A disclaimer: Please know this article is written in partial jest, who am I to tell you if you’re ready to have a baby? And turns out the unready do okay, and the surprises, accident and mistakes rock our worlds, and make out hearts explode.
Lets get right to it; are you ready to procreate??
I should start by confessing, I have zero qualifications to tell you what the ‘right’ time is, or even about planning a family at all. I fell pregnant accidentally, five months before our Wedding, 10,500 miles away from my family, at a point where I loved my life, loved my job, loved my freedom and had no imminent plans to become a Mother.
Was it hard? Yes. Would i change it? No. I don’t think my husband and I are the sort of people who could sit down and say; right, we are emotionally evolved enough, financially stable and sick & tired of sleep and free time-lets make a baby. Although I was completely clueless about the realities of parenthood (e.g. I had no idea it was so hard sometimes/the vast majority of the time), I didn’t underestimate it’d change my life beyond recognition. I enjoyed being selfish, by my own admission. So to fall pregnant by surprise (remember it’s surprise not accident), worked out to be perfect for us.
I think that there really is no perfect time, and you will make it work with whatever you are and have. The people who really believe they are ready are probably the ones to worry about. The friends who hand out parenting advice like experts without having actually birthed anyone, changed a nappy, or lactated a day in their lives, and think they’ve got it all sorted, because they’re the ones who are in for the biggest shock of all.
In a lot of ways it really can never be an intellectual decision, it’s completely irrational. they take your energy, money, time, your freedom, challenge you relationship, drain your body, and unintentionally (most of the time) inflict significant physical and psychological pain-sure lets do it. For a lot of us I think its a basic primitive desire to reproduce, ‘must procreate, must continue human race’. It’s a hormone driven, gut led, left brain, form of clucky craziness.
So we have established I don’t truly believe there’s a right time, but that you will work it out one way or another anyway, and the love really will carry you through. It’s true what they say, it is tsunami style, all encompassing, brutal, relentless, all powerful love.
Here are a few reasons which perhaps aren’t the right reason to reproduce:
Your friends are doing it
While I know that it can feel really excluding when your friend have babies, they talk of nothing else. I moved to a town where most women my age had children or were pregnant. whilst they were lovely, we were at such different places in their lives. I felt immature, I guess because by contrast i was-not long out of Uni, and going out at weekends was still a big priority for me. I felt left out, not by their doing, I just knew nothing of teething and weaning, and really did not want to hear any birth stories.
But my childless friends now are so valuable to me, they are also a connection to the old me in someways I guess. At times I’d say-tell me about your life, let me live vicariously through you. And at times I have had the best support and suggestions from non parent friends because they can see it all with a more objective clarity, and plain common sense.
From a practical point of view, those friends having babies now-they’ll be the ones offering hand-me-downs, support, and babysitting when the time does come. They’ll really get it. And even if there’s a significant age gap, your kids will all happily play together in the future.
Your parents want Grandchildren
I appreciate that some future Grannies (and Grandpa’s) can get pretty pushy about their need for Grandbabies. But as much as you want to please them, this is your life. And as much as they promise they’ll care for them, it’s you who’s on duty 24/7. perhaps they could rescue a dog from a shelter instead?
Your partner wants them
Fulfilling the parental desire of the person you love is a very strong drive. It’s a 50/50 partnership after all, and who are you to deny them? But the reality is, it’s not equal, especially the first part of a child’s life, that bit where your body is changing to carry them, where you are the sole food source. Your career aspirations possibly set aside, society changing how you are viewed. When paternity leave is up, in a multitude of cases, no matter how fabulous a parent they are to your offspring, they’re off back to work. You wave them goodbye in the morning, and you’re on your own for 10 hours, while they pee in peace, drink hot drinks, talk to other adults, and pursue careers. Fathers are so important, and impact their children hugely in an immeasurable amount of ways. However, you’re the Mothership. If you aren’t ready, and they love you, they will wait. Maybe you can work together to get to a point you are ready, or maybe you just need time.
Society tells you to have them
I don’t think we had been together six months before comments about children started, and continued constantly. Most of my friends get harassed from the moment they walk down the aisle, about when will babies be on the way (FYI; a handy way to escape this is by being five month pregnant when you get married). It’s incredibly insensitive, no one knows your story, and people can be idiots. But they are not going to be there at midnight for a feed (or 12.15, 12.30, or 12.45 either). And you know what? They won’t stop, as soon as your pregnant they’ll have an opinion, and as soon as the child is born you’ll get asked when number two is on the way. I know the pressure can feel enormous, but when you spell it out-I gave birth so the lady in Tescos would get off my back-well its maybe not the best plan.
Because your relationship needs repairing
Extreme sleep deprivation, stress, financial challenges, and dramatic lifestyle changes are fabulous ways to heal a struggling marriage don’t you think. Throw in hormones, leaking body fluids, no sex. People often joked when our daughter turned one that we had ‘made it’ and congratulated us on our marriage surviving, and you know what? They’re right. I adore my husband, truly and madly (he might say more of the latter), but coparenting is hard, so hard. your roles change, you don’t recognise yourself at times, you are so touched out by the end of the day, the thought of anyone coming near you is horrifying. I remember at one point we hadn’t hugged properly for days because there was no point where we were both awake and neither of us was holding the baby! Go to Relate, go on holiday, talk, for the love of all that is good, don’t have a baby. Its an enormous burden too commonly placed on children to hold relationships together, and there’s significant evidence that children absorb the hostility and resentment from a very early age.
Something feels like its missing
This one is a bit of a tricky one. That gut feeling I was talking about earlier, that irrational, clucky, gap in your heart? Well I guess thats it really isn’t it. But at the same time, if you feel as though you need something, maybe a career change, maybe a new challenge, perhaps you need to sit with the feeling, do some soul searching, or some babysitting, or perhaps set your alarm for 40 minute intervals all night for a month, and then punch yourself in the boobs every three hours. Still keen? You’re good to go.