Life is what happens when you are busy planning. There is perhaps no time in life that this is truer than when you decide to start planning for a baby. From the first inkling of desire to the admission that it is time to become a parent, your future quickly becomes unknown and you are led by an instinctive desire that is difficult to understand. You also become extremely vulnerable to the inequities of life. An old quote says that, When you decide to have a baby, you decide to allow part of your heart to walk around outside of yourself!’ And while exciting, even the best-laid plans cannot prepare you for what is ahead.
But still, we have become a society of planners. We like the comfort and feelings of control that planning things give us. And today, many people plan for a baby with the same diligence and check lists that they do when planning a vacation or a retirement. Still, the simple truth is that you cannot always plan for things in life. And statistics alarmingly indicate that when it comes to human reproductive habits’ pregnancy often happens whether we plan it or not. In fact, around 2 out of every 3 babies born are conceived unintentionally. And for those planning a baby, ‘½ of all couples will experience some sort of infertility issues that can range from mild to extreme.
At the same time, it is good to emotionally and financially prepare yourself for a baby. The problem is that when analyzed through the eyes of a statistician, void of emotion the planning phase can seem endless. Why? Because when you begin to add up all the costs of having and rising children, it becomes obvious that few couples are ever truly ready. When you see it all on paper, within the confines of a clearly outlines pros and cons list, it often doesn’t make sense to have children at all. This is why the emotional planning is so important.
Today, there are millions of options floating around that attempt to prepare parents for parenthood. And most people who have ‘been there done that’, will say that while they did their homework – they were never really truly prepared for how quickly things change once you have a baby. People will tell you about the lack of sleep, but not about the lack of intimacy that having a baby can cause between couples. People will prove that kids are expensive, but never include expenses such as braces, therapy, or involving your kids in sports. You will know how to design a nursery, but not how to come to agreement on hot button subjects like religion or discipline. You will be aware that your definitions of love will change immensely, but will not understand completely until you are forced to use this love in order to let go so your child can grow.
Planning a baby isn’t all about making sure your house is childproofed, and socking enough money into the bank that gives you a comfort zone. it’s not about the baby shower, buying the perfect house or finally shopping for a minivan. You see, this baby, the one thing in life that can connect couples more deeply than anything else, is also the one thing that can cause the greatest divide. And no matter how many classes you take, how many discussions you have, how much premarital therapy you indulge in you never truly know what lies ahead for your family.
If you studies tsunamis or volcanoes for a living, you would eventually become consumed with the damage that they can cause. With too much thought and study, you might even become so warped by fear of experiencing one of these natural disasters that you become paralyzed in some ways. The same is true for trying to plan a baby. If you do too much research, try to have every discussion, ask all the questions on the checklist and research the facts about children living today you can easily become stymied and begin resisting the urges to follow your innate heart to procreate.
So, while it is good to plan ahead, you shouldn’t gamble everything you have on what the baby will bring to your life. Plus, planning for a baby is easy but planning for a child that becomes a teenager and adult is far more difficult. Your plans today that are attached to the hopes and dreams of your tomorrow, will quickly become squashed one day. The first time this child says she hates you. The first time he wrecks a car. The first time you catch her lying. And, there are zillions of other things that are not considered when planning for a baby.
Maybe, the best thing to do is decide to remain open for having children. When the time is right, remove obstacles such as birth control, and try to remain relaxed and vulnerable to having your heart walk around outside of yourself. Rather than get caught up in calculations or stirring emotions that revolve around a biological clock, simply open your mind and heart to the possibilities. Try not to attach expectations of yourself, your partner, your friends, or your family into your decision to become a parent and be prepared to handle the numerous twists and turns that can seemingly derail you out of nowhere.
Having a baby and starting a family are no doubt tough decisions in life. And yes, planning for them and trying to prepare yourself are definitely responsible activities. However, be prepared for the unexpected as well. For the things that you might not be able to write down on paper or rationalize should they occur. And more importantly, be prepared for the fact that the odds seem to indicate you may be one of the millions, who do not have the liberty of planning for this life-changing event. Sometimes, your life may have plans of its own.