Info about having children

  1. Hi,

    I am not a nurse, but I am trying to decide if I should go back to school to become one. I work in the corporate world right now, with no health care experience.

    Another major decision I need to make is whether or not to have children. I am posting here because many of you have children. Most of my friends don't, or they have very small children.

    I am married, and 32 years old. I am reluctant to have children for many reasons, which I will not go into here. On the other hand, I think I do want children, and I am very confused.

    When I think about having children, there is one thing I can't get past. Nearly everyone I know who has children (unless the children are still very young) says the same thing. They say they love their kids, they would do anything for their kids, but if they had their lives to do over, they would remain childless. This is particularly true of people I know that have teenagers.

    One woman I know stuggled like me to decide, and decided not to have kids. I asked her if she regrets this, and she said no way. She said she's glad she didn't have any, although she loves kids.

    How did you all decide whether parenthood is for you? How hard is it to be a parent and a nurse? If I decide to have kids, I want them to be born before I start nursing school. I am afraid that if I wait until I finish school, it will be too late.

    Any insight would be appreciated.

  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   joeyrigor
    This article was in April 2002 Time magazine in Australia:

    Might make for some interestung reading!

    April 15, 2002

    Making Time For A Baby

    For years, women have been told they could wait until 40 or later to have babies. But a new book argues that's way too late

    Listen to a successful woman discuss her failure to bear a child, and the grief comes in layers of bitterness and regret. This was supposed to be the easy part, right? Not like getting into Harvard. Not like making partner. The baby was to be Mother Nature's gift. Anyone can do it; high school dropouts stroll through the mall with their babies in a Snugli. What can be so hard, especially for a Mistress of the Universe, with modern medical science devoted to resetting the biological clock? "I remember sitting in the clinic waiting room," recalls a woman who ran the infertility marathon, "and a woman--she was in her mid-40s and had tried everything to get pregnant--told me that one of the doctors had glanced at her chart and said, 'What are you doing here? You are wasting your time.' It was so cruel. She was holding out for that one last glimpse of hope. How horrible was it to shoot that hope down?"

    The manner was cold, but the message was clear--and devastating. "Those women who are at the top of their game could have had it all, children and career, if they wanted it," suggests Pamela Madsen, executive director of the American Infertility Association (A.I.A.). "The problem was, nobody told them the truth about their bodies." And the truth is that even the very best fertility experts have found that the hands of the clock will not be moved. Baby specialists can do a lot to help a 29-year-old whose tubes are blocked or a 32-year-old whose husband has a low sperm count. But for all the headlines about 45-year-old actresses giving birth, the fact is that "there's no promising therapy for age-related infertility," says Dr. Michael Soules, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and past president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). "There's certainly nothing on the horizon."

    This means, argues economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her new book, Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children (Talk Miramax Books), that many ambitious young women who also hope to have kids are heading down a bad piece of road if they think they can spend a decade establishing their careers and wait until 35 or beyond to establish their families. Even as more couples than ever seek infertility treatment--the number of procedures performed jumped 27% between 1996 and 1998--doctors are learning that the most effective treatment may be prevention, which in this case means knowledge. "But the fact that the biological clock is real is unwelcome news to my 24-year-old daughter," Hewlett observes, "and she's pretty typical."

    Women have been debating for a generation how best to balance work and home life, but somehow each new chapter starts a new fight, and Hewlett's book is no exception. Back in 1989, when Felice Schwartz discussed in the Harvard Business Review how to create more flexibility for career women with children (she never used the phrase Mommy Track herself), her proposals were called "dangerous" and "retrofeminist" because they could give corporations an excuse to derail women's careers. Slow down to start a family, the skeptics warned, and you run the risk that you will never catch up.

