Having a baby when you’re disabled, in this week’s Dear Prudie extra.

Help! I Am Always Tired Because of a Chronic Illness. Should I Have a Baby?

Help! I Am Always Tired Because of a Chronic Illness. Should I Have a Baby?

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Jan. 9 2017 2:40 PM

Help! I Am Always Tired Because of a Chronic Illness. Should I Have a Baby?

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.


Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. To baby or not to baby?: I am 32 years old and have been happily married to my wonderful husband for seven years. We have not had a child yet because I have been dealing with depression. After several years of counselling, I now feel much better and emotionally ready for a child. But I have a new problem.

I have an incurable and untreatable disease that makes me very tired. I am unable to work because of it. From spending time with my friend’s children, I feel that I could play with a child for an hour and a half to two hours before I would need to rest for at least an hour.

We have discussed a full-time nanny to help me during the day. I would spend as much time as possible with our child, but I would definitely need to rest a few times a day. My husband has flexible hours and will be able to help in the evenings and on weekends, but he works about 50 hours a week, which will increase when he starts his Ph.D. next year. We don’t have family nearby to help, and our friends are too busy.

My husband and I have a lot of love to give, and I would be able to meet the baby’s emotional needs, just not all of the physical needs. Would it be wrong to have a child knowing that I will need hired help to raise him or her?

A: No. There is nothing wrong with hiring babysitters or nannies or full-time live-in child care; people have been roping in grandparents and siblings to help look after their children ever since “having children” was a thing. Everybody needs help—there’s a reason “it takes a village” is such an enduring cliché—and you aren’t depriving your future child of anything. All mothers need to take breaks; even the most energetic mother with maximum dedication still has to sleep and eat and occasionally look at the internet.

You’re not planning on hiring help so you can ignore your child and take a lot of, I don’t know, hot-air balloon trips; you’re planning on hiring help so that you can take care of your chronic illness and be the best, healthiest parent possible. That’s a good thing, and will only benefit both you and your family.

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