By Eric on July 30, 2012 16

When Is the Right Time to Have a Baby?

Thanks to Kathleen for sending in these questions. She says she loves to plan out her life as much as she can, and her husband and she are struggling right now with knowing when is the right time to start a family. (Let us know if there’s a particular topic you’d like us to write about!)

When is a Good Time to Have a Baby

  • How do you know when it’s the right time to start a family, or do you ever really know?

Try as we might to plan our lives, sometimes the things we try to control don’t work out as planned. Kelsey and I wanted to start a family about 6 months sooner than it actually happened. Through that time we went through many of the emotions that you mention (worried that financially we might not be able to live the same lifestyle that we did before, worried that our spouse would not have enough time and love for us when the baby comes along, afraid that we wouldn’t be able to handle the physical and emotional stuff that comes along with a baby). Asking God why, we ultimately cast our cares aside and put it in His hands. And God’s timing is always perfect. We may not always understand it, but it’s always perfect.

When we found out Kelsey was pregnant, there were more questions. Fear set in and we wondered if we were ready. It was a crazy 9 months of pregnancy. Anticipation, anxiety, worry, fear — you name it it, we went through it. We prepared the best we could, but to be perfectly honest, if you wait until you are 100% ready, you will never have kids. No amount of research or planning can prepare you for the first months of parenthood (which is all I can speak of at the moment).

Having only five months of parenting under my belt, I will tell you that planning only goes so far before you simply learn on the job. Kels and I look at each other at least a few times a week and say, “Nobody knows what to do!” It’s usually lighthearted fun, but truth nonetheless. There is no manual for being parents, and every child is unique.

  • How will we cope emotionally with the change?

It depends. Kelsey had a really hard time with postpartum depression. It was a very scary time for our family and thank God we came through it stronger than ever. It was really rough. Seek help, be honest about how you are feeling and keep loved ones informed on the situation. You will get through it.

  • How will family dynamics change?

A baby will affect your marriage. Every situation is different, but again, talking through it as it happened was the only way we got through it, and we continue to work on it today.

  • How will our dog take to the change?

We have no experience with this, but our friends have had great success, and maybe one of our readers can offer some advice via the comments.

  • Stay at home or go back to work?

This is a tough decision, and I don’t mean to give vague answers, but you may want to wait until after the baby comes to make a final decision. You may even want to wait until your child is a year old before you make a decision. Kelsey will tell you that her 9 weeks of maternity leave were very hard work and not what she expected. There are many decisions to be made, and I would encourage you to talk with people on both sides, and perhaps even try going back to work before making a final decision. It is a tough decision to make. Some people may disagree with me on that, but if you’re unsure, I’d advise you to not rush into the decision.

 

What advice do you have for Kathleen?

 

Facebook Discussion

Facebook Discussion

Eric

Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I know that there is never a perfect time to have kids, but I’m curious how you decided that you wanted/were ready to start trying. I’ve heard friends/acquaintances saying how excited they were/are to have kids. I figured a few years into marriage, we’d start feeling that way and that’s when we’d start. But the “itch” hasn’t hit yet, and we’re approaching 5 years of marriage…

    • When we got married, we said we wanted to have kids after being married 5 years. We were pregnant on our 5th anniversary, but I still didn’t really have the “itch.” I think I was more scared than excited for most of the pregnancy. I knew it would all work out, but it is a major life adjustment and something I have no experience in.

    • Don’t fear! I say, wait until you feel the itch. It hit me when I turned 26. I didn’t feel READY to be pregnant right then, but I kind of just woke up one morning and knew I was a lot closer to wanting it than ever before. Hard to explain. We had said we would wait 5 years after getting marriage, and that was right around 4 years when I felt it. I was a little ahead of Eric in wanting it to be a reality, and I didn’t try to rush him, but we started trying once he agreed. It took us a while. We got pregnant 8 months later.

      P.S. Your blog masthead is so pretty!

      • Thanks for the advice, and the compliment! My husband is a landscape architect, and his job involves a lot of computer design. We came up with the concept and he made it happen! :)

        P.S. We’re originally from Kansas, so it’s always fun to read about the Midwest when I read your blog!

  2. This is always something that’s in the back of my mind as my husband and I would like to start trying for children in the next 3 years. Still a ways away but we want to prepare in the meantime. I do want to say that I’ve seen some people with incredibly small incomes bring children into the world and God has blessed them with everything they need; even though it may not be much, they are happy. It gives me comfort when I worry about money.

    • It’s so smart to prepare in advance! Good for you. One year before I got pregnant, I read a book called What to Expect Before You’re Expecting. It’s a three-month preparation to getting pregnant. It gives good tips on how to prepare your body for it, with food and habits and stuff. :)

      • Thats too funny, I just picked up this book as well as the week to week preganncy guide on the weekend and i love all the advice that they have in there for planning ahead of time and things you should do in advance.

