Friday, December 4, 2009

That whole baby thing

So, yesterday a few of you asked me to elaborate a bit more on the whole baby thing. I try not to go on about it on here too much because I feel like I've beaten the subject to death, but I realized after seeing your questions that I talk more about how impatient I am than about exactly what it is that makes me so impatient. You know? So, well, since you asked... here's some detail on how I know I want kids.

For the longest time I thought that I didn't want kids. I didn't even consider the possibility of having kids in any kind of serious way until I was a senior in high school, studying abroad in France. My host family had a two-year-old son and I loved that kid so much it almost physically hurt. Plus, I lived with him. Other than when I was in school, I saw him all day, every day. I heard him when he woke up crying in the middle of the night and I took care of him a lot and I dealt with his tantrums. And I amazed myself by not getting sick of it, and not minding the bad parts.

I mean, granted, he wasn't my kid and I wasn't in charge of dealing with a lot of those big parenting issues, but it was my first realization that hey, maybe having a kid isn't all grunt work and frustration.

And actually, I still remember when I realized more concretely that not only was I actually open to the idea of having kids, but I actively wanted kids. It was the summer after my first year of college, and I was working as a counselor at a summer camp for academically gifted high school students. I was 19 and my group of kids was 16, so I was only three years older than them, and yet I loved working with them. I loved dealing with their issues and I loved how smart and interesting they were and--and I know this sounds ridiculous since I was a teenager myself--I realized how incredibly awesome it would be to have teenage children of my own someday.

Seriously. I know I'm weird. But I really do remember. So the short version is that apparently my mind about kids changed, at least conceptually, over the course of about two years.

But of course then there's the part about knowing not just that I want kids someday, in the abstract, but that I want them soon, or even now. And honestly, that part is a little less clear-cut for me. There wasn't a moment, exactly, where I realized, hey, I'm ready for this. And I think, as everyone always says, that that moment of feeling completely ready will never come.

But I do feel ready, for the most part. When Torsten and I were talking about having kids back before we got engaged, we agreed that we wanted them sometime in the not-too-distant future, but also not right away. When we talked about it after the wedding date was set, we agreed that waiting a year and a half or so after our wedding would make sense--give us time to enjoy just being together, to get some things in our lives in order, and so on, without excessively delaying something that we both wanted.

And then I just started to get baby fever. I love babies. When I see one, I immediately want to have it, and barring that, I want to have a long conversation with its parents about all the little details that most people would not care about at all. I think about babies all the time. It's partly the cute stuff--I love seeing adorable babies in person, and in photos, and looking at cute baby clothes, and thinking about cuddly sweet good-smelling babies.

But the thing is that I like them even when the not-so-cute stuff is going on. I don't mind changing diapers. I don't mind crying babies. I don't even mind sitting next to a screaming baby on an airplane. That's how bad it is. When I hear a baby crying, my first reaction isn't to be annoyed, it's to feel sorry for the poor sad baby.

I also like thinking about the details. I want to choose a name. I want to figure out the childcare situation. I want to figure out what I want out of the pregnancy and childbirth experience, and educate myself, and come up with some sort of birth plan. I want to start looking into options for schools. I want to DEAL with this stuff, not just sort of think about it dreamily but really dive into it.

Also, our life right now is so stable. We have everything we need to have a kid... the time, the space, the finances, the mindset. We can do this. Of course we won't do it perfectly. But we're ready for it. A baby would fit into our lives. This doesn't mean there won't be adjustments, but we're already domestic, you know? We don't go out that often. A lot of the stuff we do go out for is stuff that a child could come along with. We like being at home and doing homebody stuff. We devote a lot of time to our dog, and while she certainly benefits from it, some of that time could quite easily be reallocated to a child, you know? And we'd both be happy to do that.

AND, it's not just about babies. I want older kids too. I'm excited about having kids of all ages, and watching them grow and develop, and getting to know their personalities and helping them deal with the different problems that kids face as they get older. Really, I'm not kidding when I say that I look forward to having teenagers.

I mean, some of it is dreamy too. I am excited to be pregnant, in that cheesy-movie way, even though I KNOW that the reality of it tends to be far less pleasant than the daydream version. I am excited to tell people that I'm pregnant, and I'm excited to have that moment with Torsten where we get to hold our baby for the first time.

