Q&A: Deciding to have a baby

Abby writes:

"As a baby-crazy late-thirty-something childless woman, I love your
blog.  My partner and I are talking about starting a family (well, I'm
talking and he isn't running out the room anymore).  His biggest fear (I
think) is that he is supporting his impoverished father and my job
situation is currently unstable (though I have plenty of earning power
if I weren't so damned picky).  I think he is also afraid of the
enormous disruption a child causes.  On the flip side, he is fantastic
with children and has a very strong sense of family.  So he has asked me
to help him figure out what he is signing up for if we abandon
contraception — he doesn't even know what questions to ask.  I'd love
to hear from you and your readers answers to any and all of the

1. How did you decide to take the plunge and start down the road to
children?  What did you do if you weren't both ready at the same time?
Are there any good resources for us to figure out how much the first
few years would cost (ex-child care: either I'll be earning bundles of
money or home with the baby)?  We aren't interested in going overboard
in the baby-industrial complex.  My understanding that with the child
tax credit, all costs other than child care net out to approximately
zero at first, but I could be totally wrong. 
3. Are there any good resources for people contemplating fatherhood of
the committed full-partner variety?  I've seen books on fatherhood
targeted to men who need help getting on board after a fait accompli,
but none for the potential father who wants to do everything "right"
when the time comes but wants to make sure he is prepared for what he is
signing up for. 

My attitude is that one can never be prepared, parenthood is one of
life's great mysteries, and I know the two of us are fully equipped to
handle the challenges life throws at us.  But that doesn't seem to
persuade him!"

This line really pinged my radar: "my job
situation is currently unstable (though I have plenty of earning power
if I weren't so damned picky)." I wonder if your partner isn't extremely concerned that when a baby comes you'll continue being extremely picky and he'll be left holding the entire financial bag for this child. Before you continue trying to convince him to have a baby, YOU need to be straight with yourself that YOU are ready to have a baby. Once you have a child, there is no more room for extremely picky. There isn't even any more room for moderately picky. You do whatever it takes to take care of your child. Whether that means getting up and going to a job you loathe every day, taking a load of warm puke in the eyes at 4 am, sleeping in three-hour chunks for two years–that's parenthood. You may have to do a job that you don't like. So unless you can show that you're absolutely ready (not just willing) to carry your share of the load, I doubt your partner is going to get on board with this.

So, to your specific questions.

I don't know how people get on the same page. It's a risky proposition to force one partner into it, so if you're both not ready I think you'd have to both promise to explore it more and then set a date to reopen discussions. Has anyone been in this situation? How did you resolve it?

I think any resources you find are going to be averaged across the country, which doesn't so much help you since child care costs vary so wildly. (I'm assuming you're in the USA since you mention child tax credits.) If your insurance covers the birth (and you have a normal vaginal or c-section with no complications and no NICU time or that's all covered by insurance), then your expenses are diapers and clothes, and formula if you can't or don't breastfeed fully. And then child care, if you go to work after maternity leave. Those costs vary so wildly–a good full-time nanny in NYC costs $600 a week (and some daycares are more than that), while a lovely home daycare situation in other parts of the country can cost $200 a week. Readers? What does child care cost where you live? And what expenses am I forgetting for a first year? (Assuming the crib, carseat, etc. are sunk costs and they have generous family and friends who give them a baby shower.)

I think the best resources are just hanging out with men who ahve children, who are good dads. Those guys will be honest about how being on call 24/7 is, the affect having a child has on your relationship, what shouldering the financial burden feels like, how pregnancy can be for a man, and all the other aspects. I don't know that there's a book out there that can really do it justice, because there are so many varied experiences that hearing it from one person can give him a skewed view. So have him ask his dad friends what it's really like, and then seek out more men to ask. Read dad blogs. Ask the guy in line at the grocery store with diapers in his cart.

I'd also like to recommend the work of Randi Buckley, who does a course for women about discovering if they really want to have a baby called Maybe Baby, in particular this post, "Afraid of Whom You Might Become in Motherhood." Some of the fears and ideas Randi works with with women might be helpful for your partner, too.

Readers? What's your advice? How can Abby help her partner get a real picture of what it's going to take to have a baby? Were you in a situation like this? How did you resolve it? And how much does childcare cost where you live?

72 thoughts on “Q&A: Deciding to have a baby”

  1. For a reality check, they can start asking people they know locally who have babies right now.Central Ohio, daycare cost me $9K a year fulltime. But my child is now in school so that is probably higher.
    Really look at your insurance plan, and know that they usually cover less/cost more over time. When I had my child maternity care was covered at 100%. Now it’s only covered at 80%, so that means paying an out of pocket max for the year particularly if you need a c-section. You might like to hope you will have an uncomplicated vaginal birth, but the reality is you just can’t bank on it. You could also have pregnancy complications like needing bedrest, or your child could have some health issues. Not trying to be Gloomy Gus here, just saying–know your insurance plan, and plan your out of pocket expenses accordingly. Should you feed formula and need one of the specialty ones for gastric or allergy reasons, those are a LOT more expensive. You should know if your plan will offer any assistance with that. It’s also worth asking other mothers at work what the support is like for breastfeeding mothers. Some places have a lip-service policy that it’s supported, without actually making any accomodations like private areas, flexible time for pumping, and a refrigerator (although you can get around that one with ice packs). Also there is the cost of a breast pump.
    Another cost of a child is the space it takes up. You may need a bigger place to live if you are maxed out in space now. The child’s belongings (furniture, clothes, toys, gifts you will be given) all take up space. You can save a lot of money on used items where possible, and you can hope to co-sleep, but co-sleeping is something you can’t bank on either. You just don’t know which baby you’ll get or how you and your partner will feel about it all. It’s better to have a little more space than a little less space, especially considering that you could even end up with twins. Just sayin’.
    Finally, examine your family situation. Do you have any living nearby? What assistance might they be able to give you if you run up against difficulty? It is much harder if you are marooned somewhere without any family; this was my situation and any childcare we used was paid childcare, period. But some family members want to assist with costs, and others are just supportive in other ways even if they can’t be around.
    It’s a huge leap, but it can be done. People with no planning and a surprise pregnancy make it work. I think you can research and plan yourself sick about it, but once you get a few reality checks in place about your circumstances, you should feel like you know if you’re ready or you want to wait a bit longer. If you do wait, definitely use the time to make whatever changes you think are needed. As hard as those can be, they are much harder when you are dealing with them on top of a baby. Good luck with the process!

  2. I went off birth control when we realized that if we had a surprise pregnancy our reaction would be happiness, not terror.We were financially stable (well, as financially stable as you really can be) and knew we wanted kids. So really, it was just deciding the timing for us.
    For our first, we went with a licensed in-home that cost $180/week in a medium-high cost of living area. Now with 3, we have a nanny for $515/week.
    Childbirth has gotten more expensive with each child (we now have 3) as healthcare costs have risen, and employers have gotten stingier with their subsidy. Baby #1 cost $120 out of pocket, while #3 cost $3800 out of pocket (all uncomplicated unmedicated vaginal hospital waterbirths attended by a Certified Nurse Midwife, so just about the cheapest hospital birth you can get, we also left after 24 hours with #2 and #3).
    Kids are expensive. Babies can be relatively cheap (excluding childcare), but as they get older, they get *way* more expensive. Hand-me-down clothes work for about the first 3/4 years. Plus shoes, OMG the amount we spend on quality shoes. Activities get expensive. The list goes on and on.
    Moxie zeroed in on it, but I’ll reiterate that something about how Abby writes about her income/job situation sets off major red flags for me. Not just on the financial front (earning tons of money or staying at home? that statement doesn’t really make sense to me), but as an indicator of temperament. I can’t quite put my finger on it, though.

  3. 1. For us, it was a timing thing. I was finishing up graduate school, my husband was in a pretty stable career place, and we were both 36 and didn’t want to wait longer. We’d been married for 9 years so had been thinking about it for a while, but didn’t really hit a point where we felt ready before that. I can’t help with the “what if you don’t agree” part because we were both on the same page.2. Let me disabuse you of the notion that the child tax credit nets the cost of having a child out to zero in any way. It doesn’t. Not even at first. Not even a little bit, frankly. Child care costs are extremely regional and vary quite a bit by type, so your best bet is to look around in your area at costs and at the types of child care providers you’re interested in. As examples, we started with an employer-sponsored daycare center when my son was 6mo and it was $800-900 per month. We’re at a Montessori preschool now and it’s $1200/month. The employer-sponsored daycare cost was below average for this area because they operate to break even, the Montessori school cost is about average for its type in this area. You didn’t talk about health insurance in your questions – this is a big area to think about. First, what your insurance will cover during pregnancy/birth and second, what a child will add onto your health insurance premiums. Our son adds $100/month onto our insurance premiums. There’s not a lot that babies really need in terms of “stuff” – place to sleep, food, clothes – but the costs do add up, especially when you figure in childcare and later preschool and other schooling costs.
    3. First, there’s no such thing as doing everything right with babies/kids. I agree with Moxie that he’s better off hanging out with men who have kids than trying to find a book on the topic. Any book I could recommend would really depend on how you both visualize your role and his role in parenting.

  4. @Amanda: oh, the cost of shoes! OMG. Unbelievable. My almost 3yo has gone through 3? 4? different sizes this year. He was in the last pair for ONE MONTH before needing a new size. Crazy.

