When Carissa Caples wanted an answer to a perennial question, she turned to the internet.
The 25-year-old from Columbus, Ohio wondered — how do you know you're ready for kids?
"People who waited to have planned pregnancies: How did you know when you were in a good place to have kids?" she tweeted on Jan. 25.
Caples had a caveat.
"DON'T SAY 'NO ONE IS FULLY READY.' As someone who struggles to pay her bills as it is and spends many days unable to get out of bed due to depression, I'd like goalposts," she wrote.
Caples tells TODAY.com the inspiration behind the post came from friends in her hometown announcing second and third babies.
"I don’t feel ready for that at all, financially or mentally. It makes me feel like I’m doing things wrong," she says. "Sometimes I get anxious that I’ll wait too long and I won’t be able to conceive, or that I’ll feel left out because I’m at a different stage of life from my friends. I feel like now is not the right time, but I often ask myself how I will know when it is the right time."
Caples says her disclaimer was an important factor.
"I grew up as a Baptist pastor’s kid, and the most common family planning comment in church was that no one is truly ready and you should just go for it and God will provide," she tells TODAY.com. "While I agree that you can never be fully prepared for something you’ve never experienced, I think there are preventative factors that are important."
Caples says that she “tends to get a lot of feedback” when she poses questions to the internet, and this tweet was no exception. More than 200 users weighed in on the age-old question.
A reply from @sketchysermons was one Caples found most helpful.
"We waited until I could make enough on one income to support us. We literally had our first kid the day after our tenth anniversary. It was still hard and it wasn’t quite enough money but it was certainly better than what I was making 5 to 7 years before that," the user wrote.
Caples says this was helpful because one of her biggest insecurities is that she has been married for three and a half years and she and her husband, Parker, don’t plan to have kids anytime soon.
"People seem less bothered by someone who got married at 32 having a kid at 35 than they are with someone who got married at 21 having a kid at 35, and social pressure is the main reason I feel worried about waiting to have kids," she says.
Other responses used "goalposts" like insurance, the psychological impact of pregnancy or infertility, and finances.
"My husband & I waited until we had maternity coverage on our health insurance as it wasn’t until the ACA was passed that we had that benefit on the non-corporate market in TN," Elizabeth Downing Wanczak wrote. "Also wanted to have taken some adventures just us as we don’t get that young couple time back either."
"Something rarely discussed in evaluating if you’re ready for pregnancy: how you’ll handle it — individually & as a couple — if you don’t end up with a pregnancy," Laura Yang replied. "Given that (infertility or pregnancy loss) happens to every 7th or 8th couple among us, it’s worth laying a psychological groundwork."
"Jobs with mobility options; at least two locations marked off our travel bucket list; consistent community we could count on for real support; growing savings acct," Keonnie Janae replied.
While Caples found most of the responses helpful, she says the least helpful replies were people telling her that they had their kids at her age or younger and they’re glad they didn’t wait.
"Those comments make me feel like I’m making the wrong decision," she says.
Social media can be a huge help for crowdsourcing information on pregnancy and parenting.
In February 2022, TikTok creator yuniquethoughts, known as Yuni, went viral for her "list," a compilation of 35 “pros” and 350 “cons” of having children, which has now become a downloadable file.
Fellow TikTok creators, thankful for more honest conversations about women's health, have since dubbed Yuni "the girl with the list" and been inspired to share their own tales of pregnancy and parenting, including a prolapsed uterus and nipples being bitten off by breastfeeding children.