therapy, I’ve been doing that for the last couple of years – but the main issue is a disc tear that the timeline on healing is something like “it might heal in 5 or 10 years or it might not ever heal”. And there doesn’t seem to be a heck of a lot I can do to make it heal.

  • raluca

    There’s one really easy way of finding out if you are ready to have kids. Spend more time with friends with kids. You will get to see the good and the bad and the smelly. You might find out that they are they are the best use of your time or that you that you never want them at all. Either decision is quite all right.

    • Ha, maybe I need to volunteer to babysit for friends for 1-1 time, since I think I probably don’t get the full experience when we go out and the little ones are tagging along in the stroller or something.

      • I have to say though, that even if your friend’s kids are disgusting little monsters, YOUR kids will be different. (And I’m not just saying that because when we go out we hear strangers telling each other that kids like mine make them want to have children. 😉 )
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  • Wow! Some great responses here. I have 17 year old twins and always knew that I’d want to be a dad. When we’d talk about this in client meetings (some people would actually involve me because of the financial aspect), my advice was always to avoid kids unless you know you want to parent. In our town most of the parents didn’t have children well into their 30’s, so we were young parents by comparison (had the twins at 28). We were WAY financially unstable in the first years.
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    • I can definitely see people talking about the decision process with their financial advisor! It would definitely impact the finances in a non-trivial manner!

  • Mrs. PoP, first off, I think it’s so great that you two are being so thoughtful in your consideration of this decision – it’s not one to take lightly! I had our first at 32, then 35, 37, and the fourth just before my 39th birthday. It does help us to stay young – we are more driven to stay healthy and in shape because we need to be able to keep up with these guys! I’ve always wanted kids, so I’m not sure I’d be much help there, but somebody told me one time that “If you have kids, you’ll never regret it, but if you don’t, you might regret it and you can’t go back.” Every couple is different, of course, but like Greg and Holly, our kids have brought us SO much joy. We wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s an amazing kind of love that surpasses anything you could feel here on earth. :-).
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  • Thanks, Laurie! I like that it makes you want to stay healthy and in shape to keep up with them! That would definitely go in the plus column!

  • Lara

    I wanted to have kids, not so much because I love kids, but because I love family. I have had very close relationships with my sister, mother, and one grandmother. I love how we pull together and watch out for each other. It’s something I want to keep going.

    As an introvert, I do find the chaos that children bring to be difficult and exhausting at times. But like anything, you find ways to cope. For example, the kids bickering in the back of the car drove me batty… we now listen to a lot of audiobooks. In some ways an extroverted child is easier to deal with because they want to spend a lot of time with friends or off involved with activities. My introvert just wants to be with me.

    By the way, thanks for recommending the book Quiet by Susan Cain a while ago. I just read it this weekend and really enjoyed the perspective it offered.

    • I’m so glad that you liked Quiet! It was so affirming to read it and hear all of the good parts about being introverted that aren’t celebrated enough. =)

  • I was just like you at one point. My Mom and I did not have a great relationship and I was determined I would not ever turn into her. My Dad worked all the time, and we were never close. For a long time I didn’t want kids. Then I got married to a great person who I knew would be a great Dad. We were on the fence for a while, then he wanted one, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t feel maternal. I don’t like many of the kids I meet. I certainly didn’t need to be a Mom to be fulfilled. Turning 30 made some sort of difference, and we didn’t start trying, but I was more open. I ended up getting pregnant when I was 32! That must be the magic age. I think what did it for me was looking 30 years ahead into the future. It made me kind of sad to see a life with no kid to share it with. You will love your own kid if you decide to have one, even if you never like anyone else’s. Pain and watching your body morph into a whale matters not at all when it’s all said and done. Most other kids still annoy the crap out of me, but mine is the best thing I ever did.
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    • It does seem like 32 is a magic age among the commenters here. Maybe it’s fate since that was my made-up deadline.
      Did you relationships with your parents change after you had your daughter? I’m not sure if kids would exacerbate strains or help erase them.

  • I think having Kitty POP is enough right? We rescued a dog about a year ago (she is so sweet) and now I wonder why we didn’t do it earlier before we got kids. No ripped clothing, talking back, unfinished and forgotten homeworks, an incredible mess in the kid’s room, what else?

    Well, OK, I must admit, it is fun now, but now I understand my parents. I think we are being punished for what we have ever done to our parents ourselves when we were kids.
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    • Kitty PoP is pretty awesome. As I was reading your comment, he just rolled up next to me on the couch and started purring in my ear.

  • My husband and I (both 27) agreed that we will have two kids before we got married. Neither of us is hungry to have a baby at this particular moment – we’re not “kid people” either – but like a commenter above said it’s more that we want to create family. Finances aren’t in our minds regarding this issue too much, other than we want to graduate first. I’d like to be married 5 years before giving birth, which would make us 29+. So for us I guess it’s a question more of timing than whether or not to at all. I wonder if “baby fever” will hit either one of us at some point, but in any case I don’t think it will be an emotional decision to start trying. I have more fear of missing out than fear of regret on this issue.
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    • I can definitely see wanting to graduate first. I know it’s been done by grad students, but I just imagine that would make everything so much more difficult!

