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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Hard-won Advice

If you are going to have kids, then don’t wait too long. Just do it or it might be too late. I’m desperate to have more kids but I’m afraid it won’t happen because it’s too late. And if you want to ask, “what, in spite of the monkeys?”, then you are probably not a parent.

I’m following an FB photographer who specializes in pictures of newborns. It’s kind of sad that I sit there every night, hearting photos of newborns. N would be super happy to go for another kid. But not at the price of me dying of eclampsia afterwards, he says. 

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19 thoughts on “Hard-won Advice

  1. Fie upon this quiet on said:

    I know it is a touchy subject, but could adoption be a possibility? I imagine that would be a hard decision. It’s great when you see yourself (or your spouse) in your child and it’s hard to imagine it being any other way. But since you had difficult pregnancies, perhaps adoption (or a surrogate) would be worth looking into? N is right that it would be high risk, and you can’t take those risks lightly. But if you wanted a child that comes from both of you, maybe look into the surrogacy option.

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    • I’m completely morally opposed to surrogacy. And I’m not heroic enough for adoption.

      It’s ok, I’m not going to get all touchy about this. I don’t have to blog about it if I didn’t feel like it.

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  2. What do the doctors say? You’re in much better shape physically this time around based on your posts. How are your chances of getting eclampsia this time around? Have you talked with your high-risk OB-GYN doc? I know that getting older doesn’t make anything easier, that’s for sure, even if one is fit as a fiddle.

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    • I’m still not there yet. The blood sugar is still not great. And the BP , while much better, is not exactly perfect. I’m working on it but it’s not there yet. And I wouldn’t risk it until all the tests are great.

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  3. I wondered about the topic, but thought it was too personal to ask.

    Some women freeze their eggs if they want to delay having children, but it’s probably not relevant here.

    Sincerely wish you to reach the goal of good tests and to have another wonderful child.

    I have been wondering myself on “don’t wait too long.” If a woman wants to be a mother but cannot get married, at which age one should confront the reality of “or I have children now even as a single mother, or it won’t ever happen”? I know many people are completely morally opposed to single motherhood (even if the woman in question and child/ren will have relatives), but my question was different.

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    • “Some women freeze their eggs if they want to delay having children, but it’s probably not relevant here.”

      • Yeah, it’s not an egg problem that I have. And it’s not the difficulty of pregnancy itself. It’s what happens after giving birth. I had serious post-partum pre-eclampsia (which I didn’t even know existed) afterwards. And the general recovery after giving birth was brutal. Just at the time when the infant needs you the most, you are a total wreck and have every symptom of every illness under the sun. My sister is 6 years younger and she says recovering from giving birth the second time was very harsh. And she was only 35 when it happened. So it’s not the pregnancy, it’s the recovery I dread because there is this terror of failing your infant baby because you are incapacitated that’s crushing. I don’t mind talking about this because people need to know. I had no idea that the post-partum recovery was a thing to worry about before it happened.

      “If a woman wants to be a mother but cannot get married, at which age one should confront the reality of “or I have children now even as a single mother, or it won’t ever happen”?”

      • After the age of 35, it automatically becomes a high-risk pregnancy. You have great medical care in your country, especially in terms of obstetrics, so that’s good. You are healthy and look very fit, so that’s great, too. However, there are the realities of the human body that can’t be denied. People think it’s all about it being harder to get pregnant (after the age of 43, your chances drop off a cliff) but it’s also the actual strain of pregnancy and birth that becomes brutal. At 25, most women don’t even understand what I’m on about because their pregnancy and childbirth is completely different. But ten years later, it becomes very harsh.

      I know somebody who will give birth soon and she is 42. The fittest person I know, super athletic, has always eaten extremely healthy, etc. But it’s quite a difficult pregnancy anyway. She’ll have to be induced 6 weeks prematurely in a couple of days. And you should know that this isn’t done except when things are really hairy.

      So to resume, you are fine for now but make a decision within the next 3 years or so.

