I felt very young when I had my first child. There were times when I felt like a knocked up teenager. Mostly because most of my friends and colleagues didn't have kids yet (there were, in fact, no parents at all amongst all the residents in my program) and seemed to be waiting for some undisclosed time in the future.
In actuality? I was 27 years old. Two years older than the average first time mom in this country. Six years older than the average first time mom in 1970.
More and more, it seems like women are waiting until their thirties or even their late thirties to have children. In medicine, I think it's a function of trying to get difficult training out of the way first, which I can certainly understand. There are times when I question my own decision to have kids so young. But ultimately, I think it was a good decision. I've written here before about how I think that career advancement can always be postponed, but having kids is the one thing that's time sensitive for a woman.
Here's why I'm glad I had kids "young":
--Pregnancy was much easier in my twenties than my thirties. The difference was actually surprising, and my glucose numbers were even worse the second time. I had zero complications in my first pregnancy. And since I was so young, I didn't have to go through any invasive testing like amniocentesis.
--Caring for a newborn was easier in my twenties than my thirties. My body was much more amenable to it when I was younger and I had far fewer aches and pains.
--Presumably I'll continue to have more energy to do stuff with my kids throughout my thirties, compared with parents in their forties. I've heard a lot of older dads complain about this.
--My parents are younger and have more energy to help than they would if I had waited till they were in their late 60s to have kids. And similarly, I'll have a greater chance of being a young grandma, who can help with and appreciate my own grandkids (*fingers crossed*).
--I never had to go through the pain of trying to conceive while all my friends were having babies and posting photos of them on Facebook. If I did have trouble TTC at 27, I would have had more time to work on it.
--Arranging coverage was amazingly less burdensome as a resident than it was as an attending.
--At this point, since I feel "done" with childbearing (IUD willing), I can expand my career and take on new obligations without worrying about another pregnancy and baby interrupting things.
--Kids are awesome
Of course, I'm sure there's a similar list of benefits to having kids at age 40.