Before Baby

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By E. M. Wallace

I read this blog every day and I'm not really sure why. My husband and I don't have kids and aren't sure where they fit into our future. Some of the blog topics start conversations and make us consider different ideas. We don't know if both of us should work or if one of us should work. One of us has a job that's a passion, but doesn't yet pay enough to support a whole family. The other one has a job that's financially lucrative but isn't remotely fulfilling. We haven't hit the lottery, though, so it's clear that work is still in our future.

We worry about the state of the world, the level of involvement from our families, the state of our individual selves and if we're ready to put our intellectual, physical and emotional pursuits on hold until these fictitious tiny people go to school. Can we be consistent when it comes to setting rules and boundaries? His family was and is very child-centered. Mine thinks children should be seen and not heard. His family gives kids everything. My family believes that you meet the needs and children should work hard for the things they want. How do you balance all of that all day and every day for each child forever? We don't know, but we've started the conversation.

What are the questions you wish you had thought of or asked before you decided to have kids? What agreements or understandings do you wish you and your spouse had come to or are struggling to come to? What are the long-term and short-term challenges that really caught you off guard?

E.M. Wallace is a consultant in Northern Virginia.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 19, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Love and participation in something huge and mysterious, yet so ordinary and common.

Me and most of my friends? Delighted each day (23 years for my family and counting) by parenting.)

Yes, sorrow too, in families I know. Still, family even imperfectly is still infrastructure for community and connection.

Children walk in an ever-widening circle out from parents. We did before them.

Joy in the special claim on affection that is possible in families.

---
If you read between the lines in this blog, lots of joy and peace despite snail commutes, ongoing home repair, he said/she said, cube culture, political incivility, climate change....

Good luck and take care.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 19, 2006 7:31 AM

My life now looks absolutely nothing like the plans that my husband and I made back when we were engaged.

I have a different job than the one I had envisioned, as does my husband to some degree. We live in a small town we had literally never HEARD of back when we lived in Europe and were planning out our future. The kids themselves have turned out to have personalities and interests diferent than the ones I had foolishly planned FOR them -- (I expected to be hanging out at Youth Orchestra rehearsals and instead I'm at the roller rink. Go figure.)

And in general, although I used to be very type A and compulsive about 'figuring it all out', I'm finding myself now saying: I don't think you can.

I don't think you can predict how you're going to feel once you have kids -- about working, nannies, daycare, job-sharing, who earns how much and how that affects the relationship, what's a want, what's a need and what's a Vulgar Luxury item (VLI). (And I'm not copping out and saying ultimately the woman will concede. In our case, my husband is very protective of the kids and I tend to be more liberal. Maybe because he grew up in an urban area and I grew up in a small town. He'll rearrange his schedule so he can pick them up because he worries about carpooling, while I don't, for example.)

Other unpredictables include: The boss from Hell (for either spouse), the sudden medical catastrophe, the elderly aging parent, high housing prices, hellish commutes and so forth.

I think it helps if you and your spouse can kind of decide on priorities in advance, maybe even by reading one of those Suzie Orman books that asks you to think about feelings about money. Although those books claim to be about money, you end up thinking a lot about WHAT you want out of life, WHY it's important and WHAT you'd be willing to do/give up in order to get it. Oh, and save like fiends now -- as discouraging as that sounds. It WILL be harder once you have kids.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | September 19, 2006 8:08 AM

beautifully said, College Parkian.

I would suggest that you try to resolve philosophical differences in child rearing (child centered vs. not) before having children. You and your husband should present a united front to the in laws. If you and he keep talking to each other, throughout child rearing, differences can be resolved.
That said, don't worry about the philosphical differences too much. I think I'm rearing each child somewhat differently, as they all approach the world in different ways. My theories and goals for my children have been modified for each one.
Read up on discipline and nutrition, and then enjoy your family. It's fun.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 19, 2006 8:16 AM

One peice of advise to EM Wallace is try not to drive yourself crazy. Practical planning and a lot of patience goes a long in a marriage and childrearing. Don't solicit too much advise - as a matter of fact disregard this if you want.

Love your children, have fun and be flexible.

Posted by: cmac | September 19, 2006 8:46 AM

"Save like fiends now, it will be harder once you have kids." Armchair Mom, I don't have kids yet, but I already know that will be true. That was perfectly said.

One thing my husband and I have done is to start saving for college. We don't save in a 529 in case the children never come, but we have been saving since we first visited our financial advisor. College is so expensive and since I am sure we will have a lot less $$ once a child is born, I wanted to start early. I hope that this will enable us to be more flexible in our careers if/when we have a child.

Like you, Armchair, I am a type A person who likes everything planned out. I am a little nervous since you can't know everything going into it, but I do know I will need to be more flexible to change.

Great topic today. My husband and I had a great discussion on this Sunday and I am looking forward to reading these responses!

Posted by: Thought | September 19, 2006 8:51 AM

The best parenting advice I have gotten is to spend less time listening to experts and more to your children.

But having said that, I think the best preparation for children is to a) get your financial house in as much order as you can so that you do have as much choice as your economic circumstances allow. My husband and I don't make tons of money now, but we did a lot of saving early on and have kept our costs as low as possible - second hand reliable and not flashy cars, etc.

And b) learn to talk about these things and listen to each other, even though it may all fall apart (on the surface) as soon as sleep deprivation and baby hit.

I don't think you can agree on specifics until they arise but you can agree on your ground rules. I've personally found Barbara Coloroso's "Kids are Worth It!" book one of the best in terms of talking about backgrounds, and framing parenting philosophy rather than offering techniques (although she offers some of those too, we found the other part of the book better).

Because once you have a philosophy, then you have a yardstick from which to make decisions together. "Does this further our goal of..."

Also, yeesh, have fun while you're 'single' (without kids). Sleep in! Read the paper in a leisurely fashion! At 35 I'm glad I got my fill of that 'cause I don't think I'll be enjoying a lot of that kind of leisure time anytime soon.

Posted by: Shandra | September 19, 2006 8:53 AM

You know the saying, "Before marriage keep both eyes wide open, after marriage keep them half shut."

Well when it comes to kids it is a bit different, "before kids keep your ears wide open and your eyes half shut, after kids keep your eyes wide open and your ears half shut."

What does that mean? Well before you have kids watch others kids and realize what type of love, discipline, guidance, and priorities are set for both the well behaved loving children and the little "Nanny 911" monsters.

With our first daughter we started putting her in time out at 7 months, she is very well behaved, and aims to please. Daughter number two, well let's just say we love her, but she in the beginning would leave timeout, defy us at every turn and just was a difficult child especially for me, since she has my easy going free spirit personality. Child number three was born with manners and loves time out as long as she goes there with a sister who is being punished. Getting sent by herself, not so much fun. And number three was somehow born "Miss Manners" always saying please and thank you. We can't take credit for her great behavior.

But the best advice I'd give, read books, listen to your children and remember parents need time outs too, for sanity's sake. Two minutes with your child screaming in the other room is not child abuse.

So here's my suggestion, "Five Love Languages of Children" by Gary D. Chapman and Ross Campbell. It is a christian book but has good advice for all. And amazingly enough it has really helped us with child number two.

And if all else fails diversion, bribery, and lots of sugar work well too.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | September 19, 2006 9:12 AM

Experienced Mom,

How do you do it? My wife and I used to be great at spending ten to fifteen minutes a night discussing our oldest's behavior and corrective actions/rewards etc.

But when number two came along it got a little more hectic and with three, if they get fed, read a book and don't kill each other, we feel we're doing okay. As for discussing how to work with rules, behaviors, etc. we're on autopilot now and have many near mid-air collisions.

How do you do it?

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | September 19, 2006 9:20 AM

My wife and I have been discussing this very topic for the last year or so. We decided we both wanted a child after a friend of ours became pregnant last year, and we've been getting our finances in order ever since. Her mom wasn't as supportive as my wife had hoped, basically whining she should have had children while her father was still alive. Our friends are all excited for us and very supportive, though.

Hopefully we've not waited too long (married for 22+ years now), but we're excited about the new adventure we are about to begin.

Posted by: John | September 19, 2006 9:24 AM

A small comment for John - both times I was pregnant my mom said "oh no - this is not a good time for you to be pregnant". (Meaning - not a good time for her for me to be pregnant). Whatever - you and your wife do what is best for you, half listen to everyone else, and above all be happy! Good luck!

Posted by: GS | September 19, 2006 9:26 AM

On Balance Off-Topic Alert - Anna Quindlen has a great article on msnbc today (via Newsweek): http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14869070/site/newsweek/


"Maybe it was the classic protest slogan "Don't cook dinner--starve a rat today," but the perception was that the fight for equality was a war against men. But the battle was really against waste, the waste of talent, the waste to society, the waste of women who had certain gifts and goals and had to suppress both. The point was not to take over male terrain but to change it because it badly needed changing. The depth and breadth of that transformation is what reflects the success of the movement, and by that measure, women are doing well. And so is everyone else."

Posted by: The original just a thought | September 19, 2006 9:29 AM

Raising kids takes a huge commitment and sacrifice. It can be the most unselfish thing you do. At the end of the day, or at the end of 18yrs, you will say that it was well worth it.

Get your financial house in order.
Strengthen your relationship with each other.
Get some hands-on practice. Help care for an infant, a toddler, a preschooler. Get a feel for what is involved.

The purpose of having children is not to make you look good or live out your regrets.

We all know there are countless problems in the world. Children are a gift from God. We influence them positively so they can make good decisions and impact the world positively. They are the next generation of people. Good folks will bring goodness into the world.


Posted by: WorkerBee | September 19, 2006 9:30 AM

Don't wait for everything to be perfect. Babies don't care if they sleep in a box or a bed.

Beware that youth is an advantage in parenthood that should not be taken lightly.


Posted by: RoseG | September 19, 2006 9:39 AM

Well, what a nice change of pace for the blog. Here are my suggestions:

1. Work out how you are going to discipline the baby before the baby comes.
2. Let the in laws know, that they already named their kids and they are not naming yours. (My MIL came to my shower with a card addressed to Caitlyn.) I'm Irish, so if you throw a rock in my family you will hit a Kathleen, Katy or Kate, so that name was not on my list.
3. Rule number two also goes for unsolicited advice.
4. Find a good reliable babysitter. Believe me; you will need one, even if it is just for a walk around the block.
5. My husband and I also set up a deal about who got up with the baby. When I was on leave, I got up, when we were both working, we took turns. Doesn't matter now that she is almost three and still in the bed.
6. Keep the baby out of the bed. I threw that one in there for a laugh.
7. If you have pets try to make them as conformable as possible after the baby comes, they don't understand what the little bundle of screaming is. They just know that she has your full attention. When I was born, our beagle Penny hid under the bed for a week. My mom had to push her food under there and eventually pull her out.


Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 9:41 AM

To Scarry re baby-toddler in bed. Just as an innoculation for the haters or concerned citizens here:

family bed for all three children (two in their twenties and one in the teens).

The left eventually, circa 3.5 to 4ish.

The children are fine. We are not fascistic-organic, Earth-firsters -- rather ordinary and boring in a good sort of way.

Just wanted to sleep, or minimize the broken sleep.

Biggish bed helps, but also a matt on the floor.

Let the critique be guided by tolerance and humor. No bed checks allowed.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 19, 2006 9:43 AM

I had many of the same concerns about having children. I use to be a planner. I am a goal oriented person and didn't get pregnant with my first child until 34. He is due in Feb. My biggest piece of advice to E.M. Wallace or anyone struggling with the decision to have a child or not is don't plan or think things out too much. In my fourth month, the doctor discovered a serious problem that could have caused me and the baby to bleed to death and was put on bed rest, which wasn't in my plan. It was then that I had to stop trying to predict or control the future. In fact, life rarely goes as planned. Long term planning is ultimately pointless because you don't have enough information on the future. And as my husband told me, there is never a good time or perfect time to have a child. At one point, you just have let go and enjoy the ride.

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 9:47 AM

I think one of the biggest shocks to me is the toll that childrearing has had on our marriage. I don't mean just sex (and everything you hear about sex after kids is true) but that my marriage, and many of my friends feel the same way, has become like more of a business relationship rather than a romantic one. I guess, on the plus side, this means that we communicate a lot and have an actual partnership, on the negative side, it sometimes seems like all the romance is gone. Part of our problem is that we both work hard and cannot afford to go out alone a lot leaving little time with one another. My hope is that in a few years,once the kids are older and more independent, we will find more time together. So, be prepared for a change in your relationship with your husband. People work through the early years and come out fine but it is definitely hard. It is also hard to imagine this state when you don't have kids.

Posted by: Downtown | September 19, 2006 9:47 AM

Penny sounds like a very smart dog.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 9:52 AM

See today's WaPo Biz section on shoes. Washington now DOES 2000 dollar shoes.

Vulgar Luxury Item (VLI), for sure.

Will now go and enjoy my www.zappos.com discounted sensible Rockports and Naturalizers.

Posted by: Vulgar Luxury Item report | September 19, 2006 9:55 AM

E.M. Wallace - I too have no children, yet read this blog daily. I agree with College Parkian that there is a lot of love and joy between the lines (especially Fof4's stories). However, most of the comments only augment my fear of the mommy-track, overly competitive PTA queens, raising pure hellions, etc.

My boyfriend and I have been going back and forth on whether we want children for years. We've both worked so hard to succeed in our careers, and while the financial payoff is great, the hours are not(both lawyers). We know that one of us will have to step off (or at least temporarily derail) the partner track if we decide to have a child.

If we choose to be parents, do you have any suggestions on how to decide who stalls his/her career, and how to avoid jealousy/bitterness on either side?

He's a couple of years closer to making partner, so he would lose more by leaving now, but he's also much better with children and would love to be at home with ours.

Sometimes I think the only answer is moving out to middle America and leaving all the pressure here...

Posted by: Still undecided | September 19, 2006 9:57 AM

If there is anything you're DYING to do, do it before you have kids. We took a few kid unfriendly vacations in the years leading up to our son's birth, knowing that traipsing around Europe or poking through wine country wasn't something we'd be able to do once he arrived. I'll second the saving comments. And then I think you just have to let each kid lead you where s/he wants. My son is very easy going and happy -- he'll probably be a handful of a teenager, but he's a contented commando crawler. Open a dialogue with your spouse knowing that whatever you plan out on one day will likely be modified, if not by tomorrow then next week or next month (when they're little, you can't really plan more than a month in advance for anything more that well baby dr visits!). In return, you'll get more love than you ever imagined.

Posted by: Amy | September 19, 2006 9:59 AM

Downtown, thanks for mentioning that one--I was beginning to think I was alone! At first I really struggled and lamented the loss of "freedom" to have dates, sex, etc. Three years in, now I realize that my husband taking out the trash and reading stories are true acts of love--both to me and my son. It's not Fabio, but it works for me!

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | September 19, 2006 10:00 AM

college parkian,

She came in the bed at 1 when she had croup and I can't get her out. I just want to sleep too! It doesn't bother me really, it does my husband because she kicks him at night.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 10:06 AM

To still undecided -- my husband and I are both lawyers. I wanted to have a child before I turned 35, so I couldn't really wait to make partner, but I'll tell you that I really could never have predicted how my mindset would change once I had my little guy. I used to work all of the time and work was one of my primary motivators. Once the baby arrived, everything changed. Spending time with him was SO important -- and fun! I never imagined I'd switch to a part time schedule (which I did) or consider leaving private practice for a government job (which I couldn't do because I couldn't make the face time hours work -- private practice is more flexible about where you do things). Nothing says that you'll react in the same way, but just keep your mind open to the idea that what you value now may not be what you value if you decide to have kids.

Posted by: Amy | September 19, 2006 10:08 AM

Most of our friends didn't plan their pregnancies; they just happened and they made the best of it afterwards. Their situations range from happily married and the 'perfect family', to single, three kids and living with the latest baby's father for financial reasons only.

They all tell us not to keep waiting until things are perfect, because they never will be, and for us at least time is ticking away. We've spent the last year getting financially in better shape, so hopefully we'll be able to handle the monetary side of having a child. We also spent this last year getting emotionally and mentally ready; after over two decades of childless married life, that takes some getting used to!

Posted by: John | September 19, 2006 10:09 AM

ENOUGH WITH THE IRISH THING! WE GET IT! WE WINCE EVERY TIME YOU DO IT!

Posted by: Bridget | September 19, 2006 10:13 AM

You can't predict what will happen. Apart from horrible accidents, bad bosses, etc., so much depends on your kid's personality. So when you get to the point where you dream of kids, have one, then have more.
The best advice is to accept all the help you can get from others, especially with an infant. And keep on nuturing the relationship with your partner. And as scarry said, set boundaries with any potentially invasive family members before the baby is born.
It's hard on your relationship at first, between the sleep deprivation and your new identities as "parents", but it's the most wonderful thing in the world. I dreamed of it, yet it's better than my dream.
BTW, we planed on having 2 kids. But since one is so great (although he doesn't like to sleep), we'll go for 3. My husband says 4 if there are twins in there, but I'm not so sure!

Posted by: Sam | September 19, 2006 10:14 AM

John,
Do you mind me asking how old your wife is, and if you are planning to have biological children or adopt?

Posted by: suburbs | September 19, 2006 10:16 AM

>>> However, most of the comments only augment my fear of the mommy-track, overly competitive PTA queens, raising pure hellions, etc. <<<

Don't let them decide your future. They are out there, but there are many other normal people too. This blog doesn't represent the larger community by any means.

As for the mommy track, if your skill set is valued and you are a valued employee, you won't be mommy tracked. I have numerous friends in male dominated fields (mostly engineering) who have survived and thrived once having children.

Posted by: to still undecided | September 19, 2006 10:22 AM

When I was pregnant with my son, I had all these plans about what I would accomplish during maternity leave. I was going to put some scrapbooks together, clean out closets, read classics, learn to knit.... And then the baby came and I found in the first few months that I was lucky if I was able to shower before 2 in the afternoon. So I had to adjust my expectations of what life with a baby would be like, and once I made that adjustment, things were fine. One thing I have found to be helpful is to learn to take life at the child's pace, at least sometimes. It can be wonderful to sit on the floor and play with plastic cups, or blocks, or what have you, without worrying about the next project that needs to get done. For me, time is the most precious commodity now that I have a son, and I will give up a lot in order to have more time. My son is 6 now, and about 1/3 of his childhood is over. One day, he will move away, as he should. But right now, he is mine, and I intend to enjoy his childhood as much as possible, because I will never get it back.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 10:24 AM

To downtown

When our first child was about 3, my husband and I realized that like you, our marriage was starting to turn into a business relationship. We felt like roommates with benefits. Too much of our lives revolved around our daughter. We nipped that in the bud before we were loving each other as brother and sister instead of as a man and a woman.
That's one divorce that was avoided in the nick of time.

Posted by: June | September 19, 2006 10:25 AM

Hey Bridget I don't care what you do. However, there is no need to be nasty to me because I am proud of what I am.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 10:25 AM

I will second a couple comments: spend a lot of time together, cementing the marriage relationship before the kids come. Also, do the non-kid-friendly trips before they're here; you might get lucky and have an easy traveller (our first was a piece of cake, and if we'd had the bucks he would have loved back-packing through Europe as a toddler) or you might not. (Remember that fussy baby on the plane? By the way, that's why they invented Benedryl.)
My wife and I were together for ten years before the first of our two arrived and I'm glad we waited. While there is a great deal to be said for having them young (you don't need as much sleep and you'll be in your 40's when they finally move out) we just were not in a position financially and otherwise to be responsible parents.

In retrospect, I was prepared for most of what came along, the diaper blow-outs, the ear infections, hunting for daycare, the butting in from my mother (I ignore it), but the one thing I really wasn't ready for was the sleep deprivation, especially for the first few months we had two, because neither of them was sleeping through the night yet. But things are cool now.

Posted by: wihntr | September 19, 2006 10:30 AM

Why is anyone offended at Scarry's being Irish? Maybe you wince, Bridget, but that's your issue, not ours.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 10:30 AM

What about the jump from one child to a second? I have an 18 month old and can't imagine any more chaos in our lives, yet we feel the pull of wanting a second. In some ways, the decision to have the first was easier in that we didn't have a clue what we were in store for!

Posted by: M | September 19, 2006 10:30 AM

ummm, I think you need to take a pill or lay off the bottle. Or maybe contribute to the conversation and not bash someone who was trying to be helpful to the blog host. Many people on here are this that and the other, and say it or imply it all the time.

And some of you out there wonder why Scarry gets nasty at times.

P.S. shut up, you were really rude and when referring to something you don't like, maybe you should use I instead of WE.

Posted by: to bridget | September 19, 2006 10:32 AM

That jump from first child to second can be huge. After my son was born, I was convinced that he would be an only child because I doubted my ability to handle more chaos. Now he is 6, and life is so much easier than it used to be. And once again, I find myself aching for another one. Now, I think I could handle it because it would not involve 2 babies or 2 toddlers at once. So we are trying. It may be too late since I'm 40 and have already had 2 miscarriages. But we'll see.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 10:35 AM

That jump from first child to second can be huge. After my son was born, I was convinced that he would be an only child because I doubted my ability to handle more chaos. Now he is 6, and life is so much easier than it used to be. And once again, I find myself aching for another one. Now, I think I could handle it because it would not involve 2 babies or 2 toddlers at once. So we are trying. It may be too late since I'm 40 and have already had 2 miscarriages. But we'll see.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 10:35 AM

"I used to be very type A and compulsive about 'figuring it all out', I'm finding myself now saying: I don't think you can."

I couldn't agree more, though abandoning one's need for certainty and control is easier said than done. I'm four months pregnant with our first baby and find myself alternately ecstatic and terrified by the prospect of being a parent: I think I'll be on the same roller coaster for the next 18 years, give or take.

We'll plan as much as we can, but at a certain point I think my Type A self is just going to have to roll with it and see how things unfold. I'm much more anxious about it than my husband (who comes from a very family oriented, Mediterranean culture) but he is confident that in a few months, we'll be too busy exploring our new way of life to mourn the old one. Even my Mom, who worked her tail off as a single mother to raise me while putting herself through college and building a career, says it's not as hard as it looks: you adjust, you enjoy, and even in the toughest of times, you get through it. Once as a teenager, I told my Mom I was sorry I'd ruined her life-- she said, "Honey, you gave me a reason to live it! Without you I never would have worked this hard and I wouldn't be where I am."

