Q&A: having a baby worries

LB writes:

"I'm a pre-mommy who needs some advice from wise already-mommies! Myhusband and I are gearing up to start trying for a baby next month. We
have discussed this for *years*. I think I'm ready, but I am still
having a LOT of baby anxiety. I'm worried about if I can manage the
pregnancy/birth well, how I can possibly work full time with an hour
commute one way while breastfeeding, about being a bad mother, and
about all the awful things I might do to screw up a child. Then there
are all the selfish worries, like will I have to give up my identity
and life, can my husband and I maintain a good relationship, what is
this going to do to my body, am I going to have to give up caring about
my career, can I still keep my hobbies, will my husband and I have to
be broke forever, etc. Eep.

Still, my heart keeps returning to the idea that I DO want a family and
feel somewhat ready. I was talking to a friend of mine (a mother) about
all this, and she said if I was having these fears I obviously wasn't
ready to have a baby. She said she knew being a mom was right for her
and didn't look back. And then my sister-in-law has had a really easy
time with her 5 month old, and keeps saying that things are going so
smoothly because she was so prepared. (Of course, she's also working
part time, has a husband who can work from home often, and has work/daycare 5 minutes from home when she does work.)

Now, my smart, aware side (the side of me that reads your blog!) knows
these are probably exceptions to the rules, but the pre-mommy doubt is
creeping in. I guess I just need to know how other people felt before
having their babies or what advice they might give, because right now
I'm feeling like a lonely, messed up, selfish loser who never deserves
to be a mom. :("

You know, if only people who "deserved" to be parents became parents, then the human race would have died off a long time ago. I'm happy for your friends that they both were super-sure they were ready, but, honestly, I think they're the exception. I also think that the mom of the 5-month-old might be telling a different story when the 9-month sleep regression hits…

You know, the more I think about this, the more I think your friends are giving you bad information. There is a ton of stuff that comes up in parenting that you have NO CONTROL over, so to imply that people who are "prepared" (and what does that mean, anyway?) are going to have an easier time with parenting is magical thinking. You can read every book, take every class, buy every product available, and be super-positive that motherhood is going to be the apex of self-actualization, and your kid might come out colicky or with reflux or with delays or trouble latching or high-intensity or any other thing that makes parenting super-challenging.

Honestly, it makes me a little angry that someone thinks everything's
going so well for her because of something she did! That basically
means that she thinks that people who have problems with their babies
are having problems because they haven't done things the right way. That's insulting, misogynistic, and ridiculous.

And this idea that not being positive you want to be a mom means you won't be a good one is just plain wrong. I can still remember staring at that stick with the two lines and thinking, "What the hell have I done???" And, you know what? I'm a really good mother. And for the most part, I've enjoyed parenting immensely. The stretch marks, notsomuch, but the personal growth has been outstanding. Plus, I have these two awesome people in my life that make everything so much richer. There are an awful lot of us out there who were scared but are overjoyed to have our kids in our lives.

I think there are very, very few people who felt absolutely ready to have a baby. Or maybe they felt ready until they were actually pregnant, or maybe they were completely ready for a baby but having a toddler terrified them. But the secret to parenting is that you just show up. Every morning you get out of bed and do whatever needs to be done. And you don't actually have to like it or be particularly good at it–you just do it.

It's really not this binary thing: Ready/not ready. Worthy/not worthy. Good mother/bad mother. Prepared/unprepared. You are a work in progress. Parenting is wonderful and horrible and makes you stretch and beats you down. Your body grows another person! But then you don't sleep for 14 months straight. And that person smiles at you! And then poops all over your favorite shirt. And you know you're forming this amazing bond! But you feel like you're never really concentrating on your kid *or* your job anymore.

I think the trick is to stay in touch with whatever feelings you're having, and don't feel guilty about them. NO ONE likes being a parent all the time. (Of course now that I've typed that, someone's going to comment that she loves every second of it, even the time her kid puked into her mouth or wiped buttery fingers on her power suit as she was walking out the door to litigate an important case.) And knowing that and being OK with that, and with yourself, is what makes it all possible.

So don't worry about being absolutely sure. And don't worry about whether you're supposed to want a child or not. If you're feeling misgivings, think about them, and talk about them (although not with those two friends!). Maybe you'll start trying to get pregnant, and you'll make it through like the rest of us do, fears and apprehensions and all. Or maybe you'll feel like the idea of parenthood stresses you out too much and you're going to table the idea of kids for another 6 months or year or two. Or maybe you'll decide not to have kids at all, and that will be OK.

Oh, and the answer to your questions: Yes, an hour long commute each way is going to kill you. No, you won't feel like yourself for awhile. Yes, your marriage will probably survive but you'll need to be conscious about being kind to each other. Your hobbies will go on indefinite hiatus but you won't care. You will absolutely and completely mourn your old body, so show it off now while you still can. And you will screw up your kid in an infinite number of ways, but probably not any that are irreparable. Your life will get more confusing, harder, and way richer than it is now. Some minutes you'll regret it, but most weeks you won't. It will change your life.

Readers? Did anyone out there get pregnant accidentally and end up being a better parent than you thought you'd be? Or even get pregnant on purpose but then get completely !@#$%^ing terrified during the pregnancy and still end up being a good-to-great parent? Or did you think you'd be good at one aspect of parenting but end up being good at something completely different? Or think you'd love it but instead you're just hanging in there until your kid is older and more of a conversationalist?

Oh, and while you're at it, how did your life change in ways you predicted, and in ways you didn't?

122 thoughts on “Q&A: having a baby worries”

  1. My rule? When the fear/terror/panic no longer stops you from trying, then you’re ready.Seriously, I always wanted kids, we planned for kids, we even postponed exactly when we’d start so we’d be more ready, I’m a hyper-planner (*cough*12-page-birth-plan*cough*), and I still PANIC. It’s hubris to have a child, to think we deserve it, to think we can succeed.
    And then, we have a child, realize that life is about the grungy stuff as much as the perfection moments, and that here is where the rubber hits the road. THIS is good, worthy, valid. It’s messy, awful, scary, embarassing, undignified, life-altering, joy-bringing, humbling, wonderful.
    For these questions, my answers:
    get pregnant on purpose but then get completely !@#$%^ing terrified during the pregnancy and still end up being a good-to-great parent?
    ME! ME! I got terrified EACH TIME. Not just the first time, even after weathering four years of parenting, second child, what WERE we thinking? We can’t do this! PANIC! Still did it. And then HOLY SHIT, TWINS, PANIC! Still did it. Still doing it, every day. Some days are mangles, most days have some mangle somewhere, every day I learn something, every day I drop a ball, every day I am glad I have kids.
    “Or did you think you’d be good at one aspect of parenting but end up being good at something completely different?”
    I thought I’d be good at 8-12 year olds (so far, so good on that), and good with babies (uh, babies are NOT my favorite stage), and terrible with 2’s (LOVE LOVE LOVE two year olds!) and okay with preschoolers (preschoolers eat my brain). You find out what you are good at as you go, and where you’re not, you build bridges to where you are.
    “Or think you’d love it but instead you’re just hanging in there until your kid is older and more of a conversationalist?” For all the bad stages, this is me (bad being ‘stages I don’t love’). I swear, maternity leave should start at 6 months, when the personality fairy arrives.
    I have more to say, but need to run to a meeting. Later!

  2. Yup, totally panicked late into a planned pregnancy (aaaaagggh!! what the h*** am I DOING???), after saying for years I would never have kids because I’m such a screw-up, and now we have our sweet little girl. And now I’m wishing she were a baby again — she’s two now — because toddlers, as hedra said, eat my brain. Screaming. Meltdown. Tantrums. Over. EVERYTHING. *cry cry*Every day I doubt my fitness as a mother, but, yeah, you keep going, and you learn what’s important to let go, and what you really care about and learn how to take better care of yourself while at the same time knowing that your “self” has been temporarily melted down. Which sucks sometimes, frankly. It’s all very confusing, and I’m not much help! But, LB, if you’re thinking about these things, not just blithely la-la-laing into motherhood — IMHO, I think that will make you a better parent than many. You CARE.

  3. My husband and I conceived our first child 3 weeks after we were married. I was in the process of applying to veterinary school, I had no job, he didn’t make a ton of money, and we had planned on waiting until after I was finished with school and had been practicing for a while before starting our family. Definitely a “Man plans, God laughs” situation. We were terrified. We went through a month or so of indecision on whether or not I should even apply to vet school. His family (who we lived close to) was not very supportive of our final decision of going ahead with my applications. Neither one of us was ready. I had much the same doubts about being a mother that LB had – I’d be a horrible mother, school would take way too much time away from my marriage/parenting, I was a newlywed and wanted a honeymoon period, etc etc etc. We. Were. NOT. Ready.BUT:
    NO ONE is ever really ready. I think it actually shows preparedness to have those worries before you become pregnant. You’re obviously aware of the enormous change that having a child means in your life. And while you can never really be aware of the minutiae of parenthood until you’re in the trenches, I think it’s good to be a little scared. You’re going to be in charge of another life. That’s both fear and awe inspiring.
    My son is turning 3 next week. I’m in my 3rd year of vet school, running around like a crazy person in clinics. My son is happy, well-adjusted, and more loved by me than I could possibly have imagined. We’re expecting our next child in November, and even though we’ve been there before, I’m still terrified. This time, however, the terror is tempered by the knowledge that a newborn doesn’t last forever and that the rewards of parenthood far outweigh the moments when you’ll wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea to have kids.
    Having a child has confirmed some things I always thought about myself: I’m no good at the stay-at-home gig. I always love my son, but I often don’t really like him if we’re at home together all the time. I need time away, at school/work, and I’m okay with that. I’ve been surprised with my ability to comfort. I’m generally a pretty no-nonsense kind of person, and have a tendency to get irritated by (what I categorize as) frivolous worries of others. Attractive personality trait, right? But I’ve been surprised by my ability to really sympathize with the fact that the blue cup is NOT the same as the red cup, and sometimes it’s enough to cry over.
    Okay, I think I’ve rambled on long enough. LB – worrying about whether or not you’re really ready to be a parent doesn’t mean you’re not ready. It means you’re aware of what you’re doing. You’ll be a great mother, in your own way, with your own methods, your own challenges, and your own triumphs.

  4. I totally agree with what Moxie said.I think the key is to find friends, other moms, could just be one mom, who supports you and comiserates with you and makes you feel better even when you feel like you’ve messed up. You can do just about anything with a good support system.
    I am both a better and worse parent than I thought I would be. My kids, however, are more awesome than I could ever have imagined.They are funny and strange and loving and smart. Regardless of that, they drive me nuts and are always wiping their snot on me, have tantrums all the time and I rarely get to go out with my husband (my kids are 2 and almost 5). I am not a naturally maternal person but we did plan these pregnancies: I read every book, hung out with friends kids, etc but nothing prepared me for this reality.
    I don’t know if I answered your questions but: you will be fine.

  5. I’ll probably come back and add more later after my all day meeting. Sigh.I’m never sure what to say when people ask if I love being a mom. I don’t even know what that means. I love my kids, and I love having them in my life. It’s as though someone asked me if I love being a wife. Well, no, not generically, but I do love the actual person to whom I am married.

  6. I have *always* wanted children. Got married early, chose a career that would work with having a family. I have 3 children now and they are the light of my life. BUT, all three times I felt complete panic when I stared at the positive pregnancy test. OMG, WHAT have I done?I love being a mom, but not every day. It makes marriage harder, but more rewarding when it goes well. You will experience a range of emotions you didn’t think you were capable of, both good and bad. The best thing you can do to prepare is keep an open mind, and know that you can do this motherhood thing. And keep reading the rockin’ ladies here at Ask Moxie!

  7. Despite crying almost every one of the six months that we were trying to get pregnant that it didn’t happen, I will still freaked out and scared and worried when I finally saw the second line on the pregnancy test. And honestly, my husband and I would have been happy to start with a toddler or pre-schooler, but we knew that having a baby was part of the process we would take on in order to have biological children.Having a baby was hard, wonderful, messy, beautiful, scary and filled me with a different kind of confidence than I’ve ever had before. We started trying because we knew we wanted kids and because our situation wasn’t going to get any more “perfect” (relatively) age-wise, career-wise or money-wise to get started. It was exciting and scary, and if we would have waited until we were TOTALLY ready and TOTALLY positive that it was time, I don’t think we ever would have had children.
    Breastfeeding for 22 months and pumping for 12 months was one of the hardest (at times) and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Ditto for working full time with an infant.
    I’m 30 weeks pregnant with #2 and even though I’m more confident about my parenting skills this time around, I’m similarly freaked out about the havoc that this little one is going to wreak on our lives. I’m not looking forward to the sleep deprivation or the likely trials with BFing, but I know that we’ll get through it and find satisfaction in being his parents. I’m still anxious to meet him and find out how he will challenge me in ways that I’m not expecting.
    In many ways, I love my husband even more now than I did before I got to see him as a father, and at times my caregiver. But it is a greater challenge to make the time to connect and maintain the “two of us” part of the relationship that we had before a child. I don’t fear for my marriage, but it takes work to keep it healthy.

  8. Well, I always knew I wanted kids, and had plenty of experience with them growing up (my mom had twins when I was 11; can you say built-in babysitter?), but financially we were soooo not ready when we first got pregnant. That was the scariest thing for me… knowing I’d hate leaving my baby to go to work, but knowing I’d have to. I ended up doing that for about 6 months, then quitting and staying home and watching other people’s kids, which I’ve been doing for 8 years now, 2 more babies later.I love Moxie’s and Hedra’s advice, especially that there’s no ready or not ready about it. You will make it work for you, whatever you decide, because you just have to.
    The thing that surprised me most that changed in me when I had kids was that I had this fierce, scary temper; and when I got stressed I would lose it badly and often. At my kids. Who I scared to death. It’s something that I’m always working on, and that at first I had no idea where it was coming from. Having kids made me take a long, hard look at my anger and where it was coming from, which has led me to and understanding of myself that I don’t think I would have achieved otherwise.
    On the body subject: I can personally attest that my body (after 3 kids) was a mess for a few years BUT… thanks in part to Moxie’s Challenge last year and a lot of hard work, my body got back into better shape than it ever had been pre- baby. Of course, now I’m pregnant again and it’s all going back out the window, but I know that I can get back into shape again, and that’s a good feeling.
    Good luck with your decision.

  9. We got pregnant just a few months after we were married. Us of the, “we’re going to wait a couple years and travel before having kids” variety. Scared the EVER LOVING CRAP out of me at the time. But I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I have a very involved husband. I’m good at it. I listen to myself and my instincts. I blow off crappy advice, however well intentioned, with a nod and a smile. I’m learning.You’ll be fine. You can worry about the logistics of anything, but when it comes right down to it, when you are thrust in the middle of a situatuion, you just DO IT. Whatever “it” may be at the time. It kind of reminds me of when we were all laying out our morning and evening routines, and I looked at it typed out and though to myself, oh holy hell – how do I DO that? You just do…
    Good luck to you. For the record, your friend’s comment made me mad a little. We all adjust to change differently, and for her to infer that just because you are scared, you are not ready, seems grossly unfair to me. I can’t say that I’ve ever met a mother who hasn’t been scared at the prospect of a child or one more chid (I have 4). If you want it, the fears will lessen with experience. Good luck to you!

  10. I totally want to write a book about this topic — about how people decide to have a kid. I dithered and discussed and pondered for YEARS, and was totally irked by my many friends who just *knew* they wanted kids. I’m sure that’s true for many people… but I also think plenty of women say that because they think it’s what they are “supposed” to feel, or because they feel uncomfortable admitting their uncertainty. Gah.So anyway, I got really great advice from a (male) former boss, who told me that if we’d been debating that much, clearly our desire to have a kid was pretty strong. He suggested we just go for it and see what happened (he and his wife had done all the talking for years, then ended up with fertility issues and ultimately chose dogs over lengthy infertility treatments).
    Like a lot of Moxites, I’m pretty committed to being honest about the challenges and the joys of mothering. I am NOT the kind of person who is going to blow smoke up your butt about the indescribable joy of every moment — that’s totally inaccurate and sets women in particular up for enormous feelings of failure and inadequacy when we *don’t* happen to enjoy a small, messy person, say. coughing in our open mouths 85 times a day. When I meet another mom who is similarly honest/blunt and can vent about the challenges while also telling stories about the adorable things our kids did today — that is the hallmark of a great friendship that transcends “mom friends.”
    Like @Sarah, I’m not sure I answered your question, but please don’t let your ambivalence/waffling prevent you from going forward. You will have awful days and great days, and you will have a cool little person growing up in your house… it’s pretty cool. Good luck!

  11. I don’t know if being prepared and ready has ANYTHING to do with how well you can handle a baby. I have always known I wanted children. I didn’t get married until I was 30 and had my first child at 33. I thought I was so prepared, read every book, took every class and then I had the baby and she ROCKED my world. Nothing I had read or talked to other parents about prepared me for this colicky, fussy baby who once she got over the colic, got her first tooth at 16 weeks and never stopped teething until her 2 year molars were complete (thank goodness that is over).That being said she is my world, the light of my life and I couldn’t imagine a day without her.
    So, I don’t think being prepared has anything to do with it. But, I think Moxie is right…it’s your decision of when you want to have children.

  12. I think people are being dishonest when they say that parenting is 100% wonderful. I truly don’t want to associate with those people, nothing against the original poster’s friend and SIL.I am also a person who freaked out during the entire nine months of a completely planned pregnancy. I knew having a kid was a completely unknown experience that you couldn’t prepare for, and that terrified me.
    And you know what? Parenthood has still thrown me for a loop. Honestly, the hardest thing to adjust to is knowing that it is just NEVER about you anymore. Your kid dictates everything, from your sleep schedule to the kind of restaurant you can eat at. And yeah, you can still take pockets of time out for yourself and/or your spouse if you work to carve them out, but it’s nothing like the uninterrupted free time you had on the weekends before you had a kid.
    Honestly, though, I applaud the original poster for being so self-aware. How many of us have had pregnant friends who aren’t aware of what they’re getting into and annoy the crap out of us?

