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Babies Don’t Ruin Your Marriage


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Long time readers, or those who spend any time at all in the comments section, know all about the fabulous Liz. She got hitched, gave us tips on throwing a dessert reception, told us all about saving sex till her wedding night, and moderated APW for me last year when I was on vacation. She’s sane, feminist, and super wise. This year she had a baby, and over the last week she wrote a must-read series debunking myths about why babies are scary, using good common sense. You should read all of it. But the one that really grabbed my attention was her treatise on why babies do not, in fact, ruin marriages. She’s allowing me to re-post it here, and if you’re even thinking about maybe having a baby one day, you must read it. Also, you have to read it if you’re ever haunted by a world full of you’ll seeeee’s. So basically, you all have to read it. So without further ado, here is Liz.

Babies Dont Ruin Your Marriage | A Practical WeddingA few months into pregnancy—just long enough that I was hormonally crazy, but not too long that I was yet over my hyperventilating fear of having a baby—I was washing dishes while Josh finished some work on his computer. A song came on the radio, and Josh snuck into the kitchen, swept me into his arms, and we did a corny slow dance, my face nuzzled in his neck.

Eventually, he (not as oblivious as I often think) noticed that I was quietly sobbing, my mascara running down his t-shirt.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want anything to chaaaange…” I blubbered through snot and tears.

Your typical preggo prepares for Baby by stocking up on diapers, or by socking away bits of money. Yours truly spent every last cent on fancy dinners with the husband—each one treated as if it was our last meal. In a sense, we thought it was.

See, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, everyone begins to warn you of the impending doom of your marriage. They say the romance dies, you never have sex again, you forget what your husband even looks like.

IGNORE THESE PEOPLE.

Our relationship and yes, sex-life even, has changed since having a baby—I’ll admit it. But really only in that we’re way more intentional in making time for one another. And as a result, we spend time together (“quality,” couple-time) more than we did before the baby. Just because we’re conscious that there’s the propensity to fall out of the habit.

More than intentionality, having a baby around does a few other things for your marriage.

For one, we now share yet one more special thing in our lives. We could both sit and watch him sleep or gush to one another about the size of his toes—and neither of us would ever get bored, because we both understand the immensity of love for our boy. That’s something that just the two of us share.

There’s also a new element of… excitement, I guess, to use a cheesy word. We love each other, and we’re still crazy hot (don’t act like you didn’t notice), so sometimes Little Josh falls asleep and Josh shoots me an eyebrow, and we race off to… ahem… spend time together before nap-time ends. This means time and place are often irrelevant, and adds to—instead of detracting from—spontaneity. (And even a sense of sneaking around like teenagers, minus the dire consequences.)

We still go out to places, just the two of us, but I’ll admit that it’s more rare. Don’t get me wrong—we go to all of the same places we used to, we just usually lug along the little one (they’re portable). Cute cafes or fancy restaurants aren’t off limits—just grab an outdoor table and push up the stroller. So, when we do go just the two of us, the rare-ness makes it extra special—in an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” kind of way.

Sure, babies are gonna change your marriage—but I don’t see why everyone acts like the changes are bad. Just like a big move or competing work schedules or anything else that might occupy your time, it’s just one more reason to focus on really making an effort with one another.

Photo: Love Me Do Photography

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Sharon

    But what about when they progress pass the adorable-sack-of-flour stage and into the demonspawn-toddler phase? Because that’s what I’m really afraid of. The cute, small, gurgling stage is fine – it’s everything after that fills me with abject terror.

    • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

      Go read all of them. Liz said it all amazingly.

      Also, they’re your kid. You can (to a point) make them be who you want them to be.

      • Sharon

        I went through a couple of her tags, but I’m wondering which of the “all of them” you’re referring to. So far, nothing there has eased a single fear of mine, sorry to say. :/

        • anon

          I don’t think kids ruin your marriage. I do think they place unpredictable, sustained stress on a marriage (and not just in that first year – teens are uniquely stressful, too), and that can sometimes weaken the cracks that (most likely) *already existed*… and if left unchecked, create huge fault lines over time.

          So if you and your partner can cope with new and increased stress in a healthy way, you’re probably ahead of the game.

          (There are lots of positives they can add to a marriage, too, but that’s another story. :))

          • Sharon

            What kind of positives? Those would be nice to hear about for a change.

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            and that can sometimes weaken the cracks that (most likely) *already existed*… and if left unchecked, create huge fault lines over time.

            YES. Times a bajillion.

            Anything can place stress on a marriage – work, unhappiness, lack of communication, infidelity, distance, severe illness… the list goes on and on. It’s how to work through it with your partner.

            Having kids and handling the struggles that can arise has everything to do with the strength of your relationship with your spouse and very little (usually) to do with the child.

            That said – everything in life presents challenges. Kids give you a very sweet reward. Not one single child is ever a “demon spawn” every single minute of every day. And most of them are quite snuggly, loving, and terribly sweet. My daughter makes me laugh out loud at least twice a day. Her laugh makes my heart melt. Her smile tears me up. It’s like falling in love with your spouse.. but different.

        • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jo

          Yeah, I started typing before I read fully…her son isn’t a toddler yet. :)

          My mom always told me she had the same fear because of the children she saw around her, but that she decided early on to make her children “people she enjoyed”, not just her offspring. That’s the way she parented, and it worked for her–she had seven kids that she’s close to today.

          That’s what I cling to in this world of little a-holes on Trojan commercials.

          • Maggie

            My mom wanted the same thing, and all six of us have a close relationship with her. She’s said it’s like she created the adults she’s always wanted to hang out with… (except she also doesn’t take credit for that and says we basically came that way, LOL).

      • meg

        Ha!
        Jo, you’re adorable, but no you cannot make your children who you want them to be. I don’t have kids of my own yet, but I’ve been helping to raise them up since I could carry them around. You can discipline them appropriately, but they come out as themselves, and that’s that. (Thank God.)

        HOWEVER. I know many a sane mother (and I’ve requested some to show up in the comments), and toddlers don’t ruin your marriage either. Frankly, I love toddlers more than babies, so there is less to fear, because they are MORE themselves.

        • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

          I agree with you on them being themselves. And that is awesome. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve seen plenty of people whose toddlers aren’t the demons of horror stories. A huge part of that is knowing your kid and setting you both up to succeed. I definitely don’t mean that you pound your round-peg kid into a square hole.

        • Angela

          Well, Jo didn’t say her mom raised her kids to be exactly as she wanted them to be, just “people she wanted to be around.” Big difference, and you can TOTALLY do that. I was a nanny for years, rotating amongst families, and every one of the kids I didn’t enjoy had kind of assholey parents: overindulgent, generally disrespectful, etc. The fun/grounded/creative/ compassionate kids had parents that were likewise cool. It’s not guaranteed, but Jo’s mom’s approach is awesome and I’ve seen it work.

          • meg

            Well, of course you can raise your kids to be someone you want to be around (you better). That’s not what she originally said, but that I agree with!

      • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

        To a point. I mean, really, to a very small degree.

        • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com/ Amanda

          I think that what we are talking about here (from my humble and unexperienced point of view) is about discipline and limits. I think those “demonspawn” toddlers are children who are raised and let do whatever they want and can. The kind that throw stuff to the floor and break it just because. I even saw a mom asking a kid if he was going to have fries or spinach*. The way I see it, up to a certain age, the kid has to know that you are the boss and that you get to put the limits because they NEED limits.
          *And I know there is such a thing as “intolerance” or personal taste /aversion to certain foods, and I am not saying you have to be completely unflexible either, but a child is not to decide the menu of what will be for dinner.(as an example)

    • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

      Don’t be afraid. I have TWIN toddlers (they will turn 3 in 19 days) and, in my humble opinion, things turn better every year.Even if they may throw a tantrum, they also sleep through the night, they understand other things, etc, and my husband and us share the enormous bond created by knowing not only that “we’ve made it” but that we are actually happier than we ever expected and this is the family we dreamt of having when we met.

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        My daughter will be 4 in a month and a half (and I’m fighting to admit daily that she’s a little girl now instead of a sweet, ambling toddler :( ) and it really does get better. Teens worry me, but for now? Every stage has been “I wish it could be like this FOREVER!” but it keeps getting better, more interesting, and yeah, new challenges.

        Frankly, parenting becomes easier the more you do it. Always challenges. Always. But you don’t amble around confused every single day of your child’s life.

        You just have to remain diligent in your relationship with your spouse. You MUST work together. You MUST acknowledge each other. You MUST say, “We are going to stick this out” because if not, THAT is when relationships fall apart.

        It has nothing to do with the child and everything to do with your relationship to your partner. Everything.

        • Colleen

          I can’t Exactly! this enough. We had our 2nd anniversary yesterday & felt a palpable difference between year 1 & year 2. I think this (“You just have to remain diligent in your relationship with your spouse. You MUST work together. You MUST acknowledge each other. You MUST say, “We are going to stick this out” because if not, THAT is when relationships fall apart.”) is what made the difference for us–that extra challenge of having a kid this year pushed us to CHOOSE to do more: more communicating, more sticking it out, more acknowledgement, etc. (Also more fun & silliness & spontaneous sex (yeah, that one’s not part of the cultural message about having kids, is it? Needs to be!). //semi-ramble

      • Sharon

        But what if you’ve not “dreamt” of a family so much as vacillate between being afraid of having kids and being afraid of NOT having them? I go back and forth between imagining having smart, cute little rugrats I have fun with and read to and am proud of and imagining the joys of a clean, quiet, debt-free life filled with travel, culture and intellectual fulfillment. And every time I’m out in public, it seems like I’m confronted with shrill screaming, tantrums, or other horribleness that children inflict on their parents on a level that’s far higher than those “kids are awesome” moments.

        I also had a lot of problems socializing with other kids when I was a kid. I got along much better with adults, and still do. I have no patience for whining or people who can’t express just why they felt the need to knock something over. There’s so little you can control, and I dislike the feeling of not being able to control things. Immensely.

        Plus, there’s the whole “kids cost a fortune, public schools are a shambles, the planet’s a mess, there are no jobs, the world is overpopulated, etc.” loop that never stops running in my mind. If someone could give me an absolute guarantee that the kid I’d be bringing into the world would be an intelligent, strong, healthy, positive force in the universe I’d be less worried, but the long line of “you just don’t know” is completely terrifying to me.

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

          i can’t comment on what it’s like to have a toddler, but i imagine it to be exactly what melissa said. infants have tantrums in their own ways. there’s no real form of communication other than scream-my-face-off til you fix what i need. which is frustrating at first (and sometimes still is), but you get to know your child like you get to know anyone else. only 6 months in, and i feel like i already am beginning to know who little josh is. and i can’t wait to get to know him better.

          one of the “you’ll seee”s i completely align with is the positive one- the “your kids are different than anyone else’s kids.” i babysit 3 year olds on sunday mornings, and last week one of them spilled my coffee all over me. i envisioned strangulation.

          my son did the same exact thing in cute cafe yesterday. i snuggled his cute little face and covered him with kisses while i wiped my legs with a wipee. he’s just… different. special to me.

          (and i guess the reason i even wrote in the first place is because i had those EXACT SAME competing thoughts running through my head- adorable dimples and smiles, or self-fulfillment and world travel and exotic food? and i’m finding i can have both very, very easily.)