So it seems there is a lot of paradoxical advice out there, but it's all worth considering: prepare, but relax; be consistent, but be flexible, too; be ready to sacrifice, don't forget to enjoy. If this blog is here in a year, I'll let you know if I've managed to follow any of my own advice!

Posted by: JKR | September 19, 2006 10:38 AM

That jump from first child to second can be huge. After my son was born, I was convinced that he would be an only child because I doubted my ability to handle more chaos. Now he is 6, and life is so much easier than it used to be. And once again, I find myself aching for another one. Now, I think I could handle it because it would not involve 2 babies or 2 toddlers at once. So we are trying. It may be too late since I'm 40 and have already had 2 miscarriages. But we'll see.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 10:40 AM

thanks Rockville and to Bridget! I don't know what Bridget's problem was today. Geez, you just never know on here what is going to make someone upset. However, I will not say I am sorry for my repeated refernces to being Irish.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 10:40 AM

Suburbs,

My wife is 43; I'll be 46 next month. She's been "checked out" by her dr and told she should have no trouble getting pregnant, but we're both aware the odds aren't exactly with us any longer.

Posted by: John | September 19, 2006 10:50 AM

I would suggest trying to gain as much of a constructive awareness of your emotions as possible. For example, I usually recognize when I'm having a simple temper tantrum over something my child has done or reacting to a stressor between me and my wife. I'm not as successful as I'd like, but I do strive for more effective channeling of that anger/frustration at the moment or, failing that, try to take away some lesson for the next incident.

Posted by: ConantheLibrarian | September 19, 2006 10:53 AM

Good luck John. I am in the same boat. At least trying is fun.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 10:55 AM

Raising children is the hardest and best thing you'll ever do.

My children are older (11 and 9), so some of the early years are a pleasant blur now. I do remember how important it was to be flexible. Once I had a system or schedule down pat, the child would change and move on to the next developmental stage. They're still changing and evolving!

I'm so glad we had two children! Mine are exactly two years apart, so we did go through a time when both were in diapers. (Maybe that's why those years are a blur.) But they've always had each other to play with, to share toys, clothes, books, etc.

Having two children actually helps bring a healthy balance to a family. Both parents focusing on one child can become obsessive. Siblings learn to share, fight, and compromise from each other. I tell my girls that the longest relationship of their lives probably will be with each other. It's a comfort to me to know that they'll always have each other.

Now that my children are older, I've gotten my old life back, somewhat. Since they don't need constant supervision, I can garden, read, exercise, go out with friends and my husband. I really enjoy this stage of my life. I've made some really great friends who are the parents of my children's friends. My children are old enough to travel and do fun things with without worrying about diapers or naps or sippy cups. And they're becoming really interesting people that I love to talk to and share experiences with.

Becoming a parent is truly the best thing I ever did. Yes, the early years are hard and labor-intensive. But eventually they'll become really great adults who are not only my daughters, but also my friends.

Posted by: UpstateNY | September 19, 2006 10:56 AM

Upstate NY -

I'm in Upstate NY, too!

Posted by: M | September 19, 2006 10:58 AM

My advice would be not to over-think things. You can't predict how you'll feel after you become a parent, how your priorities will change, or what kind of person your child will be. Just take it one day at a time and it will all work out -- jobs, discipline, balance, etc. I read a good piece of advice in a book: you don't have to be the perfect parent, just good enough.

My other advice would be to make sure you have a very strong commitment to your spouse and vice-versa, before you have kids. They can be a huge strain on you physically and mentally, and you need to have someone who is committed to parenting with you for better or for worse. If your marriage has any "issues" get them resolved BEFORE having kids.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | September 19, 2006 11:01 AM

M,

I'm in Albany. Where are you?

Posted by: UpstateNY | September 19, 2006 11:01 AM

Bridget --

What's wrong with Scarry's Irish references? I think her "throwing a rock" comment today was a scream. She uses her background for both humor and to give us perspective on her opinions.

How is this a problem? And how do you know when other people are wincing?

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 11:02 AM

'How do you do it? My wife and I used to be great at spending ten to fifteen minutes a night discussing our oldest's behavior and corrective actions/rewards etc.'

I'm not sure what you are asking. How do we discuss discipline of the four children, who each respond better to a different type of discipline?

I guess I read the books and my husband contributes good, practical ideas and we discuss it in front of the children at dinner, or after they go to bed or go to do their homework, or while we are driving somewhere. We have good husband and wife talks on the weekends, or for a few minutes in the evening, but not every day. We try to go out to dinner without the children once a month or so. That's a great way to reconnect as a couple.

Posted by: very irish experienced mom | September 19, 2006 11:05 AM

To Upstate NY -

Syracuse.

Posted by: M | September 19, 2006 11:10 AM

I tell my girls that the longest relationship of their lives probably will be with each other. It's a comfort to me to know that they'll always have each other.

---
Very right. One of seven sibs here and glad to be part of this large clan (some Red and some Blue all love each other).

But singletons can do this too. I live far apart from the sibs -- really far apart geographically.

As your children are born, some friendships will develop based on children. A few of them will become truly family to you.

Stay connected to single friends and couple friends after baby and babies.

Email helps. And be sure to ask

How are you?

What is new?

Don't overdo the child-stuff. Keep a -- what word am I looking for, oh yes --

BALANCE!

Posted by: 100%Irish NORTH&SOUTH, now College Parkian | September 19, 2006 11:15 AM

One for the guys, though the author is not...

Know how you rushed to buy all that 'guy stuff' before you got engaged? You don't get to do that before the first kid is born. :-)

In fact, you start selling off the 'guy stuff' so that the little ones don't break it, thereby spiralling you into depression.

I am in the process of selling off all my stereo stuff. On the bright side, after some practice my 15-month-old can catch a nerf football. It all balances out.

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 19, 2006 11:17 AM

Downtown said "everything you hear about sex after kids is true."

I disagree on one point-- I had heard sex doesn't feel as good after pushing a baby out, but, at least in my case, sex is much BETTER than it did pre-baby. Sex was great before, but now it is like on a whole other level! i haven't mentioned this to anyone besides my husband (sooo happy this is an anonymous board) and I've never heard of this being the case for others, but it is undeniably true for me. It really kicked in about six months after baby was born. It is a good thing that it is so fabulous because we only have the time and energy to do it half as often as we did pre-baby!

Is this the naughty little secret of new mothers? Or am I just a freak-- a very satisfied, happy, freak?

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | September 19, 2006 11:17 AM

Because it's so rarely discussed, I'd like to hear other childfree people talk about how they decided not to have kids. After all, that's the other outcome from the "Before Baby" conversation. Barring an unplanned pregnancy (which presents its own difficult decisions), partners at some point have to decide to have or not to have kids.

What goes into that decision? Is it ever just a non-verbal agreement? Did you pair up with someone who, like you, didn't want kids from the get-go?

And what happens if one of the partners changes her/his mind?

I'm just interested in hearing how other couples came to this decision.

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 11:18 AM

What about the jump from 2 to 3? I just found out I'm pregnant again and while it was planned, I panicked like a teenager when I saw that double line. I have a son who just turned 3 and a daughter who is 11 months. I work 4 days a week and other than a 6 month maternity leave can't imagine I could be happy staying at home. My husband's attitude is that our lives are already complete chaos how much worse could it get?

Posted by: 3 on the way | September 19, 2006 11:18 AM

I agree about how children (or just talking about children!) can foster friendships. Some of my closest friends are parents who know of our intentions to start a family. The Internet is a superb way to keep in touch as well; my wife has close friends all over the country she speaks with every day via email and chat rooms, as do I.

Posted by: John | September 19, 2006 11:20 AM

Very happy for you, Capitol Hill Mom,
But my experience was different. I was tired and not very interested for a good year after the baby was born. After that, I was still tired and not very interested, but I made more of an effort because my husband started complaining about being a monk. Now things are good again. But it took a long time for my libido to come back.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 11:23 AM

M,

Nice to hear from a fellow New York stater.

Good luck with your decision to have a 2nd child.

After my first daughter was born, I couldn't imagine loving another child as much as I loved her. But after my second daughter was born, I couldn't imagine my family without her.

We tell our older daughter that she was the guinea pig we experimented on and the second daughter has benefited from having more experienced parents. Older daughter doesn't think this is fair, but having a sibling helps kids realize that life isn't always fair.

Posted by: UpstateNY | September 19, 2006 11:24 AM

Awesome! Lots of love and good thoughts on the board today. Yes, good luck to John, Rockville. I'm trying too.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 11:25 AM

For the one to two question:

It depends entirely on the family dynamic. My daughter was extremely headstrong, outgoing, loud, demanding -- just always "on." For a long time, no. 2 was out of the question (I could barely keep up with her; my head would have exploded if we'd added a second). We finally took the risk anyway, because we wanted her to have a sibling (I wanted some built-in checks and balances for her, plus we wanted her to have that family after we're gone). We had our second when she was 4 1/2. He is as opposite her as can be -- very easygoing and quiet. For the first time, I finally realized why some parents don't live in fear of a second child!

In general, two is both easier and harder. The worrying is much less, because you generally know what you're doing. But there is more work -- the cooking and cleaning and feeding isn't double, maybe 15 minutes here and there through the day; but sometimes it feels like triple, when you're trying to fit that extra 15 minutes into an already full schedule with both kids needing so much attention (not to mention spouse and/or job). For us, having them spaced a little further apart worked great, because they can actually entertain each other, and my daughter is old enough to actually "help" some. But I know other families where the first is more easygoing who have kids spaced much more closely together who are doing great.

On the main topic, my only advice is to talk things through as best you can, but then to expect to change course, because things will NOT turn out as you plan (we sure didn't expect a couple of introverted geeks to produce the Queen of the Universe). And also realize that no matter what you do, it will be wrong. You can spend parenthood "fixing" all of the things that your own parents messed up with you, but then your kids will just grow up annoyed at other things that you did that you hadn't even thought of. If you're a Type A and used to controlling and succeeding in whatever task you take on, well, parenthood will be a big shock. You -- and your kids -- will be a lot happier if you can just let go of that need to control and not try to mold your kids into some version of "perfect" children or a "perfect" family.

Posted by: Laura | September 19, 2006 11:26 AM

If that's how your older daughter is learning that "life isn't fair" make sure your youngest is learning it, too. This is how siblings end up resenting one another because parents subconsciously favor one over the other.

Posted by: To Upstate NY | September 19, 2006 11:27 AM

My husband's attitude is that our lives are already complete chaos how much worse could it get?

right, it won't get much worse. my first three were born within five years. I liked having them close together in age, same school, same friends, same activities, and they entertain each other. My third child, at age 13, is very independent, because she learned early on that if she wanted something, she would get it faster by doing it herself.
One good thing about having more than two children is that the comparisons stop. You know, how people like to say she's the quiet one and she's the loud one, or she's the artist and she's the athlete. Harder to do with more than two children, so the kiddies are free to pursue their interests and be who they want to be, instead of being piegon holed into an idenity.

Posted by: very irish experienced mom | September 19, 2006 11:30 AM

Sex after giving birth-

My vagina was stretched out about a mile after giving birth to my son. I've been doing Kegel exercises for a long time, but sex has never felt the same for me or my husband.

I'm looking into a surgical procedure to shrink my vagina; don't know if it will be covered under my medical plan.

Posted by: June | September 19, 2006 11:32 AM

June,

That's awful, I feel for you. Babies can wreck havoc on the mom, my baby pushed down my bladder and the doctor thinks the next one will have to come by c section, which I find very scary. If you are in the DC area you should be able to find a really good doctor.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 11:34 AM

To to UpstateNY,

Don't worry, both girls think life is unfair and that we favor the other daughter.

Younger gets more experienced parents. Older daughter gets more privileges and gets to do things first.

Over time, it all evens out and each child gets what she needs.

Posted by: UpstateNY | September 19, 2006 11:36 AM

Okey Dokey. No boundaries on this blog, apparently.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 11:37 AM

after a c section, you can sit without trouble. it's over and done with, without all those hours of pushing. felt like hell the day after, but that's what Morphine is for! and since we have no boundries today, sex is better, faster after a c section, as no vital parts have been disturbed!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 11:41 AM

Scarry,
Don't be afraid of a C-section, if you need one. I had one and it was a cinch. The best part was I felt no labor pains and was fully rested when the baby arrived. I am not recommending it when it is not medically indicated, but it was not a scary experience for me. Just make sure you have someone at home who can do the heavy lifting for a couple of weeks afterwards.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 11:41 AM

To, EM Wallace:
In response to your guest article.
My husband and I had very similar concerns when we contemplated starting a family. We were not sure if we had enough money, the right jobs, the right temperment, the right type of community support, and "just look at the world in which we live". We kept on putting it off until...someday. But eventually all those arguments started to fall away, we we not getting any richer, we were just getting older. So we decided that someday was today.

Neither my husband or I have the same jobs we had when I became pregnant with my first child. We don't live in the same house or even the same state (New Hampshire). Shortly after our first child was born, my husband was laid-off. It was devistating, we worried about our financial future. But as luck would have it, my husband quickly found a more lucrative position right here in my hometown, Washington, DC. Now we are closer to my family and a wonderful support network. Having children was the best thing I have ever done with my life, second only to marrying my husband. As our children grow, our social network also grows. We have become very involved in our church and community in a way I never could have imagined before having children. My husband and I have not put our intellectual pursuits on hold for our children, we have actually found more fullfilling outlets for them within our own community. We have not put our physical fitness on hold because of our children, we are actually more physically active as a result of having children. I love being around my family and I find that I am very motivated to stay healthy so that I can be around for them in the future.

I have grown-up in so many ways since the birth of my two sons. They have taught me so much about patience, humility, gratitude, and joy. Yes, there have been lots of worries, and some loss and sorrow along the way, but I have always had the love and support of my family to help guide me through those troubling times.

Listen to your heart, it will be your best guide. The material things usually have a way of falling into place.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 19, 2006 11:43 AM

I think that the move from 1 to 2 depends on the children involved, and their personalities. My first was extremely colicky and cried all the time-- we were both exhausted and emotionally drained. She didn't like being left alone and was very demanding. However, she was a very nurturing child and loved having a new baby sister at 28 months. She actually felt more secure (wanted the baby to sleep in her room, etc.) and was willing to help with things. Our second baby was easy in comparison to our first, to the point that, for me, having an infant and a toddler was easier than just having my first as an infant. Now it's definitely easier, since the two are best friends and entertain each other happily so much of the time. It really takes the pressure off the parents to be the playmates for the kids.

Posted by: Ms L | September 19, 2006 11:43 AM


Thanks Rockville, my sister had one in the 80s and said it was the worst thing ever. It makes me feel better to know that it's not that bad.

And to the no boundaries person, you are right we talk about everything on this blog! :)

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 11:45 AM

E.M. Wallace, Are you my SIL? You fit her to a "T".

Really, I can tell you that each day brings new challenges and no one can predict what the next day will bring. Just when you have things figured out, you'll get a new dilemma thrown at you. Be flexible and positive and you'll survive.

Each child is different. While one child can be the type who is "seen and not heard," some children are more active, playful, and energetic. Life is life a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get!!!

The most important skill needed by a new parent is the ability to be confident in making decisions she or he believes are best for the family - the immediate family. New parents are bombarded with suggestions from the moment they tell people they are expecting, and it only gets worse with time. The sooner you let these suggestions roll off your back and stand firm in your beliefs, the happier you'll be.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | September 19, 2006 11:46 AM

Definitely get that "must-do" travel out of the way, long flights are possible with babies, we just took my 18 month old daugther to Copenhagen for my brother's wedding, but it is of course more complicated. And once they are 2 you have to pay for an extra seat.

Don't over think it. Go ahead and plan, but most of all plan to be flexible and openminded. You have no idea how either of you will feel about work and childcare once your real, live baby is staring back at you. That was the biggest surprise to me. I thought I would be fine taking my daughter to a high-quality day care as early as six weeks. When it came down to it, I couldn't go back to work until she was four months, and then only because I had convinced my mom to come and be a Granny-nanny. I was also surprised at how sure I was that going back to work at that time was the right thing to do.

I agree with the other posters who have said not to listen to inlaws about childrearing-listen to the baby and yourselves. If you have this idea that everything must be structured and scheduled, and your baby is not that type of baby, you are headed for a train wreck. Give yourselves and the baby the freedom to do what works for your family unit without worrying about the judgment from others for sleeping in the same bed or letting the baby run around in just a diaper.

The two things I would make sure to talk about with your partner are-

1. The relative importance/value/priority (and this changes over time) of the parent/child vs. parent/parent relationship, especially since it sounds like you come from different backgrounds on that. There is a huge range of what works for people and everyone assumes everyone else agrees, but it is the one thing sure to drive you apart if you don't know and appreciate the other person's expectations.

2. Division of household chores. Babies take work, but one way or the other, between the two of you, you are going to feed, comfort, play with the baby. The dishes, laundry, house upkeep, etc. won't happen unless someone really makes an effort and that person might end up resentful if you have not agreed ahead of time on how much mess is ok and how it will be avoided. If both parents are ok with piles of laundry and paper plates--great! If not, hired help with cleaning is almost as important as childcare in keeping the family unit in harmony.

Posted by: attymom | September 19, 2006 11:47 AM

I'm going through this 'pre baby' stuff myself - planning names, thinking about cribs and bedside bassinets vs. nursery with a monitor and all of that, worrying about if I'm losing weight fast enough early to avoid gestational diabetes, etc. It's a frightening thing at times - and the fact that I'm married to someone who has already raised one (DD's 13 now) and who will be past retirement age when the new one is in high school (I'm dramatically younger than my partner) isn't helping. Any suggestion on how to balance that young child and the teenager? I've never done this before, and am facing all sorts of issues I never contemplated.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | September 19, 2006 11:48 AM

I agree with everyone on here who mentioned flexibility. As long as you share core values (how to handle finances, shared responsibility, making time for each other, etc.), you should both be open to unexpected changes in routine, to understanding that babies don't come with user's manuals, and to not sweating the small stuff. Kids pick up on your stress (I have to remind myself of this frequently).

Enjoy the time you have with your child(ren). It goes by SO fast.

Posted by: single western mom | September 19, 2006 11:49 AM

I love this guest blog b/c it totally brings me back to premom reality. Luck is a huge variable here. Who really knows what kind of parent you or your partner will be? I had no clue. But something felt profoundly, cosmically right about husband #2 and I went with that. Post kids -- just trust your gut and try as hard as possible to forgive your husband for his cluelessness.

Posted by: Leslie | September 19, 2006 11:49 AM

Dear Capital Hill Mom:
I agree with you about the better sex after having a baby part. It took about 6 months after my first child was born to get my groove back, but WOW. There is a whole new intensity and frequency there that was not quite there before.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 11:52 AM

This may seem obvious but, please, please, please make sure your maternity medical benefits are very good.

I was 25 when I got pregnant with my son. My mom had healthy pregnanices and I had absolutely no risk factors. I expected to sail through pregnancy. Inexplicably, I had serious complications that included 5 weeks in the hospital for me and 6 weeks in the NICU for my son. 20 months later, I'm pregnant with my second and have now been in the hospital 26 days so far.

I have Cigna health insurance which offers unbelievably good maternity benefits. We have not paid a cent for the months and months of hospital stays (or the slightly cheaper months of home nurse care). I can only thank God we chose this plan. I didn't expect difficult pregnancies and didn't look carefully at maternity benefits when choosing.

Please choose good maternity benefits! You never know what will happen.

Posted by: hch | September 19, 2006 11:53 AM

Long term challenges: Money - put as much away now as you can but I think that is a life plan not necessarily a baby plan. Work. Will I ever be able to stay at home? He owns his own business, I am the breadwinner with all the benefits.

Short term challenges: Us - with child #1 (at 37 with no problems or "help") our marriage was hit hard (just celebrated our 12th anniversary). Someone once told me that children can either bring the marriage very close or tear it apart. We were the latter but we fight the good fight. Now with #2 (at 39, again with no problems or "help"), it's double the work but less the worry. We really wish we spent more time looking for a babysitter. The daily routine - prioritizing time and getting what really needs to be done while still hanging out with the kids. Time really does fly when you have them.

The rest? I do some reading, but not too much. They are ideas that may or may not work for us. I do what works for my family and don't worry about what others think.

When you are ready to start your family, DON'T TELL ANYONE!! Talk about pressure! Throw your calendar out the window - make creating your baby a wonderful memory as husband and wife.

Good luck and you will be fine.

Posted by: Tryingtokeepitinperspective | September 19, 2006 12:03 PM

Leslie,
I totally relate to your statement that you had children because something felt profoundly, cosmically right about husband #2. I felt the same way. During my first marriage, I really doubted that I would ever have kids because things weren't right. But then I met the right guy, and it was never a question anymore. Nine years later, I am thankful for my instincts, and for my husband.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 12:06 PM

1. Get all of your dining in fancy restaurants out of the way-if chicken nuggets aren't on the menu, you won't be eating there for years.
2. Get your financial and your real house in order-babies are expensive, and painting the family room is tough with a toddler.
3. Keep your sense of humor. When you can actually be glad that the baby threw up on you and not the sofa, you know you are a mom.
4. Remember how little control you will have over much of your life, big and small. We absolutely, positively knew we were going to be a two child family. Then my second pregnancy turned out to be twins. We adjusted.
5. In case no one has said it, you can plan and anticipate, but nothing can prepare you for how much you will love your own children. That truth will get you through much of the less fun stuff.

Posted by: lifermom | September 19, 2006 12:11 PM

Just noticed that someone here posted as "Sam." It's not the same "Sam" that's been posting off and one for the last month. That would be me.

To scarry - Regarding C-sections -- I had one unplanned C-section followed by a planned one (because I was concerned about having a baby the standard way after a C-section.) A planned one is definitely better than one following 15 hours of labor. Maybe it was the comparison from the prior experience, but I felt great afterwards.

My advice to E.M. Wallace is to leave as much flexibility in your life as possible, particularly with respect to finances. We got ourselves in a bind where I couldn't stay home without making major changes to our lives (like a move to a smaller house), because I just assumed I'd want to keep working when we bought our house. (Of course, don't go through a move to a smaller house now if you can't afford one salary where you are, because you may be perfectly happy continuing to work.) But if you're thinking of moving to a bigger house in preperation for a family, I'd hold off until you have a child so you can feel confident that it's the right thing for you. My perspective of neighborhoods also changed after having children. We live in a small neighborhood carved off a major road with relatively new houses. At the time I worked a lot of hours and wanted a nice house without necessarily considering the neighborhood. We have great neighbors but, hindsight being 20/20, with kids I'd like to live in a larger, and probably older, community with a community center, swimming pool, etc. But this might not be you. So I'd wait on making big moves until after the baby comes and you see how you feel then.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 12:12 PM

2. Get your financial and your real house in order-babies are expensive, and painting the family room is tough with a toddler.

