First, it's great that you are here because that means you are thinking about this big decision. And this is a big decision. The first or tenth child, the decision to bring a life in this world and be responsible for it deserves a lot of thought and preparation. The fact you are taking the time to think is the sign that you are a responsible parent. Regardless of if you have kids already or not when making this decision you must think like a parent.
Let's be real the world never often tells it like it is when talking about having kids. I'm here to help you understand the reality so you can make an informed decision. I can't tell you what your family is or isn't ready for but I can tell you what having a kid is like ( from my perspective and in general). I will also be blunt, honest and open. I may come across negatively at times, but trust me if you are ready, all of the pain, hormones, changes, and challenges will be worth it.
Primarily the decision can only be made by you, and only you can know if you are truly ready. It's also important if you have a partner that you both 100% agree on having kids. If either of you is not ready, then neither of you is ready! In my opinion, the first decision you need to make is; Do you want kids? If the answer is yes then consider the following 5 topics to help decide if having kids is the right decision for you and your family:
1. The Mother
Adoption, surrogacy, fertility treatments, or natural pregnancy. There are many ways to become a parent. They all involve a mother and if you are the mother to be let's talk about you and how a child will impact you and your life.
Pregnancy is beautiful, a blessing, and also a pain in the... well everything. If you are looking for a good idea of the variety of what pregnancy can be like, watch the movie, ' What to Expect When Expecting". It's hilarious, while it does exaggerate and does not get everything right. That said it is a good example of how bad, or annoyingly good, pregnancy can be for different people. The best way I can think to describe it is by saying this; pregnancy, and the early postpartum period, is all of the mood swings, hormones, acne, growing pains, and changes of puberty, but slammed into 9-12 months. It is overwhelming sometimes the changes this baby is making to your body while growing its own. Also, wow the cravings are weird! My personal favourite was grilled cheese on white bread, Kraft singles cheese, with extra butter, and it had to have McCain's tater tots in the middle and ketchup on the side.
Food For Thought...
Are you ready for:
Your body to get stretch marks and itchy as your skin stretches to accommodate a person growing in you?
Weight gain (from all the tater tot grilled cheeses)
All of your hair may thicken, and grow in new places.
Your nails might get brittle.
Your gums may bleed and you will probably have acne again like a teenager.
Freckles, beauty marks, nipples, and labia will likely darken.
A line may develop up and down on your stomach (to disappear later).
Many woman's breasts get bigger as their milk ducts develop to produce milk.
Your belly button may go from an inny to an outty.
Your feet may swell and or go up a size.
Your ligaments and joints may ache as the pregnancy hormones loosen ligaments to allow a baby to be pushed through your pelvis during delivery.
Oooooh and don't forget nausea, vomiting and baby kicks to the rib unexpectedly.
And these are just the common ones that aren't categorized as complications or in need of medical intervention... they are normal!
In short, pregnancy brings a lot of change and possible discomfort. If you are like me you are now thinking," Yeah, yeah, yeah...but baby! They are soo cute and OMG the wittle toes!". Hey guys that's cool! I'm not here to scare you off, I'm just trying to make sure you are prepared for what could happen. So be ready for some days or moments or weeks of pregnancy to suck! Life is never all sunshine and rainbows neither is pregnancy.
Guess what pregnancy is just the beginning! Birth also has its trials and tribulations, which I'm sure you have heard. Cesarean or vaginal, however, your baby is brought into this world you will be challenged. Vaginal birth means labour, usually 12-24 hours of active labour. Contractions are painful! Period. And an epidural cannot always save you. Sometimes it is too early or too late for the lovely magic that is an epidural (and yes when I was in my 30th hour of labour, an epidural did feel like magic). There are also vaginal tearing/episiotomies, as well as hemorrhoids from pregnancy or birth to name a few (see my blog on the journey and mental trials of birth when it comes out).
