When Is the Right Time to Have a Baby?
Thanks to Kathleen for sending in these questions. She says she loves to plan out her life as much as she can, and her husband and she are struggling right now with knowing when is the right time to start a family. (Let us know if there's a particular topic you'd like us to write about!)
- How do you know when it's the right time to start a family, or do you ever really know?
Try as we might to plan our lives, sometimes the things we try to control don't work out as planned. Kelsey and I wanted to start a family about 6 months sooner than it actually happened. Through that time we went through many of the emotions that you mention (worried that financially we might not be able to live the same lifestyle that we did before, worried that our spouse would not have enough time and love for us when the baby comes along, afraid that we wouldn't be able to handle the physical and emotional stuff that comes along with a baby). Asking God why, we ultimately cast our cares aside and put it in His hands. And God's timing is always perfect. We may not always understand it, but it's always perfect.
When we found out Kelsey was pregnant, there were more questions. Fear set in and we wondered if we were ready. It was a crazy 9 months of pregnancy. Anticipation, anxiety, worry, fear -- you name it it, we went through it. We prepared the best we could, but to be perfectly honest, if you wait until you are 100% ready, you will never have kids. No amount of research or planning can prepare you for the first months of parenthood (which is all I can speak of at the moment).
Having only five months of parenting under my belt, I will tell you that planning only goes so far before you simply learn on the job. Kels and I look at each other at least a few times a week and say, "Nobody knows what to do!" It's usually lighthearted fun, but truth nonetheless. There is no manual for being parents, and every child is unique.
- How will we cope emotionally with the change?
It depends. Kelsey had a really hard time with postpartum depression. It was a very scary time for our family and thank God we came through it stronger than ever. It was really rough. Seek help, be honest about how you are feeling and keep loved ones informed on the situation. You will get through it.
- How will family dynamics change?
- How will our dog take to the change?
We have no experience with this, but our friends have had great success, and maybe one of our readers can offer some advice via the comments.
- Stay at home or go back to work?
This is a tough decision, and I don't mean to give vague answers, but you may want to wait until after the baby comes to make a final decision. You may even want to wait until your child is a year old before you make a decision. Kelsey will tell you that her 9 weeks of maternity leave were very hard work and not what she expected. There are many decisions to be made, and I would encourage you to talk with people on both sides, and perhaps even try going back to work before making a final decision. It is a tough decision to make. Some people may disagree with me on that, but if you're unsure, I'd advise you to not rush into the decision.
What advice do you have for Kathleen?