Staving Off the Baby Rabies

BabyRabies
Hanging out with Nick’s adorable new cousin Ryan

I have had the same conversation with at least four people in the last two weeks. On the 21st, Nick and I celebrated two years of marriage, and the same question is on everyone’s mind: So when are you guys having kids?

We’ve talked about this before, but it is a cultural norm for married couples to begin having kids about this time. It is a perfectly understandable and even acceptable question to ask me. (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a very open person. I mean, I’m a blogger for goodness’ sake.) So this is my explanation for the curious masses, since I’m sure to have this conversation countless times until we finally decide to procreate.

Yes, we want kids, but we don’t have plans to have them any time in the very near future.

I finally have some pregnant friends as of the end of 2012 (HOORAY!) and I am beyond excited to play Auntie to those little ones this year. It seems the way I process upcoming life stages is to delve into the world I am exploring and considering as much as possible, and I can’t wait to observe these women in action. I am a researcher. A question asker. Hello… I picked journalism as my college major.

Being a wife and a mom has always been one of my dreams. When I picture my dream job, I see myself staying at home, raising my kids, being the “office manager” of my own household, and blogging to my heart’s content (when I’m not fighting infant-induced narcolepsy or cleaning puke off my keyboard). I know undoubtedly my callings in life are to love people fiercely, to write, and someday experience motherhood.

I so look forward to hanging out with Mama friends doing Mama things – chatting and holding infants over decaf coffee, playing in the park with toddlers, creating adventures for elementary schoolers. Sometimes I read the things “mommy bloggers” like Kelle and Glennon write, and I want to fast-forward to that stage. I can picture my future life so clearly, but I don’t feel ready for it yet. Does that make sense? I realize part of my hesitation is fear. Part of it is selfishness. But a large part of it is common sense.

One of the most convicting questions my Pastor asked in a sermon last year was something like, “Are you planning on living your life first and giving your kids the leftovers? You want your best years to yourself, and when you get around to it, you’ll have kids?” I admit, sometimes I struggle with that. I can, um, be a bit of a control freak.

An honest factor in why I chose to marry Nick after only six months of official dating had to do with my age. I was 24 when we got engaged, 25 when we got married. At 25, female fertility starts dropping. I knew that kids were in the picture for us, and that I would like to start a family before I hit 30. I’m aware that pregnancies don’t become high risk until after 35. I’m in the Northeast, living life in the shadow of NYC. I see it all the time – women who have put career first before marriage and/or children. I understand why they do it, but I am not aiming to be one of them. However, now that I am turning 28 this year, sometimes it feels like I am careening towards a self-imposed deadline that I am not entirely comfortable with. Motherhood seems imminent, and sometimes it’s scary.

I cannot help but feel that I want more time as a family unit of two.  Sometimes I am astonished that I am closer to 30 than 25. College seems not that long ago (but it has already been 5 years)! There are so many things I want to do first before kids. I want to see more of the world. I haven’t even flown across the Atlantic OR Pacific oceans yet, which I have wanted to do for a long time.

I want to strengthen my marriage. I want my relationship with Nick to have the firmest foundation possible. I recently read the daunting statistic that marital happiness declines for the overwhelming majority of people after the arrival of children. I know having children doesn’t ruin your marriage or end your life. But I do know it drastically shifts your priorities, your time, your resources – everything. I don’t want to resent my kids for “invading” my life before I felt ready to invite them into it.

With the acceptance of Nick’s new job comes the knowledge that we are here to love Hoboken for the long haul. That brings up new questions and challenges for how we live our life here. The reality is that the majority of people in Hoboken rent, because real estate is so expensive. Consider this – last year, the median purchase price for a home at the end of last year was a whopping $475,000. I would love to use my next few working years responsibly, to build the kind of nest egg necessary to consider the possibility of being able to buy a house, even though I realize we may not reach that goal.

So one of my biggest resolutions this year for the “family” area of my life is to aim to have open, un-defensive conversations with both God and Nick about children. I am aiming to find a balance between my selfishness, my biological clock, my husband’s desires, and obedience to whatever God calls me to. I expect a lot of tension on all fronts. But I know wrestling with and delving into the hard questions will be worth it.

