LIVING THE FI KINDA LIFE
Meditation, gardening, minimalism, fitness, and everything else that keeps us healthy, happy, and on our road to Financial Independence! Here you will find stories about our lives. You will also see some of the cool things that you will be able to do if you stick a FI lifestyle! Lots of people think that they would have to give up so much in their daily lives to achieve financial independence, but that’s not true! We have loads of fun on the road to freedom! The trick is balance! So let go a little, have some fun, and see how you can have both!
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The thought of not being able to have biological children has been weighing heavily on me since I made the decision that I want to have kids. What if I can’t? What if I waited too long, and now the window is closed? I know I can’t know the answer to that until I try; and I know I’m not ready to try, but I kind of want to try to know if I can. Does that make sense?
Why I may not be able to have biological children
I’m worried that I’m getting too old to have healthy children. This is one of the driving forces for me wanting to start now even though I know we aren’t ready. I’m not getting any younger. At 35 (almost 36) I’m way too close to the age where any pregnancy will be a high-risk pregnancy. I’m also at the tail end of my most fertile years. According to USA today, as women reach age 35 and beyond, it gets harder and harder to conceive. And according to Baby Center, a whopping two thirds of women over forty have fertility issues!
I know the older I get the harder it will be to conceive. I’m lucky (and thankful) that I changed my mind about it before the window was closed for good.
But wait, there’s more! Age isn’t my only issue. I have also been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects a women’s reproductive system. It affects the ovaries’ ability to produce and release eggs. Most women with PCOS, even young women, have trouble conceiving because our ovaries don’t produce monthly eggs the way that healthy ovaries do. It’s sporadic at best. And because eggs aren’t being produced, many women can go months without menstruating.
Fortunately for me (I think) I’ve always had fairly regular periods. The longest I’ve had to wait is about 2 weeks. I’m hoping this means that my ovaries do regularly produce eggs, even though they have the little cysts in them. But it’s also possible that I’m one of the unlucky few who gets periods but no eggs. If I’m not going to get eggs, I’d rather skip the period all together.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for people who struggle with fertility. Fertility treatments and in-vitro fertilization are available to help people have biological children, while adoption and fostering help people who can’t have biological children have families. I’ve given thought to all of these options.
Fertility treatments are going to be my number one option. My doctor said that the majority of patients with PCOS can get pregnant with basic fertility treatments. I’m hoping that if I can’t get pregnant naturally, I will be able to get pregnant with the help of fertility drugs. I’ll just have to take a pill regularly, and as a bonus my insurance should cover the bulk of the cost. It’s easy and affordable, so hopefully if I have trouble conceiving, it will be fixed with these treatments.
If fertility treatments don’t work, I could also opt for In-Vitro Fertilization. They harvest eggs and sperm, make embryos in a petri dish, and then implant these embryos back into the uterus. The technology behind In-Vitro has really come a long way, and tons of people get positive results.
The big disadvantage to In-Vitro is that it’s still very expensive. One In-Vitro session can cost between 12 and 15 thousand dollars! And unfortunately, most insurance companies don’t cover it. Honestly, I don’t think I would pay that much money for the chance of having a biological baby. If my insurance covered most of the cost, I might give it a try, but it isn’t something that I would pay out of pocket for. Raising kids is crazy expensive as it is, I don’t want to add an extra twelve grand on top of that!
Non Biological Children
Given all of the above, I may not be able to have biological children. But there are still options for being a parent!
The first option everyone turns to when they find that they can’t have biological children is adoption. Many want-to-be parents want a baby to take care of, and adoption is the best option for this. Unfortunately, adopting a baby is just as expensive (sometimes even more so!) as In-Vitro, and has a lot more hoops.
If I were to chose adoption, I think I’d try to adopt an older child in need of a good home. Adopting an older child out of the foster system is the least expensive option.