  13. One more thought – a way that my life changed that I didn’t predict – the close friendships I found! There were casual friends in my life that have become my best friends in the past two years because we all became mommies within a year or two of each other. I have a few friends pregnant with their first right now, and I won’t be surprised if we get closer after their babies are here. The connection to other women who are mothers is one of the greatest gifts I’ve found in motherhood that is about “me”. 🙂

  14. Hon, if you’re not scared shitless when you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there is something wrong with you. And I mean that in the kindest way. Kids are not something that are all sunshine and unicorns. Even after 3 years of infertility treatments, when I saw the positive test I freaked out. Yes, I was happy. I was also very, very scared. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read or how many kids you’ve babysat, you still don’t know how to be a parent until you are a parent. And that’s ok, like Hedra says, we’re all works in progress. Sounds to me like you are having some healthy fears about the unknown. If after considering those you and your partner still know you want to be parents, then good luck to you, and bookmark askmoxie.@Anon Vet Student: The phrase “Man plans, God laughs” perfectly describes both of my kids. So much so that my second, a son, is named Isaac, which means “God Laughs.” Good luck to you with your kids and vet school.

  15. I’m so in the same boat! We’ve talked about it for years and are thinking of finally really trying toward the end of this year (after a very early miscarriage in 2006). Terrified, but so excited at the idea.You’re never really “ready,” is what my best friend (and good mom of 2) says. Those who say otherwise are most likely just lying to feel superior.

  16. You will never, ever be 100% “ready” to start a family. I was scared to death (do we have enough money? I’m I selfish for wanting to continue to work? What’s it going to do to our marriage? Will I be a good mom? Will he be a good dad? Will we ever get to go out on a date again?) and after being in a similar situation – taking about it for years, feeling like we were kinda-sorta ready – we took the plunge and got pregnant on the very first try. Who the hell gets pregnant on the first try?!?! All of a sudden I did NOT feel ready at all and I flipped out, while my husband did the happy dance. But once I relaxed into the pregnancy things went great and was one of those annoying happy pregnant women. Except for the damn cankles, I really liked being pregnant and took better care of myself then I did before.I loved the baby days (after getting through the first 6-8 weeks of “OMG, what the hell did I do?” state) and was terrified of the toddler stage. Now that she’s 2 1/2 I can’t believe I ever feared toddlerhood – she’s freaking amazing. Now? I’m scared to death of the teen years…but I have quite some time to freak out about that. And I’ve learned that you figure it out as you go, nothing will ever be perfect but that’s okay…no, it’s expected.
    Yes, there are plenty of hours that feel like days but more often there are days that feel like minutes. I question everything I do when it comes to her but have learned to quiet that voice of second-guessing and trust that I’m a good parent. There are days I feel guilty when I drop her off at daycare, but they are balanced by the joy I get from my job.
    Our marriage took a backseat to parenthood for a good year and there were major frustrations on both sides, but we were working off a foundation of 6 years of marriage (8 together) so although it got shaky for a bit, it never crumbled. I never expected trying to find balance between being me, a wife and a mother so difficult. It has taken a long time, but I’m really happy where I am as a parent and in my marriage(happy enough to start thinking of doing it all over again).

  17. I am 30 weeks pregnant with our first baby who was only about half planned, half surprise. 🙂 My husband and I were feeling like we could start trying for a baby but kept going back and forth on our decision. Then we found out we were pregnant, about 2 days after we decided to put things on hold with trying. Needless to say we were excited but VERY scared. We are not in the best place financially so I will have to go back to work but his work schedule is such that he can stay home with the baby most of the time. That is a relief. I have freaked out for most of the pregnancy but am just now starting to get excited about having a child. I should probably re-answer this question in a few months after the baby is born but for now I would say it is perfectly fine to get scared and nervous and wonder about the things you have mentioned. It is a pretty big deal to think about bringing this little person into the world and that you will be responsible for them for quite some time!I have had to stop talking to my friends who have kids and were either a. talking about how horrible and hard it was and how their life ended when they had kids-I’m sorry I know it will be hard but I don’t think your life needs to end or b. made it sound like they were the perfect mom and I better do this this and that if I wanted to be as perfect as them.
    You may see that there are people you need to not talk to about this situation because they are not going to be helping you in the end.

  18. I don’t think I have every agreed with you more Moxie.My story is that we tried for YEARS to get pregnant and eventually moved on to fertility treatments. After finally getting the long awaited news that I was pregnant I still had the, “Holy crap. What did we just do?!”.
    During my pregnancy I worried constantly about being a good mother. Would I have the patience? Would I be good at it? The advice I got from my mom friends and family was, “The fact that you are worrying about being a good mom… means you will be”.
    I work outside the home, full time (5 days, 40 hours), and commute an hour each way (on good traffic days). I won’t lie, the first year was HARD. I breastfed and pumped during work. I am happy and proud to say that I breastfed my daughter for a year and she only drank pumped breastmilk at daycare. Again, it was hard. There were days, sometimes weeks, where I felt I wasn’t a good mom/wife/worker. However, the good outweighs the bad. The benefits outweigh the negatives.
    We chose a daycare that was halfway between work and home. That way daughter was only in the car for half the time. I get into work early, husband does drop off. I leave work early and do pick-up.
    The bottom line is you will figure it out. In the end you make the best choices for you and your family.
    I remember one morning where daughter was up every two hours to eat. I was exhausted when my alarm went off. I took my shower, got ready for work, and she was up again to eat (I fed her before I left for work most days anyway). Husband was in the shower. I got in there and she had a total diahrrhea blow out. Ugh. I was tired, cranky, dressed for work, I had NO TIME to deal with this. In the end, I did. Why? Because who else was going to? As I changed her into clean clothes she smiled at me and played with my hair, I was glad to have that time with her.

  19. We got pregnant a month after I went off the pill, 2 years into grad school, so it was on purpose, and I was totally excited (because I had been wanting a baby for the year previous and my husband wanted us to hold off. I’m so glad he stuck with it because having a baby a year earlier would’ve been a disaster.) BUT nothing prepared me for parenthood, and we’re only 4.5 months into it. All of a sudden there’s this completely needy creature who is around me 24/7, to whom I give give give and there is very little return.Yes, when the Boo smiles it melts my world but it doesn’t fully make up for the fact that he woke up at 5am every morning for the past 2 weeks and I am physically exhausted pretty much all the time.
    I did not expect that being a parent would be this hard – I think the hardest has been to lose my independence.
    I did not expect to be in labour for 4 %$^!%@&* days before the Boo was born. (3 sleepless nights of painful pre-labour + another 16 hours + forceps + episiotomy + additional 3rd degree tear –> delivery + ruined pelvic floor muscles – sorry, too much information!)
    I did not expect baby crying to fry my brain so much. I know it’s evolutionarily adpative for moms to be hard wired to respond to their babies’ crying, but when the Boo wakes up from a nap cranky and wants to go back to sleep but can’t, and is just crying in my arms, I feel like my brain is on overload. I can literally feel my brain waves go in the red zone.
    I did not expect the Boo to be 20 lbs at 4.5 months, which means I have to carry him around. At 5’3″ and 110 lbs it sort of sucks and your back gets totally shot, even with a good baby carrier.
    I did not expect that my husband and I could still love each other so much, or still be so grateful for each other, despite the lack of sleep, painful sex (yeah, it still sucks), and lack of a social life.
    I also did not expect to be confronted with the futility of man – seriously, I have tried EVERYTHING to get my baby to sleep better and I have had no success.
    One of the best things that happened to me was that a good friend had a baby 10 days before the Boo was born, and her baby isn’t one of those on-a-routine-and-sleeping-through-the-night-at-8-weeks perfect babies either so we can totally comiserate. On the other hand, my other friend, who had a baby 3 months before the Boo was born, had her son on a routine by 6 weeks and has already gone back to the gym regularly by the time he was 4 months. I was not jealous *cough*. So, surround yourselves with other moms (new and old), and listen to everyone, but take what everyone says with a grain of salt. And don’t compare.
    All that to say, and as everyone else has already said – nothing will prepare you for parenthood. It was a really steep learning curve for us. But as Moxie said, the human race would’ve gone extinct long ago if only those who “deserved” to be parents were parents. So, whatever we’re doing, we’re doing something right!
    (Sometimes I wonder if parenthood would’ve been simpler when you couldn’t plan it? Somehow, the addition of “personal choice” gives one a whole lot more pressure to “do well”. My grandmother never went to school and had 5 kids, and raised another 3 grandchildren, myself included, and I think she was a stellar mom/grandma who taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons. I don’t think she was too concerned about whether or not she “deserved” to be a mother – my guess is, she just got pregnant and rolled with it!)

  20. We absolutely wanted kids, planned, prepared, timed it around our careers, saved up so I could take a whole year…. perfect, right?I’m with Stephanie – despite the perfect plan, having DS completed shook the foundations of my life. For a little while. Because there really is no way to prepare. And now, 18 months in, he is the center of the universe and I don’t know why we waited so long and my husband and I are those people who spend a chunk of every evening chuckling over his antics and patting ourselves on the back for our obviously excellent genetic material 😛
    Parenting IS hard. And unrelenting. But, like all things that you really have to work for, the payoffs are huge. Having a child switched on a light in my life, and I honestly never knew real joy until it happened. Not every moment of course. Sleep deprivation is a killer.

  21. I think being terrified is the sign of someone who might have a slight clue about what a major endeavor this is. It’s actually a sign of wisdom in my book. Moxie hit it right. All of the things you fear will happen at some degree but none will be irreparable and you will have more joy (overall, not in everyday necessarily) than you knew to expect either.After “planning” to have our baby, I was incredibly scared throughout the pregnancy. Many phone calls to best friends, “Am I going to be a good mom?” in tears. Now, thinking about a second? Same worries. Even though I wouldn’t trade my little guy for anything.
    Good luck to you.

  22. I kind of think that asking yourself if you are/will be a bad parent is kind of like what they say about wondering if you are crazy: If you are able to ask if you’re nuts, then you are probably fine 🙂 Really, I think that if you are aware enough to question your readiness to be a parent I think you are already way ahead of the game.We got pregnant by suprise, while I was on the pill. Terrifying. I had always assumed that one day I would make a completely adequate mother but thinking about it theoretically “sometime in the future” and looking at that positive pregnancy test are two COMPLETELY different things.
    Moxie, you are right in that I ‘absolutely and completely mourn my old body’ and there were/are staggering challenges- I feel like my heart has grown several times over but it is also that much more breakable- BUT when I look at my 18 month old’s bright, inquisitive eyes, hair the same color as my husband’s, and hear his sweet little voice say things like “Hug? Mama?” and I think OMG I MADE THAT. It completely blows my mind. In a good way.
    I echo others in that you can never be completely ready to have a kid. But like an explorer, you can be ready to make the leap of faith- ready to take the plunge into the unknown…even if, like me, you don’t realize how ready you truly are until the wheels are already in motion.
    So yeah. Trust your heart. By all means, read some books. Go to LLL meetings. There’s nothing wrong with knowledge but know too to expect the unexpected and be willing to go with the flow and trust your instincts rather than what some pediatrician/’child development expert’/friend/relative advises. Be flexible, durable and washable. Have a sense of humor. Be tenacious. And if I haven’t said it enough, trust your heart.

  23. From what I could see, all the comments so far have been from people who say they always knew they wanted a baby.Not me. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t until I met my now-husband. Then I could picture it, but I was still rather ambivalent. It wasn’t until we’d been together 6 years that we started trying.
    That said, all the same reactions and feelings. Of my whole pregnancy, the time I most felt like throwing up was looking at the positive pregnancy test.
    Now my daughter is almost 3, and is the best person there is. My love for her, and my understanding of what it is to be a parent, is an incredible lesson.
    I hashed over those same things of would I lose my life, etc. You just have to jump. Good luck to you!

  24. QUOTE: ‘I can still remember staring at that stick with the two lines and thinking, “What the hell have I done???” ‘That is how I felt with my THIRD one! LOL, you are never prepared … NEVER. I am a mom of three boys (5, 3 and 8 months) and I am not ready nor prepared. All you can do, is jump. As long as you realize that your children didn’t ask to be here, YOU did choose for them to ‘become’, you will do all right. What I am trying to say is, things won’t go smoothly, you will lose part of yourself and have no time for you, you will feel guilty over everything … but you did choose to be a parent. So, as long as you feel ready to accept that (and all the selfish thoughts you will have) then you will be okay. I really do think you will be okay though … lol.

  25. Someone once told me “if you wait until you feel completely ready, you’ll never have kids.”That was definitely true for me.
    At 21, I was sure I did NOT want kids, and the whole idea terrified me. Not an overstatement, that: it truly reduced me to tears.
    At 24, when I got married, I had changed my thinking to “sure, some day,” mostly because the wonderful man I’d found had always wanted to have kids. As for “when,” well, that was still undefined and far off…
    At 29, I realized I’d checked everything off my to-do-before-baby list: moved to France, found the job I wanted, bought an apartment, traveled extensively. Everything was covered, right down to “see the doctor,” and I had no more excuses.
    Just after that doctor visit (I know, but I’m not making this up!), literally overnight, I felt ready. Ready to jump into the unknown, because BOY WAS I STILL SCARED. Even more so that morning I stood in my bathroom staring at the positive pregnancy test. I hugged my husband and told him what a great dad he would be, but me? A great mom? I was far, far, far from convinced. All through my pregnancy I told people that I wasn’t nervous about giving birth, it was the 20 years that would follow that terrified me.
    For all that being prepared to be unprepared, the first months of motherhood still knocked me down and kicked me in the ribs a few times. As I recently said on my blog, not since Sputnik had something so small and weighing so little caused such concern and upheaval.
    Then… JOY. So much joy. I never could have known how happy being a mother would make me, or how much I would love my son. Not that I love every moment of motherhood. I lose my cool at 4 a.m. like everyone else, and those toddler temper tantrums throw me into “poor me” thinking very quickly. But the baseline is happiness.
    I also have found that becoming a mother has made me more patient with myself and others, less selfish, more understanding of human differences, weaknesses and strengths, more… well, a better person, in many ways.
    I wasn’t ready, I couldn’t have been ready, and I think that in some strange way that not being ready is what made the transformation happen. Sometimes you’ve just gotta dive into the deep end head first.

  26. In my experience, you never just “know”.I have ALWAYS wanted children and tried 7 months to get pregnant the first time. Felt completly 100% sure of being ready for every day of my pregnancy and then BAM: e was born a month early and I crashed. There was no love at first sight moment, all the cute things I was looking forward to paled in comparison with how I imagined the first few months of motherhood and I could NOT IMAGINE why anyone wanted motherhood so badly that they would undergo fertility treatments. Fortunately, that stage was limited to just 3 months or so; after that, I can honestly say that I love being a mother, even when I’m not “liking” it.
    Second pregnancy: total accident. e was only 8 months old when I saw the second line and I was TERRIFIED. Could not muster ANY enthusiasm for this baby, secretly hoped to miscarry, mourned e’s only childhood and had no idea how I could go back to work when I had two kids under 18 months old. FORTUNATELY, that stage ended shortly after g was born. I fell deeply in love with that little accident and somehow everything that I thought would be crippling about having two kids so close together just worked out.
    My boys are now 2.5 and 15 months and the best thing I do is them. I KNOW I am a good mother, even during the hard parts, and it’s still terrifying.
    Like Moxie said, you just SHOW UP and do what needs to be done. Attendance is required and the rest just kind of happens as needed.

  27. I learned more about myself in the past 3 years of being a mom than I learned in the previous 35.There’s no way to be ready, because it’s all one big unknown. Presumably most of us knew our spouses before we married, so we knew somewhat what to expect. Despite that, marriage and living together for the first time *still* throws many, many couples for a loop that first year.
    Now think about this baby…you will have never met him or her. And believe me when I say that your baby comes with a fully formed personality. Sure, you’ll have some influence, but much less than most people think. Some babies and children are naturally easy-going, and the parents of those kids usually think that this is due to their awesome parenting. Um, it’s really not.
    Ask any parent of more than one kid, where the 1st was a breeze and the 2nd wanted to make them rip their hair out by the roots. Their parenting skills didn’t get worse with the 2nd kid…
    I had my first child at 35, after preparing myself as well as I thought possible. It still blew my world and my husband’s world apart. (My son hadn’t read any of the parenting books I had, so apparently didn’t realize he was supposed to, I don’t know, sleep…)
    I didn’t enjoy my maternity leave at all, but things got better after the first 3 months. And now, as the mom to a 3-year-old with another due any day, I couldn’t be happier. Honestly. Not everything is awesome, of course (what is?), but my DH and DS make me laugh every day, and every day I watch in wonder at the person he’s becoming.
    For me, the unknown of just how he’s going to grow and change is a large part of what I enjoy so immensely now…

  28. Nobody’s ever ready, and trying to be ready helps and you will be a better and worse parent than you think (is there an echo in here?). I knew, always really knew, that I wanted babies, and when I was 32 and in a terrible relationship got pregnant by accident (he said he was sterile. Yes, I am incredibly stupid) and the 6 years since have been the best and worst of my life.I concur completely with Moxie’s answers and would only add, be open to what the universe sends you – your job will evolve, your perspective certainly will, your marriage, everything. I only know that when I try to make either my child or my life fit my preconceived notions – those are the days I’m a worse mother than I thought I’d be.
    AND – I almost forgot – you will experience joy unlike anything you’ve ever imagined. For me it was the cliche, the moment I set eyes on my new baby. For lots of people it’s later or different (no preconceived notions…), but I promise you that you will feel it, and those moments, whether fleeting or long, will make EVERYTHING worthwhile. You will pity the empty lives of those people without spitup on their shirts and squished rotten apples on the floor of their cars.

