27 and a PhD

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Kids

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Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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No, hon and I are not pregnant.

For a while I’ve been thinking about this post and what I want to say. This is by no means an absolute final decision, but it has been a process and I feel like writing it down and sharing it (and having it here, for the future).

I grew up in a very roman catholic household. My mom is a very devoted person, and I admire her for that. Her faith is deep and her commitment is sincere. She’s the best mom one could wish for, always sweet and cheery when we talk, especially cheery when we talk about my nephew, her first grandson.

Years ago, while I was still in grad school, my mom and I were having a conversation about kids, and I can’t remember what exactly brought up the discussion, but she ended up sharing how unhappy she’s been in her marriage to my dad and how, had she known how her life turned out to be, she would have worked all her life, retire early and travel all over the world. I asked her if she regretted having kids, to which she said she loved my sister and I more than her own life, yet, if she could do things differently, she would stay single and just travel.

I didn’t feel sad when my mom admitted this, instead, I took it as food for thought and started thinking about whether I wanted to have kids myself. I love to travel (even when I have to resort to using flying deathtraps to move from one place to the next), I love focusing on me and on my honey, spending time with my family, and taking off when I want, and not have a care in the world (except that I need to leave a clean litterbox and full food and water dispensers for kitty).

For a long time honey has been mentioning how much people in general annoy him … or really, interacting with them. He doesn’t like making calls (I always ordered take out for us and he was more than happy to pick food up, an arrangement I totally love), talking to strangers, people encroaching in his space (one time he had this woman in a bus touch his hair just ’cause … WTF?). I on the other hand like to interact with people, I’m very sociable, but sometimes I can be shy (yeah, I know, hard to believe, eh?) I prefer to be a hermit and stay indoors with him (when he’s visiting or when we lived together).

One thing where we’re both of the similar school of thought is that we find some kids annoying (him more than me, but yes, I do find some kids annoying, the boisterous ones, screaming children at stores, kids who are older yet refuse to cover when coughing or sneezing (adults too)). This from a person who liked to babysit 4 kids at once!

We’ve talked about kids, Mr. Honey and I, and we’re sort of leaning towards adopting, should we ever have some need for having offspring. It’s an idea we’re totally happy with. I’ve always been crazy scared of giving birth, both naturally and by c-section. I’m afraid of epidurals and the same with episiotomies. I’m scared of what a kid will to do my body and hormones (as it is they’re always in some crazy state). I have severe PMS, which makes me worry about not being able to take my medicine for a long time, and even more scared of PPD. I’m afraid of a kid encroaching in our space, and what genetic defects he/she may have because of my age. So many fears and worries.

I grew up with everyone and their cousin telling me that I should be a mom, that besides a decent job and a healthy marriage, I should have a kid, or better yet, two or three. But at the same time I saw their marriages crumbling, their lack of care for the kids, and in some cases, resentment. And early on I figured that just because someone was biologically equipped to be a parent, that didn’t necessarily translate into being a good parent. On one side my church was telling me that I should be like Mother Mary, on the other, I didn’t feel a nagging sensation to not be like her.

Though my mind is not completely made up, I’m leaning towards postponing motherhood/parenthood until later, especially given our interest in adopting and being on the same page. At the same time I struggle explaining and defending my position to (possibly) avoid biological children to family and friends (though hon’s mom seems to be on board, as long we we do it sooner rather than later so she gets to enjoy a granddaughter (we’re all on board with this) now and not 20 years from now.

What’s even weirder is that I’m totally on board with surrogacy. How weird is it that I’d be OK carrying someone else’s child and not my own?

So, for now, no kids for us, thank you. But if we do it, it will most likely involve adopting. After all, with so many children suffering abuse and neglect we feel like giving that child a happy home, on our own terms, and age. What are your thoughts?

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24 Comments

  1. shaena says:

    This is a big issue for me too! I am definitely going to have a child (if I am able to)…I really just want one. I am only child and I like it that way. Fiancé wants more than one but we will see. I would love to adopt a child at some point too. But there are sooo many sacrifices I will have to make in my life, body, work…I am nervous and do not know when I will feel “ready” you know? I also have little to no experience with kids at all….if I had more I might not want one at all.