    And so, argues Hewlett, many women embraced a "male model" of single-minded career focus, and the result is "an epidemic of childlessness" among professional women. She conducted a national survey of 1,647 "high-achieving women," including 1,168 who earn in the top 10% of income of their age group or hold degrees in law or medicine, and another 479 who are highly educated but are no longer in the work force. What she learned shocked her: she found that 42% of high-achieving women in corporate America (defined as companies with 5,000 or more employees) were still childless after age 40. That figure rose to 49% for women who earn $100,000 or more. Many other women were able to have only one child because they started their families too late. "They've been making a lot of money," says Dr. David Adamson, a leading fertility specialist at Stanford University, "but it won't buy back the time."

    Recent Census data support Hewlett's research: childlessness has doubled in the past 20 years, so that 1 in 5 women between ages 40 and 44 is childless. For women that age and younger with graduate and professional degrees, the figure is 47%. This group certainly includes women for whom having children was never a priority: for them, the opening of the work force offered many new opportunities, including the chance to define success in realms other than motherhood. But Hewlett argues that many other women did not actually choose to be childless. When she asked women to recall their intentions at the time they were finishing college, Hewlett found that only 14% said that they definitely did not want to have children.

    For most women Hewlett interviewed, childlessness was more like what one called a "creeping nonchoice." Time passes, work is relentless. The travel, the hours--relationships are hard to sustain. By the time a woman is married and settled enough in her career to think of starting a family, it is all too often too late. "They go to a doctor, take a blood test and are told the game is over before it even begins," says A.I.A.'s Madsen. "They are shocked, devastated and angry." Women generally know their fertility declines with age; they just don't realize how much and how fast. According to the Centers for Disease Control, once a woman celebrates her 42nd birthday, the chances of her having a baby using her own eggs, even with advanced medical help, are less than 10%. At age 40, half of her eggs are chromosomally abnormal; by 42, that figure is 90%. "I go through Kleenex in my office like it's going out of style," says reproductive endocrinologist Michael Slowey in Englewood, N.J.

    Hewlett and her allies say they are just trying to correct the record in the face of widespread false optimism. Her survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 young women were confident of their ability to get pregnant into their 40s. Last fall the A.I.A. conducted a fertility-awareness survey on the women's website Out of the 12,524 respondents, only one answered all 15 questions correctly. Asked when fertility begins to decline, only 13% got it right (age 27); 39% thought it began to drop at 40. Asked how long couples should try to conceive on their own before seeking help, fully 42% answered 30 months. That is a dangerous combination: a couple that imagines fertility is no problem until age 40 and tries to get pregnant for 30 months before seeing a doctor is facing very long odds of ever becoming parents.

    In one sense, the confusion is understandable: it is only in the past 10 years that doctors themselves have discovered the limitations. "I remember being told by a number of doctors, 'Oh, you have plenty of time,' even when I was 38," says Claudia Morehead, 47, a California insurance lawyer who is finally pregnant, using donor eggs. Even among fertility specialists, "it was shocking to us that IVF didn't work so well after age 42," admits Dr. Sarah Berga, a reproductive endocrinologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "The early '90s, to my mind, was all about how shocked we were that we couldn't get past this barrier." But even as doctors began to try to get the word out, they ran into resistance of all kinds.

    One is simply how information is shared. Childlessness is a private sorrow; the miracle baby is an inevitable headline. "When you see these media stories hyping women in their late 40s having babies, it's with donor eggs," insists Stanford's Adamson, "but that is conveniently left out of the stories." The more aggressive infertility clinics have a financial incentive to hype the good news and bury the facts: a 45-year-old woman who has gone through seven cycles of IVF can easily spend $100,000 on treatment. But even at the best fertility clinics in the country, her chance of taking a baby home is in the single digits.

    In hopes of raising women's awareness, ASRM launched a modest $60,000 ad campaign last fall, with posters and brochures warning that factors like smoking, weight problems and sexually transmitted infections can all harm fertility. But the furor came with the fourth warning, a picture of a baby bottle shaped like an hourglass: "Advancing age decreases your ability to have children." The physicians viewed this as a public service, given the evidence of widespread confusion about the facts, but the group has come under fire for scaring women with an oversimplified message on a complex subject.

