Am I Ready to Have a Baby? Questions to Ask If You Are Thinking About Having Kids
Ready for a baby?
Am I Ready to Have a Baby? Am I Ready to Get Pregnant? Am I Ready for Kids?
Am I ready to have a baby? It’s a question that many women ask themselves quite often. Sometimes, the question is ‘Am I ready to have another baby?’ No matter which question, the decision is still a major one to make.
For many of us, the questions concerning having a baby below will be quite obvious, being planners ourselves who prepared for the coming of a baby (or babies). For others, you might find these questions come as a surprise, not having considered them before the presence of a baby in your life.
As for me, I prepared painstakingly for my firstborn, my son, reading everything I could and speaking to those who were seasoned parents. For the things I did not learn prior to giving birth, I learned after my son was born. That which I didn’t learn from having my son, I learned having my daughter a few years later. Below you will find what I considered before trying to have a baby and what I learned after my babies came.
These questions I ask are important because they change your life, not just for a few months or years, but forever. For most of us, it is the best change we could ever experience. It certainly was for me! Others may struggle with some parts of the change, but hey, no one ever said being a parent was even remotely easy (if you hear someone say that, they are lying). The important thing is this: being ready to embrace the change and being ready with grace and faith to face the challenges that are ahead.
The Realities of Parenthood
Many of these questions are geared toward future moms, but it wouldn’t hurt for future dads to read and think about the questions. Also, my responses to the questions may seem a bit harsh at times, but I would rather present the truth than present information through rose colored glasses. Raising children is not always easy, not always fun. For those ready to have kids, however, you'll find it is very, very worth it.
Kids Will Be Kids
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Considering Pregnancy
1. Do I like kids? Seems like a silly question, right? It’s not. I think some potential parents think of having a baby—cute and cuddly, doesn't move around much, makes minimal messes/sound/financial burden—and then are shocked when their kids grow up. Babies are not babies forever (sniff!). Infants grow into babies, babies turn into toddlers, toddlers become preschoolers who become grade schoolers who become teenagers who become college students….In essence, you need to be prepared for all stages of life. Can you handle that? Most can but when asked honestly will tell you they enjoyed certain stages of their child’s life more than others. Ever hear a parent talk about the terrible twos or pre-teen years? Yep, they exist. Funny thing is, as much as these parents (myself included) complain about these stages, they have survived through them. By ‘they’ I mean parents and child (children) alike. The families still remain. Difficult stages are seen as challenges to pursue with love, knowing that the child will grow out of them and perhaps learn from them.
There are, unfortunately, some parents who learn that they cannot handle the stages of their child’s life. I don’t want to even think about what happens with these kids or parents let alone write about it, but I’m sure you have seen the news or read about all of the terrible things that happen when parents don’t know what to do with their children.
Liking kids goes beyond just thinking they’re cute and cuddly. It means wanting to spend time with them, helping them learn, playing with them, reading to them, feeding them, changing them, encouraging them in struggles, consoling them in losses, loving them no matter what. It’s all or nothing, for the rest of your life.
2. Am I physically ready? Doctors recommend that you achieve your ideal weight before trying to conceive. With a healthier weight, you are more likely to conceive and then lose the pregnancy weight after the baby is born. Are in you that range? It doesn’t mean to get ‘skinny’; it means to be at the recommended weight for your height and body type, which for some people might mean actually gaining weight than losing it. If you need to lose a few pounds to achieve your ideal weight, try walking. Walking is a great exercise that can be modified for your needs and that can be continued even when you are pregnant.
It is also recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin as you are trying to conceive, one preferably with folic acid, calcium and iron. It helps to build up your stores of important vitamins and minerals needed to support a pregnant body and a healthy baby.
