For The Why and The How?

Someone in comments a few posts ago asked how we went about deciding to have a baby. It’s a good question seeing as how we look at each other now and wonder, “What the fuck were we thinking??” I know, logically, what we were thinking: yay baby! But pregnancy is a big bundle of cannot-anticipate, and I would have never thought it would be so debilitating or feel the way it does.

I think that if I would have been willing to get pregnant on our 4th date Kamel would have been totally down with it. Since I’ve known him he has wanted to have kids. He has been ready. Ready ready ready ready.

I was not ready. I had a list of things I wanted to do before getting pregnant. If I jump ahead a minute, I must tell you that we did none of the things on my list. Here is my list:

  1. Own a dog
  2. Go to Greece
  3. Publish a book

There may have been more, but they probably came and went depending on the breeze.

When we were dating we talked about kids. We talked about how many we wanted, we talked about how we wanted to raise them, spanking, religion, and what we thought they would look like (hairy, doomed to be hairy). When we were engaged we talked about bigger fertility issues: what if we couldn’t get pregnant? Would we go down the medicine path? How far down the path would we go? What about adoption? We discussed parenting hypotheticals: What if we found drugs in our kids’ laundry? How do we feel about snooping? How do we feel about the roll of technology in our kids’ lives? We talked names. We talked names until we were blue in the face and then we talked more. We talked realistic timeline, and there was a certain point, before we were married, where I suddenly realized I was ready to have kids. I had never wanted to have a baby in the realistic way. Hypothetically, yes… but I had been focused for my entire life on NOT making a human. And then suddenly I was ok with it. It was very literally like a little switch went off.

After we were married we thought realistically about a timeline. We thought initially to start trying sometime in the winter after our July wedding, but then we had a really difficult December and I didn’t feel comfortable attempting to add another person to our mix until we figured out some newly-wed shit. And we did. We figured out some basic things and we still work on figuring out some basic things and we move through our relationship by tackling issues as they pop up and calling it like we sees it.

Kamel was always ready, but it was never in a pushy way. Kamel is the furthest thing from pushy you’ve ever seen. It was more like he was always up for it. So when I said I was ready, his response was, “woo hoo!” and when I said I wasn’t his response was, “ok, no problem.” We both went into our marriage knowing that having kids was something we were both excited for, but we also knew that if it wasn’t in the cards we were totally, 100% ok with spending the rest of our lives staring at each other. What we didn’t expect is how flipped upside down being pregnant would turn our little worlds. We are rolling with it. We make decisions about how we want to handle the pregnancy and the baby together. We discuss the items we want to buy, the fact that we’re not having a baby shower, how we will handle future holidays, traveling with babies, how we want our lives to look and feel when another person is involved. We tackle the pregnancy weirdness together. If I’m sick at work Kamel drops everything and comes to pick me up, he goes to every appointment with me, gets me breakfast in the morning and has taken on the bulk of household duties. It has nothing to do with me being pregnant and being spoiled and everything to do with being a team. Pregnancy is not just affecting my life, it’s affecting our lives and I wouldn’t and couldn’t have it any other way.

28 thoughts on “For The Why and The How?”

  1. You are so so lucky… I guess life really wants to take our expectations and f*** them and shake your world and make you deal with awful stuff. I have always wanted to have kids… and Mark as well. I never thought that having kids would ever stop me from doing anything… maybe I am deluded in that I think I can handle all kinds of stuff (like travel, or a hypothetical phd) and a baby so those things were not even in my mind. I think that even if I had gotten pregnant by “accident” I would have been happy with it.
    And now, I have to deal with not being able to get the one thing I always wanted the most… and it is so hard. Because all the freaking tests are perfect. Out of the 12 % of couples that will have trouble…. 10 % are unexplained, and that is us the 1%. It feels like a huge bad joke…. like we aced all the exams and still nothing. I am not even sure we are healthy… as the medical exams say, or where or within whom there is a problem if there is one. We do not have any risk factors. It really just seems cruel.
    We are about to start a treatment this month and I am so scared. I wanted so much for this to happen in a natural way… I already don’t have the career despite two hard earned degrees… so I constantly feel like I am failing in all aspects.
    Anyhow… sorry for the rant. It is just so weird how things are never what you thought they would be…

    1. Life really does throw out some major curve-balls. Both good and bad. I think about you often and am crossing my fingers and toes that everything works out. I always worry while writing about pregnancy that I’m alienating people. I don’t want to do that. It’s a hard line to walk writing about life honestly and being sensitive. I really appreciate that you feel comfortable commenting and sharing your experiences!

      1. Thanks Lauren. It means a lot,. Life truly is impredictable. Anyhow thank You for being so honest, I do like to read about your stories and I am right there hoping you feel better all the time..

      2. FWIW, I don’t feel alienated. I don’t see myself doing the whole pregnancy thing, but it is a part of life, and I’m sure many of my friends, siblings, coworkers, and other people I interact with will eventually go through it. And actually hearing about it from people who have gone or are going through it makes me feel better prepared for the inevitable time that *somebody* I know gets pregnant.

