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How Do You Know You Are Ready For a Baby?

By Amalah

babies.jpg
Buckets of babies photo by amy_b

My husband (24) and I (25, 26 next month) have known each other for 5 1/2 years now and have been married for 2 of those years in June. Since we got married we have known that we want kids more then anything and it has been constantly on our minds. But just like any couple, we struggle with knowing if we are ready.

We actually tried last year for a few months and then stopped when we started the process of looking for a home. Now we are back to thinking we’d like to start trying again and I can’t help having those same doubts. We are young still but have already experienced so much of our lives together and I feel that age is not always a factor. I know that you were young when you had Noah, did you feel like you would no longer have time for just the two of you? I worry about us not being able to just do what we want to, when we want to. We have a puppy now and she does restrict us but its nothing like having a baby.

Money is a constant worry but I feel that always will be. And timing, my sister is getting married next year and I feel like I should wait till that is over. But if we always wait for the perfect time I know it will never happen! So I’d like to know your thoughts on the age old question, “How do you know when you are ready?”.

Thank you so much,
SB

It’s an age-old question because it’s different for everybody. Some people aren’t ready until they’ve accomplished everything on a mental to-do list: promotion, house, X amount of money in savings, the sensible car, a vacation overseas. Some people find themselves getting ready in a hurry in the face of an unexpected positive pregnancy test. Some people just “know.”
Me? I knew I was ready when I realized that NOT having a child was making me actively unhappy. My thoughts of “someday” morphed into “NOW NOW NOW” at some point, and I literally ached for a baby. My husband and I would go out for dinner and then to some ridiculous club listening to ridiculous music watching everyone around us act ridiculous and I’d think, “I wish I was at home right now, reading bedtime stories and tucking someone in.” I’d curl up with my dog and think, “I wish I was holding someone round and soft and chubby.” I’d watch Jason set the table for dinner and wonder what our baby would look like. The sight of our spare bedroom and empty back seat in our car made my chest tight, I couldn’t hear about other people’s pregnancies without tearing up…basically I had classic baby fever, and there was only one cure: get. knocked. up. immediately.

Of course, that was part of my problem — I knew we were going to struggle with getting pregnant, I knew that if it was just going to “happen” it would have happened already, and my husband and I were at a bit of an impasse when it came to seeking fertility treatment. I was all, “BAYBEEEEEEE” and he was all, “whoa, whoa, slow down.” Jason was fine with having a baby if it just “happened.” But seeking treatment and actively looking to get pregnant wigged him out quite a bit, like if we did THAT, we needed to be READY READY READY, and I guess he was in the place you guys are at. Money is okay, could still be better, maybe we should refinance the mortgage first, maybe take another vacation, maybe when I’m not working such long hours, we’d probably have to move to a better school district, on and on, his to-do list went.

This. Drove. Me. Crazy.

After a string of conversations and confrontations that I now really regret, I ultimately put my foot down and filled the dusty old prescription for Clomid that my doctor had given me months before, regardless of whether Jason felt ready. Um. Don’t ever do this, people. I know this doesn’t really apply to the question at hand, but still. Fertility treatments are vicious enough without the bonus marital tension.

In the end, the Clomid didn’t even work, and left me an anxiety-ridden hormonal shell of my former self for months, during which time I had to take a medication that was NOT compatible with baby-making. I told Jason he was right, the timing was wrong, I’d let the baby thing drop for awhile. As soon as the words left my mouth Jason looked at me and said, “What? No baby? But I was really getting excited…”

(And then I strangled him. The end!)

Anyway, that’s our story. We were a little older than you guys (27 and 29), and had been together for more than our entire 20s. We’d gone on a couple trips together, were pretty comfortable financially, and life was just all around pretty great and awesome. Except for that lack of a baby thing. Call it boredom, a basic evolutionary urge, some romantic concept of “just knowing,” whatever, but we wanted a baby. We wanted a baby right then. Not having a baby made us feel incomplete, like something was just missing. God, you know what would go awesome with this pizza? A BABY.

I don’t want to whitewash things here and place TOO high a value on “knowing” — if money is a “constant worry,” having a child will only exacerbate that. Babies are an amazing event for couples but also bring a level of sleep deprivation, stress, drudge work and often uneven division of labor that can strain the most solid of relationships. In other words, you’re right to worry, to doubt, to question. “Just knowing” is romantic but can also be kind of stupid, if it causes you to overlook basic practical questions.

So it’s a blend of addressing the practical (do we have health insurance, can we pay for childcare, do we have a support network if we need help) and also that feeling of knowing that whatever struggles you do face, you’re both ready for them AND believe in your heart that they’re worth it, that a baby will still be a plus and not a minus.

Published May 14, 2009. Last updated April 10, 2017.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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