Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Girl Talk: Deciding to Start a Family

The decision to start a family is not usually a simple one. There are many things to consider and many different feelings and emotions that accompany it. Some people take a more relaxed, when it happens it happens approach, and some attempt (and sometimes succeed) with plotting and planning. Deciding to start a family is such a touchy subject which is why I'm so grateful I have three ladies who were willing to take on this topic.



Meet Amberly

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 What are some things that you and your husband are considering (or considered) before starting a family?

  It's different for every couple, but we talk about four main things any time the topic of when we want to have kids comes up. Money: Depending on who you talk to, money may or may not be a huge issue when deciding to start a family. We've looked at how much we have in emergency savings, what our budget would look like if I decided to stop working after a baby came, and if our lifestyle and necessities would fit within that budget. Work and School: I work full time and am currently pursuing my degree as well. These are both things that we've had to consider when discussing our timeline. What would my work schedule look like after we have a baby? Would I even work at all? Do I want to be finished with school first? How would a baby affect my graduation date and my class schedule? Would I just continue life as normal and leave my baby with a sitter? There are so many things we have to consider in these areas, and it's probably the thing that we talk about the most. Living Arrangements: This topic always seems silly and actually doesn't matter anymore because we've bought a house, but it's something we discussed a few times. We've been in a one bedroom apartment for our three years of marriage and we always think about how that limited space would work and for how long if we did decide to start our family. My Health: I'm not in as good of shape as I was when I met Joe three and a half years ago, before I was working full time, before I went back to school, etc. I'm prediabetic, and technically am "obese" (I hate that word). Health problems, birth control and my schedule/lifestyle have made it difficult for me to maintain a healthy weight over the past few years. I have a lot of bad habits that I need to get rid of and good habits that I need to bring back. I want to be the healthiest I can be when I have a baby and figuring out how to do that has been important to me.

Do you/Did you feel pressured or like you had a timeline to start a family? Explain. 

  I actually wrote a post on this about a week ago. We live in Utah, in a predominantly Mormon community, so I think sometimes the culture of our area magnifies these issues more than people might experience elsewhere. During our first year of marriage, I was surprised by how many people would ask us when we were going to have kids. I remember someone mentioning it after we'd been married nine months, "You've been married nine months, so where's the baby?!" and although most of the time they're joking, you have to think that there's probably a bit of truth to it. Now we get the question often, but it's not so forward or prying. People usually ask us if we're going to start a family any time soon or what our timeline is or something like that. And those questions are fine, but I think can also be too personal to ask depending on who you are. When my close friends and family ask me, I don't mind telling them, but when it's someone random or that I'm not as close to, I do feel a bit more pressured. Our families have been really good not to bug us about it too much. I know some people who are constantly hounded when they're with their family and the future grandmothers are extremely vocal about how badly they want grandchildren. Neither of our parents have ever done anything like that. We may get teased a little bit by siblings who want to be an aunt/uncle or hope more cousins will come along soon for their kids to play with, but for the most part, they let us be and wait patiently.

Talk about some fears/worries/etc... you have/had about starting a family.

 No matter how excited I am to start a family, I don't think I will ever feel ready and there will always be fears. My first thoughts always turn to pregnancy. What if my body isn't healthy enough and there are issues? I don't really want to be on bed rest and I would really love to be one of those women who feels better than ever through her entire pregnancy. But I know that none of that is predictable and everyone is different. I hate the unknown, and I hate not being able to plan any of that. And I worry that I might not be ready to be a mom. Do I have what it takes to get little to no sleep and care for a tiny human who will be completely dependent on me? Having a baby will change a lot of things in my life and my schedule will never be the same. There are a lot of times when I want to be able to be selfish, do what I want to do when I want to do it and not have to worry about anyone else. After we have kids, that's not going to happen. But the future is what scares me the most. I worry that I won't be the type of parent that I really want to be, or that despite all of my efforts, my kids will struggle to know who they really are and I'll have to watch them learn through their mistakes without really being able to help them because chances are, they won't want me to. It's scary to think that you can do everything in your power to put your kids on the right path and help them be the best they can be, but that they ultimately have control of their lives and can do whatever they want with it.

What are some of the things you are/were most excited about or looking forward to when deciding to start a family?

 I'm excited to see what our kids look like and what kind of personalities they have!! I can't wait to see Joe being a dad and I can't wait to be a mom. There are so many things I can't wait to experience with my children, vacations I want to take, traditions I want to start, memories I want to make. And everyone always tells me that you've never known love until you've had a child of your own. As much as I love my puppy child, apparently he doesn't count.

Do you have any advice for other women about making the decision to start a family?

 I think the biggest thing I've had to remind myself in the process of deciding is that we'll probably never feel "ready" but we need to wait until the time is right for us. I think too many people are influenced by the fact that their friends are all having kids, or their families are pressuring them into it. It's a big, life changing decision. I'd dare even say that it's a bigger decision than marriage, but almost in a completely different way. Once you have a kid, you have someone that is relying on you and that you are responsible for for the rest of your life. Even after they're grown and gone, they'll rely on you for support and advice. Choosing to start a family is not something that you should do lightly. It's hard work and it's a lot less fun than playing house when you were a kid. I've heard so many teenage girls say how fun they think it would be to have a baby. It's like a live doll that you can dress, show off to people and snuggle with, and I guess it's probably fun and exciting to have someone to take care of to an extent. But being a parent is so much more than just that and you have to be ready to take on a lot of responsibility and be completely selfless. That's something that I don't think a lot of people think about when they decide that they really want a snuggly baby in their lives.

Meet Madison

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 What are some things that you and your husband are considering (or considered) before starting a family?

