Ask E. Jean: Do I Have to Choose Between Family and Career?

Life & Love

Dear E. Jean: My husband and I read your column religiously. When we’re having a glass of wine, we enjoy guessing how you will respond to the questions. My husband suggested that I write to you about my problem, and well, here it is!

We just had a beautiful baby girl (now three months old). I’m 36 and would like to get pregnant again soon, but I’m worried about two things: First, that it will harm my reputation in the business world if I get pregnant and take another maternity leave; second, that these are the prime years to grow my career, relocate to new cities, etc. So I’m concerned about taking on a new job with a baby at home and needing to put in long hours—and not being a good mother to my daughter and wife to my husband. I wish I didn’t feel this way in 2019, but why must I compromise my family or professional goals?— Non-Compromiser

Non, My Nasturtium: The only reason to have children is to enjoy them, right? So you’re asking the wrong question, my love. The question is not career or family. The question is, How much more enjoyment can you stand? If you answer “lots more enjoyment,” which means lots more babies rather quickly, then your career, though valorous and important, will take a back seat. However, if you decide to enjoy the baby you have for a couple of years and freeze your eggs (because fertility declines after 35), you might attain the flexibility to plan your professional moon shots and have as many kids as you’d like, though not all in a burst. Good luck! You may now pour us all a glass of wine.

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at


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