The Perfect Time To Have A Baby
I always warned my then-boyfriend of eight years, “If you ask me to marry you, I’ll say no.”
Just like I never felt rushed to get married, I never felt rushed to have kids even though I knew I wanted to someday start a family.
But is anyone ever really ready to have a baby??
There’s no way to fully comprehend what it means to have a newborn and how to care for one. No matter how many books you read, how many videos you watch, and how many parents you talk to, there’s no way to prepare for the love you’ll feel or the amount of work it requires. It takes the term “full-time job” to a whole new level.
Prior to my son’s birth, there were three non-negotiables that had to be in place before I would consider trying to get pregnant:
1. A Great Partner
Why I didn’t break up with my ex for so long is baffling, but I knew he wasn’t the person I should be spending the rest of my life with, let alone raising a child with him.
I can’t reiterate enough how difficult caring for a newborn is. Our baby is a good sleeper and good eater and still, it’s so hard. My husband, Sam, is an amazing partner and father. I can’t imagine doing this without him. When one of us has a meltdown, the other one remains calm and assuring. When one of us can’t possibly keep our eyes open any longer, the other one will stay up with the baby until he calms down. We’re a team. I don’t know how women do this with shitty partners, but I know it happens all the time.
Single moms (or dads) are definitely superheroes. Some people might think they don’t need a great partner. Maybe they don’t need a partner at all. But I am grateful every day for Sam.
2. Financial Stability
For the longest time I lived month-to-month, paycheck-to-paycheck. If I couldn’t take care of myself there was no way I could take care of another person.
Even though I knew very little of parenting I knew it would be a lot of work. As if parenting wasn’t stressful enough, I wasn’t willing to add to that the stress of scraping by and constantly checking my bank account balance.
3. Some Level of Personal Success
This one is tough to gauge because success is subjective and my own definition of success is always changing.
But this piece always held me back from wanting to get pregnant. There was a fear that once I had a baby, my personal goals would go out the window and life would surround caring for my child. I would be “just” a Mom and I wouldn’t be able or maybe I wouldn’t even want to pursue my personal aspirations.
Becoming a Parent
Ten months ago, I easily checked the box next to A Great Partner and Financial Stability, but I didn’t feel successful by any means.
What I did have going into parenthood was momentum. I was consistently publishing an essay and newsletter each week so that when he arrived I was already in a rhythm. Publishing weekly has become a habit, so even though it’s not easy it is doable. If I didn’t have the momentum of the last four months, it would be too easy to give up.
Now that my son is here, this idea that I needed to reach some level of personal success seems silly. Because of my son, my life just got exponentially better. I still think I made rational decisions to wait until I had a great partner, was in a good place financially, and had momentum in my writing career, but at the same time part of me thinks, “What in the world were you waiting for?? What could be better than this?”
It’s so hard to describe what it feels like to become a parent. But a friend recently told me: “I can’t wait to hear more about your journey now that you’ve made it to the other side.”
There is definitely a clear line that I’ve crossed. A threshold from my past life into this new life of overwhelming love and care for a human that literally came out of my body.
What Are You Waiting For?
Looking back at the checklist, I still think they are valid points. But the last piece of personal success could keep anyone from ever thinking they’re ready, because when do we ever feel like we’ve “made it” in our personal aspirations?
American DJ Porter Robinson recently talked about the idea of “success”:
“I remember thinking I would be satisfied if I could just play this one venue, and then I played it and wanted something else, you know? I think humans are just naturally insatiable when it comes to achievement.”
Once one milestone is reached, it’s on to the next one. That’s how we’re wired.
There is never a perfect time or even a right time to have a baby. There is never a perfect time to quit the job you’re miserable to work at every day. There is never a perfect time to pick up and move across the country. There is never a perfect time to start the company you’ve been dreaming about. There is never a perfect time to make a life-altering decision that will change your life. It will turn your world upside down no matter what.
But this new Mom can tell you it’s only been two weeks and being a parent is already more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done. So create momentum for yourself and follow your passions. Don’t ask yourself if you’re ready. Ask yourself whether you want it or not.