A bit of ‘muscle’ training wouldn’t hurt either, especially for your arms, core and legs. When you become pregnant, your body needs to support the extra weight you gain for the pregnancy, which is why your core and legs should be strengthened. After you have the baby, you’ll need strong arms to carry around the baby, lift the baby, lift the laundry basket and the baby, lift the garbage bag and the baby, lift your coffee cup and the baby, and eventually put the baby down. (I’m not exaggerating; a seven pound angel feels like a thousand pounds when he/she is in your arms all day/night. You’ll get the mommy/daddy arm burn, trust me.) To strengthen your core and legs, try Pilates or yoga, which are two other types of exercises that can also be utilized throughout pregnancy, like walking.
3. Am I financially ready? This is an important question to ask, especially in the recession. Babies cost money. Sure they’re cute and cuddly, but they use money faster than a shopaholic on Black Friday. Consider this: in the course of one day, a newborn may go through 15-20 diaper changes, use 30 wipes, need up to 3 outfits, drink 10 4oz. bottles of formula (if you’re not breastfeeding), not to mention shelter, warmth, laundry needs, water for baths….It certainly adds up, and that’s just for a newborn!
When answering this question, think about your financial resources and whether or not you are going to work when the baby is born. If you are going to work, you’re going to need to think about two things: FMLA for maternity/paternity leave and a daycare program or find an in-home sitter for when you return to work.
Maternity leave or paternity leave can be paid or unpaid, but most of the time it ends up being unpaid. A few employers will offer a small percentage of an employee’s wages for a few weeks, but most employers just offer that an employee is able to use vacation or sick leave for any pay. The time permitted for leave, however, varies. FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, is a federal law that allows parents to take at most 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any twelve month period. There are certain conditions that must be considered, but for the most part it applies for many jobs. After FMLA is used up, most employees are expected to return to work. Some jobs, like mine, may offer extra time off, but this extra time is unpaid.
If you choose to return to work, you then have to decide on a daycare program for your baby. Daycares vary in price and in how many children they admit, so do your homework before the baby arrives.
Many parents today are becoming stay-at-home parents. That is the decision I made after my daughter was born. It becomes a whole new financial ballgame. With the loss of a second income, you need to either dip into savings or find an alternate source of income. Many couples decide that the working spouse finds a second job to supplement the income. A popular thing to do now is find work online. Be wary of these offers; some are legitimate while others are not worth it. Blogging and writing on sites like HubPages is legitimate (and fun!) but you can’t expect a huge paycheck from it until you are established and create quality work.
Can you support your family? Take this into consideration when you are thinking about having a baby.
4. Am I psychologically/emotionally ready? Having a baby takes a toll on our emotional and psychological state of beings. Are you stable enough to handle the instability that often occurs when raising children? Of course, for women after a baby is born, there is potential PPD (postpartum depression), which can be treated with support, counseling, and possible medication, but there are other psychological disorders that can be triggered by having children. Speak with your doctor about how to take on the stressors of having children.
For me, it was cabin fever after having my daughter in the middle of winter and the cold/flu season. Yes, I know it’s not an actual illness, but the feelings that can set in are very similar to depression. I spent many days alone in my house with my newborn baby and toddler son, unable to be out with them for fear the baby would get sick. I had to find ways to stay active and connect with family and friends without going crazy by myself.
Babies Can Get Cranky at Times and Be Happy in the Next Moment
Are You Financially Ready for a Baby? Do You Know How to Save Your Money?
Questions You May Not Have Thought of When Thinking about Having a Baby
These are some questions that you may not immediately think of when you are thinking about having a baby.
5. Am I willing to give up sleep? Once a woman is pregnant, she can kiss a great night’s rest goodbye (if you sleep well now, I don’t want to hear about it). Once the belly grows and the joints stretch, sleep becomes a very uncomfortable time. That’s not to mention the repeat visits to the bathroom at night. Once the baby arrives, you’ll be getting up in the middle of the night quite often for feedings and changing diapers. As the child gets older, there’s nightmares, bed wettings, illnesses, sleeplessness… Bye, bye sleep. Hello, moon.
6. Am I ready to change nearly a million diapers? Ew, I know. Babies, in their first few months, use close to 10-15 (or more!!) diapers a day. As they get older, that number decreases to about 5 diapers a day. It’s all a natural part of their bodily processes. Look at it this way: as long as it’s all regular and the right colors, it’s an indication that your baby is healthy. That’s good news. Enough on that. Moving on.