What do you think about the timing of having kids? Did you have them right away? Did you wait longer than “normal?” What were the benefits and drawbacks of your timing?

40 thoughts on “Staving Off the Baby Rabies

  1. Kudos to you for not “jumping on the bandwagon ” of motherhood like so many do because our culture says it should be what is next. Chris and I decided a year into our marriage to start trying and after 2 miscarriages and a long adoption process here weare about to celebrate 7 years of marriage and have a 2 year old.

    I wish we would have taken the opportunity to really make our marriage as strong as possible but we were too anxious to see what was next that we missed out on what was present. Marriage is work and girl motherhood is even more work! Combine the two and it will cause tension, anxiety, unmet and unexplained expectations and heartache. you need the solid bond with your husband so you can tackle parenthood as a united front.

    There is also that whole “time ” issue. As a mother you just don’t have enough. ever. So invest all the time in your marriage and even dreams so when you do have little ones you can invest all your time in them. (:

    1. Cassie, thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate your candidness and hearing from those who have been married longer and are on the “other” side of the parenthood fence. Admittedly, it is probably much easier not to “jump on the bandwagon” because of my social demographic – I have a strong mix of single and newlywed (2 years or less) friends and only a handful of close Mama friends here in Hoboken, so I don’t necessarily feel pressure to have kids, or like I am missing out yet. Parenthood remains somewhat a concept in my mind, not something I often get to actively observe very often, which I would love to be more intentional about during this season of life.

      When it comes to time, I have to be honest with myself – I are terrible at managing it now, so the idea of having to balance the largest responsibility of my life with my already existing struggles seems overwhelming. I know God equips us for what he calls us to do, but there is much to be said for working on personal and marital weaknesses before purposely adding another person into the mix!

      I touched on it slightly, but there is also that existing fear of the always possible infertility issues. Nick would probably like to start trying earlier than I would vote for, in part because of that. But I know there is no way I can make that decision out of fear. I want to be able to tell my kids – whether biological or adopted – that I was in a place in life where I couldn’t wait to meet them. So I have to trust what God and I are working out in my heart and that when I arrive at that place, I’ll know.

  2. First off, I love love love this post. You are echoing my life and heart so exactly it’s scary. Paul turns 29 in a few months and I’ll be 28 shortly after. It’s only been in the last few months that we’ve collectively grounded ourselves in the “yes, eventually” camp and now I can practically hear my biological clock ticking in my ears. We’ve set a few goals and given ourselves what feels like a realistic and responsible timeline. I don’t think we’re giving our kid the leftovers of our lives, I honestly believe we’re giving him/her the very best parts of ourselves. The parts we haven’t even cultivated yet. I’m excited to be a mom at 32. There are 100 reasons why we’re not ready yet but even the “selfish” ones like travel aren’t that at all. By living our lives fully now we’re preparing our hearts and souls for the life that a child brings. We’re ensuring that we never ever look at that beautiful gift and think “I wish I were (fill in anywhere else) instead of here.” We’re also ensuring that we will be able to be fully present to give our kid everything he/she will need; mostly in the form of me as a f/t mom for at least the first few years; but also with stable jobs, grandparents who live nearby (fingers crossed), and a dad who doesn’t hate what he does or feel stuck in it because of the pressure to “provide” for his family.

    All of that to say, I don’t think the selfishness you describe is quite that. It’s intentional living. It’s using your resources wisely. It’s making the most of your opportunities. Most importantly though, I believe it’s honoring the gift of parenthood by taking it so very seriously.

    Love ya doll. Can’t wait to see where God takes you.

    1. Thanks Leah. I am so glad to know that I have someone in my life who hears me completely as I wrestle through this!

      I basically want to tape this on my mirror and laptop or something as motivation: “By living our lives fully now we’re preparing our hearts and souls for the life that a child brings. We’re ensuring that we never ever look at that beautiful gift and think “I wish I were (fill in anywhere else) instead of here.”

      I know what I have now is only a season, and I want to live it and love it for all it is worth!

