What to expect, when you expect to be expecting.

Long before I started this blog, I found that many of my friends asked me pregnancy questions. It may have been my availability that allowed the questions to be directed at me instead of Melissa. Perhaps even that some people enjoy my long-winded tales that perhaps push the boundaries of what they wanted to know by diverting into unending tangents. Either way, I found myself the verbal pregnancy consultant for several of my friends. It’s nice to feel like my opinion of the matter is trusted.

There seems to be a routine of sorts as couples approach that ultimate decision to both bump and also grind, without any form of protective baby-barriers. It can be…well…it is a very nerve wracking time for both people. There’s always a great deal of “what ifs” and I think that causes a lot of people to enter into this very special occasion with their minds on the wrong things.

So I thought it might be nice to compile a little list of things I’ve often been asked or told, and try to respond as best as I can. That gives me the ability to answer the questions of my friends by directing them here, giving me the page hit, and allowing them the chance to avoid yet another long-winded conversation with crazy tangent guy. Seems fair, right? Little bit of win-win for everyone?

“We’re waiting for the right time.” – The most common thing people say to me, and the most difficult to respond to, because it deals with many issues. This is a statement that means many different things to different people, but the short version in my opinion is – when it comes to making the decision to have your first kid, there is no “right time.” Planets don’t align very often, and a golden beam of light is probably not going to envelope you as you’re crossing the street trying to decide if you should buy that next pack of condoms. Without specifics, it’s hard to go further, but be aware that things will turn upside down regardless of how much you’ve decided it’s the “right time.” Trying to base your decision on something so broad leaves you with every opportunity to invent a reason of why it is not the right time. If you are so desperate to find a reason of “why not” then perhaps that’s enough of a reason.

“We’re saving just a little bit more money.” – This is a great, specific idea that tends follows the above. You should absolutely be concerned about the cost of raising a child. I know a few people who have put no thought at all into the financial ramifications of children. I even know a couple whose plan involved government aid. Seriously. They knew they couldn’t afford a child, but figured with assistance, they would get by…to some degree. It is certainly something that people can underestimate, but if your mind is going to a place where you think those last few paychecks to close out the year are going to save you…it’s already time.

“We want to have the baby in ____, so we’re not going to try until ____.” – One of the biggest misconceptions among the people I’ve known who have tried to get pregnant, is that everything happens on a schedule. We hear stores about these kids in high school and college who have a drunken night together and wind up pregnant and there’s this feeling that it must be so simple. The reality is that those two kids, now facing a world of decisions, had a series of chance where everything had to line up perfectly. So many things have to be taken into account in order to get pregnant, and I’ve had more than one conversation of panic over, “It’s been a month! What’s wrong!?” Even at the age where pregnancy is most easily conceived (mid-20’s) the average length of time before pregnancy is five months. If you want something a little closer to home, ask people you know. You’ll probably be surprised at what you hear. Melissa and I had a rough time getting pregnant, and perhaps I’ll talk about it someday, but as we asked friends and family it was alarming the number of miscarriages we heard about, the years of unsuccessful attempts that sometimes required fertility treatments, and of course people who had medical issues that prevented pregnancy altogether. My point is, predicting a “due date” to line up with some form of schedule is not realistic, and I’m not just talking about the potential for things to happen in a longer time frame than expected. I know a family who believed the second pregnancy would take just as long to happen as the first, so they set their “schedule” of  when to start trying. They were pregnant within two months. Think of it as a pre-cursor to life with kids – you’re on their terms now.

“Is there something…sexual…we should be doing?” – Believe it or not, I had this conversation. I don’t mind talking about sex, but it can be a little awkward. Especially when being told that I could think of miscarriages as at least a partial success because clearly whatever we were doing to conceive was working on some level. So here’s my secret technique: Silk Boxers. You’re welcome. No, in all seriousness, I don’t know of any position or time of day or day of the week that really increases your chances. At one point we had been using those ovulation sticks, but that didn’t really work for us. I can say that even though I’m unsure if this was really the “key” to our success, something that doctors talk about is keeping everything as stress free as possible. After two years of trying, and some very emotionally painful moments, we took a week long vacation to Las Vegas. It was a great week, and we didn’t think about pregnancy while we were there. Nine months later, William was born.

“I’m not sure I want to bring a child into this world.” – It breaks my heart when good people say things like that. We need smart and caring people, who are willing to be involved with their kids, out in the world. Still, it’s hard not to see the truth in that statement. I heard it said like this, “You’ll never miss what you’ve never had. With kids? It’s not until they are in your life that you realize just how much you want them.” I know several couples who have no interest in having kids. The very idea of parenting is a scary subject for them. Well it is scary, and the world isn’t always nice. I can’t help but wonder, as I look at commercials for awful reality TV programming – did these “parents” go through any of those fears? Don’t be afraid. If you have a good head on your shoulders and you want to have kids, do it, and then be the best parent you can be for your child. That certainly has to be a step ahead from the TV parents.

Lastly….

“I’m not ready to stop doing what I want.” – Thank god for people who can admit that. There are plenty of bad reasons to not have a kid, but this…this is a real reason. I’ll admit that some people certain have a lifestyle that has allowed them as parents to keep up a healthy social life. Many parents are better than Melissa and I about getting out of the house, including time without the kids. There’s perhaps an element of not having access to family here, or the idea that many of our friends don’t seem to understand (or have perhaps forgotten) our need to get together in a comfortable environment that allows us to be social without a need to look over our shoulder the whole time. Either way, you must realize that after you have children you give up a certain level of freedom while they are young. I don’t like the idea that you can keep up the same level of selfishness and I don’t like the idea that you can maintain the same level of party lifestyle AND be mom and dad. If you have that itch to travel, do it! If you have that itch to spend money without thinking, do it! I’d argue that while the party doesn’t have to stop…it does have to slow down. Maybe more than you want it to. So if you feel the need to put yourself before the baby, definately wait to have a kid.

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There’s no doubt about it, trying to decide you are ready to take the leap is a tough decision. The first time around left me constantly feeling lost.

What were/are your questions approaching the decision to have kids? What were/are your answers?

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