And, I'm excited to have a baby with Torsten. I'm looking forward to doing this together, not just making a baby that has both of our genes (because there's no guarantee that we'll be able to do that, and I'd be just as excited, though in a somewhat different way, about adopting a baby with him), but parenting together. Having something that we both love so much. Even dealing with the inevitable disagreements about how to handle specific situations. I'm looking forward to parenting with him, and I'm looking forward to seeing him as a parent.

If there was a moment when I knew I was ready, I'd say it was when it occurred to us that hey, we don't HAVE to wait a year and a half to start trying. We COULD start trying earlier, if we wanted. And instead of being like OMG WE COULD HAVE A BABY NOW COMMENCE FREAKOUT, I was thrilled. Even though then I had surgery, and we have a variety of reasons for sticking to our original timeline after all, and therefore decided not to push up the baby-making schedule, the fact is that the idea of getting pregnant right now is positive.

And also, every month when I get my period, even though I'm on the pill, I'm a little bit disappointed.

What about you? When and how did you know if you wanted kids or not?


  1. I think all of it is just testament to the fact you're with the right person. I didn't really think I wanted kids until I met my husband and after awhile it became imperative. I'm so excited for you to have a baby some day!!

  2. I was the little girl who would rather play with a baby doll than anything else. If you read through my baby book, my mom notes that "playing mommmy" is my favorite thing.

    I believe some women just know from the beginning they are supposed to be a mother and I think I'm one of those people.

    The baby fever hit about 5 months after our wedding for most of the same reasons you mentioned. We CAN do this. Oh, that fever. It's a strong thing!

  3. I have always wanted a baby and to be a mom. Since I was a little kid, I knew that *mom* was a life requirement. I can't imagine not being a mom. When my ex-husband and I tried to have a baby and couldn't (he had fertility issues) - I grieved in a way I didn't even know was possible -- I was an absolute mess. Our fertility issues didn't lead to our divorce but it didn't help matters any. Now that I am in the midst of planning to marry again - we're talking about having a baby and because we're both a little long in the tooth (38 and 36) - we're planning on trying right away and we both hope I'm pregnant by this time next year. I can't flippin wait!

  4. In my 20s, I always imagined I'd adopt a child because there was no sign of a man coming into my life anytime soon. Then, I met my now-husband and that all changed. Before we got married, we agreed that we would *like* to have kids, but if it didn't happen then we weren't going to go to extremes to make it happen.

    That's easy to say in theory. In reality, once we were a year into the trying-to-make-a-baby, I realized that I would do ANYTHING to have a baby. We were just getting ready to take the first step in fertility assistance when I got pregnant on my own.

    So, I guess I didn't really answer your question; my comment is more empathizing with YES, I totally know how you feel. :)

  5. Wow, I am going to be the other voice. Also, just because my husband and I don't want kids does not mean we are not right for each other. Just sayin'. We have thrown the idea around and while we haven't ruled it out completely, we've also said it wouldn't kill us or really, even bother us, if we never had any. We met later in life, we didn't really start our life together till our early 30s, and I just don't feel that need in me. Don't get me wrong, I love kids; my sister is 6 yrs younger than me and I was like a second mom to her and still am. I lived with my cousins for 5 yrs when they were 3 and 6 initially, and I was like a second mom to them too. I will take your baby and play with him/her the entire time you want to have an adult conversation and your baby will adore me. I am only saying that after it's been proven by some 2 dozen babies. BUT, we just don't feel like we need one. We have a dog and we barely have time for him. We are supporting my sister who lives with us and we barely get an hour a day with her. We carve out times out of our schedules for each other; where do we fit a child in? And whoever says, oh just have the child and everything will fall in place? Maybe that worked for you; wouldn't for me. Right now, if I had a child, I would be resentful, and that's really not the right attitude to be giving birth with now, is it? I think it's that feeling when I think of a child in our lvies right now; when it changes from resentment to contentment, maybe then I'll be ready. but, at elast my husband and I agree that if that never happens, we'll still be ok.

  6. Love this. I've always wanted kids. LOTS of them. Since the day I was born I've wanted to be a mom. Now I'm just in the "but how does this balance with the career thing". In my 3 year old fantasy, I was a stay at home mom, not a working mom. Then in my ER obsession days, I was a one-day-a-week ER doctor on one of my ER doc husband's off days. And now....well, I'll be working. Lol.