  29. Never was a particularly maternal person. Maybe because I’m the 9th of 10 children, I never spent a lot of time with babies, while my older siblings were so much better prepared than I was. Kids never even really seemed to like me much. But, when the husband and I finally married (10.5 years of dating) and finally started trying, we felt we were pretty much ready for kids.And then something happened: we couldn’t get pregnant! For more than 4 years, no baby. And you know what? As awful as it was – and it was traumatic – when we did finally get pregnant (overwhelming joy), we really TRULY wanted to be parents. Infertility was a gift for us because it really made us into better, more appreciative parents. The entire pregnacy, I sort of was waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under us, but nope: awesome pregnancy, labor, baby. And now we have a nearly 3 yo and a 16 month old and it’s amazing.
    I’m a better mother (and now a better, more compassionate person) than I could have thought. A welcome surprise! It’s both easier (the loving them) and more dificult (the sheer amount of work it takes) than I expected. The husband is an awesome father and the boys adore him. BUT we absolutely do not take enough time for ourselves and that is a challenge.
    Working, commuting, pumping will all become part of your routine. You will find solutions which work for you. Outsource what you can (housekeeper, if you can afford it?) and develop a network of family/friends to help whenever possible. Best of luck as you work to expand your family!

  30. There is no way, in my opinion, that anyone can ever truly be ‘ready’ for motherhood the first time around.Motherhood is a condition, one hopes, that lasts the remainder of your life; outlasts your time on this earth, in fact. It’s not really something you can take back or change your mind about later. And there is no book, course, or conversation over coffee that will be able to truly prepare you for how it will change *your* life. Your friends’ babies aren’t your babies, and what works for them won’t always work for you (and vice versa).
    I’m a fantastically good mom some days, and some days I’m a terrible, horrible mother. I can only hope it balances out. Nevertheless, my love for my kid is always immense and unwavering, even if we’re not having a great time together and I’m yelling myself hoarse while trying to clean toothpaste off the back of a cat.

  31. and this is why i have loved this site and all of you since my very first visit. because i depise (loathe!) moms i meet in real life (or on the web, but it’s easier to click off) who are all rainbows, sunshine and unicorns shooting out of their ass about how motherhood is just the apex of life itself and is always wonderful and fulfilling and perfect and lovely etc. this usually is paired with ‘the look’ of disgust/disdain when you offer that your experience has been, shall we say, less than that, has been difficult, challenging, rewarding but exhausting, etc. etc. i honestly think these people struggle as much as the rest of us, but are so scared to admit it lest they look weak and vulnerable (because our society doesn’t allow vulnerable=strength) or are in complete denial- either way, it’s sad, and completely unrealistic. parenting is hard.i love it here because as parents we are safe in a forum to be honest with each other and tell each other how sometimes motherhood is awful. sometimes you don’t like your kids, yourself, your spouse/partner, etc. sometimes you wish you had just appreciated the ability to sleep til you awake naturally, instead of to crying or some other high-pitched noise. you will look longingly at couples who are on their way *out* to a dinner at 9pm at a restaurant with cloth tablecloths and more than one course. you will sometimes question who the eff did you think you were to ever be trusted with another whole person (or two, three or four of them!) when you clearly can’t get your own sh*t together enough to shower daily. you will miss not feeling like you are always, constantly, under a deadline to achieve the next item on the schedule for the day for all this impossible-to-please people. you will not believe how much of your time is spent feeding, preparing food, cleaning up the food, and not really eating much of the food yourself.
    but you know what? of course you’ll miss your life before kid/s, but if you enjoyed your life well pre-kids, you’ll probably enjoy it with kid/s. you’ll be in this whole new phase of your life, and you’ll love the newness and new challenges and new people, places, things that go along with being a parent, not even mentioning the incredible, enormous, amazing love that this new relationship will bring into your life. it’s indescribable until you’ve experienced it, really.
    every so often (or, in my case, frequently) being a parent will knock you on your ass- usually after you think to yourself “hey, this isn’t so hard, i’m pretty good at this”- just keep repeating the second part of that phrase, because you *will* be pretty good at this. probably b/c you are so aware of how important this is. which is huge. and thank god we don’t remember much before the age of three, so you get a pretty steep learning curve to get the hang of things as you screw up repeatedly- you will, we all do, and it’s ok. because you will be *not* screwing up much much more than you will make mistakes, but it will be the mistakes you’ll focus on, unfortunately.
    lb, you are going to be an awesome mom. and when you’re not feeling so awesome, you’ll come here, and we’ll commiserate and agree and give data points and high-five you for keeping another person alive for just one more day. good luck!

  32. We spent ten years trying to get pregnant, and finally, happily, adopted. I was really, really ready for that baby (except of course we didn’t know what it would really be like.) We decided to adopt a second time, had all our paperwork in, and a week later I found out I was pregnant. I NEVER expect to be that surprised again, on ANY topic whatsoever. And I spent the next nine months petrified. Despite the fact that I was an experienced mom, despite the fact that I wanted another baby, I was paralyzed with terror, with indecision, with identity crisis (for 12 years I was “someone who couldn’t get pregnant,” now who am I?)My second child is now 18 months old and I feel like I am a great mom. Better than before. (Probably because more rested.) Most days, anyway. Like wix said, there are the yelling days, too. But I never have those fears any more, that I wasn’t meant to do this. This job, with everything it entails, all the love and the mess and the sweetness and the worry and the laundry, is me.

  33. The answer to “get pregnant on purpose but then get completely !@#$%^ing terrified during the pregnancy and still end up being a good-to-great parent?”Oh, yes. Me to a T. We “pulled the goalie” after buying a house and got pregnant less than a year of being married (and 5 months of not trying very hard). I felt about 75% “ready” to have a baby–which to me means that I felt that I had something to share with the baby, emotional, moral, or otherwise substantive to offer (which translates now, once kiddo is 2 years old and baby #2 is on its way, that I felt secure enough in my marriage, in myself, and to some degree, financially, to have kids.) Like Moxie, I think no one’s ever truly “prepared” for children–parenthood sometimes makes me feel like a goddess, sometimes like an idiot, and is always a surprise. I wasn’t even very happy for 2 months after I found out I was pregnant–both times!–because I was gripped with anxiety. Will I be a good mother (even though my mother and I do not now and have not for a very long time had a good relationship)? How will we afford 2 in daycare? And I think I’m a pretty good mother most of the time (although this is a process, continually refined by lots of reading, thinking and talking it over with my husband, who by his own admission is less “intellectual” about the parenting). If I’d waited until I was 100% prepared, I never would have had kids!

  34. Oh yes- totally. Just b/c you want it doesn’t mean you won’t freak out. And just b/c you freak out doesn’t mean you’re not ready. We tried for almost a year and when I was finally pregnant, I cried cried cried. Thought I’d lose my identity, that our marriage would change, that I’d get fat and stay fat and that I’d have no life. All of it not true- I have a different life now. Took em about 5 months to really embrace having a babay and ?I NEVER liked being pregnant- never. Fast forward three years- I’m knocked up again (after only 2 months of trying) and absolutely, completely terrified and convinced that I’m going to ruin our son’s life, my life, our marriage, etc. But the question that keeps me going is “how will you feel 20 years form now?” And the answer the first time was “gosh, I’ll really regret not having kids so we should have some.” And now it’s “gosh, I really don’t want our son to grow up an only child” (not that there’s anything wrong with that- just not what I imagined). So I’m keeping my eye fixated down the road and riding out the storm that is pregnancy and motherhood. Eventually, you just have to dive in and have faith that things will work out and you will do fine. The buzzing details in your head and from your friends/family? Madness-inducing. Turn off their voices and listen to yours. No one is ever ready but that doesn’t mean you won’t make an excellent parent.

  35. I never wanted to have children when I was growing up. Never. Didn’t want to lug all that “stuff” around that kids seemed to require. Thought I’d be a terrible parent because I’d had such iffy role models growing up. I still don’t like lugging around all that stuff and have plenty of insecure moments of thinking I’m the worst parent on the planet.My pregnancy was 100% planned. Three IUI cycles and then the last one took. I have journal entry after journal entry about how I was sure I’d made a terrible mistake and oh, god, this poor kid how badly was I going to mess him up?
    I really think I turned 30 and some biological switch got flipped and my body wanted to reproduce because nothing really changed except that I would see moms with their children and get unbelievably sad and want “that” – with no idea what “that” was. Did I think I was ready? I had no idea what that meant. Did I think I’d be a good parent? Not particularly. It was an urge – deep, persistent, unexplainable and now with some perspective totally unrelated to the reality of parenting except that the deep, persistent urge has been replaced with a deeper, thrumming love that no matter what else happens my life will always be better for having experienced. Am I filled with this euphoric feeling when he’s screaming and arching his back so I can’t get him in his car seat and it’s humid out and I really, really need to get to work? No. It’s not all unicorns and butterflies but it is amazing – looking at life through a new set of eyes, watching your heart toddle out fearlessly into the world.
    Things I didn’t expect – reserves of patience and the ability to tolerate another human being’s bodily fluids without grossing out. And singing. I’m a terrible singer but he loves it – I sing Good Morning to You to the tune of Happy Birthday every morning when he wakes up and when I finish he does the sign for more. 🙂

  36. Originally posted this under the Peek stuff – it must be true that we lose brain cells every day!We made a conscious decision to try for a baby, and each month when I found that I wasn’t pregnant I was a little relieved! When I did get pregnant, I hated it – I was miserable(afraid, sick, dreading the end of my old life, worried I was too selfish to love the baby, etc.). Then we had a scare at 14 weeks when the dr couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat, and I spent 3 whole days crying until we found out that the baby was just fine. I was blown away by how primal my emotions were – what was going on in my ‘conscious’ head was completely different to what was happening quietly in the background. At that moment, for the first time, I knew that we were going to be just fine.
    And we are just fine – life is so different now with a child in our lives, but we learn how to deal with the bad stuff (as Moxie says you get up every day and just do it) & thank our lucky stars for our ds every day.

  37. LB, I think that the fact that you’re kind of tied up in knots about it means that you’re ready to take that leap of faith and go for it. You’re not alone in having a lot of overwhelming and conflicting feelings about having a baby–and I agree w/ previous posters that you’re never going to feel 100% prepared. I think self-doubt comes with the territory.In my experience, it’s people like you, who ask a lot of questions and really take themselves to the mat about readiness, fitness, and ability who are the ones that will make great parents. It’s because you are so hyper-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and shortcomings, and because of your open-hearted desire to love another little person that you will be a great parent–all of those things will motivate you to be the best parent you can be–even when sleeplessness and frustration may be grinding you down, and you don’t know how you’ll get through the day.
    My husband and I knew for certain that we wanted children–but we absolutely *freaked out* when I actually got pregnant. We were both in shock, and it took awhile to wrap our heads around the fact that even though we knew we wanted kids, and wanted to be parents, we were terrified that we wouldn’t be any good at it.
    And you know what? We love our boy more than we thought possible, we love being parents (even though there are definitely things that suck about it sometimes!), and we can’t imagine life without him. Our friends tell us they admire our team-parenting style, which we work very hard at, so it’s nice to hear that it might be working! We have baby #2 due in 4 months–and we couldn’t be happier, even though I just got laid off, the equity in our home evaporated, and the job market sucks.
    Go for it, start trying, and trust your gut.

  38. Oh, honey.My older child is 4 and 3/4, and I am still a work in progress as a mother. And a person.
    Over the past, oh, 15 years, I went from not wanting to have kids to wanting to have several to just 2 is fine and now I don’t know. As a younger person (under 20) I never pictured myself as a mom, never played with dolls, never felt particularly nurturing or what have you. But then I met someone who I saw as such a great dad-to-be, and I loved him and I loved THAT about him. I knew we’d be ok mucking about in all that together.
    But Moxie’s points are all terrific. It is terrifying to change your life so completely. I don’t know that we were 100% ready for a baby, and we tried for 2.5 years before we finally got pregnant. When I unexpectedly got pregnant with #2 was when I was *completely* petrified. Worried how I would cope. Feeling guilty about prematurely ending my first child’s babyhood so soon. I was a basket case for my entire pregnancy. Now I would not trade them (of course) OR their age difference. (But the little one is almost 3, and it took me at least 2 years to feel comfortable with it.)
    As far as your job and marriage and life goes, a baby would change all that. I think it’s impossible to predict exactly how. You might want to give up your job for one closer to home. You might want to start a home-based business. Your husband might want to quit HIS job to be home with the baby. The possibilities are myriad.
    One of the things I love the most about being a parent vs just going to a job is the potential. My kids have the potential to amaze me every single day with something they’ve learned or something they do or say. It doesn’t always happen, and sometimes it does but gets lost in the drudgery of the laundry and the feeding and the potty and all that BUT the potential is always there. Some days you question the (in)sanity of it all; hate the day, but love the people. Going to work was just going to work, predictable and ok. Never amazing and life-changing.
    Anyone who says that you love it all the time, that you’re born for it or not, or that you can be fully prepared for it is lying. The end. You can try as hard as you can to wrap your head around it before it happens, but ultimately it’s just too big. Apprehension and thinking are great. Prep is great. But faith (in yourself; in your situation; in a higher power, if that’s part of your life; in whatever babies come your way) counts for a lot too. You definitely grow into it.
    OK, probably 50 people have commented in the time that it’s taken me to write this, interrupted by two games of Memory, one alphabet puzzle, snack, shower, lunch, and bedding down to nap. Never simple. But worthwhile in the end.

  39. I have never been one of those women who always knew they wanted to be a mom. In fact, I spent most of my young adulthood swearing that I probably wouldn’t have kids since I didn’t have the patience for it. Later I softened my stance to say that I would only have kids with the right partner, the dad who fully participated in parenting.So I get married a couple weeks after my 32nd birthday and 6 months later, I am pregnant. Oddly enough, I didn’t worry much even though I am a grade A worry wart! I sort of prepared myself for my life to be completely turned upside down and figured that we’d deal with it as it came. And we did. My son had to be delivered just shy of 37 weeks for placental issues and my husband was downsized out of his job about 3 weeks after the baby was born. Oh and the baby was SEVERELY tongue-tied so he never would latch even after being clipped so I pumped exclusively for 4 months even after going back to work.
    But I was blessed with a very mellow, easy going baby. He will be 3 this May and I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been up all night with him. He ate well (latching problems aside), slept well and teething wasn’t that bad. I think some of the things that I did certainly helped but in general, I have had it relatively easy due to his easy going nature.
    Now I am pregnant again and frankly I am freaking out way more this time than I did last time. I do have a MUCH longer commute this time and the daycare won’t be minutes from my house. And what if this baby is colicky or not a good sleeper, or etc? I do worry but I try to remind myself to just take it as it comes and my husband and I will deal with it.
    Yes, some things do change and you have to let go of some notions of how things should be. I never in a million years thought I would have a cleaning person but when I changed job to my current one with the hour commute, something had to give and I didn’t want it to be time with my kid. So we have a cleaning service that comes every 2 weeks to scrub the bathrooms, vaccum the rugs and mop the hardwood floors.
    But your worries are totally normal and I don’t think anyone can 100% prepare for being a parent.

  40. My son is eight-months-old. He was totally unplanned. The kind of unplanned that made me cry pretty much daily for at least the first month of knowing I was pregnant.Now? It’s so cliche. But I can’t imagine life without him. He’s my bun-bun. My life is way busier, way more chaotic, way more harried. Also, it’s way better. I like myself so much more now. I’m less selfish. I’m more caring. I’m nicer. I’m more sympathetic and less judgmental. My marriage has hit rocky days, but I fell in love with my husband again, seeing what a sweet father he is.
    I used to run. I used to go to the gym. I used to spend weekend nights sipping wine out with friends. I loved to stay up for Conan. I journaled more. I tried new recipes. I took on projects. I miss those things sometimes. Lots of times, actually. But I would NEVER go back.
    I chronicled my unexpected pregnancy on my now dormant blog, stalicious.typepad.com. Just know: you are so, so, so not alone. Everything you said is more than just common — it’s the absolute norm.

  41. I haven’t read all the comments, but I agree with all those who have said you will never be ready – that’s what I was told when I was majorly agonizing about whether it was the right thing to do or not – that if you wait until you feel totally ready, you’ll never have children.On the whole I really wanted to have children, and went through quite a stressful year or so when my OH was very much on the fence, plus worrying about finances and the fact that we live in a one-bedroom flat etc. When we finally decided to go for it, I used to daydream about the rush of happiness I would feel if I got a positive pregnancy test, about going to work with that glorious secret inside me. But of course when it did happen, I had a huge mix of emotions, primarily shock, and it has taken most of the last 7 months (I’m now 34.5 weeks) to begin to get my head around everything and finally feel the joy above the anxiety!
    I still can’t possibly know quite how our lives are going to change once the baby arrives, but I hope that all the thinking I did before getting pregnant has at least prepared me in some way for the fact that my world is going to be turned upside-down.
    Good luck whatever you decide!

  42. I felt ready AND not ready all while we were trying and while pregnant.I feel both competent and incompetent many times on any given day … and my oldest is almost 5.
    There are some crazy times when the baby is small … but it is an ever-evolving situation. You get better at stuff, new things arise, then you get better at the new things.
    If you want to have a family, go for it. If we all waited until we were pefectly “ready” … well, there would be a lot fewer babies.