Given that, I think I would chose fostering over adoption if I couldn’t have biological children. Foster children have things rough. Their parents might be in jail, or on drugs, or abusive, or negligent. Their situations are usually very sad. But it’s these kids that need the love of a stable parent the most. These kids need guidance and support to prevent them from going down the same path that their biological parents went down. I also think I would have the opportunity to help more children if I became a foster parent than if I adopted.
Don’t get me wrong, I know this is the more difficult path. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it will be to love and protect a child, and then have to watch them return to their abusers. However, if I can provide just a few months of stability, a few months of love, and a few months of showing a child that the world can be better, it will be worthwhile. And maybe I can end up adopting some children out of the foster system. Hey, I might even foster some kids if I can have biological children.
What are your thoughts on being unable to have biological children? If you’ve had experience with this issue, I’d love to hear your story!
Ok, so I missed one very important reason for being childfree in my last post, and that’s the insane cost of having children. It’s alright though, I did it on purpose! The exorbitant cost of having children deserves it’s own post.
Kids are expensive!
I mean like, really, really super expensive! According to the latest data, the cost of raising a kid is approximately $233,610. And that doesn’t even include college! That breaks down to a little less than $14000 per year. That’s a lot of money, especially when you have other financial obligations.
The bulk of this outrageous cost of having kids is childcare. This cost can vary wildly by state and by metropolitan area, but the variation tends to follow variations in minimum wage and income, so families everywhere are feeling the crunch. Childcare costs around $500 per month in Alabama, and almost $1000 in California, on average. In a lot of places, childcare is more expensive than rent!
No wonder so many families opt to have one parent stay home with the children while the other works. A second income would barely cover the cost of childcare in many cases. Some families are lucky in that they have a grandparent other family member that can help with the childcare while both parents work, but I always knew I would never be able to depend on my family for that. If I had a kid, I’d have to figure out how to balance working with caring for her. This is something that my boyfriend and I will need to discuss when the time comes.
Birthing children is expensive too, and apparently hospitals even charge you to hold your own baby! All jokes aside though, the physical act of having a baby can cost anywhere from $6000 to $70,000!! That doesn’t even include caring for the infant after birth! I have decent insurance through my work, so this shouldn’t be too much of a burden for me, but not everyone is as fortunate as I am. And they wonder why so many people are turning to mid wives and home births.
But hospital expenses don’t end with the birth. Kids get sick. A lot. They run into stuff and bang their heads open. The eat things they shouldn’t be eating. They fall down. And most parents would rather be safe than sorry, so they bite the bullet and take their kids to the hospital when these things happen. Hello hospital bills.
Stuff and Things
Kids need stuff too. Lots of stuff. First, they are going to need the basics: food, clothing, diapers etc. But they are also going to need furniture and cribs and bottles and bibs and toys and educational stuff and probably a million other things that I haven’t even thought of. And they grow so quickly! I haven’t bought myself new clothes in years, but I’d have to buy a baby new clothes every few months! That can really add up.
Then they need to go to school, so you have to buy them all their school supplies. And you don’t want your kid to be an outcast, so you have to buy them decent clothing by the time they are school-aged. They will probably also join a few after school clubs and activities, so they will need all the appropriate equipment and gear for that. I’m hoping my kids join the chess club; a chess board is way cheaper than sports equipment or musical instruments.
As you all know, I love to travel, especially to exotic locations. Airfare for one is bad enough, could you imagine having to pay for three seats on an international flight? My travel budget wouldn’t be able to handle it! I know a lot of people don’t take this into consideration when thinking about the cost of having children, but honestly it was one of my reasons for remaining child free. But I decided to really look into the feasibility of traveling with children and read a bunch of blogs from family travel bloggers who are doing just that. If they can find a way I’m sure I can too!
