Post # 1
My husband and I are planning on TTC in 1.5 years. When the baby arrives I’ll be a second year medical resident (AKA a junior doctor). Collectively we’ll probably make around $100K a year before taxes. However, because medical school was expensive we’ll have $300K in student loans. Realistically, we won’t be able to buy a house until I’m an attending doctor, 4-5 years after the baby arrives. Until then we’ll be living in one of my parents unoccupied homes and paying the taxes and insurance instead of a rent. Growing up I always had this fantasy of getting married, buying a home, and then having the baby. I thought we’d be more financially secure without student loan debt. But I’m beginning to think that we can’t wait for all of this security that I wanted. If we plan for TTC in 1.5 years, I’ll be 31 when I deliver. If we decide to have more than one child I’ll be flirting with advanced maternal age, which terrifies me.
So on to my question! Are there any doctor Bees out there (or people in the medical profession) who can comment on whether they had their “lives together” prior to having baby #1. Did you have a house and complete financial independence? Did you feel ready? Was your age a major contributor in deciding to just go for it now? Do you wish you had waited even though it might have ment having babies in your late 30’s?
Post # 2
Not a doctor but I ticked other. My husband inherited our house so while it is ours we don’t have a mortgage or rent. It sounds like you’re in a similar situation in that you’re just paying bills not rent.
tbh I’d keep that going and use it as an opportunity to save the money you would have spent on rent. It will help cover maternity leave and make it more possible to pay off debts / save for a house
Post # 3
we are in a similar situation. my husband is a soon by be fifth year surgical resident and we are currently expecting baby no. 1. we did buy a house before TTC. although i have a good paying job as an attorney, we also have hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical school + law school debt. we were able to buy a house by obtaining a physician’s mortgage, which is a type of mortgage that requires no money down and bases your interest rate on your attending salary rather than your resident salary, as this will be your salary for the majority of the thirty year mortgage term. if you are interested in buying a house, you should definitely look into this.
even though we have a lot of debt, we are financially responsible and know that we can pay it down quickly once residency is over. additionally, buying a house was ultimately a good financial choice for us, because we are paying less each month towards our mortgage than we were towards our rent, and we are building equity.
financially, it would have been great to wait until my husband is done with residency to TTC. but we are both 34 and he has a seven year residency program, so that is not feasible, especially as we would like several children. our main factor in deciding when to conceive was waiting until my husband was on his research year for residency and would have more time to spend with our son. many of my other friends are also professionals who waited until their mid to late thirties to conceive, so i didn’t feel any pressure to start sooner than we did.
i think as long as you are being financially responsible and have a plan of how to budget for baby, there is no need to wait until you own a home or pay down all your debt before you conceive– if everyone did this, basically no one would have kids.
to me a bigger consideration of when to TTC would be how demanding your residency program is. if you are on your feet long hours and expected to work a lot of weekends, etc., it may be challenging to be pregnant or have a young baby at home until you are an attending with more flexbility.
Post # 4
- Wedding: June 2017 - A vineyard
We are renters and will be for the foreseeable future. We MIGHT be able to buy a home next year but we will see. My kid is 2 now. I really don’t find raising a kid in a rental to be a major issue. I felt bad for my neighbors her first six months because she had reflux issues they refused to believe me about and wouldn’t treat her so she spent a ton of time screaming. But nobody ever said anything to us so the walls must’ve muffled enough. The only reason I hope we can afford a house eventually is so she can go outside in the yard and play and so we can decorate without needing to put it back to normal. But if we don’t buy a house I guess that would be okay too. That no yard maintenance and having them fix what’s broken for free is pretty amazing
Post # 5
I’m an attending surgeon and am newly pregnant. In medicine there is never a good time. I owned my home in residency but it would have been cramped with a baby and with work hours, it would have been incredibly rough. I would still have loved to have a baby earlier, but didn’t meet my husband until my fellowship. We got married when I was a new attending and were going to start trying but then I ran into health issues that needed to get sorted. So now I am 34, owning my house, loans paid off, and financially more stable but way older than I’d like to be for my first. I actually feel that medicine got in the way of getting my life together because surgical training is rough and really inhibited me from working on all the aspects of my life that make life meaningful. You are further ahead than you think, if you have a stable marriage and a dual income, even with the loans. There were many residents and fellows along the way who had babies while in training. You’re in a great position if you don’t have rent. Save and pay off your loans aggressively and and save for your house and your big girl job. My biggest advice to trainees is to not let medicine keep you from living your life. If you otherwise feel ready for a baby, you’re not in a bad position to start TTC at all.