  43. Haven’t read the comments so I could be repeating myself.First reaction, “Oh Please!” NO ONE is ever ready enough. Parenting is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done. If everyone waited until they were ready to have a baby, NO ONE would have babies.

  44. I grew up with two INCREDIBLE parents. As a teenager, I remember being totally shocked when I heard that they didn’t want children. My mom had been told that she couldn’t have them and they were relieved. They were unemployed and living in their VW van (yes, they were hippies:) when they found out they were pregnant. My dad couldn’t speak for days- complete shock over a pregnancy he didn’t want. So, in short, they were very unprepared financially and emotionally but ended up being amazing parents. I think like previous posters have said, you will never feel completely ready or prepared but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be wonderful parents.

  45. It seems like most of the comments are along the lines of “yeah it’s hard, yeah it will turn your life upside down, but totally worth it.”I’d like to present a different view. I had almost exactly the same mix of worries you did, before and during my pregnancy. Daughter is almost a year old now, and I still sometimes feel that I made a mistake. I don’t think I have PPD; I don’t feel down all the time or even a majority. But there are days, on average 1 or 2 days a week, when all I want is to escape, and all that keeps me from running away is a sense of duty. There are certainly moments that are sweet and wonderful, but at this point I am mostly just hanging in there and hoping that it gets better at some point.
    I know my husband wants another kid, and for a brief period when daughter was 4-6 months old I thought that sounded great. But ever since then, I feel like I can’t handle a second one, and will NOT do it just to make him or anyone else happy.
    I think that your fears are valid – does that mean you shouldn’t have a baby? Not necessarily. Just don’t let anyone else decide for you, or you will HATE everyone who put pressure on you. It would be nice to know in advance how you’ll adjust to motherhood, but unfortunately the only way to know is to try it.
    Either way you decide, and either way things turn out, you need not feel alone. If you decide to have kids and don’t like it, there are others like me who can commiserate. There are certainly plenty of women who have chosen to skip the whole thing, some with regrets and some without.

  46. I am a accidental mom. I didn’t think I wanted children – our life was fine without and I come from a really f’ed up family and didn’t want to take a chance of repeating those mistakes. Thought the maternal instinct completely passed me by. Eventually we stopped being as careful (we thought conception would be next to impossible) and one day I’m wondering why I’m so tired, have to pee a lot, have a strange compulsion to bake, and oh, wasn’t my period supposed to start a few days ago? Oops!I was completely terrified the first month or so. I was worried about everything, especially about losing my identity.
    But I am still myself now that I am a mother. Part of being a good parent is also being true to yourself. I haven’t given up the things I need for that. I still have the same groups of friends. I have a job I love. I’m still a musician, even though I can’t practice for hours a day (the job would have gotten in the way of that anyway). I manage to find a little time for hobbies.
    Being a mom is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Sometimes it can be so incredibly frustrating and I miss the relative simplicity of my life pre-child. It can also be overwhelming to think of my responsibility to raise a good person (and not make my family’s mistakes). Sometimes dealing with a small child can be tedious (ugh – reading the same book over and over). Other times it’s lots of fun. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad! I think becoming a parent has ADDED to my life and am thankful that I have the chance to be a mom.

  47. I was TOTALLY READY for my daughter. Like, totally and completely prepared. I had all the products, took all the classes, and was just absolutely ready.And she threw my world upside down. And taught me that I was not prepared at ALL. And 19 months later, my marriage has not fully recovered, my body has not fully recovered, my job has not recovered, and I still don’t get enough time for my hobbies. So we decided to get pregnant again and now I will have two under two and I am absolutely thrilled and scared again 🙂 But this time I am not preparing.
    It’s just that there is nothing you can do to prepare yourself until you actually become a mom – because so much of it is emotional. How patient are you? You won’t know the answer to that question until you have a screaming baby. How creative are you? You will learn once you have a child who stares at you eagerly, waiting for you to do something, anything, to amuse them, while in line at the DMV with no toys (or whatever)… and you know if you don’t come up with *something*, the child will scream and you will have to leave and you will never get your driver’s license (again, just a made-up example).
    I think you are going into this with your eyes wide open. You recognize that what makes it easy for your sister-in-law (close commute, WFH, totally available partner, etc.) will not be there for you, so you may find it harder and you may have to give up more of yourself for a little while. Like Moxie says, you probably won’t care at first… maybe you will care eventually but if/when you do, you will find a way to work it out. You will hire a babysitter so you can go out to dinner with your husband, or exercise, or do whatever you need to do.
    The only area in which I disagree with Moxie is in this point: “Honestly, it makes me a little angry that someone thinks everything’s going so well for her because of something she did! That basically means that she thinks that people who have problems with their babies are having problems because they haven’t done things the right way. That’s insulting, misogynistic, and ridiculous.”
    I just want to make the point that parenthood is SO challenging, and SO unbelievable, and SO unpredictable, and SO scary, that sometimes you need to pat yourself on the back. You need to think that it is something YOU did which makes it bearable… even if it’s totally untrue. It’s just that thinking you did something to help get through it can help you feel proud of yourself, and can help you get through a tough day. I think that’s why we parents brag so much… because we need something to get us through the tantrums or the colic or the nursing strikes or the sleep deprivation or whatever. You know? I don’t know if that’s what is behind this particular SIL’s comments, but I can recognize this compulsion to pat ourselves on the back in my friends and family and in *myself* and I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world.
    Oh, and as for handling the pregnancy & birth well?
    Let me say this, even though it will cause ire from doulas and midwives and everyone who was able to perform natural childbirth everywhere (I’m prepared to be hated for this): everyone I know who totally prepared for it had the WORST labor & delivery imaginable. And everyone I know who trusted in the medical community and just went with it had an EASY labor. Coincidence? Probably. But worth thinking about. There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for labor except go through labor. Absolutely nothing. And it will be ok and it will end one way or another, and even if you totally vary from the birth you want, eventually you will probably grow to be ok with that. And you have to take pregnancy day by day and labor has to be taken contraction by contraction, and you will find resources and strength to manage it. You WILL. All that pregnancy/labor/delivery stuff is a temporary issue put up with for a lifetime of family.
    I will end my long monologue by saying: every morning when I go to get my girl out of her crib, and she is so sweet and soft and sleepy and cozy, and she is SOOO happy to see me, I know we did the right thing. I miss dinners with my husband, I miss a lot of things about our old life, but my GOD I would be bored if we hadn’t done this. 🙂

  48. Like everyone else, I think you can never be fully ready, but are we ever truly ready for any huge life changing event? Marriage, moving house, going to university – these are already some of the life altering events that you may have experienced and found that you’ve survived!Another interesting set of data to throw into the equation is how old LB is and how many children (ideally) she and her husband think they might want. The average woman’s fertility drops like a stone at 39 (info from the UK’s leading miscarriage clinic, not media hype). There are, of course, exceptions, but after 39 the odds of getting and staying pregnant with a healthy pregnancy severely reduce. So, LB might want to have finished having babies by 39. With the average gap between children being 2 years, then if they want two children, then they need to start when she is 34 at the latest. If they want three, then 32 is the latest. This is assuming that there are no fertility problems (again, data says 1 in 6 couples have fertility problems) and they only want a 2 year gap not longer. This may add another aspect to their discussion.
    I don’t think doubt and fear mean LB is not ready, I think they mean LB is realistic and informed. After 3 miscarriages, I was still scared about becoming a mum, and am scared about the arrival of No. 2 in 4 weeks time (gulp, 4 weeks!). On a good day, I know I’m a good mum, but on bad days like today, I just get through the day.
    One unexpected bonus of having children was seeing how brilliant my husband is with our daughter and how he adores having a family of his own. It has made me love him even more (even though there have been times when we’ve killed each other with the sleep deprivation). Yes, you do have to take care of your marriage but people can grow apart in marriages even without children, so it’s something most happily married people keep tabs on, children or no.
    Two things I’m really glad that I did before having children are exotic foreign travel and sorting our finances. I was lucky enough to have travelled to China, Thailand, Morocco and Egypt before having children. You certainly CAN do exotic foreign travel with young children, but the kind of off-track, all day trips that the husband and I enjoy aren’t little child friendly. For now, we’re sticking to Europe and North America and we’ll go back to exotic travel when the children are old enough to enjoy it as well. I think if I’d had kids before I’d done some travelling, I would have resented them from stopping me seeing the world when I wanted to, so if you’re into exotic holidays it might be something to consider.
    The other thing is finances. You certainly don’t need to be rich to have children, but I can’t think of anything more stressful than trying to calculate if you have enough money for both nappies and baby milk this week. We’re all cutting back in these recessionary times, but maybe try a ‘baby budget’ for a month and put aside money that you would spend on a little one and see if you can manage.
    I hope some of this makes sense – I’m pretty brain dead now at this stage of pregnancy, but I know that I will be myself again in about 6 months time!

  49. I ditto everyone saying that you show up and do it, and that that alone will result in you being okay, even growing and changing in a good way. I’ll add that for me, it’s been useful to try to remember that the constantly critical little voice in my head is just a *bad habit* and not a reflection of reality.

  50. On ‘preparedness = easy’ (from the OP), I am the most freakishly prepared mom regarding birth that any of my care providers has EVER seen. Ready for anything. Except, oh, what actually happens, LOL! Being prepared is not as important as able to respond to what happens. My preparation is for two purposes a) to give me something to DO with my anxiety/worry/panic, and b) so that I have enough of a foundation for decisions that I can respond flexibly to what is happening in the moment.It’s the ‘okay, now what do I do?’ point that matters, for me, and the next moment after it.
    So, delving into your questions, I’ll give you the answers from my own life, so you can kind of see more than the general stuff:
    I’m worried about if I can manage the pregnancy/birth well: I determined to educate myself about my options, challenge my assumptions, take an evidence-based-medicine approach. I ended up with all sorts of ‘specific’ things I didn’t expect, didn’t ‘want’ and never planned for. BUT, the underlying theme was Safe Respectful Kind, and I had to figure out if X was actually safe, or just what Y person thought was safe, check my assumptions, etc. DOING pregnancy? I was miserable. I am not a shining pregnancy success. My mom literally glowed, she looked like she just came in from sunbathing while sipping mint juleps, no stretch marks (even on child seven, my little brother), lovely, wonderful, ate some crackers to handle the morning sickness (oh, the things I did not inherit…). I swelled, got stretch marks on my stretch marks, got sick, gained weight, blah blah blah. I also thought it was amazing and cool, and was okay with the idea that parts suck, and parts are wonders, and it’s okay to experience both. For birth, plan but don’t expect was my eventual process – I plan for as many possible scenarios as I can, so that I can adapt in the moment. But that’s suitable for my personality, and not for everyone’s. Don’t be afraid to do your reading (try ChildbirthConnection.org for a starting point. My blog also has a parenting bookshelf if you think I’m not too far away from what your personal planet.), and read more than one thing so you can start to see where some people have colored their ideas with their philosophy more than with science.
    how I can possibly work full time with an hour commute one way while breastfeeding: Did that. 1 hr 20 min each way. Pumping works for me. I also decided eventually that the commute was too long, and changed tracks slightly. It was a good change. Working Mother Nursing Mother is a good book for that concept. It can be done. It may not be what you want to do, or choose to do, later. But few choices are permanent, for stuff like ‘where do I work, do I work, how do I work?’ you can change your mind. Often, if you need to. There are a million possible solutions, you just can’t see the variety of subtle variation from where you are.
    about being a bad mother, and about all the awful things I might do to screw up a child: Bad mothers (IMHO) are those who don’t care, or who care randomly. You care. Therefore you can do something about being a ‘bad mother’. I’ll give you some advice that was given me when I was pregnant with my first: 1) Get a nice comfy chair you can sleep in reclined, because they sleep better on you when they have a head cold (really), and 2) you WILL mess up your kids, so get used to the idea – the point is to get them to adulthood in a state where they can AFFORD their therapy, not to get them there all pristine and without a scratch or an emotional moment or a fit of anger. It is not possible to NOT mess up. Mess up, recover, make amends, learn, and carry on, and repeat. Accepting the idea that I will be an imperfect parent for an imperfect child was the first step to not beating myself up. Love (adoration form, I just blogged about that a few back, too) will make us want to try, but don’t confuse yourself with the idea that somehow children deserve perfect parents. Research actually shows that normal parents who mess up, who are different from their partners, who try, and love, and are warm and respectful and STILL mess up, that’s optimal. Perfect parents who never ever ever make a mistake end up with kids who are emotionally fragile and prone to depression – they have NO skills for handling the reality of life being imperfect. Perfect, then, would be pretty bad.
    Then there are all the selfish worries, like will I have to give up my identity and life: From my perspective, identity is always changing, it is just the fact that I have not compared lately against how I felt before puberty that makes me forget that. I have to remember that I’m not in some kind of static state, frozen in time until some major event changes me. Small things change me every day. We’re never the same today as yesterday, we just think we are. Having a child will change that faster and more dramatically than not having a child, but almost every single/childless person I know has gotten to the same place, where they find that they care deeply about the future, other people, responsibility, life; they think about the same stuff I think about, but the triggers are different. It’s a more gradual process, less of a 2×4 to the head, but it is still the same maturation, change, development. So, given that who you are will change, your identity will change, what is the issue? It’s the shock of it: It will change suddenly, and you’ll flounder and wonder who you are. YEP. And my child-free siblings also had that floundering, and wondering, just not always as radically. You will reframe your life, your choices, and your desires for the future around the child (should you succeed), but don’t mistake it for being the fault of parenthood – parenthood is just a collection of triggers all in one place. It goes off with a big boom instead of a lot of small pops farther apart, that’s all. I super-huge ‘all’ there, but it’s hubris to think that nobody without kids ever learns this stuff. Buddha learned it, there are people all over the world who learn it without kids. Identity changes over time, period.
    can my husband and I maintain a good relationship: We did, and it took effort, just like keeping in tune without kids took effort, only this was with less time, energy, and sleep. We had to relearn the shape of each other, our goals, dreams, fears, needs, all that. It was actually kind of cool – dating again, having talks about stuff that hasn’t been important since adolescence – we just had to make room for doing it, and be intentional about it. Again, it is a lot of changes in a short period of time, but we’re not static beings either way.
    what is this going to do to my body: Prior to the twins, it changed but didn’t ravage it (gaining too much weight between kids did ravage it, but that’s not the baby, that was other stuff), taught me to respect and honor it in ways I never thought were possible (like, I thought I really liked my body before! WHOA nelly, I can grow a whole other PERSON, and feed them, with this here body! That’s… well, damn. Thinking that and KNOWING that are different things.) I’ve also had to forgive my body for not doing the things other women’s bodies ‘can do’ – I have to honor my body and love it even for the weaknesses and failures, forgive the ways it is just the way it is, and learn to love that, too. I don’t recommend twins for people who want a nice un-fluffy belly later, though, unless you have money tucked aside for surgery.
    am I going to have to give up caring about my career: No. You may choose to stop caring about it quite the same way for a while, because there are other things that consume that space in your mind and life. Or you may not even feel like that was a choice, but just ‘man, what was I thinking that I found my career so ‘all that’ before??? Baby is clearly ‘all that’!’… or not. I ended up shifting through ‘eh, career, it’s a job’ to ‘jobs suck’ to ‘holy cow, I love this job!’ in turns. I care more about my career than I ever did. I also think more carefully about it, and make different choices about it, and if it went away tomorrow, I know my identity is flexible enough that it won’t matter the same way as it would have 20 years ago. It will still matter, but not the same.
    can I still keep my hobbies: Hobbies may change, go on hiatus, or be incorporated into your life with kids. Some we put on hold, some we laugh at in retrospect (okay, so that was the dream of raising sport horses, like we were ever going to have the money for that!), some we carried along in other formats, some are new grown. Like the rest of life, hobbies are constantly evolving, changing, meshing, falling away, just any long span makes them seem permanent. They’re not. If they fit, they stay, if they were important, we find a way to carry them with us or hold onto them until they fit again.
    will my husband and I have to be broke forever: Step one, hire a financial advisor. Seriously, this was the best thing we ever did, financially. It was embarassing (we made some not-so-wise choices early on, and some wise-but-not-financially-driven choices as well), but only for about half the first meeting, after that it was all problem-solving and education and strategy and … we’re in way better shape than we were when we started having kids, WAY better than after Mr G, and while not where we’d like to be (partly due to having twins, partly due to the market), as of a year ago we had fully funded our retirement (it’s unfunded again, sigh, but we’re not that far off). You can do this, if you pay attention and get someone who knows what they’re doing helping you out. You might not get there as fast as if you didn’t have kids, but speed is not my goal, just success.
    Essentially, there are methods and strategies and answers for every question. You can keep finding questions until you run out of time, or you can embrace the worry and stress and fretfulness, and say ‘these worries prove only that I care about my future child, myself, my relationship, and my future as a person not just a mother’ and then go looking for information, solutions, strategies, resources, peers, and so forth. Which I think is what you’re already doing, just by asking Moxie. So, see, you’re already on your way.

  51. @IreneYou’re not the only one.
    If I just take what comes it is ok, but I have yet to reconcile what I thought would be my life right now and what it is.

  52. @Irene, I think it’s awesome that you added the contrary view. When my girl was <12 months - hell, until she was nearly 18 months - I thought I'd made a dreadful mistake. For me, it *was* partly PPD... but also the realization that I am much, much better at mothering a creature who can communicate -- even if all she's communicating is NOOOOOOOO. I hope your journey gets easier as your little one gets older. I'm with you, too, on stopping at one, unless I have a DRASTIC change of opinion sometime fairly soon (I'll be 37 this summer).

