Careers, life goals, baby, holiday plans, wait…baby!
Before we get in too deep, let me just tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Zahra Suleman, I’m a 21-year-old Fashion Promotion student and I’ve been spending some time looking into the facts, figures and opinions for when it comes to finding out if there is a right time to have a baby. My mum had her first child when she was 21, as did most of her friends; I guess it was the norm at that time to get married and start a family so quickly. It feels weird to think that if I was born a generation earlier I’d be married with my first child; I can barely look after myself, let alone adding someone else into the mix. But Mamma Suleman assures me that she had plenty of help when it came to taking care of me and my brother. ‘We lived with extended family, so there was plenty of helping hands around, I might have struggled if I was alone.’
So, is there a ‘right time’ to have a baby? We’re all brought up with a clear idea in our minds of the sort of things we should be focusing on. For many of us it’s getting an education and then building up a super career that will make our parents proud, so they can boast about it to all of their friends. Once that’s all sorted its time to find love and settle down. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that everyone is really just looking to find everyday happiness.
So, what do you prioritise to ensure happiness? You need to figure out what the most important thing in your life is right now and make sure that when you prioritise, that it’s what you want, not what society wants you to do. There is a difference in when we feel like we should start thinking about babies and when we actually want to have them. In a way, society does pressurise us to live in a certain manner. We seem to always be comparing ourselves to others and worrying about what they might think, when really it should be 100% yours and your partner’s decision.
Zahra & Hassanali Suleman
Deciding when to have a baby is without a doubt one of the biggest choices you’ll ever have to make. It is such a mixed emotion situation as there are so many factors you need to take into account; is there anything else I want to do with my life? Should I try for a promotion? Maybe I should have gone to Glastonbury? You need to be happy enough to leave behind assignment life and start up assignment baby. Also, not forgetting about your partner, just because you’ve decided it’s the right time, doesn’t mean that they agree. The Huffington Post* did a study, which showed that 90% of couples that had a baby when their partner wasn’t ready got divorced within five years. This doesn’t really surprise me as if you can’t communicate on when a good time for both of you is, then how exactly do you plan on raising a child? On top of all that, when you actually have a baby it is not something that you can control; The NHS* clarifies that 84% of women fall pregnant within the first year of trying and one in seven couples struggle with fertility.
You also need to consider that the cost of having a baby is increasing; wherever you live and whatever you earn, it will be a substantial financial factor in your life. Childbirth Connection* did a survey, which showed that women can take up to six years to plan motherhood. But is it actually possible to plan and control over this part of our lives? Maybe to a certain extent, but I think we need to realise that ultimately it will either make us jump for joy or tear us apart. I was looking into the facts and figures, and The Guardian* researched into it and found that the UK has one of the youngest ages for first time mothers out of the entire Western world, which isn’t something I realized until I started Googling and putting worrying search terms into the laptop history.
Helen & Antony Aravelo and Hossein, Lena & Sabeena
Though, The Telegraph* investigated into the overall average age for first time mothers. In the UK it is 28, which sounds fine to me. In the US the average is 25 and in Australia, Japan and Italy it is 30. But, facts and figures don’t really mean much when it comes to pregnancy, as although age does play a slight factor, it’s more about your state of mind and how you act as a parent that really makes a difference. Helen Aravelo, who had her baby boy, Antony, when she was 16 years old, is proof that age doesn’t always have to be a factor when it comes to finding the right time. ‘Looking back to when I was 16 and a mother, and the stage I am now being 20, there have been some difficult and positive times but I would not change my life. Waking up every morning to hear my son say mummy is the most beautiful and loving moment,’ she tells me.
We are a generation that is used to being in full control of our destiny, but pregnancy and motherhood are not like that. The whole thing is unpredictable, wonderful and frustrating. Sabeena Pirooz from Bristol had her baby girl, Lena, when she was 33 and explains to me that you don’t have the option to be in charge and decide what happens during or even after pregnancy. ‘I had to learn to accept that you can’t really control the situation. The baby will come when it is good and ready and things will happen to your body that you just can’t control! You also have to remember that even if people explain their birth or circumstances, its different for everyone, so you just have to go with the flow,’ she explains. Sabeena also tells me that even though she couldn’t control anything, she wouldn’t change a thing about the experience she went through and continues to go through now. ‘We are in awe of Lena everyday as she changes so much. It’s the best thing ever. Our lives have been enriched by her and she makes us laugh everyday; we can’t imagine life without her!’
Therefore, I guess the answer is don’t do it until you and your partner are ready, but then at the same time I guess don’t ever expect to be completely ready as there will always be factors there to challenge your decision. Go on your instincts, if you want to make it work, you will.
*The Huffington Post - an online news aggregator
*NHS - The National Health Service
*Childbirth Connection - the core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families
*The Guardian - a daily British National newspaper
*The Telegraph - a daily British National newspaper