Thoughtful Thursday: Early or Late

October 28, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdayBurrito and Tamale’s nanny and I were talking about someone I know who just experienced neonatal loss.

Nanny: Has she ever been pregnant before?
Me: I don’t think so, but she tried for many years to get pregnant.
Nanny: That’s so strange that some people try to get pregnant.
Me: You say that because you’re 19 years old. None of us wanted to get pregnant when we were 19, even those of us who wanted very much to get pregnant years later and had to try very hard to get and stay pregnant.

DH’s reaction when I recounted the conversation: “In many ways, she’s a child.”

One of the nanny’s friends has a baby who was born around the same time as Burrito and Tamale. Sometimes the nanny will make comparisons between the babies, mostly neutral — what size they’re wearing, how many teeth, etc. The nanny also likes to make comparisons between me and her friend, and in those comparisons I always come out ahead. “My friend has been giving her baby cookies! It’s so much better that you only feed them organic fruits and vegetables.” “My friend planned her baby’s birthday party for right before his bedtime. She’s so selfish. That party’s for her, not him. You were so smart to have their birthday party at 11 a.m.” “My friend and her baby’s father just got engaged, but their relationship is so rocky, it’s totally not going to last. You and DH were so wise to wait until you’d established your marriage and your careers, and traveled around the world, before you had kids.”

Now, for all I know, her friend could have been a sub-par mother even if she’d waited 20 more years to have a baby. But, I have a sense that many of her shortcomings have to do with age. It’s just not a fair comparison. This girl is half my age. I have about 10 more years of education than she does. She was in kindergarten when DH and I got married.

I’d like to think that if things had turned out differently and I’d gotten pregnant young, I still would have been a good mother, but I know that I wouldn’t have been as good a mother as I am now.

In a choice between getting pregnant too easily at too young an age versus after much difficulty and 7 years of infertility, I’d actually take the infertility. You?

If you had your life to live over again, would you rather get pregnant too early or too late?

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15 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Early or Late”

  1. BB Says:

    IF or no IF, I would probably have not become a mother very early on. I was a *good* child! 😉 Had a few thousand things embeded in my head about right vs wrong (which at least kept me on the right path), which of course I challenged later (as I got independent)… but it did give me the focus and vision to “settle” down (!) and then think family!

    If I had my life to live again, I would want it the way it has been. Yes IF was unwanted, but it has taught me so much, made me so much stronger and probably makes me more responsible and passionate about my kids.

  2. Elana Kahn Says:

    I’d rather get pregnant too early than too late, definitely. Sure, it’s no fun having a baby when you’re still basically a kid yourself, but it’s easier on the body and you get to spend more time with your child than if you had one at age 45.

  3. WiseGuy Says:

    I was laughing at the question. I have thought about it, and I know that I will like to get pregnant later than sooner!

    The problem with sooner is that I think I would have taken it as something ‘natural and obvious and spontaneous’ and not appreciate the whole game behind it, the way I would if it came to me a little hard.

    I am not sure if that would have affected my quality of mothering. It is only my perception about how to approach it which would have taken a definite beating.

    The problem with conceiving too late is that your surrounding people are as painfully aware of it, and may completely lack the right vocabulary or understanding to deal with you…I am sure I would be reminded of ‘how hard it was’ by some of my own family members when I take some decisions ahead.

  4. kittyquilt Says:

    As much as I have learned and grown from IF, I would choose too early. But, for me, too late means never, so I’m sure that affects my opinion. I actually started wanting to be pregnant when I was in high school (I didn’t ever act on that desire until I was married) – I’m glad I didn’t get pregnant then, but honestly, if given a choice, I would probably choose being pregnant as a teenager over never being pregnant at all.

  5. Rebecca Says:

    I would’ve never used any birth control except condoms, and I would’ve stopped using them a whole lot earlier.

    glad you’re back 🙂

  6. Mel Says:

    Wow…what a really good question. And you’ve really stumped me. I’ve always thought that unintended (and stress-inducing) pregnancies are sort of the other side of the coin from IF. I can’t be jealous of those people; they have their own stress. It just happens to be the opposite of mine.