  5. 1. Here’s the deal–once you have a kid, your entire universe will realign itself. Will you be less financially stable? Yes. Will you have more responsibilities, some that are impossible to qualify or quantify until your child is born? Yes. Will it be worth it despite all that? Yes. Unless your husband has a genuine aversion to the idea of having a kid and feels like he wouldn’t love the kid or would resent the kid taking up resources, I think he just has to take that leap of faith. Every potential parent does, regardless of circumstances.2. Seconding the check out health insurance advice. And if you have relatives out of driving distance, realize that three plane tickets will cost more than two–an annual or biannual expense for families. Just to give you an idea, my husband and I used to be making money hand over fist, and now we are bleeding out our savings to run our family with two small kids. I quit my full-time job to work part time at home, so that’s a large part of it.
    3. My husband liked this book. I thought it was very good too–better than many of the mom-oriented books. It looks like the author has written a few more too: http://www.amazon.com/The-Expectant-Father-Dads-Be/dp/0789210770/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y

  6. I can’t answer all your questions, but as far as costs go? Don’t stop your concerns about the cost of a child at the 2 year mark. My 2 year old is a heckuva a lot more expensive than my infant. You get lots of baby clothes at your shower, and because babies outgrow them so quickly you can always find baby clothes at thrift stores or consignment shops. And baby clothes are generally cheaper than bigger kid clothes when bought new anyway. With my 2 year old, we’re still paying for daycare & diapers just like we did when he was a baby, but now he needs sneakers and rain boots and snow boots, and a rain jacket and a fleece for cool days and a winter coat and hats and mittens and oh lord the grocery bill – he eats like an adult!Our saving grace is that our daycare is the top one in our town, and is a steal – I pay $300 a week for BOTH kids and it includes breakfast, lunch and snack for the big kid. I’d call around to a few daycare providers in your area and ask what they charge to get a feel for it

  7. When my husband and I were deciding to go from 2 kids to 3, we set a time frame to come back and make a decision and that worked out well.Formula costs can vary pretty wildly between powder, liquid and if you have to get something for sensitive tummies/allergies. When you stop buying forumla around age 1 it really feels like a pay raise.
    Same is true for diapers. 🙂
    And going from daycare to public school kindergarten.
    Then, you’re almost back to normal except you have big kid costs: school supplies, school clothes, glasses, birthday parties, etc.
    I’ve seen calculators online for figuring out how much it costs to go back to work (daycare, work clothes, gas +mileage on the car, lunches out, etc.) It is much more difficult to consider droppnig your baby off for daycare if you are going to a job that you don’t particularly like or believe in. You can look into whether your work offers a FSA to help with daycare costs – I think all it really does is lower your taxable income and let you pay for daycare with pre-tax dollars.

  8. Definitely talk to other recent parents–ideally with kids under the age of two. They can give you the real scoop on life changes.Daycare in the DC metro area for an infant is $1200 to $1800 a month.
    Don’t count on getting everything at the shower. You’ll probably have to outlay a few hundred dollars on things like a breast pump, car seat, various items. It takes a good amount of time to find them used. Also, your wardrobe can add up–maternity work wear, then next-size-up work wear when you go back to work.
    But it boils down to this: You’re in your late 30s, you say. You both seem to want kids. Have you had a pre-conception appointment with your OB? Can you bring DH? You may need to think long-term–in twenty years, are we more likely to regret having kids or not?–and take the plunge (or not). Time’s not on your side.

  9. For me the cost was largely lost wages. I had good health insurance, and got all the must haves second hand. But don’t neglect future costs, and by that I mean college as well. And as others have mentioned, the day-to-day expenses, while somewhat controllable, do go up as they age.As for timing, my philosophy is the sooner the better, per Raising Arizona (1987) “…every day we kept a child out of the world was a day he might later regret having missed.”
    Best wishes whatever you decide!

  10. If you have friends or relatives with kids who are a year or two older in the neighborhood, you can create a system where a lot of used clothing goes around and around until it wears out. Maybe not 6-year-old boy’s pants. Those knees go. But I wore a LOT of hand-me-downs from neighbors’ kids and even adult relatives until I was 18 or so. At some point, as a teenager, I even got hand-me-downs from two of my aunts! (They are each around 5’2″, I ended up at 5’8″.) I won’t lie–I hated it as a kid–but my parents didn’t give me a choice and it saved them a bundle of money.

  11. In Minneapolis day care is 285 a week for our toddler (was 317 a week for infant) in the uber hipster bilingual organic food cloth diaper center. We sacrifice for this big time but so far it’s been worth it. Outside of the day care thing I think babies/kids CAN be super expensive but don’t have to be. If you want to or have to you can find a lot of ways to make it more affordable (hand me downs, craigs list, goodwill, caring less what people think or how well your kids clothes match). Moxie is dead on about the working thing – you suck up a lot more abuse as a parent because you MUST support your child but in a way it can be nice because you care less about the indignities because they are for such a higher purpose (feeding your kid etc).When my husband and I got married neither of us wanted to have kids. But we were young, and around 26 or 27 I changed my mind. I spent a year trying to convince him I was serious, then we spent a year in marriage counseling trying to figure out if his reluctance was a true lack of desire or a set of fears that could be addressed. I had to figure out if I could give up my dream of motherhood if his answer was definately no. After a year in therapy he was feeling like he had changed his mind and wanted kids, but wanted some time to feel like the decision would “stick” and wasn’t just him getting caught up in the moment (I can be intense about things that I want). So I agreed to back off for one year and not bring it up and see if it stuck. Yay, it did! But he still wanted to wait a while. We compromised on 5 years, but after I fought and beat cancer I think he decided he wanted to do it sooner, and we did it after 3 1/2 years. Now all he says is how he wishes we’d done it sooner. He’s so happy and in love with our little girl it’s almost painful.
    We of course had the luxury of time since we were still in our 20s when I had my change of heart. But I would say that if your partner knows he wants kids, and there isn’t a serious reason not to now (unemployment, illness, being ridiculously young etc), sooner is better! It sounds like he needs some more concrete reasons, and I would encourage him to talk to older parents (those who had kids in their late 30s or 40s). The physical demands of parenting are serious, and the normal aches and pains of aging do not align well with needly little creatures (my 36 year old husband hasn’t been able to lift our daughter for 3 weeks now because of his bad back which sucks for all of us). Health and health care become more precarious with each year – and it is no joke that every year you wait it is harder to get pregnant and risks can increase (not a reason to have a child, but a reason not to wait for lack of a better reason). That would be the tack I would take if I were in your shoes.

  12. I wouldn’t use the child tax credit thing as a general rule, although it is probably true for some families. Rather than looking at last year’s taxes, consider a post-baby tax year. Once you have maxed out your FSA, dependent care FSA, spent more pre-tax dollars on health insurance, maybe a 529 plan, and if you have other major deductions like a mortgage or student loans, you might not have enough taxable income left to make full use of the child tax credit or the child and dependent care tax credit, and they are not fully refundable. It sounds like you could benefit from a formal financial planning session with a pro or just the two of you really sitting down and crunching the numbers.

  13. My husband and I were in a similar situation to Abby and her partner, but reversed: he wanted very much to have a child, and I was reluctant but gradually became more open to the idea. After two years of listening to him wax poetic about how wonderful it would be to start a family, I got caught up in his visions and agreed to get pregnant. Four years later, I feel it was the biggest mistake of my life. I love my daughter and take very good care of her, but if someone were to offer me a time machine and the opportunity to go back in time and undo it all, I would. In a heartbeat. Some people are not cut out to be parents, and unfortunately it took me having a child to realize I am one of them.I don’t know that the letter writer’s partner will wind up feeling the way I do, but I would recommend not pressuring him at all. Because if a baby comes along and turns life upside-down and Partner feels like he was coerced or guilted into it, he’s going to resent the hell out of Abby (and possibly the baby). The first year or so with a new baby is hard enough on a relationship without the added strain of one partner feeling like they were pressured into the situation by the other.
    This response is obviously colored by my own (bad) experience, but I’m just really uncomfortable with anyone trying to talk another person into having a child if that person isn’t sure about it. “You might love parenthood” isn’t enough when jumping into an irreversible situation.

  14. This is a tough one. My husband and I never planned to have kids, but I had a very surprising birth control failure at 38 and we decided to roll with it. I think we had an advantage over some of the more starry-eyed folks we know because we went into it expecting it to be really hard, but it was so much tougher than either of us could have imagined. We were pretty darn happy before our son came along, and I’m still mourning our old lives 2.5 years later. (This said, we really do adore our son, and things DO get easier as kids get older. We’re finding toddlerhood to be a huge improvement over infancy, and I expect things will continue to get better.)Don’t underestimate how hard it is to make a major, major lifestyle change like this when you’re getting close to 40 and have been used to a childless life for a long time. You also just don’t have the energy you had at, say, 24 (I sure don’t). My son didn’t sleep through the night for close to a year, and I was nearly psychotic with sleep deprivation. Also, don’t assume you’ll want to go back to work after your child is born! I thought I would, and I tried to go back, but quit after a month to stay home until my son was around 16 months old (we had financial issues that made returning to work necessary at that point). Now I’m quitting again and plan to be a SAHM until he’s in school. My priorities in life are so different than they used to be, and I never would have expected these feelings from mean old non-maternal me. 🙂 If you have preexisting financial responsibilities which preclude you being able to stay home if you really want to (ie, helping your FIL), you may find yourself in a very stressful situation.
    If your husband isn’t fully on board, think about how that may affect the split of the childcare workload, and possible resentment that may be felt after the massive life shift. Having a kid will test your relationship in ways you never thought possible and bring out all kinds of weirdness from your psyche.
    Good luck!

  15. My advice to both of you is to sit down and really think about if you want to be a parent vs if you just want to have a child. Because they are not the same thing. I feel like so many people I know have kids because they want a baby, and then it’s a huge slap in the face when they realize that not only have they never actually discussed parenting philosophies with their partner, but that they are on totally opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to parenting.

