If You're Thinking of Having a Baby...
Know This First!
Welcome to The First Years of Marriage Newsletter! We talk about the conversations, challenges, and changes that begin once the honeymoon ends. Advice from experts, mistakes from me (Jen Glantz), and things you’re going to want to know as you continue to ask yourself this question - “I’m married, ow what?”
Dear Sweet Friend,
I could go on and on about the things I have learned since becoming a mom and how it’s impacted my marriage.
Instead, I want to share some takeaways that Adam and I had before we became parents. We prepared, a little bit, so that when we had a baby, we could have some good foundations in place.
Read on to see what I mean. Plus, read this:
If You're Thinking of Having a Baby...
After we got married, my husband and I started having heated conversations about when we'd start trying to have kids.
Early on in our relationship, the idea of starting a family together sounded exciting. As the years went by, I started to panic. I wanted to focus more time on my career as an entrepreneur and the idea of becoming a new mom seemed like something I wanted to push off in the distant future.
Last year, after we talked through the hesitations I had about having a baby now and the reasons he was ready to start a family as soon as possible, we decided to meet somewhere in the middle.
Instead of rushing to get pregnant, we signed up for a short childbirth education class. It helped us both wrap our heads around the changes, complications, and confusion that would enter our lives once a baby did.
Here are my 5 biggest takeaways from the childbirth class that helped me decide to get pregnant a few months later and prepare for a life with a baby.
We needed to change our life before a baby would
During the class, we learned a lot about how having a baby can change everything about your life, from your sleep habits to your priorities.
My husband and I had only been married for two years, so I felt like we had a lot of unresolved items on our to-do list. If we didn't do them before we had a baby, I feared we never would.
We sat down and each wrote three big-ticket things we wanted to complete before having a baby. These were a mix of things that either benefited our future together or were fun activities we knew could be harder to do down the line.
I wanted us to start working with a financial advisor so we could sort out investments, retirement plans, and various insurances. My list also included a week-long trip to Montana that I'd dreamt of taking for years and a renovation of our bedroom space.
Getting a head start on doing these things that we'd been putting off helped clear our priority list and make space for life with a baby.
I wanted to start saving money as soon as possible
One of the biggest takeaways that stuck with me from the class was how expensive it can be to have a child. In the newborn phase, you might find yourself spending thousands of dollars just to fit your home with everything the baby needs, from a crib to diapers.
Giving birth in the US also costs money and, depending on your insurance coverage, could be over $10,000.
My husband and I had already started saving for future goals together, like a down payment on a house and our retirement, but we didn't have a baby fund.
When the class ended, we both committed to putting aside $100 a month into a joint savings account that we'd eventually use to fund things we needed for the baby and pregnancy.
We could research some key decisions before we had to make them
There are a lot of decisions you have to make when you have a baby, from how you want to try to feed them (breastfeeding or formula) to what pediatrician you want them to go to.
In the class, I started to make a list of every single decision we'd have to make as new parents. That way, we could start researching each one and writing a rough plan of action.
We came up with a list of local doctors (for the baby and for me) so we could start interviewing them ahead of time and a plan for how we'd prefer to do childcare (and added those costs into our savings goals). We even signed up for more classes to help us learn more about sleep schedules, feeding a baby, and more, so we could make more informed decisions in the future.
This helped us be proactive about a lot of the potential stressors that could occur during pregnancy, which can be overwhelming on its own.
I researched ways to manage the pain and some of the unknowns
One of my biggest fears about having a baby was physically giving birth. Learning about childbirth during the class scared me more.
When the class ended, I decided to do all of the research and planning I could before getting pregnant.
I met with a doula to learn more about pain-management techniques, spent a few hours drafting a birth plan with my partner that we'd continue to edit when we were expecting, and signed up for more childbirth education classes on topics like push preparation (for labor and delivery).
As someone who likes to know all of the details before doing something, this helped me ease into what the experience could be like.
We brainstormed how we'd keep things fair with a baby
After learning about the changes that would happen to my body during pregnancy and how our lives could change once the baby was born, I worried that the work involved in having a baby would mostly fall on me.
As an entrepreneur without maternity leave, I needed to make sure that wasn't going to happen. My husband and I sat down to start figuring out how we'd split the tasks involved with having a baby equally so that each of us would have our own responsibilities to focus on.
We came up with a plan where, once we became settled in with the baby, we'd split the day up in chunks so each of us had four-hour blocks to work while the other was responsible for our child.
We won't know how realistic the plan is until we have a baby, but brainstorming some ideas has helped me feel better.
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A list of must-reads that will give your life a bit of a spark
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Love you (for as long as we both shall live),