Career versus baby

(55 Posts)
Redheadlondon Wed 13-Oct-21 19:52:51

I feel terrible writing this because it goes against EVERYTHING I try to stand for at work for working parents. But…

I am trying to conceive but really worried it will totally derail my career. I’m working towards a Managing Director promotion that would have me settled for life. But … I’m 34 and started to worry if I don’t start now, with some uterus abnormalities and PCO, it could never happen or take years.

Anyone else had this feeling?

OP’s posts: |
TheDaydreamBelievers Wed 13-Oct-21 22:55:51

At 34 if you want a baby I'd start asap. I'm 32 and already trying 1.5 years

Raaaaaaarr Wed 13-Oct-21 23:02:26

Start now. You'll have a baby and then realise how empty the corporate world really is.

Firsttimetrier Wed 13-Oct-21 23:09:51

What will you look back on at retirement age? The progress you’ve made in your career or the family around you?

If you see the latter, I would start now.

SlB09 Wed 13-Oct-21 23:15:43

Start now.
I got promoted post birth.
I was 34, now thinking of second and really wish we'd started earlier for many many reasons.

Digby86 Thu 14-Oct-21 02:11:15

I’m with you. I’m 35 and have put it off and put it for similar career reasons. There was always another promotion looming, and I wanted to make sure I was secure financially and in career terms before starting a family. I work in quite an old school industry and while pregnancy shouldn’t impact on how you’re viewed at work or your prospects, I think the sad fact is that it often still does. I have been anxious of losing everything I’ve worked for to be written off as somehow being less committed to my career/less ambitious etc.

The only thing I can say is that it has to be a totally personal choice about what you want more. If you could have one or the other (not saying that is the case!) which would you pick?

Personally, I realised that I would regret not having a family more than not making partner. So I’m willing to risk sacrificing or delaying the latter if that’s what is required to have a child.

Also, you kind of have to back yourself. And make no apologies. If you’re in the running for a role like that it’s because you’re damn good at what you do!! And you have to have confidence that you will continue to be that good and continue to create those opportunities for yourself if that’s what you want. If it’s not within the business you’re currently in, and having a child is the reason for that, is it a business you want to be in long term? It’s their loss, and you deserve to be somewhere way way better than that which respects your personal choices without that reading across to your professional capability.

Sorry, not sure I can actually be of much help! But just wanted to let you know you’re absolutely not alone in feeling this way.

BunnytheFriendlyDragon Thu 14-Oct-21 02:53:08

What would you regret most if you missed out on one of them?

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seaandsandcastles Thu 14-Oct-21 02:55:37

I would start trying for a baby now. You don’t know how long it could take and if you have problems you need time on your side.

Landlubber2019 Thu 14-Oct-21 03:20:47

If you want a family, you need to crack on.

Sadly I believe women are told they can have great careers and have children, many do but your fears that children will derail your career are a real possibility sadly. I had to make a choice and it cost me a career I had worked hard to achieve and once DC they arrived, I realized where I wanted to be and where I was most needed. Becoming a parent I found I was sidelined at work, but clearly I was always indispensable!

Greytminds Thu 14-Oct-21 03:26:50

My personal view is that it will impact no matter when you do it, so if all the other parts of your life feel ready for a family then go for it. I had my first at 37 - not by choice as I had fertility issues so it took me 5.5 years to get and stay pregnant. I’d got to Director level at this point but it did set back my career by a year or so. The year post mat-leave was a bit of a wilderness period, where I didn’t get my job back. Then I got the next promotion and have got things back on track.

Maternity leave is very likely to have an impact, that’s the sad truth, but I think the bigger impact is determined by what you want when you come back - if you were to return full time after 6 months, it would be very different to returning part time after a year. I’ve just had my second baby, a surprise at 41, and plan to head back after 9 months so DH can take the final 3 months as shared parental leave. I will likely put Ds in nursery for either 4 or 5 days a week and go back 4 days to start with and then full time. I feel very conscious that amongst my friends, my DC are in nursery for more days and that most of them only send their children for 3 days a week. People say it’s hard to know how you’ll feel once you’ve had kids, but I’ve always known that I’d carry on with my career.