          • http://dearwedding.wordpress.com/ Andee

            Seriously thank you Liz! I felt like I was the only woman afraid of having kids for a long time and I thought my fear of having kids and being unsure meant I would be a bad mother. Thank you for blasting my rediculous notion!

          • meg

            Amen to that. I’d also add that being an adult means making the best of the hand you’re dealt. And you can be happy without kids, if you so choose. And if you have kids, it’s pretty easy to choose to be happy with small human’s to love.

            What was it that the amazing Vintage Wedding grad said? “Resolve to be content.” That.

        • Maggie

          “vacillate between being afraid of having kids and being afraid of NOT having them?”

          This is kinda where I am/was at… and I’ve decided that “being afraid of not having them” is not a good enough reason yet (for me!) to bring a person into the world. I feel like, to get me through the tough times, I would need to have actively wanted some part of it. And maybe that will come… but if not, it’s likely I’ll remain childfree, and that’s also a valid option!

          “If someone could give me an absolute guarantee…”

          Yeah, if I could get a 100% guarantee, I would probably be swayed, too. But then… I was able to jump into marriage without any such thing. I guess I wanted it enough to take the risk?

          • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

            “Yeah, if I could get a 100% guarantee, I would probably be swayed, too. But then… I was able to jump into marriage without any such thing. I guess I wanted it enough to take the risk?”

            THIS. Maggie, I’m so glad you brought up this analogy! J. and I still haven’t decided where we’re at in terms of the kid issue, but a few months ago I sent a flaily email to a friend about how babies seem to ruin lives and how terrified I was of ending up the dull mom whom everyone pities at the cocktail parties or the bickering mom who rolls her eyes and makes noises about how she has to parent her husband as well and NO THANK YOU! And my friend, who is so wise, replied with: “You’re not doomed or fated to ‘end up’ in any way. If you don’t want to turn into those women, then fight and choose not to. Think about all the you’ll seeeeeeees that people told you about marriage. How it means the death of attraction or that J. will stop doing sweet, thoughtful things for you, or that you’d become boring and never hang out with single people again. Not one of those things has come true because you haven’t allowed them to.”

            That’s why it’s so reassuring for me to have moms like Liz in my life, who do things like take their kid to a fun cafe or a nice restaurant. They remind me that babies are, indeed, portable, and that with a little extra logistical maneuvering (and I LOVE maneuvering logistics :D), we can fit our kids into our lives rather than bend our lives around kids. I still don’t know where that leaves me on the “kids: to have or have not” question, but I’m glad to have examples that make The Fear ebb away. I want to make this decision on my own terms, rather than out of fear because someone is “you’ll seeeeee”ing me!

        • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

          (1) With VERY RARE EXCEPTIONS, kids change a lot of outlook. I grew up in a tumultuous household with an abusive father. I absolutely, positively, are-you-out-of-your-damn-mind did NOT want kids. And then I got pregnant. And I literally cried every single day until I had my daughter. And I cried on the way to the hospital. And I cried IN the hospital. And then I stared at this dirty, wormy looking thing in my lap at midnight and wanted to cry again.

          The next morning, I was ready to cry again: but this time, because I finally, finally FINALLY felt connected to my daughter. I felt the love, the relief, the intense mama-bear-esque protection. A woman’s body is literally hardwired to care for her child. It’s science. Only those with extreme mental issues can overlook this. You are built to love your child, and you absolutely will.

          (2) Kids are not that expensive. Diapers are pricey, sure. My daycare is $500 a month. But you get a lot of free crap, garage sales are your friends, and you end up spending a lot more time at home – so you don’t spend as much money going out. Yes, they carry a price tag, but it is NOT a bank breaking dollar amount. If nothing else, I’ve saved more in becoming a parent.

          (3) I don’t like other peoples kids. You probably won’t either. But my kid? Is the shit. End of story. I know dozens of people like this and it’s perfectly fine. You don’t HAVE to like other people’s kids. Just your own. AND YOU WILL (see point 1)

          (4) I am the “mean mom”. Friends tell me all the time. Likewise with coworkers. But my coworkers & friends have kids you scream in public while mine says please, thank you, and doesn’t throw tantrums in any public place – only at home WHERE IT WILL HAPPEN because kids test boundaries.. & it is your job to show them where those boundaries lie. It’s about discipline. It’s about remembering you are the PARENT, not the FRIEND. (I should point out I’m not Hitler. But I set rules for my child and expect her to follow them because I MADE HER so I’m not going to be bossed around by a two foot tall person. But I’ve learned when to give in, how to set rules that are attainable for her, and my husband has been a saving grace in helping me relax a little. Also, we have buckets of fun and laugh a lot. But right now – in her early developmental stages? I’m strict. So later, we can have more fun. It’s my style, and so far – it’s working. Maybe I’ll need to change it up later, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It’s all trial & error. I found out early that spankings/poppings don’t work – she’d cry & keep doing whatever it was I told her NOT to do. Put her in time out & talk about why she got in trouble? She doesn’t do it again for two days – which is a miracle. It varies by kid, but you’ll learn. You may cry and scream in frustration behind closed doors later that night, but the next day you’ll be covered in hugs and kisses that are sweeter than anything you’ll ever imagine)

          (5) Debt-free travel? It’s called “send the kids to grandma’s house for a week” OR “send the kids to summer camp for a week” OR “we’ll travel when we are forty and have more money and more appreciation for the world we’ll be seeing.” Which is exactly my plan to all three.

          Your life doesn’t end with babies. It’s just different – and different can scare people, especially those who never wanted kids to begin with – but I am the mother loving poster child. And one of the best things in my life has been becoming a mother to the sweetest, kindest, funniest, smartest, smart-assiest little girl I know.

          • Vmed

            As a hopeful future “mean” mom I want to say I love your comment.

            1. It’s science 2. how reassuring 3. thank goodness 4. yay discipline for big picture happiness 5. Exactly.

            Thank you!

          • Kayakgirl73

            I wish daycare was only $500 dollars a month. In my area it’s more like $1200 to $1500 for an infant. It’s making the baby decision even harder than it already is.

            Also I’d be waiting to travel until I was in my 60’s, since I’d be 38 very soon and don’t have kids at the moment.

          • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

            Melissa, AMEN sister. I am due in 8 short weeks and want to say THANK YOU.

            And to Liz too, but she already knows that I am filling up on her wisdom.

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            Kayakgirl73: If you are 38 and still childless, then you’ve had many years to travel and enjoy life. There is nothing wrong with having kids as you get older. Nothing. I had my daughter when I was 21 – so my trade off was losing “freedom” in my twenties (which generally revolves around staying out late partying… I’m ok with passing) and regaining the ability to go and do in my later years.

            And yeah, some daycares are ridiculous and I am so very fortunate to have mine – but there are trade offs and ways around it.

            Also, passing on children because of how much they can cost, in my eyes, is a silly reason (in general – not directed at anyone here). It’s just one of many reasons. Not having kids is OK, too. But simply saying, “we can’t afford them right now” is the same as saying, “we can’t afford to get married right now”. There are ways to have a beautiful wedding without a hefty price tag – likewise, just as many ways to have children without watching your savings deplete. It’s about budgeting, learning what’s important, and realizing that at the end of the day, money is trivial and the love of a family far exceeds the joy of owning a new designer purse.

          • Kayakgirl73

            I couldn’t reply in the correct place.

            Melissa,

            I didn’t have my 20’s to travel. I was dealing with grad school, low-paid jobs and large student loans. I also lived with my grandmother for 3 and a half years and she had dementia. Not fun. I then went and bought a condo and tried to save for retirement. I was scared to spend on fun stuff due to my fear that I would live alone forever. I didn’t want to eat dog food in my old age. It also wasn’t fun for me to travel by myself and it was hard to find a travel companion. I didn’t meet my husband until I was 35, so things haven’t been put off deliberately.

            I suspect that I’m not the only older rather newlywed who has these issues.

            Another issue I deal with is my husband’s poor real estate decisions. He bought at the top of the market and we have quite a bit more to pay down before we can break even. I’ve never owned a designer purse or shoes.

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            It’s ok – things stack at this point ;)

            I’m terribly sorry to hear about everything you went through. I know what it’s like to deal with a lot of that, truly – I do. And I absolutely accept kids are not for everyone. However.

            Let’s keep using the travel example? There is an author (WHO. IS. AMAZING.) named Laini Taylor (blog:http://www.lainitaylor.com/). She and her husband have traveled all over the world – with their two year old. Her blog has pictures of her and Clementine (whose middle name is Pie.. love) in caravans in Morocco and in bazaars in Spain.

            My whole point – again and again and again – is that your life (and marriage) does not end with children. You must learn to restructure, reorganize, there will be a period of time where you stumble to get back on your feet – but it does. not. end. And sometimes (most times) they make it better.

          • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

            Kayakgirl73 – My story: Spent my 20s either as a part-time teacher (you can imagine how much money that brings in) and/or in graduate school. Won’t be done with graduate school till I’m 35. Got married at 31. Travel? Nope, haven’t done it. Lived dirt poor? Yup, definitely done it. Put off getting married and having kids while I lived dirt poor? Nope, that’s just the way it happened.

            A lot of people tell you that marriage is the end of your life, that you’ll never be able to go out and have fun again. And they’re wrong. The people that tell you that kids are the end of your life and you’ll never be able to go out and have fun again are just as equally wrong.

          • Angela

            Hey, if giving discipline and boundaries to children makes me the “mean Mum” then I’ll sign up for that group as a wannabe! I have more than a few friends who complained that they wish their parents had *more* discipline and had provided more boundaries to them (my contemporaries who grew up in the 70s and 80s).
            It seems there is such a trend in this current generation to try and be “buddies” with one’s offspring. As a new teacher, I see other teachers trying that tactic too, and I’m not entirely sure it works.
            Oh, and about the travel…the best memories I have as a child are when we went on trips together- either on day trips or a few visits overseas to visit relatives. I grew up with the sense that the world is a big amazing place full waiting to be explored. I look forward to sharing that with my children, should I have them! We were by no means wealthy, just middle class. I think that sense can be conveyed to kids even on a simple camping trip. There’s no need for it to be fancy.
            Love this blog by the way! My first comment! Yay!

        • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

          I didn’t want kids until I met my husband, at 29. If I hadn’t met my husband, I probably wouldn’t have minded not having any. I also got along better with adults and I don’t consider myself a “kids person”. My husband is, but me? I was the person babies started SCREAMING when in my arms. Mother instinct came with my own babies. My mother was the same, she says I was the first baby she liked and my brother was the last one ;) As for guarantees…there are none, of anything in life. It’s a leap of faith. But if it is any consolation, I was born in Argentina in 1976 (when the Juntas took over power) and the militars threatened to take my parents twice. During the course of the first 20 years of my life, the Argentinian currency lost 16 zeros to devaluation. When I was 11, the hyperinflation was so huge that we would buy half a pack of flour at the supermarket, after standing in line for 5/6 hours to get some. My parents got divorced, we lost everything to debts due to the economy, I lived in Africa and had malaria twice, I’ve been operated 3 times…and I am here. And I am happy. And somehow my family managed to put my brother and me through University and we speak 4 languages and we made it, one day at a time. My father used to tell me “Honey, we live in Argentina, if I had waited for the economy to get better I would have never had you”. I know how scary it can be, but sometimes all you can do is trust that everything will be allright.