I know I don’t technically have to help my kids out with college expenses; student loans and grants exist for a reason. But do I really want to saddle my kid with outrageous debt when they are just starting out in life? College is crazy expensive, and the cost seems to increase exponentially year after year. By the time my non-existent kids go to college it may be upwards of 100K on average! I’d definitely encourage my children to explore non-4-year-university options, but if they are hard working with an aptitude for academics, I’d want them to be able to study wherever they chose. Therefore, I’d feel obligated to start a college savings plan for them when they are born, to ensure that they have those options. It’s going to be expensive though.
The exorbitant cost of having children
I know I didn’t cover everything. Random expenses crop up everywhere. Kids need a lot of stuff, and some kids need special attention – tutoring, therapy, private schools, medication, whatever the case may be. But there is no doubt in my mind that having children is insanely expensive. The advantage I have is knowing that and having a stable job to pay for some of it prior to having them. And hopefully, it will be 100% worth the cost.
What did I miss about the cost of having children? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
One of the first things I had to consider when I was changing my mind about having kids is why I was childfree in the first place. It took a lot of soul searching and introspection, but I think I know at least part of the answer.
I grew up in a lower middle-class household. I had a decent childhood. However, one thing that I will never forget is my father drilling into me (and my siblings!) the idea that having kids would ruin our lives. He had his first kid, my sister, when he was a teenager and had two more kids before he turned thirty. Having us at such a young age did limit him. He wanted to move to California and pursue acting. But he couldn’t do that because he had kids. He wanted to take time from work to write a book. Yet another thing he couldn’t focus on because he had kids.
I know my dad doesn’t regret us. I know he loves us, and didn’t want us to make the same mistakes he did. He wanted better for us. Our dad wanted us to go to college, pursue careers, and enjoy our lives before settling down. He never meant for my sister and I to internalize the idea that having children is the most terrible thing we could ever do. What he actually meant was that having children at a young age could ruin our lives. Unfortunately, that message wasn’t entirely clear, as we both are well into our thirties and terrified that having kids will ruin our lives.
Other Family and Friends
It wasn’t just my parents who had their lives disrupted by having children. Some of my family members and high school friends had kids at fairly young ages as well. It seemed as though everyone who had kids struggled, while everyone who did not have kids did pretty well for themselves. Even as I grew older this seemed to be the case.
I look at my brother as the best example. We are about the same age, we are both pretty intelligent, both college educated. But he had kids immediately upon graduating college and I did not. He continues to struggle, and I do not. I know that he loves his children dearly, and wouldn’t trade them for anything, but is it really worth the struggle?
He’s definitely not the only one! I’ve seen other high school friends and family members struggle through life after having kids. To a younger me, it seemed as though my dad was right. Having kids would ruin my life.
The weird thing here is that I also have family and friends who have kids and are doing perfectly fine. They don’t seem to be struggling and they are super happy with their lives and their families. I guess I was always looking for the negative due to my father’s message.
Things I want to do
Outside of the internalized message I heard growing up, I had my own reasons for being childfree. There are so many things that I want to do with my life, so many personal goals that I have, and I think having children could really hinder that. I want to travel, I want to do some crazy adventurous stuff, and I want to live my life to the fullest. Hell, that’s why I’ve been pursuing Financial Independence! There’s so much that I want to do, and I know having children will prevent me from accomplishing all of it. But I’m not going to go into that right now, as my next post will be dedicated to how having children will change my FIRE goals. I will say that having kids may prevent me from doing some of those things, but they also may provide me with experiences that I never even considered.
On disliking Children
My final reason for being childfree is something that I really had to give a lot of thought too. I really didn’t like most kids. But as I thought about the reasons why, it turns out that it’s not the children I don’t like, it’s the parents. I’ve seen too many examples of parents letting their kids do whatever they want. I see kids running around tables knocking things over at restaurants and being little jerks to whomever they please. My siblings and I would have never gotten away with acting like that when we were a kids!
