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TTC vs. career

(13 Posts)
LeTigre Fri 09-Oct-09 18:10:54

Hello ladies - this is my first post although I've been lurking for a little while!

Is anyone else feeling very angsty about whether to start ttc now, or whether to try and get a bit further ahead in their career first?

I have a good job, which I enjoy. It has an excellent maternity policy and I'd most likely be able to return part-time if I wanted to. It's also stable and secure which is no small consideration in current times.

However, I've recently completed some professional qualifications and have also for the last 9 months been acting up to cover my boss' role. Although I like my job, I keep being nagged by this feeling that I could get a more senior and higher paid role elsewhere (as it's quite a small team where I am there isn't really scope for progression here unless someone leaves).

H and I had planned to start ttc in the new year, but if I started a new job we'd probably have to put this off for a year or so as I wouldn't want to be pregnant too soon after starting something new. There's also a bit of the fear of the unknown - I don't know what the maternity policy in another company would be like, or if they'd be open to part-time working.

I'm pretty broody and do want to have a baby, but I'm only 28 so could afford to put it off a bit - I don't know if I want to though!

Is it possible to have a fulfilling career once you start having children, or do I need to accept that it would need to take a back seat for a few years? Should I try to forge ahead now, or realise that I've got a really good deal where I am and make the most of it?

Any thoughts, suggestions, experiences very welcome!

OnlyWantsOneFartleBerry Fri 09-Oct-09 19:03:26

Depends if when you do have a baby, how that will change your domestic situation. Do you want to be a SAHM (stay at home mum) or go back to work?

Really, depending on finance and support of your DH there is a choice.

I have a 3 yr old DD, I work part time (my own business) and I am completing an English Degree. My partner works full time - and some how we just fit life in, and it's fab.

I do though, now, feel like you - that to go back to having a baby would mean starting all over again. It is daunting, and there is no right answer. Just what you think feels right.

Also, waiting to TTC depends on your age and health too. If you are 25 then waiting may be ok, if you are 38 then I would seriously consider what is more important right now.

What does your DH think / feel?

WestYorkshireGirl Fri 09-Oct-09 19:13:04

Hi LeTigre

Read your post with interest. I am also very career-minded. Never really had any maternal feelings and got quite stressed with babies and young children when people used to bring them into work to show them off. Drifted along like this and am doing well in my career. Like you the company I am in has a great maternity package. 2 years ago I suddenly got very broody and my brother adopted 2 children. As I got to know them, I realised that I could see DH and I doing this. Also, a few close friends popped out some babies and I got my hands on them a bit more and became more relaxed around them.

Then, as this was all happening, I injured my knee very badly. I have had 2 year of physio and an operation so TTC was strongly advised against. I got the 'go ahead' to start trying in July (still not better, but getting there slowly) and so far, no luck. I have found this marginally tricky to deal with as like most women assumed it would happen fairly quickly and whilst I haven't been trying long (unlike others on these threads) and know I need to be patient, I find that hard.

I keep looking at jobs (have been in post 4 years), but I know realistically that I wouldn't get better maternity benefits than where I am now and we have flexible working. I have learnt that you never know what's around the corner and that whilst us 'modern women' have career aspirations that we must spend out 20s and 30s reaching the highest pinnacles, we do actually have our 40s and 50s to continue to climb the career ladder post children.

I wish we had started TTC before my knee injury when I was 29. Go with your gut - you never know what might happen or how long it will take to fall PG.

Good luck!

randomimposter Fri 09-Oct-09 19:52:41

As (very much) the youngest of 4, I became an aunt at 14, and had five nephews and a niece by the time I was 18. Loved kids, always said I'd have children, liked the idea of 5....

Then I started work after university and got totally wrapped up in my career. Met DP at 18, we got together at 23... financially very comfortable, so no barriers there. Friends and colleagues were all having families, I kept putting it off, ignoring the tick tock. Couldn't see how I could give up work to have a baby... knew I would not be able to combine easily.

Cut a long story short, got made redundant from my dream job after the business was taken over and as part of the senior management team and very close to the ousted CEO I was "out".... landed another role quickly, but didn't love it in the same way... without trying I unexpectedly got pregnant. I was 39. DS is now 16 months, I would love another one (another 2 if I was lucky enough, but at 41 now I need to be realistic). I had a MMC at 12 weeks at the end of August, we will TTC again this month.

I am now a SAHM, got made redundant (again!!) when DS was 3 weeks old - shit timing, but was lucky enough to get my six month notice period paid up again, so financially fortunate.