  • I think you have a baby when you are ready. It’s not just financially , you can have all the money but mentally, you are not prepared for it. That could be worse. But based on our experience, all of your worries will seem ridiculous once you have laid your eyes on your baby the first time. But hey, whenever you’re ready. 😉
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    • But what does it mean to “be ready”? It’s not like we have a meat thermometer like in a turkey that’ll pop-out when our relationship and lives hit the right temperature. =)

      • Lucas

        Even if you are “ready” to make the choice to have kids, you are never completely ready for actually having kids, and I think that is what you are struggling with. You are never going to be ready for everything that having kids entails and it will transform your life as you are faced with the reality of how selfish you really are (ie when they are young you have to take care of someone who can’t give you anything back for all the work you are putting in).

        I am a much better person today because of my kids, but that change wasn’t always fun.

  • CF

    I’m pretty set on NOT having kids. I’ve never been interested in having kids and that hasn’t changed as I’ve gotten older. (Still time to change my mind though, haha).

    I found that one of the most telling way to test yourself is to just imagine your future self once in a while and day dream. I see a lot of different things, a lot of different goals, but I’ve never seen any children in the mix.

    Maybe it is selfish, but having gotten to where I am now, I’m not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to have kids.
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    • I don’t think it’s selfish at all. When I was younger, I was pretty convinced that I wouldn’t have kids, but as I’ve gotten older that hasn’t been nearly as static as I assumed it would be.

  • Lucas

    My wife has a herniated disk in her back and actually during pregnancy it was non existent as a problem. Your ligaments and everything loosen up and that helped her a lot. Picking up and bending for little kids has been harder, but the pregnancy itself wasn’t bad.

    We got married at 23/24 and started having kids at 25/26 (3 total now). I think we might have waiting a year more before kids, but overall we are very happy with where we are at right now. My wife and stayed home with our kids and that was the biggest “financial” change/choice, but other than that our kids haven’t really cost that much once you count in the $3600 personal exemption and $1000 child tax credit for each one. At this point our kids cost us about $500 a year each in food/clothing. yes that will increase but it is much less than most people claim or think.

    Obviously this is a personal choice, but if you want kids I think you should do it sooner than later.

    P.S the longer you wait the more likely birth defects are as well as needing medical assistance getting pregnant (especially if you have been on the pill for a long time) which purely financially speaking are big costs.

  • To answer your question, yes and no. My mom is a great Granny, and my daughter loves her, but we still have our basic core disagreement which is mainly about religion and the fact that I moved far away and “deserted” my family. That won’t go away unless I become a holy roller and move back to Kentucky. We try to stick to safe topics, and talking about my daughter is certainly one of those, so it gives us something to have a conversation about .
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  • nancy

    My experience was a surprise. I got pregnant after being told I almost for certain could not have children. I really didn’t appreciate children until I got pregnant. Then I had two. I can say hands down I would liquidate every last nickel I own for them. They are now 18 and 20 and the best years of my life were raising them. I can’t wait to be a grandma. We have been able to pay off our home, get through three years of college debt free, we have four cars we are maintaining and have paid off. We have a nice emergency fund and a healthy 401K. That is all secondary to tithing and taking care of our kids. It is really important to have a healthy relationship with your spouse. God bless.

    • Your kids sound like they are lucky to have a mom who has looked out for them so well. =) You’re far from the first person that I’ve known who has been told she probably couldn’t conceive, and then… whaddayaknow! … it’s a baby! And then another! All pleasant surprises (but surprises nonetheless) for the couples involved.

  • SS

    I just turned 34 and am 14 weeks pregnant with my first child. My husband and I have been married for 13 years and we are frugal financial people that love animals. For example, I have had a roth IRA since I was 21 and have owned a house since I was 22 and we are in the process of paying our principal down very quickly and could be done in 2 years. We were looking at buying a rental property 5 months ago seriously but where we live prices have increased quite a bit in the last 6 months. A foreclosed duplex is about $300,000 for example. When I turned 33 last February I started thinking about kids. My husband didn’t care, the decision was mine. My husband is now 37, the youngest of 9, and his mom is 80. Before turning 33, I did not want any kids but I started thinking about the future 15 or 20 years later. I have read a lot of articles about 35 being the age when it gets more diffcult and birth defects rise with the older you are. I am definetly more patient and responsible then when I was younger. Getting pregnant has always been a very big fear for mine. I became open to the possibility of having a baby about 10 months ago after turning 33 if it happened. My coworkers, friends, and family have kids but I have not been around babies that much. I do not regret my decision to be open to the possibility of having a babg and I am glad I am pregnant now. It has already changed my life in certain ways and financially to the point that we may not buy a rental property in the next few years, we are trying to save more, paying daycare will put a dent in our income, and we may not pay off our house in 2 years but if we had not been so frugal and financially responsible in the past, it would be a lot worse. I would read what you can and follow your heart. I have just started my adventure.

