My 29th birthday has come and gone and like most birthdays nothing much happened. In the USA the 5th of November is not a special day - it is too far past Halloween to warrant a costume party and weirdly the only notable event it is close to is Election Day. However, ever since I have moved to London my birthday gets celebrated by all of the British public with an extraordinary fireworks display. The fireworks are not really for me, obviously, they are to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night. It is a great holiday in which the British celebrate the foiling of a terrorist plot to blow up the houses of parliament centuries ago. In any event, present day Britons all over the UK gather at their local municipal park to watch a fireworks display. I've been to 6 now in the city of London and I never get tired of it. Unlike the 4th of July display, Guy Fawkes is held just when the weather is turning cold. Before each late night event I get to rummage through all my winter scarves, hats and gloves for the first time of the year in order to get all bundled up and stand around in the cold for about an hour. I guess it has become a bit of a winter ritual, and as I get older I have noticed myself becoming more and more sentimental.
In my Introduction to this blog, I mentioned that people don't seem to be planning to have families anymore. What I really mean to say is that people my age are not planning for families. If you were to do a search on family planning there would be plenty for information available on subjects like fertility treatment, acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies and IVF. It seems that it has become the cultural trend to wait until women are in their mid to late 30's to begin their families. And this is not without good reason. Many people, in order to be able to provide for their families in the way they hope to, wait until they have achieved a certain career status. Women especially have been criticized for putting their careers before their families. Additionally, many people are not marrying quite as young as they used to. For those who plan their families, many want to be in stable loving relationships - and this is not so easy to achieve these days.
I realize that I am extremely lucky to have met my husband when I was 23 and to be married to him by the age of 25. Now, with 4 years of marriage under our belts and with relatively successful careers we have decided that the benefits of having a family while in our early 30's outweigh the negatives. Although there is a cultural advantage to have children later in life, there is certainly not a biological one. It is no surprise that fertility issues are the most popular topics on the subject of family planning. Women's fertility decreases sharply after the age of 35 and the risks of complications and genetic deformations sharply rise. Men on the other hand, unfairly, do not experience this dramatic decrease to their baby making capabilities until they reach the age of 45.
So, in order to make the most of the facts that we are young, in a loving and stable relationship, and earn a decent living, we have decided to get our lives in order over the next year (in which time I will become 30 years old, and the husband will be 32). These items include:
- Wife needs to get a non-traveling position within the same organsatation (At present, I travel for my job around 8 weeks a year. Obviously this cannot continue with the arrival of an infant.)
- Wife needs to get 9 month marketing post graduate course completed (to make myself more desirable to get a new position, above)
- Husband needs to get a permanent senior position (currently on temporary senior assignment)
- Decide if we need to own a home before having a baby. Despite being approved for a mortgage, our area of London is just that little bit out or reach to purchase a flat.
- Decide if we should move out of the city in order to buy a home and commute from the suburbs
- Decide if we should continue to rent because we have a great landlord and live in a great area
- American family will clearly miss out if I have a baby in the UK. My mother is of particular concern.
- British family lives in English countryside, and although they are within a day’s travel to visit, cannot provide any real childcare support. Do we move out to the country (where there are less jobs) to be near them?
- Can we afford to travel back and forth across the Atlantic with a child?
- Husband needs to get a driving license. Having grown up in the UK where Drivers Ed is not part of the curriculum, he has never learned to drive.
- Wife needs to get a UK driving license. Apparently, in order to do this I have to re-take the theory and practical exams again, despite having an American license for 12 years.
- Wife and Husband need to get in shape. Although neither of us is over/under weight to the point of medical classification, if we do not really give it a go now when will we?
- Wife needs to get an action plan to tackle US educational debt. And there is a lot of it!
- If no house is purchased in the immediate future, what on earth do we do with the deposit we've saved?
It is a lot to sort out over the next year, and that is partly the reason for starting a blog to chronicle it. I have no idea what will actually happen during the next year - we may be in no better position than we are now - or we may find that we are both completely barren! Who knows. But, we will give it our best shot and hopefully at the end, we will be exactly where we want to be. Pregnant