  16. Can you both live with this: Once you have a kid, everything else comes second. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been up for 24 straight hours and desperately need a shower just so you can feel better and have 20 minutes to yourself, and your newborn starts crying to be fed just as you start getting into the shower, will you resent the newborn or manage to suck it up (even if you are mumbling curses under your breath)? It’s not all about you anymore, and that can be hard to reconcile, especially after many decades of being able to focus on yourself–I was 34 for my first kid and 37 for the second, and it was really hard to get used to that earthshaking change,not only that I was *expected* to put the baby first but that I knew I would, whenever I had to.Another thing to think of: are you and your partner capable of bailing each other out? Both my husband and I take one for the team a LOT–it’s not our “turn” to do whatever parent duty but we do, because we have capacity and the other parent does not at that moment. And it took us until the second kid to learn this–the first couple years of parenthood put a LOT of strain on our relationship because we expected that everything would be 50-50 all the time. Ninety percent of the people I know are parents, and exactly ONE says that first year of parenthood was great for their marriage. For most of us, it’s a HUGE strain.
    As far as dad stuff, I like both Sweet Juniper and Cry It Out for dad blogs–both are stay at home dads and really thoughtful in their parenting. They’re both super crafty and creative, though, so don’t feel like you have to meet that standard!
    Also, I’d dig into why this is coming up now, when the clock is running down, especially if you want more than one child. Have you been with your partner a long time? If so, why now? Or is this a relatively new relationship? If so, then why him to have the baby conversation with? I knew I wanted kids since my 20s, so I made sure to discuss kids, even in the abstract, with anyone I was getting serious with because it would be a deal-breaker for a long-term commitment if he didn’t want them.
    And finally–you can never be 100 percent ready to have a child, because you can’t know what you’re in for. And you aren’t just signing up for a baby, you’re signing up for a 3.5 year old (read the Moxie archives for what THAT’S like), a kindergartener, a pre-teen, and a teenager.
    And regretful mother above, thanks for adding that perspective. It’s brave of you to acknowledge that.

  17. Ask day cares about costs. You really need to pick the ones you would actually consider using, and find out. I spend more than average but not more than a nanny. Like Moxie alluded to, many expenses are specific to your area and tolerance of parents.Make sure you understand a daycare vacation schedule. You will have to find care those off days if your daycare doesn’t follow a corporate schedule. I pay more for a daycare that does not leave me high and dry at Christmas for two whole weeks.
    Breast feeding can require support. If you’re really being detailed about every possible contingency, you may include lactation consultant, nursing bras, pump rentals, pump bottles, etc. It is easy from that side to think you can dismiss all gear as part of the baby industry, but some stuff is necessary or makes life better when it is hard. Like when you suffer extreme mastitis contracted while you nursed your three week old in the NICU because he contracted meningitis and you had cracked nipples in the hospital, aka the germ center.
    Nipple cream is also not optional extra.
    Private school. Moving to a better school district. These are things people actually do when they thought they never would.
    Write down all things you will never need. Then start asking your friends with kids about those things. You might find some frivolous stuff makes things better.
    Get on the list of friends with kids to take baby gear off their hands. People want that stuff out of the house. You can benefit, because it sounds like you sensibly don’t care if it is all new and matching. Keep abreast of recalls, though.
    Car seats. New cars. Depending on where you live, personal transportation changes. Fitting a car seat into a sports sedan can work, but many find it less than ideal. So, be realistic about the possibility of change.

  18. What a tough situation! I would echo what so many others here have said–you both need to be on board with this idea. I think you both really need to zero in on WHY you feel the way you do. Why do you want a child so badly? Are you just feeling an outside pressure (that biological clock is ticking!) or feel like that’s what you “should” do? Or is this something you know deep down inside is the right choice for you? And your husband needs to figure out why he’s reluctant. Is he reluctant because he doesn’t wants to give up his lifestyle for kids or because he just generally doesn’t care to have a child around? Or is he worried he won’t be a good dad or he can’t provide for his family? In other words, does he genuinely not want kids, or is there a fear or temporary situation holding him up right now? If it’s something temporary, you may be able to work together to move past it. I’d suggest in that case you consider talking to a marriage therapist who can help you talk through the issues. It can be really difficult to work through something complex like this, and having someone helping you focus and prodding you to speak freely can really make a difference. Good luck!

  19. My husband spent his life not wanting children. He has two and laughs at past self. To him, the kids are the best thing. He is a wonderful dad. Seeing this is a joy in my life. He cannot believe his fortune and how happy he is to have taken the risk.That said, his father doesn’t know what to do with a child. He is detached. He also didn’t want kids and got fixed after my husband was born without discussing it with his wife. WTF? He still acts like kids are strange.
    My point: wanting or not wanting kids isn’t the litmus test of a good parent. I would want to be with someone who is a team player and who is good at group decisions. I would want someone who puts himself aside when called on to do so. And, someone for whom I am willing to sacrifice without resentment. With that kind of person, a child is a joy.
    There is never enough money or time. You have to value love and sacrifice.
    This is the non practical part. You really cannot plan for exactly how this part goes.

  20. Another first-year cost to consider is maternity leave–ask around at work and find out what you get. Family Medical Leave Act gives you 12 weeks unpaid but workplaces vary greatly in what they offer on top of that. For my first baby I got 6 weeks paid, then added 3 weeks vacation and 3 weeks unpaid for a total of 12 weeks. For my second (different employer) I got 11 weeks paid and added 3 weeks vacation for a total of 14 weeks. That 3 weeks unpaid for my first was a huge cost; I was glad that I got so much paid time for my second because we could not have afforded me taking any unpaid time now.I agree with Moxie and the other commenters on taking a hard look at your job situation. I am very lucky that my husband is a stay at home dad. However, with baby #2 I would love to stay home and he would love to get back out in the workforce. But because my earning power is much greater than his, and my job comes with blue-chip benefits, I am stuck in a job I am not very happy in. If your job is currently providing a significant portion of your household income and/or benefits, then you may find that even if child care is very costly, you still need to keep working. If you honestly want being a SAHM to be an option, then you MUST discuss this with your partner and make sure he is OK with the idea of being the sole support of your family and his dad. And/or you need to slash all your living expenses right now and save the difference in anticipation.
    I would just add that no matter how many people he/you talk to, no matter how hard you think it will be to have a kid, it will be infinitely harder than you can possibly imagine. It will also be infinitely more rewarding than you can imagine, but the hardness of it will take you by surprise no matter how prepared you think you are.

  21. First of all I want to thank @regretful mama for posting – it’s an important perspective and one that isn’t often allowed to be heard.Second, something I haven’t seen anybody mention is that you should get into agreement on how far you will go to have a child (child, by the way – you may be baby crazy, but babyhood lasts a year or so; how do you feel about 4-year-olds? and 9-year-olds?) 😉 and what specifically you will or won’t do. Both of your limits need to be respected in this discussion. It may happen that you’ll stop birth control and be pregnant in a couple months…or, it may not. Will you just see what happens? Will you consider adoption? What sorts of treatments and how much money would be acceptable if you’re in an IF situation? I’ll share that while my husband and I were a year or two out of sync on timing initially, we both very much wanted a child. But we could also see how a life could be happy without children, and after a year of not getting pregnant after stopping BC, we had a serious sitdown about what was OK for us. These decisions are really, really personal. For us, we weren’t interested in adoption. No good reason except that for both of us, the biological experiment was a big part of what was interesting (and again, we could see our way to childless as well as bechilded happiness). We were also pretty clear that, while we would do *anything* for a child that already existed, neither of us was ok with the other risking their life, not even a tiny bit (AKA minor surgery), for a conception. So when it eventually transpired after a few tests of both of us that my husband makes antibodies to his own sperm, we knew that we were not going to try the experimental treatment that had a strong risk of hip necrosis, and we were not up for IVF. We decided we would try a couple of rounds of IUI, but no drugs; as it turned out, we conceived naturally before any of that happened, about 2 years after we started trying. But it was really really good that during that phase, we were on the same page about what we were up for. There are plenty of people on this site who have been to hell and back again to have a child, and would do it again. But it’s one of those things that can really stress a relationship.
    More on relationship stress – someone here made a post a while ago that has really stuck with me. I wish I could remember who! But the gist was, one thing that a couple gives up that is really important is “those weekends”. You know, the weekends where you sleep in, have a lot of sex, drift through brunch and go check out something fun and then go back to bed to sleep in again, pretty much lost in each other. They’re an amazing restorative for relationships and well, you most likely won’t be getting them for a while. For us, without family in the area that we trust to care for Mouse for more than a day, the first one we got was when we went away for our 10th anniversary when Mouse was 6. My folks flew down to take care of her for a weekend as their gift. It was awesome. And this past summer (at 8) she was old enough for sleepaway camp and wanted to go. We all had a great time – her at camp and us at home. This was all ok with us, but it does wear on you, and your relationship needs to be resilient in other ways to get through the tough times when “those weekends” aren’t coming. Take a hard look at whether yours is, before you start this.
    Financial data points: we live in SF, my daughter was born in April 2004. I had a 6-month maternity leave, mostly paid (years of saving up vacation and sick leave at a large company), and I definitely wanted to be a working mom. My hubs had the California family leave and definitely wanted to be a working dad. So we stacked those and then we put Mouse in a home daycare at 8 months, for $1500/month. Then a toddler daycare center for $1300/month. Then full-time preschool for only $900/month. Then public K, but aftercare still cost money. We switched to a private experimental school at second grade, so we’re back to that. Summer daycamps are $200/week at least as well; various activities (piano lessons, swimming, dance – all her choices) add a couple more thousand a year.

