My first of three miscarriages was in January 2017 after an unexpected positive pregnancy test. We hadn't been trying to get pregnant but we also hadn't been preventing since coming home from our honeymoon in October 2016. I didn't even think or know I was ready to have a baby until the positive test was staring back at me. And in that short week, between finding out that I might be a mom to miscarrying, my life had already changed--I had already dreamed a lifetime of dreams and hoped a lifetime of hopes, all of which came crashing down.
In an attempt to make myself feel better, I wrote the following list of reasons why I didn't want a baby yet (based on preconceived notions of what I thought motherhood would be like). I was scared that becoming a parent meant leaving everything I loved about my pre-baby days behind. Since our first baby joined us, I’ve discovered that it's a lot easier--and way more fun--than I had expected to introduce him to the activities we enjoyed together before he came along or having grandparents babysit him for us to go out and do things that he can’t do yet.
Before I share my misconceptions of motherhood (and my present-day rebuttals to pre-baby me), I want to preface the list to say that I am completely aware of my privilege and I know that many of these things would not be possible if I did not live close to family and did not have their support and a very hands-on partner in my husband. On the other hand, I'm a firm believer that we can design the exact life we want for ourselves through commitment, hard work and planning.
Things I Wanted to Enjoy Before Kids
In the first few months of their lives, newborns sleep a lot which has provided me with ample book-reading time. When I returned to work, I read during my lunch break. Babies also have a pretty early bedtime (7ish) which leaves a few hours between when he goes to sleep and when I go to sleep for me to do whatever I want. When our second baby came along, I had downloaded to Hoopla app on my phone, which enabled me to read a bunch while nursing, pumping and unwinding before bed. Plus, I was able to listen to audiobooks during car rides.
Did you know humans under 5 years of age get to go to Coachella FOR FREE?! We took advantage of that perk this past year with our son. Many other music festivals, like Bottlerock Napa, also have baby-friendly policies (Bottlerock even has a free Little Rocker area for kiddos under 6 with games, activities and nursing and changing stations). Check the FAQ section of the event website to see if babies are welcome. When we go to regular concerts, the babies have sleepovers at their grandparents’ house.
When you become a parent, your definition of spontaneous has to stretch out a bit. If my husband and I are invited on the day of to an event that starts or ends after 8 p.m., only one of us will be able to attend. If we get a couple days' notice, we'll be able to arrange childcare. This past March, we took a spontaneous trip to Big Bear for the weekend. The spontaneity doesn't happen as often or in the same way as it did pre-baby, but there are definitely opportunities for it.
Peace and Quiet
This one is overrated (at least for me). The house will never be peaceful or quiet ever again and I don’t mind one bit. When my son spends the night at his grandparents and it IS peaceful and quiet, I don’t know how to handle it anymore.
Traveling to Far, Exotic and Exciting Locales
For our honeymoon, we dreamed of taking a crazy trip to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Belgium. But because I had never planned an international trip before, we decided to stick to one country and spent two incredible weeks in Italy. When I was pregnant with my son, I shared this pipe dream of a trip with my doula and she encouraged me to do it. That's when I started researching everything I could about traveling to these cities and between countries in Europe. I wasn't sure if it would be possible, but 9 months after our son was born, we took a family trip to Europe and it was perfect. He was at a very adaptable age, slept well on the plane and in his stroller while we walked and explored, and loved taking in the sights and tasting the different cuisines. We're in the process of planning our next trip and who knows where that will take us!
Eating at Unique, Expensive, Fancy Restaurants
I know I say this with a lot of privilege, but I also acknowledge how hard I have worked to get to where I am today and I feel no shame in being able to enjoy the things that daily frugality and saving afford me. On our trip to Europe, we were all able to go to our first Michelin-starred restaurant together. We also enjoyed afternoon tea at the Hotel Royal Cafe, both of which I’d consider lavish meals. We all had a very pleasant experience and I’m glad I didn’t let the worry of being judged keep me from doing something I’ve wanted for a lifetime. If you know that being able to go out to restaurants as a family is important to you, I’d suggest taking your little one as early as you can (I think Griffin was 2 weeks old when we took him out to eat) so they get used to the atmosphere and learn how to behave. As they get older, you'll need to take entertainment, like books, to occupy them until the food arrives.
My Pre-Baby Body
When I wrote this list, I was completely entrenched in diet culture and orthorexia. I hadn't yet discovered Health at Every Size or Intuitive Eating. Since then, I've learned and accepted that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and that they're meant to change throughout our lives. Even if I didn’t get pregnant, my body would have changed with age. Being pregnant and delivering my babies made me gain a much deeper level of appreciation for my body and what it is capable of.
Flaunting a Bikini
Every body is a bikini body. Period. This was written before I was woke to body positivity.
Staying Up and Going Out Late
This one is overrated. I had my late night years and I could still have them if I really wanted to with the help of a babysitter but I feel like I’m over it.
A Clean, Organized Home Free of Toys
Fun fact: children are more interested in random items around your house than the toys you buy to entertain them. They would rather hang out and interact with you or listen and dance to music or go outside to explore. Of course, we still have toys, but we’ve been able to limit the amount to what fits in my son's bedroom. Most times when family give us toys, we ask them to keep it at their house so Griffin has something to play with when he visits. This also helps to keep our clutter at bay.
Hosting Child-Free Parties
Most babies go to sleep between 6 and 8 pm. Most parties start after that. If we’re having people over, we usually cook during the day or just order take out. The fun starts after the babies go down for the night.
Weekend Mornings Relaxing in Bed with My Husband
Not gonna lie, I do miss this sometimes. But it’s replaced with weekend mornings cuddling with my husband and our babies, so can’t really complain. We'll get our bed back when they go to college, right?
Being Unapologetically Selfish
If you see yourself becoming a parent and want children, you have to be okay with taking care of their wants and needs before your own most of the time. With that being said, self-care is crucial for everyone’s mental health and well-being, regardless of parenthood status. My husband and I make sure that we both have the time and space necessary to rest and refuel without guilt and we're able to call on the grandparents for help when we both get too overwhelmed.
Paying for Only 2 People Instead of 3 or 4
It’s no surprise that children are expensive. As long as you decide on what your priorities are and save and spend accordingly, it’s not terribly difficult to afford the things you want. Most days, we eat home-cooked meals and drink coffee at home. We rarely shop for clothes, accessories or home decor and when we do, they’re pre-loved. Our cars were affordable and paid off quickly and I made sure to work through college and apply for scholarships/financial aid to keep my student loans to a minimum (they’ve been paid off for a little over two years). We don’t have cable or a landline. All of this enables us to spend money on items and experiences that are worth it to us.
Pursuing Our Own Hobbies
This one is a challenge because children take a lot of time and energy, but with the right support system, it is possible. Steve is still able to play video games every night and go to personal training; I read, go to dance class and have brunch with my girlfriends. I even took a sewing class while on pregnancy disability leave with my second baby. We’re also finding hobbies that we like doing together, like painting or hiking. Communication and cooperation are key!