  53. LB, you sound so much like I did before and during my pregnancy. I felt all that you felt, plus a lot of issues with my mom arose. I didn’t want to be a mother like her (she wasn’t horrible or abusive, just depressed with no sense of self). I was really worried about PPD, too. So at the encouragement of my Bradley method instructor, I found a therapist, and she has been the best thing for me. I still see her. And I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m not talking full-on psyhoanalysis–she’s a LCSW with a particular interest in women’s issues who gives me the luxury of talking freely and openly. Really what she does is help me develop strategies for dealing with things (everything from my negative thinking to how to deal with the first time I was totally alone with the baby overnight)and gives me a reality check every two weeks. It was the really the best thing I could have done for myself.Oh, and to be blunt–stop listening to your friend’s advice. I’m sure she means well, but that type of thinking is not going to do your mental health any good. I’d be more worried if you didn’t have doubts about any of this.

  54. I agree with the first commenter in that the fear/anxiety never goes away, but you can feel kind of “ready” when the desire to have that child outweighs the anxiety. That’s how I felt- the fear never went away, the desire and not-feeling-complete-without-a-child-ness just grew to be a larger force than the fear. Good luck!

  55. I don’t have much new to add, but wanted to add my two cents anyway. I always wanted kids, and I had always thought I’d be a great mother. I have worked with children my whole professional career and people have always told me how good I am with children. Well, I had no idea what being a parent was really like. I don’t think you can really know until you are a parent. My whole world turned upside down when our son was born. He didn’t sleep, he cried a lot, he nursed all the time, and he constantly needed to be held and carried his first six months or so. I felt like the world’s worst mother.But, it truly was love at first sight. I look at my son (16 months old now) and I can’t believe that I helped create this funny, beautiful, loving little person. I know I actually am a good mother, and that questioning yourself and being open to doing things differently helps you to be a better parent. Of course, I wish he’d sleep at night (he just slept through the night for the second time ever!) and I’m so nostalgic for the pre-kid, sleeping-in Saturday mornings, but our life is so much better with him in it.
    I just found out I’m pregnant again, mostly planned, and I’m really scared about it. Much more than the first time. Can we afford two, especially daycare? Can I be a good mother to two children? We really want another baby, but, oh my god, what have we done?
    So, if you want it, just jump in. Trust yourself and find some other mothers who will tell you the truth and be there for you.
    Oh, and children change all the time. My friend with the “easy” baby (I was so jealous!) now has a challenging, passionate, sensitive toddler. So, your sister-in-law may have a surprise coming.

  56. @ Irene — My husband and I both hated it until around 18 months. Our son is 26 months now and we both love it. He’s away for two nights with my parents and I miss him SO much, I can’t wait to get him back. I totally thought I’d made a mistake for the first year. I thought it was hell and desperately missed my old life. Now, notsomuch. Sure, sometimes I miss leisure time, but it gets SO much easier as they get older so in fact, I do have leisure time, I get to the gym, we go out… Have faith, it will get much better.

  57. I haven’t read all the comments thus far, so sorry if I’m repeating lots of things already said!I feel like I went though a long process before getting pregnant with my first and jumping in again for this current pregnancy (the girls will be 4 years, 1 month apart; we conceived #1 on our 5th wedding anniversary). I, too, was afraid and wondered about this and that and analyzed and researched and checked my emotions. And by the time we’d decided to start trying, both times, all the reasons *not* to have a baby became, as my friend accurately summarized, “less compelling.” The fears and worries and wonderings were still there, but weren’t there enough to keep us waiting any longer.
    I had a big freak-out about two weeks before my first was born, after holding my dear friend’s days-old infant. I was up most of the night, realizing I really had no idea how to even hold a baby, or take care of it, or…. And you know what? Somehow, when she was born and we were spending our first hours and days together, she just fit in my arms, and most everything felt so instinctual. We survived, together. We figured each other out. There were really rough months when she was an infant (as there are for any new mom), and there have been rough weeks as she’s gotten older. But, oh my, what a life it is, in a good way – we can’t remember life without her!
    Now I have to stop myself from getting freaked out about how #2 will change things and just concentrate on each day, knowing that I’ve learned a lot in almost 4 years, and we’ll all be okay, and even better off for #2’s presence. At some point, we have to take that leap and then concentrate on what we *can* control (this applies to more than just parenting, of course ;).

  58. @ Irene – for the first year I thought anyone who had more than one child was insane or incredibly unlucky!Even in the midst of the all powerful motherlove I was feeling for my son, I recognized how hard it was, how life changing in ways that aren’t always the most comfortable and my god – who could do this to themselves a second time? At least with the first one you can claim ignorance at what you were getting into. 🙂
    And, yeah, not everyone who has a child loves the experience of being a parent. I still have plenty of friends who don’t have kids who lead very happy, fulfilling lives. They borrow mine for awhile and happily give him back.
    It’s just my experience that deciding to have a child was the best decision I could have made for myself – whether I knew it at the time or not.
    Maybe even if you aren’t loving the baby stage (and we have lots of folks here that didn’t) perhaps as your child becomes more independent and you are able to get more sleep – you will start to feel a little better about things.

  59. @ irene- we’ve gone through this as well, in our case, it ebbed and flowed through pnut’s first year of life as well. having a kid can be an ass-kicker. people would ask me all the time when we were having another one and til she was almost two i honestly couldn’t fathom it- and i always wanted to have a bunch of kids. so.the other side is this: i have many friends who *did* stop after one, and are happy for it. they love their kid, but don’t want to add to their families for a variety of reasons, not least of which is going through infancy all over again just when your first kid is able to communicate in words and sleep through the night and go longer than 10 minutes without needing to be fed.
    thank you for your honesty- i really appreciated it!

  60. So sorry I don’t have time now to read all the comments! But I wanted to share my take.First, Moxie’s answers to your questions are spot on, IMO! And I also get very annoyed when people assume their easy time parenting is because they were so prepared/good at parenting/did something to deserve it. Cause you know? A LOT of those people have second (or later) children who are not as easy and they realize that they were just lucky that the first was so easy. I hear this again and again from SO many people. So good luck to your sister on future children! We have a high-needs first child, and are hoping the second is even a little easier. But we know we are good parents anyway.
    As for feeling ready… We had been trying to conceive for about 3 years when we had our little girl. By that time, I felt pretty ready. Plus I had/you have 9 months of gestation to continue to try to feel ready. Will you BE ready when the baby comes? Not in all ways. It’s the nature of babies. Now I’m pregnant with my second, and we waited until I felt ready but wanted to start trying early since we didn’t know how long it would take us. I’m in my 6th month of pregnancy and am a great mom to my toddler, and I still say to my husband, “We’re having another? What are we thinking?”
    And finally, about worrying that you’ll screw up your kids. Of course you will. All parents do in some way or another. It’s inevitable. But how bad you screw them up or how much therapy they’ll need is a variable. You can’t have a “perfect” kid or do everything prefectly as a parent, because humans aren’t perfect. Besides, a perfect person would be SO BORING! We all have flaws, and that’s okay. We are unique and evolve.
    Good luck to you! I think if you keep feeling like you are ready, you probably are ready. Not everyone has a perfect moment of clarity about it, and most of us do pretty well anyway!

  61. I’m noticing that lots of people are using the words “scared” or “terrified”. These words don’t describe my experience with pregnancy and the first year of parenthood. Nervous, overwhelmed, anxious, stressed – those are more accurate. It’s impossible to imagine how your life will change, because every family is different. In my circle of friends, most moms are stay-at-home or work part time. I work full time, so I knew our routines would be different. I have an hour-long each way commute too, but I’m lucky enough to carpool with my husband, so that’s one of the few times each day we have to actually talk. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for us, so we don’t have that issue to contend with. You know, that’s what stressed me out the most – killing myself trying to nurse so that I wouldn’t seem like a neglectful mother. Finally I decided to screw it and quit trying. Whaddaya know, my baby is perfect and we’re all much happier than when I was pumping 5 hours a day to squeeze out a half ounce. The moral of the story is to plan, but be flexible when your plans fail. Thus, education is key, so that you know what else to try when your original plan falls in the toilet.As far as your career goes, talk to people in your line of work that have children. How do they juggle the conflicting priorities? Will your workplace give you paid time off? For me, I held off on having a baby until after I finished school, because I couldn’t imagine writing and defending a dissertation with an infant to care for. As for finances, make sure you understand the rules about tax deductions for childcare, and medical savings accounts before you get pregnant. That can save you a LOT of money – even if your health insurance is excellent. I’d encourage you to get on a daycare waiting list ASAP – I got on the list at my first choice place at 6 weeks gestation and was finally offered a spot when my baby turned 10 months old. A little late. In summary, anyone who cares enough about how well she would care for a baby would probably be a great mom – it sounds like for you, the question is when, not if. Good luck!

  62. Okay, I was skimming through some of the comments and wanted to add something else.I do not like being pregnant. I do not truly enjoy the infant stage. But the point to me was never to get pregnant or have a baby–it was to have a child. One that will grow through the years and go through so many different stages. I happen to really enjoy the toddler stage, and even handle the tantrums pretty well. But the first year or so? That was just something to get through, something to survive to me.
    Meanwhile, my husband really liked the infant/baby stage and is frustrated with toddlerhood. He is already seriously nervous about having a pre-teen and teenaged daughter, where I’m not scared of that at all.
    Point being, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows for parents throughout the kids’ lives. Some ages and phases you will love, some not so much. Some you just survive through, and others you don’t want to end. I know my parents went through all of good and bad times, and now they and their adult children (including me) get along great! Having a child just never ends, which can be a wonderful thing.

  63. @J, what I’ve seen is that many moms who PREPARE for birth do so in order to CONTROL the birth. That’s going to suck rocks. Pointy large rocks.The moms I know who prepared, prepared so that they could respond, rather than preparing so they could have it ‘go the way they wanted it to’. Any doula or midwife will tell you the same thing – they can spot the moms who are prepping so that they don’t get taken by surprise (guess who gets the surprises), and those who are preparing so that they have an idea how to choose what to do next when things go the way they’re going.
    So, my sample: Women willing to go with the flow (either having selected a care provider they trust and following them entirely, or working as an educated consumer and partner with their care providers) tend to have better births. And then there are those on both sides who had unhappy experiences. In my experience, that’s actually been split right along the usual lines – Most have reasonably decent experiences with some moments they totally didn’t expect; some have real struggles and a lot to get past and deal with later.
    So, for me, that’s the point – you don’t get to choose your labor. You only get to choose how you respond to it. Responding effectively, either by being self-prepared or by having providers who you trust to be prepared for you, both work. Which way is right for you will depend on what you want. (And I suspect your sample is skewed, because there are plenty of moms who go toward natural/prepared childbirth reactively, because of that need to control and manage the process… good way to end up fighting your body instead of working with it! Take them out of the sample, and I think you’ll have a different set of outcomes. Correlation is not causation, so the correlation between ‘prepared = sucky’ and ‘medical = easy’ is not supported by any causal analysis I’ve ever seen. That said, medical model births are not a problem in themselves, either.)

  64. @Irene, I had a work friend who said that she never loved it until the kids were teens. Didn’t bond, didn’t feel the joy, etc. She let her DH take the lead there, and she said that it was okay, but she feels that she didn’t work enough on the mechanics of managing the relationships, so once it kicked in, the kids were like, ‘uh, you’re kinda late, no thanks!’ – but she also refused to give up, and continued working on it, and found that one of the two kids (the elder) as he was headed into early 20’s was starting to respond with ‘okay, I could have used this sooner, but I can understand and we can have an adult to adult relationship that is really pretty good.’ That’s probably the long end of the process.I know a LOT of parents who just cannot WAIT for the 3 1/2-4+ stage, though. Personally, I like it better in an ongoing process as they get older. “It just keeps getting better” is what my mom said about having kids, along with “the goal is not having little kids, but having a relationship with your kids after they’re adults – THAT is the fun part!” I suspect she’s right, and that’s also the longest part, too – good thing, huh? 🙂

  65. @megan (last comment, really!): “The moral of the story is to plan, but be flexible when your plans fail. Thus, education is key, so that you know what else to try when your original plan falls in the toilet.”That’s the short form of everything I wrote, right there. 🙂

  66. I don’t know that I’m adding anything new, which is sort of a happy thought–nice to not feel alone. I find Hedra’s points above about identity being always in flux and about spousal relationships taking work even without kids to be spot-on, as usual.My data points are that I had a biological clock that started ticking, tritely, at thirty, and it was so loud my husband could hear it. (Or maybe it was the timer for the xmas tree lights, but . . . still.) I wanted kids, he wanted kids, we already were stay-at-homes more often than not, we had no exciting life we were giving up on. And still, utter terror to think about it, utter terror to discover we–I–was on that, as Plath says, “Train there’s no getting off”. (I always hated that poem when I taught it, so dramatic and grim. I only got the joke after that first second-line-on-the-stick morning.) We have two kids now. I’m essentially a SAHM, one of the only ones I know, and I have no idea what I am doing most days. My son was possessed by frustration and balk from 3.5 to 4, my daughter has a head-start on it at 2.5. I thought I had a bad sleeper with #1, then #2 came along. I’m hanging by my teeth from the ceiling this season as they’ve been sick (preschool is a petri dish, esp for allergy/asthma kids) more often than not since January. And yet, and yet, what else am I gonna do? I’ve heard it said there is no good reason to have a child, and also that all life wants to live. Herd survival is more important than the individual, in many animal societies (yes, I know, not to the individual). I see all that in play in my drive to raise kids. (I got pregnant, but I don’t think it matters–birth felt like a crazed dream, and I did not have magic-instant bond with each kid, though many, many people do. We grew on each other, and I think I feel as much motherlove and mother-ness as anybody. More than some, even. And I spent weeks with each one worrying about if I was going to be able to raise it and how I couldn’t give it back.)
    That’s probably too much info, I think, but I always like reading all the stories people post on Moxie, and it had helped me to hear a friend give me a similar spiel (sp?) when we were thinking about when to have a kid.
    Finally, the kindest thing anyone said to me during the first few weeks of #1’s life was, “Change usually brings loss, no matter how happy and chosen the change is. It’s okay to grieve for the life that’s gone. It doesn’t mean you’d change what you’ve done.” So, yeah, I miss getting to watch old Buffy eps whenever I want, and I miss seeing movies without planning an evening to within an inch of everyone’s life. And I miss sleeping to 9 or 10 in the morning some days so bad I can taste it. Having kids has helped me try to come to grips with how limited life is–can’t do it all, can’t fix it all, can’t control hardly anything. But with that grappling has come, for me, a greater enjoyment of what I can do, can and can’t fix, and a greater appreciation for how things do roll on often quite well without my hand on the steering wheel. It’s not the same for everyone–everyone I know would describe parenthood differently, and many would argue with most of what I’ve just said. And they’d be right, though, for me, so am I.
    I can’t imagine anyone is truly prepared. I can imagine many are less terrified and more flexible than I, but we can all have it in us to be good parents, no matter when and where it comes to us. That’s my vote of confidence. I hope it might help.

  67. Sadly, I had to skim through most of the comments b/c I have to get some work done before my might-as-well-be-2-yo wakes from her nap. Everything I’ve ever learned (from theory to practice to personal experience) about dealing with a life-altering change indicates that ambivalence is totally normal and healthy! To accept change one also has to address loss. That’s why there are timeless sayings like “leap and the net will appear.” I’m not saying that one should be reckless, but really… thinking about how your life will change, it just means you have insight and self-awareness.Personally we tried to get pg for almost 2.5 years, were told it was nearly impossible without ICSI & IVF, and we decided not to pursue fertility treatments other than the acupunture we were already undergoing. The month after we stopped trying, the impossible happened. But at 4 mo when she started teething & moaning NONSTOP for weeks, despite my years of desperate baby-longing, I was ready to board a jetplane. And then it got better. And then it got worse. And then it got better. Etc. I love her, and I don’t always love her behavior, or my own.
    The thing is – your life is going to change regardless of whether or not you decide to have children; like the many smart women who’ve posted before me, I have to tell you to go with your heart.
    And thank you so much, Moxie, for your comments about people believing it’s what they’ve done that makes their lives so (seemingly) easy. I often add to my serenity prayer, “… and grant me the good grace not to indulge in schedenfreude.”

