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How do you know when it's the right time to have a baby?

When is the right time to have a baby?

Mamamia’s Deputy Editor, Rebecca Sparrow writes:  He wanted a baby. She wasn’t ready. At least that’s the rumoured cause of the Russell Brand / Katy Perry split.  And it’s not uncommon. At this time of year, thousands of couples are arguing over the “I thought we agreed to start a family this year?”  issue.  So how do you know when you’re ready for a baby?  Is there a ‘right’ time?

Writer (and mother of three) Karen Charlton wrote this letter to her best friend who wanted to know if she would ‘know’ when she was ready to become a mum.

Dear Bestie,

To quote Eat Pray Love, “motherhood is like getting a tattoo on your face: you’ve got to be really sure you want it”.  Parenting is for life, and although I was sure I wanted to start a family when I had Boy 1, this is not something that occurred to me when I first fell pregnant.  For me, getting pregnant was like choosing something out of an Ikea catalogue.  A new piece of furniture for my neat-little-married life.  I am still shocked by how naive I was.

If/when there is room in your life for a baby, you will know (both of you).  If/when you decide you want a baby, room will be made, drawers cleared out, flesh will stretch, time changes and you wonder what you did with your time before you had kids?  (Facebook and Googling, most likely).

One of my friends had Big Trouble getting pregnant, tried medications and eventually very expensive and heartbreaking IVF.  (She is only 32.)  We were talking about siblings, and first borns, and she said “When I had First Born, I used to look at him and wonder how I could ever love another baby as much as him?”  But a mother’s love is infinite.  Just as the baby comes from a tiny spec that’s been inside your tummy since you were a tiny spec, your love and your time for your child is limitless (your patience, not so much).  It comes from nothing but just keeps growing and growing.  It is truly amazing.

Once you find your rhythm as a family, its an amazing experience.  It will change your relationship in ways you can’t imagine.  Its hard to describe, but I totally felt Mr Karen was mine forever once I had his baby in my tummy.  There were ‘other’ women before, but I am the mother of his children.  We are tied together forever, and we have three big, beautiful, clever reminders of our love for each other.  No matter what happens, he is the daddy to my babies and there will never be another.  And as they grow, we get to watch ourselves coming out through them in different ways, and we make jokes about who gave who the most neuroses, or where Boy 1′s evil laugh comes from.

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After pregnancy, everything comes back together again, your body gradually settles back to pre-pregnant body (well, near enough) and sex becomes beautiful and fun again.  I actually found myself less inhibited after having children, even though my body isn’t in ‘top condition’ as it was when we were married.

I think the decision for you guys is actually a lot more significant for You, the woman, than for your Mr.  You have more that will change.  (He will still keep his job, work the same hours, things will just be different when he’s at home).  The tricky part is that you are a mum forever, and you cannot switch it off.  You need to be there to feed, wipe, do buttons, peel bananas, fill drinks, fold, tuck, kiss, cuddle, colour in, talk, and play despite all of your own needs/wants.  When you’re sick, you don’t get a day off.  This is probably the hardest part, but it TOTALLY makes you stronger for it.  But if you roll with it, every day feels like being on a holiday.  You get to spend all your waking hours with someone you love, doing nothing in particular but growing and learning and just plain being.  You set your own schedule, you get to read awesome books (although most of the books we read have pictures), have adventures, and enjoy a really simple, beautiful life together as a family.  (I also have to add, for the sake of realism, it can also – at times – be tediously boring due to its repetitive nature … but I think this is also true of Life in general.  Everybody has to do dishes).

Love from the Lady Who Lives in the Shoe

I think you CAN have your high heels, and your cute flats, but you’ve only got 2 feet, so don’t expect to wear them at the same time.

How did you know (or how do you think you’ll know) when the time’s right to have a baby?

Karen Charlton believes there is only one thing as thrilling as having a baby, and that is writing. She blogs at The Rhythm Method and you can follow her on Twitter at @rhythmblog and visit her on Facebook.