The thought of seeing double blue lines on a pregnancy test can bring joyful tears, hugs, and happiness. For others, it can bring on nervousness, fear, and questions such as “What the hell are we going to do?”
Pregnancy is big news, especially if it is a surprise. Even if you have mentally prepared yourself for a baby for years, played cool “Auntie” to all your friend’s children, and spoiled your nieces and nephews constantly with toys, ice cream, and kisses, sometimes your partner may still need time to come to terms with the huge responsibility that comes along with fatherhood.
Whether you are currently tracking your ovulation with the latest app or just secretly wishing you had a baby in your arms, here are some important questions to ask yourself before getting pregnant.
1. Why do I want to have a baby?
Look around. Do most of your friends have children? Is it making you feel left out and wishing you were part of the mom club? Well, this isn’t a good enough reason to want to have a child. If you’re feeling left out or lonely, sometimes taking a class and meeting new people helps. Or buying a cat or dog. Perhaps, even a chinchilla. And guess what, with an animal, you can leave them alone at the house. You may even be able to get out of the house in less than five minutes.
2. Why do I want to have a baby right now?
Just because you feel like your biological clock is ticking isn’t reason enough. If you are planning this pregnancy in advance, it’s smart to consider why it is that you want a baby now. Assuming you’re in a committed relationship, does your partner agree this is the right time to have a baby, too?
While there’s never a perfect time, make sure there aren’t any negative reasons why you want to have a baby right now. Are you trying to save a failing relationship? Are you having a baby just to please your family? Think deeply about your decisions. While it isn’t bad to want to please your family, remember who will be the one tending to the baby in the middle of the night, feeding the baby, cleaning the baby, changing the diapers, paying for the doctor’s appointments. Here’s looking at you, girl.
3. Is this the man I want to have a child with?
This is the most important question of all. Spend A LOT of time on this one. This man and his family will be a part of your life FOREVER. If you have a child with him, you will be required to interact constantly. Does being around this man bring you peace and happiness or drama and angst? Listen to your heart—and your gut!
4. Will this man make a great father?
Not every man is equipped to be a good father. A good gauge can sometimes be how he responds to you. Having an involved father who is a positive role model for your child is important. Children need an active father in their lives. A father who will cheer them on and help teach them right from wrong. How can a man be a positive role model if he constantly neglects his finances and his day revolves around the next time he can get high?
5. Have you accomplished everything you wanted to as a single person or as a couple?
For most of my life, I never felt truly ready. Then one day I woke up, I was in a healthy relationship with an amazing partner, financially strong, and had conquered most of my major goals in life. I lived abroad in Europe. I hiked the mountains of Guatemala and trekked through the Sahara Desert. I was literally finishing grad school as my little girl was popping out of my hoo-haw. (a little too graphic, eh? I’m just preparing you, sister).
When the pregnancy test showed those two little lines, I was genuinely happy and felt at peace. I wasn’t even scared.
If you have major goals that you would like to accomplish that requires loads of time and energy, I’d recommend doing those first. But, let’s not forget about the fun times spent between you and your partner. Make sure you have crossed off a few of those bucket list items and have a solid foundation. Parenting is hard. And, sometimes your partner can be an asshole. You need to be able to look back at those fun times you had with your partner to remind you why you fell in love and the many reasons he is so damn awesome.
6. Are you mentally healthy?
Your mental health is so important! Mental health is your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, act, and feel. If you are known to get depressed or are currently on anti-depressants, you may want to consider getting off these medications before getting pregnant. It may also be smart to talk over some of your questions and concerns with a therapist. Being a mommy is hard, and postpartum depression is no joke. It is best to address any harboring issues before taking the leap into motherhood.
7. Do you have the proper support you’re going to need when the baby arrives?
All my family is far, far away in the Golden State of California. I am fortunate, however, to have a helpful mother-in-law who is obsessed with her newest grandchild and lives ten minutes away. If it wasn’t for her help, I would not have the chance to escape and type this article (my baby is not a sleeper). If you don’t have the proper support, take steps now to develop relationships with people that may be able to help you and guide you. Even better, look into local meetup groups for new or expectant moms in your neighborhood (or start one of your own!) It is important to have a mom tribe.
8. Have you prepared yourself financially?
Babies are not cheap. My friend mentioned to me the other day that she and her partner plan on just eating out less to improve their financial situation for their impending child. Yikes. While I wanted to appreciate the fact that she at least thought about her finances, going out to eat less is ONLY the first step. Now is the time to work those extra hours at work and stockpile as much money as you can. Cut back on shopping, snagging those big purchases, and take a break from getting those fancy French manicures with the little jewels on your index finger. If you want to have a baby, you really need to think about getting your finances in tip-top shape and having a nice little cushion in the bank.
There are so many things that can come up that you reasonably cannot foresee, but you should at least ponder these questions in advance.
Nothing can truly ever prepare you for the role of a mother. There is no magical guidebook, 12-hour crash course, or magic potion that could grant you the answers to the things you encounter as a mom.
All I ask is that even if all your friends are sipping pumpkin-spiced lattes in the park pushing along the newest Baby Jogger, it doesn’t mean you have to jump on the bandwagon. Listen to your female intuition to know when you’re ready. And, when you are ready, I’ll be sure to have a pumpkin-spiced latte waiting for you.