Don't bother to paint your family room before the baby comes. In a year and a half of so, you will just have crayon or magic markers all over the walls anyway.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 12:13 PM

"Don't bother to paint your family room before the baby comes. In a year and a half of so, you will just have crayon or magic markers all over the walls anyway."

...or only buy washable crayons and don't let markers enter the door. Washable crayon really does come off. :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 12:26 PM

Just an addendum to my earlier post. Try not to plan yours or your children's futures too much. Things never turn out exactly as planned.

When my oldest son turned 3 he was diagnosed with PDDnos, which falls under the Autism-Spectrum umbrella. With my second son, I ended up much of my last trimester on bed-rest.

I still believe that having my children is one of the best things I have done with my life.

After loads of intervention, my oldest is doing fantastically well in First grade, he even has friends. My second son is just a little ball of energy who has taught much to my oldest about sharing and caring.

Not to say that my husband and I take everything life throws our way on pure blind faith. We planned both of our pregnancies. After my second son turned 3, we decided that we were done having children. So, after years of birth-control being my responsibility, my husband stepped up to the plate and got a vasectomy. My husband's and my relationship is strong, with good communication and a dialog about what we want for our family and our future. Now we have given ourselves the ability to have more spontaneity and romance in our marriage.

I guess that my main message is that if you spend all of your time making plans, then you my miss out on all the quirky bends and turns in the road of life.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 19, 2006 12:32 PM

My husband once made a comment when our first children (twins) were babies:

"We share the work, but that doesn't mean that we each do 50%. It means we each give 100%."

The idea is that the family's well-being is the top priority and both partners do all they can to promote it. That might mean staying late at work or doing dishes or escaping to a movie. On any given day the tasks will be different but the goal is the same.

Posted by: Green Mountains | September 19, 2006 12:34 PM

I have to agree with most of the posters. I have twins, almost 16 years old now. The first years are definitely a blur, but worth it. No one makes me laugh harder than my daughters now. They also have wonderful intellects and we enjoy them as people. Date time has been important to maintain over the years, and we've come through 20 years with a great marriage. Will miss the girls terribly when they go to college soon, but really looking forward to focusing on work and each other again.

Posted by: Kris | September 19, 2006 12:43 PM

Actually, DH never really discussed much except our joint desire to have children sometime in our 30s. When I was 33, our DD graced us with her appearance and life has never been quite the same since her entrance. But it has been wonderful. I guess we should have discussed one of SAH and the possibility of other children. But you can discuss till the cows come home, you will never really know how you will feel until you are in that situation. I think if you have to weigh out the pros and cons of having children, should you really be having kids? Kids do not come with any guarantees or refund policies. They are as unpredicitable as the weather. But for some people (and maybe even most people), they are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to the parents. Both individually and as a couple. My DD has taught me there is an even higher capacity to love and nurture. Before my DD was born, I thought I loved my DH with all my soul, all my heart, and as fully as one human being could love one another. Then DD came and wow. The love just expanded and seems limitless. Not that there are not days where she is difficult, or nights I stay up worrying about something or another, but the overall picture is an A+++. I could not imagine my life without being a mother and not being a mother to this individual child. I don't have any desire to parent full time or live in a 100% child centered world. But she has changed my life and maybe even my soul. Getting your house in financial order is a good thing. We did that too. But nothing will make a difference once they are born. It is the love you feel for each other, this child, and the fact that you brought a child into the world together (or nurtured a child together) that will matter. Relax and take each day as they come. Never stop opening your eyes to all the lessons that your child can teach you. It goes soo quickly. Even at 2 1/2 my DD is more independent and I find more me an couple time.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 12:46 PM

My advice, EM,

1) Be flexible. Definitely think and talk about your child-rearing philosphy ahead of time, but recognize that it will all depend on what kind of child you have, and you may need to change mid-shift. Be open to new ideas, and follow your heart. Also, I really believe consistency is overrated. The world is not consistent, why make your children think it is? Although we try to be consistent with some things, it just isn't worth killing yourself over.

2) Be loving to each other. I like GreenMountain's perspective that it doesn't mean you split things 50/50, but that you each give 100%. Realize that some things will be harder for one than the other, and go with that. My husband has a much harder time on low sleep than I do, so I tend to let him sleep in on the weekend mornings. I get a lot more drained by later afternoon, so he tries to give me some downtime at that time of day. Take care of each other as much as the baby.

On the family bed - our son slept with us from day one, basically - it made nursing and sleeping soooo much better for about the first 11 months. Then it got uncomfortable because he got so big and tossed and turned and kicked, so we got him a toddler bed. We've gone through a couple different arrangements, but he's now sleeping almost the whole night in his bed in his room at 23 months old. So, don't be afraid to try it if it helps you in the early days.

Posted by: Megan | September 19, 2006 12:50 PM

Today's guest-blogger indicated that worries about the state of the world will factor into her decision to have kids. I feel the same way. It seems like the next generation will have to deal with a lot of problems we don't face, and I feel that some of these will be severe and intractible (overpopulation, running out of oil, dumping our debts on them). Does anybody else consider whether or not it's "fair" to bring innocent new people into this world? In the olden days, before family planning, kids just happened, and there wasn't much choice in the matter, but now there is more to consider. I don't really buy into the thought that I should have a child because maybe they will be "the one" to solve world hunger, etc., because in all likelihood, they won't be.

Posted by: AB | September 19, 2006 12:51 PM

Dcdesigner, that was a great post. I've had the same thoughts as you, but am now realizing that I am just getting older and my time to have children will pass.

Tryingtokeepitinperspective, I agree about thorwing out the calendars and not telling people. My husband and I talked about enjoying getting pregnant, even if it takes us years. I am sure it will be hard, but I want to go into it knowing it could take a while and at least talking together about how to keep perspective through it. For me there will be no charting, counting days, etc. Just lots of crazy nookie!

Posted by: Thought | September 19, 2006 12:52 PM

To pittypat,

I never wanted kids. I broke up with a few guys based on their goal of having kids. When I met my husband to be, we discussed kids. He thought he wanted them, but the more we talked about it, the more he realized that he didn't even like kids. So after a year of marriage, we are still sure that we don't want kids.

The reasons not to have kids are too numerous to name.

What really made my husband rethink his position was this: What are the reasons TO have a child?
Carry on the family name (one of his reasons)?
Love us unconditionally?
Because that's what people do?
We feel pressured?
We want to make a person like us?

Neither of us could think of a single reason that wasn't selfish or just plain stupid.

Now, I now some one out there in blog land will say something like "you'll change your mind." Yes, we might change our minds (we're in our 20s), and then we'll change plans. But what's important is that we're not limiting oursleves. We're not limiting ourselves to the idea that only kids "make" a family.

Posted by: Meesh | September 19, 2006 12:54 PM

Meesh:
I do not believe that the posters to this site ment to make it sound like you are not a family without children of your own. Or that having children makes a family. My husband and I were a family long before having children. We also belonged to two wonderful extended families. We expanded our families when we married, with new in-laws, parents, grandparent, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. Our family just grew when we had children of our own.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 19, 2006 12:55 PM

My parenting mantras:

1. Never say never (i.e. "I'll never put the baby in my bed" "I'll never give the baby formula" "I'll never take drugs during labor")

2. Pick your battles (decide what's important in each situation and don't make a big deal over sticking to a "rule" if it doesn't matter)

3. And related to the above - don't sweat the small stuff!

And on a practical note, don't buy every piece of baby/child gear on the market. Talk to *real* moms and find out what's really necessary. Having a baby doesn't have to break the bank.

Posted by: 1/4 Irish momof4 | September 19, 2006 12:55 PM

"Once as a teenager, I told my Mom I was sorry I'd ruined her life-- she said, "Honey, you gave me a reason to live it! Without you I never would have worked this hard and I wouldn't be where I am.""

I love this comment. For anyone thinking about the pros and cons of having a baby, it is hard to describe how much it is possible to love a child until you have one. This thought expresses it so well.

Posted by: AU Park Mom | September 19, 2006 12:56 PM

That should be "Now I KNOW some one..."

And to AB, we have those concerns too, but I don't think it influenced our decision much. I bet that if you want kids, you'll rationalize just about anything. Like how I'm trying to convince my husband that we should get another dog even though I know that our yard isn't big enough. I'm justifying my butt off.

I'm waiting for Bridget to write "Alright Meesh, we know you have dogs!!! Every time you say it I want to gnaw my arm off!!"

Posted by: Meesh | September 19, 2006 12:57 PM

to AB regarding your worries about the world of the future (overpopulation, running out of oil, dumping our debts on them), consider what past generations had to worry about that we don't have to worry about now -- dying of diseases that are managable now, severely limited opportunities for women and people of color, etc. So you see that every generation has its problems, but at the same time other things will get better than before.

to "thought" and others who are planning to get pregnant: you assume that it will be difficult and take a long time, and it may be. However, be prepared for it to be easy, too. I am a "mature" mom, so I assumed it would take months to conceive. But I got pregnant on the first "try" which really threw us for a loop! We were assuming we would have more time to prepare. Oh well -- you're never really "prepared" for it anyway. ;-)

Posted by: a couple of comments | September 19, 2006 12:59 PM

Meesh,

Thanks for responding to my questions.

Your comment, "We're not limiting ourselves to the idea that only kids 'make' a family," is so true -- and so important.

I especially like your attitude of flexibility (if we change our minds, then we'll change our plans). No closed doors or burnt bridges for you guys!

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 1:00 PM

DcDesigner,

I don't get that feeling from this blog. People on here are very nice (mostly).

I get that impression from lots of other places (work, relatives, friends, the TV media).

I don't think that we're any less of a family. But I do think it weighs on other people's minds when they decide to have kids ("We won't be like the family I envisioned growing up").

Posted by: Meesh | September 19, 2006 1:01 PM

I never questioned whether I was having kids. I remember planning to adopt as an early teen. I methodically worked through college, getting a job and as soon as I had a relatively permanent job placement, I purchased a house and applied for adoption. Since I was a single parent, I specifically requested an older child and specified that special needs be emotional rather than physical (I felt I could understand and work with an abused child much easier than I could work my life around total deafness, blindness, paralysis etc. - this was due to my frame of reference and to the physical realties of my job and actual house.) My first child was 11 when she arrived. Next came birth siblings 7 and 5 and finally another 5 year old.

I underestimated my capacity to care for my children and still be a supervisor at work. Within 4 years, I had voluntarily dropped back to an assistant. By year 5, due to continuing psychiatric hospitalizations and an unexpected medical condition in my youngest that required repeated surgeries so that she could breathe; I had started working 60 hours per payperiod rather than 80 - taking the 20 hours as leave without pay. This continued for 4-5 years. I am eternally grateful to my company for not making me go part time officially and for allowing me to bring my seriously depressed, sometimes suicidal child to work to sit quietly at a table and stamp envelopes or draw pictures.

I leaned heavily for support on other adoptive/foster parents and a legion of therapists, emergency case workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Two children spent at least one year in public school psychiatric intensive school placements (virtually 1 to 1 staff ratio or better). Over the years, we had at least 25 separate hospitalizations and one AIDs scare. The illness that threatened my daughter's ability to breathe went into remission.

I did not understand that there would be no real financial stability in this type of situation even with financial support from the state while the children were minors - any excess money went to copays, specialized child care, treatments, hotel bills while hospitalized out of area, etc. I have the ability to retire frugally (in a few years) only because of my company policy and 401k. Savings are an interesting concept.

I did not understand how vulnerable we were to a forced change. After the company restructured in the mid nineties, we had to move about 2 hours from our original home. I had to rebuild the entire support network, it was a financial disaster, the younger children were in their preteens. I did not understand that those teen years (complicated by the loss of the friends and security in the move) would mean basically no social life outside of the home except with family (who do not live near), their care workers, and foster parents who provided specialized child care (one child needed full time coverage up to the age of 17 - so from school to the babysitter until I picked her up).

I did not fully understand that some children after years of emotional abuse would not become "traditional adults". By traditional adult, I once meant: trusting (non family) adult relationships, the ability to live alone, and/or work outside the home. But they have grown up, they are making their lives work - their reality is different than mine was at their age.

I did not understand that a severely abused child might not be able to accept or complete higher education due to their needs regardless of IQ. Therefore they would be limited in job availability and require extended financial support. They all require some assistance and one child and a few grandchildren continue to live with and be primarily supported by me.

I was blessed with a close knit extended birth family. My immediate and extended family were always there and I was never abused in any way by any family member. I learned perserverance by watching and living through the family helping each other when one or another was sick or incapacitated in some way. I watched family members go through years of illness while other members stood by them - helping where they could, always loving and protecting all the children regardless of cost, etc. No one ever ran away in my family - we just plodded through the bad years and lived up the good ones. I knew by the time I was a teen that bad stretches could sometime require years to overcome but as long as you had the support of the family and plugged along, things would eventually work out.

So it's been 19 years and the children range in age from 24-30. I have several grandchildren - our reward for mutually surviving the teen years. I love being a grandmother.

I would do it again - every single day. Of course I would do some things differently. Before I adopted, I loved reading Torey Hayden. Afterwards, it was Claudia L. Jewett. I have been so incredibly lucky in having been raised by an extended loving birth family. I was incredibly lucky in obtaining employment with a company that, while not particular happy, accomodated our needs and went well beyond any requirement by any law in any state. Financial stability is nice but compared to the wellbeing of your family it doesn't matter as long as you can hang on to the basics - home, some income and transportation. It's frustrating sometimes but you get over it. And, as you have probably guessed, I live in an area where homes are still affordable to people with middle class incomes.

I do worry about the financial well being of my children when I am gone. My generations expectation was to go to college, own a home, raise a family. Only one child is on disability but the wages for children with only an high school education is low. It is difficult to see how they will ever achieve financial stability. But, if they can keep the basics (home, income and transportation) and help each other, they will do ok. If I have given them anything, I hope I have given them some sense of the safety and security of having a family you can trust. If I can pass down any trait via osmosis to my children and grandchildren it will be what I learned from my family growing up: treat people decently, expect and require decent behavior, work hard at what you do, uncompromising love and relentlessness. We don't give up, we help out, if we can't help enough, we get help.

There are so many wonderful children out there and no one ever said parenting any child would be easy.

And, finally for those parents who have teens acting out now, it really is possible to love someone while really disliking them, isn't it? You just plug along reinforcing the good, doing whatever is necessary to keep them safe until they are old enough to keep themselves safe. Everyone must have meaning and purpose in their life - sometimes it is a daily battle to keep a child going long enough to find that meaning and purpose.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 1:04 PM

To AB --

We thought about that, too; I think everyone does. Not just this generation, either; I think prospective parents have been asking that question since time immemorial (birth control certainly helped make not having kids more of a viable option, but there have always been ways to avoid parenthood).

But it's not worth avoiding parenthood over. There have always been things wrong with the world and always will be; we all think it's worse now, but is it? I remember complaining to my mom once that she "couldn't possibly understand" how hard it was being a teen in the 80s, and she sat me down and told me all about the Cuban Missile Crisis and going to bed convinced that a nuclear bomb would hit before she woke up. I think Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" gives a pretty good perspective of the crises that our parents and grandparents faced that had them asking the same questions.

If you are upset about things going on in the world, then focus your energies on changing those things. But don't let it deter you from having kids if that's what you really want to do; instead, raise them to care about those issues and do something about them (you don't have to save the world or win the Nobel Peace Prize to help improve things). Look at it this way: even with all the bad stuff out there, would you rather be here or not? And if you would choose to be here, then isn't it reasonable to think that any child you have would also want to be here, despite all of the dangers and unfairness and hardship?

Posted by: Laura | September 19, 2006 1:05 PM

On the topic of why to have or not have kids, neither my husband nor I were sure we wanted to until after we'd been married for a year or so. For us, it just felt (and feels) like the natural extension of our love. It always makes me cringe when I hear someone say they want to have child because they want to BE loved. I think you should have a child because you want TO love. And that is not at all to say that having a child is the only way to love and to form a family, there are many many ways. But if you are going to have a child, I think the expectation should be on giving love, receiving it back is an amazing bonus.

Posted by: Megan | September 19, 2006 1:07 PM

I don't really have much advice to give on this. My husband and I kind of wing it when it comes to parenting and it seems to be working pretty well for us so far, although I can see where it would lead to problems for two people who aren't as like-minded as we are. We try to keep our kids the center of our lives, and haven't taken jobs that include extensive travel or time away from the family. We save as much as we can for retirement and college and try to have fun along the way.

I would say my best advice is not to take yourself or your children too seriously and to try to remember when you feel you're about to lose your cool that whatever is upsetting you is probably "NOT A BIG DEAL". (Very few things are.)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 1:09 PM

The most important rule is not to have firm plans. As others have said, flexibility is critical. Hubby and I had "planned" the money, the time, the location, etc. Then it took us 10 years to get pregnant. There went the money, the time, and the loocation. :-)

Now, with both of us in our mid 40s with two young children, we sometimes think "what if" on certain career-related decisions we have made to get to our "parent" stage. Sometimes they eat at us (mostly me), but a kiss good-bye in the morning as I droppped by daughter at Kindergraten makes those "what if" thoughts disappear.

Posted by: Fairfax County Mom of 2 | September 19, 2006 1:10 PM

To Meesh: If you have to try to talk yourselves into it, then you probably shouldn't have kids right now. it's good that you're keeping an open mind though. For me, I never gave it much thought until it hit me one day, I suddenly realized I craved a child to love and nurture. I didn't do any pro/con analysis or ask myself why. I just knew it was what I wanted to do now. That could happen to you someday (or not!).

And people may judge you for choosing not to have kids, but believe me they also judge you when you do. Suddenly it's everybody's business to comment on how and where you give birth, what you feed them, where they sleep, how far apart in age they are, how you discipline them.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | September 19, 2006 1:11 PM

To John,

You and your wife are where my husband and I were about 2 yrs ago except for the fact that we had been trying to get pregnant for quite awhile. Being older parents has its advantages. Things that would have bent us out of shape when we were in our 20s and 30s no longer have the same level of importance. As a result, we are much more relaxed as parents. The major disadvantage is trying to deal with sleep deprivation. You definitely recover from that much more quickly when you're younger. The age thing may be an issue in terms of getting pregnant, but try to focus on having fun and RELAX!!! I couldn't/didn't get pregnant until I gave up on ever having children. We have a wonderful 11 month old son now, and we don't even want to remember what our lives were like before he came. Parenthood is awesome! Good luck....

Posted by: MAY | September 19, 2006 1:12 PM

"Because it's so rarely discussed, I'd like to hear other childfree people talk about how they decided not to have kids. After all, that's the other outcome from the 'Before Baby' conversation. Barring an unplanned pregnancy (which presents its own difficult decisions), partners at some point have to decide to have or not to have kids."

I'm single, but I'll chime in.

"What goes into that decision? Is it ever just a non-verbal agreement? Did you pair up with someone who, like you, didn't want kids from the get-go?"

What went into the decision for me was realizing that I've just never been about raising a kid. Every child deserves parents who are able and willing to raise him or her, so it would be unfair to the child if I became a mother or stepmother.

Also, I wouldn't pair up with someone who did want kids - it's not fair of me to waste the time of someone who is or wants to be a father.

"And what happens if one of the partners changes her/his mind?"

Three possibilities:
a) They stay together, don't have kids, and the one who wants to be a parent is miserable.
b) They stay together, have one or more kids, the one who doesn't want to be a parent is miserable, and the kids become miserable once they realize they're unwanted by one of their parents
c) They break up so the one who wants to be a parent can go find a partner who wants to be a parent

Posted by: Maria | September 19, 2006 1:18 PM

Haven't had a chance to read through everything yet this morning--preparing for a meeting. But, I remember when I was pregnant with our first. We lived very close to a number of extended family members, my husband's aunts and uncles, who had kids from 0-10 years. We knew they meant well, but when the steady chorus of "Are you ready?" got to be too much, we started responding, "We're ready not to be ready." Meaning, simply, we've done what we can to plan, but we know to expect the unexpected.

Best of luck, E.M., and thanks for the guest blog!

Posted by: niner | September 19, 2006 1:18 PM

My husband and I discussed having children before we got married. I have always been fairly ambivilant about having children. Great if it happens, great if it doesn't. He really wanted children. I wanted to wait and enjoy couple time longer, but we married in our 30s. So we decided after 2 years of marriage to start trying to have a child. (All the warning articles about women waiting too long to establish careers were stressful and bogus because it didn't take any time to conceive!)

As far as worrying about the future of the world, it seems like it is really horrible right now. But I think there have been much worse times in history. Every generation thinks it is the worst time in history. But alas, we keep on surviving.

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 1:18 PM

And what happens if one of the partners changes her/his mind?"

Three possibilities:
a) They stay together, don't have kids, and the one who wants to be a parent is miserable.
b) They stay together, have one or more kids, the one who doesn't want to be a parent is miserable, and the kids become miserable once they realize they're unwanted by one of their parents
c) They break up so the one who wants to be a parent can go find a partner who wants to be a parent

There are some other possibilities:

d) They stay together, don't have children, and the one who wanted children finds an outlet to the desire for children through mentoring a child, volunteering at a school, something like that. You don't always have to end up miserable.

e) They stay together, have children, and the parent who did not originally want children falls in love with the child. This happens all the time with unplanned pregnancies.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 1:24 PM

If you are thinking about having a child, you need to be ready for whatever comes at you. I have three children, and success for each of them has meant different things. For my oldest, it is a huge accomplishment that she graduated from high school without becoming pregnant. She is very immature and always takes the longest way possible to get someplace in life, but we're hoping she'll do okay. My second child, who graduated last May at the top of his class and just began his first year at an Ivy league school, has been a very different child to raise. Our biggest issues with him were dealing with the anxiety that comes with being a high achiever. My youngest is a butterfly and is hard to tie down, but is doing just fine with life.

Sometimes I think if I'd known the kind of problems I'd have with all three of my kids, I would have stayed child-free (or maybe even single)! But I don't regret being a parent for a second, even when I can't stand my child (those moments do happen). A neighbor of mine recently adopted a baby. They got the baby at the hospital, and left. Three weeks later, the baby was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. They seriously considered returning the baby. I was disgusted and sad by this. You can have a perfect birth and end up with problems down the road, or give birth at 27 weeks and have no other issues. There are no guarantees in life, and you need to be able to accept that if you are planning to have children.