  68. @J and Hedra — my labor went rather out of my control, what with being induced for pre-eclampsia and all. (snort) But I’d like to weigh into the prepared/unprepared discussion, gently.Everybody’s labor is different (and I think both J and Hedra point this out very well). You have to do what works for you. A dear friend of mine prepared by signing up for the drugs — all the drugs, any drugs, the more the merrier — about when her test stick finished drying. This was what she needed. At the other end of the spectrum, another friend is doing a refresher on her hypno-birthing course as she and her husband prepare for baby #2. I think it’s worth looking into different approaches and thinking about their philosophies, and asking how they fit your personality. Are you a person who wants information? Are you a person who wants somebody else to handle the information when you get busy? Etc. And remember that the things you plan might go right out the window during labor.
    Me, I’m a big fan of Bradley: it got me through a hard induction up to the point when we had to bail and do a c-section. What I loved was that it was about getting out of your own way. Hedra talks about fighting your own body, and I found that Bradley was about learning NOT to. This is part of what convinced my husband to get on board: I think he was afraid I was trying to learn something to DO. When I began to talk with him about how much I was going to learn NOT to do, he was intrigued, and it ended up working really well for us.
    Now, by “working really well,” I mean, it allowed us to adapt when all his carefully rehearsed phrases and back-rubs proved to be irritating to me. It allowed my husband and midwife to have a quick chat together about why he wasn’t doing more of the “husband-coached” thing (because I would have told him to shut the bleep up and let me concentrate). Not one single contraction went by the book: they were too tough, and I couldn’t seem to do all the things I’d learned at the same time. But I could do just *enough* and that was good. And I remember, dimly, being really pleased with myself for being able to still advocate for myself enough during the “c-section?” conversation with the OB on call to say, “Just a minute, I need to do this,” get through a hard pushing contraction before signing the papers. I think also just KNOWING some of the things that Bradley taught me (certain visual tricks, general info as well) helped me stay out of my own way. Also helped me trust the look in my midwife’s eye when she finally said, “This is no longer doing you any good,” and voted for the section.
    Could I have done some of that with other methods? Or with less prep? Probably. I know other women who have. But this worked for me. I do think that if you suspect you want to try a more unmedicated/less intervention route, it’s good to have some prep: it takes practice to learn to relax. (It made me really nervous to hear somebody close to me say, “Yeah, I think maybe I’ll try without the epidural,” without any plans to learn any strategies for that. If I remember right, she did end up borrowing my Bradley text. Not that I doubt her strength, or wisdom, or tolerance for pain and hard work… but that’s not really what Bradley is about: it’s not about tolerance — it’s about NOT pushing your way through pain, it’s about getting out of your own way.) But if you’re a person who is bothered or made nervous by Too Much Information, maybe this isn’t for you. There’s no shame in knowing yourself and going with what works.
    To sum up: maybe learning some general stuff might help you get a feel for what sounds like it fits you. And remember: you don’t have to figure it all out a the same time. More on this in another comment, I hope, but a big thing that helped me was that I didn’t have to learn to do it all. At any given time, in those first tough months, I had to remind myself, “All I have to know how to do right now is feed him” or “change his diaper” or whatever. One thing at a time.

  69. Well my story’s probably more of a cautionary tale but it comes out okay in the end.Married at 23 in ’94; we started mildly trying for a baby the next year. My husband wanted kids, and I was pretty sure I wanted some, and it all seemed “very logical.” Over three years I had 7 miscarriages (all quite early ones) and a lot of time to really think about how far I would go to have children, either biological or adopted.
    I also had experiences caring for other kids on a fostering basis. Anyways as the hope of staying pregnant seemed to get more remote and as I got into other things in my life including a huge abuse recovery effort, and as my husband went through his own process, we became a little less sure about having kids, and used birth control in a very lackadaisical way. I think it was almost an emotional cushion against the infertility.
    Then, 2003, I turned up pregnant again and it stuck. I planned a lot of things. Planned, got hopeful, got joyous… and feared my ability, at 33, to turn my life upside down for this little person. Then, because of a cord accident at the delivery, she died. First lesson of parenthood: you control much less than you think you do.
    The months after that experience were the only ones in my life when I ever really felt SURE about having a baby, because my whole body was hormonally screaming about where was this baby (as well as my spirit, but my body was definitely involved). However as reality hit my husband and I then wondered if we were too scarred to have a baby. However we ran out of contraception and never replaced it. Ding ding ding we hit the jackpot again (perhaps my uterus was retrained).
    2005, my son was born and I have to tell you… I love him and I think I am a good enough mother, and he is a joy and all that… but I am SO NOT as self-sacrificing as I thought I would be, especially during the months after losing my daughter. I love my son and I love being HIS mother but I am not sure about being A mother.
    What I’ve come to believe is that actually, perfect parents would be a liability, ’cause my son will live and love and exist in the world of imperfect people and he may as well start at home.
    I work about an hour’s commute away and it works because my husband works at home a lot and we “swing shift” our hours (I work 8-4, he works 9:30-whenever) so my son’s in daycare for the minimum we can do. He thrives there. I love my job. We have no balance – some weeks it is crazy; some weeks the house is a disaster; I still have to get my car fixed from an accident months ago; etc. But we have a blast as we try to be, at least, flexible and deal with the important stuff.

  70. @J:”everyone who was able to perform natural childbirth everywhere (I’m prepared to be hated for this): everyone I know who totally prepared for it had the WORST labor & delivery imaginable. And everyone I know who trusted in the medical community and just went with it had an EASY labor.”
    Yeah, so I have to really disagree with this (but you knew that was coming, didn’t you?). I think what you’re trying to say is that women who went into labor with one set plan and no psychic room for any other outcome were inevitably disappointed.
    The whole point of choosing a midwife or natural birth over a medicalized one is that we’re *not* willing to hand over all control to someone in a white coat.
    The important shift that needs to happen in birthing (in the US, particularly) is that women are made aware of all of their choices. Sure, you can give birth in a hospital, or your home, or a birthing center, or a yurt. You can schedule your c-section or choose to have no interventions at all. The point is that we all have choices, and every one of the choices has consequences.
    Read all you can about birth and the many different forms it takes, have a plan in your head, but be willing to change the plan as your labor progresses. Rigidity really has no place in the messiness of life…

  71. Last comment, really. I’ve been really touched by reading all these comments by moms who struggle, think, love, but don’t enjoy every single moment. I was once a houseguest of a friend of my husband’s (who never had her own children but was once stepmother to a pre-teen, teen girl in a previous marriage). I was having a hard time with my then-1.5 year year old (who wouldn’t, in an unchild-friendly apartment that wasn’t their home?). I was frustrated that moment and she had the temerity to suggest that maybe, “you just don’t enjoy it.” I think I said something gracious, but the comment makes me angry every time I remember it.

  72. I’ve been told so many times that if you wait until you’re 100% sure with no doubts or worries, then you’ll never have kids.I was excited to get pregnant but also terrified. It’s the unknown – no matter how much experience you have with kids, etc. YOU never KNOW how your kid will be, exactly how you will handle it, etc. I think that the fact that you are asking these questions points to the fact that you’ll be a good mom.

  73. My mother said to me, while I was swimming through the fog of the first 3 months with #1: “If anyone ever knew, REALLY knew, what parenting was ALL about, nobody would ever do it.”So true.
    I’m a ‘planner,’ and it sounds like LB is, too, so the a$$vice I would give is to go ahead and plan/prepare/read/study/practice to your heart’s content. Go ahead and get as ‘ready’ as you can possibly be.
    Then jump over the steaming pile of ambivalence and fear and doubt and do it! JUMP!
    And then come on back here and have a good laugh about how all that preparation didn’t even come CLOSE to getting you ready for it, but that you’re finding your way, anyway.
    Sandburg said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” I, for one, think the world should go on. It sounds like you do, too, LB.

  74. If everybody waited until they were completely ready, the human race would die out. The end.We always knew we wanted kids. I wanted to be a SAHM and we waited a long time, hoping that that would someday become realistic, but it never did, I got into my mid-30s and we decided we were approaching now-or-never territory so we went for it.
    Let me be clear. I had no intellectual doubts about whether I was going to be able to be a good mother. I have a much-younger brother, I spent as many hours babysitting as I did in school in my teen years, I had been a nanny (including some live-in time) and worked as a camp counselor. No doubts. (I’m not saying all this made me better prepared, but it made me fell well-prepared, if that makes sense.)
    Our daughter’s conception was a ridiculously planned event. We were in the middle of moving and I kid you not, we were like a couple in a bad sitcom. Before we packed up the sheets (the bed was already in the truck, mattress still on the floor), I said, “if it’s going to happen this months, we better do it right now” (or something equally seductive. We did, it happened, I FREAKING FLIPPED OUT.
    I was cranky with people who congratulated me. I lamented my position. I didn’t feel good and I did NOT like being pregnant. I felt completely ambivalent about the whole thing and I really resented people assuming this was a happy event. (I was insane, seriously. I got over it after a while, but those first few months, I was a complete psycho.)
    For me, there was this moment when I was in labor. A moment when some kind of a switch flipped and suddenly I knew I was somebody’s mommy. And I wanted to be that somebody’s mommy with every fiber of my being. And that was it. There have been days that I’ve counted every minute until bedtime, moments when I have literally yelled in frustration, and entire weeks when I’ve fantasized about a single, childless (preferably also jobless) life. But I would no more give up being a mommy than I’d … and I cannot even think of an appropriate analogy here. It’s a fundamental part of who I am.
    I am also (she said modestly) reasonably good at it. Perhaps even exceptionally good at the baby stage, which I was prepared to tolerate in return for the much-more-anticipated toddler/preschool aged child the baby would eventually become.
    All this is to say that you never know. It’s natural to have some fears (change is stressful, even good change) and if you have the sense God gave a turnip, you ought to be questioning whether the kinds of changes having a baby brings are ones you’re prepared to deal with.
    You know yourself and your relationship and your life better than anybody. If your gut is telling you that it’s a sign that you aren’t ready, then wait. If you didn’t think that until your friend said it, I say a pox on her for presuming to know The Truth for everybody. I’m with Moxie here — the more I think about it, the crankier it makes me. It’s like the mommy-drive-by and you’re not even a mommy yet! (If I’m being nice, I respectfully say that she doesn’t know your heart and mind as well as you do.)
    In my experience, big decisions are always scary and hard and usually fraught with some indecision. Becoming a parent is tricky because you have to do some of the decision making with your heart. Yes, you have to engage your mind in making sure the logistics can work out, but your heart has veto power.
    I hope some of this helps. Good luck making sense of it all. And for heaven’s sake, whether you decide you’re ready or not, do NOT let anybody else make you feel like a loser who doesn’t deserve to be a parent. I don’t even know you, and I can say without reservation that that is total nonsense.

  75. My pregnancy was 100% unexpected and accidental. If you had asked me the day before I peed on the stick whether I was ready to have a baby, I would have laughed you out of the room and gone and had a martini. Everything changed once I found out I was pregnant, and now that my daughter is approaching her 2nd birthday, I can hardly wait to get pregnant again (and maybe even a 3rd)! That is not to say that I’ve enjoyed every second of motherhood, and there are days when I feel like I’m a bad mother who can’t handle it. But the positive changes to my life have so overwhelmingly outweighed the negative ones that I shudder to think what my life would be like right now had my pee stick come up the other way.

  76. Just the fact that you’re thinking through these issues tells me that you are going to be a good mom (whatever that phrase implies to you). My husband and I went through years of infertility, got pregnant with the Pea through IVF and I ***still*** am not sure that we are/were prepared in any way, shape, or form. But I’m a loving mom who meets my kids needs (or drives myself crazy trying to figure out what they are).That being said, it does sound like you’ll have some challenges–the hour long commute sounds rough. And life is forever completely different after kids. But you find time/$/energy for the things that are a priority for you. So if you make hubby, hobbies, personal time, or whatever a priority, you’ll find a place for it in your life. It won’t seem that way for the first several months, but you will. I’ve actually found motherhood has increased my creativity and determination on some goals and projects.

  77. @Kirstin, well said. I’m a fan of hypntherapy for birth for the same reason you’re a fan of Bradley – it helped me get out of my own way. I’m a better fit for hypnotherapy than for Bradley, I found (I used Bradley the first time, and it worked very well, but still wasn’t ‘my best fit’). Coolest coolest thing was resting and breathing and relaxing while my BODY pushed Mr B down, without any action on my part. I could just relax and be, and allow my body to do the work all by itself. That was really neat. Sometimes you have to help your body intentionally, but there’s a lot less needed there than most people expect. (Like, I had to intentionally push out both Miss M’s and Miss R’s heads, but they were both breech.)I agree that there are many ways to do it, and that figuring out which one is your one is a good idea. I think Ann Douglas has some good stuff in her books about the various possible methods/approaches, which may help to figure out what ‘feels right’.

  78. I felt ambivalent about having children for the longest time. So did my husband. I thought I would be a bad parent and screw up my kids; he thought all the fun in life would be over.Then when we finally felt ready (I think it was our biological clocks ticking at us), we experienced unexplained infertility. Three years later we got our positive pee stick and I fell on the floor of the bathroom shaking and crying. The experience of infertility, as others have said above, did more than anything else to show me how ready I was to be a mom.
    And it has made me so thankful for my little one. The things I thought would be easy (breastfeeding, e.g.) turned out to be much harder than I expected, and the things I thought would be hard (balancing grad school and parenthood, sleep deprivation) – well, they are hard too. But the rewards are endless, too. Seeing her learn things. Hearing her laugh. Oh my god, hearing her laugh! The softness of her little feet. I hope I can do it again soon. I’m 36 and I don’t know if we’ll be able to. I absolutely do not feel ready for another one, but I know I want one, so we’re going to start working at it soon.
    Good luck, LB – I hope you are able to conceive exactly when you want to, and I know that you will be a good mother. I agree with others who have said that your desire to be a good mom and concern for it will help you be a good mom. Best wishes for a smooth and uncomplicated pregnancy, and safe delivery too!

  79. I just wanted to add on one more thing…the whole managing the pregnancy and birth well. I wish I’d spent a lot less time reading up on what to eat/not eat during pregnancy, what others’ birth experiences were like, etc. and MORE time reading sites like Moxie’s with real moms telling real stories and giving real encouragement. The birth is just this little blip of time (special, yes, but short, like a wedding before the marriage). I’m so thankful that I didn’t get hung up on having an “ideal” birth experience. Because whether it’s like one of my friends going into full blown eclamptic seizures during her home birth or my SIL’s epidural not taking and having to feel every contraction, there’s a 99% chance you won’t experience your “ideal” birth. 🙂

  80. I thought I was ready, actually overly-ready since we struggled with infertility for years and finally adopted. But I wasn’t ready to find out that I’m not as patient as I thought I was, that I’m a crappy mom at 3 am, that I would miss my job after believing for years that I would be 100% content as a SAHM. I think that her friends are probably either in denial or lying. 🙂

  81. Even when I found out I was pregnant with our second (and it was planned) I had that moment of, “OMG what have I gotten myself into??? Have I lost my mind?”But you also think that when you have kids sometimes.
    hobbies do go on hold for awhile, but it isn’t like you give up everything about you forever and ever. Things change. Priorities adjust. And if you have a good supportive partner (who you need to consciously remember is in the trenches with you too sometimes) you can still find you in there underneath the baby spit-up and the extreme exhaustion.
    It is a grand adventure. No amount of planning can prepare you for all of it. Because the kid always has something up its sleeve.
    You really have to take it one day at a time.

  82. Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and make the my first comment about your friend who’s got a 5-month-old: I’m in total agreement with Moxie. It makes me angry that someone would suggest that they are having an easy time of it because they were prepared. Well, so was I. We had a plan, we were ready for a baby, I didn’t have any moments of ‘oh, what have I done?’ while pregnant, but after that baby came, whooo boy, I realized I was *insane*. But, I had an infant who wanted to be held eating/sleeping/awake, basically, all the time!I’m not saying this to scare anyone, but my point is that prepared or not, the personality and demands of your baby have a a HUGE amount of influence on whether you have an easy or a hard time of it. If you get a baby that sleeps through the night, even half the time, by 6-15 months, it makes it easier. If you get one that takes naps, it makes it easier. If you get one that doesn’t have reflux or allergies, that makes it easier. Etc.
    That said, my daughter is vastly happier as a toddler than she ever was a baby.
    No stage is forever, and that applies to you as well as your child. Yes, hobbies will fall by the wayside, your body will change, but they’ll come back when your baby grows a little.

  83. The conception of our daughter went something like this. Me:*pours 5th glass of wine for herself and husband of 5 whopping months* “We should, like, totally have a baby or something.” Husband: “Does this mean I don’t have to wear a condom?” Me: *Drinks whole glass in 1 gulp* “I guess not”. Husband:”Sweet”. The next morning we both gave a nervous laugh and a “I sure hope THAT didn’t work” look. Of course it did! And I spent the first half of that very awful pregnancy praying for a miscarriage and the next half praying that the child wouldn’t be deformed or worse because I didn’t want it. She came and we were lucky enough to get that whole love at first sight thing and she was an easy baby. I’m not saying there weren’t rough times, because HO BOY WERE THERE EVER, but I felt like we were learning together. Things went so great that by the time she was 2 months old I wanted 10 more kids. I spent my days preparing and this is what I found out. Preparing for children is absolutely impossible. I had two miscarriages after trying for months and when I did carry the third past the 12th week I was so miserable I had the same feelings I’d had with the first. Only this time I didn’t think I had the right to have them because I had planned for and wanted him so damn much. I spent HOURS of everyday researching baby crap and in the end he was colicky, needy and overall a baby you just can’t be prepared for. So in my case, not even being a mother already prepared me for my son.All we can give are our experiences, but know that your own story will be as unique as all the ones you’ve read here. In my case I fared much better going in blind but that’s not true for everybody.
    A lot of this life is guesswork- good luck with whatever you choose!
    And thanks to everybody for sharing their experiences!