Pinkbonbon Thu 14-Oct-21 03:31:33

Sod that. Imagine working so hard to get to the top of your career in order to give it up for a baby. I disagree with the other posters personally I would stick at the job. A woman should seek to be financially secure and self reliant before even considering kids. Don't fuck up your personal security. Love yourself first.

SleepQuest33 Thu 14-Oct-21 06:27:59

How much support have you got around you? Does your partner also have the same career ambitions or will they be flexible with their time?

DoubleHelix79 Thu 14-Oct-21 06:38:21

You need a DH who is an equal partner, and the confidence to set your own boundaries at work. It's easier in some ways to combine a senior role and children, because you are a lot less replaceable. I have a moderately senior role and two fairly young DC now (just came back from.mat leave with DS 2 being 6 months old) and have basically told them what hours I intend to work. I am flexible of course and will always try to accommodate key meetings and do respond to important emails outside of my core hours, but I am confident enough to say what they need to do to keep my (important to the organisation) skillset. DH works 4 days per week and does his fair share on other days.

Raaaaaaarr Thu 14-Oct-21 06:47:17

I'll add to my view that your organisation could drop you like that for any reason. Imagine you wait a bit more then your organisation let's you go...

Roselilly36 Thu 14-Oct-21 06:56:36

There is no comparison between the two, baby is much more important than career IMHO. If you are lucky enough to have a baby, you will look back at this post and realise how insignificant it is. My two DS’ are adults now, being their mum has been the best thing ever, I would do it all again if I could, no regrets. If you want a baby, those feelings will get stronger. Wishing you lots of luck.

Twizbe Thu 14-Oct-21 06:58:33

Look at it this way. You're 34 and have worked hard to get to the top of your field.

You still have at least 16-26 years of working life ahead of you (assuming a retirement of 50-60)

I'm guessing you're university educated so have been working for around 10-12 years.

What is the next step after MD? What will you do for all those years. Where do you go once you're at the top?

If you take 2-4 years now to slow down, take the full maternity leave, work part time. What real impact will that have? Ok it might take some time to regain your place, but you have time.

Santastuckincustoms Thu 14-Oct-21 07:05:27

Think about what you want to look back on when you're 80-90. Will you be happy you did one/the other/both. I was in a similar position but realised that being in a very good career position was a great achievement NOW but thought I'm not sure if I want that to be my only contribution in life. And I'm glad I did have DC because I've just moved companies and after 16 years working at my last one they showed 0 loyalty to me, not even a leaving card. It felt like I had been duped into thinking my colleagues were family whereas they in fact couldn't care less. Im glad I have my family at home who do care!

Bex000 Thu 14-Oct-21 07:07:38

I would say there is no good time to have a baby, but if it is important to you don’t leave it too late. I started trying at 36 eventually had a successful pregnancy at 40.
The key is having a good partner willing to share burden. I returned to work after 6 months, was promoted when pregnant and left current company for another external promotion when child was 2, so don’t think it damaged my career but was bloody stressful, tiring and damn hard work. I spent much time in hotel rooms pumping milk and being completely and utterly sleep deprived after getting up three times to fed and leaving home at 5.45 to commute into London.
That said now in a position where we are financially secure and I can afford to outsource.
Being more senior has its advantages in terms of flexibility, but make sure it is not at the cost of actually having a baby!

Greytminds Thu 14-Oct-21 07:15:16

DoubleHelix79

You need a DH who is an equal partner, and the confidence to set your own boundaries at work. It's easier in some ways to combine a senior role and children, because you are a lot less replaceable. I have a moderately senior role and two fairly young DC now (just came back from.mat leave with DS 2 being 6 months old) and have basically told them what hours I intend to work. I am flexible of course and will always try to accommodate key meetings and do respond to important emails outside of my core hours, but I am confident enough to say what they need to do to keep my (important to the organisation) skillset. DH works 4 days per week and does his fair share on other days.

