You got friends from all walks of life, from high school, college, work, and so on. But you noticed that the friends who are not married to a doctor have different lives than you. They got married, bought nice homes, had kids pretty much right after school.
Instead, you guys decided that you like forever renting, that your late 20s/early 30s should be about “80” hour work weeks, and that your late 30s/early 40s should be spent trying to pay back six figures due to student loan debt 🤣 Your timeline is very different from everybody else!
So when it comes to deciding when to have kids, it’s a challenge because you’re balancing your fertility years with the years you and your DrSpouse are working your hardest.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a woman’s peak reproductive years are between the late teens and late 20s. By the time your DrSpouse enters attendinghood, you may be outside that age range.
No wonder you feel a little biological pressure!
So the decision when to have kids becomes a huge conundrum:
“Should you have them now while in medical training? Or should you wait until attendinghood?”
This is a huge sounding board question for so many medical couples.
I’ve talked to many medical families and read hundreds of threads about this question, and I can tell you that there is nobody who can give you the right answer. Not your parents, your closest friends, or the person you look up to the most in the world.
Not even me.
When to have kids is a decision between you and your DrSpouse. No medical journey looks the same. No answer is the same.
However, there are considerations that will help you decide. Here are some of them.
Pro Kid During Training
- If you do end up having problems conceiving, there is still time to address the issues. Or else, you may end up like this surgeon family who waited so long that they can’t have kids.
- Having a little one adds to your family’s joy. The sooner you have one, the sooner you get to enjoy.
- If you are planning to start a business, you can use this time while in training to focus on raising small kids. Then you can hit the ground running with the business when kids are more independent.
- You still have the youthful energy and health to care for small, active kids.
Pro Kid After Training
- You don’t want to juggle the stress of solo parenting many nights, evenings, and weekends when your DrSpouse is at the hospital.
- You don’t want the financial stress of a tight training budget.
- Your health insurance as an attending is likely better than in medical school or training.
- You are likely living away from your family and support system who would otherwise lend you a hand in raising your family.
“What about your family, Theresa?” you ask.
We are a non-traditional medical family who worked as engineers for a few years before my husband applied for medical school. By the time we started our medical journey, we had more in common with the attendings than with his classmates.
(What I’m trying to say is…we’re old! 🤣)
That’s why we decided the timing was just right to start a family when we did:
- Child #1 was born during fourth year of medical school
- Child #2 during second year of residency
- Child #3 during first fellowship
So, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, out each of them came, one right after another.
Suddenly, we became parents of three who were aged three and under while still in medical training!
It’s true that right now, as we’re in training, parenting is very physical at this stage and our house is very busy:
Somebody is always crying.
Somebody is always hungry.
Somebody always needs to have pants put back on.
Somebody is always fighting with another.
However, I can’t tell you how much joy and laughter it brings me when Child #3 who is three puts her hands on her hips just to imitate me. Blink and we’ll be sending her to driver’s ed. We are having the best memories of our simple and happy life with our young kids during our training years BECAUSE of them, not in spite of them, and we wouldn’t have done life any other way.
But that’s OUR story. You get to write yours!
Having a baby during or after training are different experiences. One is not better than the other. It’s just…DIFFERENT.
You can discern with your DrSpouse but at the end only you can determine what is right for your family. No medical journey looks the same. No answer is the same.
Whatever YOU decide is what’s right for your family.
I’m a hugger. I’m hugging and supporting you, friend ❤️
To your strong medical family,
Did I miss any pros and cons you considered when you had kids?