    "The implication is, 'I have to hurry up and have kids now or give up on ever having them,'" says Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. "And that is not true for the vast majority of women." Gandy, 48, had her first child at 39. "It was a choice on my part, but in most ways it really wasn't. It's not like you can create out of whole cloth a partner you want to have a family with and the economic and emotional circumstances that allow you to be a good parent. So to put pressure on young women to hurry up and have kids when they don't have those other factors in place really does a disservice to them and to their kids."

    To emphasize a woman's age above all other factors can be just one more piece of misleading information, Gandy suggests. "There are two people involved [in babymaking], and yet we're putting all the responsibility on women and implying that women are being selfish if they don't choose to have children early." She shares the concern that women will hear the research and see the ads and end up feeling it is so hard to strike a balance that it's futile to even try. "There is an antifeminist agenda that says we should go back to the 1950s," says Caryl Rivers, a journalism professor at Boston University. "The subliminal message is, 'Don't get too educated; don't get too successful or too ambitious.'"

    Allison Rosen, a clinical psychologist in New York City who has made it her mission to make sure her female patients know the fertility odds, disagrees. "This is not a case of male doctors' wanting to keep women barefoot and pregnant," she says. "You lay out the facts, and any particular individual woman can then make her choices." Madsen of A.I.A. argues that the biological imperative is there whether women know it or not. "I cringe when feminists say giving women reproductive knowledge is pressuring them to have a child," she says. "That's simply not true. Reproductive freedom is not just the ability not to have a child through birth control. It's the ability to have one if and when you want one."

    You can trace the struggle between hope and biology back to Genesis, when Abraham and Sarah gave thanks for the miracle that brought them their son in old age. "She was the first infertile woman," notes Zev Rosenwaks, the director of New York Presbyterian Hospital's infertility program. "It was so improbable that an allegedly menopausal woman could have a baby that her firstborn was named Isaac, which means 'to laugh.'" The miracle stories have fed the hope ever since, but so does wishful thinking. "It's tremendously comforting for a 34- or 36-year-old professional woman to imagine that she has time on her side," says Hewlett, which can make for resistance to hearing the truth.

    This is the heart of Hewlett's crusade: that it is essential for women to plan where they want to be at 45 and work backward, armed with the knowledge that the window for having children is narrower than they have been led to believe and that once it begins to swing shut, science can do little to pry it open. And Hewlett argues as well that employers and policymakers need to do more to help families make the balancing act work. "The greatest choice facing modern women is to freely choose to have both, a job and a family, and be supported and admired for it, not be seen as some overweening yuppie."

    As it happens, Hewlett knows from personal experience. She says she didn't set out to write about how hard it is for professional women to be moms. She planned to do a book celebrating women turning 50 at the millennium and to look at what forces had shaped their lives. Then she discovered, in interview after interview with college deans and opera divas, a cross section of successful women in various fields, that none of them had children--and few of them had chosen to be childless. Many blamed themselves for working too hard and waiting too long--and waking up to the truth too late. "When I talked to these women," she recalls, "their sense of loss was palpable."

    Hewlett had spent most of her professional life writing and lecturing on the need for business and government to develop more family-friendly workplaces; she has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. And she has had children and lost them and fought to have more. As a young Barnard professor with a toddler at home, she lost twins six months into her pregnancy: If only, she thought, I had taken time off from work, taken it easier. A year and a half later, she writes, she was turned down for tenure by an appointments committee that believed, in the words of one member, that she had "allowed childbearing to dilute my focus." Hewlett was lucky: she went on to have three more children, including Emma, to whom she gave birth at 51 using her own egg and infertility treatments. Hewlett says she understands "baby hunger."

    At least she understands it for women. Men, she argues, have an unfair advantage. "Nowadays," she says, "the rule of thumb seems to be that the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child. For men, the reverse is true. I found that only one-quarter of high-achieving men end up without kids. Men generally find that if they are successful, everything else follows naturally." But that view of men doesn't quite do justice to the challenges they face as well. Men too are working harder than ever; at the very moment that society sends the message to be more involved as fathers, the economy makes it harder--and Hewlett's prescription that women need to think about having their children younger leaves more men as primary breadwinners. They would be fathers as far as biology goes, but they wouldn't get much chance to be parents. "A lot of my friends who are men and have had families are now divorced," Stanford's Adamson admits. "When you ask them what happened, the vast majority will say, 'Well, I was never home. I was working all the time. I didn't pay enough attention to my family. I wish I had, but it's too late now.'"

