Sunday, March 25, 2012

Starting a Family In Our Mid-to-Late 30s

I wanted to be a young mother. I had a idea that I would have both my kids before I was 30, and so I would have time to establish a career and be a young, energetic mom. That didn't work out. Really, thank goodness, because I spent the whole of my 20s with Voldemort, and while it was frustrating then I am thankful every day that he kept putting off the family starting stuff (definitely would have gotten in the way of philandering) until the end of that sad and distressing chapter came. I wanted to be a young parent like my parents were (only maybe slightly older, as they were 20 and that makes things a lot harder), so that I could raise my kids and still be young when they went off to college. I wanted young(ish) parenthood very badly.

Bryce also hoped to have children earlier, but that didn't work out either. So we both were able to enter into our second and for-keeps marriage with minimal complications from our previous lives. But it put us at a disadvantage, because we were getting married at 33 and 35, respectively. I had to adjust my thoughts to "I hope I can have my kids before I'm 35."

Fast forward to now, nearly 3 years later. I am turning 36 in just over a month, and my husband just turned 38. We will, hopefully, have at least one beautiful child by the time we are 40. If we are lucky. If we hit that elusive jackpot. But we are feeling...old. I realize that there are a lot of people who parent by choice (and like us, not by choice) far older than we are. But we are realizing every time we go out in public that a lot of parents are a hell of a lot younger than we are. Today, for example, we went out to breakfast at our favorite diner (best. homefries. ever.) and then for a drive, then to the library in a nearby village and a walk in same said village, and then to the grocery store. We saw countless young families, countless strollers. Our early spring has the flowers popping up, but apparently the babies have come fast and furious over the winter as well and are now showing their cute little faces all over town. But the babies didn't get us a little depressed. It was the parents. It was fact that these parents looked so young--and they probably were. A lot of parents in their mid-twenties. I ignored the ones who were younger (unless it was the girls in Target I saw last weekend, who were carting their babies around at 9:30 at night and looked like they were teenagers and had been at some point under the influence of something less than healthy, argh). We realized that these people are 10 years younger than us, at least, and they are so far ahead of the game. We realized that our children, when they finally come to us, will be born to the old parents. That we'll be on the playground with other parents who grew up on cell phones and have no attention span, and maybe even never owned a cassette tape. And never mind the fact that we figured out that if we luck out and get pregnant this year, that by the time our child is a freshman in high school we will be 50 and 52, respectively. My parents had kids in their 30s by then. I feel like we've jumped over an entire generation.

There are benefits to being an older parent. You are more secure financially. You have established your career. You are more stable. You have experienced more before parenthood. But I feel like so many of those things have been knocked down and out by infertility. Well, we were more secure financially, until we dropped an insane amount of money on treatments and associated costs, and can't even save up a nest egg for a downpayment on a bigger house or go on a fancy vacation to Napa because we need to be fiscally prepared for another go-round should we need it. Or if we want a sibling if we don't snag us some twin action. Bryce is pretty established in his career, which is great. Me, I didn't quite figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was in my thirties. And so I have been a teacher for 5 years now, but I have also been an editorial assistant, an editor/club manager, a curriculum coordinator, a freelance writer, an assistant account executive at a yellow pages advertising agency (worst. job. ever.), and an employee handbook specialist. And since leaving my job in children's publishing in Manhattan at 25, I have yet to regain my highest salary (Yeah, we teachers are SO overpaid and SO rolling in swank benefits at the taxpayers' expense despite our fancy degrees and expensive certifications). So, not so financially stable and not so established in my career, although I am definitely on my way to that point. Just in time to (hopefully) take maternity leave. That's good for the ole career, yessiree.

But, we are definitely more stable. We have an amazing relationship. We have the years of pain and bad experiences behind us (at least when it comes to marriage). We know what we like and what we don't, and we can fight for what we want without fear. And while our finances have taken a hit despite assistance, if we weren't at this point in our lives we wouldn't be able to afford all these cycles. We'd be a lot more limited in how much we could do to progress down this path. So that's a plus of planning for parenting with crow's feet.

We are grateful for all the positives of being where we are when we are. But we are also resentful of the negatives, and the added negatives that being plagued with infertility has given us. We didn't choose to be older parents. And, quite frankly, our particular infertility issues have nothing to do with getting closer to 40. I had my AMh levels tested recently and I am apparently stellar in that department. I do not have to worry about the ticking clock in that regard, at least. Lots of eggs in reserve; too bad the PCOS makes them uncooperative. So, while we are getting older and still have that little room that ought to have a crib in it by now, we can keep doing this if we need to. We won't be the oldest parents at the playground, I'm sure. As long as we are parents at the playground we can be happy, and just suck up the generational differences between us and the others. And hope that we aren't too set in our ways to adapt well to the changes that parenthood brings. And know that we are bringing the best of everything we've been through apart and together to our experience as parents.


  1. I can't believe I'm the only person commenting on this...I love reading what you write. I think you're insightful and practical and helpful. And I know what you mean about being the old parents: there comes a point when it feels kind of absurd to be doing something for the first time.

  2. Thank you! I appreciate your thoughts. (It's funny, I have a decent readership but very few comments, so thank you again!)