    I’d probably go with IF because parenting is also a social activity and I’d want to be in my peer group. There is a wide-range of ages within this group, but it’s more likely to find someone close in age with kids close in age to mine in the older category than it is to find the same in the younger category.

    Plus, I definitely needed to work with middle schoolers for many years in order to build this level of patience for twins 🙂

  7. Kathy Says:

    I don’t think that giving one’s child cookies and being young qualifies someone as being a “subpar mother”. I also have issues with the implication that one needs to have a lengthy education to be a good mother. I don’t believe this for a second. I know many (countless, actually) mothers who are well educated who know not what it means to give of themselves to their children in any meaningful way.
    My own mother did not have a high school diploma (she achieved that when my brother and I were in high school) because she was forced to drop out due to the poverty of her own family. She became a mother at 22 and was the most amazing mother in the world.
    Although I question whether I would have had the same breadth of patience at 22 as I do at 37, I totally believe I would have been the same mother then as I am now. And, I happen to think I am a pretty damn good mom (even though I make cookies for my children).


  8. At all!

    Just kidding. I’m happy the way things are.

    I could not have tried any sooner with my husband.

    But if I had to choose too early or too late, I’d still choose too late.

    I like my life.

  9. a Says:

    I think I would still choose late. I had a longer fuse when I was younger. But, I have more patience now. I travelled. I worked on my career long enough to get burnt out, and now I am able to put it on the back burner and on a very low flame. I sometimes feel squirmy when dealing with all of those younger moms, because I am probably 10 years older than all the moms of my daughter’s contemporaries. But I don’t have the energy to compete or to judge and I rarely feel bad about my choices. I’m very comfortable with myself and with my relationship with my husband. On top of that, I come from a family of late bloomers.

  10. Cat Says:

    I would choose late, but would like it to be a choice, rather than the result of IF.

  11. Ana Says:

    There are pros & cons to both. I sometimes wish I had the energy I had 10 years ago (and the body!), but I have gained so much perspective over the past decade. I am happy with my life and can’t imagine another one at this point.


  12. I was going to write ‘too late’, for most of the reasons mentioned above. But then I talked to my parents last night and my mom mentioning something that she doesn’t think she’s going to make it to Christmas… and then I changed my mind to ‘too early’ – because it would mean my kid(s) would have many more years with their grandmother, would remember her and she would be able to see my kids grow up (and hopefully know not only my firstborn).

    And by the way, my parents became parents relatively young (and on top of that their firstborn was stillborn and they were only 22 years old…) and they were (and still are) the best parents I could have ever had.

  13. strongblonde Says:

    wow is this ever hard. it is such a struggle. i know i’m a good parent now, but the perfectionist in me brings in doubt every now and again. mostly because i wonder if i’m feeding them the right stuff or helping them to develop the way that they should. i often look at my (f’d up) sister for comparisons to make me feel better. she fed her kid crap, i’m sure they had tons of stuff in their crib, they had no schedule, no bedtime, etc. that always makes me feel a little better b/c they are thriving and have turned out fine (so far). infertility was hard. but is it harder than having kids early? i definitely wouldn’t have finished my phd if i had kids early. i’d probably still be a floor nurse, working every other weekend, complaining about how my back hurt. i’m sure i’d be happy. i think i’d be a good parent…but i’m better now. is it worth the infertility part? i’m not sure. the emotional torture that is infertility sucks. the physical pain of going through cycles and IVFs sucks. feeling like you’re broken sucks. but now i have these two adorable little people in my life.

    ….see…i can’t really answer 🙂 i guess if i would have to pick i would say late. but with reservations, for sure.

  14. babybaker Says:

    i wouldn’t change a thing. i would have waited no matter what. i wanted time with my husband before we became a family! i’m a firm believer that all that time together – traveling and experiencing life – is what is going to make us amazing parents. i’m in the middle of IVF #2 now. fingers crossed.

  15. celia Says:

    I do not think, no I KNOW Peter would have broken up our marriage if we had had him when we started trying. He is a much loved, desperately wanted INSANELY DEMANDING baby. I held him 23 hours a day for months. We have not had a good night of sleep since he was born. He screamed for the first three months, maybe 18 hours a day. It was crazy. It is still crazy, actually. We would have been fine with a regular baby, but we have a wee Dennis Leary and it would have broken us.


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