          • Melissa

            Wow, that’s a hell of a comment. You should write a book!

          • Danielle

            Thanks for bringing some perspective, Marcela.

        • Ashley B

          I’m going through this same thing right now. As wedding planning gears up, more and more people are asking on when we’re planning on having kids. But we’re just not sure (for many of the same reasons you voiced). It seems you either have to give up everything: career, travel, finances and have kids or be an egocentric couple with no kids. Where’s the middle ground?

          • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

            I don’t think couples who don’t want kids are egocentric, nor do I think that having kids makes us altruistic either. Also, you don’t necessarily have to give up everything for having kids. Maybe suspend some things, but you can find the way. My kids are 3 years and we have travelled extensively with them, for example.

        • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

          Some of the best parents I know are the ones who never felt the “A baby will complete me!” urge. I think so often our social dialogue makes it seem like unless you’ve always dreamt about being a mother, then you just shouldn’t have kids. I know quite a few women who feel that if they never have children, their life’s purpose would be unfulfilled – which is totally fine for them, but really far removed from how I feel. And for awhile, I let that viewpoint frighten me about my own mothering prospects. Since I *didn’t* feel that way, did that mean I would automatically not be as good of a mother? And y’know… I don’t think so. I think it might help me continue to strive for the life I want even when I’m a mom, if I acknowledge that I have needs and goals outside of my children.

          (And in regards to the fear of losing a well-ordered house… I grew up in exactly the kind of household you describe as wanting – clean, quiet, travel-filled, intellectual. I think it’s maybe harder/more expensive to achieve now than when our parents were doing it, but it’s definitely possible.)

        • Shawn

          http://www.ted.com/talks/rufus_griscom_alisa_volkman_let_s_talk_parenting_taboos.html

          I think you have to watch this link – so funny and honest. I don’t have kids and I go back and forth between I can’t wait to have a baby and wow, I just finished law school so I can have a career and I have piles of debt and where will we get the time, money and sheer will to raise a kid. Anyway, the video is about the statistic that people who have kids, in general, have less average happiness, which they call the “most terrifying chart”. But, how parenting is this crazy rollercoaster of these extreme highs of happiness you also wouldn’t have experienced without them. I think it’s like a lot of things we choose to do – we know there will be sacrifice, sleepless nights, money spent and a lot of hard work. But we do those things because of the sense of joy and satisfaction or long term well-being we think the choice will bring us as a pay-off. I think you have to accept that it’s not going to be easy, but few things in life with such a big pay-off are. That being said, to be a good parent, there are sacrifices to make and there are no guarantees. The video talks about “resubmitting yourself to highs and lows” and I think it’s a really interesting way to put it.

          • DNA

            Thanks for the link. I really liked the talk. I think there’s this tendency to think of parenting as either the bestest thing that could ever happen or a relationship killer, and even though I’m not a parent myself, I’m pretty sure it’s more complicated than that. I remember Dan Savage saying something similar to what the speakers in that TED talk said too about the whole roller coaster of emotions.

            I also grew up in Thailand where a lot of households include extended family members so the idea of having just two adults (or sometimes even just one adult) raising a kid by themselves sounds incredibly stressful. It sounds like a ton of pressure to put on two people, especially in the U.S. where there aren’t well-funded childcare options to take the place of extended family members who can help out. I’m still trying to figure out how I can recreate a bit of that extended family-type community here in the U.S. before my fiance and I start having kids.

        • http://www.thebourbontower.com Melanie

          Read more: http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/08/babies-dont-ruin-your-marriage/#ixzz1Tu6NC4Z5

          “If someone could give me an absolute guarantee that the kid I’d be bringing into the world would be an intelligent, strong, healthy, positive force in the universe I’d be less worried, but the long line of “you just don’t know” is completely terrifying to me.”

          I used to think/feel this way about kids, and a couple of years ago I would’ve marked “exactly” on this comment too. But at some point I realized that NO relationship comes with that kind of guarantee–and if it did, I imagine it would be pretty boring.

          My fiance is not the man I imagined I would end up with. He is different, and better, in a lot of ways. Working through our differences, and building a strong relationship by reconciling, compromising, and growing as individuals is what has made it worthwhile. I think the same generally holds true for parents & their kids–you don’t get to hand-pick your kids’ personality, but you get to try to navigate through your relationship with them as they grow into a three-dimensional, flawed, whole person.

          So while the whole prospect is very scary in some ways, I think one day I’ll be ready to try on a new relationship–one in which I’m a parent.

          Sharon, it sounds to me like you’re not looking for someone to convince you that having kids is okay–and that’s okay, because none of us will be able to do that. You have to decide for yourself. Best of luck on that journey, no matter what’s at the end of it.

        • http://emilyandmartin.us Emily Elizabeth

          As far as going out and seeing screaming/horrible kids goes, you can probably try to change that being your only exposure to kids. My husband and I have wound up close friends with two different families that have young children. We babysit on occasion (I’m going over there now!) but usually we just have dinner or play outside together. It’s great, we have fun with the parents, the kids are sweet and we get to be surrogate family for each other.
          I also volunteer at a local mom-and-kid song and story telling class for babies to 2 year olds, and that quickly gave me confidence to scoop up or play with any kid who needs scooping or playing. I met some nice women, got to play with fun babies, and they had an extra set of hands to help out.
          Point being: kids can be really awesome, and don’t be scared of them!

          • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

            i’ve been thinking about this all day, and i think i wasn’t afraid of having a demon-spawn child for the same reason- exposure to kids. i teach 14-18 year olds, and 100% of the time i could predict how the parents would react to a phone call from me based entirely on how their kids behaved in my class.

            that seems to put a scary amount of responsibility on parents, but it really just relieves me. because i don’t know the specifics of how these parents discipline their kids, but i DO know that it’s always abundantly clear which kids are treated with firm and loving expectations. sure, they still try to cheat on their tests and turn in homework late- but they aren’t the kids making me consider early retirement.

        • K

          Thank you! Exactly squared! But Liz, thank you for being the ray of joy, sanity and hope cutting through my fear, too.

    • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

      Adorable sack of flour stage cracks me up.

      I don’t have kids so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I think parenting both gets harder and easier when they get older. Easier in that they sleep through the night, they’re not permanently attached to your boob, etc, etc. Harder because it gets more complicated the more persony they get, and you can’t resolve their pain of their best friend refusing to talk to them anymore just by kissing it and distracting them with a sticker.

      I think the key is to always make time for your spouse and to not make your lives revolve around your kids all the time. To a certain extent, your lives will revolve around your kids. But you have to make time for yourself and for you and your spouse.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        this is what i’m thinking, too- but i’m only 6 mos in, so i also didn’t feel qualified to comment.

        infants have scary needs and problems because it seems like life-or-death. he’s crying, and i don’t know why, and if i choose wrong HE COULD STARVE TO DEATH. (not really. but this is how it felt when i was first adjusting) his needs are intense and physical and crucial.

        fast forward 16 years, and it’s not a grumbly tummy- it’s a broken heart. or helping him cope with the fact that he can’t get higher than a D in algebra and feels “stupid.” and I’M still supposed to have the answers? that shit is scary.

        what i’m hoping is that this continues… that as i’m finding that this is both just as huge as i imagined, and yet not as scary as i imagined.

        • Carbon Girl

          I find this part interesting since I am the exact opposite. I think infants and toddlers are terrifying but I love kids that I can talk to who are their own person. I taught 13 year-olds for two years and I really like that awkward, hormone-filled age. I felt like I could easily relate to them and love how you can start to see a glimpse of the adult they will become.

  • http://thehoneymoonproject.com Emma

    This is fantastic – and just what I need to hear right now. Thanks, Liz.

  • Kathryn in VT

    Congratulations on the newest addition to your family, Liz! This is so, so reassuring to hear amid all of the other (often doom and gloom) chatter about having babies. Thank you for this.

    • http://engineerbaker.blogspot.com Caitlin

      Maybe if there were fewer of those gloom & doom stories and more stories like this, I’d be less scared of having kids. Because I’m *really* effing scared of babies.

      • http://Dalgal412.wordpress.com Colleen

        I second everything Liz wrote, so please add mine to your list of stories like this :-).

  • anon

    I think this is such a great story to hear, I think it has become very easy to be cynical about what happens in a couple when children arrive.

    However. I do know people who fall into that category of ‘no romance (and very little/no sex) after baby’. It happens, and has happened to a lot of people I know. That does scare me.

    Maybe the key is just to try to be as aware and mindful about it as you can be. Try your best not to slip into just being parents and forgetting about being lovers.

    • Courtney

      Your statement of “Maybe the key is just to try to be as aware and mindful about it as you can be. Try your best not to slip into just being parents and forgetting about being lovers” can be applied to so many situations.

      Mindfulness and awareness will get us so far, whether it’s adjusting to babies, new jobs, illness, a new city, or the thousands of other things life will throw at us. Remembering this man or woman is my partner, the one I chose, the one I want to work to be with – that can be really powerful.

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        Preeeecisely. Anything can rock the boat of marriage – be it babies or business. I take this post as an anthem & testament to the power of marriage should babies arrive, not as a “everyone must have babies.”

    • Marina

      I’ve also talked with people who, frankly, have less sex and less exciting sex for 20 years. And then their kids move out and they’re looking at the NEXT 20 years they have with just each other, and their relationship gets totally wild again. I signed up for life with my husband, not just the next 10 years. Kids don’t necessarily mean the death of your sex life, but neither does growing older.

  • http://www.lovelyatyourside.com Lovelyolivia

    The timing of this post is great. I was JUST venting my fears to my mother about this yesterday. In typical Lis manner, she waved me off and said, “One baby changes your life 100%, in a great way…you still get to do everything you used to do, just with a baby!….Now, two babies: that’s HORRIBLE!” (Sorry, Jenny ;). I think she was referring mostly to the sleeping aspect of everything, as she is someone who needed her naps while we were growing up. But, this was great to read, as this is one of my biggest fears about having kids…but I guess the most important thing to do now is continue making my marriage strong and fun now, so it will continue post chill’en. Good post–would love to see more of these!

    • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

      hahahaha Sorry, I have twins and I see that comment in the faces of people when they look at us at the supermarket, etc (the “Now two babies, that’s HORRIBLE!”). It isn’t. As I read on a blog: If you think our hands are full, you should see our hearts. It’s a walk in the park, but it’s worth every second.

    • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

      I have to say I do think that there is something to be said for one kid. One kid makes it easier to do all those things you’re scared about losing: travel, etc etc. My friends who are only children often seemed to go on a lot more adventures than the rest of us. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with two, but there is something to be said for just one.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        something should also be said about NEVER ARRIVING, though.

        remember when you were engaged? and everyone was all “eye roll… just wait til you’re married…” and then you’re married, and they switch to, “oh, you’re still in the honeymoon phase…” or “just wait til you have kids…”

        i have a marriage and a kid and i’m having a blast.

        so now everyone says, “just wait til the second one…”

        i call bullshit. naysayers- nothing has been as dreary as you said so far, and i don’t think it ever will be.

        • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

          Liz <3 YES.

        • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

          My mom (who had two kids and would’ve wanted/had more if not for really complicated pregnancies) always says that going from zero to one is the biggest adjustment. From there, you can add one more or five more and it’s really tiny change. (Since twins run on both sides of my family, I CLING to that reassurance! :D)

          • Kathleen

            I’ve heard people say that 0 to 1 is the biggest adjustment, but I’ve also heard people say that 1 to 2 is the biggest adjustment (esp. if 1 is a young toddler when 2 is born), and I’ve heard lots of people say that 2 to 3 is the biggest adjustment (when you’re outnumbered – “going from a man-to-man to a zone defense”). After 3, it’s all gravy. Most people who have more than 3 kids seem to feel that if you can handle 3, you could handle 30.

  • Caroline

    Absolutely, 110% what I needed, as I was a snot-covered crumpled heap on my couch two days ago.

    I fully expected pregnancy to be full of fears about being a parent, yet I was blindsided that my real fears revolve around my marriage. So thanks for the thumbs up from the other side, it is refreshing to hear! (esp for those of us with occupied ovens, so to speak)

    • http://Dalgal412.wordpress.com Colleen

      Virtual hug to you! I was where you are a year ago–pregnant with a massive, looming fear that the baby would inevitably lead to divorce or other marital strife (That was my #1 fear during pregnancy; even more than “how’s that baby going to get out?!?”). That’s not been the case for us at all–I think our marriage is actually stronger, because we communicate more, acknowledge & appreciate each other more, flirt more…. I think those things are all choices we’ve made, and have been little adjustments we’ve made as we’ve learned what we need in these new roles. Definitely doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your relationship/marriage.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    Oh Liz, thanks for this, it is reassuring and a breath of fresh air. And thanks to Meg for linking to your other post “The Fear”

    (http://happysighs.blogspot.com/search/label/baby)

    “…doctors had told me … that my insides were a mess and that there was the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to conceive. Josh assured me that .. we would find a way no matter what. But still, it lingered. The Fear that I wouldn’t be able to have any babies of my own.”

    We are right there… when I was 19 I was diagnosed endometriosis, and told exactly that. Now at 31, and almost 1 year into our marriage, we are still trying. We went to doctors who ran all kinds of tests and apparently everything is normal, and they can not see traces of endometriosis. We know the statistics, that it can take up to 1 year for couples to get pregnant. That every month there is only a 25% chance of conceiving, that lowers to 10% after 32, etc, etc etc. We keep trying and we keep hoping, but some days it is just hard. Specially for me, the boy is convinced everything is fine and normal and that we will eventually get there. On the contrary… I have days where I can not even see a pregnant girl without my eyes tearing up, and sometiemes I want to hit the facebook screen when I see all this pregnant friends, some of whom married at about the same time as us. I know that I should stop comparing, and be calm, and relax, and be patient. I know. But I just don’t know how to do it.

    Anyway, Liz, thanks, really. Stories like yours give hope and I think , as you show, that even with babies, married life, with its changes can still be magic and fulfilling, and it is up to you to keep the magic going, to make time for each other… like you illustrate.

    • http://lastamericangirlstanding.blogspot.com Kim

      This was us. It took almost three years, 3 IUIs, and 2 IVFs for the little guy to be able to join us, and during that time, I learned more about our love and marriage then I ever expected. We truly became partners in ways I didn’t know were possible. The best part was that no one ever told us how much more we’d love each other when the baby arrived. Those early days were so full of love for our new little family, and as I practically had to kick the husband out the door for work today, I’d say we’re still that full on love.

      PS If anyone is experiencing infertility, I *highly* recommend checking out the Stirrup Queens blog. She has a very organized list of infertility blogs by situation/diagnosis, and the community is a great resource and support system.

    • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

      I’ll send you a private email, I have two friends with endometriosis who are mums now. To calm you down, have you thought about yoga and meditation? I can recommend some great online resources.

      • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com/ Amanda

        Thanks Kim and Marcela, so , so much.

        • Amy

          Also – if you’d like it, I’ve got a fertility monitor that’s gathering dust over here (I bought the darn thing and then found out I was pregnant a week later). Hey, maybe its a lucky fertility monitor ;)

          But seriously, good luck on your journey – I know how hard it is to hope so much for something every month that seems to be so easy for so many people but seems to elude you.

    • Elemjay

      I had endometriosis diagnosed when I was 23 (2 surgeries and 6 months of synarel). I was on the waiting list for IVF but fell pregnant naturally at 35 after 14 months of trying. My daughter is now 13 months and a delight in so many ways. I found an ayurvedic medicine practitioner who I am convinced made the difference in boosting my fertility. Don’t give up! There is hope! There is so much you can do to maximise your chances of falling pregnant!

    • Erika

      The 25% statistic is kind of misleading. If you can determine when/if you are ovulating and time intercourse accordingly, your odds should be significantly higher, other fertility issues notwithstanding.

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

        And may I highly recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler? It’s a million pages long, but it’s excellent. Whether you’re trying for a baby or trying to not have a baby. It’s also the most clear and detailed explanation of lady parts I’ve ever read.

        (And I grew up in a system of really comprehensive sex education, and was still surprised on how much was new to me…)

        • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

          Thanks for this Morgan! It is going on my to-buy list right now.

          • Amy

            I found the charting/temperature taking thing a little onerous. For us, knowing the length of my cycle and using ovulation predictor sticks worked just as well.

          • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

            Amy – I can’t be bothered charting either, but the knowledge is worth it. And knowing that I could ignore my doctor when she said I would always ovulate on day 14, because I know my body well enough that it’s day 16-18.

            Also, as icky as the pictures were? Learning about cervical fluid was pretty neat. And super helpful for baby planning purposes.

        • http://glow.whyiamnotdying.net stacia

          i second this recommendation. i use the fertility awareness method as my main method of birth control and can’t believe how much i was never taught of what i know now about my cycle and how to observe it. i know that the stuff i’m learning about my fertility will serve me well in a few years when i’m trying to conceive as well. so, even if you’re not actively trying to conceive or, like me, are trying to avoid conception, Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a great book to pick up.

    • Melissa

      I have endometriosis and am worried that I may have waited too long to try to conceive, and I’m only 32! We are starting to try now. I take my temperature every morning like that fertility charting book told me to do (so that you know exactly when to try.) Every day I wonder if it’s better to have another surgery and then try, or to just go for it.

      One thing that has been empowering for me is to join the Endometriosis Association (www.endometriosisassn.org), a membership org for women with endo. $35 gets you awesome resources. Good luck to you – you are not alone!

      • tammy

        Thank you! Thank you! I was told by a doctor in passing that I have endometriosis while living in NY for a year. I have tried to get it confirmed by my new doc but they only said that they test for it when I try to conceive and don’t. I am getting married in a few months and I see babies everywhere and just want to cry. I have an OB/GYN appointment tomorrow and am terrified that they are going to tell me I can’t have kids.

  • http://athoughtfulmarriage.wordpress.com/ Rachel

    This is exactly what I needed to read. Although babies are still pretty far off in my future, since getting engaged, people constantly ask when we plan to have kids, so the topic’s been on my mind. I’m so glad I have this wonderful blogging community with realistic perspectives of love, marriage, and family, to detract from all the noise out there about marriage and family that is so negative.

    I went over to Liz’s blog and read the rest of the series, and it was so good, I had to reshare it on my blog – with all due credit to APW of course – finders fee ;)

    • Sarah

      Can I second this, and also add how fabulous that photo is?

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jo

    Yay Liz!

  • http://www.christytylerphotography.com Christy T

    I love.love.LOVED this series on her blog, especially since we’re throwing around the idea of babies in the near future… it really got me thinking – and this post was one of my favorites! I’m so glad you shared it here!! :)

    • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

      Me too. Loved the series.

  • http://lastamericangirlstanding.blogspot.com Kim

    For anyone on the fence of indecision about kids, Maybe Baby was a great collection of essays that represented many different choices and how people had approached their decisions.

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      Added to my to-read list on Goodreads.

    • http://extoria.blogspot.com Vee

      Thanks for this recommendation!

      • Rasheeda

        Thank you is indeed in order! I’m hooked after just reading the Foreword!

    • http://scientistcarrie.blogspot.com Carrie

      DUDE I HAVE TO READ THIS.

      The book “Young Wives’ Tales” — a collection of essays about getting married, not getting married, wanting to get married, wishing you hadn’t gotten married, etc. — was so so so important to me as I figured out how I felt about marriage. It helped me handle all the competing social pressures, assumptions, and “you’ll seeeeeee”s, by showing me that there is no one right way to think or feel about, or do, marriage.

      And you’re telling me there’s another book like that, but about having babies?! I need to read this book, like yesterday. My feelings about kids are totally in that “I am thinking about it, but I’m worried and scared and confused and uncertain and I need someone to help me process this without resorting to ‘you’ll seeeeee'” zone. Just like I went through about getting married.

  • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com Becky

    Thanks, Liz! I read this series on your blog but not sure I ever got around to commenting. My wife and I are absolutely planning to have children, but this is certainly something I’m concerned about and that we’ve talked about. I know that having children will change our lives, but I hope that we can go into it with intentionality the way you and your husband have and make sure that those changes are for the good!

  • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

    I absolutely agree. I have twin toddlers (almost 3 years old) and my marriage is now stronger than before. We say that our babies have taught us many important lessons, among which are: patience (we can’t do this now) and perspective (is it really that important anyway?). Intimacy doesn’t have to disappear and I agree with Liz that the main change is in…creativity ;) It’s about talking a lot, and making every second count.

  • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

    Babies are a wonderful, wonderful thing – if both parties are involved, attached, and together as a team. Granted – when I had my daughter, my marriage was already falling to pieces (even before I got pregnant) but having a baby was the nail in our coffin. He didn’t change for our child, he was terrible with our child, and I said “NOT ON YOUR M-EFFING LIFE” and left.

    But with my husband? Now? We can’t wait to have one together. My daughter was our sharpening stone, strengthening us in ways otherwise impossible without her. One of the sexiest things about him is how he treats my Princess – even when he’s disciplining her. Babies take you from a baby family to a full fledged how-did-we-turn-into-those-crazies family full of love, dysfunction, and sweet memories.

    Excellent insight.

    • Melissa

      I love this “sharpening stone” image. I feel like surviving wedding planning amidst family drama was our sharpening stone, but probably there is more sharpening to come!

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        Absolutely :)

        My daughter has been the biggest gift of my life. There are times I get bummed about not being able to go and do some of the things my single, childless friends can – but my husband and I are a team. We work to give each other “a break” and you know what? There is something REALLY COOL about spending the night at home having silly dance-off’s to terrible children’s music and watching movies and snuggling on the couch.

        It’s a special, intense love that far outweighs anything else I have ever experienced – and it all magnifies while doing so hand-in-hand with my husband. We both get stupid grins on our faces when we talk about her (right now she’s with biodad for 6 weeks :( only two more til she’s home and I am about to jump out of my skin, I miss her so much) and laugh about all the silly things she does. Beautiful bonding in ways you never imagined.