        1. I mean, I don’t feel alienated by people who write about mid-life crises, retirement communities, dealing with the health care system in France, or teaching English in China. Being pregnant is just one of many things people sometimes do that I can appreciate hearing about without feeling alienated because it isn’t something I’m doing.

      3. Lauren, I don’t think you’re being insensitive at all. I also don’t feel alienated. I love the way you are writing about your pregnancy and sharing so honestly.

      4. I think you’ve done a great job at being sensitive about this. I actually got pregnant right around the same time as you did, and things didn’t go the way they were supposed to and so I spent a few months being super sensitive about pregnancy talk and hearing about people being pregnant and yet the way you’ve addressed your experiences and your pregnancy here have been very accessible to me at a time when I’ve been hyper sensitive to even hearing about babies and baby making.

    2. Amanda, from someone in a similar position to you (got pregnant naturally, miscarried, now struggling to get pregnant again and on medication to help that along), I just wanted to send you love and to tell you that you’re not alone xx

  2. What a thoughtful post – thanks for sharing it. It’d be great to see more discussions about how couples decide to have/not to have kids. For something that really has only two end results (kids! or no kids!), there are SO many different paths and avenues to those decisions.

    1. I agree! I would love to see more discussions out there about how couples came into agreement on not having kids or other fertility decisions. I think it would greatly breakdown the overwhelming stigmas associated with both the discussion and the decision.

      For example: Kamel and I both agreed against adopting as an option for us. I feel like, even though saying it out loud is simply a life choice, it makes it sound like I hate adopted kids or something. I also get a lot of “ohh well if you couldn’t have kids, you’d think differently!!” and… though I always reserve the right to change my mind, I’ve never been interested in adopting, and I don’t think that having a fulfilling life always involves kids. I would really love to see the differing opinions on this and how people came to those conclusions. On this particular topic I often feel totally alone.

      1. I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s kind of a thing where we plan to assess as we go. People *do* change, and while right now fostering-to-adopt is out of the question for me (too much heartbreak potential, I’ve watched it from afar IRL). If the fertility treatments for us don’t work though, we might go back, reassess our feelings about things, reassess finances (because some fertility treatments are off the table just because of that alone, and that can include adoption in some cases). Right now, we stand at X. If another year passes, we’ll take another look, see if we still stand at X, or if we’ve moved to Y.

      2. That’s really interesting–and surprising! But that’s why it’s so good to talk about it.

        I haven’t thought much about adoption, but I’ve often thought that if we a) decide to have kids, and then b) were faced with infertility, that I’m not sure if I would want to go through all the medical options. To an extent, yes–but I’m not sure how far I’d be willing to take it. Like you say, I do think we could have a fulfilling life without kids.

        And, you know, not being currently in that situation…who’s to say?

      3. We are with you on that. For Mark and I, adopting was never even discussed as an option (not that there are many kids in our country available), unless it was one of our Nieces or Nephews, in which case things would probably be a bit different.
        We also agreed that we would NEVER undertake fertility treatments. My depression is unpredictable at the best of times, and watching friends go through IVF and similar was gut wrenching enough. By ruling it out entirely, it meant that instead we could make fairly certain plans – if we aren’t naturally pregnant by X date, we will assume we are not meant to be and get on with planning our next big OTHER adventure instead and being the coolest Aunty and Uncle we can be, complete with plans to take all the kids in our lives travelling, pay for them to do courses or exchange programmes etc etc, basically spoil them rotten from a distance.
        Falling pregnant first month of not-trying-not-to makes all that discussion seem pointless though, but at the same time, I am SO glad we had a plan we were both happy with.

  3. I have been meaning to say this for a while but Wow, Lauren, you are really knocking it out of the park on the pregancy posts – I so appreciate your honesty and willingness to share both the positives and, more, the negatives which are so seldom discussed openly.

    I so agree about the list of things I wanted to do before I got pregnant. Mine were: (i) buy a house (done, on Friday.); (ii) change jobs (done, in January, but possibly required again next year); (iii)achieve something big (pretty amorphous. Not really done yet).
    Now that all tangible pre-baby goals are achieved, I really need to get my head into the baby space. And it isn’t quite there yet, but I know I want kids – the disconnect is on when you close your eyes and jump and just start trying (or, as my friend puts it, remove the goalie and get on with the game. nice.). And with that decision comes the same attitude as Amanda expresses in her comment – that kids are an addition, not a detraction, and that I can achieve “something big” just as well with them as without them.

    Amanda – that must be so incredibly hard. Thinking of you. Very good luck with the treatment.

  4. I can so relate to that feeling of a switch going off and suddenly being ready for kids. It’s amazing how suddenly we can go from “hmm, yeah, I’d like children in my future” to “ok, I’m ready to get working on making a baby”.