Post # 6
Not a doctor, but I’m a lawyer and we have six figures of student loan debt. D.H. and I are planning to TTC in September, at 31. Since we don’t yet have a baby, you’re welcome to take my advice with a grain of salt, but as much as I really wanted our student loans to be paid off, we don’t want to wait any longer to have a child. We thankfully were able to purchase a house in our HCOL city, and can afford to pay our student loans with daycare/baby expenses, though it would be much more comfortable to not have them.
With the comfortable housing situation you have right now, I would personally keep pushing on with paying down your loans as much as possible/save for a house, whichever is your preference, and evaluate how you feel after another year or so. Personally, starting TTC at 31 feels really young for where I live still; I will likely be the first in my friend group to have a baby. Most of my friends have advanced degrees and student loans as well, and are looking to TTC in the next couple of years, with us all carrying student loans into this next chapter. I think this is just something that is super common with our generation and as long as you can afford to make the payments and pay for everything for baby, it doesn’t have to stop you.
ETA: I am really happy that we are homeowners, but I don’t think being a renter would’ve stopped us.
Post # 7
We were renting when we had our baby and still are 1.5+ years later. We were hoping to buy this year but with Covid job insecurity that’s looking very uncertain. I wouldn’t hold off TTC to buy a house personally as long as you have a safe and comfortable rental for now and are financially secure! Btw I know of a few doctors in the same situation that rented for years while first growing their family. One of my doctor friends had four kids in a rental before they finally were able to buy… all good!
eta: I was 32 and dh 36 when we started TTC #1 fwiw and wanting several kids, we decided to hop on it rather than wait til we could buy a home.
Post # 8
My husband is a PhD student right now. Because of just how the general trajectory of his chosen career path works we have at least 2 moves that could take us anywhere in the country coming in the next 4-5 years. So we know we won’t be buying a house until about 4-5 years from now because we won’t be staying in one place long enough for that to make sense.
We are planning on starting TTC next month. If we waited until we were ready to buy a home then we’d be waiting until we were 35 and neither of us are interested in waiting that long. Home ownership is not a necessary prerequisite to having a baby. Yes, marriage – house – baby is the picture most often laid out but there’s nothing wrong with mixing up that order and doing whatever works for your family and specific set of circumstances.
Post # 9
i don’t think you need to worry about whether you rent vs. own. I’d be more worried about how you will handle being a resident plus being super pregnant / having a newborn. Maybe talk to colleagues who have done that and see what their advice is.
We owned our own home when I had my baby, but I don’t think that necessary at all. Especially if you have a cheap family home to use.
Having your first kid at 31 is quite early… don’t worry about your age, unless you want like 5 years between kids. This article is very informative. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/how-long-can-you-wait-to-have-a-baby/309374/
Post # 10
I voted that we’d purchased our own home prior to baby – but that was only the situation because we took a while to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. When we started TTC we were renting and I would have been fine continuing to rent.
I don’t think of home ownership as a prerequisite for children. I think financial security (income vs debt vs expenses w/ baby) and career trajectory stabilized are more important. In some markets you can rent a way nicer family home then you can buy for the same monthly costs…so as long as you have somewhere to live where you would be comfortable bringing home a baby that’s really all that matters.
FWIW, DH and I want 4 kids and we started TTC at 30 (I wanted to finish my PhD and have a year under my belt of industry work), had our first at 32 and I’m feeling pretty good about our prospects of having 3 more timing-wise.
Post # 11
I didn’t vote, but have a little anecdote about FH’s parents who are both now retired doctors. They did what you’re talking about wishing to avoid:
They had FH in their mid/late 40s and are now mid/late 70s. I had a lovely heart to heart with Future Mother-In-Law one night, and she reflected on how sad she now feels realizing they can miss out on over a decade of life with their posterity. She also regretted thinking they needed to have the full checklist completed before trying, because it then took them 4 years of trying to have FH.