What am I saying...? I wouldn't change what I achieved in my career, and I now love being FT devoted to my son and for me personally I know I couldn't do both at the same time... I would always think I was shortchanging someone. This is not to denigrate the efforts of all those mums who do work... I just know for me personally I am an all or nothing person.

BUT I have left it very late - am blessed with my precious PFB, but I MAY not be lucky to add to my family.... but that could happen whatever age you are....

Agree with PP, go with your gut. There is NO perfect path.... just the one you make. It's all a compromise. Good luck though.

LeTigre Sat 10-Oct-09 15:45:51

Thanks for the replies - lots to think about.

It shows that you never know what the future holds - illness, redundancy etc - I feel like if I put of having children another few years to build by career and then we have trouble conceiving or we're not in a position to have them for some unforseen circumstance, I'd be devastated and would always wish I'd made space in my career to have them.

I'm still worried about the effect on my career on having children relatively early on, but hopefully things will work out somehow. Looks like that's my decision made then - eeeek!

Muser Sat 10-Oct-09 16:59:12

I think having babies will always have an impact on your career, whenever you do it. The benefit with having them younger is you'll be younger when you go back and have more time to get your career back on track.

There really is never a good time. I've been wondering if I ought to get my next promotion out of the way before trying. I decided not to in the end, I'm tired of waiting for a better time to start!

Firerise Sat 10-Oct-09 17:24:11

We are currently trying for our first. We have been married for several years and I have spent a huge amount of time working on my career. We decide to start trying 3 months ago as I had gained a promotion a year before and had firmly established myself in the role.

Last month whilst trying I was very unexpectedly made redundant. I have just been offered a new job today so huge relief but we have spent so many years trying to get ourselves in the perfect postion and it would mean putting the TTC on hold for another year to get back to same position (if nothing else unexpected happens and who is to say it won't?)

I think the old me would have frowned at someone starting a new job and then gone on Mat leave 9 months later but I am beginning to think that I have spent so long investing in my career now is the time to invest in a family as it is so important to us we will somehow make it work.

So many of the women I know constantly amaze me as when they have their baby they somehow manage to make it work in what ever the sitution they are in, be it SAHM or career mums smile. I just hope we are blessed with a little one so we can make it work too!

jojochanel Sat 10-Oct-09 20:50:51

My GP friend gave me some good advice when she said I should start trying when I was 28. She said her surgery was full of women who'd left it until later and thought they could control conception like their career and then were struggling to conceive. I'd always been very career focused but thinking it would take a me a while to conceive we started trying and amazingly fell pregs first month. My boss had also been trying before me, was one year older with regular cycle and took over 3 years to conceive (I was pregs with my 2nd by then). Having watched her struggle and other youngish friends who've had to go down the IVF route I'm convinced conception is a completely lottery.

Anyway went back after DS1 and found the whole 'you can have it all' is a myth. I'm in banking which is quite male and despite 4 days a week (doing a bigger job than prior to leaving which others do in 5 days) the general perception was I'd have another one so I haven't progressed. Felt aggrieved first time round (esp. when missed out on promotion to female colleague who'd been doing job less time than me but had made it clear to male management she wasn't going to have kids) but now after my second I'm much more realistic that this is the way for women with young children - it's a shitty choice you have to make but I don't regret my decision to have my babies one bit as they've made me a much more rounded person and I've got alot more perspective on life -think I just really lived to work before them. I'm back at work now and unbeknown to them 16 weeks pregs with my third but my priorities are now so changed - the job is just money and I'm seriously considering retraining in something far more worthwhile after my third. I don't feel bad for 3rd round of mat leave as a) they're a bank (the one I'm with can still just about afford it) and b) I do a 5 day a week job in 4 days for 80% of the pay so I figure they get their pound of flesh.

IMO your career will take a short term battering for having babies but there is no getting away from this whatever age you are. Given that conception is a lottery you'd be better off going with what your heart tells you is the best thing for you. The older I get the less my old '5 year life plans' seem to go to plan but the less bothered about it I seem to be - it's very liberating.

blithedance Sat 10-Oct-09 21:13:26

Hi LeTigre

Welcome to Mumsnet!

I could have written your first post. I passed my professional exams at 28, started TTC then thinking my career was secure. What I did NOT expect was to be unable to conceive and end up 8 years later challenging my company to make their adoption policy as good as their maternity policy.

I'm now working part time, and while it's definintely a different dynamic to the full-timers, I do pull my weight in the team and unlike some of the young blokes, the management know I'm experienced and am going to stick around not buzz off to America or wherever the next big thing is.