  3. I can answer the dog one. We have two middle aged Boxers that are both over 60lbs. We already knew they were good with small kids, although they played a bit rough they were not aggressive at all. They are also pretty good with change- they didn’t care at all once we started putting up baby furniture, etc. Still, we weren’t sure how they would react to a new baby so we did some research and talked to our vet. We took one of our daughters outfits home from the hospital a day ahead of time so they could learn her smell before we brought home. At first my husband took them for extra frequent walks to make sure they felt like they were getting attention and exercise (a tired dog is a good dog!) We NEVER left her unattended on the floor or anywhere they could reach her and did not let them get close to her face (dogs really like to lick babies??) until she was quite a bit older and mobile and we felt we could trust that they wouldn’t step on her or knock her over which was the main thing I worried about. We tried to set the limit that the baby and her toys weren’t “theirs” and would let them get close and sniff, but then have them back off so as to respect her space. I didn’t want them to get possessive or aggressive with her (they never have, but you never know). Also once I was up for it, I would take all 3 of them for walks, yes 2 dogs and a baby in a stroller, together! I like a challenge. :) They learned to walk next to the stroller and that she was just another part of the family, and we all got out of the house for a break. We still go for walks together, now my daughter is almost 3 and can hold the leash, with help. It was still stressful at first but if you know your pets behavior well, you should be fine. If you are worried, talk to your vet. Baby gates work well for short periods of time if you need to shower, etc. Oh we also have a cat…and at the time, fish! We should write a book about blending pets and babies. ;) Good luck!

    • Thank you very much for the advice. We have a large 100lb weimaraner/dogue de bordeaux cross so your advice is really helpful. We were smart in one sense that when we got him we always knew that we wanted children one day, so we would tug on his ears and tail, take his toys and treats away from him so that he would get used to someone doing this to him in the future an not be so shocked and upset. we are lucky too that he has been around a lot of our friends babies and the neighbourhood kids will often take him out and play with him. so I am hoping that this will continue when we have a child in our own home and he wont get jealous that this “thing” isnt going home.

    • This was so encouraging to hear! My Husband and I were both in the horse industry, professionally, when we met. We have both moved on to new careers, (nursing and paramedic), but still have a great love for animals. We live on a farm and have 2 dogs that are an integral part of our lives. We are thinking about having kids soon, but worry about how this adjustment will affect the dogs. Our sweet dogs were with on every travel weekend with us and lived with us when we were single, (his and her’s dogs). They are great with kids and very used to change, (they used to travel with me on the show circuit- different state every night!). With so much criticism about keeping your dogs while having kids this positive note was a real treat for my heart.

      Kelsey and Eric- I have read for blog for over a month but never posted. My husband and I are active members of a young church that was launched in February of this year. We host a connect (life) group and love pouring out into others. I love reading your blog for encouragement. I think if we lived closer we might be friends :) Keep up the good work!
      Katie and Stephen from Lexington, Ky.

  4. I can also help with the pets…we have two medium sized chihuahuas a male and a female. The female was absolutely fine with all the change in the home before baby while our male was not. George – who never had accidents in the house and has access to a dog door – began marking things around the house and trying to get into anything he could in the baby’s room. He’s younger than his sister and we tried our best to be patient with him and kept a lot of carpet cleaner on hand. When the baby was born, we gave his infant cap to my mom to bring home and let the dogs smell/get used to before we actually came home with the babe. Our little guy is now almost 5 months old and the dogs have adjusted much better than we thought they would. I would echo all of Emily’s cautions about leaving them alone etc, but our dogs have been quite patient with “petting” and ear tugging. George will sometimes knock over the trash can in the baby’s room and make a mess which clues us to the fact that we haven’t paid enough attention to him that week. The dogs definitely aren’t as much of our babies anymore, but they sure are darn spoiled still!

  5. I am a new mom of 20 days :), but “babyproofing our pups” was one of the things I spent the most time on in order to prepare for baby Blake. Here are links to my blogs about the before & after process…

    http://fthluvhope.blogspot.com/2012/06/babyproofing-our-pups.html

    http://fthluvhope.blogspot.com/2012/07/blake-meets-his-pup-sisters.html

    P.S. I have never commented on your blog, but please know that it has been a great sounding board for me as a Christian, wife, and new mother. Thanks for sharing your experiences so that I can know how to better share mine! ;) God Bless & Much Love!

  6. Great post, guys! You always have great things to mull over.

    To give another perspective, I waited for the itch and it never really came, probably because I’m a highly analytical planner, and having a baby seemed fun but also a lot of work, time, money, etc. At the same time, I’ve always known I wanted children so we decided to spend time in prayer asking God for His timing. Over the course of a year, He put the desire on my heart. I wouldn’t call the desire an itch or even a longing. I didn’t have baby fever, by any means. The only way I can describe it is just a few months after our five year anniversary we felt a sense of peace.

    If I might offer some advice, it is this: don’t stress yourself out with the what ifs. Don’t say to yourself, “what if we can’t get pregnant?” or “what if it takes a long time?” or “what if we want five kids and I’m 25 now and I want them to be three years apart and I don’t want a high risk pregnancy at 35?” I think it’s important to somewhat consider your hopes for family size, but I also think we can drive ourselves crazy thinking about the what ifs, and then we get controlling over our fertility instead of trusting for God’s best. I have no idea if anyone else struggled with these types of thoughts, but I certainly did!

    • That is totally my personality, and I think there’s a fear in the back of my mind that I might not be a great mom if I don’t really have “baby fever.” This is great advice – we’re definitely moving in that direction and we’ve prayed about it but not in a focused manner. It’s going on the list!

  7. You’re right, there’s no right time to have a baby. And you can’t plan your life out exactly how you want it anyway because you’re not I control, God is. That being said, if you’re in a huge amount of debt, in a bad relationship, horribly out of shape/unhealthy…then maybe you need to hold off a bit.

    We have a dog and he’s been great. You have to establish who the boss is before the baby comes. There’s a cute little book I read called “And Babh Makes Four.” It has good advice.

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