I am always surprised at the strong opinions people have about everyone else's reproductive decisions, so I have no doubt that you've already been "enlightened" on the best age to have a baby.
I ended up having babies when I was a little older (35 and 38) and, believe me, it didn't go unnoticed by both my family and complete strangers in the mall.
I did a little research online to see if there was a "perfect" age to have a baby. A few scientists decided that the perfect age, considering physical, social and economical factors, was 32. I don't know how useful that is considering I know some really stable, smart 20 year-olds and some completely fucked up, piss poor 40 year-olds.
Physically, it looks like somewhere between 15 and 17 years old is your best bet and economically, well, let's face it, never.
So really based on nothing, here are just a few factors that I think are pluses for having babies at either end of the clock.
Having babies when you're younger:
Newer Equipment. All the gears and whistles haven't been cranking as long so the machine is going to recover a little faster and there's a lower risk for birth defects and miscarriage.
You don't know better. That's not supposed to be offensive. I seriously think it's a plus sometimes to just jump in blind because, c'mon, are we ever ready for motherhood?
More energy. Yes, yes, I know there are 60 year old spit fires out there and many of you are going to say you have more energy now than you did when you were in your twenties but generally speaking, I was better equipped to run after a toddler at 21 then 38.
Your support system may be younger. If you are 20 and your mother was 20 when she had you then she's a 40-year old rockin' grandmotherhood while other people her age are still having babies. (Note: this is a minus if she actually IS having a baby because she isn't going to want to help with your shit show when she has her own).
You're still young when you're kids are older. How awesome would it be to have a kid leaving for college when you're 40? Plus, they can pick you up from the bar when you're too drunk to drive! It's soooo much better than leaving them asleep in their carseat with the minivan window cracked.
You could be around for some grandkids AND great-grandkids. If everyone continues your trend, you may be around to see a lot of babies which is nice. Although, you may be expected to help out with the future generation's back shits which isn't great but hopefully they will have invented something that eradicates that.
Trailblazer. Many of your friends may not have kids already so there may be keen, well rested people that are eager to help out the new novelty of a baby.
Having babies when you're older:
Money and career. It may not be as much of a juggle to have a baby if you have an established career and bank balance. Come to think of it, it's easier to do just about anything with an established career and bank balance.
Been there, done that. You may not miss the scene that is often cramped by having a baby because you're over it. I don't miss the 2am partying because I did that already. Who am I kidding? I did it well. Fuckin' A.
Your friends have blazed the trail. Ahhh, nothing is better than the "don't waste your money on that stroller, it sucks." advice and the pristine hand-me-downs from your friends that have already been in the trenches for a while.
Ball growth. I'm not suggesting that you don't have balls when you're younger but if you were sassy kitten in your 20s, then you're going to be a throat ripping puma in your 40s. Somebody saying something that would have made your cry 10 years ago, is now met with you deciding whether it's cleaner to punch them in the neck or burn their house down.
More mellow. You may be less likely to go nuts over things when you have a little life experience to put it all in perspective. (It may add to it too but this is supposed to be a positive list.)
You know better. I think of what an idiot I was in my 20s so I'm happy that I've had those years to figure myself out before adding a baby into the mix. (Just to be clear, I'm sure I will think I was an idiot at 40 when I'm 60.)
Experience. I like the fact that I've been able to bring more life knowledge to motherhood than I would have been able to 15 years ago. I can whistle with my fingers and drive stick shift now.
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Whether you decide, to have babies when you're older or younger (or accidentally have the decision made for you), I think there are definite advantages to both sides but, at the end of the day, you need to provide love, shelter and guidance for a baby and you can do that at almost any age.
So the people that say that someone is too young or too old to have a baby better hope that they aren't saying it to a young woman that has the energy to kick their ass or an older woman that knows how to dispose of their body.