Posted by: Thought | September 19, 2006 1:24 PM

Good blog today!

Posted by: Likes Irish Whiskey | September 19, 2006 1:26 PM

Meesh - those were great points! My husband and I went through all of those before we decided to go ahead with our adoption (knew when we married we wouldn't be able to conceive). We decided that we DID want kids, but that's just us. The points you mentioned were still a huge factor in helping us know that we were meant to be parents - if we weren't I think that those same concerns would have led us in your direction. My biggest selfish reason was "to have someone to take care of me when I'm old". I swear, just that alone made me frightened - that is NO reason to have children. For me, the difficulty of the adoption homestudy process has raffirmed that we made the right decision (based on, obviously, more valid reasons than needing a nursemaid when I'm old) - anyone who really didn't want to be a parent would run SCREAMING from the adoption process. Its HARD. I would bet my last dollar that MANY MANY people would choose to remain childless if they had to face the scrutiny and training that adoptive parents do. As I like to say, other people have sex to make a baby, we have paperwork. And even bad sex is better than good paperwork.

Posted by: Adopting Our First | September 19, 2006 1:28 PM

"Just do it!" A child is the most precious joy and gift in life. You will find your way as parents and all the rest will fall into place.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 1:29 PM

I would hope that the question of kids came up before people got married. My boyfriend and I discussed it very early on - we matched well, both don't think that we want them and knew that we could not date people that knew they definitely did. We still talk about it, but are fairly ambivalent and leaning towards not, but keeping the topic open in case things change after we get married. I have never actually thought that I wanted to and we're excited to have us as a family and act as a summer camp to our five nieces and nephews as time goes on. We are also 31 and 41 and no offense to John and his wife, our ages does comes into play, as we don't want to have kids when he is 45.

But it's hard to figure out if you want kids or if you think you're supposed to want them - I think that's my biggest struggle sometimes b/c we're taught that you fall in love, get married and have kids and live happily ever after. Think I just want adult kids! :)

Posted by: Arl. Lawyer | September 19, 2006 1:31 PM

"We thought about that, too; I think everyone does. Not just this generation, either; I think prospective parents have been asking that question since time immemorial (birth control certainly helped make not having kids more of a viable option, but there have always been ways to avoid parenthood)."

*Everyone*?

For example, suppose Mr. and Mrs. A move into a refugee camp to flee place B and troops there. Maybe Mr. A and Mrs. A will think "do we want to bring a child here?" before deciding whether or not to conceive in the camp. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. A will think "those troops drove all our children out of B!" after conceiving in the camp and having a bunch of children who were never in B in their lives. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. A will reach some third conclusion instead. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. A won't reach the same conclusion as Mr. and Mrs. C in the tent next door.

Posted by: Maria | September 19, 2006 1:36 PM

To Thought:
Re your friends who considered returning an adoptive baby diagnosed with CP - I understand your dismay and hope they got over it. It is sad how so many people compartmentalize: my children vs. others, birth children vs. adopted. All children need to be cared for. If you know a neighbors child is hungry, why not just make more room at the table? Your kids don't need to know that your are having their friend because they need to eat. They just accept that their friend is staying. I do not understand how people compartmentalize and therefore allow themselves to act against the interest of any child. It's not hard and for most of us with children, it's not costly to get some extra clothing, have some extra food, offer some relief to ease the pressure, take an extra child on a field trip - that's what teaches your children to share and to care - that is what teaches your children to be human. That is what makes you human.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 1:36 PM

>>> And what happens if one of the partners changes her/his mind? <<<

I am not sure people change their minds on this topic. I honestly doubt that anyone who wants children would marry someone who doesn't. But I would strongly advocate delaying marriage until both individuals in the relationship are mature enough to identify what they want the future to be like. People don't just change their minds on the whole "I don't want children" thing. My ex-husband always said he hated/loathed children and did not ever want them. (We divorced due to other issues.) I was fine with not having children. If women think, "Oh he will change his mind"... they are delusional!

Posted by: flip-flop? | September 19, 2006 1:37 PM

"e) They stay together, have children, and the parent who did not originally want children falls in love with the child. This happens all the time with unplanned pregnancies."

It happens some of the time with unplanned pregnancies. If it happened all the time, nobody would abuse or kill their children.

Posted by: Maria | September 19, 2006 1:38 PM

"I'm waiting for Bridget to write "Alright Meesh, we know you have dogs!!! Every time you say it I want to gnaw my arm off!!"

I am laughing my Irish a-- off.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 1:39 PM

To couples without children:
If you are having sex and trying *not* to get pregnant, just think how great sex will be wwhen you are *trying* to have a baby.

If you give your child enough attention, there is no need for discipline.

My wife ended up getting herself pregnant, (if she wasn't already), every time she found out her sister or good friend was pregnant. It's pretty cool knowing that you have somebody else who you know and trust going through the same thing as you. I suggest it. In other words, If you are thinking about making a baby, thry to convince your best friend to make one too.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 19, 2006 1:39 PM

It happens some of the time with unplanned pregnancies. If it happened all the time, nobody would abuse or kill their children.

Maria, people abuse their children because they were abused as children. It is a cyclical problem and a learned behavior. Parent's who survive child abuse themselves have no idea how to be a loving parents because that behavior was never shown/modeled to them.

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 1:40 PM

"However, most of the comments only augment my fear of the mommy-track, overly competitive PTA queens, raising pure hellions, etc."

Stillundecided, I feel the same way! But I have to warn you, moving to a smaller town somewhere in middle America will not solve this problem. It's as bad or worse there. Maybe there aren't so many two-earner, high-income competitive parents to deal with, but there are other things like parents whose whole lives revolve around their child's participation in sports. So, where ever you, go you'll have to deal with all that crap.

I laugh sometimes to imagine myself as a parent. I will be SO the subject of negative comments because I truly do not care what other people think of how I choose to raise children or handle specific situations. I have a pretty good sense of humor and a slack attitude, likely because I had a handicapped sibling and we as a family had to learn to adapt and not worry about weird looks or comments from strangers.

I think something too many parents do is 1) feel "guilty" over every little thing, 2) constantly question how they are doing things and always overthink simple stuff, and 3) worry too much about someone else's opinion. Be confident! Decide in advance what you want your parenting style to be and defend it in the face of silly people who don't have any business yapping at you anyway.

Not to be a total bummer, here, but please note that it is not only adopted children who have physical, emotional, learning, or mental health problems. No matter what you do or how you plan, you could have a child with autism or other disabilities, or your child could develop mental health problems even as a pre-teen. I think this is something that every couple should be well aware of and discuss in advance how they would feel and how they would try to cope. Ignoring this reality and pretending it won't happen to you will only make it worse if it does. Figure this into your planning and decision about whether to have a child -- or more children. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, don't own your own home, and are over 35, think seriously about how you will manage financially if your child has special needs. Just speaking from observations. I have seen a couple of homes break up due to financial and emotional stress of having a child with special needs.

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 1:41 PM

"My wife ended up getting herself pregnant"

Has medical science learned of this? Is your wife being studied intensely? How exactly did it happen? Please let us know!

There are hundreds of single, childless women out there who would love to get themselves pregnant without having to deal with some loser guy.

Posted by: JKB | September 19, 2006 1:44 PM


It happens some of the time with unplanned pregnancies. If it happened all the time, nobody would abuse or kill their children.

Don't fool yourself that the only people who abuse their children are those who did not plan on having them. People who planned and wanted their kids also abuse them, unfortunately.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 1:44 PM

My wife and I discussed children before we got married. Both of us for different reasons felt we were not ready for them that early. Then, after we were married, we were enjoying each other's presence that we didn't want to add another variable in the equation.

So, what changed? It's hard to explain. I recall beginning to wonder if that was all there was, maybe I was missing something in my life. Then, one of our friends turned up pregnant. She, a single mom already, was going to have another child. I am a fairly decent carpenter/furniture maker, so I offered to make her a toybox for her new child. While making the box, it dawned on me that her excitement, enthusiasm and yes, courage over her pregnancy, despite the obstacles she would be facing, was what I had been missing but could not figure out on my own.

The day I gave her that toybox, I asked my wife if she would like to start a family. Strangely enough, she too had been feeling the same way, but since both of us had said in the past we did not want children, she was not going to ask me thinking she already knew my answer. Needless to say we were both surprised to realize both our feelings on this subject had changed.

Had my friend not become pregnant I'm not sure I would have had the catalyst to cause me to realize this is what I was looking for in my life, at least not for some time. Sometimes fate has a way with throwing people together at the right time and right place to make a big difference!

Posted by: John | September 19, 2006 1:47 PM

"I'm waiting for Bridget to write "Alright Meesh, we know you have dogs!!! Every time you say it I want to gnaw my arm off!! I am laughing my Irish a-- off. "

See, now why do you have to antagonize her? Can't it be over?

Posted by: to scarry | September 19, 2006 1:47 PM

"Not to be a total bummer, here, but please note that it is not only adopted children who have physical, emotional, learning, or mental health problems."

Exactly. After all, every adopted child is someone else's biological child too.

I wonder how many children with these problems even became available for adoption in the first place thanks to the attitude you refer to. Imagine a couple deciding "we won't adopt because we can't handle a disability," finding out that their biological son or daughter is disabled, and giving that child up because they can't handle a disability. How rare or common is that?

Posted by: Maria | September 19, 2006 1:48 PM

Tricia --

What a fabulous story. Your concern about your kids' financial situation after you're gone is understandable; however, just think of what their chances would have been in life if you had not adopted them. You've given them the best possibility for their futures that anyone could have.

Maria --

Thanks for your honesty. When you say, "What went into the decision for me was realizing that I've just never been about raising a kid. Every child deserves parents who are able and willing to raise him or her, so it would be unfair to the child if I became a mother or stepmother," I can soooo identify with that. It's where my husband and I are coming from, as well. Our ambivalence over the years finally just coalesced into a definite desire to remain childfree, and it has been the right decision for us.

My mother used to say that couples without children end up being selfish, but I've seen that notion upended so many times. Yes, I know the occasional childfree couple that is selfish, but they were already selfish people, so it's probably good that they didn't have kids. My husband and I work hard to be helpful to other people and to be as generous with our money as we are able. We take in strays, shop for invalids, give care in hospice, help substance abusers, and give our support to domestic violence victims. We're lucky to be able to do these things, as, if we had children, we probably wouldn't be able to. At least not as much.

I really believe that both good parents and committed childfree people contribute to society in the ways they can best do so. Parents raise good kids, who will in turn be good citizens. Childfree people can help in so many other ways. We all have a part.

Thanks for your responses.

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 1:50 PM

Wow Tricia. God bless you and your family. You are certainly a beakon of light in a rather dim world.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 1:50 PM

To Mel:
You are right, any child may turn out to have special needs. So, if you want children, why not adopt? You know your income, you know your situation, you should know your strengths and weaknesses. The one thing about adoption - especially older child adoption is the amount of information available about the child. For me, the essentials were a child had to be able to bond, no children who started fires, no children who abused animals or other children and school aged. You don't rush into adoption. Typically you will look at dozens of children before both social workers think they have a fit. Do your homework - know your capacities - There are kids out there that are emotionally strong but have spinal bifida or some other physical problems.

If you want to parent, you don't have to give birth, you don't have to be rich, you don't have to own a home but you do have to be relentlessly committed.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 1:51 PM

"You can have a perfect birth and end up with problems down the road, or give birth at 27 weeks and have no other issues. There are no guarantees in life, and you need to be able to accept that if you are planning to have children."

Amen. No matter what, you can have a perfect, healthy child and that child be involved in an accident later and end up in a wheelchair for life. Or that child can develop schizophrenia at age 17. It is sad that the adoptive parents only wanted a "perfect" baby. They may have missed some great experiences caring for the baby with C.F. On the other hand, if they don't want to deal with it, it's best that they return the baby and move on with their lives, letting someone who wants to care for that child take over.

Ok, so yes, sometimes the husband (usually the one who most isn't happy about the unexpected/unintended pregnancy) decides that he loves the kid and that's all good. But I know men who blamed their wives for getting pregnant (yes, women DO lie about birth control, etc.) and that later broke up the marriage and gave the kids the hell of divorce. I don't think anyone should operate on the "oh, he'll love the baby once it's here" idea.

Posted by: T. L. | September 19, 2006 1:52 PM

"Maria, people abuse their children because they were abused as children. It is a cyclical problem and a learned behavior. Parent's who survive child abuse themselves have no idea how to be a loving parents because that behavior was never shown/modeled to them."

Not necessarily. For two of many possibilities:

Someone who was never abused as a boy may still grow up to abuse his daughters after watching his parents and extended family abuse girls and not boys. (and yes, while a version with the genders reversed seems rarer, it's still technically possible)

Someone who was abused as a child may still grow up and never abuse any of his or her children after learning to be a loving father by observing and talking to his or her friends' families.

Posted by: Maria | September 19, 2006 1:53 PM

Wow.. alot of responses! If anyone is still reading here is my advice from what I've learned so far. I haven't been a dad for long but I've learned alot. My marriage almost fell apart because of the strain having our baby placed upon our almost as young marriage.

1) The whole child centric/ parent centric debate is a good one. I hadn't even THOUGHT of that before we had our kid. If you can resolve it then you are in good shape! We didn't... and now I have no recourse when my wife devotes practically every last drop of her love and energy into the child leaving VERY little for us.

2) Iron out a breakdown in who will be responsible for chores, night time feedings, baths etc. Feeding in your bed or the nursury? Who will get the child when it cries? Sounds trivial and obvious but it isn't. Especially when you are out of your minds with exhaustion around month 7.

3) Communicate!!!!! The best laid plans are mearly a starting point. Every child is different and you will have to be flexible. When you get off plan (and you will) you have GOT to communicate so that you can at least stay on the same 'new' page together.

4) Be flexible.

5) Be reasonable.

But for God's sake do it. The world needs more children from thoughtful people like yourselves. It's the toughest job you'll ever love and it will give you a new perspective on your own lives.. as well as a new lease on it.

Posted by: 2YearDadOfOne | September 19, 2006 1:54 PM

Tricia, I have been thinking of adoption for a long time and I think you're wonderful for adopting those children. You don't have to sell me on it. But there are other reasons that I don't want to have kids. Love them, would love to be involved in their lives, but don't think raising children is for me. Basically, I'm not relentlessly comitted.

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 1:55 PM

Thank you to all the people who've posted such helpful and useful advice! My husband and I thought for years that we just weren't "baby people" but recently the inklings of "well...maybe..." have started creeping in. I think the fact that I'm 33 now and all our friends now have families or are even on their second may have something to do with it!

Now we've started thinking about it, it's hard not to feel slightly overwhelmed!

Both our families are back home in Scotland so the lack of support is a worry and I am the main breadwinner with a fairly intense job which includes a fair bit of travel and we just don't know how having children would affect that. My husband has already said that he could be a house husband but what if I decide I don't want to go back to work or I just can't continue doing my current job?

We're not struggling financialy but we don't have any long term things set up either and we still rent.

That said, the feeling of the sheer joy of parenthood (tempered with the wisdom that life happens when you're not looking) that comes aross from these comments and hearing from so many people that you shouldn't worry about planning too much is a great relief!

I'm also relieved to hear that while I was starting to panic about getting "past it" at 33 I'm not alone in being a late-starter!

Good luck to all those who've already decided to start trying!

Posted by: Al | September 19, 2006 1:55 PM

To Mel:
I understand and I think the fact that you know this shows your strength. I was not trying to sell adoption in that persuading anyone to parent against their better judgement is not acceptable or in the interests of any child. Abused children don't just come from unplanned pregnancies, they come from parents who desperately wanted children but did not know what it took to be a parent or did not care.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 2:00 PM

Sorry but Meesh's comment was funny. Apparently, I am not the only one who thought it was funny. A lot of Irish people on the board today if you know what I mean. :)

Posted by: to to scarry | September 19, 2006 2:00 PM

To Maria,

Yes, I know that there are always situations that don't fall into normal patterns. But *most* people who abuse their children were abused themselves. Yes, there are exceptions.

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 2:02 PM

There would have been no nastiness on this blog at all today if it wouldn't have been for Bridget's remark. I think scarry was rather nice about the remark compared to what she could or maybe should have said. As far as her antagonizing Bridget goes, Meesh made the comment about her (very funny Meesh, I liked it too), so scarry just responded that it was funny. Also, pittypat, Rockville, myself, and some other posters didn't like the unnecessary meanness of Bridget's post. So, before you go waving your why did scarry do that finger, maybe you should wave it Bridget's way.

Bridget, maybe you should apologize for antagonizing the board!

Posted by: to to scarry | September 19, 2006 2:07 PM

When you're contemplating parenthood, be careful that the "something missing" you feel in your life isn't just simple boredom and being stuck in a rut. A friend of mine rushed into marriage and then had a baby at age 43. Now she has a child with severe developmental delays, an unhappy marriage, a schedule of therapy that leaves her about 10 minutes to relax per week, and career aspirations that have been stopped dead and may never be revived. She's depressed and wonders where her life went.

The thing is, from the first days I knew her when she was 18 years old, she wanted a big career and she worked toward it. Then at a low point in her career climb, she became afraid that she would "miss out" and not have a baby, so she made the decisions she did and now feels cheated out of the life she worked so hard toward.

All I'm saying is, keep in mind that children can derail your life plans in big ways and be sure that you're not going to resent them if they need more from you than you expect to give.

Posted by: J. | September 19, 2006 2:08 PM

"Thanks for your honesty."

You're welcome :)

"no children who started fires"

Would you make an exception for quickly extinguished hijinks in high school science classes, especially AP Chemistry? The more "advanced" the class, the more our teachers trusted us with matches. ;)

"It is sad that the adoptive parents only wanted a 'perfect' baby."

Not all of them, right?

Also, I heard of one more factor in the disabled-baby-up-for-adoption situation: Russian emigration law. Apparently there's some rule that slows down international adoption way more for healthy Russians than for "special needs" Russians. Hence some adoptive parents rushing to local pediatricians with scary medical records only to be told "your child is healthy, these disease names mean nothing, and your child's previous pediatrician in Russia must have made them up to fool the courts." Is this true? Was it ever?

Posted by: Maria | September 19, 2006 2:10 PM

"There would have been no nastiness on this blog at all today if it wouldn't have been for Bridget's remark."

I know, but seriously, why always the childishness? The whole "she started it" argument is juvenile.

I'm not criticizing Scarry's response. You're right - Meesh made the comment. And I guess now its time for me to practice what I'm preaching and just shut up myself.

Posted by: to to to scarry | September 19, 2006 2:13 PM

To Al:
Children adapt to whatever situation you give them because they don't know much else (until they get older and spend the night with friends).

For example, my dad traveled a lot with the government. My mother was chronically ill and often could not "properly" care for me. My aunts, unlces and grandparents lived out of state and were also too busy to help my mom. The outcome = I was a fairly self-sufficient child, with a lot of compassion and help around the house far more than my friends.

As for renting, it makes financial sense to rent in the NoVA/DC/MD area right now because housing is over valued. We also rent even though we can afford to buy a house. We just don't want the house to drop in value. Will my baby care? Probably not. Not sure why owning a house seems to be a prerequesite for having a baby? Everyone asks me that question after asking if I am having a boy or girl. Weird.

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 2:13 PM

"Abused children don't just come from unplanned pregnancies, they come from parents who desperately wanted children but did not know what it took to be a parent or did not care."

Tricia, I totally agree. Neglected children also result from this type of parents. By "neglected" I mean the kind of kids whose parents just won't make the effort to discipline, teach, or guide their kids.

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 2:14 PM

To Thought: Wow, that is really sad about them wanting to return the baby with CF. It just gives fuel to Cal's argument that adoptive parents relinguish their parental responsibilities more then birth parents. But I did find it disturbing the number of special needs kids that are put up for adoption by their birth parents while the parents kept their healthy children. It makes you wonder why some people even go into parenting. Like the kid comes with a guarantee or something. Again, tricia-you are amazing.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 2:15 PM

I think also that many abused children come from parents who are mentally ill. This probably was more common years ago when the conditions were not diagnosed and families "hid" their problems. Think of the oldest daughter in "The Ya Ya Sisterhood". Her mother loved her and her siblings but was depressed and an alcoholic and was being treated with drugs that altered her personality severely.

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 2:16 PM

Moral of the story: We all have the potential to really screw up our kids. I saw Jodie Foster interviewed after her child was born, and she was asked if she ever worried about the effects her single mother status would have on her child. She kinda shrugged and said that as parents, we should all do the best we can, and save a little money for our child to get therapy if needed. It made me laugh, but she is right.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 2:20 PM

To: 2YearDadOfOne
If your child is only two years old, then you are still basically in the trenches. Chin up, your child will eventually become more self-sufficient and, gasp, have a life outside of Mommy. Your wife will eventually come out of her Mommy and baby cocoon. The conversation will not always be about who does the laundry and who does the bathing. You and your wife will be able to get back to date nights and the excitment of rediscovering each other again. It just takes most of the first 2.5 - 3 years of your first child's life to adjust to the major life changes that having a child throws your way.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 19, 2006 2:21 PM

newbie,

I didn't have a house when we lived in the DC area. We rented for the same reasons you are. My kid is just fine and frankly, how would they even know you rented or owned your house. With so much to do in the DC area, your kid probably won't miss a front yard.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 2:22 PM

Newbie, would you feel the same way about renting if this was 2000 and you had a huge increase in your rent every year (with no corresponding rise in salary), while your friends who owned were paying the same mortgage payment every year and also seeing their house value rise?

Of course you don't have to own a house to have a baby, but usually owning adds to your financial stability, or at least your sense of control. Not in every case, no. I'm renting right now because, yes, it's a good time to rent. But I've seen friends who could have afforded a house in 1999 now forced to move far into the suburbs because they want the security, space, and stability of owning a house. They hate that they have to go so far, but that's the way it is. I have other friends with a child who have been stuck renting for 5 years and they have been so miserable dealing with a bad landlord situation (won't fix things, etc. and has to be threatened with legal action all the time) and wishing that they were in their own home.

My friends who just recently had a baby were total city dwellers before. Two months after the birth, they were wanting a home in the suburbs and to get their precious out of the bad city! Ha! I'm not making fun of them, just laughing about how things can change when you have a baby.

