My husband and I have been married a year now, own a house, have a dog and a cat. I’m approaching 30 next summer. Our lives are primed for a child, but we’ve both been a bit ambivalent about deciding to go for it because everything in life is so good and peaceful right now. Maybe we’re subconsciously thinking “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
There have been times in the past when I’ve been super baby hungry, but always when I knew I was nowhere near ready in terms of lifestyle. I know I want a child or two eventually, just not sure I want to start right now. But of course, there’s the whole biological clock thing ticking away….
How did you two know when it felt right and when it was time?
When you’re pregnant and/or a parent, there are a few things you hear over and over and over.
“Oh, it goes so fast. Savor every moment!” (Dear World: Stop. Saying this.)
“Did you know your baby only has one sock on?” (Only ever said when the baby is doing a banshee-wail and his or her sock or lack thereof is the last thing on the planet you could possibly care about.)
And, of course:
“It’s never the right time.”
I hate being such a cliche, but that last one? True.
When Kendrick and I decided to have Indy, our decision did not come from a place of anything even approaching readiness; at least not in terms of our lifestyle. We were living in a small fourth-floor walkup apartment (technically a two-bedroom if you wanted to call the hallway a bedroom, which we did in order to make ourselves feel better). I had yet to see the website that I’d recently started turn a profit; we were surviving on Kendrick’s salary from a job that didn’t pay especially well (at least not in New York City-dweller terms) and that he hated so much that he was definitely going to have to figure out something else to do in the near-ish future. We were on our way towards being interested in moving out of our hard-partying twenties, but I wouldn’t have called us especially settled-down in this regard.
I don’t even remember exactly how the decision to try for a baby came about. As best as I can remember, I basically woke up one day, realized I was a) married and b) twenty-nine years old, and that having a baby was a pretty normal thing for a married twenty-nine-year-old to do. I’ve never been a big “baby” person and definitely didn’t have baby fever, but I knew that I wanted children and figured the present was as good of a time as any. Of course there were a million things I wished we had (a house, a car, money for a nice crib, a general understanding of what parenthood would entail), but I’ve always been a believer in just going for it, and trusting that the rest will work itself out.
It totally worked itself out.
Not because of luck, or because of fate, or because the gods just really like pregnant ladies and miraculously imbue them with the ability to handle their new lives. Things work out because you make it so. Let me explain.
Here – in my opinion, at least – is why you never “feel” ready for a baby, and yet without fail discover, once you have an actual child living with you, that you are.
1. You have nine months to prepare yourself. This is a really nice thing about being a human being: our gestational period is long enough that you get to spend really a lot of time thinking about the fact that you’re going to have a baby without actually having that baby in the room with you yet. You get to sleep a lot. People fuss over you and give you their seats on the subway (sometimes). You get to browse in Buy Buy Baby and Carter’s and coo over all the cute little things without anyone screaming in your ear.
2. Parenthood makes you magical. You won’t have to “force” yourself to do what you need to do to accommodate your new, child-inclusive lifestyle; you’ll just do it. This is a remarkable thing that I totally didn’t realize before I had Indy: when you’re pregnant, you worry about all those ways that your life is going to change, but a baby is so consuming – you love him so much – that you just handle it. You develop the ability to exist on two hours of sleep. You all of a sudden know how to type emails with one hand while the other is occupied by a breast pump. You start being the kind of person who always has a tissue and a bag of Goldfish in your purse. And sure, you’re tired; sure, it’s a lot – but what you discover is that you can do it.
3. You will love your child more than all the stuff that came before. Look, there are plenty of times when I wish I could just go out dancing with my girlfriends and have a few drinks and not worry about the fact that a child will be waking up at 6:30AM and I will be waking up with him, hangover or not (just a little PSA: do not ever have a hangover when you have a baby. It is literally the worst thing in the entire world). There are plenty of times when I wish that Kendrick and I could just whisk ourselves away on a weekend trip to a romantic bed and breakfast. Of course I miss being spontaneous, being irresponsible, worrying only about myself and what *I* feel like doing.
This is better.
I cannot emphasize this enough: having children is all of the stressful and exhausting and crazy things people say it is…but it is also the best. Before I had kids I totally thought parents said this just to rationalize their sad, going-to-bed-at-8PM lives, and totally thought they would give anything to have back their carefree pre-kid lifestyles. I thought I’d miss my “before” life. I don’t.
The best way I can explain it is like this: You know how amazing those first couple of months after you fall in love with someone are? How you just want to eat the other person up and could easily do nothing at all except stare at their face all night long? Being a parent is like that, except it goes on and on and on. Forever.
Do what feels right for you, take a little (or a lot) more time if you and your partner want to, but don’t let it be the fear of change that stops you (from this or from anything, really). Change is good. And this change? Is great.