    • Good luck with your adventure! So when are you due? September? =) I can see how having a kid would definitely change your financial priorities a bit, but it sounds like you guys were off to an excellent start with your finances when you were young, so hopefully putting off the purchase of a rental for a few more years won’t be the end of the world with your finances.

      • SS

        I am due in the middle of September. I just wanted to mention I love following your blog and Kitty Pop.

        • Aww, thanks so much! I’ll have to get some more Kitty PoP pictures up since he’s been slacking in the modeling department lately.

          Congrats again on your pregnancy – I’ll try to send good vibes your way the whole month of September =)

  • […] my wife and I are not the only couple going through this thought process. However, it seems as though so many people have children without thinking of their financial […]

  • People kept telling me that kids would be expensive. We kept waiting and it never happened. There are loads of choices you can make to keep the costs down.

    Son is out of college and daughter is about to be…
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    • Not a bad problem to have. The costs aren’t #1 on our concerns, more just something to be aware of and prepare for the possibility of. =)

  • […] kids has become a hot topic within the personal finance blogosphere.  Bloggers like Planting our Pennies and The Frugal Path have been trying to decide whether or not having children is a good […]

  • These are all really good, important questions to ask. I really go in waves. Sometimes, I’m planning trips with my hubs and loving life and enjoying it being just the two of us. Then, I hold a friend’s baby, and I just can’t help but want my own. Then, I’m at another friend’s house and their child wakes up screaming, and I second guess it again. I am such a planner/worrier. I do have concerns that I will have problem conceiving, and I don’t want to wait too long. I also feel that the hubs’ education is never ending. If I wait until he’s all the way finished and making an income, I’ll be 35 or 36. That’s a bit too late for me if I decide to have more than 1. So, I’m not sure when we’ll pull the trigger. Honestly, for us, the main questions are just about when and if it can physically happen. Just from what I’ve read on your blog, I feel that you and Mr. Pop would make really amazing parents. You’re both so responsible and smart. I think you have a lot to offer to a child. Maybe you’ll get an extrovert that will bring out the parts of you that do enjoy interacting with others. Maybe you’ll get an introvert that will snuggle up with you and Mr. Pop on the couch and read. Either way, we’re all going to have to go through the spit and the puke, but like others have said, I think it will be worth it in the end.
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    • Aww, thanks Cat. I didn’t really grow up with the easiest childhood, so I definitely worry about how I would be as a parent. =/

      I think I’m like you though – some days it seems like a really good idea, and I imagine picking a year to start trying… but then others I’m just too afraid to take the leap for fear of screwing up what we’ve already got and love.

      How many years more of school/training does your hubs have in front of him? Does he have a specialty picked out?

  • Todd

    I am having this debate myself (from the male side of the question, which is obviously a different thing altogether). I scrolled through this whole thread hoping to find some good resources for the decision but as usual have just found people talking about a “feeling” or a “right time” or other amorphous considerations. And since no one is ever going to say “we had a kid but it’s miserable, we were much happier before and wish we hadn’t done it” because of the backlash, I always find personal testimony about it unreliable, unconvincing and unhelpful.

    One good source that I found very valuable in my own personal consideration of the question is the book “Why Have Children” by Christine Overall. It’s part of the Basic Bioethics series and applies scientific rigor, philosophical discussion and critical analysis to the decision whether or not to have children. I have found it very helpful.

  • Thanks for the book recommendation. That’s exactly the kind of resource I was hoping someone would recommend when I wrote the post.

    As for no one ever admitting they wished they hadn’t had kids, sadly – that’s not always the case – and that’s probably my biggest worry at potential parenthood. I know parents who have said (or implied) as much to their children (though perhaps not said it out in public) and it makes for a pretty miserable experience for everyone.

    What are your thoughts from the male side of the equation? Mr. PoP used to have more firm preferences on kids – his vanity was such that he wanted to be desired by a woman who wanted to have his kids. This (ironically) was definitely not me at the time we started dating. But he’s gotten to the point where he’s happy to have them if that’s what I want, but also perfectly happy to live life just with me. And the cat, of course.
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  • Sorry to hear about your car accident, You will not able to take the feelings till you will get your own baby. I think If you can concept baby, it will go well through regular visit to the Doctors chamber. The back pain during pregnancy, you may visit an expert physiotherapist to manage back pain.

    One of my aunty got an accident~ fallen from height and she got lumber disc prolapse and torn some of pelvic floor ligaments. She was unable to take child, after regular follow-up doctor’s chamber she got parent ,now she has 2 kids.

    Wish you good luck!!
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  • […] at Club Thrifty wrote a post responding to our question: Storks Everywhere: If/When To Have Kids in her post Having Kids, Is It Worth […]

  • Todd

    Coming back to this thread because I found this article that was so very relevant to my point:

  • Todd

    And some interesting debate on the article I just posted about at this site:

  • […] The accident was pretty straightforward. I stopped at a red light. The car behind me didn’t.  It didn’t end particularly well.  I had whiplash on the day of the accident, but have two lingering lower back issues that are going to stay with me for a very long time (perhaps indefinitely – which plays a roll in why I’m a bit afraid of the idea of pregnancy). […]