Totally agree with this. It is essential that you have support from your partner. My DH does fewer hours, and is able to do all nursery drop offs and pick ups, as well as accommodate me when I need to do business travel. Most of my male counterparts have a wife who facilitate their career!

groundhogyear Thu 14-Oct-21 07:29:07

Seat now. But recognise it will impact your career, maybe not if you only have one, but I know it has cost me my MD promotion.

Redwinestillfine Thu 14-Oct-21 07:39:09

How long will the promotion take op? I regret not pushing for one more pre kids because once I had the baby I surprised myself by wanting to stay home etc. I compromised by going part time. Personally it's been really rewarding and I am so much happier, but professionally I haven't got any of the jobs I have been for since. Having said that given my way I would have had kids earlier too though. Gone for more promotions and started sooner! No reason why you can't do both? You don't have to tell them you're pregnant until 20 weeks, and they shouldn't discriminate anyway.

Redheadlondon Thu 14-Oct-21 07:48:21

Digby86

I’m with you. I’m 35 and have put it off and put it for similar career reasons. There was always another promotion looming, and I wanted to make sure I was secure financially and in career terms before starting a family. I work in quite an old school industry and while pregnancy shouldn’t impact on how you’re viewed at work or your prospects, I think the sad fact is that it often still does. I have been anxious of losing everything I’ve worked for to be written off as somehow being less committed to my career/less ambitious etc.

The only thing I can say is that it has to be a totally personal choice about what you want more. If you could have one or the other (not saying that is the case!) which would you pick?

Personally, I realised that I would regret not having a family more than not making partner. So I’m willing to risk sacrificing or delaying the latter if that’s what is required to have a child.

Also, you kind of have to back yourself. And make no apologies. If you’re in the running for a role like that it’s because you’re damn good at what you do!! And you have to have confidence that you will continue to be that good and continue to create those opportunities for yourself if that’s what you want. If it’s not within the business you’re currently in, and having a child is the reason for that, is it a business you want to be in long term? It’s their loss, and you deserve to be somewhere way way better than that which respects your personal choices without that reading across to your professional capability.

Sorry, not sure I can actually be of much help! But just wanted to let you know you’re absolutely not alone in feeling this way.

Thank you - this was really helpful. I guess I sway from thinking I’d be happy without children, when I think of all the things I’d be losing. Then when I spend time with my friends toddles I’m like “I love this” … but I guess I’m seeing them at their best!
I understand what others are saying - career would take a knock, but my drive isn’t going to go away so it might pause but when I’m ready I hope I could pick it back up.
I’m not sure DH is relevant - I know many women I work with who had had IVF with no male partner. But yes, a support network is crucial.

OP’s posts: |
EnidFrighten Thu 14-Oct-21 07:53:11

You have around 35 working years left and around five fertile years.

Twizbe Thu 14-Oct-21 07:58:35

@Redheadlondon your DH is very relevant.

A good partner will support your choices. Enable you to be the mother you want and most importantly, won't make things harder for you.

A friend of mine works part time and her main reason for doing so is her husband. He does very little of the mental load, very little round the house and is as messy as her teenagers. He wouldn't help her to run the house if she worked full time.

On the other side, my husband is very neat and tidy and an active partner. When I worked full time he shared nursery drop offs and collections 50/50. We alternated who took time off for kids being sick etc.

Your single friend might not have a partner, but she will have her support network and your partner should be yours

Greytminds Thu 14-Oct-21 08:03:19

DH is definitely relevant. Maybe not if you get a full time nanny (or if your workplace does in fact offer full flexibility to the women you mention without partners, without comprising their career). But the conversation needs to be had - because even in the most equal of relationships it is often the women who the caring work load defaults to. Who will pick up/drop off the kid every day, who makes their breakfast, their dinner, puts them to bed, packs their nursery bag etc. organises their needs, unless you’re assuming you’ll do all these things, you need to talk about it!

My DH is a more than equal partner but I was the one my DD wanted at night, who breastfed, who took the time off work on mat leave, who gets called by nursery when there’s a problem (although now they know to call him as I often can’t answer). It was hard despite the support.

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