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should I have a baby?

(32 Posts)
granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 13:01:05

Hi there, postdoctoral research scientist and I'm on a fixed-term research contract at a Russell group university and I am thinking about having a baby very soon (I'm 32). I am worried about losing my job and the quality of life my family would have. I have to leave my house at 6:30 am and return at about 6:30 pm due to my commute, do you think that this would be hard to do with a baby? Myself and my husband work in different cities, and we live in a small town in between. We have no family close by. I am finding my work life very difficult as it is, I am stressed and in tears most days, this is probably mostly due to the insecurity of my situation. We have discussed moving closer to one of the cities but because of the insecurity of our contracts, we are worried about losing our jobs and not being able to afford the larger mortgage and it would mean that one person would have an extremely long commute.

I work in a very male-dominated field, and the very few examples I've seen of working mothers in the department, make me feel very worried. One postdoc was expected to come to meetings and work throughout her maternity leave. She was in the office writing papers and coming to meetings 2 weeks after giving birth even though she officially took 6 months off. She was scared of her contract not being renewed. Other mothers have not had their contracts renewed or projects were cut short. Not 100% this was due to them being pregnant, but talk in the department is that this is the underlying reason.

I've been trying to get a permanent job in either industry or academia in a more practical location, so I could take some decent maternity leave, but I've been rejected over and over again. I don't know if I should have a baby now or wait until my husband and I can get permanent work in the same city. Has anyone else here experienced anything similar?

WantToGoingTo Mon 13-Mar-17 13:11:42

There is never a right time to have a baby. It might not happen straight away, or it might happen immediately! But I do believe things always work out. I completely understand your insecurities though. Do you have any savings? Even on a FTC you will be entitled to some maternity pay (or maternity allowance - might want to look it up im not sure of ins and outs) depending on how long you have worked there.

Re commute - it is doable. I was made redundant when I returned from maternity leave (I know, don't ask, it was horrific at time but worked out for the best) so had similar feelings of insecurity. But I now have a better job! New job is 63mile commute each way so I too leave house at 6.30am. Luckily I have worked it so I can do earlier finishes and wfh a few days a week and we are planning on moving nearer soon as DH has a new job. So I would say commute is doable but it depends on a) distance dh travels to work - can he do nursery drop off and pick up? B) flexible working - can you work from home at all? Start later? Finish earlier? C) planning re making meals in advance, all things ready for nursery.

Also need to consider cost of childcare and whether you could afford it as you say you have no family nearby.

But all said, there is never a right time and even people in permanent jobs aren't safe (look at me!) so I would weigh up the options and potentially save for a bit first smile

WantToGoingTo Mon 13-Mar-17 13:13:05

FYI most nurseries open between 8-8.30am and close between 6-6.30pm. We are lucky as ours opens at 7.30 but most don't.

UndersecretaryofWhimsy Mon 13-Mar-17 13:18:11

If you are already stressed and struggling, then a baby will increase that. And as PPs say, childcare that covers 12+ hours a day will be expensive and possibly very difficult to find unless you can employ a nanny. Tbh yes, i think 12 hour days would be very difficult and stressful with a young child. Could your partner feasibly do either dropoff, pickup or both?

I don't mean to be negative, and 'difficult' certainly doesn't mean 'impossible', but I think you may have to make some tough choices about your priorities. I would be inclined to hold off on getting pregnant until you're in a less pressured and more sustainable situation. Good luck.

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 13-Mar-17 13:23:06

Nurseries and childminders don't generally open until 7:30am (you get the occasional one that opens at 7) and the latest they're open until is usually around 6pm. Wrap-around care once they're in school is a whole different ballgame e.g. we're having to put DS1 into holiday club before Easter - they don't open until 8am, despite the same provider starting breakfast club from 7:30am during term time.

It's a fucking nightmare. In the absence of supportive family, your situation doesn't sound sustainable or doable unless one of you reduces working hours, or you have the funds to pay for a nanny, and probably never see your child except at weekends.

You also don't want an unsuppportive and stressful working environment when you're trying to get back to work after mat leave (horrible), trying to work on four broken hours sleep a night if you end up with a non-sleeper, or having to bob out every other day at short notice because your child has contracted the latest bug going around nursery. A huge amount of my A/L for both my DSs was spent on looking after them when they were sick in their first two years of childcare - they're just continuously ill.

granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 13:25:24

Thanks for the honest feedback, my husband has a similar commute to me, so not sure if he will be able to do the dropoff/pickoff. :-(

granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 13:26:55

How do you drop your child off at nursery if it isn't open at 6:30? Does your partner do it?

UndersecretaryofWhimsy Mon 13-Mar-17 13:34:10

Personally I don't work full time and don't work as long days as you, but we have a shared nanny who starts at 0730. My H and I stagger our working day - I start and finish earlier and do pickup, he starts later and does dropoff.

shakeyospeare Mon 13-Mar-17 13:39:23

Are there not childcare facilities where you work or near where you work?

You don't sound very happy in your job or your place of work - are there any opportunities or jobs that you could do that would make you happier?

granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 13:43:41

That is what I am trying to do, I've applied for many jobs, but I haven't been successful yet. There is a nursery close to my work. But I am worried about taking the baby on my M62 motorway commute. I am a bit clueless when it comes to babies, but I am worried about doing a journey like that by myself.