7. How much do I value silence? Babies make a lot of noise from the very first moment they enter this world. Your life may never be silent again. I don’t think prospective parents think about this aspect of parenting. It’s not that you won’t have a few moments of silence, because they do occur (occasionally…), but for the most part, babies coo, cry, grunt, giggle, cough, babble, burp, pass gas, scream, etc. (Notice I didn’t mention ‘talk’. That’s a whole other dimension of sound when it comes from a child.) Expect to hear these things at all hours, any time of day or night, whether or not you are having a great day or are experiencing a debilitating migraine. Babies make noise. End of story.
8.How much do I value physical space/touch? Some people do not like to be touched or share personal space with others. Trust me; I’m one of them. I have this invisible box of personal space around me and when others intrude, I feel very uneasy. I also have tactile sensitivity ( I think I just made that up…); I do not like certain textures and physical feelings/touches. Don’t ask me why, but that’s how I am…When I had my babies, I realized how much physical space disappears. There’s a tiny little helpless being who needs 24/7 to be held, fed, rocked, swaddled, changed, etc. I loved (and still love) every minute of it. It is a feeling like no other to have someone rely so much on you. It’s an honor to be wanted so much, to be trusted, to be so unconditionally loved.
9. Am I ready for baby gear and toys to take over my house and car? This happens, even to the most organized amongst us. For my son, I had these items: carseat, carseat base, bassinette, crib, pack-n-play, stroller, high chair, bouncy seat, swing, tummy-time mat, baby bathtub and a few toys. That was just at the time of birth. Fast forward a few years, put the baby gear into storage, and add larger toys with more pieces. Not too bad. Then came baby number two. Bring the baby gear back out of storage and add a second carseat and a double stroller. Yeah. It adds up. Unless you’re careful, it will add up quite fast. Time to bookmark some decluttering advice….
10. Am I ready to love another human being more than myself? It really does boil down to that. Having a baby requires all of you, no matter how imperfect you are. You’ll learn if you are willing to be a great parent. Chances are you’ll find how easy it is to give up the quiet, space and time to your children. It’ll all return to you eventually, when they are ready to fly from the nest, but by then you’ll love the noise, cuddling and busyness that you will miss it. Ask an elderly parent. They’ll tell you.
Having a Baby: The Very Basics of Trying to Conceive
If you are ready to have a baby, there are a few things you must understand. Yes, I’m sure you understand it takes male cells and female cells to reproduce. Do you know when it should happen, that the tiny cells should meet?
Most women have a regular 28-day menstrual cycle. They are most fertile 10-14 days after the first day of their last period, right before ovulation. That is the time when they should plan to have intercourse, about every other day.
Many women, of course, have other cycles that aren’t as long, short or regular. Some women have shorter cycles, i.e. cycles that are 23-27 day long. Others have longer cycles, running 30-31 days long. Some have irregular cycles that are different lengths each and every time. If you fall in this category, you might need an ovulation test to tell when you are ovulating.
[Not sure about your cycle? Calculate it as such: count the number of days from the first day of your last period to the first day of your next period. This can be done with a simple calendar or a great app from Apple or Android device. Do this for about three months, just to make sure you’re regular. That is the length of your cycle.]
Before you even start, it would be wise, although not absolutely necessary, to see your doctor for a checkup and pre-pregnancy counseling. He/she can give you great advice and helpful suggestions of how to take care of yourself before trying to conceive.
If after a few months you have trouble conceiving, you may want to contact your doctor again. Many doctors say to wait until you have been trying to conceive for a year to look for help, but it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask for a visit.
Are You Ready to Have a Baby?
After reading this hub and asking yourself these questions, are you ready to have a baby?
Are You Ready to Be a Parent?
If you answer yes to any of the above questions about having a baby, you may be ready. The rest just all comes with time and experience. And patience. And love. Lots of love.