  22. Ok. It took my husband and I 11 years to decide to have a child. Our baby is 3.5 weeks old.IT IS NO JOKE.
    I write that because the tone of the original letter sounds a little flip. I know from being flippant – I sometimes do that to hide deep sadness. Check and see if you are doing that. It is ok to be sad about being in a different place than your partner about kids. I wanted a child more than my husband for a while. I was often really sad.
    Then I stopped wanting a child. Then I wanted one again.
    We worked through both of our hopes and fears about the future of our family. We talked and talked and talked. BUT, we didn’t take the jimmy off until we both, on our own, as whole inividuals, could look the other in the eye and say, I would rather have a child than not have one. That is as enthusiastic as we got. So we never felt SUPER SUPER psyched about it.
    If we had sought more support for what would happen if we didn’t have a baby, we may not have chosen to do this, even though we love our daughter SO much and we are grateful for her place in our family.
    So, here’s the deal, three weeks in from a couple who wasn’t sure but did it anyway:
    We are relying not on money, on external support, or on books, but on the strength of our partnership. We have had more heart wrenching conversations in the last few weeks than in all if our years together. The birth was a horror show. Our baby was in the NICU for 3 days. I am partially formula feeding. I have to have ANOTHER surgery to fix my botched 4th degree episiotomy. NOTHING has gone like I thought it would. We work work work EVERY day to find things in this newly aligned life that we recognize, and we are finding things! But I need him to help me find those things and he needs me. If I didn’t have a ROCK solid relationship with him, I would be sinking and drowning in regret.
    The moral of this story:
    If you would not jump off a cliff into a dark hole with rusty knives all down the walls of the hole and trust 100% that your partner will help you not die, DO NOT HAVE A CHILD RIGHT NOW. It would be different if you both were “baby crazy”. But you are not in that situation.
    If he hears you being flip, he may not trust that you will take the ENORMOUS life change that a baby would bring seriously.
    So, turn toward each other, see a couples counselor, and figure out if your partnership is strong enough to handle having a child when both if your aren’t totally on board with getting pregnant. If it is not, do the work to make it stronger.
    Stop trying to convince him – that just undermines his personhood. You don’t have that kind of control.

  23. @regretfulmother, ouch. So sorry. Not sure what to wish for for you, but something different one day that’s less painful.@Tetris – yep. “Good with kids” includes most golden retrievers, but if they won’t get up when your baby wakes for the 6th time in 5 hours, or your teenager calls looking for a ride at 3am, it kind of doesn’t matter.
    This makes me think a lot about the conversation Moxie sparked about jobs vs relationship. I understand your partner’s reluctance to take on the jobs – they’re life-changing and irrevocable, often in a hard way as discussed above – but this decision has to include the desire (or lack thereof) for the relationship. Are you both interested in being a parent to whoever shows up? Does he want to add ‘dad’ (she/’mom’) to his list of Who I Am?
    The financial cost matters, but not as much as the emotional and physical and spiritual cost. And there will be a cost both ways – it will be expensive if you don’t end up being a mother too.

  24. I don’t believe you can make this decision based on data. He can research until the cows come home, but there is really no preparing and no understanding of what this will be like. You eventually take the plunge and see what happens.If he knows this is important to you, you decide how long you can wait for him to decide. Then let him have unpressured time to get there– or not. It can certainly be a deal breaker for couples.

  25. If you would not jump off a cliff into a dark hole with rusty knives all down the walls of the hole and trust 100% that your partner will help you not die, DO NOT HAVE A CHILD RIGHT NOW.This made me laugh.
    I think my comment got eaten, but I just wanted to mention one thing: the OP uses “partner” in her post. If she and her partner are not married, I would take a really hard look at their health insurance situation, since not all employer-provided insurance will let you insure your domestic partner.
    (I am obsessed with health insurance these days. This is another weird facet of motherhood I didn’t anticipate.)

  26. Can you expand on, “supporting his impoverished father”? What exactly is he providing for his father–a little help with groceries, rides back and forth, home medical care, a house? Would he still be able to keep up those commitments with a child? Do you see yourself asking him to choose between the two? Have either of you explored other resources for his father to free up your husband if it comes to that? If this is his most personal reason for not becoming a father (because he is already a caregiver to a family member), you really need to confront him on it.I hope that you get the answer that you want as you bring these not-just-financial issues forward. Your post sounded a little vague and if you two are not communicating well now, it is going to make raising a child together harder. Like other posters have said, this will be a test of your partnership, extraordinaire.

  27. For me, having a baby was all about the long-term perspective. It wasn’t about getting to cuddle a baby in the present, but about knowing that if I did not have children I’d look back on my life and feel like something was missed and that I’d always wonder what it would have been like. I felt the same way about going from 1 to 2 kids (baby is 7 mos old), it was much more about knowing I’d feel like someone was missing from our family in the long term than it was about the day to day stuff with kids. My DH and I were pretty much on the same page with this stuff, though we did have to have some talks, especially about going from 1 to 2, and we had to be explicit about what things each of us would have to give up and for how long. And with both kids, the first few months were SO HARD and we wondered what the f**k we had done and why. It’s not for the faint of heart.My brother and his wife went through a similar situation — he wanted to have kids and she was not sure/did not. They now have a baby girl but it took a lot of therapy and patience. I think setting a deadline and just letting your partner go free to think it over, and not applying any pressure whatsoever during this time, not even bringing the subject up, can be healthy. Otherwise it’s very hard to avoid the dynamic that is “you made me do this.” If you just set a date and then let go, you can let him come to his peace on his own, and own whatever decision he makes.

  28. I agree with ‘My Kids Mom’, “there is no data you can analyze to make this decision”. You do not know what parenthood will be like until you get there. I know she was just talking about early expenses, but, this year we got to bail out my 20 year old step-daughter, and I don’t think that was in anyone’s planned budget. You just don’t really know what life will bring.I agree that he needs to come to this decision on his own. But, from one over-thinker to another, I never would have made it to parenthood without an accident.

  29. “My understanding that with the child tax credit, all costs other than child care net out to approximately zero at first, but I could be totally wrong.”Yes, you’re totally wrong. 😉
    Furthermore, even breastfeeding is not “free.” The IRS has recently ruled that nursing mothers can deduct the cost of breastfeeding supplies such as breast pumps, nipple cream, storage bags, etc. That’s at least one tacit acknowledgement that nursing has some real costs.

  30. There is a book for marriage called The Hard Questions: 100 Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do”I would recommend it, because it has some useful advice on a meaningful conversation about having kids, paying for kids, how you want to raise kids. They wrote it for engaged couples, but it really is about deciding to become a family and determine if you two are on the same page for all that could mean.
    It will help answer your question 1 together. You two are talking kids, and you could probably go ahead and tackle all the majors. They all play a part in the fabric of family life. It isn’t should I have a child. It is can we be a good family.

  31. To address the how do you both get on the same page: In my mind this includes financial/job stability as well. For us, we talked about long term plans… How did we see things being in 3, 5, or even 10 years. Once we had a similar mental picture, we looked at job/promotion plans in the short term. For example, I was getting ready to start a job with major reviews every 3 years for the first 6 years. For my own mental stability, we waited until I got through the first major review before starting. That review gave us the job security we needed in order to feel like we wouldn’t have a baby and then move.To echo a comment from above, we definitely had not budgeted for 3 tickets at this age (DD is 18mo), but one trip with her at 7 months taught us that it was worth our sanity to buy her a seat even though we didn’t have to.
    Good luck!

  32. My husband and I were both supremely ambivalent about having kids until we met each other. We were open to the idea, in a ‘the window is open now, will we live to regret not doing this?’ kind of way. In the end, our ages (he’s 42, I’m 34) and the fact that I have a fertility-limiting condition led us to a ‘go off BC and see what happens’ experiment. I imagined we would have a couple of years of trying, potentially followed by extensive medical intervention.I got pregnant the first month.
    That was hard to deal with. I wasn’t ready – I knew that as soon as the test turned positive. The first few months of my pregnancy were difficult, mentally – I was so scared and already mourning my awesomely fun life. Over the course of my pregnancy I managed to come around to what was happening, though I was never really able to imagine what life would be like once the baby arrived.
    Our baby is now 3.5 months old. He’s really, really awesome. I still have moments of wondering if we’ve done the right thing – but my old life seems like a million years ago and this is the new normal. My husband is really into being a dad – I offer this as encouragement that it is possible for an ambivalent potential dad to become an enthusiastic one when the kid arrived.
    It’s hard on our relationship, that is true. We’re both really tired, and having to be careful of each other’s feelings. Having said that, we’re both pitching in as much as we can and I don’t feel like I’m alone in the burden of caring for our son.
    I can’t offer useful commentary on costs as I’m in the UK and many things aren’t comparable (nationalised healthcare, statutory maternity leave) but holy hell, daycare is expensive. Everything else people have given us or we’ve gotten second-hand so far – but the biggest costs will hit when I go back to work.
    Way too long, my apologies. I wish you very good luck! We’re enjoying our adventure so far and I hope you do too.

  33. I think with costs hanging over peoples’ heads in the US I am amazed that even one child is born. I don’t know how people even begin to deal with that. I don’t know how you weigh the costs of having a baby, with a much harder to define intangible set of ‘facts’ about actually having your own real ‘person’ of a baby, not just a bundle of random costs and figures. My heart goes out to you.I would just like to point out some archived posts from askmoxie, I think they are http://www.askmoxie.org/2008/01/reader-help-for.html and http://www.askmoxie.org/2008/08/pqotw-why-do-parents-want-to-have-a-second-child.html
    These posts have some incredibly interesting and thought provoking thoughts on having children and might provide a counterbalance to a lot of factual advice here.
    Another thing that Moxie has talked about many many times, is that you don’t get pregnant and have both partners feeling totally psyched the whole time (or if you do you’re lucky!) It’s a lot of swings and roundabouts, where some days you think you made a great decision and other days you think you went crazy for a few minutes and now you’ve ruined your life.
    It all comes out in the wash. Especially if you are able to see how you and your partner have dealt with other difficult situations, which could be a barometer for dealing with extreme exhaustion and unpredictability. But it’s not some impossibility. Else, there would be no babies. Also there’s no shame in an only child, just because society pressures people to have more than one, doesn’t mean you have to. If you can only afford to have one, that’s ok, too. Best of luck in your decision making.

  34. One thing that really helped my husband was long-term planning. The thought of our kids going to university long after his retirement terrified him.Additionally, my mum always said, “there is no perfect time, there is only the best time for you.” I would look at long-term career/financial goals — are there serious advances that you will make in the next year or two that would be prevented by kids? That was huge in our decision making.

