(1) Get both our careers and finances in order before having kids. For Mark, that would mean finishing 3 years of school to get his pHD, and another 2 years for his post-doc. Then he would have his "real" job, 5 years from now, at the age of 28-ish. For me, that would mean figuring out what in the world I actually wanted to do for a career, and then, well, doing it. Who knows how long that would take! But because while Mark's in school we won't be making that much money, we would never be in the best place financially for starting a family. But let's look at option numero dos.
(2) Wait until we are married (check), and then start a family pretty much right away. Now here's the thing. Believe it or not, Mark and I got married twice (the only people that knew this were close family, so if this coming as a shock to you, well, it should). The first time around was June 19, 2008 in a civil ceremony. It was just me and Mark and immediate family and we had a quiet ceremony at the beach. To make a long story short, this was mainly for immigration purposes, and we decided to keep it a complete secret so that our "big" wedding day was still incredibly special. So right now, we have technically been married for almost 2 years. Anyway, after our 2nd wedding on May 30, 2009, we talked about when we wanted to start a family. We knew we were moving to New Zealand, so clearly getting pregnant before we moved was not a good option. So we waited. Then came August, we were adjusting to our new life, and after long talks, we decided it was a perfect time to start our little family. And for those curious/interested (or for those of you critical of us starting a family so young), here was the thought behind our decision...
(1) We want to be young and full of energy when are kids are growing up. Now don't get me wrong, I have seen some older parents with young kids that you would never classify as "old" or "boring" at all, no way. But it was important to Mark and I to be young and energetic and active with our kids as much as possible, and we felt being younger was the way to go for us.
(2) We want to have lots of kids (potentially). I say potentially because I think it's silly to say how many kids you want to have before you even have one kid and know what it's going to really be like. But, in an ideal world, we would have lots of kids. This means that if we wait a long time before having our first little munchkin, we are going to be a bit on the older side when having our last little munchkin.
(3) Money. Yes, we are on a tight budget. Yes, we will have to pay attention to our spending and savings for quite some time before we really get careers established. BUT, I think there are a lot of positives to that kind of lifestyle, and we will have developed really good spending and saving habits with our children so when we do actually have a good income coming in, those habits can carry through.
(4) College. I know this is a long time away for our children-to-be, BUT once our children are away at college or out on their own and grown up, I want to be (reasonably) young and healthy and able to travel and do things with Mark. Some people like to do this after college, and before having kids, but that's just not what we are interested in doing right now. I would much rather get to do all that later in life!
The other thing I hear people say is how much I'm going to miss my life with just me and Mark, or me and my friends, or how a baby changes everything. Well, first of all, OF COURSE a baby changes everything. Anyone who has a baby and expects things to be the exact same as before is crazy! But for some people, a baby changes their lifestyle more than others. And I think Mark and I are fortunate enough to be one of those people whose lifestyle might not change quite as much as some other people. We're not really the type to go out to dinner and movies or drinks with friends on the weekends. We like evenings at home, sitting on the couch. We like weekends spent just being lazy. We don't travel much. We don't spend lots of time out with friends. I'm not saying things aren't going to change for us when a baby comes, that's just silly. But maybe not quite as much as for some other people who have slightly more social/busy lifestyles than we do.
Other upsides to having a baby NOW.
(1) Maternity care in NZ is FREE. No insurance required.
(2) All medical care for kiddies is essentially FREE. There are exceptions of course, but no co-pays or insurance premiums to have your baby get regular check-ups. I think there might be a fee for vaccinations... maybe.
(3) Our baby could develop a cute kiwi accent. Who wouldn't want that??
(4) We own a home, with room for a baby, and a great backyard in a lovely, friendly, quiet neighborhood. Sure beats our 1 bedroom apartment on the train tracks! Oooh ooh, plus, we have our own washer and dryer. :)
(5) 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. Enough said.
Then of course every rose has its thorns, right? There ARE downsides of having a baby RIGHT now.
(1) Money. As mentioned above, it's gonna be tight! But not so tight that we will be struggling, just enough so that we need to be a little careful with our spending.
(2) My family is far far far away. And my friends. My sisters will only get to see their niece once or twice in her first year of life! That alone makes me so sad! Some of my friends may not get to meet her at all (for a while, at least). But, that's what we have internet and skype for, I suppose.
(3) My career. Mark has known for a while what he wants to do. Me? Still not sure. I keep changing my mind! And now, with a baby on the way, I clearly won't be working for a while, and when I do decide to "go back to work," what will I be going back to? I still won't have an established career. So, I will just have to figure it out as I go!
But, all in all, we're ready for the challenge and excitement of our first baby girl!!