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thanks for visiting Shaena! I thought I’d get the urge once I saw my nephew, and while some maternal/protective instinct made its appearance, I see him as my nephew, my baby nephew who’s totally adorable but at the end of the day will go to my sister and that will be it. I adore that little boy, and if I could have a baby exactly like him, maybe I’d get the urge, but honestly I haven’t had that “ready” feeling you mention and that uncontrollable desire to reproduce. Maybe it will take a bit longer? I have no idea. Hon is also an only child, I’m one of two, and while I’ve learned to love and appreciate my sister with age (I resented her when we were growing up, even though she totes adored me), growing up I wished I was an only child. I don’t know, maybe the desire will kick in, maybe it won’t. I’m just happy hon and I are on the same page. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. Good post and interesting thoughts. Personally, the urge to have a baby was pretty overwhelming for me, and even though we weren’t actively trying yet, I accidentally got pregnant but was very happy with that. I love my baby and I almost feel like being a mom is my purpose in life (but that sounds very cliche, I know..). However, having a child is A LOT of work. There are many times where I wish I could just sit on the couch/ go on vacation/ go out for drinks and I can’t because I have to care for someone. So my advice: if you want kids go for it (better sooner than later for fertility reasons, although I think adopting is a very noble thing to do too), but if you are in doubt don’t do it (yet). I can imagine that it’s hard to tell people you don’t want kids if everyone around you thinks that’s the most normal thing to do.

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thanks for dropping by IBAM! I love your comment. Indeed, if we’re not ready yet, I think it’s perfectly safe to wait. Like I mentioned to Shaena, I haven’t felt that urge, maybe I will, maybe I won’t. For now I’m just happy we have options and that we’re on the same page. And yes, the thought of being responsible for another life is a very powerful one and I wonder whether I’d be able to deal with everything that comes with having a child. Interesting things to think about.

  3. daimia says:

    This piece is rather timely for me since it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I know for sure that I do not want kids now or even in the next years. I’ve just started my 3rd year in a PhD program and after that I want to get established in a career track of some sort (not tenure though). When I was younger I wanted kids, both my own and adopt. s I’ve grown older the urge to have my own has dissipated. In undergrad I once told my ex that if I got pregnant while in college despite being older than most college age kids, I’d probably give up the baby-that did not sit well with him. My current partner does have one of his own from a previous relationship and I am more than content to play stepmom. I think that when I turn 35 I will decide whether or not to definitely have one biologically or adopt. I’ve had aunts on both sides of my family have healthy kids after 40 so I’m hoping that I won’t have trouble if I do decide later on that I want one. LD Partner are on the same page for now and hopefully we will come to an agreement later on. (One of my more selfish reasons for not wanting one is the toll it will take on my body. I sort of feel guilty about it but it’s how I feel and can’t help it). For a few weeks last month I did think strongly that I should have one when I found out that one of my best friends would have had to have a procedure which would render her incapable of having a baby. Thankfully, she is well and the feeling of selfishly not wanting kids while those who want them can’t has passed.

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Hi Daimia! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words and perspective. I couldn’t agree more with this part” One of my more selfish reasons for not wanting one is the toll it will take on my body. I sort of feel guilty about it but it’s how I feel and can’t help it.” My mom sometimes would comment on her flabby stomach, saying that it was my sister and me who caused it. She said it jokingly, but I always thought about it after and thought, “you know what? I don’t want to look or feel like that when I’m her age.” Some people might label it selfish, I just think it’s a true worry worth admitting. I also agree on the part about not wanting kids while people who want them, can’t. I was just thinking the other day that the way we’re socialized we’re all brought up with the sense that we will all be happy and fertile. Maybe I am infertile. I don’t know. It’s one of the thoughts that comes to me when I wonder if I’ll ever be a mom. I don’t think it’s selfish, again, it’s our opinion and our worry, we should not be judged by wanting (or not) kids.

  4. Jessica says:

    Sounds like you have perfectly legitimate reasons for not wanting or pursuing biological children. While I have always wanted children (and truly CANNOT WAIT to be done with science-definitely NOT my calling!), my sister is the exact opposite, and she gives me great perspective from the other side.

    If your family is pressuring you to be “like Mother Mary,” remind them that there are plenty of ways to emulate her that don’t involve pregnancy and child-rearing. Caring for your Hon, your relatives, your friends and serving their needs may be the way you better relate to her.

    Kudos to you for being thoughtful about this issue-don’t let people pressure you into something just because you “should.”

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thank you so much Jessica. And congrats on your little one! Indeed, there are many other ways to serve and be like Mary, and not all of them involve bringing a child into this world. I’m definitely very happy that honey and I are on the same page and that we can discuss it openly. We’ll see what life brings.

  5. I second IBAM. If you are on the fence about having kids, then don’t. I mean, there’s always some uncertainty– being responsible for another living being!–, so I don’t think that you need to be absolutely, positively ready/certain. But even if you are as close to being certain as you can be, there are still overwhelming moments. I love Kiddo and I think being a mother has spurred me to try to be a better person, but I don’t think that having a baby is a necessity to achieving better personhood. I hope that all this makes sense (I’m a bit sleep-deprived at the moment).

    To sum up: Any reason for not wanting to have a child is valid (including the toll on the body, I was amazed by what a toll pregnancy took on my body). If you don’t want to have one, then don’t. If you do want to eventually have a kid, then you can examine your options then.

