Early Baby Bird
Months in advance, my buddy’s wife sent him a Google Calendar invite to start trying for their second baby. This is how I prefer to approach all social interaction, from casual reunions to full intimacy: Plan and execute. Make Coach Belichick proud.
I find spontaneity translates poorly from rom-coms to real life. Pregnancy attempts, of all things, should happen only after rigorous analysis and planning.
My baby was born five days after my 35th birthday and six months before his mother's. If we go for another — as my wife uncompromisingly wants and I can accept — the window in geriatric territory is sneakily closing. We’re not as young as we think we are just because everything’s so new right now.
We both would love some time to chill the eff out and savor/survive the first one. I don’t know how long that would take to run its course, but I’m guessing at the earliest we’d be pushing our 40s.
It feels like we simply started too late. But I didn’t even meet my wife until age 28, moved in together in two years, proposed five months later, got married within four years of our first sexual contact, and had our first purposely unprotected sexual contact a year and a half after the wedding.
This does not sound like a case of feet-dragging, especially considering marriage and kids were never an explicit goal for me. Some people spend a longer time in college than it took for me to jump onto this no-going-back life track.
Even if we had met earlier, I don’t see us getting anywhere near a procreation mindset before our 30s. It was a lot of fun not having a baby while having what felt like a surplus of disposable time and income. If you think about it, this no-dependent, not-a-dependent phase is the shortest in most people’s lives, a fleeting, formative, memorable burst like an NFL running back’s career.
Aside from the fun, most people benefit from this time to explore and grow up separated from family responsibilities. In the ridiculously privileged state of upper-middle-class America in 2020, we have a paradox of choice when it comes to pursuing fulfillment, from careers and mates to geography and housing to hobbies and causes to investing and travel.
It’s a lot to figure out and makes for a challenging mismatch between modern life and prehistoric biology. We’re not living in caves and dying in our 30s anymore, but our bodies are primed to reproduce before high school graduation.
The optimal times for childbirth from a physical perspective and a self-actualization perspective don’t line up and appear to be stretching further apart. Sorry if it’s annoying I’m painting in broad strokes here and not citing biological facts or anthropology studies. This is a blog post, not a thesis, and my intention for this one is to reflect, not convince.
I think I’m in the vicinity of accurate though. One incredible supporting illustration: A friend who works at Pinterest told me the company pays for egg freezing as a benefit, which I’m guessing has a bigger tab than vision insurance. There is an appreciative and a cynical way to interpret an employer’s reasons for offering this, but either way it’s an acknowledgement Mother Nature has not accommodated the societal shift in life goals.
But unless they freeze the woman too, it doesn’t solve an interesting conundrum. Every day you wait to have children is one less day you get with them on earth. Now, that’s a “The Bachelor”-level dramatic way to put it, just like you could say every passing day is one less day you have on earth, period.
The thought does become less abstract when the child actually exists. If I had this wonderful tiny creature in my arms at age 25, that’s 10 more years of bro time together on the back end. And what would I have really given up from the latter half of my 20s, a few hook-ups, blackouts and trips to Europe? In the first half of my 30s, I was already settling into a more domesticated routine with less sleeping in, socializing and recreational sex with my soul mate.
Granted, if I had become a 25-year-old father, the bonus decade together would come when my baby was in his 50s or 60s, which isn’t quite the same endearing image. Based on how long it's taking him to figure out how to crawl, there is a nonzero chance I would still be providing him lunch money at that age. So maybe a late start was OK.
Who knows when the right age is to have kids. Such a tough call for a monster decision. Saying it depends on the person is easy and unhelpful.
The best advice I can give is to take inventory of the opportunity costs — what exactly you would be giving up at this point in your life. And if you’re going to have kids for sure, maybe err on the side of jumping in earlier.
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