Posted by: J. | September 19, 2006 2:26 PM

As a father of a 4 Y.O. boy and expecting father of a baby girl (due any day) I'd say stop trying to plan or control things. Watch the movie "Parenthood" and realize that much of life is just like the metaphoric roller coaster in the movie....we have no control over where things may be headed. I would encourage open-ness, flexibility and a good sense of humor.

One thing that has helped my wife and I is to have agreed on a family church. Our church has turned into a cornerstone of our lives as we have become connected to many couples going through this phase of life with us. Sharing the struggles and celebrating the good times with these close friends has made the journey even more of a joy.

Posted by: Cleveland Steve | September 19, 2006 2:26 PM

To Maria:
What's your point? In my case I was adopting older special needs children - and I was a single parent who had to work. There are children who a known firestarters or known to hurt animals or abuse other children at a very young age. I did not believe I could safely handle this type of situation. If I had given birth to a child with this type of problem, that would have been the last child I had and I would have done whatever I could to bring that child to adulthood responsibly.

I suppose my point is know yourself and make your decision. But, once you are committed, you are in.

And, as for those Russian/Roumanian children with all the problems. Trust me, it is well known in the adoptive and psychiatric support community the problems a lot of those children have. But, some people think they must have an infant. And, just like with birth parents who find out they have an autistic child, it can be a hard landing when the fantasy ends. Relentless committment and know yourself and your abilities.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 2:27 PM

Untreated mental illness in parents can have a devastating effect on children. Has anyone seen "Out of the Shadow" on PBS? It is a documentary about a woman with schizophrenia, and the effects of her illness on her family, especially her two daughters whom she abused terribly as children. The story is heartbreakingly sad, and I wonder at the strength and courage of the two daughters who suffered terriby as children.

So another piece of advice to those considering children. Make sure your mental health is good.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 2:27 PM

Gasp?! Return a child with CF?! CF treatments have come along way. My best friend's little sister has CF. She is now in her mid-30s! When I was a little girl, they didn't think she would see 16. During the genetic testing phase of my pregnancy, I didn't even think CF was worth testing for. Yes, it is serious but medical science has come along way. CF patients can lead a fulfilling and happy life with some help and support. My god, I feel like I should adopt the baby if they don't want it. I hope they have changed their minds and got better medical information!

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 2:27 PM

Tricia - thank you for your post. I think it underlines alot of things I know I wish I'd thought about.

There are many things I wish I'd thought of, but in hindsight, I wasn't ready to think of them. I didn't think through my decision to have a child. I'm not sure what was running through my head, but I figured I could handle it without a problem.
My mom was in the military with five kids and I figured "Heck, if she can do it, I can" - I didn't figure in the military she was in during the 70's and 80's was much different than the military of the 90's and now and that it has different obligations. She didn't have the high rate of deployments that I and my SO had/have to deal with.

I wish I'd better prepared myself to deal with childhood issues so I could be a better parent and that I'd taken parenting courses - I also assumed I'd just know what to do when it came to discipline and how to deal with stress.

I have to second what other parents have said in that you never know what you're going to get when you have a kid. My daughter is incredibly emotional high maintenance (I had decided not to have any more either because of how demanding she is and how drained I constantly felt), whereas my son (who was a suprise) is mellow.

Saying that kids only have discipline issues if they don't have enough attention is not fair. With some, no matter how much you give them, its never enough. Each kid is different and there are very few absolutes with discipline and care solutions.

I wish I'd understood that people change. Sometimes relationships blossom, sometimes they change. I wish I'd been better prepared to nurture my relationship with my SO and not get so wrapped up in trying to please a child that is essentially impossible to please. I love my daughter, but its like Tricia said "it really is possible to love someone while really disliking them, isn't it?" She has my affection and my support, but I don't take her tantrums so personal anymore.

Hey, but hindsight is 20/20, lol.

Posted by: LGB | September 19, 2006 2:30 PM

Does it count if at times my wife and I look at each other and say "we must be crazy to think of doing this!"? :)

Posted by: John | September 19, 2006 2:31 PM

To Rockville:

Two of my children had a schizophrenic mother and a retarded father. Her family did all they could to support them but when one grandmother died, social services had to step in. We maintain contact with the birth family although as the children have grown older they have chosen to visit less often. We visited regularly until they were old enough to leave home. Now it is their choice.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 2:33 PM

When my husband and I had the conversation about whether we were ready or not to have children, there were two things that we agreed on that were important.

1) Did we want our lives to change (completely and irrevocably, and in ways we could not foresee or control), and were we ready for that change?

2) Were we willing to give up our center-stage position in our lives, and make decisions that would be based on someone else's needs or even desires?

Yes, it's true, parenting involves a lot of work. What is difficult to imagine before you become one, however, is the intensity of it at all levels. And that makes some days or moments more difficult, but it also makes others just as beautiful and satisfying.

Do I miss my 'old life'? Yes, sometimes. Would I go back to it? Not for anything in the world, because it would mean giving up all the new and truly fabulous things that come with parenthood, including all the ways in which it will make you grow as well.

I'll take the extra work and effort anytime, and leave reading the Sunday paper to someone else for now.

Posted by: Camille | September 19, 2006 2:35 PM

To newbie - thanks for the input.

We don't think owning a house is a prerequisite for having a baby but we'd sure like to get the house first, then the baby instead of the other way round!

I guess we're falling for the illusion that house owning = financial security which in this area, you're quite right, is not the case!

We're still smarting from having our apartment sold out from under us as condos though and I'd hate that to happen again with an extra tenant!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 2:35 PM

John, I am asking myself the same question, so are a lot of people. I've already done it once, so I can understand your anxiety!

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 2:36 PM

John,
I would be more worried if you did not have doubts at all. Having children is a huge step, and doubting whether your are up to it only shows that you are being thoughtful about it. FWIW, once you have the baby, the doubts dissolve. Despite the work and exhaustion, you will fall in love in a way you never thought possible. It might not happen right away, but by the time the child is a toddler, you will wonder that you ever doubted yourself and the love you are capable of feeling for this child.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 2:37 PM

In some ways it doesn't surprise me that there are people who simply can't handle special needs children. Some of my adult friends shied away from my sister, who was only mildly mentally challenged. In the early 1960s, when my sister was found to be disabled, my mom was told that we might want to put her in a home. It never occured to my parents to do this. My parents did the best they could and gave my sister many opportunities to lead a full life.

When I was in high school, I learned that our family pediatrician, whose kids were in school with me, had an oldest daughter who had always lived in a special home for disabled children in another community because she had Down's syndrome. This was a doctor's family!

At that time, disabled children were shunted aside and had very little "rights" as far as education and very few organizations to help parents. That was only 40 or so years ago folks! Thank heavens we've come so far.

Posted by: JKB | September 19, 2006 2:38 PM

We will rent forever if our alternative is moving to the suburbs. I don't want to spend my weekends doing yard work (or nagging my husband to do it...teehee) and have to spend 2 hours commuting a day. I made my husband promise me when we married that I would never have to say, "honey we need to buy mulch this weekend."

(To those of you who want to live out there, I am not slamming you. It isn't for me.)

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 2:39 PM

I understand you point of view, but sometimes, you have to stand up and say enough is enough. That is what happened here today. People are tired of people who only post negative, mean things about people for no good reason. I'm not saying scarry doesn't always deserve her responses, but today she has done absolutely nothing to warrant any kind of attack from anyone.

And how juvenile is it to pick on someone because they are proud of their heritage. Pretty petty in my opinion, but like I said before, I think that this was more about people being bullies than it was about defending scary. People are tired of people getting picked on for no good reason on this blog, I know I am. I even like scarry, but this speaks to a different issue of liking or not liking someone. So now I will follow you suit and not talk about it anymore.

Posted by: to to scarry | September 19, 2006 2:40 PM

It's your kids that will make you crazy. I wasn't such a whack job until my 3rd kid, known to our family as "annoying son" turned 2.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 19, 2006 2:43 PM

Newbie, be careful of what you think will never change! My friends were dedicated city dwellers, but once they had their baby, they said, "Suddenly, it becomes all about HER and what we can do best for her." They realized that they wanted her in a safer, quieter, community atmosphere. It struck me as one of those reasons I'm fine not having children, but for them, they are actually happy to do what they think is best for their child, even if it means mulching a yard rather than attending a street festival.

Posted by: J. | September 19, 2006 2:44 PM

P.S. But I am with you, Newbie. It's either the totally rural and isolated area I came from, or the CITY. None of this halfway stuff for me. ;-)

Posted by: J. | September 19, 2006 2:45 PM

JKB, if you really want to know, my wife got herself pregnant by not wearing underwear to bed at night. It's the women who control who procreates and who doesn't. Ask any one of them and they will tell you the same.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 19, 2006 2:46 PM

Tricia said "it really is possible to love someone while really disliking them, isn't it?"

----
Tricia, thank you for the reminder that most truths carry contradiction.

We can choose to love, even when we don't feel like it: recalcitrant teens are screaming "Love me!"

(John -- feel crazy in a good sort of way!)

Tricia, hearing your story does me a world of good. One more mother loving the family she has, not some false dream family.

Everyday heroine. Your children hit the brass ring with you. I think they will do their best to care for each other.

May they meet with patience and understanding.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 19, 2006 2:49 PM

Father of 4, you are a riot.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 2:50 PM

I grew up in the suburbs and don't feel it is any safer than the city. I sometimes think as the traffic gets worse, DC will become like Paris. The poor live in the suburbs and the rich in the city. But I guess we shall see if I embrace the suburbs when baby arrives, huh?

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 2:52 PM

Planning to have children is never going to be a completely rational decision. It's not in the same category as whether or not to buy a car. So the pros and cons approach just doesn't work too well. A lot of it will have to do with feelings (will you love a child and take joy in a child) with a dose of the practicality of child logistics (can you support a child financially, how will you take care of the child's day-to-day needs). And then once you've entered the chaos of life with one kid, somehow you find yourself with another, and perhaps even another (#3 due REALLY soon).

And much as they drive you crazy sometimes, they do have their redeeming qualities, they're cute and they have such a way of looking at things. My daughter, after a couple of weeks of pre-k, still doesn't know the names of some of her friends. She'll refer to them as "the one that wears hair things all the time and the one that wears hair things some of the time."

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 19, 2006 2:52 PM

Fo4 has it right. I wanted to start our family a year ago; my wife wanted to wait a year. Guess which path we took? It makes sense though; women are the ones that put up with all the changes and discomfort during pregnancy; if men were the ones carrying the baby perhaps we wouldn't be so eager to go through with it either!

Posted by: John | September 19, 2006 2:52 PM

I'm in the same boat as the author. Thank you everyone for all your really helpful comments about flexibility and taking it as it comes. Although I'm not sure how my experience will translate to having kids because we haven't had any yet, I really think that having a houseful of pets (2 cats, 2 dogs) is giving us a taste of what's to come in terms of the chaos and responsibility. Also, I'm smiling as you all talk about how each kid will have a different personality and how you can't plan for it -- I'm thinking of my fiesty cat, my shy cat, my troublemaking dog, and my cuddly dog!!

Posted by: same boat | September 19, 2006 2:52 PM

Planning to have children is never going to be a completely rational decision. It's not in the same category as whether or not to buy a car. So the pros and cons approach just doesn't work too well. A lot of it will have to do with feelings (will you love a child and take joy in a child) with a dose of the practicality of child logistics (can you support a child financially, how will you take care of the child's day-to-day needs). And then once you've entered the chaos of life with one kid, somehow you find yourself with another, and perhaps even another (#3 due REALLY soon).

And much as they drive you crazy sometimes, they do have their redeeming qualities, they're cute and they have such a way of looking at things. My daughter, after a couple of weeks of pre-k, still doesn't know the names of some of her friends. She'll refer to them as "the one that wears hair things all the time and the one that wears hair things some of the time."

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 19, 2006 2:53 PM

Just a contrarian view on "trying" (and you have to love the euphamism for "hey, my wife and I are having sex"). My wife and I have been "trying" for more than 4 years and infertility issues seem to be a problem. This pressure, and feeling of "failure" has put a severe strain on our marriage and led me to realize that maybe having children isn't the end all/be all (society's view aside) that I once thought it was. I guess that's to say that while being ambivalent about children may be a sign that you are not ready, realizing kids aren't in the cards is ok too.

Posted by: Another PoV | September 19, 2006 2:54 PM

Just a contrarian view on "trying" (and you have to love the euphamism for "hey, my wife and I are having sex"). My wife and I have been "trying" for more than 4 years and infertility issues seem to be a problem. This pressure, and feeling of "failure" has put a severe strain on our marriage and led me to realize that maybe having children isn't the end all/be all (society's view aside) that I once thought it was. I guess that's to say that while being ambivalent about children may be a sign that you are not ready, realizing kids aren't in the cards is ok too.

Posted by: Another PoV | September 19, 2006 2:54 PM

>>> It's the women who control who procreates and who doesn't. <<<

Unless the boys can't swim, if you get what I mean!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 2:55 PM

To scary and the rest: Please ignore Bridget. Her comments were rude and uncalled for. I like Scary too but I would be saying this to anyone else who was attacked for no good reason. Had to laugh at her original post. My daughters name is Kaitlin. But it is the greek spelling and not the Irish spelling (Caitlin).

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 2:55 PM

Just wanted to offer another point of view. My wife and I have been "Trying" for more than 4 years with no luck. The strain on our marriage has been considerable and to the point where I am becoming ok with the fact that I may not be a father. EM, it is ok to be ambivalent, it is even ok to realize that for whatever reasons, parenting isn't in the cards.

Posted by: Another PoV | September 19, 2006 2:56 PM

Regarding pets being training for kids.

In the words of wisdom of one of our friends before we had kids, "Cats are easier than babies but babies are easier than dogs." I've noticed that babies do have very cat-like qualities, especially in terms of perversity.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 19, 2006 2:58 PM

Bridget,

This blog group is learning manners and how to joke in a text-only environment. You can keep your name, or make a new one. Lots of privacy possible in blog-land.

As for irritations, best if we not type them. Does not "read" well in the blogosphere. (I just WROTE THAT WORD. 'Blog' was word of 2005 for Merriam-Webster!) Watch us be so digerati.

Anywho:
Maybe you had your eyebrow raised, to soften the "enough already!" Perhaps this is a tempest in a teapot (Irish Breakfast variety)?

I'm sure that I am not the only one who noted that your name might be (gasp) Irish, but I guess it could be French.

Either way. Open invitation.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 19, 2006 2:58 PM

I do see that trying to get pregnant can be stressful to a marriage, especially if the goal is the pregnancy and not the intimacy it brings to a relationship. Having sex in order to get pregnant feels like a failure if the result is not pregnancy. Having sex because you love your partner never feels like a failure. I have been reminding myself of this for a few months now, since my husband explained that he does not want to be treated like a piece of meat.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 3:00 PM

To LGB:
Thank you for your post. I should have added some additional information in my original post.

By the time I applied for adoption, I had decided that if I was not in a long term relationship when the child was placed, I would not even date until the children were stable or (at least 16). (I was so young then lol). To be honest, I don't know now how I could have maintained a relationship, taken care of my children and held on to my job. Somedays, my goal was to make it to bed for the night without a hospitalization, visit from the police, emergency social worker or call from a creditor. In some ways, being a single parent is much better for adoptive children who have been badly abused. To survive, they have learned to triangulate. A single parent is the decision maker - the child has to deal with that parent only. If you are not in a rock solid relationship, you may lose either your relationship or your child.

I should also state that I understand that few people are as determined as I was, at an early age, to adopt. That in my family, there is a strong history of adult depression and that the extended family always absorbed and protected any vulnerable children while helping the person who was sick. We, as a family, were fortunate in that our adults did get well. I could look around at an early age and understand that many children did not have this protection. I understood at an early age that emotional problems can be dealt with and, if they are not, may carry down to the next generation.

I should also say, that at the young age of 33 when I started adopting, I kind of toyed around with the idea of having a baby a year or two after adopting my first child. And it took just a few months to realize how truly stupid that would be for ME to do - have a child that would have to go into virtually full time daycare and deal with a special needs sibling. But I thought it was essential that my child have siblings because parents die. So I adopted the 3 others. I have no regrets but we, as a family, have spent our time in hell.

I also understand that many would not choose or want this. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, the trick is learning to deal with them and doing what you can do.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 3:00 PM

Newname,

I love, love, love the name Caitlyn. There were just to many in my family. :)
My daughter's name means vision or dream in Irish. My husbad and I fought over names like crazy before she was born. Yet another thing to consider when you are about to be parents!

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 3:00 PM

Sorry ..didn't mean to "multi post" my computer has been acting funny ...

Posted by: Another PoV | September 19, 2006 3:01 PM

This pressure, and feeling of "failure" has put a severe strain on our marriage and led me to realize that maybe having children isn't the end all/be all (society's view aside) that I once thought it was.

TO Another PoV: I HATE the way society puts pressure on couple for children. Neither one of you are a failure. My friends tried to conceive for 8 years before it finally happened. I also had friends who never did but adopted two children. Yes, you are correct that children aren't the end all/be all either. I am very sorry it has hurt your marriage. I hope things work out. There are plenty of truly wonderful things about not having children, too. Life is full of adventure..with or without children.

Posted by: newbie | September 19, 2006 3:03 PM

Scarry, I would type your daughter's name out, but you may want privacy (how many of us might know the bloggers IRL -- in real life.)

Does it start with 'A" but is not pronounced how it is spelled?

Lovely name.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 19, 2006 3:04 PM

On the having two issue. Our new baby is now 3.5 months old. She's great! She sleeps all night! She doesn't cry! She's beautiful! How did that happen! Was THAT ever worth it. Number 1 son is 4 and, while a very loving big brother, is having his behavior issues as he adjusts to the change. My surprise is finding that while I can be pretty impatient with the boy, my husband-- traditionally regarded as the shorter tempered member of the family-- is shining through in his approach to our son. The two of them are deepening their bond with lots of one on one time while I'm nursing, and his patience and wise response to our son's behavior is helping everyone. This is the kind of thing that one can't exactly plan.

We also had five great years together before my son arrived, blatting around NYC and Europe as often as possible. The first kid is a great traveller so hasn't slowed us down TOO much, but I'm fearing that the price for the little lady's peaceful nights is a deeper addiction to schedule so she might not be as easy (or we might be less willing to sacrifice those sleepful nights). I'm glad we left 4 years between them as our son's reactions to everything are much more verbal and discursive, he is a fully fledged little person who can talk and think and reason his way through the situation. With a lot of help. And I'm having the opportunity to really enjoy both of them as babies-- him because of the lack of competition, her because he is already a fairly independent kid.


Posted by: luckymum | September 19, 2006 3:05 PM

Aisling. It is fairly easy to look up.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:06 PM

Way up above, Downtown wrote, "...my marriage, and many of my friends feel the same way, has become like more of a business relationship rather than a romantic one."

I think what Downtown wrote is important. I've seen marriages disentegrate due to being more "kid-centric" than "marriage-centric" or even "family-centric". Usually after the first child things were ok, but the second or third brought the marriage to the brink. It's best to KNOW that you are NEVER going to be the same couple that you were before you had children. Your feelings on many things will change and your relationship to each other will change. So, be prepared and ready to wave it goodbye and embrace the new relationship, while also pledging to make time for yourselves as a couple, and to give each time to remember what it's like to be an individual.

Mothers, allow your husband to develop a strong caregiving relationship with his kids, even if you don't think he does everything the "right" way. If you constantly correct and hover, he'll soon head for the golf course or stay longer and longer at work.

Posted by: Been there | September 19, 2006 3:07 PM

tricia,

You should write a book about your experince or compile a book with help from other parents with special needs children. I think it would be a great help to other parents, and your story is thoughtful and full of love. It makes me think of why I wanted children in the first place.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 3:08 PM

"Unless the boys can't swim, if you get what I mean!"

No I don't, please explain further....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:08 PM

Would it be Aisling???

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:10 PM

My husband and I lament that we did not get enough time to "try" to get pregnant. It happened the first month with the first child and second month with the second child. But to this day we still try to get lots of practice in...practice makes perfect.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:10 PM

Yes, I think I guessed Scary's daughter's name too. It is a beautiful name. I wouldn't worry because who uses their real names on this blog anyway. Not mention there are a number of girl's with her daughter's name. I think it is becoming very popular. OT: I love some of the Gaelic names that are becoming more popular here in the states. I have a friend from Ireland and I love looking at the names of her nephews and neices. She said in Ireland, people are abandoning traditional Irish/English names for Gaelic names.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 3:10 PM

To Pittypat:

I have a pretty similar story to Meesh. I am now 28 and newly married, but I started sitting on the fence when it came to kids when I was 20 or so and single. I realized I enjoyed spending time with kids, but on a very limited basis.

In regards to discussing it with my (now) husband, we just weighed the pros and cons for our personal situation. The decision not to have kids is heavily influenced by a whole array of issues from environmental, financial, genetic, (not wanting to pass bad genes), etc.

Mainly though, we just agreed that we didn't want to have that lifestyle. It's a very personal choice, so what works for us won't work for everyone, and vice versa. On a more personal note, I find a lot of people rationalize having children for pretty horrible reasons.

There's nothing wrong with being a family of two, and really focusing on each other. So he got a vasectomy when we were engaged, and it's been the best thing we ever decided to do together (aside from getting married!)

Posted by: literarygirl | September 19, 2006 3:13 PM

Dear Ms. Wallace,

You ask great questions! It sounds like you are really thinking through some challenging issues. An important thought for you to consider is that children are PEOPLE not puppies. They don't just get parked in school and then you get your life back. They need know that they are on your radar screen.

Posted by: Heather | September 19, 2006 3:13 PM

When you decide to have a kid discuss how YOU want to raise the kid. Agree to back each other up if your parents start running the show, but listen to their advice with an open mind. Read parenting books and columns, then put them aside and trust your own instincts. Your life doesn't end with kids, it gets enriched. You can continue to do just about everything you love, you just have to plan well.
The most important things: don't lose each other to the kid, go out on a date as soon as you can (the kid will survive a sitter for an afternoon or evening). And prepare to fall harder in love than you've ever been before in your life and to do that at least every day.

Posted by: Military Momma | September 19, 2006 3:15 PM

"I'm glad we left 4 years between them as our son's reactions to everything are much more verbal and discursive, he is a fully fledged little person who can talk and think and reason his way through the situation."

Thank you for saying that! I am so tired of everyone thinking the "ideal" is to have children two years apart. So many people shoot for this and argue with me that it's best because "the kids will be closer if they're close in age". Geez, any scientific proof of that? Not necessarily, according to what I've seen and heard. Often one real reason is because the mom wants to "get the pregnancies over with". A 4 or 5 year old can be so much more independent and take part in caring for his/her younger sibling, while also continuing to move toward independence and a maturing relationship with both parents.

Like Muriel Spark, who had her three kids over a 21-year span, I actually think 7 years apart is ideal. ;-)

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 3:15 PM

Newbie, I am with you on the house issue - it is not a prerequisite, nor is homeownership necessarily linked to stability, financial or otherwise. Many couples buy more house than they can really afford, and then do not have the flexibility to change jobs or cut back on hours once they have a child, which can lead to a lot of stress and resentment. Also, the responsibilities of homeownership can become stressors as well - I've seen studies (and no, I don't have citations, I'm sorry people!) that couples that own their homes have less sex and more tension in their marriages (and I know correlation does not equal causation, but it gives a person pause).

We just bought our first home (our son was a little over a year when we did) and we are enjoying it a lot, but if we had stayed in the urban area where we were when he was born, we probably would not have for a long time.

Posted by: Megan | September 19, 2006 3:15 PM

How do you know you won't change your mind?

Why make it a permanent thing??

Posted by: to literary girl | September 19, 2006 3:16 PM

To Tricia -- I loved your post and understand what you mean about loving your children while disliking them. I have an almost-grown stepdaughter and have tremendous difficulty right now feeling much for her other than resentment due to problems of biblical proportions with her in the past few years. My husband and I are continuing to do what we can and what's best for her because even though we don't appreciate her choices -- or the person she seems to be becoming -- but we love her and want her to be happy and have some measure of independence. Your post was so inspiring today, reminding me that there is a reason to keep giving when you feel there's not much left to give.

Posted by: Nameless for Today | September 19, 2006 3:17 PM

That's something like her name, not exactly.

Newname, scarry is my name, not the same name that my daughter uses. Yeah, I know someone else already told me that I was stupid for using my own name on a blog, but I like it and wasn't thinking. I'll tell you after being on this blog though, I haven't used it again on another :)

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 3:18 PM

Literary girl, sometimes you just know.

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 3:18 PM

To literary girl: I would have to say 28 is a little young to decide to never have children. I did not have any desire to have children till I was around 32. I was pregnant at 33. I would definitely not advise closing the door that soon. Unless you have some kind of abusive back round or absolutely hate the idea of parenting, 28 seems really young to have shut the door permanently. If you were like 35-40, I can see that. Because at that point the doors of your fertility are starting to close anyway. But 28 seems young. I wish you the best of luck. I am sure you made the right decision for yourself. It is just surprising for such a young person.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 3:21 PM

I'd rather own more house than I could afford and be able to sell it and take some profit than be at the mercy of a landlord while also trying to stretch my finances. But it really depends on your individual situation. Not everyone buys more house than they can afford, and sometimes parents want a house to give their children a lasting home and an inheritance down the road.

Posted by: Tom | September 19, 2006 3:22 PM

I didn't know that Scarry was a real persons name. Wow, the things you learn.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 3:24 PM

uh oh...late in the day, so the judgmental comments come out!

Why can't we just support the decision that literary girl and her husband ALREADY MADE, which was the decision that was right FOR THEM, rather than question it?

Good for you for making the decision, doing something about it and saving all that money on birth control! I agree with someone up above, sometimes when you know, you know!

Posted by: Arl Lawyer | September 19, 2006 3:26 PM

For the sake of non-argument, what if we just assume that Bridget wasn't just writing about today's blog--perhaps she was reacting to the quick offense Scarry took during the the pub discussion, or the Kennedy last name argument of a few days ago. It comes up a few times a week. I'm not Irish (and not Bridget), but it still adds up.

I'm with the person above who used the word "childishness," which includes Meesh's snide remark and Scarry's quoting of it, rubbing it in. It wasn't that funny.

Posted by: AOT | September 19, 2006 3:26 PM

To the anoymous poster who inquired about the possibility of changing our minds:

Mainly because I haven't wavered in the 8+ years I even considered not having kids. In fact, the choice only gets stronger as I get older, and with less energy and patience.

If (and we're talking a monumental one here) the desire to become a parent should ever come my way, we'd adopt. Goodness knows there are enough children already here that need loving homes. But the bad genes and risk for various diseases on both sides are enough to keep the biological need for a child at bay.

Sometimes, you just know...

Posted by: literarygirl | September 19, 2006 3:33 PM

Oops, I meant TO Literary Girl in my post above. I was trying to support the birth control decision because I also "just knew" and never have changed my mind or had second thoughts.

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 3:35 PM

Literary girl, just make sure you have him checked every once in a while to make sure the vasectomy is still in effect. My daughter's best friend just had a new baby sister despite a vasectomy and *two* checks to make sure he was "in the clear." It's unlikely, but it can happen.

Posted by: Ms L | September 19, 2006 3:35 PM

The name Scarry makes me think of Richard Scarry, the famous children's author. I had somehow thought you picked that name to be a clever reference to him, this being a blog about parents and their kids.

Posted by: Ms L | September 19, 2006 3:38 PM

AOT,

I didn't say anything about the pub discussion and since we were talking about politics and someone else brought up sexism I noted something that I thought was sexist. I didn't even use Kathleen Kennedy's when discussing it until someone else brought it up.

So to say that I got overly defensive on something I didn't even say (pub discussion)? And the discussion on something I thought was sexist is a little bit of reaching.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 3:38 PM

>>>For example, suppose Mr. and Mrs. A move into a refugee camp to flee place B and troops there. Maybe Mr. A and Mrs. A will think "do we want to bring a child here?" before deciding whether or not to conceive in the camp. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. A will think "those troops drove all our children out of B!" after conceiving in the camp and having a bunch of children who were never in B in their lives. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. A will reach some third conclusion instead. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. A won't reach the same conclusion as Mr. and Mrs. C in the tent next door.>>>

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:39 PM

Mel: agreed. I have unpleasant pregnancies and didn't want that intruding into my full-on love affair with my first child, at the tender age of 1! This pregnancy, he was old enough to cut me some slack-- in fact he showed a tremendous amount of solicitousness and empathy for how I was feeling. He really wanted the baby too and doesn't see her exactly as a rival, more as someone just too cute for words, perhaps a little too cute sometimes-- he thinks babyhood looks pretty nice and he wouldn't mind losing a few years.

Posted by: luckymum | September 19, 2006 3:41 PM

Anybody out there who personally does not want to adopt. I know it is not politically correct to admit it, but my husband and I want a child that is biologically our own. When I look at my niece, I see my grandmother's eyes and when I look at my nephew, I see my dad's personality. There is something about that biological bond that is very compelling to us. We might consider adopting if biological children were not possible, but it would definitely be a second choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:43 PM

I have "bad genes" too, but still risk it.

It is a difficult concept for me to separate being married and having children, so I just don't see it.

Great that you're happy I guess.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:45 PM

Literarygirl, you may be right. But I know I personally changed a lot between my late 20s and my mid 30s. A lot. Some things I was so sure about all my life didn't fit me anymore at 35.

Just food for thought.

Posted by: Momma | September 19, 2006 3:47 PM

Don't you know that

Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Posted by: for shame, literary girl | September 19, 2006 3:47 PM

To Ms L:

Yes, I have heard that happen as well. I've only heard it happen because people believe the procedure takes immediately, which it doesn't...and, my hubby's doctor was quite adamant about using other protection until he got the all clear.

I don't know if all urologists do this, but hubby's offers free checks for life. He just had one done before the honeymoon, and the result was the lovely number "0".

Posted by: literarygirl | September 19, 2006 3:49 PM

Regarding wanting biologically related offspring. My husband is adopted, yet I can see the family resemblence with his adopted family. He has his Mother's way of holding his head, and her smile. His manner of walking and talking comes from his adopted father. And he shares many of the mannerisms (hand gestures, stances) of his sister who is biologicall related to his adopted parents. Anyone who sees the familly together has no doubt that all three children are from the same family. Not all traits are inherited biologically. We seem to be forgetting the role of nurture. My children have inherited some of these same traits from their father. I think it is a beautiful testament to the impact that a loving family has on a growing person biologically related or adopted.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 19, 2006 3:50 PM

E.M. Wallace -- don't think too long b/c those fertility clinics advertisements on the radio would be a lot more relevant.

Posted by: a sympathetic reader | September 19, 2006 3:52 PM

I'm also a childfree and happily married woman. I changed A LOT from my 20s to my 30s to my 40s. What never changed was not wanting to conceive a child. Maybe adoption, maybe not. A bio child? No.

My husband said he'd rather have me, our lifestyle, and our many neices and nephews than a baby. We agreed on that early on and have been fine with it, married 11 years.

Posted by: Teresa G. | September 19, 2006 3:52 PM

To: for shame, literary girl
I guess we know where you stand on the whole birth-control issue.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:53 PM

[Goodness knows there are enough children
already here that need loving homes.]

Litterary Girl, if you think you can just go out and pick up a child like a used car, you have another think coming if you ever decide to try. I'm not trying to be mean here, just real.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 19, 2006 3:53 PM

I think it is funny that no matter what someone says to scarry, it is somehow her fault. The pub argument? I read this blog everyday and didn't see that one.

The Kennedy argument, what she is not allowed to like them? She even said she had Kennedy vision and couldn't see their faults. So what's your problem? Bridget was nasty, Meesh was funny, and yes, scarry was scarry, as usual. I mean herself as usual.

Posted by: to AOT | September 19, 2006 3:54 PM

I have an inherited medical problem (manageable), and my extended family is rife with cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

I'm glad I was born before prenatal genetic testing came into vogue, otherwise I might not even be here!

Posted by: Bad Genes, Happy Girl | September 19, 2006 3:54 PM

The pregnancy happened 1.5 years after the vasectomy. He had had his last check at the 1 year mark, and it was 0. I don't know what happened after that! They must be very fertile folk.

That's good that you're still getting him checked out, and nice that his urologist still gives free checks.

Posted by: Ms L | September 19, 2006 3:54 PM

How do you pronounce Aisling?

Posted by: jaime | September 19, 2006 3:55 PM

There are ways to conceive even if you have had a vasectomy. The medical community is working on "temporary" vasectomies.

I have an honest question here. WHY do all new mothers say they can't even find time to take a shower? I don't get it. I can take a shower and get clean *enough* in 5 minutes. Even if your baby is crying 24/7, can't you just put the carrier in the bathroom, jump in the shower, sing your lungs out to try to comfort the baby, and at least feel clean afterward? I am not being snarky, I simply have never understood that one.

Posted by: Vasectomies and showers | September 19, 2006 3:55 PM

Ashling

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:55 PM

"How do you know you won't change your mind" about having a baby?

Why go ahead and have a kid and "make it a permanent thing?"


Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:56 PM

To Father of 4:

I don't believe I was suggesting adoption as an easy alternative. I know, because my mother and uncle were both adopted.

I was just simply stating that *if* we as a couple decided to become parents, that's what we would attempt to do. However, even that is highly unlikely.

Again, a personal choice, not right for everyone else. But that is my stance.

Posted by: literarygirl | September 19, 2006 3:56 PM

Good one, Anon!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:56 PM

But that still isn't Scarry's daughter's name? I'm getting confused.

Posted by: jaime | September 19, 2006 3:56 PM

it's hard to tell over blog land, but kind of like a sling or ash ling. It depends on how you say it. I've heard it both ways.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 3:57 PM

Actually, I think it's Ashleen.

Posted by: Thought | September 19, 2006 3:57 PM

I thought it was more like:

Ash-lynn

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:57 PM

To vasectomies and showers -
I don't know the answer to your question. Yes, it is easy and fairly quick to shower, but there is something about having a newborn that renders some women (including me) incapable of showering quickly. There is no rational response to this. Just take our word for it because we know.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 3:59 PM

I think they mean that they can't take a shower first thing in the morning. When I was a new mom with my first child, I managed to do it around 3 pm. It's just shocking at the beginning how little time you have. It's just non-stop. Nowdays, with two children under 5, on the weekends I manage to get into shower around 9 am only b/c my husband is around.

Posted by: to vasectomies and showers | September 19, 2006 4:00 PM

The Monty Python reference was lost on you - it was a joke.

Fo4 - did not know that you could be so snarky!!

Posted by: To to shame on you literarygirl | September 19, 2006 4:01 PM

Who cares what it is? This is not meant as an attack on Scarry or the name but geez louise, what difference does it make? Although I do like the name and its variations.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:02 PM

I have a friend who pronounces it Ash Lyn =aisling. I think both pronounciations are correct or at least what parents are saying is correct. I think it is like saying Dana sounds like Dane nah or Da Nah. Am I right?

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 4:02 PM

To Anonymous who doesn't want to adopt:
Politically correct or not, if you don't feel you can do it, don't. You and your husband have to know what is right for you. I wish more people were open to adoption but it would be insane to pressure unwilling people to adopt. You do what you can do.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 4:03 PM

Capitol Hill Mom - ITA on sex after kids being better than before. I feel more in touch with my body now.

E.M. -- I don't know that you can prepare yourself fully. I read everything I could get my hands on before my son was born and I still felt a bit lost. We ended up co-sleeping and found it a great way to connect our busy working family. There are ways to work out the Mommy/Daddy time (i.e., move baby to his crib for an hour and then bring him back), but ultimately the connection with our son has been really enhanced by having that time together, especially first thing in the morning. Discipline is an area I wish we'd discussed more before we had kids. It's hard to discuss it in the abstract, but we're finding out now we have very different ideas about what behaviors are acceptable and how to deal with them. That's very frustrating. Good luck!!

Posted by: BriansMom | September 19, 2006 4:04 PM

"How do you know you won't change your mind?
Why make it a permanent thing??"

Wow. Isn't having a kid a pretty permanent thing? If people can make a permanent decision to have kids (once you have them, you have them, right?), why can't someone make a permanent decision NOT to?

Posted by: lynn | September 19, 2006 4:04 PM

There are temporary ways to put of having children. I wondered why take such drastic, uncommon measures to permanently end it.

It is more common to have children, so I should be able to inquire why she decided so young not to.

Not judgemental. That freaking word gets thrown around everytime someone disagrees, and expresses a different opinion.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:05 PM

Vasectomies and showers:
My first born was really fussy. I admit that I used to buckle him in his car seat and place it on the floor of the bathroom while I showered. I would recite nursery rhymes and treat him to 50's and 60's rock melodies while I showered. Though it was always nice when DH volunteered to take a feeding so I could soak in the tub on occassion.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 19, 2006 4:06 PM

A vasectomy is not a "drastic, uncommon" measure. Many men now have vasectomies and many women have tubals, although it's usually after having the number of kids they want.

The reason that your questions are jarring is because every childfree person has to hear the same remarks -- and the same tone of disapproval -- over and over and over. Why not just let someone make their choice rather than harrange them about it?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:08 PM

I think Aisling, Aislin, and Aislinn are all the same name with different spellings. Lots of names have different spellings. My guess is Scarry's daughter's name is the same as Aisling but spelled different. People are really into pop spellings of names now. My daughter's name, Kaitlin, has many different possible spellings.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 4:09 PM

If you do NOT want to conceive a child, why use a "temporary" (and often fallible) way to "put off" having children that you don't want?

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 4:10 PM

It comes off as a bit judgmental when someone says that they made decision X and the very next posting is questioning why?, not in curious tone, but in a "why so permanent you might change your mind, you probably made a mistake because you are only 28 and cannot possibly know that you do or do not want to make decision X now."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:11 PM

I think it is drastic and uncommon at 28 years old, and I will stick with that thought.

If you are ok with your choice, then what I or anyone else thinks, shouldn't bother you.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:12 PM

I think that the reason the statement about an inability to take a shower is so common is because of how easy it should be to take a shower yet for some reason it often does not happen until late in the day, if at all.

As has been previously noted, a newborn is often exhausting. I know it sounds odd, but it is actually physically hard to let your newborn cry, even if you can see the baby in a bouncy right outside the shower door. I had a very physical reaction to my daughter's cries, and could not have spent 5 minutes in the shower if she was screaming the whole time (I waited for naps and then showered with the monitor in the bathroom with me). I have heard or read that the pitch of a baby's cry is at the exact tone that can drive a person insane and the parent of a newborn often lacks perspective as a result of both exhaustion and hormones and the shock of ones world having been turned upside down. So, one of the consequences of having a child is that things that you used to take for granted are now very hard to do, and the difficulty of showering is an overused example of that phenomenon.

Posted by: AU Park Mom | September 19, 2006 4:12 PM

I think it's a lot less drastic and uncommon than you think. I'm in touch with a large group of women who are childfree by choice and have had to push hard to get tubal ligations because a doctor kept saying "But maybe you'll change your mind" the subtext being "you don't know what you want". Ok, I can see why doctors would thinking that way *perhaps* for anyone under 30, but over 30, why should it not be an elective procedure like any other, not something that a doctor tries to talk you out of? It is much easier for a childfree man to ask for and get a vasectomy than a woman to get a tubal. Tubals can be reversed, you know. There are women every day who have scarred and damaged fallopian tubes that can be opened and they are able to conceive naturally.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:17 PM

To Anon poster:

Yes, there are temporary ways, but that's assuming you only want a temporary solution...

And those temporary solutions (when we used them)proved to be more difficult for us than they needed to be. So, the vasectomy was the better option for us.

It's ok, I get questions a lot like this, especially in regards to my age. But, the only way I can explain it is that it's just such a strong feeling and personal belief.

As much as I knew my husband was "the one", I know that being a parent isn't for me, isn't for us.

Posted by: literarygirl | September 19, 2006 4:19 PM

The #1 priority when starting a family IMO. Make sure your marriage is strong. Make sure you both agree on how to bring the kid(s) up in respect to church, discipline, education, and shared responsibilities. Keep in mind that issues such as horrible stressful jobs, busy schedules, illnesses, lack of sleep will most likely play havoc on your lifes.

Keep your MARRIAGE the number one priority. The best thing you can give your children is a great marriage.

Each parent needs respect from the other; and this needs to be instilled in the children. Each parent will need some space away from other spouse and children. But keep this in moderation. If you have children, the FAMILY concept should prevail. That is what our society needs. A return back to the strong concept of family. Parenting is tough. Marriage is tough. People bail when the tough gets going - usually because they become selfish. Life really isn't that difficult. We just tend to make it that way. Keep your spouse and family and priority - don't sweat the small stuff - and it will all work out.

And always keep DIVORCE as "not an option" when dealing with problems; trust me, there will be problems. Your kids and YOU deserve an intact and HAPPY FAMILY. But sometimes you have to WORK HARD to make that happen. It takes SACRIFICE. And to realize - life is not about YOU anymore.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I speak from experience.

Posted by: Cyntia | September 19, 2006 4:22 PM

I have friends who don't want children. It's perfectly fine to feel that way. I think people who don't want them shouldn't have them or feel pressured to in anyway. I know a few people who shouldn't have had kids.

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 4:23 PM

I would just caution those who don't think they come off as bragging "we didn't even try and .." to people who are (and have been) "trying" for long periods of time, comments like that are kind of insensitive ...

Posted by: Another PoV | September 19, 2006 4:23 PM

Thanks for responding more kindly than others.

I just wonder about suppressing natural functions. Treating fertility as if it is a problem to be fixed, you know?? It is not a disease and does not need to be cured. Just seems odd to me.

But it is better that you have thought out your future and made a decision one way or another-than not.

I wish you and your husband the best.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:24 PM

Please discuss your ideas of parenting and settle some things beforehand. Like, agree that you'll present a united front rather than be "good parent, bad parent". My best friend is really struggling right now with her husband. He's an older father and he doesn't want to discipline his little girl at all. He also only wants to go half way in measures designed to break bad habits and such, rather than be consistent. Turns out, my friend never talked to him before they decided to have kids, so there was no thought about "how do you think we should discipline?" etc. and now they're having fights about it. He wants to coddle her all the time, while leaving all the tough work and saying "no" to the mom. (We're beginning to understand why his two grown kids are "spoiled" and still expect Daddy to give them everything.)

Posted by: Tracy | September 19, 2006 4:27 PM

To Cynthia:
Yes, if you have a strong relationship and work as a team, your children will benefit immensely. My parents have been married now for over 55 years. They have had some extremely difficult years especially when they had 3 teens during the rebellious late 60s and 70s. But, there was no doubt ever that they loved each other and they loved us. And, when we drove them crazy as teens, they just kept going. One day at a time. You are so right.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 4:28 PM

As to the adopted vs. biological question - my stepdaughter was raised by the non-birth mother (lesbian couple). DD may look like bio-mom's family, but she acts just like my partner, the one who raised her. Same food likes (except for corn, of all things), same walk, same mannerisms, same goofy sense of humor, same nervous tics and smiles, everything. Birth mom, who was minimally involved until DD was in elementary school takes comfort that she LOOKS like her family more - but she acts more like my partner than anyone. YMMV, but nurture is as important, if not more important, in determining who your little one becomes - I live with the proof daily!

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | September 19, 2006 4:29 PM

To anon poster (I assume that last comment was directed to me):

I agree that fertility is not a disease or needs to be cured.

But given our stance and the firmness of it, a more economical, hormone-free form of birth control was the best choice. (For us.)

Posted by: literarygirl | September 19, 2006 4:30 PM

Re: showering:

(1) With small babies, you quickly learn that Rule No. 1 is "do whatever it takes to get them to stop crying." You're exhausted, sometimes it seems like they never STOP crying, and you learn to try 83 different things to see if any of them will work. So even letting them cry for 5 minutes seems counterintuitive (and usually, you're sleep-deprived and not thinking rationally, either). And a shower seems SO unimportant compared to blessed silence.

(2) Corollary to Rule No. 1: When you have just spent 3 hours trying to get a colicky baby to stop crying, ending only when they fall asleep on you, the last thing you want to do is risk moving them and restarting the cycle. Once again, personal hygiene just fades into insignificance compared to NOT MOVING A MUSCLE SO THE BABY DOESN'T WAKE UP. (My daughter would nap only on top of one of us for the first 6 months -- and after the colic, getting her into a crib just wasn't a fight we had the energy to pursue).

(3) If you're breastfeeding, crying can trigger a letdown reflext, which sort of defeats the purpose of taking a shower (or at a minimum seriously extends the shower until you get it under control).