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      • My second pregnancy (at 38) was physically a 100 times harder than my first one (at 34. ) The second recovery was a little bit easier in some respects (my second one was a scheduled C-Section, my first a C-Section after 48 hours of labor), but harder in others. In about two or three weeks, I was well enough to take care of my child, but it took me much longer — close to a year or longer — to get back to my average level of fitness.

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        • Yeah, absolutely. For a year or so after giving birth to Klara I wondered if I’d ever go back to feeling as I had before.

          After the first pregnancy, of course, the grief was crushing but I recovered physically after 8 weeks.

          The pregnancy itself was harder the first time around because I’d had every complication known to humanity. I had things that 0,002% of women get. And the second time I “only” had diabetes. Even my BP was perfect. It shot up after I gave birth, which I didn’t know was possible

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          • \ Even my BP was perfect. It shot up after I gave birth, which I didn’t know was possible

            If it’s not too personal, did you have a C-section the second time too?

            I thought BP could shot up only because of the effort of giving birth naturally.

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  4. Fie upon this quiet on said:

    “My sister is 6 years younger and she says recovering from giving birth the second time was very harsh.”

    I don’t know — I had an easy recovery with second, despite have a more difficult labor with him. I was shocked at how different both my pregnancies, deliveries, and recoveries were. I don’t know if these things are easy to predict or not, pregnancy to pregnancy. But the science about later life pregnancies is hard to ignore, especially when you’ve been there yourself and had plenty of trauma surrounding it. These questions are very difficult to answer.

    Do you think academia has a particular problem in encouraging women to have children later, or do you think it’s a labor market phenomenon in general? At 34 years old, I was one of the youngest of my cohort to have a second child in the Bay Area.

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    • I have an answer but nobody is going to like it. 🙂 I think academic life attracts people with delayed maturation processes. Which is not their fault, obviously. And it’s not a uniformly bad thing. We are intellectually and creatively vibrant for longer. But the childbirth gets delayed, and that’s on the negative side.

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  5. Shakti on said:

    I think it’s a labor market phenomenon in general. Your body might be fine to have kids in your twenties but everything else militates against it: finding a suitable partner with enough resources and having enough resources yourself. The more education you need for your job the worse it gets. And of course most people need the incomes of all working adults in a household in order to function.

    ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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    • Graduate school should be a super convenient time to have kids because there’s so much free time. I never woke up before 11 am all throughout grad school. And there was partying at least 5 times a week. On weekends, I never did any work at all and didn’t even pick up a book. And still graduated before anybody else, even with this very undemanding schedule. This is the lifestyle of every graduate student I’ve known.

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      • True, but graduate school is a very uncertain time for international students in the US. Funding (and hence student visas) often depend heavily on TA-ing, which makes it very hard to take leave.

        At least this was the case for me — had I had a child in grad school, I would not have been able to take a semester off. Even if I took unpaid leave, I would have lost my full-time student status and visa and would need to go back to my home country. This is in addition to the fact that I would need my salary to survive (and babies need a lot of stuff), and I would never have been able to afford daycare with the grad school stipend I made.

        So in short: it is not a bad time for domestic students, but not as much for immigrants.

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      • Not us in Berkeley, you’d flunk out if you did that. Undergraduate was harder, of course, because there were more short deadlines, but I actually think it would have been a good time for kids precisely because of the small projects/short deadlines and the availability of university daycare. Professor is harder, as the workload is the highest, and I think the people who have babies before tenure and also make tenure are very different from me or have very different situations.

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      • Shakti on said:

        Graduate school in the humanities must be very different than the sciences or professional school. My friends never said anything or did anything on the order of “I have so much free time what do I do with myself?” People having children during med school or residency is unknown. Did you have the money to support yourself and a child at that point in your life?

        The lifestyle you describe would’ve lead to me flunking out in undergrad. And I didn’t have a science major or a computer science major (those people were always grinding).

        I did have a roommate who had a baby. However her mother was the primary caretaker of her son.

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        • Yeah, this lifestyle made me almost suicidal. I agree it stinks. When I’m not intellectually challenged, I become very depressed. Like with physical symptoms and shit. I have a very active brain, I need to be learning something all the time. If at least I had blogging back then, that would be a huge help. I had this feeling of wasting my life, and it was unbearable. God. Never again.

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