For years, I’ve known that I wanted to have children. I’m a Cancer, after all. I grew up identifying myself with a “maternal nature,” and as an adult, fantasized about getting pregnant. But like many other people of my generation, I tempered my baby fever with the knowledge that we were just not financially ready to have kids. So I made lists of all the criteria I would need to meet before having them.
In addition to the two awesome stepdaughters that my husband brought to the table, we welcomed a baby girl last year. I had accomplished only a few of the things on my list, and even the things that I had crossed off didn’t look the way I thought that they should. I spent the first several months of my pregnancy trying to earn my right to be excited by drawing out detailed financial game plans, reading articles on how to save money on baby, and stalking clearance prices on my registry items.
My husband and I have always talked about having another baby, and I’ve started to paint a loose picture in my mind of when I’d like for that to happen. When I mention it, people stare at me with incredulity, as if to say “One baby I understand, but two? You’re not doing well enough to have more kids.” People online can be even more discouraging. One Reddit user posted a lengthy diatribe about how people who have babies on Medicaid make them sick.
Having worked in finance for nearly ten years and having had a child on Medicaid despite possessing a college degree, a house and a paid-for car (and a partner!) I can tell you that not every financial situation is the same. It’s irresponsible to label all Medicaid recipients as moochers staring up at the poverty line as they pop out their fourteenth child. There are so many scenarios that result in educated, hardworking people being financially strapped. Most of us, given the rising cost of childcare and the rapidly deflating salaries, can’t even afford a dog, let alone a child. Does that mean we should stop procreating altogether, citing poor ROI as the reason for the extinction of the human race?
This terminology of “can’t afford to have a child,” like many things that are parenting-related, is broadly and loosely applied to an entire population when it onlymaybeatinybit refers to a small percentage of people. I would agree that if you don’t know where you’re sleeping tonight or where your next meal is coming from, your timing may not be ideal to have a baby. That doesn’t mean that you should abort one if you’re already pregnant, it means that you have nine months and counting to decide the kind of life you want to bring your child into and take steps towards making that happen. We also don’t look hard enough at what the costs of waiting are, with fertility treatments and adoption costing far more than several years of daycare and diapers. Most of the parents waiting to have children are responsible people who want the best for themselves and their families, and it’s your mentality that will have a direct impact on your circumstances and your child’s life, not your bank account.
And as for me? I’m going to get excited about expanding my family, one day, when my husband and I are ready to welcome a new person (not an expense, a person) into our lives. And in the meantime, I’m going to stay away from bullies on Reddit.