Posted by: Laura | September 19, 2006 4:30 PM

Yes, absolutely, conception is natural and God's gift to couples. We should not in any way attempt to stop conception or mess with the natural cycles of life. There should be no use of birth control or attempt to "plan" your family. If you have 12 children, then you have 12 children. Don't mess with a natural process.

"Every sperm is sacred"...

Posted by: Come on | September 19, 2006 4:31 PM

[I would just caution those who don't think they come off as bragging "we didn't even try and .." to people who are (and have been) "trying" for long periods of time, comments like that are kind of insensitive ...]

I think that people are just saying that dispite your best planning and intentions, life happens! Sometimes it takes no time what-so-ever to get pregnant (planned or unplanned) sometimes it takes a long period of "trying" or medical intervention to get pregnant. These experiences do have an impact on a family's sense of balance, and future decision making.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 19, 2006 4:32 PM

Mommies are physically wired to their baby's cry. I did a mean thing one time to my wife one timebecause I got miffed at her for always going out to "shop" and leaving me with a crying, nursing baby. She said she was going out for a few groceries, but after 30 minutes of hearing a screaming baby, I thought that she should know what I was going through.

So I called her up on her cell phone... And let the 3 month old do the talking...

WHAAAAAAAAAAaaa! Hic! Hic! Whaaaaaaaaa! Gasp! Gasp! Whaaaaaaaaa!

She was waiting at the check-out line and I tried to keep her on the line for as long as possible. "What? I can't hear you. I've got a baby screaming in my ear!"

By the time she got home, her shirt was completely soaked. I mean dripping, and boy, was she pissed.

I got hit for that one, but it was worth it! I still think it's funny.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 19, 2006 4:32 PM

All three of the "over 35" couples I knew who decided to have children ended up getting pregnant the very first month after they stopped using birth control! They all expected it would take much longer. I think that's all the poster was saying, be prepared and don't think you'll have months to "get your house in order".

Posted by: Mel | September 19, 2006 4:34 PM

Oh man, Laura, your post described my first 3 months of motherhood perfectly. It is sooo nice to realize how much easier it all is now!!

Posted by: Megan | September 19, 2006 4:37 PM

To "come on" - There are plenty of people in the world that believe in what you are being so sarcastic about.

Posted by: GJP | September 19, 2006 4:39 PM

Father of 4:
It's not just the cry, it's also the timing. I had a woman in my office once doing paperwork and we went over the time she had planned to be there. She started leaking. I had to lend her a sweater and walk her to the car. But you are right, a crying baby demands attention.

Posted by: tricia | September 19, 2006 4:41 PM

>>I would just caution those who don't think they come off as bragging "we didn't even try and .." to people who are (and have been) "trying" for long periods of time, comments like that are kind of insensitive ...<<

I made one of those comments about getting pregnant on the first try, and I made it because there is so much media attention to infertility problems in your 30s/early 40s that you can easily assume you will have problems conceiving and then, like I was, be blindsided by pregancy much quicker than you thought.

My point was not to "brag", it was to remind people that it doesn't always take years to get pregnant, so don't have unprotected sex unless you are truly ready to be a parent 40 weeks from now. How is that insensitive?

If you read that as "bragging", that's your own bias and you're reading too much into it through the lens of your own personal situation. It was a reality check and a gentle warning, not bragging.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:41 PM

To Come On

"Every sperm is sacred . . ."

FYI, it is a song from The Meaning of Life, Monty Python, circa 1985 (I think).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:42 PM

Geez lady, it's a KID, not major appliance to purchase. Stop overanalyzing!! Having children is about solidifying family, about overcoming trials and tribulations for the greatest, most important thing in the world - FAMILY. It is *not* about talking to your life coach to make sure that every "I" is dotted and "T" is crossed on your life goals. No wonder the US birthrate is falling, sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:42 PM

This is one more vote for people not telling us who to ignore. Ignore who you want and I'll ignore who I want. Thanks.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:42 PM

Literary Girl --

Thanks for your story.

Your reasons are much like mine and my husband's.

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 4:45 PM

The "I think" referred to the year, not the source of the quote.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:46 PM

Let the heathen spill theirs
On the dusty ground.
God shall make them pay for
Each sperm that can't be found.

Hindu, Taoist, Mormon,
Spill theirs just anywhere,
But God loves those who treat their
Semen with more care.

Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is good.
Every sperm is needed...
...In your neighbourhood!

Every sperm is useful.
Every sperm is fine.
God needs everybody's.
Mine!
And mine!
And mine!

Let the Pagan spill theirs
O'er mountain, hill, and plain.
God shall strike them down for
Each sperm that's spilt in vain.


Posted by: Gotta love Monty Python | September 19, 2006 4:46 PM

To All --

Literary Girl shouldn't have had to explain her decision. But she most graciously did, and demonstrated again her obvious maturity: "If (and we're talking a monumental one here) the desire to become a parent should ever come my way, we'd adopt. Goodness knows there are enough children already here that need loving homes. But the bad genes and risk for various diseases on both sides are enough to keep the biological need for a child at bay."

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 4:50 PM

My comment on how we all now know how the Monty Python lover feels about birth-control was supposed to be taken with a note of sarcasm.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:51 PM

What did Monty Python know about Mormons. As far as I can see, they value their seed at least as much as Catholics (judging from the number of children they seem to have in their families)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:52 PM

Ms. L --
You note that "this [is] a blog about parents and their kids."

No, in fact it's a blog about balancing work and home life -- hence the fair number of single and/or childfree posters here.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:53 PM

Yes, Anon, I'm aware that it's a Monty Python song and was using it in much the same spirit as it was intended.

Posted by: Come on | September 19, 2006 4:54 PM

You said it pittypat!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:56 PM

OK: So we are bashing Literary Girl for deciding not to have kids. But now we are going to bash Mormons and Catholics for having "too many"?

Posted by: What's Up?? | September 19, 2006 4:56 PM

I wasn't saying you WERE bragging, I was saying that fertility issues and the pressures put on people to have children (and the attendant tusk tusk of "they CAN'T have children being a modern day scarlet letter) is sometimes unknown/unseen by those who reproduce more easily. My wife has had a very difficult time accepting that she has "fertility issues" especially when she sees siblings seemingly reproduce like rabbits. So don't come off criticizing me honey.
YOU need to check yourself.

Posted by: Another PoV | September 19, 2006 4:58 PM

Too many is bad also. That is why we are talking about balance.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:59 PM

A while back someone brought up the comment that it's always the woman's choice when to have a baby (excluding accidents). I think my husband is a bit bitter about this, because he's said things like that a couple of times with an awful tone to his voice. We've only been married 4 months, and I feel like we need more time to grow the marriage before becoming parents. He wants all his children born by the time he's 30 so he'll still be "young enough to enjoy them," and feels like he gets no say on how our family is planned. We're currently 26 and 27, and while I never felt like I needed children, I'm slowly becoming happier about the idea. Very slowly. Does anyone have any suggestions on ways I can either help him accept that I'm not ready yet (but working on it) or come to a compromise?

Posted by: SEP | September 19, 2006 5:00 PM

Father of 4 --

Geez, what is your problem today?! What a lousy thing to say ("Litterary Girl, if you think you can just go out and pick up a child like a used car, you have another think coming if you ever decide to try. I'm not trying to be mean here, just real.).

Literary Girl's point was that, if she and her husband ever do change their minds, which seems unlikely given their careful reasoning, they would adopt a child who needs a home.

She didn't say a newborn. She said a child. And, yes, there ARE so many kids who need homes.

What's with the used-car analogy?

You're really being mean here!

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 5:00 PM

the most interesting story i read about before children & thinking about having children was from a parenting magazine. a doctor wrote that before he had kids he wrote a paper called the 10 commandments of parenting, after son #1 was born he changed it to 10 rules, after son #2 was born, he changed it to 10 suggestions, after son #3, he changed it to 10 ideas and when his daughter was born he threw the paper away.
it doesn't matter how much you agree in advance on dicipline or "handling" your child that will change based on the personality of your child. a friend wrote to me once that time outs just didn't work on her daughter. she said that she practically spent the entire day putting her daughter in time out & the daughter couldn't be made to stay short of tying her to the time out chair & she emerged just as defiant as she went in. what worked with her daughter; being sent to her room. otoh, time out works with her son. getting sent to his room is a reward. swear that you will never spank and you'll have a child who will push you way beyond your last nerve.

however, having said there are no rules to parenting i will say that there is one - treasure your partner. the best gift a parent can give a child is a strong marriage.

Posted by: quark | September 19, 2006 5:02 PM

Does anyone have any suggestions on ways I can either help him accept that I'm not ready yet (but working on it) or come to a compromise?

Dump him. If he is being a such a baby about allowing you to take your time about this (especially since you are so young and recently married), then he is not ready for kids or marriage. He has a lot of growing up to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 5:03 PM

Just to further comment on what ANotherPoV was saying, I realize that people don't intend to "brag" when they mention getting pregnant on the first try or even when not trying. But trust me, as someone who struggled to conceive in her twenties, and then went on to lose the baby she did conceive, everytime someone says something like that, it is like a stab right to my heart. I know people don't intentionally mean to cause pain, but I think Another PoV was just trying to explain that sometimes you can unwittingly hurt another person without realizing you're being insensitive. Just as you're saying not all couples have trouble in their 30s and 40s, I never dreamed it would take over two years for me to conceive when I was so young (25). People's light hearted jokes such as "My husband just has to look at me and I get pregnant" really do sting, even if they don't mean to. And as far as people having children that they are not sure they really want, nothing hurts me more than to see couples get pregnant when I know that they ambivalent about having children. I have nothing but respect for people who know they don't want kids and take action to prevent having them.

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:06 PM

Quark, I think you're referring to my post about my friend whose huband doesn't agree with her on discipline and other issues. Sure, whatever you "plan" will probably go out the window, but you should still have some idea of how your spouse thinks you should go about raising children. Maybe my friend's husband would have been all "oh, I totally believe in consistency and this and that" and then let her down when he turned out not to be that way at all. However, the problem is not that they haven't figured out how to work with their child -- they have -- but the husband won't enforce it and leaves all the "work" of parenting to the wife while being "fun daddy" and always arguing that they should "let her have fun" and "don't push her". This isn't a recipe for a successful parenting relationship.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 5:09 PM

To 5:03 anonymous person: Good heavens, I didn't say he was harassing me with it, just that he was unhappy that we're not quite on the same page schedule-wise. I was hoping for some input from people who'd worked out issues like this.

Posted by: SEP | September 19, 2006 5:11 PM

"Not judgemental. That freaking word gets thrown around everytime someone disagrees, and expresses a different opinion."

In this case, no one else has the right to express disagreement or a different opinion because it's not their life. No one asked your opinion on whether it's a good idea for Literary Girl and her husband to have made this decision. You may have a different opinion about the issue in your own life, but you ARE judging litgirl when you call her decision ABOUT HER OWN LIFE into question.

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 5:11 PM

You just have to grow up and accept that when it comes to other peoples' ability to get pregnant easily, reproduce like rabbits (as someone said), or ambivalence about having children, it is just not about you. People should not have to walk on eggshells because some people are having trouble getting pregnant. They should be able to talk about it open if they choose to. Infertility sucks, yes. But at some point, you have to realize that your friends getting pregnant has nothing at all to do with your getting pregnant.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 5:12 PM

Didn't this come up before you got married?

Posted by: to sep | September 19, 2006 5:14 PM

"If you do NOT want to conceive a child, why use a "temporary" (and often fallible) way to "put off" having children that you don't want?"

Mel --

Yes, this is so true! It's a much more responsible decision, if you know you don't want kids, than to rely on birth control in case you change your mind. Because, if the birth control fails, you have two choices: a child you don't want or an abortion -- neither of them very pleasant options.

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 5:16 PM

Good answer, Anon at 5:12! I'm sorry that you are having trouble TS, but you need to face that other people have problems too and that simple remarks aren't meant to cause you deep pain. Sometimes people are walking around with cancer and hear their friends planning trips to Europe, when the sick person can barely get out of bed each day. But they are still glad their friends can go, and hope they too will go one day. Don't make your conception problems the focus of your whole life or expect other people to tiptoe around them when they aren't even aware that you have them.

The fact is, many people have hidden suffering that they are reminded of every day. They learn to live with it, confiding in a few close friends, and realizing that the world is not out to magnify their pain.

Posted by: Jill T. | September 19, 2006 5:16 PM

To Anon 5:12PM, I do realize all that. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. That's all I'm saying. If you were someone that cared about me, I would think you would want to be aware of what hurts me, so as to avoid such things. I'm just trying to explain for other people that may have loved ones going through something similar.

And yes, people always have freedom of speech not to walk on eggshells, blah, blah, blah. But I'm guessing if there were another issue that caused particular pain to YOU, you might feel a bit differently about it being unintentionally rubbed in your face.

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:19 PM

Jill T. - As a matter of fact, I'm no longer having trouble, I'm currently five months pregnant. But I am glad that I can be senstive to other people's feeling because of what I went through. I really don't think there's anything wrong with people trying to be senstive to other people, in fact I wish more people were. Regardless if I have the right to do so, I wouldn't crack cancer jokes around someone whose mother just died of cancer. We all have to live with pain in life, but the world would be a bit easier if we just tried to understand each other and do what we can to minimize it. Does that make sense now?

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:24 PM

"To Maria:
What's your point?"

My point was merely fond memories of some firebugs in my high school labs. :)

"I suppose my point is know yourself and make your decision. But, once you are committed, you are in."

Right on!

"How do you know you won't change your mind?

"Why make it a permanent thing??"

That' applies to anything practically irreversible, not just sterilization. It also applies to giving birth, getting an abortion, losing one's virginity, even stuff like taking on a lot of debt in order to get a particular degree.

"Geez lady, it's a KID, not major appliance to purchase. Stop overanalyzing!!"

Shouldn't having a kid be taken more seriously, not less seriously, than buying an appliance?

Posted by: Maria | September 19, 2006 5:28 PM

I too have had fertility problems (and 4 miscarriages) over the years, but this does not mean that I cannot be happy for the people in my life who have had children when I did not have any. I did not expect them to keep quiet about something as important in their lives as a new child. And it did not hurt me to see them have their children, because it is not like they were impeding me from getting pregnant. My problems were not their fault. Your feeling resentful of those who discuss innocuous facets of their pregnancy is like being resentful of others for having more money or better jobs or being healthier or better looking. It is a totally useless waste of energy on your part.

Posted by: to ts | September 19, 2006 5:28 PM

To To TS,

Goodness gracious, I was just trying to explain Another PoV's point. As you'll see above, I'm actually pregnant, so all this talk about being resentful is somewhat out of place. I've never been resentful that other people have kids, I've just found it insensitive for other people to brag about their super fertility when I was having problems. I no I'm not alone in that feeling, so I was trying to explain it here. Like I said, I don't have cancer and someone else having cancer is not my fault, but I would not brag about my cancer free family to someone who was suffering. It's called being kind. Something that is clearly of short supply here.

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:31 PM

So what would you have other pregnant people do? Pretend to not be pregnant in order to spare your feelings? Tell you it took them 10 years and thousands of dollars to get pregnant in order to make you feel better? Miscarry so that you can be happy?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 5:33 PM

Well I am due in less than three months and I stil have no idea what we are going to do aobut working and the baby. Don't get me wrong - we had tons of plans. I can just already tell that many of those will go out the window once our little one arrives. At least my husband and I know we share the same values - we just have no idea how we will actually live them out:)

Posted by: AlmostThere | September 19, 2006 5:34 PM

Yes 5:33, that's exactly what I would do. Are you this obtuse in real life?

Again, all I'm asking is for people to be sensitive of what other people may be going through. If you have knowledge of a person's troubles, maybe try to understand a little. I was using myself as an example of how people can accidentally cause pain without meaning to. I was NOT trying to suggest no one should ever get pregnant, etc. etc.

Really, people, is this truly that controversial a thought? My good friend just lost her baby (stillborn). I know she doesn't blame me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to blather on and on about my pregnancy whenver I see her just because it's not my fault.

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:36 PM

To whomever wrote:
"So what would you have other pregnant people do? Pretend to not be pregnant in order to spare your feelings? Tell you it took them 10 years and thousands of dollars to get pregnant in order to make you feel better? Miscarry so that you can be happy?"

Are you nuts? Why would you say such a thing? To anyone? Your attitude is ugly, pure and simple.

Posted by: pittypat | September 19, 2006 5:37 PM

And one more for the record, I find all miscarriages tragic. I grieve over each one I hear about. I would never wish a miscarriage on anyone (even anon 5:33). I also grieve about children that know they were unwanted.

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:41 PM

Jill T.: Wonderful comments! Like you said, it is impossible to know what "hidden suffering" each of us is carrying around inside of us. I don't think anyone on this forum was trying to rub anything in anyone's face in order to cause pain.

For some people, getting pregnant too easily might be a cause for pain (if the child is unwanted) in the same way that another person's inability to get pregnant can cause pain and sadness. So even TS's comments about how difficult it was for her to get pregnant could cause pain and sadness in someone who is pregnant and doesn't want to be (hopefully they'd been making proper use of anticontraceptives. And for full disclosure, I'm not pregnant myself and writing this, but just considering different potential points of view). EVERYONE is walking in different shoes and it's impossible to predict what comments, even perceived to be sensitive by one person, might be perceived to be offensive by another walking in a different pair of shoes.

Posted by: lynn | September 19, 2006 5:44 PM

Thank you Lynn, actually the point I was originally trying to make, although apparently badly, was that different things cause different people pain unintentionally. I'm sure I have said things that hurt other people without meaning to, but if I am aware of what a person is going through, I try to do what I can to not cause them more pain. That's really it. Regardless of the issue, fertility, cancer, unwanted pregnancy, I don't think it hurts to "walk on eggshells" a little, if it will spare someone. Clearly others do not agree.

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:51 PM

Walking on eggshells - I did not tell my best friend about my pregnancy for the first four months because I was afraid of upsetting her since she was having fertility issues. I did not know how to approach her without seeming like I was rubbing it in. She took the news gracefully though. Both of us had to act a little. I downplayed the pregnancy a little, and she expressed enthusiasm when she was really down about her situation. In the end, the friendship thrived because we were sensitive to one another. It takes a little effort, it's worth it with friends. Obviously, if you don't know people's situations, you can't be sensitive to them. In those cases, people should just be aware that no one is trying to offend them by just living their lives.

Posted by: Rockville | September 19, 2006 5:55 PM

Beautifully put, Rockville.

Posted by: TS | September 19, 2006 5:57 PM

It seems to me that a lot depends on context. If someone says, "we've been trying for X years and can't get pregnant," and you say, "Really? I got pregnant on the first try!" I'd say that's pretty insensitive. If you are just talking about the baby coming, without any knowledge of the person's situation, and you say, "yeah, I was really surprised because we got pregnant on the first try," I don't really see that as being insensitive, although I understand it still might upset the other person.

Posted by: Megan | September 19, 2006 6:18 PM

1. This is not Bridget.

2. The Post should rename this blog "All About Scarry" - She's Irish, her feelings are hurt, everyone needs to console her, she likes this name, she has an opinion about EVERYTHING, she must engage everyone, etc. Yes, I know it's a participation blog, and I know she's entitled to her opinion, give it a rest, already. Methinks someone doesn't get enough (adult) attention at home, or at the office, or wherever . . .

Posted by: Enough! | September 19, 2006 6:27 PM

Hey, enough!, way to undermine yourself by perpetuating what you say you don't like. Scarry doesn't do anything to make herself the center of attention, you do!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 6:33 PM

My wife and I suffered through a miscarriage and even though we had 3 children at the time, it was a very, very sorrowful, devastating event for our whole family. For those who have never conceived or haved had multiple miscarriages, I can't even imagine the grief.

I began posting as "Father of 4" when I made my first post on a blog that bashed parents and children and I've stuck with the name ever since, partially because of the posting rules established by the Washington Post. But I'm not one to follow rules as you all know and I'm seriously thinking about changing my posting name mostly because I don't want to be looked as a person who thinks his opinion is better or more valueable than anybody elses just because I have more parenting experience than the norm.

So, is posting with the name "Father of 4" rubbing it in? Be honest. feedback is appreciated and Fo4 could be made history by the end of this week. Thanks!

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 19, 2006 6:52 PM

Scarry didn't do anything today on this blog. I am so tired of everytime someone talks about scarry they get everything confused. Maybe you need some attention at home becuase you aren't getting it here on the blog. Who uses the word methinks anyway?

She's a regular poster like Father of 4, Rockville, Megan, Experinced mom, Pittypat, etc. Why don't they bother you as well. My God, what did she ever do to you anyway to make you act like such an a-hole? I'd really like to know.

Posted by: to Enough | September 19, 2006 6:54 PM

I'd say 4 months isn't a long time for you guys to be married, but perhaps your husband is acting so bitter b/c you seem ambivalent and as you pointed out, you hold all the cards on this issue.

The way you quoted him that he wants to be "young so that he can enjoy his children" seemed to be to be a bit condescending - not sure if you meant it that way, but that's how it came across to me. There is a LOT to be said for having children younger ... fewer odds of birth defects/ miscarriages/ learning disabilites - plus you're probably not going to be on death's door by the time they are getting ready to start their own families, and will need Mom and Dad's support the most. So he does have a lot of facts on his side to support his opinion.

Marriage is all about compromise - he's made it abundantly clear what is important to him, and probably in his eyes you're hemming and hawing about a future that he's emotionally counting on. If I were you, I would try to be VERY clear with him about a plan, and don't deviate from it. Something maybe like "I want to wait since we're newlyweds, but assuming nobody loses their job, let's start trying on our second anniversary." That might give you BOTH what you need.

Posted by: To SEP | September 19, 2006 6:54 PM

Keep your name, who cares what everyone else thinks. Everyone is so touchy lately.

Posted by: to father of 4 | September 19, 2006 6:56 PM

To Pittypat:

Thank you for coming to my defense. It is nice and reassuring to know that there are others like my husband and I who have decided not to take that path in life.

And to TS:

Your quote:

"I have nothing but respect for people who know they don't want kids and take action to prevent having them."

This may or may not have been directed to me, but either way, thank you. I wish that more people could share your respect for those of us who don't want children.

In fact, it would make more sense to me that people would respect that decision. With the horrible things that people do to children (presumably because they are unwanted), I would think that those who are parents would appreciate those who have made the conscious decision not to procreate, and subject children to abuse and neglect.