One of the many things we love about getting married "young" is that we have plenty of time to be a couple before we start feeling pressured to have children. We have considered the normal things like careers, finances, stability, etc., while thinking of when we want to start a family.
  
Do you/Did you feel pressured or like you had a timeline to start a family? Explain. 

 In our own heads we have a timeline of when we want to start a family but for the most part, our families have been very gracious in understanding that we aren't yet ready to start a family. When we first got engaged, it did feel like everyone wanted to know when we would start having kids but now that we have been married for two years people have settled into the idea of us taking our time.

Talk about some fears/worries/etc... you have/had about starting a family.

I think a lot of women fear that if they wait too long they won't be able to have children. Or that if they wait, they might find out later on that they have infertility problems and it won't just be as easy as they thought it would be to get pregnant. I also worry about being ready financially, but I don't think you're ever really ready financially to start a family.

What are some of the things you are/were most excited about or looking forward to when deciding to start a family?

 It's such an unknown territory for me so it will be an exciting adventure to be on!

Do you have any advice for other women about making the decision to start a family?

Decide what is best for you and your family, not what everyone is telling you to do. It's easy to let people control your emotions and feelings about starting a family but at the end of the day it you and your husband/wife that have to make the decision for yourselves.

Meet Misty

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What are some things that you and your husband are considering (or considered) before starting a family?
Ken and I are probably unique in the sense that we already had a family before we had our first. When I married Ken seven years ago, his son Fenix (who was five at the time) lived with him 50% of the time. Ken and I dated for a while, and I had known Fenix since he was two, going on three. So, it was never really just the two of us. We always had to think in terms of our family of three. With our first baby, it was really just a waiting game. We knew we wanted kids, it was just a matter of when. I wanted to be done with school. I wanted a secure teaching job. We wanted to purchase a house first. There were a lot of small factors that we wanted to add up before we had a baby. My mom had me when she was 33, and my sister when she was 23. I always thought we'd wait until I was a bit older like my mother did with me, but when it came down to it, we were just ready. I felt like I had more love to give. I felt like I knew Grace before we had even conceived her, we were just waiting for her to arrive, and once she did, everything just clicked into place.

Do you/Did you feel pressured or like you had a timeline to start a family? Explain. 

Not at all. We always had our own timeline in mind for when it came to having our first. We knew the timing had to be right for us. I did feel a bit more pressure about having our second though; not from people around us, but from myself. I wanted Grace to have a sibling somewhat close in age, and I also knew that there would come a point when Ken and I would be done raising little babies and ready to move to that next stage in our life. I wasn't sure that I wanted to stretch that out too far.

Talk about some fears/worries/etc... you have/had about starting a family.

Money. Financials were definitely our biggest worry. How will we pay for daycare? What happens if we need a new car or car repairs? Will our savings account survive? (It has, but it's not nearly as healthy as it once was.) Will our children get to do all the fun things we want them to? Will we be able to afford soccer and swim lessons? How about dance class? In truth, we haven't been able to afford it all. We've waited to put Grace in extra activities until we've had extra money in the summer when we aren't paying daycare, and I know in the future those sorts of things will have to be carefully planned and budgeted, but we do other fun/family things that matter even more. We camp and we hike. We spend days at the park or playing in our back yard. We have family movie nights and we all crowd into Grace's bed for a book and prayer each night. We have dinner together at our kitchen table every night-which is a must for me, and we have dance parties in the car. Our kids may not be involved in every extra curricular activity under the sun, but they'll be happy and they'll be loved. They may not get Ipads for Christmas or water park birthday parties, but they have a family of best friends that love and support them, and I don't think they will feel like they're missing out, at least I hope not. Another big worry for us was couple time. Will we ever have a date night again, and if so, who will watch our kids? The first year was rough in terms of Ken and I having alone time, although we were so wrapped up in our daughter and being parents together, that we didn't notice as much as I thought we would. Once Grace was a bit older my niece started to watch her for us. Ken's family lives out of town, and we unfortunately don't have my mother with us, so Grace can't really spend the night at grandma's. We make do though. I think another big fear for us, was WHO was going to watch Grace once I went back to work? I teach and we're not in a position for me to stay home. I was pretty tough about this all throughout my pregnancy, but I remember setting her car seat down when we first came home from the hospital, panicking, and thinking, "How am I EVER going to leave her?" We got lucky though, and Sharlee's aunt watched Grace for us her first two years, and then as she moved into pre-school age we were able to find an in home pre-school that we really like and that's been great for Grace. I was a nervous mess leaving her, but in the end, it worked out in the best way possible.

What are some of the things you are/were most excited about or looking forward to when deciding to start a family?

 Holding our baby. Saying the words "my daughter" or "my son". Hearing the words "momma" and "I love you." Once I knew we were having a girl, I started to look forward to all the fun girly things we would get to do: pedicures, doing her hair, shopping, movie dates, dressing her up. I looked forward to taking her camping, watching her experience things for the first time, BEING A MOM:)

 Do you have any advice for other women about making the decision to start a family?
Having a child will consume you. For a while, it will take all your time and energy, but it will be worth it. And, when I say it will consume you, I mean that in the best possible way. I love my husband, my step-son, my mother with all of me, but I had no idea what it would feel like to love Grace; it's all encompassing. Words cannot describe it. There will be tough times and tough decisions to be made; spit-up, the stomach flu, potty training, there will be stories on the news that will make you paranoid, and books and movies that you'll never be able to read or watch the same way again, and you will feel worry like you have never felt before, but it will be all worth it. Every bit of it.

Can you relate to anything these ladies have to say? Do/did you have any of the same concerns or feelings of excitement? 

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