  3. Erika, I love that you are able to be so transparent and share the feelings you are experiencing as a newlywed! I think we all struggle with the same things- cultural pressure, selfishness, being in control, wanting to use our resources wisely. However, its been my experience that anytime we tell God what we are comfortable with He tends to challenge us in that area. I’ve yet to meet an existing pastor who felt their walk, their marriage was at its strongest when they accepted the role God was calling them to and began leading a church. I’ve yet to meet anyone, really, who is living out what God has called them to and went in feeling 100% ready. Likewise, I’ve never had a playdate with another mom and heard her say we were so prepared for this or had too much money saved for the baby. As a parent, there are many times I still don’t feel prepared, but I also know that this role has shown me so much of Jesus…it’s crazy. I believe no other role on this planet is able to show us such sacrificial love then that of being a parent. I commend you for taking that role seriously and not jumping into it just because of cultural pressures. However, Reading your blogs in the past and seeing this questioning of motherhood come up again, I can’t help but wonder if this is God trying to show you where He is trying to lead you. I think it’s great that you have goals and things you’d like to do before having a child and I really believe God gives us those desires. I also feel those desires He gives, need to be surrendered back to Him and worked out how He sees fit. The hardest thing for me has always been surrender. I, too am a control freak. I had an idea how I wanted my life to look and at times I jumped before God and made a mess but I’ve also seen His redeeming hand. There’s disobedience in jumping before Him but also sometimes in not jumping when He’s telling us to and letting our own fears or plans dictate. Only you and Nick will know, through prayer, what God is calling and at what time. In no way am I trying to add to that baby pressure- I think you’re doing a GREAT thing in exploring this idea of family in an”un-defensive conversation” with God and with Nick. I Pray God will give you both clarity of what He’s calling and the timing and that you will know it by His Peace (not necessarily our comfort, as that can be sooo deceptive…)

    1. Gina, thanks for your feedback and loving challenge 😉 I have a lot of respect for what you have to say about marriage and children the wild ride God has taken you on thus far! I think that’s exactly it – I can feel God beginning to challenge my mindset of the past two years, and this is my admission that I am finally saying yes, ok… let’s talk about it, God. Before this, I was just straight up ignoring the topic with God entirely – not asking his opinion about His plans for my future family in the least. I know I will never be fully ready, so I want to do all the work I can to prepare my heart now. My desire is to be obedient to his calling, even when it doesn’t completely make sense to my rational human mind. Thank you for your prayers – Lord knows I need them on this!

  4. Beautifully expressed, Mrs L! I believe the time for us to have kids will be HIS perfect timing, that’s why we don’t say things like ‘oh we’re planning for next yr’ or ‘we’re not ready yet.’ We take it one day at a time & trust that we’ll know when it’s the right time..not when people tell us it’s our time. 😉

    1. I absolutely love that answer! Takes the pressure off of the two of you and lets you be free to enjoy your marriage and God’s future plans whatever they may be.

  5. You have such a gift for writing. I really enjoy reading your blog :). God calls everyone to their own journey and I appreciate your desire to accurately hear his calling for yours. Tyler and I are pretty active and adventurous people and now we have a 6 month old. I totally had the same thoughts before having a child, wanting to experience more life first; however, I have to say this is the best life experience yet, nothing compares. Adventures shouldn’t stop with kids either, it just takes more logistical planning 🙂 I feel like so many people think of motherhood as holding up in the house all day changing diapers. I disagree with this. You can change a diaper in the back seat of your car after hiking just as easily. Don’t let thoughts that adventures have to be ha before having kids be the reason not to have them. Live life, no matter what stage your in!

    1. Amy, I am so glad you commented and that you enjoy the blog! It means a lot to hear that my words mean something to other people – I hope I get to do this in some form for the rest of my life. I distinctly remember that beach trip we took years ago where we talked a lot about love and marriage and how you knew Tyler was the one for you, even after a season apart. I was in awe of what God did in your relationship and hoped that someday I would find the same. Since then, I can’t believe what God has done in my own life!

      I couldn’t be happier for your little family. It is so encouraging hearing you say that it is the best life experience yet! I love hearing that you are taking Ellie on adventures – it sets the pattern now for a well-lived life. My parents took me camping as an infant, put me in a canoe, took me swimming, traveling across the country… they were great about just taking me along for the ride. I hope I am willing to go out of my comfort zone and ease of routine to be that adventurous with my own!