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thank you so much for your perspective. Indeed, I think I’m still on the fence and it’s safest to not play with fire and not bring a kid into the world when I’m so unsure of everything. I particularly like the “If you don’t want to have one, then don’t. If you do want to eventually have a kid, then you can examine your options then.” I wish more people embraced this concept. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. Fishscientist says:

    I really like this post, so honest and good on you for thinking about adoption! I always knew I wanted children, so the decision for me was not a difficult one, but given the choice, I would have waited a lot longer to have a baby. As it was, my family have a history of early menopause, so it kind of had to be now or never (I’m 33). However, babies are costly in terms of time and money, so if you feel no urgent need to have them, it’s a good idea to wait until you’re happy with your career/home life/money situation before making a firm decision. I don’t regret having my baby but it’s causing me major career angst!
    One comment I would make though is that not all the effects on your body are bad. I’ve never had a great relationship with my body, and even though I was slim before, I always felt it was a bit lousy due to various health problems/my complete unathleticism. Now, even though my thighs are wobbly and my bellies not what it was, I love my body- it grew and fed a fat, healthy baby! It’s like it finally found its purpose. Also, for me, pregnancy and breast feeding hormones have actually solved some of my health problems, which was an unexpected bonus. Definitely not trying to persuade you to have a baby, but just saying that not everyone has horror stories!
    Totally respect your decision either way- most of my close female friends are adamant they don’t want children and I NEVER try and persuade them otherwise. They have great lives, they don’t particularly like kids and they like their freedom. Who am I to tell them otherwise? I wouldn’t be without my daughter, but sometimes I’m a little jealous tbh!

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thank you so much Fish Scientist! I’d love to hear/read your birth story. I’m the ever curious scientist when it comes to our bodies and our experiences 🙂

  7. Wow, what great food for thought. I love how you two are looking into all types of ways to raise children! While externally my boyfriend and I have gotten pressure to reproduce, we def have no desire to do so anytime soon.

    BTW the way you describe you and your significant other is exactly how I would describe myself and my boyfriend.

  8. […] This excellent post about having kids by 27 and a PhDgot me thinking about timing. When is it the right time for kids and starting a family? Or when is it the right time to move to a new country or city? Travel? Buy a place to live? Getting a pet? Or when should you decide upon a specific career path? […]

  9. BananaFurby says:

    Great post!
    I’m not planning to have kids any time soon, but this really got me thinking. Although I never seriously thought about wanting kids or not, most people just assumes that you want to. I don’t feel that not wanting kids is any more or less selfish than wanting them and I don’t think that people who have kids have them for “selfless” reasons either 😉

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Agreed! I understand the “primal” interest in keeping the genetic makeup going, that said, I feel that it would be irresponsible for me to have a child now and I also have many doubts, hence why hon and I err on the side of not having kids. We’ve seen too many people that after having kids not only change, but their lives seem to reflect how frustrated they’ve become. I’d hate to look like that. Does that make sense? Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  10. […] It seems to take about a year after having baby number 1 that people around you start asking about when you’re planning on having baby number 2 (which in my opinion is almost as rude as asking when you’re planning on having baby number 1). […]

  11. chall says:

    Great post, even if it might be a little sad over all that we have to make a statement/underlying questions on “when are you doing this and that” from people in general… That said, it’s nice to read someone elses thoughts on why/why not and the influience on the relationship with your spouse. I’ve gotten increasingly tired of all the noseying around after I turned 30..

    I always wanted children, but didn’t feel a good timing in regards to having a stable relationship and graduate studeis/post doc, and now I’m in towards the age limit so I guess i’ll see what happens? It’s partly a little “god/chance influenced” for me, I’m very hesitant about fertility treatments for me (not for others) since I’m questioning putting all potentail of my happyness on a child (if that makes sense in an abbrevated sentence?) Ah well, it’s another discussion and not for your comment section ^^

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thanks for stopping by Chall! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Indeed, there are so many places this conversation could go! I do think about the age limit, it scares me a bit. That said, adoption is an area hon and I feel comfortable talking about and considering, which helps tone down the worries. Indeed, for me the part about fertility treatments that scares me tremendously is the cost … well that, and the tons of things you and your partner have to do and take to try to have a baby. It may sound terrible, but I don’t think I’d be totally frustrated if I found I was infertile. I’ve had friends cry when they learn they/their partner is infertile, and while I feel terrible for them, particularly when they seem to desperately want a child, for me, I just don’t think it would be the end of the world. It’s not that I’d feel relieved, but
      knowing that there are options, and children in need calms me down. Does that make sense?

  12. moncochon says:

    Thanks for sharing, we share the same thoughts too!

  13. […] It seems to take about a year after having baby number 1 that people around you start asking about when you’re planning on having baby number 2 (which in my opinion is almost as rude as asking when you’re planning on having baby number 1). […]

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