Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

Life as a Mom, A Homesteader, A Blogger and A Wife.

Can you have it all?

Related to the recent post about working versus stay at home Moms, I thought it might be interesting to talk about this whole phenomenon of women having children VERY late in life because they chose to have a career before a family. I get why a lot of women in this day and age chose first and foremost to pursue a successful career. They can make good money, lay down roots, but a home, save some money and so on. But what then happens when they wake up at 45 and decide they do want children afterall.

I cannot tell you how many times I almost stuck my foot in my mouth thinking that women at my IVF clinic where their with their daughters when they were actually the patient. My Mom would laugh that when she accompanied me people thought SHE was there for IVF. (She did, however, stick her foot in her mouth when announcing to a woman in the waiting room "Oh, I'm not the patient, I am way too old to have a baby." :D I know it sounds wildly inappropriate but it was kinda hysterical since she has 30 year old children.) The clinic has a cutoff age of 55 for IVF. Fifty-Freaking-Five!

So, am I the only one who sees a problem with this picture. I am not saying that it is necessary to start a family before you are 35, when you technically become of advanced maternal age. (I am now in my thirties and still intend on trying for more kids.) That being said, what about the fact that if you wait too long, when your child graduates from high school you might be retiring? What about the fact that birth defects and issues like Asperger's Syndrome and Autism greatly increase with advanced maternal age? What age is just too old?

Can women really have it all? Maybe the better question is should we want it all?

9 comments:

Lindsey 12:59 PM  

Kristen-

I can't pick a side here because I know each family and each situation is different so I can only speak for myself (and I don't have children yet)...

BUT... I do think it's important for women to go to college, get a degree and have something to fall back on if needed. I love my job and I love bringing in money to help with the bills and have extra luxuries sometimes. However, my dream has always been to stay at home when I have children. I never want to have to entrust the raising of my babies with someone else. I feel if I bring children into the world, I should raise them. I have never met a stay at home Mom who regrets her decision to stay home. Granted it's a very hard job and can be very lonely sometimes, for a mother, it's very rewarding. My Mom stayed home with me and my two sisters until we were in school and I'm so thankful that she did. She is too. I do understand though that in some situations Moms do have to work. Some Moms even want to work, but like I said, it's not my place to judge or say that there is only one way to raise a family.

As far as a cut-off age for pregnancy... again, I can't judge. However, I do think it's best for the mother and the baby if you are not too aged when you have children. There are far more health risks when older women are pregnant..for mom and baby. (If you want a number, I would say no babies after 45 but preferably before 35)I think it's sad when women put career first for years and then realize they want a family. To me, my career is important and rewarding, but nothing compared to the joy I will have when I can stay home and raise children. I also think it's important to be financially stable before having children. That is why I am working now, for a while, so that we will be ok financially when we decide to have children. It is worth giving up some luxuries in life to have children, while at the same time not having to struggle to survive. I personally want all the energy I can get when I'm raising young children instead of having to worry about being too old to keep up with them.

I guess the perfect situation is a mother working from home while taking care of her children! :) Again, this is all just my take on this, I don't mean to judge anyone or any situation.

Mich 2:27 PM  

Oprah did a show on this some time ago. The solution that she came to, and I agree with, is that you can have it all...just not at the same time.

I know every mother goes through the struggle, regardless. When I want everything NOW Chris has to remind me that I'm human and that something has to give. That's the key - something has to give.

I feel that some mothers are better off when they're young and energetic. I feel that other mothers are better off when they're older and wiser (more mature). You have to know your own wants and live that life. For the record, there were mothers on the Oprah episode I saw who regretted staying home. It's so very easy to lose yourself in your children. That's one of my personal fears.

As far as an age cut-off, phew, I don't know. I don't think I know enough about infertility to speak on that topic.

I went from being a working Mom to a SAHM overnight when I was laid off. I can attest to the fact that staying home is truly the hardest job I've had to date (if you do it well). I have a whole new respect for SAHMs now. Being a working mom ain't a walk in the park either. For me, I feel that I'm a better Mom when I'm working outside the home. That's not something I could have planned for before having children. I needed to experience being a Mom before I was able to make that decision.

Kristen 2:40 PM  

Mich - "I feel that some mothers are better off when they're young and energetic. I feel that other mothers are better off when they're older and wiser (more mature)." VERY WELL SAID! I totally agree with this one.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

OK...first on the can-we-have-it-all thing: I would say nope, we can't, not under the current definition, which includes family and career and friends and hobbies and perfect body and health and ... I could go on.

So for myself, I redefine it. I have my beautiful babies and family. I have friends, who I may not see as often as i wish, but they are there. I have a career I can go back to if I want. My career could be better if I shifted some of my focus away from my kids and friends and family. Or my friendships could be closer if i shifteed some energy away from my kids. Or maybe I could be a better mom if I didn't try to do work during the day.

I think we all need to find the balance that works for us and our families. And surprise surprise our balance statement NEVER looks exactly like anyone else's!

I know that I have found the right balance for me right now (which may change in the future) because right now, despite my personal ups and downs and my moments of frustration and my occasional sir-crazy feelings and that where-is-my-brain feeling, I would not want to change places with anyone.