    1. Agreed! I’ve learned so much as a nanny. When paul and I started watching the babies at church we opened the door for a whole slew of conversations about our own. It’s also a fun way to enjoy kiddos and go home to appreciate your own quieter life all the more.

    2. Thanks Mom 🙂 I will add that to my reading list. Nick and I have babysat together, but unfortunately it has really only been with sleeping children! Note to self: find some children that are AWAKE.

  6. As someone who is entering marriage soon and already feeling the pressure of having babies, I do appreciate this blog. Since we talked last week, I have reflected a lot on living life of adventure and joy and how marriage and children will be a part of that journey. I look forward to hearing how your journey unfolds!

  7. I changed my speech from talking about “having a baby” to “being a family” when I began to understand that no matter what age I thought was perfect to conceive it is God who is in ultimate control. Living away from my biological family helped clarify how vital my faith family are and that if we don’t have a biological child we are still a family and part of a much larger family too.

    On the subject of babies and travelling- my parents moved, with a 4 year old, to a foreign country where they didn’t speak the language and I was born while they lived there. They took us to India, Israel and the West Bank before I was 2 and all over Europe as I grew up. It is possible, just different to vacations as a couple.

    1. You make a really good point, Clara. “…we are still a family and part of a much larger family too.” It’s silly but sometimes I forget about what an important role the church will have in my future children’s lives. It is already such a vital part of my own life. I really do believe it takes a village to raise well-rounded, healthy children. I know will need that support especially since my family are spread across the US! And kudos to your parents for embracing big time adventure as a young family.

  8. I really appreciate this post! THis is something I’ve touched on a lot with my blog (here’s an example: http://www.moderndaydonnareed.com/2012/12/missing-us.html) – but we ended up pregnant unexpectedly 11 months into our first year of marriage. So we had NO time as a “family unit of 2” – and I regret that sometimes. I don’t at ALL regret my kids – they are the light of my life. But I never had TIME with Bill. We jumped right into parenthood. I never really got to know what it was like waking up leisurely on a Saturday morning, having 2 incomes (he was in school when we first got married), taking random trips to fun places on the weekend. Our lives are ruled by our daughter’s schedules right now. And that’s ok – it’s a season. All that to say – there is no right or wrong time – except what YOU and NICK are ready for. Don’t worry about fertility. I know that is difficult – but really – “what will be will be.” That’s in God’s hands – and we have to trust He knows what is best for us – what we NEED to work through. Step into this together, as a COUPLE, when you are ready.

    Either way, I’m excited for what is to come in your marriage – whether it’s babies, or traveling to adventurous places or just a leisurely morning as a Family Unit of 2. 😀

    1. Just had the chance to read the post you linked – so good! It makes me appreciate this newlywed-sans-kids stage I’m in that much more. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about “what’s next” instead of truly enjoying the here and now. I am trying hard to savor this season so I don’t ever forget how sweet it was.

  9. I wish I had the choice of planning… We were pregnant with Ethan right away, despite being told getting pregnant would be very difficult. We barely had a honeymoon period before Ethan came on the scene. Then we went on BC… yet we were pregnant AGAIN with Seth when Ethan was barely 9 months old. When God wants something to happen, he makes it happen, even when we try to plan.
    It is never wrong of anyone to make sure that they will be able to be responsible enough to bring a life into this world. It is easy to view our children or potential children as “ours” but in fact, it is their life that they will live. However, I hope you don’t think you have to have everything together to have children. Sometime we have learned over the years is that the materials dont matter. Children don’t need a beautiful nursery, lots of toys, and a closet full of cute clothes. Those are things the parents want. Children just need to feel loved. Tim and I have gained and lost a lot over the years. We had everything together only to lose it in the blink of an eye. God gives and God takes away. There is this “lie” in America that says you have to have everything figured out and bank accounts loaded before bringing children in the picture. Does that help? SURE! However, as long as the needs are met and love is abundant, that is all that matters.
    You are right when you say a relationship changes when you have children. However, Tim and I have been married for five years… parents for four of those five years. As long as you are willing to make the marriage the foundation of the family, changing from just a couple to a blooming family should only solidify the relationship.
    With that being said… enjoy the time you have with your husband. 🙂 Cherish every moment you two can walk out the door for lunch without blinking an eye, run to the store to grab some milk, or sleep in on the weekends (weekends seem to be the only time my kids wake early… during the week they want to sleep… go figure). There are times I wish I could have those moments with my husband, but what I enjoy with my children and seeing my husband as a father, it is worth every lost lunch. Plus… they wil be teenagers before I know it. lol