  7. I am fascinated reading these comments. I think my husband and I may eventually have kids, but we recently experienced a pregnancy scare that made us realized that we are NOT ready right now. If it happened, we'd make it work and it would be fine and wonderful and blah blah etc. But, I don't think now is the time, and the negative pregnancy test was a huge relief - THAT'S how we knew we aren't quite ready! We're still in the 'Maybe, probably, some day, not right now' camp.

    Also, I love that you make a point to say you look forward to parenting older children. I am afraid I will be TERRIBLE at that, and that's one reason I'm unsure about having kids at all.

  8. I ALWAYS wanted kids. ALWAYS. It was never something I had to think about, I would have kids someday it was just a matter of getting my husband to come around and then acutally making it happen. Having the second child, however, that was a process for me, to feel ready to do it all again. not because it was a bad experience, but because it was such a profound life altering mind blowing HUGE thing I did and OMG am I ready and capable to do this times two??

  9. Wow Jess its kind of crazy that we're pretty much the same age and in such different places in our lives. I cannot IMAGINE having a kid. Maybe, someday, in the abstract, I will have them, but I haven't really thought about it all that much. I'm pretty meh about the whole babies thing. I nannied may way through high school and college so maybe I'm just burned out for a bit on kids? I dunno. I'm also no where near getting married or having a house any time soon so a baby would not be a welcome addition to my life at this point. My mom had me at 34 and my sister at 38, and both pregnancies were natural and healthy, so I'm hoping that the same will hold true for me if I ever want to have kids, eventually.

  10. This is great to hear,and I wish you guys all the best in your road to having kids...

    It is refreshing b/c I've wanted kids my whole life. Even when I was a kid I thought they were adorable, and at the age of 9, my friend's mom let me watch their baby. And the babysitting started then....and this continued till I was around 22...

    After I met my husband, we were dating, engaged and got married I wanted kids even more. Especially when someone tells you it may not be possible with your case of endometriosis. We were very proactive, and did everything possible to get pregnant.

    I find people that love kids so wonderful...if you don't want kids don't have them. But, it really is relaxing being around people who love kids....

    at the grocery story, at the mall, with other friends, around family...

    I just wanted to thank you because this blog and your thoughts on this make me happy.

  11. That baby fever thing is a big piece. I had it before I got pregnant with Bub, and that's how I knew I was ready to have another. I absolutely did NOT have that feeling for the first year and a half of motherhood. One child was enough! We were done! Only children, unite! And then his second birthday came around and it was like my uterus had a gravitational pull.

    My only regret is that I won't be pregnant at the same time that you are because I know you will be far more organized than I am!

  12. I always wanted kids and wanted a large family my whole life. I had a timeline in which I'd graduate college, then get married, then have kids. Now that I found the person I want to marry I do entertain thoughts of having kids in the next 2-3 years.

  13. I always knew I wanted kids but after I got married we said "in 3-4 years" but we never did anything about birth control. oops. I have PCOS so we thought it would be difficult but one our one year anniversary we conceived baby Q! We were both shocked but thrilled and I can't say it was an 'accident' but it wasn't 'planned' either, it just happened. In the first few weeks I went back and forth between being thrilled and totally regretting being pregnant. From what I've heard from other moms it's normal and common to have those feelings even if the pregnancy was totally planned though.

  14. I just had kids. And I'll just have a few more. and that's pretty much that.

  15. Oh and you know what leads to more baby fever? having a baby! We're already trying for another!

  16. I would say I always knew, but I guess what cemented it was seeing my twin brother and sister grow up (they're 6 and a half years younger than me) and go from crying red-faced lumps to real people with personalities and likes and dislikes. I'm nervous I may myself have twins, but

    That said, like a few other commenters here, I am not at all ready to have children. My mom had me (the oldest) at 29 and when I was in college, that seemed like a perfectly reasonable time to start having kids. Now at 25, attached but unmarried, I can't imagine having them that soon. I guess when you know, you just know.

  17. I always wanted to have children at some point. But I kind of thought I'd be more impatient now that we've been married a year and a half. Right now, I'm loving it just being the two of us. One day we'll have a baby and it'll be amazing, but I want to enjoy this stage of marriage too.

  18. You know, I am of the opinion that how you think about something is how you feel about something. Like, with my first pregnancy... I was just peachy with puking everyday around 2:00. It was dandy! I was pregnant and having a baby and I loved him sooooo much already.

