How Can I Have a Kid When I Take Care of My Elderly Parents?

“When are you having a baby?” is the question I’ve been asked the most since marrying my husband in 2021. At 36, I often wonder the answer myself. Even though I’ve always wanted to have a child, I’m not sure if it’s in the cards for me anymore. Especially now that both of my parents’ health has severely declined.

For all of my life, my mom has been in and out of hospitals, and my dad has been our rock. He recently got sick, though, and it broke me. My mom’s health issues advanced so much that she now lives in a nursing home, because my dad is not strong enough to take care of her on his own. And me? I live on the opposite side of the country.

Because of this, I fly from my home in Los Angeles to crash in their one-bedroom apartment in Connecticut at least once a month. I’m happy to be there to support them, but these trips are physically, emotionally, and financially draining.

When I’m in town, I’m their therapist, nurse, chauffeur, cook, assistant, and maid. I’m bouncing around hospitals, riding in ambulances, and waiting with them in emergency rooms. I’m acting as a liaison between them and their doctors, pharmacists, therapists, friends, and church. My parents are my best friends who did everything for me growing up, so the least I can do is be there for them when they need me the most.

Motherhood would mean I could no longer be my parents’ support system, and I’m all they have.

But this had made planning for a baby nearly impossible. It’s hard to prioritize anything over my parents, let alone getting pregnant. I already feel like a bad wife, seeing as I’ve spent weeks apart from my husband in the first years of my marriage. How could I possibly add a baby to the mix?

Despite knowing all this, I often imagine what getting pregnant would be like. Would I be able to make these trips across the country while pregnant? Would I be able to make these trips with a newborn? Would I be able to support my parents with a child? The reality is, I don’t think so. Motherhood would mean I would no longer be my parents’ support system, and I’m all they have.

I know what you’re thinking: even though moving to be closer to my parents may seem like the logical solution, it’s not an option for my husband and me. Not only is a cross-country move more expensive than plane tickets, but our careers are here in California.

I also know some people might argue that I could make it work if I wanted a baby badly enough. Plenty of women out there become mothers while taking care of their parents, or without the support of their parents entirely. But I don’t know if I’m one of them. It breaks my heart thinking about bringing new life into this world while my parents are in their worst physical states.

The truth is, I really would love to be a mother. I’m just not sure if I want it to happen at my parents’ expense.

Gabi Conti is the author of “Twenty Guys You Date in Your Twenties” and the writer, executive producer, and cocreator of Apple’s No. 1 fiction podcast series “Bad Influencer.” You can catch her covering entertainment news for Hollywire or read more of her work on Cosmopolitan, Giddy, Betches, Best Life, HelloGiggles, Elite Daily, Mindbodygreen, and Brit + Co.

Image Source: Getty / Daniel Balakov

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