    Hewlett still insists that men don't face the same "cruel choices" that women confront. "Men who find that they have no relationship with their adult kids at least have a second chance as grandfathers," she argues. "For women, childlessness represents a rolling loss into the future. It means having no children and no grandchildren." While her earlier books are full of policy prescriptions, this one is more personal. She salts the book with cautionary tales: women who were too threatening to the men they dated, too successful and preoccupied, too "predatory" to suit men who were looking for "nurturers." The voices are authentic but selective; taken together, it is easy to read certain passages and think she is calling for a retreat to home and hearth, where motherhood comes before every other role.

    Hewlett replies that she is simply trying to help women make wise choices based on good information. She is not proposing a return to the '50s, she says, or suggesting that women should head off to college to get their MRS. and then try to have children soon after graduation. "Late 20s is probably more realistic, because men are not ready to commit earlier than that. And the 20s still needs to be a decade of great personal growth." She recommends that women get their degrees, work hard at their first jobs--but then be prepared to plateau for a while and redirect their energy into their personal lives, with the intention of catching up professionally later. "You will make some compromises in your career. But you will catch up, reinvent yourself, when the time is right."

    The problem is that Hewlett's own research argues otherwise: in her book all of the examples of successful women who also have families gave birth in their 20s. These women may escape the fate of would-be mothers who waited too long, but they encounter a whole different set of obstacles when it comes to balancing work and family. Biology may be unforgiving, but so is corporate culture: those who voluntarily leave their career to raise children often find that the way back in is extremely difficult. Many in her survey said they felt forced out by inflexible bosses; two-thirds say they wish they could return to the work force.

    Much would have to change in the typical workplace for parents to be able to downshift temporarily and then resume their pace as their children grew older. Hewlett hopes that the war for talent will inspire corporations to adopt more family-friendly policies in order to attract and maintain the most talented parents, whether male or female. Many of her policy recommendations, however, are unlikely to be enacted anytime soon: mandatory paid parental leave; official "career breaks" like the generous policy at IBM that grants workers up to three years' leave with the guarantee of return to the same or a similar job; a new Fair Labor Standards Act that would discourage 80-hour workweeks by making all but the very top executives eligible for overtime pay.

    Hewlett calls herself a feminist, but she has often crossed swords with feminists who, she charges, are so concerned with reproductive choice that they neglect the needs of women who choose to be mothers. In the history of the family, she notes, it is a very recent development for women to have control over childbearing, thanks to better health care and birth control. But there's an ironic twist now. "In just 30 years, we've gone from fearing our fertility to squandering it--and very unwittingly." The decision of whether to have a child will always be one of the most important anyone makes; the challenge is not allowing time and biology to make it for them.
  4. by   bassbird
    The decision you have to make is a hard one, but you and your husband will need to make it together.

    I am 43 years old, married for 21 1/2 years now, and have no children. People still say to me "when are you going to have kids?". Maybe that will stop when I hit 50. :chuckle

    There were a number of reasons we chose not to have kids, and I have not regretted it. I have many friends who have had children and are extremely happy that they chose to. I also know people who had children and regret it.

    Like I say, this is a personal decision that only you and your husband can make. Do think it through because kids are forever. Be sure you are willing to give them your time and love. It is really sad when I see kids who are really not given these two things, and I see it way too often.

    On the other hand, just because you do give time and love to your kids, realize that your kids might not "turn out" the way you would like them to. My sister has the "mother-daughter" conflict going on right now, and I try to reassure her that things should resolve once my neice is older. (fingers crossed)

    I give you credit for really thinking about your decision because it will affect the rest of your life, and if you decide to have children, their life too.

    Good luck with your decision and with nursing school.