  35. Boy are there some things I wished I had known before I had my son……But let me pre-empt that by saying he is the absolute joy of my life. He is a total completion of me and my life without him would be unimaginably dull and uninspiring. He is the reason for every good thing I try to do now.
    However…..I wish someone had told me that although there was no way to prepare for children, I should take a long serious look at how my husband and I resolve conflict. Cause there will be lots of it. And much of it will occur at 3 am when I haven’t had more than 2 hours of consecutive sleep for months. I’m not proud of some of the arguments we’ve had, and we have certainly seen each other at our worst in the last year. But I’ve also seen a side of him I never knew existed, when he’s down on the floor playing with Squirmy, or helping me get him dressed, or a thousand other things he never did before.
    But….I wish someone had told me that I would lose some of my friends, that they would mysteriously vanish when I needed them most.
    I wish someone had told me that I wouldn’t have time to return phone calls, go thru my mail, or even eat without being interrupted constantly.
    I wish someone had told me that I wouldn’t get to finish a warm cup of coffee for 10 months.
    Do I sound bitter? I hope not. I don’t feel bitter, just tired!!!! and I used to look forward to things getting “easier” until I realized that they don’t….there are always challenges with parenthood, and maybe I just need to learn to be more adaptable, because whatever the current challenge is, it WILL CHANGE in about 2 weeks….
    And I’m just hoping that part of the advice you will get is the realistic stuff that no one wants to talk about. (except maybe on this website)

  36. On the topic of things getting easier – the way I usually put it is that they do indeed get less arduous, but they get proportionally more complicated. Depending which you prefer, that can seem easier or harder. To wit: I don’t have to carry my 8-year-old. I don’t even have to carry her gear anymore – she does that. But I do have to figure out ways to support requirements put on her by other allies (school!) and her interests in gear-generating fields that are totally new to me (circus skills!). I don’t have to get up at night with her unless she’s ill; I don’t have to get down on the ground to tie her shoes; I don’t have to give my body over to feeding her….but I do have to help her learn to manage her own schedule and commitments (practice and bedtime, etc.), answer really difficult bedtime questions, and navigate complicated social situations. Right now I’m trying to tape together a solution for her piano lesson next week because I’ve been asked to work through it; it’s not really optional that she go, and it’s not optional that I and Mr. C be at work then. So it’s just a bunch of decisions/arrangements to be made. But this is, for me, much easier than carrying her.

  37. We have probably the best daycare center in town, and it runs $110 (partially subsidized pre-K for 4-yr-olds) to $180 or so per week (infants). But if I read the letter correctly, the writer is not concerned about daycare costs–either she’ll have a lucrative job (she assumes) or she’ll not be paying for daycare.I found babies _relatively_ cheap, honestly. I was happy to use 90% hand-me-down clothes. I buy kids’ clothes in lots on craigslist, as I see things advertised that I can store for when they’re needed. I got hand-me-down toys, and family who gave toys, and….I budget a few hundred dollars a year for clothes and toys for US to buy. It works…because I shop sales/secondhand for clothes and shoes, and because I only buy one or two pairs of shoes per size, and because we are very judicious in what toys we are willing to buy. Our kid doesn’t have everything, but he has enough.
    Now…we bought a secondhand crib and a secondhand dresser/changing table, but those together might have cost us $200. I think I paid $50 or thereabouts for the secondhand pack-n-play. It wasn’t a pretty pattern, really, but it worked great. We bought a new rug from Ikea….and my in-laws gave us enough gift cards to cover a floor model of a Dutailer glider with ottoman. We bought a $300 breast pump, which was absolutely worth having, as I pumped every day for months when I went back to work. Our boy had only breast milk until he was 6 months old, and he kept drinking milk and nursing long past that mark….though I stopped pumping at some point, of course. But seriously, we got a good year’s worth of use out of that pump, and I expect to use it again with the child we’re expecting.
    Diapers were pricey. I got some cloth ones on craigslist, but we mostly relied on disposables (because our daycare required them, in the absence of a medical reason to use cloth.) I don’t recall what we spent, but we did feel like we were richer when that expense vanished. I don’t know if it was $20/week….but it was enough that it made a difference.
    We were blessed to receive most baby gear as hand-me-downs or as shower gifts, so we honestly didn’t spend a lot on that. (Other than the crib and dresser, I suppose. And the rug.) The thing is, having a baby prompted us also to get a nice camera (no iPhones then, still don’t have one) and a Flip video camera. Photography was once an interest of mine, and it was rekindled on having a photogenic subject, so I don’t know if that’s exactly a baby cost….it’s a hobby as well.
    Anyway, you might be able to get through kitting yourself out for < $1000 for everything. I think we spent more like $500, if I'm honest...because I was fresh out of grad school and still keen on Freecycle and Craigslist. And we were/are HAPPY with our secondhand items. Diapers are the real expense, in our experience. The thing is, it depends on how strapped you are, and how flexible you are. If you want lots of cute new things, you'll need cash (or generous family/friends). If you are flush, you won't notice the extra $15/wk for diapers/wipes/cream. If your kid gets 4 ear infections in the first year, you'll drop another hundred dollars (or more, if you don't have good insurance) on pediatrician's visits and remedies--analgesic or antibiotic. I had a healthy vaginal birth, a child whose worst health concern initially was mild jaundice and later was ear infections. I think that's your most *likely* outcome, too, but there's no knowing. Things will be wildly different if you're dealing with major medical or allergy-related issues. One more little thing: depending on where you live...you might find your heating bill a little or a lot more, when you start keeping the house at a temperature cozy for your infant to sleep without blankets through the night.

  38. The job thing bothers me as we’ll. it’s hard enough to leave your baby to go to a job you like. I think you should either count on staying home, or count on staying at the job you like. Perhaps this is your partner’s issue as s/he does not want to be financially responsible for the whole family plus his/her dad.Agree that tax credit doesn’t cover it. Also pre-tax daycare flex account limit doesn’t even cover 1/2 a year of daycare costs here in my affordable Midwest city.

  39. @Leah–Hang in there, hang in there, hang in there. I am SO proud of you (and I don’t even know you) for looking for shards of familiarity in the moonscape of your new life. You will find more and more. Honest.@OP: It took me years to be ok with the decision we made wholeheartedly to have kids. I missed my old life in a HUGE way. I still do, and kids are all in elementary school. So there’s that.
    We tried for years and it didn’t happen, so we thought and prayed and decided to remain open to the possibility but without heroic interventions (or any, really); we had tons of nieces and nephews and were happy being the cool aunt & uncle. For years I mourned that we didn’t decide to stay that way.
    There is lots of holding two ideas in your head at once. Do I think my kids are the greatest legacy I’ll leave the world? Absolutely. Am I still wondering if we made the right choice? You bet. Am I the mother I thought I’d be? Not even close. And that’s hard.
    Don’t feel pressured in to doing it. Our lives would have been wonderful in a totally different way without kids. Good luck making the decisions coming your way.

  40. IMO, as long as you are talking about your partnership in terms of “his and hers” instead of “us and we,” you have a way to go before you are ready for parenthood.Having a child and surviving parenthood *requires* you to be a team – one that isn’t focused on neatly dividing responsibilities and obligations into “mine and yours.”
    My red flag here: “He is supporting his impoverished father” and (my interpretation) “I *could* be contributing more financially but I don’t really feel like it.”
    There’s nothing like having a kid to drain you of your selfishness, but if you start out in a headspace where you’re already hedging back what you’re able to give to the partnership, you are in for a world of hurt when suddenly this tiny, relentlessly demanding person grabs ahold of your heart and drains you of every ounce of all you have.
    From Abby’s email, I can’t tell that she is all-in with her partner. It sounds like at the very least she isn’t contributing financially as much as she could, and it doesn’t sound like she considers supporting his father part of her responsibility to the partnership.
    That just doesn’t sound like a solid foundation for starting a family; I don’t think either of them are ready to become parents until they combine their priorities to one coherent union.

  41. Assorted thoughts.I did drag my DH to parenthood (again), though I did so (broadly speaking) before we married, as I told him having kids was absolutely non-negotiable. As he had two teenagers at the time from an earlier marriage, was very involved with them, and didn’t want to start over, we broke up over that (pre-engagement) but then — well 15 years later, here we are with two grown (step)kids and one little one in the house. I didn’t hesitate to do this b/c DH was already a great dad, and was making his own decision (to marry me or not). I wanted two kids, but it turns out I can compromise also, as the fertility treatments we went through and their costs … let’s just say it was enough.
    Here’s a short list of some of the bigger costs associated with our now-kindergartener:
    First 5 years: full-time childcare would have run about $1K/month; we used part-time, flexible scheduling (our employers’) and extended family’s generosity. But lest this sound like a cost-saving strategy, note that I cut my hours back by 25% in year 1 and ~12% in year 2, salary similarly, and that cost a LOT more than we saved on daycare (but bought valuable flexibility) — actually just my lost salary alone would have covered about e full years of f/t childcare. And with my employer anyone 75% time or more qualifies for benefits, or this would have cost us even (a lot) more.
    Adding DS to my health insurance cost $100/month.
    Our kid clothing and furniture have been cheap, hand-me-down, and minimalist, but we’ve probably spent $1k on carseats over DS’s lifetime (2 seats + 3 bases as an infant, 3 seats — 1 for grandma’s car (remember, extended family child care) — and now 2 booster seats.
    We added $500/year worth of life insurance on me and should have added more on DH (though he is not the breadwinner, so it’s not such a big deal), but he’s old, and expensive to insure.
    We paid about $3k to update our wills, though that probably reflects bad planning on our part (in retrospect we could have kept things simpler) and certainly reflects our more complex family situation (adult kids as well as a dependent kid).
    I care a lot more about traveling to see extended family regularly, and many are overseas, meaning we’re looking at a minimum of $3k per trip just to get to our destinations and back. Obviously those are a luxury, but a valued one and one we’ve been willing to cut back in other places to achieve.
    Beyond that and what others have said, I’d say the two big shockers to me are how little alone time I get as a mom even of just one kid. I’m an introvert who does best when I get let’s say 4 hours of time when no one is talking to me and I’m not sleeping or working. Ha! Hahahaha! Oh, that’s a good one. Being a WOHM has saved me, even though it violates the “… not working” bit. And schedules go from flexible and adaptable to tight and fixed … I can’t just roll home for dinner when I feel like it, or run late getting DS to his soccer game, or — you name it.
    So, those are my thoughts. Good luck getting on the same page, whichever one it may be.