        Plus, nothing says “WE ARE A BAMF TEAM” like laying the smack down on a temper tantrum. Dude.

      • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

        Me too. The image is one that I will keep close.

  • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

    I loved this series when I read it last week, and I was so happy to see this post on APW this morning. I think there are so many negative voices out there about marriage and kids (and the effect of kids on marriage) that it is really, really helpful to hear another real-life perspective (especially one that says everything is going to be okay, really). So thanks, Liz for writing this and thanks Meg for posting it here for an even wider audience.

  • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

    This is just what I needed to hear, since that is my biggest fear about having a child. My husband and I are really happy and love our life, and it’s hard to think about everything changing in a bad way. But that’s all you hear – horror stories. And yet, I still want a baby despite all of that. I know us, and I just can’t believe that a baby would ruin our happy little life. Sending this article to my husband as well, as I think he’ll appreciate it.

    • Amanda

      The people who are open about it only talk about the bad parts. At least around me. I wish people would talk about the good more. I think it would make it less scary. I know it’s hard. But it also has to be good, or people wouldn’t be happy about having multiple kids, and work hard to have multiple kids.

      • Kayakgirl73

        I do hear some about the good. My sister is very open about how much she loves her kiddo and what fun he is even though he has his moments. She was very go-ho about number 2. I do have a few friends who make a point to recount the good thing about there life with kids on Facebook and not just braggy thinks, simple joy stuff.

      • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

        I never heard horror stories and it was just as scary before I had my babies, and in the early stages of motherhood, because I felt like I was constantly failing by comparison. Some people only rant, and some people lie about how wonderful and easy breezy their children are (and then you meet them ;).

    • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

      It’s so funny because I really don’t ever hear the horror stories, and I’m a nanny! Maybe I’m just a willful optimist?

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

        Or you know good people? Who aren’t trying to instill fear?

  • Amanda

    This has been my biggest fear about having kids. We got married last October and it seems like everyone around us is having babies, or has a toddler. So I’m starting to get “baby fever” bad. But I’ve been terrified that it would change things between us enormously. That there wouldn’t be any intimacy anymore. It’s a HUGE extremely scary step. But knowing that someone out there has been able to keep that even with a baby, is encouraging.

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    Thanks for a wonderful post, Liz. I think you’ve touched on (and laid to rest, perhaps?) the fears of a lot of APW-ers. Ironically, I don’t really have many of those fears (although I am sure it is VERY LIKELY that I will…) My wife and I are just excited about having babies someday, and I can see all these things that will change in our life, for sure, but also so many things that will be amazing. The not sleeping/vomit/screaming part, maybe not. But I’m so excited about raising a child.

    We have our own problem, though- we’re two women, which doesn’t (yet) equal babies together. I know there are lots of options, and I’m grateful to not be able to get accidentally pregnant when we’re not ready, but there’s the flip side of how much harder it will be to get pregnant when we ARE ready. But, all in good time. It will come. :)

    • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

      Also, that is a lovely, lovely photo of the two of you. :)

  • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

    Babies are awesomesauce! I often ask Mike what we did for fun before Duncan came along. From my time teaching and now as a mommy, I truly believe that if you are an actively involved parent, you’re kiddo will not be a scary addition to your life. Mike and I are closer now with Duncan in our lives because we have a common goal. We have more fun and more romance because we make an effort to make each other feel special. And yeah, we’re freakin’ tired, but we’re never too tired to listen to what each other needs. Then comes the easy part: love is just bubbling out of every crack and crevasse in our home. And OMG, your kid is the funniest person you’ll ever know, the cutest baby ever born, and the sweetest little guy or gal in the world. When they cry, you find really hilarious and creative ways to soothe them, you’ll always be blown away at the new things they are learning and oh man! that first smile about kills you. I could just puke giddiness from being a mom. Ha ha! And when you need a day or night off, there’s babysitters! Woot!

    The absolute best part about having a baby is that it’s a shared experience with your partner that is uniquely for just you two. And if you ever want to hear the good, the bad, the hilarious, gross and amazing, email mommies like me. We’ll tell you the WHOLE story.

    Yay! Babies!

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      Can I second “your baby is the funniest person you know”? My kid leaves me in stitches. O. M. G.

    • http://www.thefamiliarwilderness.com Erin

      “Then comes the easy part: love is just bubbling out of every crack and crevasse in our home.”

      YAY. This is what I’m looking forward to, someday :)

  • http://aroomwithaviewblog.com Anni

    Very interesting post. I enjoyed the way you express yourself, and your happiness just leaps off the screen.

    I do think that for some marriages, though, kids just won’t work. I’m sure we could make it work, and get through it together, but kids are just not something either of us has ever wanted. It would be a serious hit to our marriage just because everything we’ve envisioned and planned for very firmly doesn’t involve kids, you know?

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      I agree, kids aren’t for everyone; however, I disagree with this: t would be a serious hit to our marriage just because everything we’ve envisioned and planned for very firmly doesn’t involve kids, you know?

      Maybe I just live on the wrong side of Life’s fence, but things very seldomly go as planned. If everything I worked so hard for came to be, I would currently be living in Chicago in a sweet flat, taking the train to my corporate job, and teetering around on expensive shoes while sipping overpriced martinis at the end of a long, grueling, rewarding day.

      Things are polar opposite right now (down to geography. I’m still in South Texas). Changes in plans are not bad things.

      Saying “kids aren’t for us” is one thing. Saying “kids will ruin our life plans” is another (again – generally speaking).

      • http://aroomwithaviewblog.com Anni

        For us, though, it’s something that we feel strongly about. I think that it’s okay to know that parenting just isn’t for you, and in my case I’ve felt that for my entire life. Some people feel a pull towards motherhood, some could go either way, some feel really strongly that they’re not cut out for parenting – but one of the things that I love about our relationship is that we’re very open with communication and have talked about every aspect of what we think we’d do. Of course we’re open to re-hashing the conversation if one of us changes our mind. Lives change, and we get that. But I think there’s a huge difference between envisioning yourself in a different city or career – which can easily be changed – and not wanting to be a parent.

        Plenty of people become parents after not wanting kids and adore it. And like I said, I’m sure we could make it work if we ever had to. But there are so many options for remaining childfree in this day and age that I don’t feel like anyone who legitimately is opposed to motherhood will need to face it. And for us, it’s not so much ruining a life plan, it’s more like not wanting to bring a child into a home where they’re not 100% wanted, you know? I think that’d be the most selfish thing we could do.

        • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

          Oh, I absolutely agree. I fell in the “never will I ever, ever, ever have children EVEREVEREVER” camp. My career and city choice had everything to do with (a) not getting married & (b) not having kids. EVER.

          But things happen. And I firmly believe accidentally bringing a child into a family (mine was an accident, anyway) is not going to break a strong marriage. That view is part of what scares people away from the joys OF HAVING a family. And that’s a damn shame.

          One of my dearest friends is in her thirties, been married almost 10 years, and has no plans for children. She’s on a solid career path, likewise her husband, and they have big dreams of travel and art. And it works for them. And that’s amazing. But they are also both of the mind that should their plans change, they will make the most of it because they pledged their lives to one another and their own baby family.

          And that’s my point. That’s important. Babies do not ruin marriages – unless you let them.

          • http://aroomwithaviewblog.com Anni

            Very, very true. And I’m so happy for you that things worked out the way they did. I think that it is something that for us, though, is very much in our control in this day and age, which I’m so thankful for. I couldn’t imagine not having the right to choose – this way I know, 100%, that if we choose to have children it will be because we stand firm in that decision and never because we felt like we had to, you know?

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            YES.

            (accidents still happen)

            but YES.

            And that choice helps A LOT when in an unexpected, very surprising decision. Just the thought of knowing their are options – whether or not acted upon – can make it easier to bear.

        • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

          My husband and I both really, really, really, really, want kids but I just want to add my weight to the “I think that it’s okay to know that parenting just isn’t for you” sentiment.

          I’m sorry that people who don’t want to be parents often feel like they have to defend themselves, because OF COURSE it is okay to not want kids. OF COURSE. In fact, if you don’t want kids then I think the best thing you can do it not have them. You deserve to be happy! If not having kids makes you happy then go for it! You know?

          Anyway, just wanted to throw out there that even the breeders among us support you :)

          • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

            Yeah, I agree. And while I know that someone on this thread argued that you will love your baby regardless, and while I’d like to think that’s true, I don’t actually think every parent loves their babies. Which isn’t to say you won’t love your baby if you accidentally get knocked up, but that I just don’t believe that it happens for everyone (Casey Anthony anyone?)

            I really want to have kids, but I think it’s hard how societal expectations basically assume everyone wants to have their kids.

            I guess a lot of times what I hear what people who think they don’t want kids say is that they don’t think they want kids but they’re scared of not having kids and regretting it later. But you can’t live your life like that. Everyone will have regrets in life about the path not taken whether you have a baby or not. As someone famous once said, all you can do is know that you have the right regrets. If you decide not to have a baby, live your child-freeness UP. Take exotic vacations, RV around the country for a year, become the CEO of a company, whatever your non-baby related dreams are, go for them. Then if you ever have a pang of regret for not having a baby (and it will probably happen sooner or later, life is long) you can look back on all the afreakingmazing things you did without a baby, and you’ll have the right regrets.

            But being so scared you’ll regret having a baby that you decide to have a baby? And then you regret THAT?

            Wrong regrets.

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            Actually, I said you are hardwired to love your child with some rare exceptions, mostly accompanied by mental issues.

            There are always exceptions, but a hefty argument is usually to the tune of “I don’t think I could love my baby. Look at XYZ. It happens.”

            Fact is – it’s rare (but blown up – thank you, media) and seriously, it’s science. My mom cut out an article for me from a science journal about it because I, too, was one of those who said “OMG. No.” and cried my entire pregnancy. I also had post-partum and had nightmares about hurling my baby over bridges. But I’d wake up. And I love my child with ferocity.

            Anyway. Again. I firmly believe children aren’t for everyone – but if you fear you can’t love your child, I’m saying that isn’t the case.

          • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

            Melissa, I don’t doubt that there is some evolutionary hardwiring there, but I tend to feel like evolutionary arguments don’t always make a ton of sense in modern human society. (I particularly dislike the humans are evolutionarily hardwired to cheat argument.) Biology isn’t destiny, and I think Liz is right that we can’t rely on biology alone and that love and happiness is a choice. I definitely know people who, yes they LOVE their kids because their kids are their kids, but they don’t particularly like their kids and don’t really enjoy spending time with them. Those are people who perhaps should not have had kids.

            All this to say that I think the argument that when it’s your own, it’s different, is good to allay the fears of someone who actually WANTS to have kids and is just afraid or having cold feet. But I’m not sure it’s a great argument for people who fall more in the not-wanting-kids spectrum.

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            I’ve never said the hard wiring is all you’ll need to survive & succeed as a parent. But for someone who is pregnant, who maybe didn’t want to be yet decided to stick out the pregnancy, it’s honest truth they should cling to. Having been there, it’s a terrifying thought. I was convinced I would never bond with my child since I didn’t really want her.

            I’m not looking to set up “an argument” for either case. The point of this post was that babies DO NOT ruin marriage. And someone mentioned their fear of not loving their child. Well, genetics says you will to some degree. The rest of it is love as a choice, but I’ve found maternal love carries a heavier weight than most.

            You are completely right: some people shouldn’t have kids. Ever. But for those who are toeing the fence and saddled with fear, they should take comfort.

          • Aurélie

            [replying to Ruchi and Melissa's discussion on being biologically wired to love your offspring]

            I would like to add something to the discussion.
            Actually there are (to my knowledge) two main views on that issue:
            – Some biologists (as Sarah Blaffer Hrdy) say that maternal love is induced by an hormone, ocytocin, which is produced by the new mom’s body. So, but for a severe biological problem, you could not avoid having strong loving feelings toward your newborn.
            – Other (as Elisabeth Badinter) recount that history and anthropology show that maternal love is a social construction born in the XIXth century to reduce infant mortality (before that, most noble, bourgeois and working women sent their newborns to be cared for in farms, without bothering themselves too much about how they would be cared for and most of them died).

            So I would tend to think that both sides tend to approach the complex truth. Hormones probably play an important role in the first moments of maternity. But the social schemes we’ve been integrating consciously and unconsciously during our whole life will drive most people (with no biological nor mental disease) to love their offspring too, and on the long term.

            Life is always complex but knowing what is scientifically known today, I certainly would like to say to any terrified pregnant woman: don’t worry, you’ll love your baby anyway.

        • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

          The unplanned is the terrifying bit for me. We’ve decided to not have children but I’m only 25 so we’ve gone the IUD route in case somehow we change our minds in the next 10 years (that’s my cut off for because at 25 your risk of having a baby with Downs is 1 in 1,250…at 35 it’s one in 400*).

          But what if somehow birth control fails? What if I do get pregnant? It would be OUR baby. But would we want to change our plans? Would we fit a baby into our plans? The answer is that I don’t know.

          I don’t want to be afflicted with The Fear. I don’t want to pack diaper bags for weekend road trips. I guess I’m just selfish and don’t really want to make the adjustments to my life. (Trust me, Forrest and I went through some serious growing pains together…two type A personalities collided…we made it work but he can form complete sentences). We could be parents but I think we’d rather choose not to be them (except to the dog).

          I’m a darn good aunty and Forrest an almost-uncle though…and THAT is fun. Play with ‘em and send ‘em home. :-)

          *American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Age and Fertility: A Guide for Patients. ASRM, Birmingham, AL, 2003, accessed 2/5/09. (via March of Dimes)

          • Maggie

            I think this comes up every. single. time. people discuss having kids vs. not having kids, but I’m gonna say it again:

            “I guess I’m just selfish and don’t really want to make the adjustments to my life.”

            Nope, NOT selfish (or if we’re going to call that “selfish,” than we need to somehow remove the negative connotation from that word!).

            :)

          • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

            our pregnancy was horrifically unplanned. we were both unemployed at the time, in fact. i cried ugly tears for days over the plans we would need to change.

            someone above was questioning if everyone loves their kids. i think we are hardwired to care for our offspring, but that we can’t depend on biology alone. love is a choice. being happy is a choice. and people can often choose to be happy in scary circumstances.

            in the midst of my screaming about life being unfair, josh and i specifically chose to love and be happy about this little being. you can do that. just like you can choose to love your spouse even when they’re being a pain in the ass.

            our plans changed, but not nearly as drastically as i imagined. Large Goals are still firmly in place- if anything, it’s just been a timeline shift.

          • Mejane

            I feel you on the “what if” terror, but just for the record, if you have an IUD? You’re not going to get pregnant. Really. Those things are effing magical.

          • Marina

            Shame blaster alert–you are NOT selfish for not wanting kids. You don’t want kids and that is PLENTY of reason not to have kids, no further justification needed. It’s like, I don’t know, not growing all your own food in the backyard because you don’t like spending all your time gardening. It’s not selfish, it’s a preference.

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            Mejane: I know two different girls who got pregnant while on the IUD.

            As the say, the only 100% effective form of birth control is abstinence. Otherwise, there is always a chance – no matter how slim.

          • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

            @liz – “love is a choice. being happy is a choice. and people can often choose to be happy in scary circumstances.” THIS. this is why i love you (not to be creepy or anything…). :)

          • Mejane

            Melissa: The Paragard IUD it’s 99.4% effective. The Mirena IUD hovers around that same level.* Once you have one inserted, you don’t have to do anything but let it hang out in your uterus (which means the effectiveness isn’t compromised by external factors).

            Honestly, I’m not really loving the “everyone is an inch away from getting unintentionally knocked up!” stuff. It feels like fear mongering (although I’m not quite sure to what end…). The reality is that certain kinds of contraception do in fact make the chances of getting pregnant drastically unlikely. I’ve never understood why people resort to anecdotal evidence whenever these sorts of subjects come up. I mean, whether you knew two or twenty women who got pregnant with an IUD, it actually doesn’t say anything about the statistical chances of getting pregnant with an IUD. Which are low low low.

            *http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/07/ff_iud/

          • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

            It IS totally fear mongering but it’s one of those things you think about, you know? Those crazy ancedotal stories stick with you and make you fret about things that are so remote it’s not even worth thinking about.
            IUD really ARE that effective and combined our lifestyle (traveling, schedules that vary, my forgetfulness) it seemed to be the best option to assure ourselves we were on top of things.

            Marina, Thanks so much for the shame blaster remark. I hadn’t even realized I was showing shame over my choice (which I totally shouldn’t!!!)

            And I’m so glad that there are kids. They’re fun. And I’m glad they’re fulfilling in the context of a happy life (married or not) because I get to enjoy them too.

          • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

            Mejane: I had the Mirena, and I am completely aware of what the odds are.

            But it isn’t fear mongering. It’s stating facts: no one is an inch away from getting pregnant, but assuming you are 100% safe is a bad idea and untrue.

          • Mejane

            Beth, I totally didn’t mean to criticize you for being worried about this. I have some of these same thoughts! It just irritates me when other people fan the flames of this particular kind of anxiety.

            Melissa, each time I walk out of my apartment, there’s a tiny chance that I will be hit by a county bus. Do I take the appropriate precautionary measures to prevent this from happening? Sure – I look both ways before I cross the street, I try to be generally aware of my surroundings, I obey pedestrian signals, etc. Do I spend much time worrying about that horrible day when I will be struck dead by public transportation? No. And I certainly don’t take it as my mission to inform other people that they too might be squashed whenever they leave their homes on foot, in spite of the fact that it’s a small risk we inevitably run if we live in a place with busses.

            Of course, it’s not a perfect analogy. Getting smooshed by a bus is pretty much final, whereas one could be lucky/privileged enough to have options for dealing with a pregnancy.

          • Joanna

            Beth, hate to fear-monger, but as one of the women in that ridiculously small percentage of women that become pregnant with an IUD in place, I have to put it out there that nothing is impossible. If it happens, which it probably won’t, you will go crazy for a while as you experience every emotion on the scale, and then you will make the right decision for your family, whatever that may be.

        • Anonymous

          I’m with you, Anni. My fiance and I have a lot of life plans, and kids aren’t conducive to those plans. We’ve joked about starting a fund, into which we’ll put all the money we’d spend on a hypothetical baby and instead spend it on amazing international trips that most people wouldn’t even think of. But we’re both in agreement that, should we ever decide (hopefully sometime in our 30s) to have children, we’ll adopt. The problem of overpopulation is something we feel strongly about, and we don’t want to contribute to it.

    • meg

      Well, everything Melissa says below is dead on, but this post isn’t saying that you must have kids, obviously. APW presents a whole rang of life choices, and no-nonsense women telling the truth about it. That doesn’t mean that someone making a different choice from you somehow makes your choice wrong. This post was called “babies don’t ruin your marriage,” not “not having babies will ruin your marriage.”

      That said, good marriages can adapt to having a whole lot of things thrown at them, expected or not, if they need to. They are resilient, and help us to be resilient.

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        Exactly. Substitute the word “baby” with a million other things…. it all boils down to (in my opinion, anyway) the strength and dedication of the marriage. When vows are exchanged, you are saying “I’m going to walk through life with you, come what may.” NOT “I’ll stick around until something pops up I don’t like.”

        Be it babies or job loss or a midlife crisis.

      • http://aroomwithaviewblog.com Anni

        Oh, I definitely agree I just meant that what Liz was saying really resonated with me… but I think that there are still some marriages and relationships in which a baby is just not meant to be. I think that she brings up a really good point when she says that everyone doesn’t need to be so scared – as long as both partners can get to a place where they’re 100% (or maybe even 95%, because I think there’s always some fear.) But my point was that for some people, having kids is just not something that they want, ever. And in that case, I think it very well could be hugely divisive. Imagine two people who really really don’t want kids faced with one – that would be incredibly tough to get through, and unfair to the child IMO.

  • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

    This was a great series Liz — I went over and read all of them. And I’ll probably read them again (and again) as/if the time approaches for himself and I to become parents. It’s so nice to hear the voices emerging from our generation on parenting . . . especially when they’re the voices of smart, incredible women.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    Reading the stories that Liz writes and also Cate, have been so amazing to read. Thank god for amazing women, both on the internet and off for telling their truth.

    I think that for me, as a 34 year old approaching motherhood in 8 short weeks, I have had the fears and the cries and the worries, but most of all everything seems so full of possibility.

    • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

      I have had the fears and the cries and the worries, but most of all everything seems so full of possibility.

      I love this. Full of possibility, that’s what I need to remember when the nerves get me – this growing a baby thing is amazingly full of possibility.

  • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

    The kids won’t wreck your marriage. But they will exacerbate any issues you have with communication and power. So be prepared. Life isn’t a walk in the park but that is not a bad thing, if you face it with full courage and the desire for everyone you love to flourish.

    • Anon

      This. The exacerbating issues with communication and power thing. That’s my fear. One thing that scares me is that my BF and I grew up in “traditional” households. Our mothers cooked and cleaned and did all the day-to-day parenting (the empathizing, the chore assignments, the homework, the resolving squabbles among kids, the getting to know friends and their parents, etc.), and our fathers worked and did the occasional disciplining. Our moms are sympathizers and worriers and the sort of people who call upon hearing of any disaster, no matter how distant, to check and see if we’re okay. Our dads are stoics who find it easier to discuss car trouble than person trouble, who consider family life an inherently feminine thing.

      We have a great relationship, and for the most part it’s different from the ones our parents had. I have a career (the kind that comes with graduate school loans and 2am phone calls and working weekends and even the occasional canceled vacation) and make more money than he does. He cooks, I clean. We are both feminists. We both believe that a thriving adult person, male or female, needs outside interests, alone time, and freedom. Neither of us expects me to be tied to the home an hearth, and neither of us expects him to be the sole provider and protector for our little family.

      But old habits break hard.

      I am the more empathetic partner, the one who checks in and makes sure everyone is okay. He is the more stern partner, the one more likely to withdraw when feelings get messy. I am more willing to set aside how tired/hungry/cranky I am to make sure the house gets clean and there is dinner to eat. Under stress, we have a tendency to revert to the parental roles with which we were raised.