  5. by   semstr
    There are also people who wanted children and couldn't have them! And regret they didn't start earlier on, because now they are too old to adopt.
    Take care, Renee
  6. by   Jenny P
    Grace, you sound as though you are hearing the clock ticking away and you are worried about both your career choice and your desire (or not) for having children.

    I always wanted to be a nurse; and, when I was young; I always wanted to be a Mom. When I was 21, I was told I'd have to be on a med for the rest of my life which was not safe for pregnancy; so I'd planned to be "married to my career". Along came my Hubby and changed THAT idea; and he was okay with the idea that we wouldn't ever have kids. But when I was 30 and was told that I could have kids if I was off the meds for the 1st trimester (which also meant not working, driving, etc. during that time); my hubby and I sat down and had a long discussion and then decided to try. Our son was planned; our daughter was an OOOPS! The doctors were very forthright with info (both pro and con) about the 2nd pregnancy; and we decided to go through with it. Both of our kids are now young adults. We have had many heartaches and also much joy because of them. Our lives will never be the same because of them. We have travelled a few roads that we never wanted (ie: our son was into drugs and even ended up in prison at one point). Would I regret having kids because of it? No, not for a minute. Did I ever expect life would be like this? Absolutely not.

    The reason that I'm telling you this is that parenthood is a DUAL decision in a marriage. There are many marriages that don't survive children; just as there are many marriages that don't survive career changes; infertility; or chronic illness. I personally could not have been a single parent; I needed my hubby to lean on during the tough times.

    I cannot imagine any other life for me looking back at the route I've travelled. Sure, there are many goals I haven't accomplished yet; but in everything I have done; I followed my heart (and my husbands') and have always been happy with my choices.

    Follow your heart in your choices and you will pick the right path for you.
    Jenny P
  7. by   Enright
    My husband and I are childfree by choice, have been married for 16 years and we have no regrets. We both had health issues we didn't want to pass on and we were already older when we got married.

    Having children should be a well considered choice. I've been hounded about this my entire adult life, subject to pressure you wouldn't dream of putting anyone you cared for through. Contrary to popular sentiment, those who decide not to have kids are not necessarily more selfish or shallow....we don't spend lavishly or indulge in any whim. Many of us chose work that we enjoy rather than having to bring home a certain amount to support a larger # of people. My husband and I have been able to pursue careers we would not have been able to afford if we had children. We both like quiet, adult pursuits and neither of us enjoy children. We'd have been crummy parents and we know it.

    I wish you well in this decision but do make it yours...not your family's, friends', churchs' or anyone elses.
  8. by   pkmom
    I must agree, this is a decision for both of you. I didn't get to decide, really, when to be a parent, it just happened when I didn't think it would and we were caught by surprise. My son is such a blessing, I can't remember what my life was like before him, but now I think it must have been really boring. I have grown so much because of him and the sacrifices I have made for him are more than worth it. I'm sure things will be trying when he gets older, but that's the spice of life, some is sweet and some is bitter, but its better than a bland life IMO.
  9. by   flopmingale
    I agree with the other posters, it is a very personal decision. I also agree with many other points....I am a better person because I am a mother, I don't know if I would do it again if given the chance (it's the hardest job you'll EVER have) and I can't begin to think of life without my child. I think it is one of those things that no one can answer for you. And maybe one that you will never be 100% sure you made the right choice. As far as nursing is concerned, I realized it would not be a sacrifice I wanted to make until my child was a certain age. I kept a very boring but stable job for many years in order to be there for the school plays, the conferences, homework, etc. I really don't know how it would all get done working hospital shifts. My mother is a nurse as well and I vividly remember having too many thanksgiving and christmas dinners at her hospital cafeteria! We knew most times not to expect her home on holidays. I suppose it might be a different situation if the other parent were very involved....??? I am glad I don't have to struggle anymore with those decisions! Good luck to you, in whatever path you choose.
  10. by   aimeee
    I was closing on 30 when I had my first child. My husband was the one who was anxious to start a family...I had mixed feelings but figured it was time to go ahead. It was a tremendous adjustment but I have no regrets. I left my business career behind to be a full time mom because it didn't seem right to have my baby spend all her time in day care. When my son was born I decided to work toward to new career in nursing. I took a couple classes at a time, getting all the prereqs done, so that my entry into nursing school coincided with his entry into school.

