Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Pressure is On

When you date someone for a long time, people always ask you, "When are you going to get married?".  And finally on your wedding day, you naively believe the pressure is finally off, until an overzealous aunt pulls you off the dance floor to ask, "So, when are you having kids?".

When you finally have a baby you think, the pressure is definitely off now, I have hit my milestones.  But no.  Pretty soon, you are not only asked by others, but find yourself asking, "when will you have baby number two?".

There are several factors I have begun to weigh in terms of not only when, but if there will be a baby number two.

In the let's get this going camp:
1) Factor 1: I love me some babies - For me, call it hormones, or joy of motherhood, but I get sad that Evan is growing up so quickly.  I dread when he becomes so squirmy he doesn't want me to cuddle him and I am fairly convinced he will not let me kiss attack him when he is fifteen.  I know all ages have great things about them, but I really am enjoying the baby stage. 

2) Factor 2: Age- I am already 32 and the doctor said I can't even conceive until at least 8 months post baby, which means the absolute earliest I could have a kid would be when I am 34.  But I don't really want two kids under 2.  So I likely would be 35 when I have my second kid and I believe that automatically puts me in the high risk category.

3) Factor 3- Fibroids and Fertility- yes, the two F's that have pretty much ruled my life for the last couple of years are back.  As of my c-section, I didn't have any new fibroids, but some can sprout up because doctors believe that if you have fibroids once you will have them again.  Assuming I don't have fibroids, who knows how easy or hard it will be to get pregnant again.  This makes me more inclined to start earlier than I ideally would have wanted.  Plus, I will be several years older than my first time around.

And in the why do in eight months what you can do in three years or never camp:

1) Factor 1: Savings- Last week my husband and I met with a financial advisor to discuss saving for college.  She estimated that when Evan and our second kid will be in college, tuition and room and board, will be between $80k-$120k a year.  So if we wanted to pay for private school for our 2 kids and retire at 60, we would run out of money at 68.  Awesome.  

2) Factor 2: Housing- We live in a condo in the city and would need to move sooner if we had a second kid because two kids couldn't fit in Evan's room and the room downstairs is too far removed from the rest of the apartment to put an infant or a toddler.  Plus, I don't want to move while pregnant or with a newborn because I know I will be the one doing all the work to pack and can't imagine going house hunting with a toddler and a newborn.

3) Factor 3: Career- I am staying home with Evan but plan to either go back to a marketing job or switch careers, but only take a couple years off.  If I had a second baby, my re-entrance would be put on hold.  Which I would be fine with, except for the fact that we apparently can't retire if we pay for college.  I have given consideration to a complete change of careers since I can't work the type of hours I worked before and be the kind of mom I want to be.  So this factor is a little more fluid.

4) Factor 4: All eggs in one basket- if we just had one kid, it would be more likely that we could pay for his college, we would have more time to spend with him and encourage him on all his endeavors and we would have more financial freedom in our old age.

I read an article a couple weeks ago in Time about only children and how society just assumes that you will have a second child.  When the author told people she was only planning to have one, everyone, including the grocery check out woman told her, "you will change your mind."  Why does this stranger think she knows better than the woman herself, that she will want more kids?

It seems there will always be a societal pressure telling you that you aren't on the fast track or the right track for that matter.  Whether it is finding a boyfriend, getting engaged, having an appropriately long engagement, having your first child in an acceptable amount of time,  having a second kid, buying a house, signing kids up for the right preschools, activities, SAT prep courses.  It seems endless.  These societal conventions can be a nice road map to life, but what if you don't want to married, have kids, have multiple kids or live in the suburbs?  What if you don't care if you kid goes to a top college or college at all for that matter? Perhaps this is the new version of keeping up with the Joneses.  It isn't about fancy cars, lavish trips, or big houses anymore.  It is doing what is expected of you at the acceptable time.  Maybe that is why it has been hard for some many to see people in their age cohort get married and have kids when those aren't possibilities for themselves at that time.

Practically speaking, it makes sense to have one child, but emotionally speaking, I know I will have intense baby fever in a year or two.   We will see how I handle the internal and external pressure.