    Off my soap box now 🙂

  10. Lots of good comments here. I think the main takeaway is this, too, dear Erika, is in God’s hands, no matter how much you plan! My sons were born when I was 34 and 38 – God’s perfect timing for both. And you know how wonderful they are. 🙂

  11. I totally hear all of your concerns. I can only share what i have experienced and maybe it will help you some! When Chris and I got married, I wanted five years before we started a family. After two years, Chris started to really desire a family. Mainly because he’s five years older and didn’t want to be an “old” dad (ridiculous since he was only 29 haha). I was pretty hesitant but decided that my first step would be to just get off BC. I had this idea that it might take like a year for me to get pregnant. SO NAIVE, I KNOW!!! So we celebrated our third anniversary with a tiny adorable two month old. I can tell you that I HAD NO IDEA kids would be so much work! I also HAD NO IDEA (i know u think u kno but u don’t) how ridiculously-head-over-heels in love i would be with Caden. We wanted our kids to be two years apart which meant id have to get pregnant again after caden’s first birthday (also shocking news to me…apparently im bad at math). When Cael, our second came, so did Down Syndrome. It was then that i realized i had lived in denial. I thought i lived in a world where i was mainly in control. As it turns out, i have very little control. So the moral of the story – stop thinking ur in control haha! Enjoy your time w Nick while its just the two of you. Those three years w out kids was awesome and what we accomplished incredible! Wouldn’t trade them but most def enjoying the season we’re in AND also looking fwd to a time when its just us again. Don’t believe the lie that life won’t be fun once u have kids. Its a different kind of fun…one u can’t believe you ever lived w out. As for the finances, there is no way to plan for what you or your future family may need. I did not count on Down Sydrome when we saved for Cael. In those situations God gets to totally show off, while you sit there in awe of the God you serve. I’m excited for your journey Erika! You’ll figure out timing, don’t worry! love u!

  12. Great blog, as usual Erika. I always enjoy how open you are and especially how thoughtful you are. As someone slightly (cough-cough) older than you, I thought I’d share some from my perspective. You know that saying, “We plan and God laughs.” I think that can be applied to having children. I was 27 when Jim and I got married and we too wanted to postpone children for a little while. Our saying was “The house, the dog, the kids”. Our intention was to add to our little family, but not until we felt a little more settled with each other and with our new life together. Oddly enough, that took 7 years! We hadn’t really planned it that way, but due to various turns of events, that’s what it ended up being. (And boy, did we get the “When are you having kids?” question!) When we were finally ready, I was concerned about infertility (I was 33 by that point). However, it took me all of 1 month to get pregnant and the result was our lovely Holly who will turn 21 next month!!! (Yikes!) We did want to have more than one child, but for a while, it looked like that might not happen. While it only took 1 month for me to get pregnant the first time, it took about 4 years to get pregnant the second time. HOWEVER, that was a blessed time and God used that time to teach us and Holly many, many lessons about His faithfulness, provision and love. So, 6 years after having our first, Kimmy came along and I was turning 40. There were some tense moments during the pregnancy (mostly the result of a genetic counselor who really needs to find a new career), but really, everything went fine and Kimmy was born healthy and happy. So while I had planned to get married and have 3 boys within 10 years, God seemed to have other plans for me. And honestly, He knew me so much better than I knew myself. Having girls and having this big gap of years between them has been a blessing many times over.

    I think you’re doing a great job of being a wife right now and figuring out who you are as a person and who you and Nick are as a couple. It’s a good thing to take some time and reflect on those things. You’ve probably noticed already that those roles shift and change over time and with circumstances – and if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s change. So don’t think that you need to wait until you’re totally secure with who you are individually and as a couple before you add to your family. Begin praying about that decision and God will let you know when the time is right.