      So when it comes to kids, I have this fear that despite our best intentions and current good habits, we will always have to struggle against our history. The trouble is not that I think children are bad for a marriage, or that we have a weak relationship likely to fall apart under the stress of children. But we have familial muscle memories, forged over years, of how a home works, how a family works, and I don’t want that life. All due respect to my mom (who had fewer choices than I did, and did amazing things with the hand she was dealt) but I don’t want her life. And when I think about having kids, even with this man I love, a big part of me worries that I would wind up with it anyway.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        holy poop, yes! but i could go on forever about how other things can also exacerbate issues with communication. or how despite your best efforts, you’ll need to fight muscle memory.

        for example, sex. if you enter a marriage after a history of sexual abuse, having a married sexlife is a scary thing. and though you work through the issues up front, there will always be something inside to overcome.

        or if you’re raised with parents who fight unhealthily.

        or if you have horrible and contradictory financial habits.

        each of these CAN be destructive in a marriage. but don’t have to be. it just takes work. sometimes, lots of work.

      • http://akc09.livejournal.com Annie in LA

        “Familial muscle memories.” That’s a good name for it!

        I don’t have any insights to contribute, but yeah, know that you’re not the only one out there with those concerns. My fiance and I also both came from families where the gender roles were really traditional. And while we do pretty well, I totally know what you mean about reverting to them when under stress.

        Hopefully I’m able to at least make a habit of being aware/consciously evaluating it every so often. Kinda like PMS–even if I can’t totally overcome the bad moods by simply identifying them, I can be aware, give him the appropriate disclaimers on the bad days, and know that the stress will pass and soon things can go back to normal. :)

      • Marina

        You know what helped me with this fear? Talking with my parents about what their lives were like when they had me. My mom didn’t have any sort of career that she cared about, and both my parents just assumed that she would be the one to stay home and my dad would work full time. My husband and I have talked a LOT about what we want our roles and relationship to be; my parents never had any of those conversations. That sort of put it into perspective for me–no wonder my parents had the lives they assumed they would have. I think the key is CONTINUING to talk about it as our family changes and our marriage changes, to not make assumptions.

    • meg

      Wise advice I’ve heard lately: go to couples counseling pre-kids, if you know you’ve got some issues on the table to work out (even if you generally have a healthy relationship). Because yes, they can bring those issues to the forefront!

      • http://www.alacartealbums.com jeliza

        Oh absolutely. We did this before we had kids, and it really helped us get all on the same page about both how we wanted to parent and how we wanted to be as a family. Considering all the hard times that followed (mostly medical) I am not sure we would have stuck it out without having done that work already. And we still use the listening techniques we learned in counseling, 9 years later.

  • KateM

    I loved this post and it is nice to hear sane people who love their children and love their spouses. I come from a very large family, and we so far all are functioning, happy adults with good marriages of our own, who all still get along with our siblings and our parents. People ask my parents all the time how they did it. At a wedding shower where you write down advice for a happy marriage, my mother wrote my father’s name as her advice. They prioritized their marriage and because they are happy, we are happy. Our parents love us, but in loving each other first we were not the center of the universe, we were expected to behave and were raised to be adults. My mom is still crazy about babies but my dad always has said his favorite age is the teenage years. Sure they have their moments, but they are becoming the adult that you have raised them to be since infancy. He LOVES seeing them grow intellectually and get to converse and know that person as an adult. So to all those freaking out about teenagers 1) they are not born teenagers 2) you as the parent set the guidelines and rules for what you find acceptable. Parenting is a process and your children are a product of your own creation.

    • meg

      I love this. This is my philosophy and my parents philosophy in a nutshell.

      “They prioritized their marriage and because they are happy, we are happy. Our parents love us, but in loving each other first we were not the center of the universe, we were expected to behave and were raised to be adults.”

      Amen.

    • FawMo

      Yes to prioritizing the marriage. My dad tells me all the time that, hands down, the best thing that ever happened to him was my mom. (Cue “ahhhhhhhhhh”) Apparently my brother and I are a medium-distance second.

  • Sarah

    Meg, Liz has some lovely thoughts to share here. But would love to here from Team Practical from how kids at various ages and life stages affected their relationship (and from parents of multiples and special needs children). A lot of us are in the “in theory/ thinking about kids” stage and would love to hear from a variety of voices from experience, as it is a very engaging topic. Could we even get some fathers in here? Or grandparents? I’d love that!

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      I’m going to email my husband right now about putting something together. He came into our lives when my daughter was about 14 months old. She’ll be 4 next month. He missed the infant stages, but he’s an AMAZING father and I’d love to share his insight on being (a) a father in general & (b) becoming a father.

      (His BIL referred to us for the longest as my husband’s “shake & bake family”. After many nasty looks, he’s since refrained… but my husband took great joy in it… because, “after all, [he] always loved a good shake & bake.”)

    • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

      I am working on persuading my husband to write about why HE wants kids since he’s been the driving force behind the procreating-thing in our house.

      I’d love to hear more male voices too, so I’m trying to make it happen on my end!

    • meg

      I tend to limit the kid-related posts on APW, since it’s a little outside the scope of the current blog. But if brillant stuff comes in, that’s directly related to marriage, I totally consider running it!

      • A-L

        Perhaps if Reclaiming Wife gets its own separate website then more child-related posts (having kids of various ages, deciding not to have kids, etc) could go there?

        • meg

          Indeed, if it did, than it could. I, however, am currently working a 50 hour week with a maxed out budget… and just finished writing a book. So you’ll need to give me a little time!

        • http://weehermione.blogspot.com Hayley

          Offbeatmama.com does talk about a lot of these things! Just putting in a plug, since I doubt Meg has time, and I lurk there *tons* because it’s very honest.

          • meg

            Good point, and what I should have said! Go read OffbeatMama!

    • bumblebee611

      Yes to this, Sarah. Liz’s post is charming and one cannot deny her experience, but I’m not sure how illuminating it is with respect to the huge range of situations one can find oneself in as a parent. I am already a parent of two closely-spaced school-aged kids and am parenting them with my husband (their step dad, or as my son refers to him, their “second dad”) and my ex-husband (their biological dad). My second child has significant special needs. She underwent 4 hospitalizations in her first 2 years of life, and my relationship to her dad came to its legal end a few weeks before what would have been our 12th wedding anniversary. Sure, babies don’t ruin your marriage. In fact, the first year of my first (healthy) child’s life was possibly the happiest and most romantic year their dad and I had together. We went to Paris with him and ate at cool restaurants and conceived again (surprise) before his first birthday. And I think parenting the kids together has been one of the best, most relationship-building experiences I’ve shared with my now-husband.

      But I think a more realistic approach to this topic would be titled something like, “One healthy child didn’t strain my already healthy marriage, but I can’t speak to the far greater challenges involved in having a second child, having multiples, having a child with significant medical issues, or having a child and finding that it brings out a bunch of conflicts you didn’t know you had with your partner. That stuff is really tough and nothing can prepare you for it, probably.”

      • meg

        Look, that can happen (and if you want to write a post about it, write it. But don’t knock Liz’s honest discussion of her experience). But I know a ton of families with twins, multiple children, or even children with significant health problems with happy healthy marriages, and happy families. Sure, life isn’t easy, it just isn’t, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have strong marriages that are full of joy too.

        I grew up in a family with two kids, one of whom was really (really) ill for a lot of the time. There were really hard times, but my parents had and have a healthy strong happy marriage. Did having two kids, and one seriously ill one ruin their marriage? Absolutely no. I think they would argue that their marriage is part of what helped them make it through.

        • bumblebee611

          Actually, Meg, I haven’t knocked Liz’s honest discussion. I made a point of noting that one cannot deny the truth of her own experience. I also never said having a child with challenges will ruin your marriage. And I stand by my comment that Liz’s post is just not that illuminating about a wide range of situations, some of which were noted by Sarah as topics of interest. A big part of Liz’s post seems to be “you can still have fun even after you have a baby” but the fun she talks about is sometimes just not possible with multiple kids, or with a kid with a significant health problem, or with a child past the flour sack stage, or hey, with a kid PLUS a partner with a significant health problem (which is where I stand now). That doesn’t mean we don’t make other kinds of fun and have other sorts of pleasures, but “Cute cafes or fancy restaurants” just *are* off limits for some families. That means, perhaps, that the extra effort some of us make to build our marriages and to enjoy life is to entertain more often, so we can provide a comfortable environment for our children while continuing to socialize with other adults. Again, I am not saying you need a post saying it’s all doom and gloom, but I am noting that if APW wants to represent diversity of experience with respect to parenting in the same way APW strives to represent that with respect to open marriages, same-sex marriages, waiting for marriage to have sex, etc. etc., Liz’s post does not cover that, and that does not constitute an attack on her or on APW.

          • meg

            Well, first, APW isn’t a parenting blog, so we occasionally run articles that relate to parenting AND marriage, but we don’t aim to represent a full diversity of parenting experience, There are tons of parenting blogs for that. I recommend Offbeat Mama in particular.

            That said, if you want a post write it. But please don’t argue that Liz will somehow see, after her kid is bigger, or she has more kids, or if she has kids with health problems. I suspect when one or another of those things happen, she’ll be back writing smartly and sassily then too.

          • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

            Here’s the thing – any guest post is only part of the poster’s overall experience, and no guest post can speak to everything/everyone about the issue at hand. Can Liz speak to a situation of having multiple kids on a limited budget or taking care of a kid with lots of health problems? No. That’s not her life. That doesn’t mean that her post isn’t valid or insightful for a large chunk of this community (as evidenced by the comments on this post). Cafes and restaurants are the examples she used, but I think Liz’s overall message – that it takes hard work to integrate a kid into your life in a way that makes you feel you still have *your* identity, but that it’s very possible – is one we can all benefit from. Yes, for other families, the examples and challenges would be different, but I don’t think it limits the very empowering message of this post just because Liz is drawing from her experiences rather than someone else’s.

        • bumblebee611

          Additionally, Meg (like you haven’t heard enough from me!), I would note that it is at least a widely touted statistic that parents of kids with certain kinds of special needs have sky-high divorce rates compared to the general population. Is that because those parents are all just weak people who don’t know how to work on their marriage and make time to enjoy a cute cafe, or because those parents all had lousy marriages to begin with? Of course not. It seems the more reasonable explanation is that having children with those sorts of medical issues really does present some qualitatively different challenges and stresses. This is in no way tantamount to condescendingly saying to Liz, “Oh, you’ll see, it’ll get tougher.” It simply goes back to my initial point: it’s not all that illuminating about the range of changes one’s life might undergo on becoming a parent. And I completely understand that you don’t want APW to be about parenting and don’t necessarily claim to represent all that’s out there. But if you want to offer one slice of the parenting experience with a categorical, universalizing title, expect that some of us lawyers are going to argue that well, it’s a bit reductive. As I said, a better title might have been ….

          • meg

            Lady,
            It sounds like you have some stuff you want to talk about. And if you do, that’s fine, consider writing a guest post. But at this point, this has moved outside of the comment policy of APW. This post is about Liz’s experiences, which she’s shared beautifully. If you’d like to write about yours, please do so. But please don’t continue to try to poke holes in Liz’s post here.