I know such a story is one many may have heard before, I just thought it was interesting to voice that I think it makes a lot of sense for you two to not be following the checklist step by step. 😊
Post # 12
We started TTC at 33 and started house shopping about three months later. When we actually bought we’d been trying for about 7 months, though we knew we might have looked for much longer and had our baby while still in our rental. As I still wasn’t pregnant at that point, we felt comfortable buying something that was FAR from move-in ready and taking on a massive reno that should have taken about 4 months, but took more like 8 months. That timeline would have been super stressful if I was pregnant… but I still wasn’t. I finally got my positive test on our first morning in the new house this February.
Having a baby in our rental would have been fine. Having a baby in this house of your parents’ for which you pay a minimal amount sounds like a great deal! But I do think rushing to have a baby in your 20s isn’t necessary at all if it doesn’t fit all that well with the rest of your life plans. I’m not sure where you live or if you have a wide circle of peers who also have advanced degrees, but in my circle (major city, high cost of living and crazy real estate prices, most friends have advanced degrees and professional roles) literally nobody I know had a baby before 31!
We are really grateful that we get to be in our own home, with secure finances and solid careers, as we prepare to enter parenthood. It just takes a whole element of stress right out of the equation.
We did have some minor fertility challenges but there was no reason to assume those were age-related. The fertility specialist we met with eight weeks before my 34th birthday literally said “the great news is you’re still really young”!
Post # 13
Thank you everyone for your responses! It’s reassuring to hear that not everyone is able to get their life together (in the traditional sense) before starting a family. I’d like to specify that the reason I want to start our family at 31 is because my mom gave birth to me at 32 and had a really difficult pregnancy. She had diabetes and preeclampsia and was on bed rest for months before delivering me and my twin 2 months early. Some of these issues might have been because she was carrying twins, but they also could be genetic. The older I get, the more at risk I might be for a horrible pregnancy experience, not to mention that the rates of down syndrome significantly increase at 35.
Post # 14
You are in a position where, having gone to medical school, you know way too much. And yes, all of the things you’ve said are true and nervewracking. It’s so hard to predict how any of it will go — whether you’ll have a smooth or easy pregnancy, how difficult it will be to conceive, etc. You do not have an expiration date at age 35, though. The rates of trisomy 21 do not exponentially increase at age 35, but they do start to increase significantly as you head towards 40. If it helps, I found Expecting Better to be a very data-driven book about conception and pregnancy.
But a couple of things to also consider. If you do get pregnant now and have a difficult pregnancy, how accomodating will your program be about the time off? If you are on bedrest, will you have to take extra time to finish and are you ok with that? How supportive would your coresidents be? I did ortho and it was basically all men. Pregnancies were met with a lot of huffing and puffing and resentment. That being said, if I had been in the position to get pregnant earlier I would have put up with that and done me. The other thing is that remember that taking time off as an attending is very different than taking time off as a resident in terms of pay. There was a recent study in the ortho literature that looked the cost of maternity leave for an ortho resident vs an ortho attending. It was staggering — something like $100 for a resident, and $40,000 for an attending. Yes, I typed those numbers correctly. As a current attending (and understanding how taking 2 months out of a productivity-driven practice will really, really hurt financially), I can absolutely see where these numbers come from. When you’re a resident, you still get paid for the time off, even if you have limited time off. Many attending jobs don’t have maternity leave; my hospital literally only instituted a maternity leave and pay policy last July. Before then, you just went unpaid. Even worse in private practice, if you are still responsible for overhead while you are not generating income. Those are things that people in medicine often don’t think about when we talk about getting our lives together. But there is a pretty substantial tax to be a woman in medicine. I hope you find a solution that works for you. If you want to talk about it at any point, I’m happy to chat.
Post # 15
Not a medical student but I am in a very similar situation! Im a PhD student in a clinical psychology training program, with 2 years of school + 1 year residency left. DH and I are both 27 and I am due with our first baby in December. We are currently renting a 3bdr home and plan to continue renting until I am a qualified psychologist. Honestly I don’t care at all about buying a house before having a baby.. it sounds like a huge pain and we are planning on moving for my residency anyways. @timetopanicytopenia: