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New with a conundrum
waffling driving us mad

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#1 piper-jane

Posted 31 January 2013 - 05:47 AM

Hello everyone

I've been lurking for a week - this is a terrific forum, but have been unable to find a thread with this question. Please link me if there is one.

But our problem is this.

My apologies for the length

My dh and I met late in life -ages 36 and 37.  I am Canadian and he is Australian. Neither of us having completed our tertiary education, we are low income earners. The first 4 years of immigration malarkey meant we both in turn had to abandon education and jobs and our savings.  We realized early on that there was no point in wanting children because of our age and financial status, by the time we were financially ready it would be too late, and we were content being a childfree couple.  

Last spring everything changed, and baby lust hit us both very hard and at the same time. We planned to TTC once dh had his permanent residence and he was past probation at work. That time arrived last November. However, we did decide in the fall, that financially we could not do it, we have no savings, still paying back a mountain of debt and we are now 41 and 42.  Then in November we changed our minds back again.

We have been full on trying to conceive since then, repeatedly checking in with each other, "are you sure this is what you want?" "Are you prepared for how skint we will be the first 5 years?" "It will put going to school full time on hold once again, are you sure you're okay with that?" etc. We always answered one another the same, "I know, but I really want this baby, and if we wait any longer it may never happen?" So we carried on content that we were one the same page, crying together with each BFN.

Then last week things changed again. (We are currently in another 2 week wait) And the fear and dread of poverty, of being without a car or vacations or a honeymoon or financial security for another 5 to 7 years took hold once again. And we decided to stop trying altogether. Then 3 days later, we decided how much we definately want to keep the baby if we are pregnant this month. And we may actually be quite sad if we are not pregnant, since we have decided to stop trying. Then the conversation turned to, well if we will be gutted if we're not pregnant maybe that means we should keep trying. Today we are back to "nooooooo, I just want to go to school full time, get  a better job" dh wants a car -now and we are crossing our fingers we are not pregnant.

We are both only children and both our parents are dead. So we really do not have outside finacial help or family support. We'd have some emotional support from friends but most of our friends are our age and older, with grown children, several childfree by choice - most caring for older children or aging parents ...........so with us in spirit, but not able to offer us much practical support.

To summarize because of our age we want it both ways, we want the baby the toddler the teenager the family the whole deal, but we want and feel we need for our mental health a bit more financial security, to no longer do without all that we've had to do without the past several years. We want our financial honeymoon period that we've not had due to illness when younger, past abusive relationships and caring for dying parents, and we selfishly, or perhaps understandably want it now. Poverty plus baby 20 or even 10 years ago would not be such a hinderance. But at our age well there are different things to consider. Such as what if my husband fall seriously ill or I do.

I'm not asking anyone to decide for us. But has anyone else gone through this. This waffling between the undeniable desire for a child and being so afraid of the unknown, or so dreading the financial state you'd be in. One of the things we dread of course is that we'll forever regret not having the baby we so want.

Just to be clear we have no savings, no car, low paying jobs, 2 incomplete University educations, debt and no family.

ps. we are both fertile, so we don't have infertility making the decision for us either.

Thank you for any words of wisdom or experiene offered

#2 piper-jane

Posted 31 January 2013 - 05:57 AM

My apologies if this is in the wrong place. Please move if necessary.

#3 cinnabubble

Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:20 AM

Guys, as a 43 year old, I'm telling you time is not on your side.

Right now, you need to decide baby or no baby and set a duration of time (six months? A year?) during which you will commit to TTC and then be prepared to stop if you're not successful, as I'm presuming IVF will be out of your price range.  You don't have time to faff about changing your minds every few days.

There's no shame in putting mental or financial stability before having a baby, but it's not a decision you're going to be able to revisit in five years.  

Good luck!

#4 harryboy

Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:21 AM

Kids really do not cost that much unless you make choices that make it so. In fact, the first 5 years would be when they are "cheapest". You already have a roof over your heads I presume so from there the basics are food and clothing. They don't eat a whole lot and they eat the same as you as long as you don't get sucked into all the "kiddie food". You'll need a cot and a pram to get started and in Australia at least, clothes are very inexpensive nowadays.

I have one DS - and nothing in the world matches the experience of knowing him.

#5 LittleListen

Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:24 AM

Welcome aboard OP.

Honestly, Mo2K is right. Its now or never. You will never "the right" amount of money to have a baby, or the "perfect" timing. If you have a baby now, you will have a tough few years financially. You know that. But you will work around it and survive.

I think baby versus money is the wrong question to ask.

It needs to be baby versus no baby.

Babies (while they are small) don't have to cost the earth. You can buy second-hand everything - usually in excellent condition from markets and opshops, have hand me-down clothes for the bub and yourselves and you can budget your meals and spending. There are ways to make all of that work even on the most basic of welfare payments.

You may need to slow down your other plans. One of you works for a year and the other studies, then you swap. Or you study part time by correspondence while baby is small and you stay home to save the cost of child care. You'll find EB members here who are in similar situations.

An excellent resource for a minimalist approach to bub is www.minimalistmom.com - she has an ebook "a minimalist guide to a baby's first year". I think that it is an excellent way to reconsider the true 'cost' of a baby.

P.S be careful with "We're fertile". Sometimes things aren't exactly as they appear.

#6 HRH Countrymel

Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:36 AM

QUOTE (eyesabove @ 31/01/2013, 07:24 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
P.S be careful with "We're fertile". Sometimes things aren't exactly as they appear.

Have to pipe up with this to OP.

DP and I 'waited till everything was right' - and guess what?  While we had got ourselves sorted financially nature had other plans.

We are now facing life with no children - and we are no longer 'financially sorted' as we have spent a small fortune on fertility treatment, to no avail.

Every failed IVF cycle my DP gets pretty angry at himself for being the one who made us wait so long - too long - before we started to try.

This isn't about money - you don't need money to raise a child, (yes - if you don't have it then they won't have a pony, you won't have a blonde bob and drive a Volvo - but these things are not important. Love and caring are what counts, as long as you have a roof over your head, a meal in your belly and a loving family around you, you are going to have a happy childhood.) Australia has a welfare system that stops people from being out on the streets.  

The decision you are making is child vs no child... don't kid yourself it is any different.

#7 coolguy

Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:49 AM

Wow I've learnt a lot reading these replies. Me and DP are in a similar situation and for a long time had just been assuming that babies would necessarily cost a lot - but lately I'd been challenging that assumption. If you can get second hand things, I don't see the problem at all. Many people say you 'need' a car, but people have had kids for thousands of years without 'needing' a car.

We're also somewhat hedonistic, love travelling and having fun and partying. But I've met lots of parents who are still just as cool as before they had the kids. Don't assume that you have to be a boring person just coz you have kids.

I personally think that both having kids and not having kids are excellent decisions! And I mean that for everyone.

If you don't have kids, on average levels of happiness are greater - according to research - but many people find it worthwhile making that sacrifice because they feel it brings a lot of meaning into their lives. It seems that many thoughtful people vacillate about this major decision.

One strange solution: maybe you guys could donate embryos or have a baby and adopt it out if you wanted to leave a genetic legacy. Plus you'd be helping out a lot of people.

Best of luck in your decision - you sound like cool people. Either way there are benefits!

#8 ACO

Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:58 AM

For the first 6 months babies can be virtually no cost  (other than a few bits of paraphernalia that you can buy second hand, and nappies of course.) Then when they start eating solids, if you cook fresh food it's very cheap.

It's only when they start pre-school and school that costs really start to rise, but even then, there are ways to get assistance if you need it.

In your situation, you do not have the luxury of time. If you want a child you must do it now and use the first few years of your child's life to sort yourself out financially.

#9 cinnabubble

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:05 AM

The real main cost of young babies is half the household income and then ongoing daycare costs. Not negligible in a family who struggles pre-child.

#10 LittleListen

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:09 AM

cinnabubble - agreed however the OP and her partner are not working now. So anything is a step up - even one income.

#11 cinnabubble

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:14 AM

I reread it. She doesn't say they're not working, just that they're broke.

#12 piper-jane

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:25 AM

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies.

Yes, time is not on our side, we are fully aware of that, and we know it is now or never.

And the decision is baby or no baby. We realize we have the very real possibility of recovering financially in the future, both being resourceful and frugal people. Our hesitation comes from the minimalist lifestyle we've been enduring for so long now due to reasons mentioned. At a time when we can finally be out of that extreme financial stress we've been suffering for years,  do we really want to prolong it.

We would not end up homeless because we would do what it takes to avoid that. Welfare is not and option for us, under Canada Immigration rules neither of us can receive that sort of income assistance for the next 3 years. The only government help we would receive would be a child tax credit of about $100/ month.

We are well accustomed to doing things on the super cheap. Used clothing, used cloth nappies are all things we have made ourselves familiar with and the charity shops have long been our favourite places for clothes and the like.

I think this months results will gel our feelings for us. A positive result and we'll be thrilled  but terrified - as most folks I'm sure. A negative, well neither of us can predict if sadness or relief will be the winning emotion. We'll have to wait and see.

We do know the first 5 years of a child's life are the cheapest. But hopefully our child will live past 5 years, then things get very expensive indeed. *sigh. I hate to think of my husband doing without new work boots because our child needs orthodontia or extra tutoring for school. These are the realities. Babies are wonderfully inexpensive, children and teenagers -and these days 20 somethings- are not.

No, leaving a genetic legacy is not important. We would just really like a child of our own, one that lives with us and calls us mum and dad. One who climbs in bed with us when they've had a nightmare, one to bring home finger paintings from kindergarten that we stick on the fridge. A teenager that makes us worry sick because they're out with friends. Gay, straight, disabled or just plain cranky, we'd just really love a child.

Another worry is that we don't have a single person in our life (that may change years down the road) who could become a legal guardian should something happen to us.

There is a list of reasons a mile long to not have a baby - against only one reason to have one, we want one, and we'd love them to bits no matter who we get.


Just wondering if anyone wrestled with the decision as much as we are. Or know someone who did. Did you or they regret the decision to have or not have a child?

While time not on our side and it's now or never, it can also can be said that once we have a child there is no going back. And we know many people who regretted having children and envy our childfree state.

#13 coolguy

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:30 AM

You can always adopt in a few years if your finances improve. I'm surprised people rarely mention this.

#14 Domestic Goddess

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:31 AM

Ok, breastfeeding is free and I love Australia for having opshops. Something not so readily available where I come from in Europe.
Friends might be able to hand down clothes and items.And if not, as I mentioned before, there are opshops.
You'll get the baby bonus to help as well through the first 6 months.
If you use cloth nappies, you'll save an incredible amount as well. Especially if you can find them secondhand on Facebook.There are a few Facebook pages with thousands of members selling their used nappies secondhand if they're in good condition still.

You'll be surprised how well you will manage when a little one comes along. Yes life will definitely not be easy (financially) but your little one wont care if he/she has frozen veggies for dinner rather than fresh. They dont care if you get your groceries from Aldi rather than Woolies.

Have you seen a financial counselor to set up a "pretend" budget where you add everything needed for a baby/toddler/child/teenagers? Might be helpful. But yeah, time is not on your side. Yet you can  and WILL make things work out of the love for your child original.gif

#15 LenaK

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:31 AM

I understand your conundrum OP.  I am Aussie and my DH is Dutch and we've had similar issues - visa restrictions meaning only one income, not to mention the cost the visa itself, the wedding etc. International relationships are expensive.  To make matters worse we decided to relocate back to Holland after a few years in Australia, so we've had the pleasure of doing it twice.  

We are a little younger (33 and 36) but we knew we wanted children from the beggining.  In our original plan, children were quite a few years down the track when we were more geograpahically and financially stable.  Then we realised that DH would be in his 40's and I wouldnt be far behind and we were afraid that might be too late.  

After some agonising we decided that a few (more) years of having no money was better than a lifetime with no children.  We now have a 21 month old and are pregnant with No #2.

There have been times when I have wondered what the hell we were thinking but I know we have made the right choice for us.  Start up costs (makes it sound like a business  biggrin.gif ) can seem daunting but you really dont need all the stuff *they* say you do, and the things you do need can be found second hand.  Most of our stuff was given to us.  For the first few years, they dont eat much (especially if you breastfeed) and they can be entertained for hours with a cardboard box or some bubbles from your local $2 shop :-)

Edited by LenaK, 31 January 2013 - 07:36 AM.

#16 HRH Countrymel

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:36 AM

QUOTE (coolguy @ 31/01/2013, 08:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can always adopt in a few years if your finances improve. I'm surprised people rarely mention this.

People haven't mentioned that coolguy because it isn't a possibility.
Well I don't know the rules in Canada to be sure but it ISN'T a possibility in Australia.

Please - once again - can you engage your brain before you use your typing fingers?