  42. As one of the few men (only?) responding to this question, I can say that our situation was reversed: I was open to having a 2nd, and my wife was tentative. Our son is now 5.The idea of having a second was kind of crazy: we’re alone in this city (all of our family and close friends live elsewhere), we’re mostly financial stable but have no real emergency funds, and my wife suffered from horrendous postpartum after our first son was born. Having another wasn’t the worst idea, but it wasn’t the best in many ways, either.
    In part it was a question of time: both my wife and I recently turned 40. I come from a family with 4 kids, where as my wife is an only child. For me the idea of having just one, while probably better for our sanity, seemed… weird. Wrong? Something along those lines.
    Also, thinking far ahead (and probably kind of strange), I didn’t want my son to be alone and having to deal with things by himself when we died. Both of our parents are getting closer to that time and I can already see how being an only child weighs heavily on my wife. I wanted our son and his soon-to-be brother to still have a family when we’re gone.
    I don’t know how you get on the same page. We weren’t fully on the same page, but I think we were both being both empathetic and rational at the same time; we saw each other’s perspective and understood.
    So, yeah. We’re expecting our 2nd (another boy) and are both excited and nervous and overjoyed and apprehensive and OMGWTF all over the place, but it is what it is. I wouldn’t say this baby was planned, more “not prevented”. My wife really wasn’t 100% ready, but she too was thinking about time, and how it was just going to get riskier and risker the longer we waited. So we closed our eyes and stepped forward into the unpredictable.

  43. You know, I had NO idea what I was getting into when I decided to stop the birth control. My husband was sure he was ready to be a father, and he was right. He is a great father, and has been from day one. I confess to worrying about him when I was still pregnant (for reasons I won’t go into, but nothing shocking- just a little more partying than my 7 month pregnant self thought was appropriate). But from the minute our first child was born, he was all in. He’s made huge adjustments in his work and hobbies to be the kind of father he wants to be, and that seems to have come fairly naturally and easily for him.Me? Well, I was all in from the minute my first was born, too, but I had a much, much harder time adjusting to being a mother. I think it took me about a year to really feel comfortable in motherhood. Part of that is no doubt due to the fact that the physical demands on me were greater, but part of that is probably also due to the fact that I had no idea what to expect, and part of that is undoubtedly because our society is pretty crappy to mothers right now, what with the fact that someone always seems to be thinking modern mothers (or some subset of them) are doing it all wrong. I had to learn how to filter all that out. Now I am a very happy mother, and am so glad we had kids.
    The thing is, you definitely give things up when you have kids. Probably, it is better to be more ready for that than I was. But there is no way you’re going to really get it. You’ll think “we won’t be that kind of parent” until your kid shows up and demands that you will, in fact, be that kind of parent. I’ve stopped counting the number of things I do as a parent that I thought before kids that I’d never do.
    But you gain a lot, too. It is amazing watching kids grow and learn. It is amazing discovering how much love you have in you.
    I don’t know that you both have to be equally excited about the prospect of parenthood. But I think your first year will be A LOT easier if you are both ready for your life to turn upside down, even if you can’t predict how it will change.
    As for the money: we use a day care center, and we’re in San Diego. Our center starts at ~$1580/month for infants, and gradually decreases in cost until it is about $1150/month for pre-K. Now my oldest is in public kindergarten, but we pay ~$500/month for before and after care. And we’ll be paying roughly $1200/month for summer camps, I think. So yeah- the tax credit doesn’t come close to covering this. I have no idea how much we’ve spent on diapers, clothes, toys, and all that. A lot. And we’re saving for college, too. We’re lucky enough to be in a situation where the money is not a problem, but even so, our finances definitely became more constrained.
    I agree that Abby needs to do some thinking on her own to think about what her limits are financially and socially. Yes, day care is expensive, and you’ll feel it, even if you’re a high earner, particularly once you add in all the other costs. But staying at home will drastically change your financial standing, and also your social one- for better or for worse, it will change how the world views you. Of course, so will being a mom in the workforce. As I mentioned above, everyone has an opinion about how you should mother, and no matter what you do, someone will think you’re doing it wrong. In my opinion, the only way to come through that with your happiness intact is to be damn sure that how you’re mothering is the right way for you.
    Good luck figuring it all out. If you go for parenthood, it is a wild ride. A great ride, but a wild one.

  44. I also wanted to say to @regretful mother, I hope that you find your way to being more at peace with the turn your life has taken. I don’t presume AT ALL to know what is in your mind, and I don’t want to derail this discussion. But I wonder if maybe part of the problem is that you’re not cut out to be the kind of parent you think you should be, but you could be happy as a different type of parent. Our society has so many unspoken rules and unacknowledged narratives about parenthood and how parents are “supposed” to be. It is sometimes I hard to cut through all that and just accept the type of parents we are. I struggled with that early on, and I definitely felt disappointed in myself as a mother, particularly since my husband took so easily (and well) to fatherhood. My husband and my own mother eventually helped me see what I was good at as a mother, so clearly I came to a different place than you are at, and I do not want to downplay what you feel or imply that you “must” be happy as a parent. But I wonder if there is a way for you to get to a happier place, since you have many more years of motherhood ahead of you. Maybe Moxie could have a post sometime about not being the type of parent you expected/wanted to be. And maybe it would help you. Maybe it wouldn’t, but maybe it would.

  45. Tax Nerd Alert!Re: Child Tax Credit. Reading @z’s comment up there, i had a slightly different thought: If Abby earns “bundles of money”, she’ll likely be phased out of the CTC, which starts to go away at $110,000 AGI for Married Filing Jointly…but if her “partner” is not her legal husband, one of them would file as Single and the other as Head of Household (with the child as a dependent). The phase-out begins at $75,000 AGI then, which is certainly not poverty level and, depending on where you live, can be a terrific salary. However, in urban areas, a surprising number of solidly middle-class folks surpass this threshold. No credit for them.
    The CTC a mere $1000 at its highest, anyway, which, nothing to sneeze at, sure, but, in the grand scheme of parenting costs, isn’t a drop in the bucket, really. It’s rumored to be on the chopping block for future tax reforms, too, which means the credit itself could be reduced to $500, e.g., and/or the phase-out ranges could be made lower still, meaning fewer tax payers will qualify.
    Tax Geek Bonus Topic: Whoever claims the child won’t phase out of the added personal exemption, so there is a slight reduction of taxable income. See above, re: Nothing to sneeze at but, alas, nothing to retire on, either.

  46. ETA: There is no income phase out on personal exemptions for the current tax year. However, one may come back as a result of inevitable tax reforms. In the past, it started around $200K-ish HOH and $250K MFJ.(Apologies for making anyone’s eyes glaze over. Done now!)

  47. 1) if you have a financial advisor, talk to them about the costs and make a plan. If you don’t have one, get one now. We had to plan carefully for child three to be able to afford that, and then I had twins – the fifth person I called when we found out it was twins was our advisor. He made it possible, financially. Hard, but possible.2) @regretful, I have friends in your shoes, and I hope that you can get to something like the place one of them got to, where by the time the child was grown (off to college) it became a ‘I would do it again in a heartbeat despite all’ condition. It just took a really long time to get there, and said child needed to be not a dependent – the relationship value was strongest in the adult-to-adult phase, which fortunately is the rest of their lives. My mom’s feelings about having so many (7) kids are similar – she wouldn’t do it again when we were little, when we were teens she was sorry she had so many of us at all (not even the ‘love us anyway’ part was working) but when the last of us became adults everything clicked and she’d do ALL of it again, every last misery, including holding her 3 year old son in her arms while he died. Not everyone will get there, but I wanted you to have data points that a) you are solidly within normal range for people I consider good parents, b) it is possible for your feelings to change over time based on the age/stage of your kids. And they could change either direction, I’m sure, depending on conditions, and still be entirely normal. (My mom was hyperfertile, she was trying to have no kids and got 7 – she had an IUD in with me.)
    3) I’m a ‘any no is a no’ person. Consensus is required. But sometimes it is the stage the other person can’t relate to – mentoring, adopting older child, foster parenting, all may be more appealing than baby parenting. Worth a conversation, and worth a conversation similar to what people with IF have to do – decide if they want to raise a child together, or if they want to have THEIR child (genetic/gestational), regardless of impact/cost, and determine how much cost is worth it to get there.