I think menopause sort of takes care of the age limit, no?! That said, I think it is such a personal choice. I was so not ready to be a mom in my 20s. Now, in my 30s, I feel is the best time for ME. A know a 47 year old woman pregnant with twins and I think oh, man, you are going to be SO tired. You are going to be going out of your mind. Can you handle it??! In theory, if you are older and more established in your career, perhaps there is more disposable income and there is more money for
help.

I hope my girls have babies young though! For one, recent studies indicate that it is better for a career to take time off in the beginning ad not in the middle ad second, because I want to be around to see my grandkids! Since I was 35 when my girls were born, I could be 70 when my gkids are born! talk about NOT having energy!!

-anon J

Kristen 3:28 PM  

Thanks for the J, Anon J. Less confusion here we come. :D

Anonymous 11:21 PM  

I contend that you can be great at your job or a great mom but not both. You can be good, ok, or decent at both, but not great. So you choose. I spent 10 years on my professional career and left to be a SAHM and am having the time of my life. Sometimes I miss the camaraderie of work friends, and, I hate to admit this, but I do miss getting dressed up regularly, but the work...no way...or I should say, not when compared to my baby girl. I'll take story time at the library over client meetings any day of the week.

I've taken some flack from my career friends for this choice--they threw their kids in daycare as soon as they could--I just can't relate. Why would you want someone else kissing your baby's booboos and reading them books and watching them take their first steps? Why would you straddle them with such a profound sense of abandonment at such a young age (yes, studies support that statement)? And I'm not a sexist--I just think ONE parent should be at home. SAHDs are great. I mean, really, there are a million chances to reinvent yourself in your career but only once chance to raise your child...so don't f*%$ it up.

I say to my young friends--get educated, travel, party, and live it up! Then think about starting a family in your 30s. Everyone will be better for it. I see many young 20 something moms at all the mommy groups we belong to and most seem insecure, overwhelmed, disorganized, frustrated, and often in rocky, newer relationships. That sucks. Sorry kid.

As far as an age limit on carrying children, well, you just hope people use their best judgment. I wouldn't want anything made illegal, but I personally feel that 43 is a sensible, if not slightly extended, cutoff for fertility treatments. If a baby makes its way into your life naturally after that, well then God has spoken. Otherwise, maybe adopt?

Plant Girl 8:12 PM  

I read this when it was originally posted and walked away without commenting. But after coming back and reading some of the things that are said, I can't bite my tongue.

I think that every situation is different and no one should judge anyone else for the choices they make.

I choose to work for various reasons. Mainly because I'm a better parent because I have that adult outlet. I will never be suited to be a SAHM 100%. It makes me a better parent and a better scientist because I divide my time. I make sure to take time everyday with my child, to get "quality" time in with her. And when I work, I work hard because I need to get stuff done. So I think it's B.S. that you can't do both well. It's not easy to do both well, but you can do it. My list of accomplishments as a WAHM (in terms of my professional career) are something that I'm incredibly proud of.

I know many moms that do far less with their children that are SAHM's because they don't take 1-on-1 time with their kids, instead focusing on housework, the internet or whatever else catches their attention.

But I also work so that we can do things for our child -- I can afford to take her to the zoo whenever she wants to go, we can take her on vacations to see and explore new places, we will be able to spend money on camps and sports and whatever else she wants to pursue. We wouldn't be able to do that on 1 income. I was raised by a single parent and living on 1 income was tight. My mom couldn't afford for us to go on school trips, or participate in summer programs that weren't free. I want to be able to provide more for my children than that.

It's awesome if you can afford to have 1 parent stay at home, and you make that decision. But just because both parents work doesn't mean they shouldn't have children. Some of my best friends have their children in daycare and their children are flourishing. They're smart and well-adjusted and their parents are some of the best parents I know.

You can be older and a SAHM and still completely mess up your children. You can be young and work and have fantastic, well-behaved children. There is so much more that goes into how your children will turn out.

That's my 2 cents for the day. Take it or leave it.

MrsSpock 9:36 PM  

When I was staying at home, it was great, and it was hard. great because I didn't feel like I was dropping the ball at home and with my child, but hard because money was tight and I didn't feel like I had much power anymore. My husband practically cracked up over the pressure to support us alone.

Working FT now is great, and it's hard. Great because when we have $1100 in car repairs, $1300 in a water heater, and now an ice storm that has wrecked our roof and caused us to need a new one we know we can scrape by still. And I am using my intellectual powers and my nursing skills. But hard because I feel like I rarely see my son, he's constantly sick from day care, my house is a squalid mess, and the poor cat feels neglected.

So no, I don't think you can have it all.

But geez- 55??? It just feels like insanity to me. I feel pooped now trying to work and raise a family. I can't imagine how I would feel with an infant up all night 25 years from now.

Kristen 10:41 AM  

I am still on the fence about this issue all the way around. I think part of being a woman (let alone a Mom) is sacrifice. I don't think we can't technically have it all (work, family, friends, a bustling social life, clean house, full bank account, and on and on). Instead we do the best we can with what we've got.

Thank to you all for your frankness.

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Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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