    I also think it’s a great thing to plan financially for your kids before they show up. I totally believe that God provides for all our needs and sometimes He does that by providing a feast before there’s a famine. So go ahead, fill up your storehouses while you’re able. That’s just good stewardship.

    As far as the changes that children bring – yes, sometimes they can be a little challenging (the kids and the changes), but both give you opportunities to work on being flexible and adaptable ☺. Jim and I love to travel also and as you know, we didn’t let a little thing like having children stop us. Our best trip was a 30 day cross-country camping trip. (Yes, I said “camping”.) We loved that time and speak of it often. Would that trip have been easier without children? Maybe, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. Really, kids are pretty darn portable – especially now with all the new things that are available. So worry not about traveling – totally possible. (However, if you want to take that romantic trip to Italy, I’d do it sans children.)

    All in all, I think when the time comes, you are going to be a FABULOUS mother. I look forward to reading your Mommy blogs ☺ Till then, enjoy the life that God is blessing you with, relax, and be open to the new adventures that are sure to come your way.

  13. Oh, my timing. I can’t say that in any way this is how I envisioned motherhood. But this is what God has called me to do and I have a precious little man in the next room sleeping away. I never saw myself as an (almost) 30-year old, single, foster mother. It only makes sense in light of God, because only God’s timing could be this crazy and wonderful at the same time. I know my time with this little guy will likely be short and then who knows who will be at my doorstep next. I still deeply desire the “traditional” route of marriage and having babies, but I have such peace that this is the route for me and I will stay on it as long as I’m supposed to be. That’s my prayer for you and Nick as well, Erika. Peace in whatever happens, because trust me, with kids, there is a whole lot of crazy. But whether your future children are a surprise or planned down to the minute, I hope you have the peace that it is God’s perfect timing for you.

  14. Erika

    You are writing from your heart about something very serious and thats good. We will be married 5 years in June and after 2 kids and a miscarriage we have been thru so much in our short time together. Age certainly played a part in our kiddo decision. I love my life but often wonder what it would have been like to have more “alone years” with Matt. But I think we have had more honest conversations and real emotions in the last year than ever. Whenever you guys are ready is fine. God’s in control of every aspect – you can’t worry about anything you cannot control (fertility). Just enjoy trying!!!!!!!! 🙂

  15. Hey Erika!
    I’ve been struggling with this too. People have looked at me very strangely when I tell them I have no immediate plans for kids. They look at me like what planet are you on? I know we want to have kids but the thought of it terrifies me right now. Like you Cliff just got a new position and I am trying to figure out how I am going to work full time and have a family. I don’t have family close by and daycare is outrageously expensive. I cant stop working because I need to be able to support us if something happens to Cliff or he looses his job due to government cutbacks. Not to mention we can’t count on Social Security. I haven’t figured this out yet and Im not willing to jepordize something this important. I spent almost ten years of my life beyond high school getting an education. I am not as grounded in the work force as someone who entered it out of undergrad. I found myself in this situation after Cliff and I had been dating for 2 years. Okay, now get married! (Why is the magic number 2?? ) Only I felt as overwhelmed then as I do now. I guess we just have to give ourselves time. I thought I would have a child by now but I don’t and it’s fine! One of my coworkers just had her second child and she’s around 40 years old. Just because societial norms are a certain way doesn’t mean you follow them. Heck. I’m a female with two engineering degrees. We just have to give ourselves time and do this when the time is right for us. Our children deserve that.

  16. Erika,

    Obviously from all the comments, you know that there are others who feel (or have felt) the same way you do! Rich and I have been married just over a year and we’re starting to get the “when are you having kids” question more frequently as well. I just say things like ” in a couple years, if it’s our plan, but God will give us kids when it’s His plan.” Yes, I don’t want to have kids now, because I feel the same way you do about having more time with just the two of us. If I had my way and I was younger when I got married, I’d wait FIVE years, but I’m 31 and I know I won’t be fertile forever so I shouldn’t wait that long to get off BC. However, if God wants me to have a baby now, I’ll get pregnant while on BC, and if he wants us to wait 5 years, then it will take longer to get pregnant. It’s hard to leave this in God’s hands because I, too, love to control things. But I have to trust Him. And I know you do too. 🙂

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