  48. I second a lot of what’s been said here. I was older. We’d been planning to be ‘childfree’ for awhile. And then I hit the combo of hormone frenzy + bored with my career. (I still work full-time – just explaining the mindset I was in.)We were just in the ‘talking about it’ stage, but were careless with birth control *once* and … I guess we’re fertile turtles together. Anyway, my husband is a great dad and is totally in love with our 4yo. We are one and done and steps have been taken to ensure that.
    I felt pretty prepared – had close friends with kids and tried to really *listen* to their experiences and not make too many assumptions. A couple of things that still have really struck me, though, in addition to much of what’s been said previous:
    1) We are responsible for the whereabouts and care of this other person 24×7. We don’t have family nearby or close friends, so all of the childcare we get is care that we pay for, basically. And his sleep (getting to sleep) was insane until he turned *four* – which meant we never dared have a sitter at bedtime. I love my kid and miss him a lot when he’s gone (already have had the impulse to txt him stuff!), but, for instance, we are sending him to his pre-school (which will be open; hurray!) the day after Thanksgiving and spouse and I may go to a movie. I feel vaguely guilty about that, but…
    2) The money just continues to flow out the door. Childcare, clothes, extra classes and activities – I feel like I walk through life now saying: “yes, here’s my credit card, just take all my money.” It’s kind of fine, because we’re all introverts in my house and both our jobs are pretty demanding, so it’s not like we’d be out partying or something. But still. It’s amazingly expensive. (I’m in a high COL area.) And we really did resist the baby industrial complex and my kid is not a toy-crazy, acquisitive kid (thank god). (When he’s offered the chance to buy something with gift money, say, he says he wants to buy “orange juice.”) Nevertheless, the money goes out the door.
    3) I *always* feel like a new mom, and I always feel like all the other parents are in on the secret info that I’m completely clueless about. Yes, he’s 4. But I’ve never been a parent to 4-year-old before. So I’m all new to that. Working to be the kind of parent I want to be, trying to civilize my son, keeping track of his activities, making sure he’s got the opportunities I want him to have, and so on. That in itself still all feels like a full-time job, even though we have full-time childcare.

  49. OP here. Thanks for all of the food for thought. Some reactions/clarifications:@Leah hit the nail on the head — I get more and more flip when things are more and more important to me. It hadn’t occurred to me that my partner might not get that, but of course, there is no reason why he would.
    We are unmarried — about to celebrate our two years of knowing each other — and our finances are currently unmingled — we haven’t had the need so far. I feel completely committed to supporting his father (DP is supporting him lock, stock and barrel, sending ~25K/year to a country other than the US), and would do so if the situation required. He knows that, but also wants to be able to shoulder the responsibility himself. My suspicion is that the big barrier for him in all of this is the fear that he would have to choose between his father and his child. Given our combined human capital, commitment, and my familial resources, I can’t imagine any plausible scenario where that would happen, but I respect his fear.
    I’m an academic in a field with lots of non-academic opportunities (and therefore the academic salaries are also pretty handsome), but so far have made several job moves (before and after meeting DP) that prioritized academic freedom/higher calling/intellectual stimulation over salary, which has gotten me into a very marginal situation while I finish a book (due to be finished before any baby could appear). I actually have started to think that the world and I would both be happier if I poured my caring and drive into a family, but am perhaps going about it ham-handedly.
    DP is wonderful around kids — he lights up, is an enthusiastic playmate — and he says he wants them. His father is a phenomenal role model for invested fathering, too. But they had huge financial (among other things) traumas when DP was growing up, which makes him want to be absolutely certain he can provide well for his family.
    We don’t actually know many local friends with children — and his brothers and friends have not started families of their own. Spending time with my niece was a huge change in his confidence with very young children (I don’t think he had ever held an infant before). Hence the request for inferior sources of information, like books and blogs (and thanks for those, I will chase them down).
    Thanks for all your thoughts, and keep them coming if you have them! Also would love to hear from folks who have come out of poverty — how did you decide you were sufficiently “safe” to have kids?

  50. It just struck me as a re-read the OP questions that she seems really focussed on her partner, and figuring out whether or not he is ready for children. And also really focussed on the financial aspect of parenthood.My husband and I were in a similar situation. I thought I was ready, and he “might be ready”. We were financially stable and that wasn’t really a large concern. But I became preoccupied with CONVINCING him that he was ready….big mistake.
    I spent so much time trying to convince him that he was ready, that I didn’t spend enough time preparing myself.
    I was unprepared for the loneliness that staying at home with a baby brings. I was unprepared for how difficult it was for me to give up my job, and my financial freedom. I was unprepared for how disorganized my life was about to become. I was not expecting to get a baby that was ill with reflux for the first months of his life, and therefore had/has tremendous trouble sleeping. I was not expecting the enormous stress having a chronic situation like that would cause.
    Financial concerns turned out to be the least of my problems in parenthood. Desperately hoping that today would be the day Squirmy wouldn’t puke up all his food multiple times became the norm.
    My advice?? Yes, financial considerations are important. You need to figure out if you can really afford to have children, and that is definitely a discussion to have with your partner. Money is, of course, one of the main reasons why couples separate.
    But money issues/problems are usually signs of larger problems in a relationship. Differences of values and priorities. So really, whether its monetary issues, child rearing or countless other problems that come up in a relationship, how the OP and her partner deal with disagreements and conflict is the deal breaker.

  51. I have no real advice–I got pregnant and then decided to have a baby rather than the other way around (and even that wasn’t so much a decision as a lack of one–but that’s another story for a book). But I will mention, since no one else has, that when you consider costs, you should look to see if your health insurance will cover breast pumps. Mine did (under “Medical Equipment”), so that was one expense I didn’t have.I live in a Midwestern university town, and daycare for my baby is $910/month at a center, which is to say that it is akin to having another mortgage. I had to stop breastfeeding at 3.5 months due to supply issues. Formula is a total racket, and diapers are incredibly expensive.
    Other than that, though, I have not spent any money on baby stuff–but I couldn’t afford to even if I wanted to. I am thankful for gifts, hand-me-downs, and free stuff on Craigslist.
    Also, I would love to read the post Cloud recommends about whether or not you are or can be the kind of mother you want to be/expect to be.

  52. I haven’t had time to read all the comments, but they’re wonderful, and I really don’t have much to add. I will say though, that even when you are SURE you want to be a parent, it can throw you for a loop. I always wanted to be a SAHM, or at least work from home. I watched my mom do it, and she just loved it. After careful planning and a little bit of luck, I got my way, but … it’s so, so, so much harder than I ever thought, and my feelings are so much more ambivalent than I ever expected. I love my daughter, I love being with her, and I don’t think I’d change our situation even if I could. But I’m surprised at how much I don’t “love every minute” of it. And I am someone who’s actually ok with a good many of the jobs of parenting. It’s the relationship that’s been work. The love came very naturally and our bond was almost immediate, but while I couldn’t care less if I’m perfect at diapers or nursing or playing with Legos on the floor, my desire to discipline perfectly and never be a “mean” mom has run very harshly up against an anger I never expected I could feel for someone still so little, and a selfishness (WHY can’t I just read a book for five minutes?) I thought could be overcome more automatically.I also wanted to thank Charisse, both for mentioning IF (I haven’t had problems myself, but I’ve had friends who waited out their ambivalence about having kids only to end up with problems conceiving, and it’s heartbreaking to see), but also for this:
    “For us, without family in the area that we trust to care for Mouse for more than a day, the first one we got was when we went away for our 10th anniversary when Mouse was 6.”
    It’s off topic, but OMG, yes. I feel so weird sometimes that we won’t leave our 2-year old for more than three or four hours at a time when all our friends have been going on multiple overnights since their kids were infants, but … it’s just not feasible, both due to our childcare options and our kid’s personality. I don’t particularly mind it right now, but it can be very lonely, and it certainly does stress our relationship to never have more than a couple hours at a time to ourselves. I’m lucky my husband is more or less on the same page wrt leaving the kiddo. Otherwise, it could cause a much more significant strain.

  53. OP, raised in poverty here. The financial advisor is GOLD in that case. SERIOUSLY you should have one just to help with the stress of managing the historical stress about finances. Someone who is professionally designated to say ‘hey, you are in good shape here’ or ‘no, you need to save more or change your insurance strategy and do you have your will set up?’If you are by any chance in the CT to VA span of the US, please email me through my blog and I will send you my advisor’s contact information. He is one of the best in the country. (We lucked out, he was brand new when we found him.)

  54. Oh dear. I can’t not reply – I don’t think I’ve ever before agreed with so little that Moxie – and my lovely and thoughtful fellow-commenters – had to say. I feel immense affection reading the OP and instead of going to bed I am going to lecture her (alas, at length).Disclaimer: our six year old is the near-miraculous result of no 5 of 6 IVF cycles. So here goes:
    The line that pings *my* radar is OP’s very first sentence: “As a baby-crazy late-thirty-something childless woman….”
    Love, you don’t have the time to fanny around like this. What are you waiting for, approval from your accountant?
    There is NEVER a convenient time to have a baby, and it’s only because you’ve been lulled into a sense of false security because you can control when NOT to get pregnant that you think that you can programme when TO become pregnant to an appropriate time. Alas, it rarely works that way.
    Do you love your partner? Does he love you? Are you committed to being together, long term? Do you want to fulfill each other and help each other to be the best you can be? Brutally honestly, do you think he would make a good Dad?
    If the answer to all these questions is yes, then I think you should start trying to have a baby – and I hope that you are blessed with swift success. You will sort the finances out as you have to.
    My husband wasn’t sure – at all – whether he wanted a baby to disrupt our really rather terrific lives. I will never forget the evening when he told me he would be happy if it stayed just the two of us for ever. And how I looked my wonderful husband in the eye and told him that no, my life would not be complete with just us two – that I needed to be a parent to be whole human being.
    And so, uncertain as he was, he went with me. To a fifth cycle of IVF – done almost for the hell of it before we moved to adoption because at 39 (and with my own individual issues) my chances of conceiving – even with IVF – were 10%, but would plummet even further thereafter. Because he loved me and he understood that I needed this.
    And when our son was born the world shifted on its axis for me and for him and he moved to a place he could not even have imagined beforehand. He would lay down his life for our child and count it well spent. Fast forward six and a half years later, and this weekend saw him help our son rehearse for his role of King Herod in the school nativity play, coaching, inspiring, motivating. And fart jokes – of course.
    The ONLY reason he doesn’t go down on his knees to thank me for insisting that we continue trying for a family even when he was unsure is because he’s Scottish. I imagine North Americans would be the same.
    It is good to question stuff. No one should have children unthinkingly. It’s scary, especially when you look two, five years down the line. But ten years? Twenty? More? *You* know you need to be a parent. Do you think your husband’s father would be happy if he knew that concern for his welfare might mean his grandchildren would never be born?
    Maybe, as Moxie posits, it might be a good idea to shed a layer or two of your purist professional integrity and make as much dirty moolah as you can before your child/children arrive. I imagine it would reassure your partner that you were indeed taking things seriously, and respecting his utterly valid concern to care for his father.
    Don’t leave it so late to ‘convince’ your partner that the only routes open to you are the costly and harrowing ones of IVF and other alternative means of making a family (though I can vouch for their being just as valid. Just eye-wateringly expensive and emotionally grueling, on top of everything else).
    Ultimately, love, just go for it. You know you want to.