    So, it is possible that even though you will be pregnant and go through the same physical stuff the rest of us do, it might not unpleasant as you think. Because you have been waiting so long to and every little ache or pain just're having a baby! Yay!

  19. Other than the financial bit, we were like that from the minute we got married. It's a hard thing to have to wait wait wait, and even when you get to start trying, the waiting for it to actually work is tough, too. Hang in there!

  20. Oh honey. You are definitely ready to be a parent, and you will be awesome even when you don't feel like you are.

    I felt similar to you about when I/ we were ready for children. Then we lost a few pregnancies, and that really solidified what we wanted. While it was really hard on us at the time, I wouldn't trade the way things went for us. Because even on the hardest days, we remember those dark moments-- ultrasounds without heartbeats; d&c procedures-- and we are grateful for our littles who make us CRAZY.

  21. You're going to be a great mom. You just are.

    I knew I wanted to have a baby (w/ Mike), on our first anniversary. It's the story I told when I announced the pregnancy to the Internet.

  22. I'm one of the few women who is truly neutral on the whole baby business. I know I'd make a good mother and would be happy and excited to learn I'm pregnant. But, I'm 35, married, currently not trying to get pregnant and not upset about it at all. To this day, I do not think of my own life definition of having to include being a mother.

  23. You're funny. I don't mean in a bad way; I mean it in a really good way. I've always wanted kids. I always worked with them and had a love for them. However, since I've started teaching 1st grade, I haven't been in the mood for having them lately. I think that most of it is because that M and I just got married. We've been married for a year, and we want to cherish the time that we do have together. We know that the second I get pregnant, our lives change and that they can never go back to where they were. I just want to work on our relationship more and concentrate on having stinky babies (haha) later.

    The world is blessed to have people who are so eager to have kids. I've worked with many people who are constantly complaining about the fact that they are pregnant/have kids/etc. and seeing the kids that I work with occasionally in foster care and who want to be adopted hurt my heart. Having people like you who really want kids is a huge encouragement.

  24. I'm only 24, not married yet, but have been with my boyfriend for five years now and we know exactly where things are heading now that he's FINALLY finishing university and we're starting our careers.

    I have had baby fever FOREVER. I have always wanted to be a mom. Always. I already hate that I'm still not even ENGAGED yet, because I know that means I am still waiting for the day I can finally have kids.

    I work with kids, I'm a teacher, and I chose that profession because I just like being around them and inspiring them and teaching them something new. I am so excited for the life lessons and the planning that goes into being a parent (much like you). I also get JEALOUS when I'm with families with small children, because I'm so ready to have MY family.

    So, I totally get where you're coming from, totally. Mind you, I've felt like this for a long time. When I was a kid, I always played "mom" and had to name my children and dreamed about growing up, having my own house and family.

  25. I didn't want kids all through high school, college and my early 20s. My mind started to change when I became more mature and stable.....and also after actually dating/marrying a man that would make a good father. Now instead of repelling away from kids, I interact with them and think that motherhood could be in my not-so-distant future.

  26. I don't even remember, really, what made me decide to have kids anymore. It was a lot of factors all together. But I never thought about the whole "right person" approach. For me, the concept of becoming a parent seemed a personal one first, and those were the roadblocks I had to overcome to want kids. It was never really an issue of the right person, but maybe that's because I was already with the right person by the time I got over myself.

  27. Umm last year when I thought I was pregnant and then took a test and found out I wasn't and my husband was all yay! and I was all, tears from somewhere rolling down my cheek, I realized I might be climbing on the want a baby wagon.

  28. YES! This was so fun to read. YES, this is what it's like!

  29. Honestly I think you'll make a really wonderful mother :)

    I like babies, sometimes still annoyed by screaming kids but I think it's just because they're not mine. I heard it' completely different when it's your own kids and you sacrificed your life physically, mentally and emotionally to bring them into this world. I may not be ready yet, but I know I want kids. :) I don't know if someday I'm gonna be an amazing mom or not but I'll give all I can and learn. I need my mom to guide me the whole way :)

  30. Don't you think it's a little hypocritical of you to gave switched from wanting to adopt to wanting to have a baby?

  31. Anonymous--First of all, though I'm not impressed with the phrasing of your question, can I just say that the intention of your question, the gist of what you're asking, is actually not rude? And in the future if you have a legitimate question, which I believe this is, please feel free to provide your email address so that I can respond to you directly.