Cesarean /Belly Birth /Surgical Birth
Cesarean birth is just as difficult. Don't let anyone fool you with the too posh to push bulls**t (pardon my french). A cesarean is major surgery and can be traumatic for some people, especially if its an emergency cesarean. While the actual delivery may not be as physically demanding upfront, it comes back to get ya later. You will have some form of scar, but before that, the healing process takes weeks and is panful and it is an infection risk. You will have pain meds to take and you won't be as mobile to take care of the baby as you would like. Your spouse or partner or support will be especially important. You will be catheterized and unable to get out of bed without support for several hours. Your hospital stay will be a day or two longer.
Postpartum comes next, aka the time after delivery or the 4th trimester. You will have the longest period of your life... several weeks long... with a pad. No menstrual cups, no tampons, nothing up there for 6-8 weeks. Ladies, let me tell you adult diaper rash is a thing and no, it's not fun especially when trying to heal an episiotomy. Make sure you are cleaning and airing that area out whenever and however possible! When you are done this eternal mensuration you will praise the idea of granny panties. Oh... and on the topic of things going up there... no sex for 6-8 weeks or until your doctor says okay. Cause hun, your cervix takes about that long to close and you don't want any uterine infection because you had too much fun, too early.
Breastfeeding or not your boobs are going to be different leaky and engorged. If you do breastfeed then omg there is an actual person attached to you. Its the weirdest sensation and so satisfyingly and frustrating and stressful at the same time. but hey at least your weird pregnancy cravings are gone! Now you aren't pregnant your body goes through a sort of detox trying to regain control of your hormones. It's like the pregnancy hormones are taking you on a roller coaster ride. Postpartum pinks and blues are a real thing and can be confusing mentally and emotionally. Make sure before giving birth you and your support talk about warning signs that you may be suffering from something more. Postpartum depression and anxiety are serious and not fun.
The other paths to have children, surrogacy, sperm donors, fertility treatments, adoption etc. are not without their own hardships. Mountains of paperwork, waiting, interviews, decisions, money, appointments, amongst other things can be involved. I personally don't have much experience in these options but I can tell you that while these options may not cause the same physical changes and hardships, they can be very stressful physically, mentally, and financially. Be prepared and reach out to organizations and people to get a good idea of what to expect before making your decision.
After the birth or adoption comes the actual keeping the baby alive. You are then responsible for keeping this person alive. There are many decisions: Breast or bottle, crib or co-sleep, is this enough layers or are they too warm? It can and will be overwhelming at times. Having a newborn means everything you do, every breath you take, you think about the baby first. Your world literally revolves around them.
Time with your partner and others changes completely. The quality and quantity can be sporadic but it is of utmost importance. Don't even get me started on society's pressure for you and your body to bounce back! HA with what time and energy do you expect me to do pushups with?!
Your priorities will change completely. Things that were huge problems or stressors become minor inconveniences because you are too busy keeping a person alive. Oh and on top of that, you don't get enough sleep because babies are weird sleepers and you know life still happens. Laundry, meals, shopping, work, social obligations, don't all stop happening when you have a baby. Leaving the house becomes 100x more complicated and everything is on the baby's schedule. Don't forget to pack the diaper bag!
By the end of the "day" (if you are even keeping track at that point) you are completely exhausted and overwhelmed. You won't even remember the last time you showered and there will be spit-up on your shirt and something else in your hair. All of this is true and you know what.... you won't care as soon as you look down at your baby's sleeping figure. Let's be honest part of you hates them for being able to sleep so peacefully but even then you don't care because look at this amazing beautiful person you made... what a privilege to be able to say that. I know, it's confusing, but I swear having kids is the single most stressful, annoying, overwhelming, insanely amazing thing you could ever do. If you are prepared to go through hell you can find heaven in your arms.
One very important question you need to ask yourself is; Are you ready to be 100% selfless? Having a baby forces you to be selfless. Remember at the beginning when I was saying if your not ready don't do it...? Yeah, that was good advice! You cant have a kid and return it if you aren't ready. Literally everything else in life you can change your mind. Hell, you can even get a divorce if your marriage is no good, but having a child is forever. No, undo's, no take backs, or returns. Sure you can give them up, leave them, or just not be bothered but no matter what happens in this life you will always be a parent. So mom, are you ready for all this ...crap(for lack of a better word) in exchange for a baby? If so watch for part 2!
TO BE CONTINUED...