  55. I had my one and only child when I was 38, and I’m kind of with Alchemilla. I could be pouring my heart and soul into our marriage and our business instead of putting so much into my daughter right now, and of course there are times I wish I could put more into our marriage and our business, but thank God for that girl (now 5). And my husband, whom I convinced to have a child, wonderful and chronically depressed individual that he is, feels the same way.

  56. Oh, and the financial advisor can help you clear the ‘want to have kids but afraid of financial issues’ into ‘want to have kids’ AND ‘handling financial issues’ as two separate items, which then makes the decision making much simpler.

  57. Oy, didn’t mean to post that yet…I generally recommend going toward, not away. In this case, the ‘away’ is not about ‘kids’ but about ‘finances’ (or maybe that and some other ‘away’ items). And the ‘to’ is about kids.
    So there’s one ‘to’ and one ‘away’ between the partners. I recommend going toward (seeking, rather than avoiding), so maybe see if you can find a way ‘toward’ financial comfort, whether that’s committing to a job, or committing to make life work whatever happens, or setting a short-term goal to reach for, or what. But make it a ‘to’ not a ‘away from’ on *both* sides.
    That makes it possible to do the discussion on a respectful ground, meeting his ‘go to’ need and your ‘go to’ need both, rather than having his ‘go away from’ need blocking your ‘go to’ need. Discounting his underlying needs, or avoiding meeting yours are both fundamentally disrespectful. You end up dodging the real conversation. Some of which may actually be about mortality and honoring his responsibilities to his dad, and could also (if I read it correctly) tie in some to the hierarchy of some non-USian father-son dynamics (perhaps he needs his father’s advice on this, too).
    Did that make sense? Finding a way that you are both going toward a goal, rather than having avoidance blocking each other. That way you’re not seeking approval of your accountant to have kids, you’re seeking help from a financial professional to meet a financial comfort goal, and also proceeding toward a respectful decision on the parenting/childrearing/childbearing goal, both.
    (and yeah on the timelines, too – increased age has real implications)

  58. OP, I’m also an academic. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying not that you’re averse to working outside academia, but that so far you’ve been prioritizing an academic track. If that’s the case, it sounds to me like a good place to be in. You don’t have to have a certain amount in the bank to have a baby. It’s wise, I suppose, to decide what margin you’re comfortable with, but knowing you have more lucrative options is a good thing. FWIW, I had my child in grad school, which had its own pluses and minuses, I suppose, and I’m now working on my second, post PhD but pre TT. It’s a bit of a gamble, but then so is waiting — more of a gamble than I’d realized, as DH has some health problems cropping up that could potentially make conceiving difficult.My understanding is also that it’s not atypical to move back and forth between academic and non-academic careers. You might talk with someone in your grad school’s alumni division about networking with such folks.
    Best of luck.

  59. Totally with @Hedra on this one about the financial & underlying issues & what to do about it. The book ‘For Love or (and?) Money’ is great for understanding why and how people come to have very deep rooted feelings and approaches to money. I read the book long before I had a child (actually read it before we decided to combine some of our financial accounts), and it was very helpful in addressing my own stigma/concerns/approaches about money as well as understanding DH’s.The other thing I wanted to add is that I think that men typically feel a lot of pressure (thanks to long standing societal expectations) to ensure their family is well provided for. My DH had a lot of anxiety about this after DS was born. It was surprising to me as I’m typically the one bringing in the higher salary (which DH has no issues with), and was surprised about the pressure DH was feeling. To be honest, I think he was a bit surprised himself at the intensity of it. Financial counselor should help allay those fears and plan appropriately.
    And lastly, I agree with @MyKidsMom, @Julie, @Cloud & others that no amount of advance research on what it’s like can really prepare you. It’s just too surreal until you’re actually in it. You can get an idea of the potential issues (and I think it’s a good reality check), but you don’t know what kind of kid you’ll get and even if you know yourself well, you will probably be surprised about what does (and doesn’t) change or affect you.
    Good luck!

  60. Oh, and one last thing. In our case, DH had the running narrative in his head that he couldn’t/shouldn’t have kids thanks to some doctor. I suggested we visit his current cardiologist & ask the question point blank. We did it together, and the doctor replied ‘No, not a problem whatsoever. But you (finger pointing at me), How old are you?’Me: ”37″.
    Doc: “You, you’re the problem”. (Said with a very slight wry grin. ie it was the doctors way of reassuring that DH’s heart condition was nothing to worry about).
    All that to say that I think if you can, with the help of a financial planner put some real numbers together, and then a plan of how to do it, it can go a long way in alleviating your DP’s concerns, so that he is free enough to figure out if he really wants kids or not.

  61. (Didn’t read everything)I think it’s a blank check, essentially–the willingness to embark on something unknown. You are the person of last resort. The more you can embrace that ahead of time, the less overwhelming it seems, in my experience.
    But I’d vote for blogs as a sense of how things change. I only really know the mama blogs, but there should be plenty of good dad blogs out there.

  62. Great book about fatherhood is Home Game by Michael Lewis. My husband found it to be the only book that resonates with him ; that captures the feel of being a dad.Agree with the theme in the comments that you can never be prepared. It always strikes me a little oddly when middle (and up) class people look at having kids through a financial lens. There was a recent NY Times article about deciding not to have a kid because of the price tag. It rang very hollow to me. The financial question is just not where the action is. The question is simply do you both want kids. While I do understand that finances have particular potency in your situation, it might be interesting to force yourselves to grapple with that question without retreating to the safe territory of finances.
    I admire your courage in putting this question out there and wish you the best.

  63. If the only issue you really know of is your DP’s unwillingness over financial issues, then put together a financial plan. Start calling daycares to find which ones take infants at all (some start with only toddlers), and what the prices are per week. Get a worst case scenario. A nanny costs the most, a home care provider costs the least.Infants cost the most at daycare, and you must provide their diapers, wipes, formula or breast milk in bottles, and any cereals/jarred foods you want them to eat during the first year. Once they are toddlers, the price goes down a bit but the meals are included. Diapers and wipes you will provide until your child is potty trained.
    So cost these things out. I found that daycare cost $800/mo, formula $200, diapers are hazy now but you can find that ballpark information.
    Just for fun, double it in case you have twins.
    See which of you has the more affordable family plan for your insurance, as one of you will have to cover the baby.
    There is a certain amount of gear you must buy new but some you can buy used. There is a good book, Baby Bargains.
    At your age infertility would be suspected after 6 months of no pregnancy after unprotected sex; younger couples are supposed to give it a year. It wouldn’t hurt at all to get a consult just because; he can give a sperm sample and you can have bloodwork. While this does not address tubal issues, it’s an easy start since time is not on your side. Also, be prepared for them to treat you as Advanced Maternal Age since you are over 35. It mostly means they will ask you to have every prenatal test done on your pregnancy, and you will need to decide which ones you feel you can risk. I had my baby at 40, and boy can they pour on the doom.
    Anyway, your DP has reservations, so do what you can to address them. Maybe you also want to put a time limit on how long you will let this part go on before you just say, obviously we can’t reconcile this.
    Let us know how it goes!

  64. Abby:Your partner may find John Medina’s book “Brain Rules for Babies” useful. It is a summary of what is known about brain development, but it covers topics like what you guys are likely to fight about, and how to minimize the damaging effects on your relationship that will come with sleep deprivation and more/ unequal chores. And it sets out what is known to matter for healthy cognitive development (friendships, seeing parents reconcile after disagreements) and what doesn’t (baby Einstein gizmos, etc.)
    We had a tough birth but got lucky with an easy baby. 9 months in and our relationship is pretty strong. There are lots of chores and less room for friendship, adventures, or ambition. And it is physically taxing, even with an easy baby. That’s the reason not to wait that long.

  65. OK, having seen @Abby’s reply, honestly my reservations are put to rest. I think you’ll find academia a (relatively) friendly place to be a parent, and the scheduling flexibility it usually involves, ditto with benefits, a tremendous plus (though if your work involves a lot of travel, as is true for many of the faculty I work with, that may be less true; also, I am assuming based on your self-described pickiness that you are not at a second-tier state university; in that case forget everything I said about the pros of academia!). So I have no brilliant suggestions about getting your partner on board, but hope you’ll find useful information in the other comments for that, and absolutely agree with the cautionary notes about not waiting in the context of advanced maternal age (fellow infertile here).

  66. The first man I ever really wanted to marry told me when he dumped me that he didn’t feel like he could “give 100% to me.” I never knew what he meant by that but I always got the feeling that he thought he needed to reach some sort of pinnacle in his career/finances before he would feel comfortable starting a family.The next man I really wanted to marry actually wanted to marry me and start a family before I did. We married and he wanted both our kids before I thought I was 100% ready. He understood something that my ex- did not: there’s always another professional/financial pinnacle to reach.
    In my experience, financial planning would not have made a difference in either situation. You simply can’t plan for everything and you have to stay flexible to figure out new and different ways to live within your means no matter what life throws your way.

  67. Our first baby was not planned and we were surprised to find out that we were pregnant. It’s really mind blowing and we really don’t know what to do because we both know that we are not yet ready. Some of relatives and friends said that the fear we are feeling is quite normal and we don’t have to worry so much because it will fall into place. And so we pushed through with it and after a few months, we were both so excited to see the baby. We were so happy to receive the cute little blessing we had. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *