Doing the Pregnancy Math
It's never easy to time having a baby, but Kathy Zucker creates long-term fertility projections alongside her household financial planning.
If you have ever been pregnant, you know how easy it is to get obsessed with numbers.
Forty weeks. That number becomes all-encompassing. Starting from the first day of your last menstrual period, you can track exactly when your baby's heart starts to beat. You can also stress about your due date and whether you will wind up with a cesarean section based on an early or late delivery.
But for many of us, the pregnancy math starts well before we actually become pregnant.
In the same way that I create long-term financial projections for my household, I also maintain fertility projections. I have absolutely no control over when I will conceive. All I can do is look at the odds and guess.
Factoring in potential miscarriages, conception time and spacing between kids, I assumed it would take us three years to achieve each take-home baby. Knowing that we wanted to have more than one child and with the specter of age 35 staring me in the face, age 30 seemed like the perfect time to start a family. It also helped that my husband and I had been together for a decade at that point; with five years of marriage under our belts, we had plenty to find ourselves plus get our financial house in order.
I became pregnant with our first child when I was 31 and our second when I was 33.
The first three years were really rough. It took a long time to adjust to our new life stage. Spacious when it was just the two of us and our dog, our Hoboken condo suddenly seemed ridiculously small when we had two babies and all their gear to contend with. Coupled with the hit to our household income when I decided to stay home, it took us five years to find a large-enough living space and get used to the new routine with a family double the size of our old one.
With two healthy kids under my belt before age 35, suddenly having a third became a very real possibility.
Timing a third pregnancy has turned out to be surprisingly similar to timing our first. We were not anywhere near ready to have a baby when we first started discussing it, but as time passed and we got closer to being ready, my pregnancy math projections tightened up until we had a finite time window. Given my history of pregnancy complications, my obstetrician strongly advised having the third child by age 38. My two kids became perceptibly easier to manage once they turned three and five, so the only remaining issues were money and career considerations.
We are in the window for baby no. 3; now is the time to set the plans aside and rely on prayer.