Go for it while you have the chance. You don't know how things will work out, give yourself time for alternatives. And having a family is actually quite fun, mostly!

pasturesnew Sat 10-Oct-09 21:31:37

I was in a similar position as you before having DS, I actually turned down a very good job offer after my professional exams were out of the way as it prompted a lot of thinking and I found out the new job's maternity policy didn't go beyond statutory until after 2 years' service and I didn't want to wait that long.

It's worked out well so far as I had DS when I was 29, returned to work, then moved jobs for a substantial pay rise that basically put my career back on track and am now on maternity leave with DD after 18 months in new job. I haven't qualified for the most generous maternity package that my employer offers as it's stepped depending on length of service but the payrise I got from moving has more than made up for the fact that the maternity policy is less generous than in my old job. Long-term it's worthwhile anyway I think as the higher your salary the higher you will be offered in the future - I think too much focus on maternity package can be shortsighted.

As the market for my work has declined with the stock market, being pregnant and now on maternity leave has not been bad timing at all as I think I would be worried about redundancy otherwise. I hope I am sitting out the recession on this maternity leave and things will be busier when I return to work.

I think if you have professional exams behind you then staying in the same job for a first pregnancy can work well timing-wise, you can come back to work and still move jobs afterwards. Of course, this is harder if you want a small age gap between your children - I think a 2 1/2 year gap is probably the smallest realistic gap to have if you want to move up the career ladder before the next baby. We've got a 3 year gap between DS and DD and that feels fine, it has turned out to be quite good for childcare costs too as DS will get LEA grant towards his nursery fees when I go back to work.

I suspect that moving jobs afterwards is an easier way to career progression than waiting for promotion though as colleagues who see you go through pregnancy will be very aware of your motherhood but new colleagues will forget about your family status more easily!

mollythetortoise Sat 10-Oct-09 21:41:50

as well as your career , i think you need to think about how many children you would like. If just one, yes you could leave a year or 2. If 3 or 4, IMO, you should get started asap.

We'll all be working till we're 65 or older now so even if you did spend your thirties raising your young family and career taking a back seat (it doesn't have to, but could if you wanted) then you still have 25 years to climb the ladder again.

pushmepullyou Sat 10-Oct-09 21:55:46

Hi Letigre

I have a 10 month old DD and am still very career minded. I could have written your post this time 2 years ago (I am 33 in a couple of weeks).

I finally decided that I was getting to the age where there was a risk the decision would be made for me (my mum had quite an early menopause and these things are highly heritable) and that I would be more upset by not having a child and missing out on a whole part of the human experience than by a minor blip in my career by going part time for a couple of years.

That sounds very intellectual rather than emotional, but that's how I made the decision. Now I am just bessotedly (spelling? actual word?) in love with my DD and feel rather silly writing the thought process down.

For me it all came down to a few key considerations:

1) My age;
2) It wasn't worth the risk of not having a baby at all to not have one now (even though I wasn't quite sure that I ever wanted one);
3) I had a fab maternity package, but was working for a company that is not very well paid in the sector;
4) One of my colleagues who was older and senior to me had a baby and pointed out that the 'break' was for 18 months to 2 years; tops post maternity leave and I still have 30 years of working life ahead of me
5) I had a fair amount of confidence in my position in the company, which I knew would allow me to be flexible once DD was born, and
6) I decided what the hell and went for it anyway!

I went back to work at 6 months and was doing the odd day much earlier. It is hard sometimes and I do get tired, but I honestly love having both. As a plus the extra organisational abilities I have gained through being a mum have been invaluable to me at work and I am much better at my job now, managing to achieve the same amount in a much more focussed way.

imkeepingmum Sun 11-Oct-09 14:40:01

Hi LeTigre

I am a year younger than you and have (admits quietly blush) over the past couple of years been coming up with all sorts of reasons why I should wait to TTC. Career has probably been one of the big things in all that, not least that I longed for a promotion for various reasons. I started to feel extremely broody earlier this year though which delighted DP who has been wanting to TTC for a long time.

I then got the much longed and worked for promotion and thought this would make me want to put it off again. But, it somehow made me want a baby even more...not sure where the logic is there...perhaps because it does put us in an even better financial position and would enable both of us to go part time when baby is born. I don't think I could be a SAHM even if I could afford to but would like to be there in the early years as I am scared I'll regret it if I don't. I am relatively senior for my age which means the pay is good, and I would not be missing out career wise to put off the next promotion for a few years. The company has good maternity and flexible working policies, plus the job is stable and secure like yours, so really I do have a good deal.

I am a very practical person so this feeling that my body wants a baby and the emotions coming with that is kind of overwhelming because I can't control it! So, after much deliberation, we are now TTC #1 grin.

Long way of saying...sometimes best to go with your instincts Good luck whatever you decide.

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