I think some parents view their kids as a friend or an accessory; and therefore, they refuse to discipline or actually parent their child. I’ve seen other parents that are just so worn out from all the struggling that they’ve just given up. Those are usually the parents that had a bunch of kids at a young age. But the more I thought of it, the more I realized that it really is the parents (or parenting style) that I don’t like. In fact, one of my best friends has two young kids, and they are incredibly respectful and well behaved. I like those kinds of kids, and I hope that if I have kids, that’s how I will raise them.
Understanding my Childfree stance
Being introspective really helped me understand where my hesitation to have kids came from. Now I know that I internalized the message that having kids would ruin my life, even though that wasn’t really what my dad was trying to say. I looked for examples that supported my cause rather than looking at the entire picture. I realize that now, and I realize that having kids when you are ready, both financially and emotionally, can make a positive impact on your life.
As most of you know, I do not have any children. What you might not know is that I’ve never really been inclined to have kids. For most of my adult life, it just wasn’t something that I gave any thought to. However, as I’ve gotten older, I became more and more against the idea of having children. By the time I reached my early thirties, I was adamantly in the child free camp. I even told people how much I disliked kids!
Changing My Mind
But then one day, something peculiar happened. I met my boyfriend’s daughter, and I fell in love. She’s an awesome little girl with a lot of personality and a lot of heart. I also saw how amazing he was with her, and got a taste of what it would be like to be a mother. She even called me mommy! And I’m not going to lie, I liked it. I liked it a lot. I started imagining what it would be like to have my own family, and to raise kids with this awesome dad. It’s something that I couldn’t stop thinking about.
Examining My Feelings
I’m not foolish though, having a kid isn’t something I’d just rush into! Especially after having been adamant about not wanting kids for so long. I definitely wanted to take some time to examine these new feelings before broaching the subject with my boyfriend. Do I really want my own child or could I be happy having his daughter part time? What about being around her made me want to have kids of my own? Why have I been so opposed to the idea of children?
Also, I had just started a new hormonal birth control, so I wanted to make sure that these new feelings weren’t a weird hormonal thing. I’ve had weird bad reactions to birth control pills in the past, so this definitely wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. I thought about these questions at length (and had many girl talk sessions with my besties) to be sure that my change of heart was real and for the right reasons.
The Talk about having children
After a long examination of my feelings and waiting out changes in my hormones, I broached the topic with my boyfriend. He was shocked to say the least. I had always made it clear to him that I did not want children. However, after the initial shock wore off, he said that he was completely awed at the way I interacted with his daughter. He also thought that I would make a wonderful mother!
His only stipulation is that we get married first, to give our future child(ren) a sense of stability. He hates that his daughter lives so far away, and that he doesn’t get to see her very often. He didn’t want to have more children because he didn’t want to put another child through that separation.
I totally understand his hesitation on that, and I agree that getting married prior to having children is definitely the way to go (I never said I wanted to have a kid right this second anyway!). I am so glad that I wasn’t afraid to have this adult conversation with him, and that we have an awesome plan for the future now.
Plan for the Future
My boyfriend and I do plan on getting married and having children in the future, but nothing is set in stone. One of us may change our minds again or it may turn out that one of us is infertile. However, right now we are both totally into the idea of having a family. So, in order to celebrate that and to think about all the variables, I am dedicating the rest of this month to blog posts about having children. It’s pretty apt too, since it’s my ninth month blogging (I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried!). This month I’ll be discussing the possibility of not being able to have kids, how kids will change my FIRE goals, why I was so child free in the first place, and any other topics on having children that comes to mind. I hope you enjoy it!
One of the most common complaints I hear from the child free community is that people don’t respect their decision. People constantly belittle them by saying “oh, you will change your mind”. Yes, I was child free and yes I changed my mind. However, the vast majority of child free people do not change their minds, and I don’t want my one anecdotal experience to be used to belittle the life choices of others. So please don’t use my story to tell your child free friends that they will change their minds. They are not me, and they probably won’t. Thanks!