  5. On our second date, Forrest asked me how many kids I wanted to have. I told him 3. (I knew I would have been hell as an only child. I also had one sister and we’re not close and thought maybe 3 would be a better number.) He seemed cool with this but we hardly ever talked kids again.

    Turns out, I’d never really thought about kids concretely. After we’d lived together for two and a half years (and bought a house) I had a crying breakdown because I realized I really didn’t want kids. Turns out, we’re both more than okay with having kids (although I think he’d have children with me if I wanted them).

    It’s not pregnancy but when someone asks when we’re having kids the fact that he jumps in to back me up on the no-babies (or to handle the question entirely) it means the world to me. It’s this wonderful example of a united front for the two of us.

    1. “when someone asks when we’re having kids the fact that he jumps in to back me up on the no-babies (or to handle the question entirely) it means the world to me.”

      I know what you mean. It feels really good to be on the same page when it comes to big decisions.

    2. In a random marriage advice session with my extended family, my uncle said that one of the most important things for a lasting marriage is that you have to be willing to stand by your decisions as a couple. Even if you were against it at the beginning, once you make a decision as a couple, you stand behind it 100%. No “I told you so”s and no “well, my husband/wife wants this so this is what we’re doing.” I LOVE being right and I firmly believe in our individualities remaining intact within the marriage, so it doesn’t come naturally to me, but I think this advice is SO important and I’ve tried really hard to keep it in mind. Argue it out between the two of you, but you are a united front to the world. You back each other up. End of story.

  6. You are amazing, Lauren. I adore your honesty in these posts, and you’re really helping me think about pregnancy in a more realistic and concrete way. I am still waiting for my switch to go off and for my body to definitely want babies. I’m pretty sure it will happen, but I’m equally nervous that it would be easy for us to have babies because “it’s the next thing to do” which I think would pretty much be the worst reason ever. We have a list of stuff to do before babies, which looks like this: Africa. Japan. (That’s the whole list.) And I suppose career stuff, but more and more I am feeling not-care-ish about that, timing-wise… And then some days I just think WTF I want one of THESE: (Our maybe-one-day-baby has a high, HIGH likelihood of red hair. And freckles. Love.) You know? All the different ways of thinking on an intermittent basis! But yes – reading your posts about pregnancy is amazing for me in terms of helping me figure it all out and think about it in a real, genuine, life-stuff way. So, thank you gorgeous lady 🙂 you are the best.

  7. Thank you for responding to this question/prompt! I love this line: “I suddenly realized I was ready to have kids.” As someone who over thinks everything and analyzes things to death, I sometimes miss out on the stuff that I know would make me really happy. That’s why I love those flashes of intuition and insight–those gut responses that are always right–even if you the journey isn’t what I thought it would be. (Is it ever?)

  8. “It was very literally like a little switch went off.” YES. I always wanted kids but, you know, at some time later – after I finished university, after we got married, after we’d been married for at least a year. My husband wanted kids before he turned 30. He’s 3 years older than me so we renegotiated that to before I turned 30. Then, last year about 6 months after we got married that switch went off. I wanted to have a baby SO badly, still do.

    We couldn’t start trying straight away as I had to get some genetic testing done due to a condition that my husband has. But once we got the green light from the drs, I thought it would be ready, set, go! It wasn’t. 11 years of being on the Pill had wreaked havoc with my body. A miracle happened and I did fall pregnant but sadly, it didn’t stick. So we’re back on the trying wagon, now with a little medical help and waiting …

    I agree with Amanda above, you are so very lucky Lauren, but know that that I don’t begrudge you this pregnancy one bit. I love that you share so much about your pregnancy with us, your honesty and openness is refreshing. I think you’re doing a great job of being sensitive enough to those of us who are having fertility issues or have had pregnancy losses because it’s very clear that you’re writing about your own experiences and how you feel rather than saying that how it is for you is how it should be for everyone lalalalala. Does that even make sense?

    Anyway, I’m rambling now so I’ll stop and just say thank you and please keep writing about your pregnancy x

  9. I don’t feel alienated at all by your pregnancy. Yes, there are days that I avoid your blog or scroll past your Instagrams, but that is just because my situation is hard and it feels harder at times. I’m not mad or upset that you’re pregnant, but I’m mad and upset that it is so hard for Brad and me.

    The infertility stuff is our path and we choose to walk it a little farther. When we had initial diagnoses, we talked about where to draw the line. We agreed that we would NOT try in vitro. “Too expensive,” we said. “No guarantees.” However, when we found out that IVF is the only option for us (as far as biological kids), we changed our mind. It can happen as you get further in a situation. It doesn’t mean that I don’t know myself, but I didn’t fully know the situation.

    We are also going through training for adoption. It is a path we wanted to walk before we ever found out about the infertility. We’re moving it up in our timeline in case the IVF doesn’t work. Brad and I love kids and we want to have a couple of them to share our lives with and to share in their lives.

    You have a miracle growing inside of you and I thank you for your honest blogging.

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