How Has COVID Affected Your Decision to Not Have Children?

White sign on wooden table, orange background. Sign says: Not today, #COVID 19

When COVID hit us in 2020, people predicted a new baby boom. After all, with so many people forced to stay home together, wouldn’t they be having more sex? Wouldn’t people emerge from lockdown preggers or showing off new babies? 

So far, it hasn’t turned out that way. Birth rates actually declined for a while. The surge may still be coming, but maybe not. Things are different from when we had baby booms after the Great Depression and World War II. Pandemic or not, people are already having fewer babies in many parts of the world. Although couples may have been spending more time together in 2020 and 2021, perhaps working remotely on their laptops side by side at home and maybe even having more sex than usual (did you?), there are lots of reasons why they might keep using the birth control, including:

  1. Fear of illness. What if they got COVID while pregnant? What if they got very sick and died? 
  2. Lack of access to medical care. Remember when you couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment unless you were dying, when you had to jump through many hoops to get in the door of a clinic or hospital, when non-emergency procedures were canceled or postponed?
  3. Fertility treatment centers closed or greatly curtailing their work 
  4. Financial upheaval, people losing their jobs, businesses closing, nobody sure what would happen
  5. Adoption agencies closing or limiting services
  6. Bad news every day: illness, climate change, mass shootings, war–why bring a child into such a frightening world?
  7. Watching friends and relatives with children struggle with lack of childcare and remote schooling
  8. The difficulty of dating during a pandemic

The isolation period has pretty much ended, although we know it could come again. Things have reopened, but COVID is far from over. In fact, there’s a new booster shot coming soon. More people I know have gotten the disease lately than did before, although fewer are being hospitalized and dying.  

You know all of this. What I want to ask is how it affected the baby discussions at your house. Did you and your partner talk about changing your plans to have or not have babies? Or did COVID make no difference at all? Did the troubles of the last few years just cement your partner’s refusal to procreate? Do you know anyone having pandemic babies? 

Let’s talk about it in the comments. I really want to hear what you have to say. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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Where do babies fit in for millennials?

Last week we were talking about millennials, those folks born between approximately 1982 and 2000. They’re between 18 and 36 years old now. Many of these younger adults seem to be putting off marrying and having children, possibly forever. Being a couple generations older, I asked for younger readers to enlighten me. A couple did, but I need more input.

Here’s what I see. Our world has changed so much since I was young. The grandparents and great grandparents of today’s young adults married in their early 20s, if not younger. Statistics show the age of first marriage steadily creeping upward, averaging about 27 for women and 29 for men now. That’s an average. I know many who are well into their 30s and not even close to marriage.

Back in the day, the economy was so astonishingly different that a couple could afford to live on just one income. They could afford to buy a house and raise a family. The wives were free to focus on home and children. Hence the baby boom.

It’s not like that today. I wouldn’t want live in a world where a woman didn’t have the same rights as men to pursue an education and a career. But it takes years to finish school and get established in a career, years of paying off student loans and working far more than 40 hours a week. Where does having a baby fit in? It goes onto the back burner or off the stove altogether. Birth control, now readily available—you can buy condoms at the grocery store!—makes sure there are no oops babies.

Meanwhile, the cost of living has escalated to the point it takes at least two incomes to survive. In the major metropolitan areas where the jobs are, many young people may never be able to afford to buy a home. In the Bay Area, it costs almost a million dollars for a falling-down 1950s tract house, more for anything better. How can you raise children when you’re living in a cubbyhole of an apartment, maybe even sharing it with other millennials who can’t afford their own homes?

People do it, of course. Babies do come. My Facebook feed is full of baby pictures, but  those parents are mostly older, just barely managing to procreate before it’s too late. I suspect many of today’s millennials will “age out” before they have a chance to create a traditional family. Currently one in five American women reach menopause without becoming mothers. I wonder what the ratio will be in 20 years?

Please do comment. What do you see happening? What is it like for you?