Smartiepants79 Mon 13-Mar-17 13:44:25

In my opinion your current set up would be extremely difficult with a baby/small child thrown in as well. I would say that unless you are going to hire a nanny it would be almost impossible. I think that both of you need to decide what your current priorities are. Your careers or a family? Because one of them is going to have to give at least for a while.

WantToGoingTo Mon 13-Mar-17 13:44:54

We lived v close to dh work so he does nursery drop off at 7.30 and he picks up at 5 (works 8-4.30). We also have two days of grandparents looking after DS which is a huge help so nursery is only three days. When I wfh I do the drop off and pick ups (twice a week depending which days I wfh). If you can't work out childcare between you at the moment I would consider waiting until it's feasible. That or be content to give up your FTC when you start maternity leave and find something else to return to (ultimately what I did after I was made redundant!) but v stressful looking for a new job with a baby

nagsandovalballs Mon 13-Mar-17 13:45:10

I've just had a cry because I'm an arts and hums person in the same position. Not particularly keen having kids, but stressed and depressed by the endless chasing of fixed term posts.

I don't know what to do and I'm not qualified to work in other industries.

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 13-Mar-17 13:45:25

No, granola - you just have to start work later! You can't drop a child off at nursery before opening hours - there's no one there to look after them.

I have to be out of the house at 7am. DH drops our DSs off at breakfast club and nursery for bang-on opening at 7:30am. I do pick up at around 5/5:30pm (both close at 6pm).

DH works away sometimes, which means I have to start work later on those days since I get in closer to 9am rather than my required start time of 8am. I have an arrangement with my (lovely, supportive, female) manager and co-workers to work through my lunch for a couple of days to make up the hours. As I also have to do pick up those days, working later isn't an option as I'd never make it before 6pm closing of nursery and after school club.

Pre-children these practicalities never occurred to me. DH has had to pass up work opportunities for want of just an extra 30-60 minutes of child care at one end of the day or the other.

WantToGoingTo Mon 13-Mar-17 13:46:41

undersecretary that's sort of what we do tho we live close to dh work, and what we will do if we can't move before he starts new job in June!

granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 13:53:07

nagsandovalballs it is so difficult! I'm finding it so hard to get a job outside academia. I think I would be more employable without my PhD.

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 13-Mar-17 13:55:15

You really don't want a nursery close to work if you've got a long commute. If you're sick, or need to take a day off for a medical appointment or something, and still want them to go to nursery, you do not want to be schlepping your child in all the way to somewhere near your work, rather than just popping them around the corner near home. Secondly, at older baby/toddler age they will fall asleep in the car journey on the way home which will, quite frankly, fuck up your evening as they'll be awake until Christ knows when, and all you'll want to be doing is getting your jobs done, resting and getting to bed yourself ASAP. Thirdly, and this is much less of a consideration but one I've appreciated, is a nursery near home means they'll be more likely to have nursery friends go into school with them - this was great peace of mind when DS1 started school. This wouldn't happen with a nursery near your work.

xStefx Mon 13-Mar-17 13:58:18

In my optinion (only mine so not speaking for anyone else) 12 hours in childcare seems too much for a small child.

If your not ready to compromise and make time for a baby then I wouldn't suggest having one until you are ready, its a big commitment and they need your time.

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 13-Mar-17 14:04:28

Both of mine have absolutely thrived on 10 hours a day of nursery, five days a week from the time they were eight months old, so please don't let Stef's opinion put you off.

xStefx Mon 13-Mar-17 14:06:45

My child has thrived on 5 hours a day too. I did state it was only my opinion so no need to get offended. Plus OP wanted opinions so I was only giving mine. I do believe children need your time though, no one can argue that.

granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 14:12:43

It is not that I don't want to compromise. I can't get a job with a shorter commute at the moment, even though I am trying very hard. I agree the situation is not ideal.

granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 14:14:38

we could move closer to my work, but I have justified fears that I could lose my job.

LadyDawn Mon 13-Mar-17 14:21:10

IMHO, I wouldn't wait to have a child. Work is a way to make money for material things, and so we can live our lives. Material things can always wait. Having a house is obviously quite important, but biology does not wait for us; life does not wait for us. You will probably find that when you have a child your priorities will change, maybe for the better? smile

xStefx Mon 13-Mar-17 14:23:18

Its a hard one, I had a 14 year career in debt collection and repossessions before I got pregnant with dd. Was travelling a lot and out of the house for about 11 - 12 hours a day. It was genuinely impossible for me when she was born, she was waking up and I was taking her straight to nursery, then as I picked her up in the evening it would be time for her bed and I was only seeing her properly on the weekend. Plus I was sooo tired (little ones are hard work) and I ended up miserable. (im only saying as you have asked opinions and I don't want people telling you it will be fine and all smelling of roses when its bloody hard). In the end I went part time to new job , decided to put my career on hold (only on hold as it meant a lot to me) until DD was in school. I was/ am much calmer! sometimes something's just gotta give , I get how hard it is for you , you seem a bit stuck.

granolacrayons Mon 13-Mar-17 14:27:20

Sorry, this isn't about work being my main priority. I am not even on a particularly high salary at the moment. The reality is that I can't afford not to work, so I am trying to figure out how to make the best of my situation.

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