  84. Whenever anyone asks me how they would “know” when they are ready, I say simply, “You can never be ready to be a parent. You just have to be a parent. You kind of figure things out as you go.” Moxie says the same thing, but her stuff sounds better.I always wanted a family, and when I became pregnant, I was excited, and started “preparing” – and realized that there was no way. I wanted to breastfeed, but since I’d never seen anyone in my family breastfeed, I had no frame of reference. Books can only tell you so much. I was obsessed with breastfeeding, because I really really wanted to do it for at least a year.
    And then after the baby was born, it was a hard 1 month, but breastfeeding worked out fine. And I realized very quickly after the baby was born that I cared more about sleep than I did breastfeeding. And I hadn’t done any “preparing” for sleep! Ugh!
    So yeah, there’s no way to really prepare. There’s no way to be “financially” ready – you make do with what you have. You learn that babies are like gas – they fill up whatever space you have, so just as a one-bedroom apartment will feel cramped with a baby, and so will a 3-bedroom. You think you are saving money by taking in hand-me-downs, and then you blow it all on that swing because you just need something to get the baby to sleep! Sure I worry about college in the future, but I will deal with having money for diapers at the moment, thank you very much.
    Like Moxie said, you take it one day at a time, and you know what, the kid turns out fine despite what you do (or don’t do)!
    I have an hour commute each way that I thought would kill me, and realized it was perfect way to separate the working brain with mommy brain, so that I could get home to my child without worrying over work issues. That one hour helped me make the transition.
    The marriage gets stressed in more ways than you can even think of. Sex is just one of it. You resent your husband for being able to sleep through a baby’s cry, or being able to coax those coos and smiles far easier than you can. But you communicate, and focus on being kind to each other (amazing how his promise to empty all garbage cans of dirty diapers twice a day can cheer me up!)
    Your body is never going to be the same, but it does go back quite close. Sure there are stretch marks, but I am pleasantly surprised to see that I am no longer the whale I was in the ninth month.
    One thing I want to reiterate: you are never ready. For my second pregnancy, everyone said, “Oh, this is going to be easy for you, because you’ve done this before.” My sister-in-law was pregnant at the same time with her first (one week apart due dates) and she kept saying how she envied that I was ready. You know what? The baby was born 10 days after my due date – it totally threw me for a loop, because I hadn’t expected it, and I went a little mad at the beginning because this was all not what I planned. And this kid sleeps even less than #1, which I wasn’t ready for. I should know how to put kids to sleep by now, no? Apparently not.
    Parenting is a roller coaster. Get on it, be ready to scream, and be ready to have the time of your life. Ready? Not by a long shot. That’s the best part.

  85. I haven’t read all of the comments, so if this a repeat forgive me. DH & I have been married for 13 years. I am 16 weeks along with our first! We planned, postponed, and discussed this to death, but we still have, and will continue to have the “oh no” moments. Our lives are going to change SO much, and while we are in some respects ready and excited for the changes, nothing will ever be the same. But I look back on our life, and nothing is ever the same regardless of whether it happens because of having a child, changing jobs, moving, or whatever life throws at you. So freaking out is normal, and we will all adjust one way or another.

  86. I haven’t had time to read the responses, so my apologies if I repeat something already posted. I think going into parenthood with your eyes wide open and worrying about the changes that are going to come your way is a good thing. It means you are not wearing rose-colored glasses and reality won’t take you totally by surprise. Yes, your life will totally change. Yes, everybody tells you that. Yes, you will only really understand when you are actually there. Yes, it will be ok.I did IVF to have my daughter, so we thought long and hard about having a child and definitely wanted one. This did not stop us from having an “OMG I’m pregnant” moment when the IVF worked. It’s normal. I’m loving loving loving being a parent, even though there are many frustrating moments. They are more than made up for with the good moments.
    Good luck with your decision.

  87. I haven’t had the chance to read all the comments but the ones I’ve read are so very wise. This is a fantastic topic. I had those same feelings, and they were reinforced every time someone said “Oh, if you’re going to have a kid, you’d better be POSITIVE you are ready.”If I’d waited until I was positive, I would never have done it. Everyone is different. I’m too good at seeing the downside to any situation ever to be totally sure about a big decision like this.
    But I’m so glad we did it anyway.

  88. I always planned on having kids but was waiting for the ‘right time’ to come along. I knew I’d love having kids but would hate being pregnant and would be good until the children became teenagers, at which point I’d be at a loss . . .Turns out, I got pregnant (at 37) without having planned for it and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Pregnancy was great (who’d a thunk) and so far I think I’m doing a relatively good job of being a mother. My husband and I love our DS more than anything and having him has taken us out of the comfy (always tidy and funky) little cocoon and hurled us into the world of children . . . and life couldn’t be better. It has it’s moments but overall it’s the most rewarding experience we’ve ever had.
    Yes, we still have pangs about being the best parents we can be, and hoping our DS still loves us when he’s a teenager, we have worries about sending him out into the big bad world and want to equip him as best we can but mostly, we are overjoyed at the blessing that has been bestowed upon us and only wish we’d taken our heads out of our butts earlier and stopped ‘waiting for the right time’.

  89. To the extent that your worries touch on the incredible responsibility that comes along with being a parent (in charge of the welfare of a whole other person who is completely dependent on you at first), that is normal and to be expected. When it comes to the selfishness stuff, I don’t know. I have heard a lot of people (men and women both) express those concerns, and I can’t say that I ever had those feelings, not even for a few minutes. That might be in part because I had some minor fertility issues and stared down the possibility of maybe not ever being able to have a child. After that, the gratitude I felt at being able to have a pregnancy (now two pregnancies) and a healthy baby was so strong that I never gave another thought to whether I was going to be able to pursue hobbies (trust me, you won’t be able to) or anything like that. I also gave up my career for a job in order to devote to him the time I felt my child deserved (in my field it would have been close to impossible to have been a good mother and pursued a career at the same time, but YMMV). I have never regretted it, but then again I wasn’t that happy with what I was doing before I got pregnant.It might be helpful to think about it in terms of fertility: what if you learned that it would be very difficult or impossible for you to have a biological child with your husband? If you find that idea utterly devastating, as I did, then you probably want children enough to overcome any residual selfishness. Being a parent means sacrificing most of your “me time” for your children while they are young, but if you love them and want them in your life enough, you won’t be bothered by this. There will be plenty of years after they are older when you will have more time to yourself.

  90. Just re-read my previous post and it sounded a little too good to be true. It is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also very real and messy and frustrating and tiring and great and rewarding and wonderful and on and on and on.As somebody who used to be completely organised (and often laments the loss of that part of myself) I’ve realised, you can never fully plan. You can educate yourself and do as much as you can but you won’t know until you’re in it.
    My life was good, I had a pretty mediocre job in my dream profession (could have been better but that’s often the case) a lot of good friends, I played soccer, I ran, we went out often for wine and dinner, etc. Then we had our son (he’ll be two in May.) Since then we’ve made three major moves (two International), I can’t work where we are (I love being a SAHM but desperately miss using my brain and having co-workers), we miss our friends and I have to force myself to talk to strange mums at the park in the hopes of making a friend. We have lonely times and frustrating times and times when we desperately want to go home again but all in all, it’s great. OUr son brings us so much joy and we can’t even imagine our lives without him.

  91. I disagree with the comment that you won’t have time for hobbies anymore. I think it the more accurate thing to say would be that you may find your children more interesting, or you would prefer to catch up on sleep, and you won’t want to take the time for hobbies anymore – even if it was a hobby your previously loved. My husband and I agreed that we are each allowed two evenings a week to do our own thing, if we want it. I have Monday and Wednesday nights – those are my nights that I do my volunteering, or see my friends, or whatever. I don’t often take advantage of them and often putter around at home or hang with my husband (DS is in bed) but I know I can if I want to and he is the same. We felt it was really important to us to each be allowed some time that was ours, that we didn’t constantly have to negotiate or run by the other person if we wanted to do something. It’s worked out well for us.I think in the broader scheme this is true about a lot of parenting matters. Things which were important pre-children no longer seem as important (or even interesting). But other things do remain important and it’s not necessary to give up who you are just because you are a parent. I think the biggest parenting breakthrough I had was when I realised that I was still the same old me. More tired, a little wearier, but still a person beside being a mother. And that not only was it okay that I wanted to do things beside hanging out with my son all day, but that it would make me a better mum to him.

  92. If you really believe you are ready for a baby, it’s because you don’t know what you are in for! Your life will change in ways you never imagined. Some things you agonized over (birth plan, nursery decor) you realize are pretty meaningless, while others (breastfeeding, discipline) can be much harder than anyone ever told you. Really, the only thing it takes to be a good parent is to choose to love your child absolutely and unconditionally. Everything else will come, more or less naturally, with time.

  93. Just a couple of things to add or throw more weight behind.@Irene: I felt EXACTLY the same way. My son is now 26 months old and it’s much, much, much, much better. I don’t regret it anymore. This isn’t of course, to say that 26 months will be the time, but is to say that the future might hold the joy that you are lacking right now.
    I agree with CecilyT about the mom of the 5 month old. Before I had my son I definitely thought nurture had more to do with things than I do now. I think women who have easier (not EASY, because babies aren’t easy) babies often think they had something to do with it. And I think I did a great job taking care of my son, but he was the most difficult baby I have ever seen or heard about (and both grandmothers and several friends who spent a lot of time with us when he was new made it clear to me that he was NUTSO… which helped me remain calm.)
    We tried for a year to have the baby and I sat on bedrest for weeks because of pre-e and I was calm and happy and relaxed and unworried (except when I lost my vision!) about labor and caring for an infant, etc. I was concerned mostly about being mom to a toddler and a school aged kid. And when he finally showed up we had the exact moment Moxie and so many others described. I looked over at my husband, over our tiny screaming child and said “what the hell were were thinking? Our lives were SO GOOD!”
    Turns out, I like being mom to a toddler a whole lot (despite his continuing to be a… “Spirited” child!). I like it more than the infant thing by orders of magnitude. His jokes, and smiles and laughs and the little hugs around the neck are awesome. And it’s awesome when I figure out how I can get us on the same team and working towards the same goal.
    So my expectations of motherhood turned out to be very different from the reality.
    And as far as time? I like to say that in all the free-time that we had before we had our son, had we KNOWN how much free-time we had, we could have built the taj mahal, written the iliad and negotiated peace in the middle east. Who knew how much time we wasted!? We do mostly the same things, just less of them, and there is a lot of trading off child-caring responsibilities so the other person can get some time for his or her chosen activities.

  94. Like a lot of commenters here, I was ambivalent about being a parent, and it’s all turned out FINE!If people waited until they were absolutely sure they were ready, the human race would have died out by now.
    Also wanted to say, I agree with most of Moxie’s answers except about the body. I don’t mourn my post-pregnancy body at all because it’s barely changed. My breasts are saggier from breastfeeding for 14 months, but not much. Everything else, including shoe size, seems the same. My stomach is almost flat again, with perhaps the faintest of horizontal “pleat” marks, and no stretchies. In other words, don’t take the body as a given, like I did! I was pleasantly surprised.

  95. Thanks for this site, Moxie.LB, good for you for questioning. I can’t agree with Moxie more. (I just wish I knew about this site when I was pregnant.)
    On Becoming/Being Pregnant
    I was terrified when I found out I was pregnant – I cried for days. I was 42, had never been pregnant, never really wanted to be a parent and had embarked upon a new direction in my career that would not accommodate motherhood. I was quite happy with my life. However, once I found out I was pregnant I knew motherhood was where my life was headed. No question about it. While anxious about my future, I never thought about not going through with the pregnancy. However, I hated being pregnant: morning sickness from week 6 through my 7th month, fibroids that made getting around VERY difficult, felt I was far too old to be doing this, not to mention being overwhelmed at the tremendous responsibility of guiding another human being through life. “Friends” would tell me I should be overjoyed and feel great physically. But b/c I didn’t, I felt as if I were a horrible person and didn’t deserve to be, shouldn’t be a mother. I felt I was betraying my child. (Those “friends” are no longer a part of my life.)
    How It Is Now
    My beautiful child is now almost 3. Some days motherhood is enjoyable but on other days I want to pull my hair out and run away. But on the whole, it’s way better than I ever thought it would be. Motherhood is not without its challenges and is ever evolving with each stage my child grows through. It can be hard, frustrating, mind-boggling, hilarious and joyful – all within the span of 5 minutes! : ) I am much better at this than I thought I could be. In fact, I can honestly say that despite my doubts and worries I am pretty darn good at this! I have found that patience and self-forgiveness go a long way, esp. during those times when you feel completely overwhelmed. A bit of trepidation is a good thing in my opinion. It gives me the will to overcome each challenge placed before me. Please remember that the experience of motherhood is different for each one of us and no one’s experience is any less valid than another’s. You will find your way as all mothers do.
    As for my career, it has changed. I stay home part time raising my daughter and teach part-time in my chosen field. It keeps my toe in the water so to speak, enabling me to do the one thing in life that, for me, is akin to breathing. Even though it is not what it used to be. Plus, my dh insists that I keep at it b/c it is such a huge part of who I am. I am truly thankful for that.
    What has helped the most for me is to keep my expectations low. I am a go-wth-the-flow, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. That helps me to better deal with each stage in my life.
    Oh, and I kind of mourn my old body, I think we all do. It’s just curvier now, which my mother says makes me sexier. I was always a stick. Actually, I mourn my lack of free “me” time more, but I know once she gets a little older I will get some of that “me” time back. Frankly, it is what it is and it will be what it will be.
    Thanks to all for posting, sharing and being so honest. It is very refreshing.

  96. I was really confident and prepared for labor and delivery, but comically unaware how challenging taking care of a newborn would be- a colicky one that is. It took me months to find my (and her) tools to survive and thrive, 27 months later I can’t imagine a more satisfying life, even on the bad days. Except perhaps when #2 gets born- any day now.

  97. Haven’t had time to read all the comments – I am sure they are great. Just wanted to chime in and say I totally agree with Moxie, there is no way to be totally prepared for parenthood….and it is okay to be scared.I have two kids under 3 and am terrified, exhausted, amazed, exhilarated, challenged, inspired, overwhelmed with love and just plain selfish all of the time! The key is learning to recognize those emotions, deal with them, and let them go!

  98. We were never ‘ready’. We had to let logic take over, cause the emotional side wasn’t doing it for us. We decided to take the plunge because:1. We wanted a family someday.
    2. I was 29 and he was 30.
    3. I’d passed the qualifying exams (I’m working on a PhD) so career wise I was in the place I needed to be.
    While we didn’t feel ready (especially him), we recognized that nothing in the world was going to MAKE us feel ready. Waiting another year wasn’t going to make us more prepared or less scared. And since my vision of life when I’m 50 includes grown kids, and my vision of life when I’m 70 includes grandkids, and I want Christmas to be fun even when my own parents are gone…we had to have a kid sometime.
    So since we wanted a family someday, and waiting longer wasn’t going to make us more ready, we figured, why wait?
    I panicked like the dickens the first trimester. What had I done? We had such a great marriage and such a great life, why the HECK did we decide we should change things??? But it was ok. I stopped panicking…at least until he was born. Then I started again, and that lasted for a month or so (with some serious baby blues bordering on ppd).
    But I’m a good mom. I’m busy. I’ll be in grad school probably an extra year, but that’s ok. I had some rocky places with my advisor due to my vast shift in priorities, but they’re smoothed out now. I wonder sometimes if I’m being a good mom because my family is entirely SAHMs, except for me. But our son is happy, healthy, and an absolute delight. He’s 19 months old now.
    I’m way more patient than I’d ever have predicted, and worse at being firm than I’d expected. That’s ok– I’m working on it. I’ve relaxed as a person I think, I’ve gotten better at letting go of regrets, which was one of my major faults. I’ve grown, thanks to my baby boy.
    But I was never going to be ready for this. Instead, we made the decision that we were going to have a baby, and take the good with the bad, and make it work. And it’s working 🙂

  99. I thought I was ready, and then we stopped trying to NOT get pregnant, and then I got pregnant the first month. And then I decided it was a HUGE mistake! I decided there was no way I was ready, that I’m too young (28), that I haven’t done what I wanted to do yet, and that we don’t have enough money. I even hoped for a miscarriage so I didn’t have to deal with it. Then, I had an easy pregnancy that I didn’t really enjoy. Now my son is 2 months old and I am so glad that he’s here, even though I’m so tired and bored. I love him so much, and I think so far that I’m a good mom. And I think I will be a good mom. But I’m still not sure I’m ready, and that’s ok now.

  100. You don’t have to be sure you’re ready. Like so many others on here, we went through infertility to have our daughter and I was still like “OH NO, REWIND REWIND REWIND” when that stick turned blue. And that first year of motherhood was hard–and having two, now, is hard, but in the same way running a marathon or rocking the house at your dream job is hard — it’s rewarding and fulfilling beyond measure. To say I love my kids doesn’t even describe it– you get to be there at the beginning of your favorite people in the world. Watching them turn into the kind of people they are going to be, seeing them develop and grow, is just remarkable.Here’s a story from last night. I had a late meeting, and wasn’t home when the kids went to bed. late, late in the night, my daughter (four)woke up sobbing “I miss my MOMMY!!!” I went into her room and sat down next to her and stroked her hair, and she just wordlessly lifted up her arms to hug me, rolled over and went right back to sleep. I felt like a superhero, to know I can comfort her just by letting her know I am there. And she was one of those kids that would cry for no apparent reason for hours when she was a newborn.
    It changes your heart, really. Nothing has made me grow as much or brought me into myself more fully.
    On the other hand? I am writing this at 11 pm because this is the first uninterrupted 15 minutes I have had to do so. The free time? not so much, especially with two.

  101. This thread reminds me – Moxie, did you ever hear anything more from the anonymous commenter waaay back (really, maybe a year ago?) who was juust about to have her baby and absolutely did not want to? I think it was one of the primal scream threads…maybe?