    Having children changed my life completely. For quite a few years I sort of lost part of myself, being so completely immersed in the mom role. Now as the children grow I have more time and opportunity to do things for ME again. It was worth it. My life is much richer because of it. I would not give up the chance for the experience of being a parent for anything. Like anything worthwhile, it is sometimes very difficult, but there are moments of such joy that I am filled with awe.
  11. by   live4today
    originally posted by gracem

    i am not a nurse, but i am trying to decide if i should go back to school to become one. i work in the corporate world right now, with no health care experience.

    another major decision i need to make is whether or not to have children. i am posting here because many of you have children. most of my friends don't, or they have very small children.

    i am married, and 32 years old. i am reluctant to have children for many reasons, which i will not go into here. on the other hand, i think i do want children, and i am very confused.

    when i think about having children, there is one thing i can't get past. nearly everyone i know who has children (unless the children are still very young) says the same thing. they say they love their kids, they would do anything for their kids, but if they had their lives to do over, they would remain childless. this is particularly true of people i know that have teenagers.

    one woman i know stuggled like me to decide, and decided not to have kids. i asked her if she regrets this, and she said no way. she said she's glad she didn't have any, although she loves kids.

    how did you all decide whether parenthood is for you? how hard is it to be a parent and a nurse? if i decide to have kids, i want them to be born before i start nursing school. i am afraid that if i wait until i finish school, it will be too late.

    any insight would be appreciated.

    hi gracem,

    of course you know the decision to have or not have children is totally an individual decision, so if you are unsure about having children now, then i highly recommend you wait until you are ready because children come with a "no return" policy. i have children of my own, and when they were going through their teen years, i sometimes wanted to lock them up until they reached adulthood because teenagers often make parents do a lot of rethinking about life in general. :chuckles if you want to be a nurse more than you want to be a parent right now, then get your nursing career on a good start then have children. if you want to have children before school, you can still do it with a lot of personal sacrifice, but then again, regardless of whether you are finished with school or have yet to go for nursing, children period are a major personal sacrifice, and in my humble opinion, well worth the sacrifice. i love being mom and gramma today no matter what it took for me to get to this point in my life with them.
  12. by   nurs4kids
    Hi Grace,
    I didn't have my first child until I was 31 and my second at 33. Birth control didn't work with either, otherwise I'd probably have never had a child. I wouldn't take anything in the world for them; they are my life. As others said, it's a decision for you and your husband. I don't think I would have lived a miserable life had I not had kids; I couldn't have missed what I didn't know. At your age, the mommie hormones kick ya pretty hard. My kids are two and three and we had hubby spaded (hehe) after the second, otherwise I'd probably already have another. After you have that first one, each time they outgrow the "baby" stage, you (or I) yearn for another. Then there's the long nights when they're sick, or just having a hard time sleeping, you still have to get up with the other one in the am, or have to go to work..then you thank God you stopped at two. For me, kids brought LIFE to life. It's an individual decision as to have or not to have, neither decision makes you more or lesser a person.

    The only advice I do have is this: IF you decide to have kids, don't wait until you're older. The risk of birth defect GREATLY increases with age, complications with pregnancy increase and <wink> your nerves get worse. My bf just had her second at 40. Very complicated pregnancy, many failed pregnancy attempts, and finally a beautiful baby boy with hydrocephalus that required shunting.

    Good luck in your decision, and God bless!
  13. by   micro
    and then some get no choice in the matter......

    but yet the world still labels the world pleases.
  14. by   susanmary
    Deciding to have children was the most important thing that I've done in my life. For me, being a nurse doesn't even come a close second. I say this from my heart, even with THREE teenagers. There are many times that I've regretted becoming a nurse. There has never been one time that I've regretted being a mom.