Work is certainly part of it. I spent the first five years out of college toiling away at a series of low-paying, unglamorous jobs before finally landing one that paid me a decent living and offered a reasonable degree of fulfillment. Having finally gotten my career pointing in the right direction, I'm uneasy about the prospect of putting it on autopilot in order to focus on something else. Having a baby to go home to needn't affect my nine-to-five performance, of course, but it would mean an end to the routine late nights and after-hours socializing that seem to be expected of anyone with an ounce of ambition in my field. For Emily's part, as a medical resident, she has the more demanding job, but her residency is of fixed duration, and taking a few months of maternity leave won't set her back.
Money, too, is a consideration. Together, we earn enough to support the two of us, but add a third and it's going to get dicey. Again, having finally gotten used to having a bit of cash left over at the end of the month, do I really want to go back to that post-collegiate feeling of "can I really afford this sandwich?" And that's before factoring in childcare, which, in New York City, often means a nanny.
(Readers with children, stop right now: I know what you're going to say, and, please, save your breath. Yes, it is never a good time. I assure you, every ready-to-start-a-family couple has heard that bit of unhelpful non-advice by now. Next time you get the urge to say it to someone, why not try something more original instead—maybe a remark about the weather?)
When I'm honest with myself, though, I have to admit the main thing giving me cold feet about fatherhood is what it will mean for my leisure time. I've spent enough time around infants and toddlers to know that they are, in addition to being a ton of work, an endless amount of fun. But I'm not done yet having the kind of fun that comes from being young and unencumbered in a big city—exotic vacations, lazy weekends, the chance to use recreational drugs once in awhile without feeling like Courtney Love. This is one case where the grass, though visibly greener on the other side, still looks pretty darn good where I'm standing.
Of course this is ridiculous of me. I'm allergic to marijuana. The only foreign trip we've taken was to Canada. And when we have a weekend with nothing to do, we always somehow manage to fill it up with bill-paying and errands. So why my hang-up?