Advice columnist

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: Recently you gave advice about how it’s “never the perfect time to have a baby,” and that’s true, but does the calculation change any if you’re planning to be a single mom?

I’m 36, and a year ago I broke up with a guy who still needed more time to decide about marriage/children. Since then I’ve been preparing to have a baby on my own. I’ve saved money and vacation time, arranged to work at home two days a week, interviewed nannies, picked out a donor.

Now just when I’m ready for the procedure, my mom had a stroke, and she and my dad are asking me to hold off. Mom is home, getting physical therapy and not exactly an invalid, but she needs a lot of help for daily tasks. My parents are recently retired and live a few blocks away so they were part of my extended support plan, but I wasn’t depending on them for any day-to-day help.

Should I wait? I’m at the age where my fertility is declining rapidly and having a child, maybe two if things work out, is very important to me. I’m an only child and my parents have always supported me in everything. Should I hold off on my dream a little bit to support them? Of course, that’s the problem — this “little bit of time” is so undefined that it scares me. I’m so torn, it seems like no matter what I do, I’m going to be doing the wrong thing.

(Nick Galifianakis/for The Washington Post)

— Maybe Baby?

Maybe Baby?: I’m going to do what I really don’t like doing, and give you a “do this” answer instead of the usual only-you-know-what’s-right-for-you-so-here-are-400-different-variables-to-think-about answer.

Do not wait. I wouldn’t if I were you, not at age 36.

Between the getting-pregnant part and the months of being pregnant, you can expect to have the better part of a year before you’re caring for a child. That can be enough for you to help your parents quite a bit through this immediate crisis and for their routine to stabilize.

They’re thinking about right now, but a baby isn’t right now, it’s a pregnancy first.

I’m sorry about your mom’s health, and I hope she’s quick to improve.

Re: Maybe Baby: There’s no guarantee that artificial insemination will work for you, let alone on the first try. My husband and I started trying when I was your age. Now I am 40 and we have spent years, incalculable pain and tens of thousands of dollars trying to have a child.

You are up against a very real deadline. While you don’t need to panic, you don’t need to dither, either. There is a chance that delaying to suit your parents could rob you of your chance to be a mother, or wipe out your savings.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Thank you for this dose of reality, and I’m sorry for the tough breaks that positioned you to provide it.

Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost.