Our elders were right! Why it makes sense to have children as soon as possible!

Published: March 9, 2018 at 9:52 am

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Our elders were right all along! In hindsight, it makes perfect sense to have children as soon as possible. A discussion on the health and wealth benefits of starting and completing a family asap.

“It’s so difficult, isn’t it? To see what’s going on when you’re in the absolute middle of something? It’s only with hindsight we can see things for what they are.”
― S.J. Watson, Before I Go to Sleep.

Hindsight: it makes sense to have children asap!
Photo by Steven Damron

Yes, this is a post written in hindsight and in my wife’s case, much-suffering and near-death after we, well I, wanted to postpone having a child. We were married in 2002 – I was writing my PhD thesis and she had just started her PhD. Over the next 4 years, I would job-hop 4 times before settling in my current position – a month after my wife finished her PhD. We did not have a child in this period because my lack of stability worried me.

As luck would have it, the next 1.5 years were spent in nursing my late father as both his legs broke due to multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer). Two months after he died, my poor mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s (but she was still pretty active).

Finally, after 6 years of getting married, we got ready to start a family. I was scared of a having baby – bringing a little human who is likely to inherit your weirdness was/is not my idea of doing the right thing – but something told me that I will regret it if I pass up the chance (boy was I right!).

Few, months later, no luck. So off we went to one of the famous gynaecologists in the country. She was old enough to be my great-grandmother. One look at us and she said, “you are stupid” Meaning we have wasted precious time. I did not quite grasp the significance of her statement then, but life give me a chance to.

Soon it became clear that we needed in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a baby. The primary reason was our delay. In an IVF, an extracted egg is fertilized with a sperm outside. Two-three embryos are created and injected back to establish the pregnancy.

Trouble is, all the 2-3 embryos are transferred back in the hope that at least one will survive. Often two would – double trouble! So from no children, we faced the prospect of being parents to twins or even triplets!

Then the nightmare began: Before embryos are transferred back, the hormone levels of the woman has to be taken into account. The gynaecologist ignored the most obvious signs of danger in my wife’s blood test and went ahead and transferred all 3 embryos.

Within a week of the embryo transfer, my wife complained of breathlessness and quickly found herself in the ICU. Air entry to the lungs was quite low because of pleural effusion – a build-up of fluid between the tissues that line the lungs and the chest. A tube was inserted to drain the fluid.

Over the next 3 weeks, she stayed in the ICU. The gynaecologist tried in vain to abort the embryos by medicine and finally had to do it surgically (D&C). The effusion still did not stop. Finally, a competent cardiologist shocked her irritated lymph nodes into submission and stopped it. It took her months to recover*.

Then almost a year later, in a second attempt, she conceived. Our son was born in early 2010 almost 8 years after marriage. I was 36 and my wife 34.

* What happened to my wife was a freakish event. If you are undergoing IVF, go ahead without fear.

Having established that I have some experience and regret in this matter, here are a few reasons why it makes sense to get married early or at least have children as early as possible.

Yes, life is unfair. We are just kids in school and suddenly the world wants us to make a choice of career – most of us choose because we have to and not because we know how to. Then we complete a UG +/- PG and start working and want to have fun a bit. The pressure to get married begins and soon the pressure to start a family. Yes, life is unfair.

Choosing a career as per our calling (if we have one at the right time) is an ordeal in of itself and we will discuss that in a separate post.  Consider relationships – it is a biological need. We must feel the need for a life partner. Some of us do so at a young age and some later on.

This post is relevant only to those who are in a relationship, want to be in a relationship and are less than 30 years of age. For others who are not yet hitched, all I can say is, your clock is ticking. Make a choice fast!

Did you notice that fertility centres have er .. bloomed all over the country? There are two reasons for this:

(1) either the male or the female or both are not healthy enough to conceive. Due to stress, poor lifestyle choices, obesity etc.

(2) Marriage age – at least in urban areas- is gradually increasing. People are getting married later and/or conceiving late.

So they are unable to do this naturally and need assistance (as we did).

Dear young men, do not make the same mistake I did, spare a thought for your life partner. In fact, spare a thought for yourself too. Turns out, both men and women have a biological clock!

It is neither practical nor responsible to have a child before 25 these days. However, you only have a 5-6 year window – before the two of you turn 30 and the quality of eggs and sperms go down. There is a greater chance of miscarriage, a greater chance of passing on hereditary diseases and conceiving children with genetic disorders. This is the first and most important reason in favour of having children early.

Life is unfair. Once you decide you need a life partner, you need to also decide pretty much immediately whether you are going to be parents or not. Well, that is that. Here are other reasons:

Why it makes sense to have children as soon as possible!

1: As mentioned above, safer delivery, healthier children.

2: The second most important reason is you give your children “time”. Say you complete your family (1/2 kids) by age 30. By the time you reach 50, they are 20 and in 1st or 2nd year of college.  Maybe you are financially independent by then, or you can/have to work for a few more years – say age 60. This gives them another ten years to study. This gives them time and space to listen to their calling, maybe develop more skills, do one more degree until they start earning.

Please don’t give me that cutting the umbilical cord nonsense. They are our kids forever. We need to let them come of age without the burden of loans (if we can help it) and without the burden of household problems, especially putting food on the table.

Time gives our children the choice to choose between a job and a career. See Three Key Factors that decide how we achieve our financial goals.

Perhaps with luck: What if our children never had to work! This is certainly what I am shooting for.

3: We are still young when they are “all grown up”. At fifty, with some luck, we might have enough health, youth and zest to devote more time to our passion. Maybe travel around a bit etc.

4: We should not rely too much on our parents when we have kids, but some help won’t hurt. If we have kids young, our parents may be able to offer that kind of support until we get our wits together. More importantly, we don’t have to worry about our parents’ health when we have our hands full with diaper petrol.

5: They(our kids) don’t have to worry about our health just when they starting their careers. If we have kids late, we would be senior citizens when they have just started earning.

Note: As Hugh Grant says in “nine months”, you need a license to get married, drive a car, get a gun, hunt game etc, but you do not need a license to make children. Parenting is an extraordinarily demanding job where we need to be there for them at all times but also give them space! Think real hard before you become one. If you do want to, then earlier the better.

Our elders were right all along!


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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
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