Recently at a party my Mom made a comment that, "we'd better have grandchildren while she still had the energy" and everyone laughed, including me. I'm used to this. My Dad whispered something in my ear on my wedding day as we were dancing, and I know how full their hearts will be the day I make them grandparents.
I do however feel pressure from time to time and sometimes it seems to get to me. This is probably typical considering my age and the fact that I've been married for over two years. It's the natural progression and the next step, but lately, it seems to be all I’m hearing. Many of my friends are either already parents, pregnant, trying to conceive or working up to that next step. My husband and I have talked about having children since early in our relationship and have had several serious talks quite a few times about when the time may be right for us. So far, we haven’t been able to answer that, which makes the pressure consume me.
One of my friends happened to be at this party. As the evening was winding down, from across the room in front of all of our guests and after my Mom's humorous comment about grandchildren, this friend shouts that we should get pregnant together. Mind you, she's been trying for all of a week and secondly, we're not that good of friends where that might be something I'd actually consider! I laughed it off because it was #1) none of her business #2) nothing I wanted to discuss with a room full of friends and family.
I managed to contain my composure until most of the guests had left, and then I burst, shouting, "Does it make me a bad person that I’m not pregnant yet?" I looked around the room at dazed faces staring back at me. Crickets chirped, I heard a pin drop - and I felt completely mortified.
It bothers me that my reaction was aimed at the wrong people, and actually those that love and adore me most. It also bothers me that it upset me so much and that I allowed something so small get under my skin. I don't know why it bothered me to the extent that it did, but when she questioned me and my baby motives, I felt like I had to defend our decision, our relationship and that she perceived me as a bad person because I wasn’t reproducing with her.
My husband and I need to decide for us when the time is right. It's not a matter of will we or won't we. We already know that answer. It's a matter of when. For me, it's difficult to know when it is the right time because it's a scary decision full of many unknowns. We're in no hurry for several reasons; for instance I'd like to have a house and a mortgage before we have children.
Thankfully my family all accepted my apologies with a hug, although I am still quite embarrassed about my outburst.
Signed, Not a Mom Yet
Dear Not a Mom Yet,
I always feel a bit sad, for several reasons, when I hear of a young couple getting married in their teens because of a pregnancy. Parents who are so young face many extra challenges, such as trying to be parents and spouses when they are not yet fully mature, the need to earn a living when they may not have completed their education, and so on. One of the big reasons I feel sad for them, though, is that they will miss out on what I consider to be one of the most glorious parts of a marriage. They will have virtually no time to be just a couple, without children.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love kids. My wife and I have a few stress factors of our own running around the house and I'm tremendously happy they are part of my life. I am also glad that my wife and I had several years at the beginning of our marriage when it was just the two of us. We had some time to figure out who we were as a couple, to work out how we wanted to handle many life-sharing issues such as balancing the housework, managing household finances, and deciding where and how to spend holidays. We had the opportunity to be together, just the two of us, and to grow close as a couple.
Time. We had the time we needed to develop a strong bond between us. We became married partners in fact, not just on paper. Later, our children also benefited. They got to grow up within the context of a more stable household as a result of those years we had alone.
You say you are in no hurry to have children, but at the same time the decision as to when you take that leap consumes you at times. You feel pressure to have a baby quickly, and at the same time you want to wait for a number of reasons.
You strike me as a people pleaser and a planner. Both of these can be good things, but in this case they also add to your stress. You care very much what others think of you and your actions, so their comments about babies weigh on you. The needs and desires of others add to the pile of reasons in your mind as to why you should consider having a baby sooner rather than later. Being a careful planner, though, you want to have your ducks in order before you take the plunge. This is a big part of the push-pull conflict that has you so stressed out.
First you should recognize where all that pressure is coming from. Did the comments from your mother and friend create the stress inside you? No, they merely contributed to it. If the "when to conceive" debate was not already a huge issue for you, then you would have laughed those comments off easily with hardly a second thought. You have had a raw nerve over this issue for some time, though, so their comments hit home in a big way. They awakened your internal self doubts, which fought and tumbled inside you for a while as the party wound down. You worked yourself into such a highly agitated state that your frustration made you burst out.
Of course your family hugged and forgave you. I can tell from your reaction that such outbursts are not typical for you. Your family knows this, and can no doubt tell you are feeling pressure. You should forgive yourself, as well; most of us do things like that once in a while and it's no big deal.
You and your husband have only been married two years. For some people that is enough "couple time" prior to having children, but for you it is not. You should accept that and take the time you need before taking the leap into parenthood. If it helps you feel any better, the magic number for my wife and I turned out to be six years. (... and her grandmother was convinced that any couple who waited so long was destined to be childless.) So relax. You have plenty of time.
Since you are a planner, here is a suggestion that might help you put the issue more to the back of your mind for a while. Make a list of the major life issues you want to take care of before having your first child. Ignore the desires of your friends and parents; this is your life and the decision should be based on your needs, not theirs. At the bottom of the list, write down a rough guess-timate of the number of years it will take to work through the issues. Talk with your husband -- are you both okay with the idea of waiting that long to have children? If not, pick a compromise that makes both of you comfortable. Back up nine months from that point, mark a big red "X" on your mental calendar, and give yourself permission to spend the intervening time focusing on life and each other.
Of course, things may not work out exactly like your plan, and that's okay. You may change your minds in the meantime, and we all know what Mother Nature likes to do with such plans. Giving yourself permission to focus on something else is the key, though. You should decide, for your own sanity, that it is okay for you to stop obsessing about it for a while. Then when someone drops a baby hint, hopefully you can simply smile, knowing you have already taken into account what is important for you and your husband.
All the best,