Why we chose to become parents in a bad economy

Guestpost by Vivi

Just days before we knew we were expecting… photo by Yoan Soilen.

I am 27. My husband is 25. We both graduated a year and a half ago and between the two of us, have about $30,000 in student debt. We are a typical, just graduated, struggling with the crappy job market, twenty-something couple.

Our jobs are not stable and we may have to move for work in a few months. We live a seven hour drive from our closest family and support system. We just got married. So… this seemed like the perfect time to try to have a baby.

For serious.

Many people who surround us are strong supporters of the "wait until…" theology of having children. Wait until you have a steady job. Wait until you own a house. Wait until you feel like you are older. While these are responsible ideals, our desire to "wait until" basically died when my dad landed in hospital.

I remember visiting my Dad, covered in tubing, in obvious pain, trying to make light of his extremely close call. My then-boyfriend, now husband, commented later "I do not want to be retired, in the hospital, with a son just finishing high school." My dad was in his 40's when my younger brother popped into the picture.

This conversation started another conversation — "How old do you want to be?" When my husband and I realized that we wanted to be young parents, we knew that time was a wastin'. Fast forward ten months: we got engaged, then married and have decided not to "try" to get pregnant but not use any protective counter measures. I was working a short term contract. Getting pregnant right away might make it difficult to get another job and my husband cannot support us both. Me getting pregnant could be a financially dangerous decision.

But when would we be in a position of wealth? How many years in the future would it be before we were both working and had settled somewhere permanent? What if we had trouble conceiving? There was no guarantee it wouldn't take us years to have a baby — and then would we be able to afford fertility treatments? No crystal ball answered our questions.

I decided to give my rational mind a rest and ask my spiritual self to take over. I am pagan. I trust that I can bring positive energy to myself, that the universe has a divine plan for me, my husband, and our future family. So we decided to let the universe tell us when the best time to have a baby was.

Realizing that I was pregnant was one of those really fabulous "oh shit" moments. As in "Holy man this is the most exciting thing that could happen" followed by "What are we going to do?"

Three weeks after the wedding, we conceived.

Realizing that I was pregnant was one of those really fabulous "oh shit" moments. As in "Holy man this is the most exciting thing that could happen" followed by "What are we going to do?" My contract was ending in 2 ½ months, my belly was showing early and I was throwing up all the time. Morning sickness does not help you consider new job opportunities. It basically helps you consider crawling into bed for eight weeks and not leaving until your nausea has passed.

Then we started seriously wondering what the hell we were thinking — this is not the right time to have a baby! Once again, my very rational, loves numbers, extreme planning and oh-so-organized brain went on worry overdrive. I had to tap that part of myself on the shoulder and ask it to step aside.

I started focusing on letting go of what I couldn't control, and letting our needs be known to the world. "Yes we are expecting!" "Yes this apartment does need some renovations to be suitable for a baby." "Yes I WILL need another job, and soon, I am pregnant!" "Yes we will need tons of free baby stuff — anyone have any?"

Just weeks after letting the cat out of the bag, I have landed a contract that will take me to maternity leave, my husband has new job prospects lined up, my landlord has agreed to help us renovate our apartment and support has come flowing out from family and friends. Almost all the baby paraphenalia needed for the first year has been gifted from those who don't need theirs any more.

I have allowed my organizational overdrive to start focusing on being able to afford a baby on the least amount of money. I have researched family tax incentives, baby bonuses, debt relief, maternity leave and every other possible financial resource that will be available to us once this baby is born. We have spent the extra time we have (since we are not working as much) sourcing and researching the cheapest options available for feeding, diapering and clothing a new child.

We trust that years from now, when the child is older and more expensive, we will be in a more financially secure place because we will have to be.

We have nested like crazy. We have downsized everything we own to free up space, traded labour for supplies with the landlord to renovate, used free or cheap resources to create a nursery/bedroom space — all while spending little to no money. We have our "worst case scenario" budget sorted out and discovered, to our surprise — we will still be able to eat, pay rent, afford our car and feed the cat. We trust that years from now, when the child is older and more expensive, we will be in a more financially secure place because we will have to be. We have started a savings fund for a house and one for this child's education. We have a solid plan (Excel file and all!) on how we are going to afford to live and pay off our student loans. We have our families' joy and support, even if it comes from a distance.

The more we have focused ourselves on the joy of expecting a child, the less the money has been a problem. We have counted our blessings as more and more opportunities present themselves to provide us with a good life for this soon-to-be child. We no longer question choosing to have our baby now. This was the time to have our first child. Difficult economy or no — this is the perfect time for us to welcome a new baby.

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About Vivi

I am a frugal as hell, cat molesting, bird watching, BBC loving soon to be mom and recent graduate. I live in northern Ontario (Canada!) and am watching my belly grow daily.