Posted by: literarygirl | September 19, 2006 6:56 PM

I'm seriously thinking about changing my posting name mostly because I don't want to be looked as a person who thinks his opinion is better or more valueable than anybody elses just because I have more parenting experience than the norm.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 19, 2006 06:52 PM


Don't worry, Fo4. Nobody thinks your opinion is better or more valuable than anybody else's. Especially when your family calls the kids things like 'annoying son' and 'favorite daughter' to their faces.

Posted by: To Fo4 | September 19, 2006 7:02 PM

To Enough - although I don't think you should have torn into Scarry the way you did - there are several busybodies on this site that think they own it. Most public forums are this way. People tend to police the posts and it is very annoying - so the best you can do is ignore them.

It has been suggested to me on several occasions that I post elsewhere because of my differing (not liberal) opinion - which shows that some people like to talk the talk about different opinions - but do not walk the walk.

I am remaining anonymous as my life is now in danger.

Also - I tried to post a response about 2 minutes ago that did not show up so if this is a duplicate please disregard.

Posted by: anonymous | September 19, 2006 7:04 PM

What a slug-fest!

FO4:
*like your name,
*like your posts,
*may not always agree with every single thing that I might SUPPOSE about you, but we are not clones!

Besides, your posts are sometimes poetic, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes just plain helpful.


We all should ignore the trolls, letting posted barbs lie, as we would sleeping dogs and sleeping babies.

Especially sleeping babies.

And
:(
:(
:(
(sad, sad, sad) about the little one who could have made you FO4 a tad earlier.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 19, 2006 7:07 PM

We all should ignore the trolls

Weren't you one of the trolls a few weeks back?

Posted by: To College Parkian | September 19, 2006 7:13 PM

To Enough and the Scarry bashers out there: You guys need to get a life. If your favorite past time is bashing someone on cyber space, you need to find another hobby. It is just ridiculous and immature.

Posted by: NewName | September 19, 2006 7:30 PM

1. This is not Bridget.

2. The Post should rename this blog "All About Scarry" - She's Irish, her feelings are hurt, everyone needs to console her, she likes this name, she has an opinion about EVERYTHING, she must engage everyone, etc. Yes, I know it's a participation blog, and I know she's entitled to her opinion, give it a rest, already. Methinks someone doesn't get enough (adult) attention at home, or at the office, or wherever . . .

Posted by: Enough! | September 19, 2006 06:27 PM

Oh scarry, I will console you because the dog hid under the bed from you when you were a baby! :)

I just don't get the scarry hate. I seriously think that if Bridget wouldn't have said that today and made scarry the center of attention, that might have been her only post! Yes, you people make her the center of attention. She's a nice, happy person, so of course she likes to engage people. What she should only post and then not reply to people? Like you do? I didn't see her send out a post that says everyone stick up for me? Did you? Then again I missed her pub post too.

And, my goodness, it's a surprise that she has an opinion on all things motherhood, she is a mother for goodness sake.

Posted by: too enough | September 19, 2006 8:52 PM

"1. This is not Bridget.

2. The Post should rename this blog "All About Scarry" - She's Irish, her feelings are hurt, everyone needs to console her, she likes this name, she has an opinion about EVERYTHING, she must engage everyone, etc. Yes, I know it's a participation blog, and I know she's entitled to her opinion, give it a rest, already. Methinks someone doesn't get enough (adult) attention at home, or at the office, or wherever . . .

Posted by: Enough! | September 19, 2006 06:27 PM"

I know Scarry. Scarry is a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Scarry (or Bridget)!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | September 19, 2006 8:54 PM

to scarry bashers and scarry defenders - enough already from all of you. the bashers should just be ignored, and the defenders just drag it out more.

Posted by: mj | September 19, 2006 9:13 PM

I also did not want children and my husband-to-be said that he didn't care either way. At some point, I did want children and could not explain why. So we married and i got pregnant 4 times on the first try (not bragging, just facts) - however, the first 2 pregnancies resulted in miscarriage. We decided that we would still try to have kids, but were not willing to do anything other than "traditional" baby-making. We agreed that there would be no fertility treatments, nor adoption. We just felt that (for US), if it didn't happen naturally, maybe it wasn't meant to be and we would just accept it. Remember, I didn't want any to begin with and he was ambivalent, so maybe that was why we weren't willing to take any extra measures.

I don't necessarily agree that those who don't want children will change their minds later. Even though it happened to me, I think it depends on why you didn't want them originally. My father left and was a deadbeat dad and my mother had a very hard life. I saw children as a responsibility that you didn't walk away from - no matter what. I saw how hard it was for my mother and didn't want to have that for myself. What changed for me was the realization that my husband wasn't my father, and I wasn't my mother. Other childless by choice people have their own reasons and they should be respected.

Posted by: mj | September 19, 2006 9:26 PM

DH and I were ages 40/31 and 44/35 when the babies were born. The problem with being older parents isn't the lack of energy, sleep-deprivation, etc, when the kids are small. The real problem is dealing with teenagers in your late 40's, 50's and even early 60's.

Sleeping when the kids are babies is a piece of cake compared to lying awake waiting for the 17-year-old to come home safely with the car and without the boys :).

Posted by: mj | September 19, 2006 9:27 PM

Snaps to mj!

Whose parenting philosophy included choosing your battles and not sweating the small stuff? Good advice for both sides.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 9:28 PM

Fo4 - Please keep the name (or just let us know what your new moniker is!). I very much enjoy your posts. As far as I can tell, this is the first time the issue of "bragging" has come up.

Back to today's topic, one thing that struck me is that I remember talking with a lot of people about parenting before our first was born, except...my parents! Would that be true for most of you out there? I don't come from a broken home or anything like that. In fact, I know my own parenting is influenced greatly by how I was raised, but I just never felt any inclination to ask my 'rents directly for advice. Still trying to sort that one out.

Posted by: ConantheLibrarian | September 19, 2006 10:22 PM

dad of 2,

You are so funny. I liked your post the best out of all the posts today. It made me laugh out loud. :)

Posted by: scarry | September 19, 2006 10:37 PM

Ever hear of leaving well enough alone?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 11:22 PM

My husband and I struggled with the decision "to have" or "not to have" for many years. We decided to "see what happened" and noticed that we would alternatively embrace the notion of parenthood or be so frightened by it we were all but paralyzed by it. Of course we were seldom in the same place at the same time.

After years of trying (and occassionally fleeing) to conceive we found ourselves mourning consecutive miscaraiges. Acklowledging our sometime ambivlence we decided not to head down the fertility path. A couple of years into that decision i found myself surrounged by pregant women (friends, co-workers, clients, friends of friends you name it they were everywhere) The wake- up call camet one day when 3 co-workers shared their "news" and another circulated a photo of herself surrounded by 7 other expectant mothers at a party.

We immediately began investigating adoption agencies and leanring as much about the adoption process as possible. In the midst of it all friends called with teh news that the daughter of a friend of a friend was expecting and planned to place the baby for adoption. Our friends had told the family about us and they wanted to meet us. A scary proposition but we were open to the concept.

Turns out to be the best decision we could have ever made. We never met the birth mother (though we did meet her family) but we are forever grateful for her selfless act that allowed her to move on to better her life (education and opportunities that would have been difficult to meet as a young single mother) and give my husband and I the greatest gift we ahve ever received.

We look back and wonder how we could have ever been ambivelent about becoming parents. Our son has become the light of our lives who knows that his mommy couldn't grow a baby in her belly. He is entirely accepting of the fact that his birth mother did the best thing she could for him. He may want to meet her one day and we will happily do everything we can to help him do so when the time is right.

I had no idea how deeply you could love someone until the first time I held him in my arms. Just a few hours old and I was immediately his mom. Whats more, watching his Dad with him has only increased my love for him as well.

For those contemplating parenthood and just can't imagine that it is for them - I can't gurantee that it will work out as well, but i can tell you that i was once you. An executive that worked 80 hours a week, took great vacations, went out to great dinners out and could never imagine why i'd want to be a parent.

I'm still and executive, though now I am also the book keeper and the admin as i own my own business, make time to be home in the afternoon to do homework, shuttle half the neighborhood to baseball or soccer and am active in my community and my child's school and i've never been happier or more fullfilled in my life.

Our son has brought deeper meaning to our lives, our love and our family. I'd recommend having a family; whether biologically, through adoption or through the bonds of helping raise friends' children; recommend it to anyone!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 12:59 AM

What a great way to wrap up the evening. Thank you!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 1:24 AM

"I began posting as "Father of 4" when I made my first post on a blog that bashed parents and children and I've stuck with the name ever since, partially because of the posting rules established by the Washington Post. But I'm not one to follow rules as you all know and I'm seriously thinking about changing my posting name mostly because I don't want to be looked as a person who thinks his opinion is better or more valueable than anybody elses just because I have more parenting experience than the norm."

1. Check the ego
2. Keep the name, change it, I don't really care
3. Your posts aren't nearly as funny or clever as you seem to think they are

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 8:29 AM

"Ever hear of leaving well enough alone?"

Can you give it a rest? You know she has friends on here she replies to, he's one of them.

Posted by: give it a rest! | September 20, 2006 8:51 AM

Fo4, I don't think that your name implies that you think you know more - it's just what you are! Frankly, I think it's refreshing to see men identify themselves by their fatherhood in the same way that so many women identify themselves by their motherhood.

Posted by: Megan | September 20, 2006 10:34 AM

I started reading the blog when I found out I was pregnant 3 months ago. I have enjoyed most of the postings and found yesterday's useful and insightful. I even went home and told my SO about the wonderful postings and helpful online community.

I come into work today to find hateful, hate-filled personal attacks that have absolutely nothing to do with finding balance in life.

Here's hoping the blog returns to the
helpful community that I attracted me to the blog in the first place and leave the school yard sniping to the eight-year-olds.

Posted by: NewMom07 | September 20, 2006 10:51 AM

My internet has been down for several days, but I wanted to put my 2 cents in on this topic.

As someone who did not have any financial game plan (except try to stay out of debt and save, lofty goals but without a plan, impossible) when I had my first kid, it makes sound advice to get your financial house in order before having kids. Practice living on one income. One of my acquaintances got to know her husband better than she ever wanted to when she quit her job to stay home with her baby. He told her (albeit in the middle of a fight) that because she didn't make any money that she couldn't be part of the decision making process. Bleh.

I admit, I was LUCKY. Not because I had no issues with fertility (actually, I did, but not the kind that normally come to mind!), but because my husband and I were so clueless (comes from having kids when you are basically kids) that we didn't know we weren't supposed to put the baby in bed with us, leave her in the crib, work, not work, blah blah blah. Your marriage is important, and sex is important. If your arm was broken, you would go to a doctor to get it fixed! If your sex life is in the gutter, there are cures. Our style of parenting is a little benign neglect, a lot of independence ("Sweetie, you need to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher and vacuum the family room because some day you will have your own family and will need to know these things." not horrible for a 7th grader, although the 4th grader can do them, and does.), dinner together almost every night, routines set in stone (I know if they don't make their beds every morning that the world WILL end), and a lot of physical affection. All the stuff about bed sharing, breast feeding, etc. is small potatos when you are looking at high school. And when you are looking at high school, co-sleeping and breast feeding are enormous decisions that will shape the lives of your children forever! So Mrs. Wallace, from my experience, if you take care of the marriage the kids will be fine, even if you do/n't breast feed, co-sleep, homeschool, teach them violin at age 2. Most kids are fine. My parents didn't know WHAT the hell they were doing, and here I am, not in jail, only a couple of major issues (babbling on and on on an internet forum would be the biggest), and 2 siblings that are in similar places. I am going to be FORTY TWO when my first kid is scheduled to leave the nest. What in the hell am I going to do? Classic case here of ENS, and they still live here. Good luck with your future.

AND TO THE POSTER WHO ALWAYS USES THAT IGNORANT TERM 'METHINKs', YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T, YOU HAVE NO BALLS BECAUSE YOU NEVER SIGN YOUR POSTS AND I THINK YOU ARE A COMPLETE MORON. GO AWAY. OR STAY. NOBODY CARES.

Hello, Scarry and Fo4. Keep on keepin' on.

Posted by: parttimer | September 20, 2006 10:51 AM

Father of 4, keep your name. It's already hard enough to keep everyone straight! Seriously, I don't think it bothers anyone.

Now "experienced mom"... JUST KIDDING!!!

Posted by: Meesh | September 20, 2006 10:55 AM

To parttimer Thanks for policing the posts - I know you take your job very seriously. There are many reason people post anonymously - mostly because of backlash from sweetie pies like yourself - don't we all love to be called morons?

Posted by: anonymous | September 20, 2006 11:15 AM

I may be a MORON for posting anonymously, but at least I know the difference between my Internet CONNECTION going down and my INTERNET going down.

Posted by: another's response to parttimer | September 20, 2006 11:40 AM

oh my goodness parttimer, see what happens when you make "blog" friends! :)

Posted by: scarry | September 20, 2006 12:08 PM

Folks, I would not wait until all of your ducks are in a row to start a family if you know that's what you want. We waited 10 months until our insurance was in order because we didn't want to have to pay out of pocket for maternity.

We've now been trying for almost 3 years and have done various treatments, including IVF. I have age-related infertility and I am only 36. Everyone talks about 35 as this magic age related to fertility. I think that's a major disservice to people. After 35, things get tougher. We have now paid over 30k for treatments. So, some planning is good, but I would keep an eye on the clock. It's not a myth.

Posted by: anonymous but not obnoxious | September 20, 2006 12:09 PM

How can you be upset at someone for answering partimers all-cap insult when you defended your right to answer Bridget's yesterday? Not to mention, Bridget's was much milder.

Posted by: to scarry | September 20, 2006 12:18 PM

Why sneer at someone for answering partimer's all-cap insult when you defended your right to answer Bridget's yesterday? Not to mention, Bridget's was much milder.

Posted by: to scarry | September 20, 2006 12:19 PM

huh, anonymous, I guess you don't like being singled out for nasty treatment either. Maybe you should take a lesson from that and stop doing it to other people. Think how much easier life could be!

Also, it's so interesting that you always complain about Scarry responding to her critics, and yet, you do the same thing when someone criticizes you. And then this whole darn conversation just goes on and on and on.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 12:38 PM

huh, anonymous, I guess you don't like being singled out for nasty treatment either. Maybe you should take a lesson from that and stop doing it to other people. Think how much easier life could be!

Also, it's so interesting that you always complain about Scarry responding to her critics, and yet, you do the same thing when someone criticizes you. And then this whole darn conversation just goes on and on and on. What goes around comes around, I guess, so maybe you should stop sending it around in the first place.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 12:40 PM

After you!

Posted by: to 12:40 | September 20, 2006 1:15 PM

done deal!

Posted by: 12:40 | September 20, 2006 1:26 PM

I wasn't talking about the insult, she and you are free to say and think what you want. It was a joke about the scarry father of 4 keep on thing. And Bridget's post was not nice at all. However, my reply was pretty civil.

Posted by: scarry | September 20, 2006 2:06 PM

Ah, that didn't come through. It looked like a reference to blog "friends" as people who disagree with you. Sorry.

Your answer was pretty civil. Everyone else got in, however, and it turned into a squabble.

BTW, I'm not the person who uses methinks. I just thought parttimer was out of line with her insults, even though they weren't directed at me. I guess that's how squabbles start.

Posted by: to 12:40 | September 20, 2006 2:23 PM

Oh my god, it doesn't matter what scarry does, says I'm sorry if I offended you (why she did this I have no clue) is on her best behavior, i.e. not responding to trolls who think her dog is smart, never saying the word Irish again, the crazy looney who hates her will still hate and bother her. If I was her I'd be afraid of him, which is why I am anonymous.

Why can't you just do us a favor and leave her alone! The blog is so much nicer when we don't have to get off on you tangents about scarry. She didn't ask people to discuss Irish names, they did it their selves. She didn't do anything that anyone else doesn't do on a daily basis, post. I'm sorry if it bothers you that people seem to like her posts, but for the love of GOD, it is so annoying when you pick, pick, pick at her and then you expect her to not say something back, or for us to not say something back. You've labeled her a fragile femme, while it's obvious to anyone who pays attention who has the real problem on this board. You jealousy is disgusting, but here is a way to fix it, post about something else besides SCARRY!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 2:25 PM

No problem, I geuss it was confusing.

Posted by: to 12:40 | September 20, 2006 2:27 PM

My life before triplets was very full, well maybe full is not the right word, and busy is more like it. I was very successful in my work, which meant I was very busy. Traveling to Vegas, New York, Dallas, Orlando etc. It seemed as if I always had some place to be and someone I had to see. I was "hurried", successful and dressed in only the best. My life was my career, and no this was not by choice, it was made for me. The child I longed to have, the baby I dreamed of day and night did not seem to be meant to be. So I worked, I traveled, I went to concerts, sporting events and saw the world. Yet there was this longing inside me that would not go away. All my friends said they envied me, they wanted to be me, and all I wanted was to be a mom.

I dreamed of my life with a child, of how wonderful it would be. However to be honest I never dreamed I would not continue to work. Oh how that changed...
Then one Sunday morning in September of 2003, I peed on a stick, one of my favorite past times it seemed, and there were two lines, the next day a blood test confirmed that it was in fact true. I was pregnant. Three short weeks later at the first ultrasound I learned that I would have my large family after all, I was expecting triplets.
Overcome with fear, excitement and joy I read everything I could. I learned life as I knew it was over and I could not have been happier. I quit work at 12 weeks, went on bed rest at 19 weeks and I never looked back.
Now two years after my baby's birth, my life is truly full, finally I can say it is complete and full. Not hurried, not rushed not busy but full.
I could not imagine ever working again, I would miss way too much, and my days now consist of giggles, wet kisses, big smiles and baby talk.
My clothes are stained, smell of baby food and spit up. My nails no longer manicured and I could sure use some lotion on my hands. But my heart is overflowing with love and excitement.
I gained so much by becoming a mom, and even more by becoming a mom of triplets. I lost, gave up, meetings, angry clients, angry bosses, long lines, airport delays and layovers. Working 12 and yes sometimes 14 hour days, lonely hotel rooms, always being in a hurry. Before my life was passing me by, I was going through the motions. Now I watch the sunset, and yes at times the sunrise, I have days that are made to stay in pj's, I dance in my living room to nursery rhymes, I act silly to get a laugh and I smile a lot, that is the big difference I smile a lot more, I laugh a lot more. I am truly happy in all that I do...

I can not believe how fast the past two years have gone by, I can not believe the friendships I have gained and the joy that having triplets has brought to my life. I would not go back to my before triplets life for anything.
My life is now full thanks to my three beautiful babies, okay toddlers...

Posted by: Rosemarie | September 20, 2006 2:33 PM

Having a child was the most exhilarating and fulfilling thing I'd ever done - UNTIL HE WAS BORN. Then for months I felt trapped in a cycle of waking, feeding, playing, changing diapers, comforting.... and then all over again. Only now he's nearly 7 months old is he interactive enough to be really fun to play with all day - so that I don't mind so much not reading the papers, not emailing or phoning my friends, not putting on make-up or putting any thought into what I wear (after all it all ends up with spit on it anyway).

Don't underestimate how totally lonely those first months are. Be prepared. Have time off if you can (even breastfeeding mothers can have an hour or so off at a time if you have a good helper, especially a grandparent or trusted relative).

I might be fooling myself but whatever coping technique works right? I'm hanging out for when our little guy can talk and walk and not just cry inconsolably because he's cutting a tooth, is hungry but won't feed, wants to be cuddles 24/7.

Just be prepared - to me that's much more important preparation than saving or travelling. It's not possible to do all the travelling and socialising you'll ever want before you have kids - you'd have to be 100 years old. But you can at least try to face the fact it WILL stop being possible at least for some years...and that it will never be the same.

If I'd known this I'd have spent much more time with my friends when I was pregnant and much less time decorating the nursery - the baby doesn't care about the wallpaper but I care about missing my friends and not having banked up some good times first.

Posted by: platinumpatina | September 20, 2006 2:59 PM

To Scarry,
FWIW, today's posting by Top10 wasn't from me.

Posted by: to 12:40 | September 20, 2006 4:30 PM

my story about the doctor with his 10 rules etc was not directed at any body in particular (some times it's not about you). it was a comment on the the fact that you can prepare for parenthood all you want, the reality can be something totally different. while there are some things you can prepare for parenthood isn't necessarily one of them.
my story about the friend with the two kids was not directed at anybody in particular either. honestly, sometimes it really isn't about you. it was a followup on the idea that the child you have may be & most likely will be different from the child you think you're going to have.

honestly, some times people here direct comments to nobody in particular.

Posted by: quark | September 20, 2006 5:14 PM

quark I'm not sure what you and the other poster are talking about? I took no offense to your post; I don't even know which one you are talking about. I was replying to to scarry and 12:40 about part timer's post.

ou are right though, this wasn't about me because I have no clue what you are talking about :) Contrary to some people's beliefs I just come here to post and read not turn the blog into "scarry" blog or direct the conversation to me.

Posted by: scarry | September 20, 2006 6:17 PM

I don't know what quark is referring to either. I wasn't aware anyone had taken his/her post the wrong way.

My FWIW referred to a thread in today's (Wednesday's) blog, started by Letterman, and continued by Top10. I didn't want you thinking we'd worked it out here and I went and posted otherwise on the latest blog. Confusing, I know!

Posted by: to 12:40 | September 20, 2006 7:08 PM

That's okay 12:40. I was just reading the other blog. I think it is really sad that someone is so crazy over what I post all the time. Get a life already, it gets tiresome.

I'm not even going to respond to it. I don't understand why people just can't have a disagreement, discuss it and get over it. You know if Bridget posted something tommorrow and I thought it was interesting, I'd reply to it and be nice. I wouldn't hold a grudge forever on a blog! Good night, I have class! :)

Posted by: scarry | September 20, 2006 7:13 PM

Oh, now I get it!

Quark, did you think I was referring to the 10 rules in your post? I wasn't, although I liked the post.

Top10 is the id of a poster in Wednesday's blog, and that's the post I was referring to.

Sorry for the confusion, and thank you for your gentle response.

Posted by: to 12:40 | September 20, 2006 7:15 PM

:-)

Have a good night! Give the small girl a hug for me.

Posted by: to 12:40 | September 20, 2006 7:50 PM

Deciding to have kids is like jumping from a pier onto a boat moving away. If you think about it too much, you never leap. Arrrgh!

Posted by: Pirate Pete | September 25, 2006 2:43 PM

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