#17 CourtesanNewton

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:39 AM

You can always adopt in a few years if your finances improve. I'm surprised people rarely mention this.

They didn't mention it because it's almost impossible when you're a younger couple (plus being mind-bogglingly expensive). Once you're over 40 it's game over and they won't let you fullstop.

#18 coolguy

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:39 AM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 31/01/2013, 08:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
People haven't mentioned that coolguy because it isn't a possibility.
Well I don't know the rules in Canada to be sure but it ISN'T a possibility in Australia.

Please - once again - can you engage your brain before you use your typing fingers?

Oh and why isn't it possible? Not all of us are as up to speed as you on everything baby-related, no need to be arrogant about it.

#19 piper-jane

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:41 AM

QUOTE (coolguy @ 30/01/2013, 01:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can always adopt in a few years if your finances improve. I'm surprised people rarely mention this.

I am too. Adoption is something we'd prefer to be honest. But we've looked into and and because of our income and lack of family support we do not qualify. By the time we are more secure financially and have an extended family of choice, there is the possibility that we could adopt an older child - a baby not important to us, but we'd be early 50s by then and we've been told they do give preference to home owners. Home ownership not and option for us not even in the distant future - not even close. But adoption in the future not necessarily impossible, but it is a slim chance.

Some fertility treatments are covered under our universal health care here, so even that is a possibility should we need it.

And yes, we are both working we just earn very little. So cutting our income in half while I'm home with the baby, then child care costs when I return to work could really cripple us. We'd not be homeless, but we would really struggle.

#20 coolguy

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:41 AM

QUOTE (redkris @ 31/01/2013, 08:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
They didn't mention it because it's almost impossible when you're a younger couple (plus being mind-bogglingly expensive). Once you're over 40 it's game over and they won't let you fullstop.

I know someone over 40 who adopted. Yes, I'm aware you need to show that you have sufficient wealth, that's why I made the point when their finances improve

#21 HRH Countrymel

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:47 AM

QUOTE (coolguy @ 31/01/2013, 08:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh and why isn't it possible? Not all of us are as up to speed as you on everything baby-related, no need to be arrogant about it.

The OP is over 40 as is her husband.  Adoption is a long, expensive, drawn out process and it is NOT available to people over 40 - much less the nearly 50 that OP and her husband would be by the time they would be at the 'getting a baby' end of the process

You approach these forums as your own little playground and wander into subjects which are extremely emotionally fraught with pithy throwaway lines.

Sorry if I come across as arrogant to you - I am just frustrated by you commenting on things you have no knowledge nor understanding of, and more importantly coming across as lacking compassion for people in very sad situations..

#22 cira

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:47 AM

I think having children (or not) is often a hard decision as is whether to add more children to a family.
Have you considered moving to Australia? The baby bonus and other centrelink payments might make a huge difference to your ability to afford children.

#23 Domestic Goddess

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:48 AM

QUOTE (piper-jane @ 31/01/2013, 08:25 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Another worry is that we don't have a single person in our life (that may change years down the road) who could become a legal guardian should something happen to us.

I don't have a legal guardian for my son, not even his father. Im a sole parent, so he has no father. My parents are too old and fragile to care for him and all my other family lives in Europe.
Still didn't stop me from having a child. Its a little unlikely that both of you die in the next 18 years. Its more likely that 1 of you passes and the other one still remains the parent.

QUOTE (coolguy @ 31/01/2013, 08:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can always adopt in a few years if your finances improve. I'm surprised people rarely mention this.

Adoption is virtually impossible when you reach 35yo.

EDIT: Somehow I missed the OP mentioning they lived in Canada. I thought they moved over here. DOH! Been up till 4am. I'll butt out now  unsure.gif

Edited by Domestic Goddess, 31 January 2013 - 07:50 AM.

#24 coolguy

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:49 AM

I see. Shame how money all too often dictates our lives. What about living in a city with really low rental costs? Have you called up social services to ask any advice on what the govt can do to help in your situation?

#25 Hands Up

Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:53 AM

QUOTE (coolguy @ 31/01/2013, 08:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can always adopt in a few years if your finances improve. I'm surprised people rarely mention this.

Adoption of babies within Australia is extremely rare (most women choose to abort rather than carry babies full term and then adopt them out) and adoption of babies from overseas is extremely expensive. They would have to save like demons for years from the sounds of things. I wouldn't be relying on either of these options if I were in the OP's position.

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