  102. My DH and I have this habit of making huge life-changing decisions (moving in together, buying a house, having a baby) quickly, matter-of-factly, and without much discussion before hand. Just kind of like ‘OK, I think we should have a baby’. ‘Yep, OK, I think we should too’. Despite the fact that this approach is against every fibre of my being (I tend to analyze to death and prefer to talk a lot about it before hand.) But, this is the pattern and approach we’ve come to see is our own. And I have to say, I don’t regret any decision we’ve made like this. On the contrary, I think they are probably the best decisions I’ve ever made.All of which to say, I totally agree that having a baby is a total leap of faith. How could it not be considering you have *NO* idea beforehand who this person (people) entering your lives will be.
    I think part of me always knew I would have a baby. I just wasn’t sure when or how it would happen. I’ve always been pretty career minded & passionate about what I do, but for me it’s never been an either/or equation.
    I’m totally with Hedra on the whole preparedness issue. I’m the kind of person that needs info and knowledge going in, so that while I’m in the situation, I can respond efficiently and effectively (see analyze to death above…not a great asset when you’re in a situation where you need to make a quick decision) while being flexible to allow for the constraints of the situation.
    Of course, you can’t prepare for everything, so my mantra going into the birth was ‘No expectations’. And also to trust my gut instinct, which has never, ever failed me (if I listen to it). I had a birth plan, but I was totally OK if it all had to go out the window due to unexpected complications. Looking back now, I was so freaked out about *not* knowing how the birth would go. I found that distressing – the fact that no one could really explain what child birth was like (at least in a way that I could understand), and that even if they could, my birth would be totally different anyhow.
    But, in the end, I had a great birth, that didn’t go exactly as I had expected. I expected to be labouring at home for many hours. Instead, my water broke after watching 40-year-old Virgin, and off to the hospital we went! We had planned all of these massage and other techniques to relieve the pain of labour, and instead, the only thing that felt good (or at least made it feel less bad) was lying in the birthing bed while holding my DH & Doula’s hands during contractions. I feared having to push for up to 2 hours as it was my first, and low and behold, 6 pushes and 12 minutes later, the little guy was born. No expectations. I can’t repeat that enough. Even though we had prepared for a lot of stuff we didn’t end up using, I still felt much better going in knowing I had that knowledge in my back pocket. And for that reason, I think it made the birth easier as I could focus on relaxing and going with the flow.
    And to some degree, I’ll say the same about parenting so far (DS is 9 months). I read. A lot. And having that knowledge at least gives me a starting point in most situations. And the rest is pure gut instinct. And trial and error.
    And, I’ll admit that so far, I find that if I’m prepared for the day ahead, DS is more likely to have an ‘easy’ day as I can spend more time focusing on him instead of trying to figure out what I should be doing next. We have a pretty easy little guy – and I have no delusions that I created that. But I do feel that I can bring out the best of that easiness in him when I’m prepared. Which, to be honest, at this point is about 50% of the time. The rest of the time I’m either to tired to prepare or for whatever reason, it’s just meltdown day (his, or mine, or both). As many have said, it’s a work in progress.
    I had *no* idea how hard sleep deprivation would be.
    And I had *no* idea how happy I would be every day I wake up and see the smiling face of my little guy.
    I also had *no* idea how much I would want to poke sharp sticks in my eyes after I spent an hour trying to get the little man to go down for a nap, only to have him end up more awake than he started off. (I’m so with Moxie on the comment that your SIL who has the 5 month old is in for a shocker for the 9 month sleep regression. Seriously. It un-hinges you.)
    But, you know, I had *no* idea how much I would love watching this little personality and being developing before my very eyes.
    Anyhow, you get the idea.

  103. Oh, @wix, I totally remember her! How sad and scary that must have been … I wonder how she is and what she decided to do … Did you ever hear, Moxie?

  104. Or think you’d love it but instead you’re just hanging in there until your kid is older and more of a conversationalist?Yep, that pretty much sums it up for me. I have a 19 month old who was very much “planned” – DH and I knew for sure we wanted kids, but didn’t think we’d ever feel completely “ready” – but decided to take the plunge once we bought a house. Motherhood has been nothing like I expected. So far, frankly, I don’t really love it. Unlike most women, I seem to find it “mostly hard, with a few wonderful times thrown in” rather than “mostly wonderful, with a few hard times thrown in.”

  105. I don’t think you can ever be prepared to be a parent as a pre-parent. You just do it. Most of us ARE prepared when the time comes, but there just isn’t a way to prepare yourself ahead of time, or to plan for all of the unexpected, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not so pleasant, occurences that parenthood brings. If you are prepared to TRY, you are as prepared as you should be, in my opinion. I feel the same way about marriage. We were “ready” to be married? (My husband and I dated about two weeks before deciding to get married). Who knows? But we were definitely ready to try our best.We weren’t able to conceive and decided to adopt. We are parents through an open adoption, and knew about 72 hours before our daughter came home to us that we’d be parents. Talk about being unprepared in a physical sense…. We had nothing that you “need” in order to bring a baby home. And guess what? We are doing absolutely fine. We literally became parents over the course of a weekend (even though we’d wanted to start a family for years). Everyone needs something different to feel ready, and it sounds to me like LB is ready and is letting other people’s voices creep into her baby-ready brain.

  106. Maybe/maybe not helpful:I wanted my whole life to be a mom. I had a fantastic set of parents, loved my childhood, and couldn’t wait to reprise that magic for someone else.
    My first child is super-challenging. I have never had as many arguments in my life as I have since this child hit age 3. Child has not been three for years but that’s where it started and it continues to this day. I always wanted a big family and we’re stopping at 2 because the first one sucks up so much of our energy.
    My second child is amazingly easy-going and shockingly astute with judgement far beyond what age would bring.
    People who only know our second child ask me my secrets and think I’m Mother of the Year. People who know our first slip me the numbers of their therapists and developmental pediatricians and suggest parenting resources for me. I am not making this up.
    The takeaway for me is: You do the best you can for the kids you get. Some are sleepers, some are eaters, some are howlers, some are spitter-uppers, some are awesome babies and horrible toddlers, and some sweet toddlers make their parents miserable later somehow.
    Some of that reflects parenting. But for the most part, kids are who they are from the day they are born. They will grow, evolve, change. My job as their parent is to do the best I can to guide that growth. With one, it’s as easy as tucking a tendril of a vine around a trellis. With the other, it’s like riding a bull at a rodeo. But parents who think “good” baby behavior is all their doing are in for unpleasant paradigm shifts as baby develops its own ideas.
    The best advice I got is: if you are 51% ready, go for it. You may never get more ready than that.

  107. Wow, Bonnie, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to talk to you. I have a similar birth story, although a bit (!) worse.I wanted a baby with my husband more than anything. After $50k in IVF treatments, including a m/c and an ectopic pg, I finally got pregnant with my daughter, P. I had the dream pregnancy – happy, healthy … I was the definition of “glowing.”
    I have two Masters degrees and was working in a field that gave me absolute joy. I assumed that I would stay at home for a while, then get back to work and get her started at our local church-based moms’-day-out program.
    Then, talk about changes. Not good ones. A horrible birth experience (my own doc was out of town on the Sunday before Xmas, so the delivery was with a newbie cowboy on-call doc). After 3 hours of pushing, 45 minutes of forceful pulling with forceps (without consent but I was wrung out and pretty incapable of saying no), my daughter was born. She was fine. I was not.
    I had 4th degree tears (tore right through the 2 episiotomy cuts). Torn pelvic floor muscles, not fixable. Nerve damage to pelvic floor (reduced muscle control, reduced sensation, no more big O’s for me), severely prolapsed bladder and uterus (fixed a year later), bowel incontinence (attempted repair – unsuccessful, meaning I will never have bowel control again – what a horrid and embarrassing issue), nerve damage in my back (chronic pain, I see a pain mgt doc and take enough drugs to kill a horse, I have had six procedures to try and relieve the pain, and have trouble walking, laying and sitting), PTSD, depression, anxiety, and major regrets about the whole decision to have a child. I can’t seem to stop grieving my old life, and accept that I am now a diabled woman who, at 37 years old, can’t sit in a movie theater without hurting, or bend over to pick up a book for my daughter.
    Add a colicky baby to that mix and I came very close to suicide at about the 11-month mark.
    I love my daughter more than anything. But if I could go back, I never, ever would have had her. Life feels over, and I struggle not to resent this child. She is 2 1/2 and in full toddler independent-speedy-no-no-no-destructive mode and I simply cannot keep up.
    I am a one in 5 million injury. Most moms worry about and struggle with the “regular” new mom stuff. That new mom stuff (sleep deprivation, etc.) nearly put me in a psych hospital, and frankly, I missed my daughter’s first two years due to doctors appointments, physical therapy and major depression. It likely won’t be this kind of bad for you. But it *can* happen.
    I seriously debated whether to post my story in this thread of encouragement and support. But no one ever talks about some of the absolutely awful outcomes that can still happen in our society. I can guarantee that this won’t happen to you – but I do know that you are smart to think it through. Only time will reveal the changes you will go through. Some of them might really, really suck.

  108. My husband and I dated for a year, moved in together for a year, got married and a year later we found out we were pregnant. We were working over night in a retail establishment. So, though we were happy, we were NOT prepared. He started a better job when our daughter was 2 months old. We had no money, and though we are doing much better these days, we still have very little. Our kid though? 2 years old, smart and beautiful little girl.I hated pregnancy. I refer to the three trimesters as “sick, tired and sick&tired”- and I had an easy one. I just hated it, the weight gain, the sciatic nerve pain, the overwhelming tiredness and the GODFORSAKEN HEARTBURN. When my daughter was born, I loved her, but I also felt like I was looking at a stranger and sometimes even now, I wonder who she is and who she is going to be. Feeling like a bad mother when your child is completely taken care of is normal, and sometimes I think that it means that you are a good one….
    I love two, but I think that I will love 8 a lot more. 8 can read books that actually tell a story, and 8 can hold more of a conversation.
    I second making sure that you have done enough of your thing- my husband and I both LOVE the underground punk type scene (this makes me seem like a child, I know) Sadly, we live in the buttcrack of nowhere, so we might have gone to 6 shows a year before we had our kid, and now? Maybe one, and it has to be important to go because we have to find a sitter and drive and blahblahblah. Maybe we can take her to festivals or something next year, but right now things are too too loud and too too rough and crowded. Plus that whole attention span thing.
    I don’t think that I am making much sense anymore but I think that my whole point was that some of us are worriers and that is how/why we plan- we can’t plan for the unexpected, but we can try, and that is how we handle new things. Just be prepared for plans to adapt.

  109. Anyone who doesn’t have at least some degree of ambivalence about becoming a parent isn’t being realistic. Further, I venture to say, that’s not my opinion — it’s a FACT. Anyone who says otherwise is not being totally truthful (and any mother who thinks they’re having such an easy time of it because of something they did — well, as a mother of a child who has always slept well, let me just say it’s crystal clear to me that it’s not about ME, it’s MY KID. I just lucked out.)You refer to yourself as a “pre-mommy,” and you sound very committed to the idea. You’re being realistic, and that is GOOD. So come on in, the water’s fine. There are moments that totally suck, like everyone’s been saying, but the rewards are so very huge.
    But try and take it one day at a time. When your kid is screaming and life sucks and it’s all too much, it’s overwhelming when you think — OMG, I have to do this forever. No you don’t. You have to get through the next 10 minutes, at which time something will change, for better or for worse, and as reading Ask Moxie reinforces over and over, no phase lasts forever (even if it seems that way).

  110. I’m refusing to read past Hedra’s first post (I’m guessing she posts again) b/c I started to laugh to hard and I really need to get some work done.well said and spot Moxie.
    as a friend recently told me when I lamented that I worried I was definitely setting my 4 year old up for many future visits to the shrink–well, future psychology majors will need work then too.

  111. Irene — wanted to add, I’ve been where you are. I couldn’t even fathom trying for another until my first was 2 1/2, at which point I decided to take the plunge. Didn’t work out — had two missed miscarriages at 12 weeks apiece, and at 40 have hung it up, and am (usually) at peace with it. (Also: I’m not someone who believes this was somehow cosmically ordained, AT ALL). I could have tried harder, again, whatever, but just couldn’t put my heart and body on the line again. It’s hard, having to CHOOSE that — in some ways it would have been easier if the doc had advised me not to have another. I suspect I am not the only one who has felt that way, especially in a world where it seems like the expectation is that the ideal family has 2 kids.Aaaand now I’m rambling. But I guess what my point is, no matter what you choose to do as far as having more children, you will be OK.
    I’m not a huge fan of the infant phase either. It does, does, does, does get better — they start to get more flexible, and I’ve enjoyed my daughter more the older she’s gotten (she’s now 5, which is a delicious age).

  112. @Star – just responding to this:”After that, the gratitude I felt at being able to have a pregnancy (now two pregnancies) and a healthy baby was so strong that I never gave another thought to whether I was going to be able to pursue hobbies (trust me, you won’t be able to) or anything like that. I also gave up my career for a job in order to devote to him the time I felt my child deserved (in my field it would have been close to impossible to have been a good mother and pursued a career at the same time, but YMMV). I have never regretted it, but then again I wasn’t that happy with what I was doing before I got pregnant.”
    I guess I want to address the selfishness a bit more than I did.
    My experience was almost exactly the opposite. (Wait, it turns out ok.)
    I thought that given that we lost our first daughter etc. that I would be miraculously transformed into a SAHM or PT WAHM mothering GURU content to blow bubbles in the yard all day.
    And here’s the truth: I love, love, love my son and I love spending time with him. I do love blowing bubbles in the backyard.
    But I am also a writer and an editor and I like to make money, work with other people, and come up with big ideas. In an adult environment. With other adults.
    FOR ME, being home full time for a year was great – just about the right amount of time. Then I worked part time from home for about 8 months and DID NOT like it – I felt mostly the disadvantages of both and never felt like anything had my full attention.
    So, I gave up the picture of myself as the perfect SAHM earth mother or a balance-forging WAHM freelancer and I went back to work full time, after finding good daycare. (Angst avail in Ask Moxie archives.)
    I love my son and we have a great bond and connection and actually we just had one of those charmed weekends where we hung out and it was a joy.
    And it didn’t involve giving up everything important to me. That’s where I found – it’s okay to keep some of yourself. Some people disagree, but I just plain don’t agree with them.
    I’m my son’s best and only mother. But I am not always his caregiver. I’m at peace with that.
    And I think he’s doing fine. There is good care out there. There won’t be as much time – my social life is a bit pathetic and some of my hobbies have vanished – but you do not have to give up the essential core of yourself.
    Particularly if you have a supportive partner.
    I think my son will know, growing up, that he has a mom and a dad who both like to work and who sometimes were not there for certain things… but who adore him and support him and when they were not working were SO HAPPY. Both to be with him and to be WHO WE ARE.
    If you’re feeling there’s no way to do that, chances are you’re buying into an ideology. I’d be the first admit that you can’t have it all… I think my son is in care about 10 hrs a week more than is great and there are things we don’t do.
    But that’s a family. I think most people can do this, if they are thoughtful and caring.

  113. Tons of comments already so this is probably not necessary buuut….I cried when I found out I was pregnant, and not the happy kind of crying. We wanted kids and I still freaked likening it to being strapped into a roller coaster and not being able to get off (this analogy works if you HATE roller coasters, which I do).
    Anyway I adore my son and am about to have a second. You’ll be fine. The *smart* women are a little nervous to take on such a huge responsibility:)

  114. @Shelley, I feel in the same boat. After surgery to fix damage from the first delivery and *preserve* my fertility, I am not at all ready to have #2. My daughter is just now 2 1/2 and she is really delightful. Just tonight I was thinking wistfully about new baby smells and toys and strollers and little itty bitty clothes … and then sleep deprivation and colic and trying to do the infant stage with a toddler in tow and OMG.I am 37, and just don’t know. And my OB has really encouraged me to consider #2 – not pushing, but wanting me to be sure I’m not going to have regrets later. I just don’t know. Sometimes I wish my uterus hadn’t been “fixable” – then I wouldn’t have the burden of a choice.
    My daughter rocks, and in many ways I am delighted to have an only child. I am a younger sister of two, though, so I do spend time wondering, “What if …”

  115. A lot has already been said on this. My $.02:In my experience the anxiety about becoming a parent was much more difficult than actually having the baby, bringing him home, and now raising him. We fear the unknown because we do not know how we will react in a new situation. Having this natural reaction does not in any way indicate that you are not ready to become a mother. Your friends who claim that life is perfect as mothers are either sugar-coating the truth (intentionally or unintentionally) or are in denial of their reality.
    Give yourself permission to worry and be anxious. To deal with it try reading a couple books to get familiar with what might happen to you (everybody is different, and those baby books generalize and simplify almost everything, so don’t take them too seriously). Make sure to savor your pre-baby time while you still have it, and do what you can to make sure that your marriage is stronger than it has ever been, because, honey, a baby will expose every weakness that exists in that relationship.
    One final bit of advice from this new mommy: After that little miracle enters your life and takes over make sure that you still take time for yourself. You cannot care for a baby if you are not well, mentally and physically. You are allowed to be selfish every now and then, even if all you do is hand the baby to your husband so you can “go to the bathroom” and you sit on the bathroom floor eating a chocolate bar while reading a trashy magazine for 5 minutes.
    If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.
    Good Luck! and I hope that you get pregnant soon (if that is what you want).

  116. Just wanted to say that to those who directed words of support and encouragement my way… thanks so much! It means a lot.

  117. LB, if you’re still reading, I think you are a wise woman who, as others have said, needs to listen a lot less to her mama friends IRL who definitely aren’t keeping it real. Bertrand Russell said it best: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubts.”I’m with everyone here who says feel the fear and do it anyway! I was in my 30s when we took the proverbial plunge, and in hindsight I’m glad we had been married at least 2 years, had done all of our wild world traveling already, and were financially stable, etc. I had minor concerns about some of the unknowns (like would I be able to find great child care? and how much does childbirth hurt?), but nothing that was an outright deal breaker so to speak. It helped that we had always envisioned our future involving a couple of our own biological children. FWIW, pregnancy can surprise the heck out of you by happening right away even if you’re older – and that can be a strange mix of relief and utter fear. Anyway, you’re clearly a smart cookie who is living an examined life – more people like you need to be parents, seriously. Just do it (when you’re at least 30 that is… smile, smile)!!

  118. Good morning. We are what we repeatedly do.I am from Sudan and learning to speak English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Products and terbinafine tablets al ready include a warning of adverse liver april of this year, possible terbinafine associated and possible itraconazole.”
    Thanks :P. Des.

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