    However, since you didn't do that this time, I'll respond here. First of all, even if I had changed my mind, I will go ahead and state that I don't think it's hypocritical to do so. People's minds change all the time.

    But second of all, I haven't changed my mind. From the beginning, Torsten and I have talked about--and I've mentioned here, repeatedly--conceiving our first child ourselves and adopting the second. We are still interested in doing this. It doesn't mean we necessarily WILL do it--a lot more research is required and we have to see how things go with the first kid before deciding--but we are still interested. See here and here for times when I have mentioned this in the past.

  32. The first go-round I wasn't totally ready. I was 28 and had no baby fever, but my husband (nearly 5 years older then me) did. We had been married about 5 1/2 years when we saw the 2 lines on the pee-stick...he was elated, I cussed. Technically we were "trying" but it all worked the 1st shot out of the gate and I don't think I was ready for that. I went from growing up thinking I wanted kids, to about 10 years felling like I could take it or leave it. I've got nieces and nephews and most of our friends had kids and I always liked & babysat kids, but one of our own, that we couldn't give back when I wanted a nap? Yikes!

    Anyway, when we decided for baby #2 I was the one with baby fever. Right around our "perfect timing" window I ended up with gallbladder issues due to the perfect storm of pregnancy hormones + postpartum weight loss, then gain then another big loss over the course of 2 years. This pushed us past that perfect window and I became obsessed. And, of course - it was much harder to conceive child #2. For those 9 long months of trying all I saw everywhere were babies and pregnant bellies. And that is hard.

    Anyway, I think it's funny how things evolve and everything more or less works out. When we got married I was gunning for the kids, he DID NOT WANT them. By year 2 of the marriage I was ok with not having kids, but he was starting to think they might be ok. In years 3 & 4 I was coming down pretty firmly on the no side while he was going the other direction. Thank goodness we agreed when we got married that we would wait 5 years until we decided to try or not. By then we were on the same page - more or less. Sometimes those plans you make are there for a reason!

  33. I was the oldest of 5 (my mom had 5 kids in 6 1/2 yrs) and made up my mind when I was 8 that I would NEVER have kids. Had a lot of pressure to change my mind (especially growing up Catholic) but I never wavered.

    To me, kids represented a financial drain, poverty, loss of freedom, loss of privacy...all things I would loathe that I saw my parents struggle to cope with.

    My parents barely survived with so many kids and while my childhood was happy, growing up with the barest of necessities was not always pleasant or healthy.

    I was scrupulous with my birth control and the 2 times I did get pregnant...once from rape, the other from bc failure...I couldn't have an abortion fast enough. To me, having kids would be a fate worse than death.

    You?? Jess, you will be a WONDERFUL mom for so many reasons! You honestly want kids, are realistic to the ups and downs of having kids, have so much love to give to a child. No matter what kind of child you end up with, it will be one lucky little kiddo!

    So yay you for being ready and for your sake, hope it happens sooner than later :-)

  34. I've always wanted children. So once we were married, it was torture to wait any longer. We also waited about 18 months... mostly because I was in a wedding in Washington DC for my bestie and was NOT going to have a pregnant belly (or complication thereof) keep me off that plane.

    I'm so excited to see your story unfold. It's such an adventure and journey and just... AWESOME.

  35. It's abundantly clear that you've put a lot of thought into children, which I think is terrific. People who don't consider all the angles, as you have, are usually the ones who end up regretting something or other.

    Personally, I don't want kids. I love them, and my nieces and nephews mean the world to me. But I've just sort of always known that my life is going to be about me, and not about someone else.

    Which sounds selfish, but a lot less selfish I think than raising a child without real love and consideration.

  36. I wasn't very sure I wanted kids. Even before Jon and I got married, I knew I would have them one day, but we both wanted to wait a while. Then after we got married, everything changed. I still wasn't ready right that moment, but I knew I really, really wanted to have kids with Jon. Shortly after our two year anniversary, we went off of birth control and well, you know the rest of the story!

  37. I still don't know whether I want kids. I wonder if that will change when/if I meet the right man. Though speaking of the right man, I'm unmarried, unattached even, and nearly 30, but I want some uninterrupted time with my husband before kids, so I think I'm faced with either enjoying my husband for 5-10 years as I'd like to, or having children as I feel I should lest I regret being childless.

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