            Thanks,
            Meg

      • Marina

        Nothing can prepare you for anything. Or at least so far in my life that’s been the case. Nothing prepared me for both my husband and I being in school at the same time and stressing over money and time for years on end. Nothing prepared me for what it would feel like to be separated by an ocean for three months. Nothing prepared me for all the weird family stuff that came out around the wedding. Nothing prepared me for pregnancy, and I’m sure once this baby comes out I’ll feel unprepared for that.

        OR… everything prepares me for everything. The relationship I built with my husband before school and separation and wedding prepared me to learn how to deal with all of those things. Our two years of marriage have prepared us to treat this pregnancy as a project we’re doing together, just like we’ve done so many other projects together.

        Shit happens. But I firmly believe it never has to ruin your life. Or your relationships.

        • bumblebee611

          True, “Nothing can prepare you for anything” or “everything prepares [you] for everything.” But there is a huge difference between not being “prepared” for being in school at the same time as a spouse and experiencing a fairly common set of stresses (money and time) for people in the age group 18-40, and not being “prepared” for challenges that fortunately, few of us experience — for example, losing a sibling at a young age, or seeing a parent incarcerated, or having a young child with major medical issues.

          • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

            this is what we english teacher types refer to as “the diversity and universality of human experience.”

            we all have different problems. you can read a different work of literature a day and each time, read about a different struggle.

            the point in reading that literature (not to compare my measly article to classic lit, or anything) is to see what another person has experienced and how much it differs from your own experience, and then be able to acknowledge the universality of struggle.

            i may never have a child with a disability, but perhaps i can learn from the experiences of someone who has.

            there are certainly readers on this site who will never have a child. maybe those who will never be married. my hope is that my experiences- though different from theirs- will in some way reflect a bit of truth about humanity that can be applied regardless of our differences.

            the diversity of our experiences isn’t a negative- it’s certainly a positive, from which we can all glean bits of wisdom to apply to our different struggles.

            our current cultural narrative assumes that marriages suffer from the mere presence of babies. any babies. all babies. my marriage did not. hopefully, that can reflect a bit of truth about what does or doesn’t “doom” a marriage.

          • meg

            Lovely response Liz. And that’s what we aim to do here at APW. Let people share their experience, even though of course one particular experience can’t represent the breadth of all experience. But in the particular, one often finds the universal.

            Had this article been about having a kid with health issues, it would have been different (but no less wise and hopeful, I suspect. Liz is a wise and hopeful one.)

        • meg

          Beautifully said.

  • http://amusinglist.wordpress.com Christina

    Babies are in our near future, but I was never scared they would interfere with the marriage, for some reason. Part our marriage agreement was having babies so I guess I just never worried. What I am worried about it losing myself. Will I still read books? And go for runs? And take myself out to breakfast alone? I do love those things, but maybe they will become rarer and “specialer” kinda like Liz said about her time with her hubby. I’ll have to sneak in a book when the little one’s sleeping and whatnot. I think I’m ok with that. Liz your story actually calmed my nerves a little too :)

    • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

      It’s a bit harried in the beginning; babies are demanding (& for good reason.. that whole I-can’t-take-care-of-myself thing) – but the older they get, the easier it is. And losing yourself is a very real fear. I make sure to prioritize it just as much as spending time with my husband.

      We are fortunate to live near a healthy amount of family, so I’ll always gladly accept their offers to watch her for however long so I can sneak in a pedicure or go see a movie or sit in a coffee shop and read a book or go to lunch with a friend. It’s important. & totally doable :)

      & if you don’t have family around, have a close friend stop by for an hour so you can read a book – or use an hourly daycare to go to lunch by yourself. Those are THE BOMB.com.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      ACCK, losing myself! yes, that was my bigger fear than even my marriage being destroyed. i actually (gross self-promotion) wrote a little bit about that here: http://happysighs.blogspot.com/2011/07/being-home-all-day-is-scary-or-i-dont.html but think it’s definitely a discussion worth continuing.

      • http://amusinglist.wordpress.com Christina

        Liz! Thanks for the link. That post made me tear up a little. So well written and exactly what I never get to hear from mothers. I think the most common narrative is that women should WANT to give up themselves, so they are proud to boast that they gave up exotic food for chuckie cheese and it’s most of what we hear. I rarely get to hear otherwise! Also, I love that you said this: “It’s less like being pressed through a cookie cutter, and more like adding an extra layer of frosting.” We get to add a dimension to ourselves, but don’t need to erase all the others in order to. Love love love that post. Thank you.

        • http://Dalgal412.wordpress.com Colleen

          Totally second what Liz wrote in that (and this) post, and adding that my baby *loves* Indian food & has been eating it since she… well, since she started solids. Babies can eat “exotic” food. I’m sure you know that, but I want to reconfirm it & shout Liz’s message from rooftops. As you say, hers (and mine. And who knows how many other people’s) is not the message that’s out there, and it SO needs to be!

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      That’s funny, as I’m kind of the opposite. I know I’m going to definitely want to hold on to those ‘me’ things, which will have an effect on some of my decisions. Like, YES, I’m going to do those things, and leave the (hypothetical) baby with himself and be 100% okay with it. But maybe that means that I won’t breastfeed exclusively so that I can do those things, and GAH, how terrible is that for that to even factor into any equation — and heaven forbid I say that aloud.

      • Rasheeda

        Kimberly- I know this may sound horrible…but I have no plans to breastfeed. Read the studies, know the facts, just making a different choice. When I asked my mother about breastfeeding us (3 kids- a set of twins in there) she said “The idea just never appealed that much to me”, she raised 3 healthy children with no health complications, that are all very emotionally close and well adjusted. Don’t be afraid to state your choices aloud…people will make you feel terrible for numerous things you will and won’t do to/for your children…better start getting some tough skin early.

        • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

          One sad true about mother blogs is that you get criticized whatever your choice is. If you breastfeed, you are criticized for being a slave to the baby, if you don’t for “not giving your child the best nutrition”, if you sleep train them you are a torturer, if you let them sleep with you, you are traumatizing them.Moral of the story? Do whatever you think is best for the baby AND for you. You are also a part of the equation and a happy mother with multiple interests that doesn’t breastfeed exclusively is better than a stressed mother that does, IMHO.

          • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

            Sorry, one sad TRUTH.

      • Amy

        My parents look at my sideways when I mention it, but my husband and I plan on staying in our apartment another year because (among other reasons) it is smaller and easier to clean, it is within walking distance to a library/post office/park, we’re a 5 minute drive to shops/downtown, and we have a gym downstairs. They seem to think we’re bad parents for not giving our baby a house. We think we’re making a smart choice to prioritize things that make us happy (like being able to go to a gym during baby nap time!).

        • meg

          Ten bucks your baby is more interesting in boobs than a house. God bless babies, but they’re not that into Real Estate ;)

        • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

          Tell your parents you want to live as Europeans ;) (big houses are rare here and kids are just as happy)

        • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

          Apparently it’s a parents job to look at their adult children a little sideways when they do something “different.” Smile. You’re doing your job to keep them young and thinking hard. :-)

    • Cassandra

      As the mother of a nearly 8 year old girl, I can say absolutely you will do those things. It’s a matter of making time and committing yourself to doing things for yourself once in awhile. Some things do become more rare, but I found setting aside a little time every day for reading, or for a cup of tea, or a hot bath was surprisingly easy. I was a single (and very young) mother, but still was able to take time to keep being me, and it absolutely made me a better mother.

    • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

      I know what you mean. I have twins and live in a different continent from my husband’s and my own family (= no family help), so at the beginning it was crazy and it was only when they were around 18 months that I started thinking about me again. Not because they did/didn’t do anything or because anything specific prevented me from doing it, but because I was so immersed, naturally immersed, into being a mum, that there was no room for other parts of me, I didn’t make room for other parts of me to flourish. Then I started missing my old self and I started the process of figuring out how the mother I had become could integrate the woman I had been prior to them . It sounds schizophrenic, I know, but that’s how it felt ;) As they grew more independent, and we got more confident in our parental capacities, I found the time to read, to write, to study, to take pictures, to do yoga, to explore other parts of me.

  • http://starryknit.blogspot.com Jessica

    Liz, thank you so much for this post. It’s so refreshing to hear this, especially on APW. And I’ll echo Sarah’s suggestion: if any other APW readers want to talk about marriage and children beyond the infant stage, that’d be awesome! (Maybe like vintage weddings, it could be reclaiming vintage wife?)

  • Annon

    As someone fighting through the first trimester exhaustion and nausea while trying to finish an emergency reno (the basement flooded, insurance doesn’t cover it, we live down there and it HAS to be made livable)? I figure as long as we get through this phase with our sense of humour intact, we’ll probably be able to survive the new baby phase. At the very least, I’ll be on mat leave and not have to pretend to be a functioning worker bee at the same time. Right? Please?

    But seriously. It’s nice to read this stuff, and it makes me feel good because I don’t have these worries. I’ve seen my friends continue to have happy, healthy relationships, and no one has done the negative ‘you’ll seeee’ at me. I mean, my friends are open about the challenges and about how much a lacerated nipple hurts. But none of them seem to bemoan the existence of their babies. And that’s rather promising.
    .

    • Amy

      Why does no one warn you about the first trimester nausea and exhaustion? I mean, my early 20-year old self probably would have brushed it off anyway, but man I was totally shocked by how thoroughly this pregnancy is kicking my butt.

      • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

        It gets better! I was shocked by it too, but I really do have more energy now that I am in my second trimester (not quite up to pre-pregnancy levels, but still much better). I hear that the exhaustion comes back in the third trimester, but for now, I’m enjoying the reprieve.

      • Marina

        Heh, seriously. I was totally warned about the nausea and exhaustion, but I brushed it off because it couldn’t possibly be that bad if so many people did it multiple times… No, it really is that bad. And it really DOES get better, which I didn’t believe either. Don’t forget to ask for help.

      • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

        He. I know! Enjoy the 2nd trimester, it gets better!

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      Oooo pregnancy kicked my butt too! Oh lawd and I somehow had giardia during it! Thankfully, mommy amnesia sets in and all the exhaustion, nausea, heartburn and other unpleasantness is forgotten once baby comes along. Well not forgotten, but it just doesn’t seem so bad.

      Good luck ladies and get lots of rest. I hope you’re able to enjoy the rest of your pregnancies! *Hugs*

  • Jen M

    and on that note…The Oxygen Mask Principle to Parenting
    http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/the-oxygen-mask-principle/

  • Eat Broccoli

    As someone who is currently in the midst of the to have babies or not to have babies decision with her husband ( we are both fence sitters on the issue) this is a lovely post. But from the reading I have done to prepare myself and make an informed choice I have learned, having children is the “default” setting, it is what we are genetically programmed and our parents for the most part expect us to do. It would be awesome to have the opposite opinion reflected on APW, someone who is childfree by choice, a few years past their childbearing years, to discuss the awesome and not so awesome parts of being childfree.

    • meg

      As I’ve said at other parts on the thread: APW isn’t a parenting blog. So every so often I run posts on parenting, or not, as related to marriage. But unless/ until we expand to another blog, these are not going to crop up all the time or be a regular series. We’ve talked about not having kids on APW before, so it’s clearly a choice we’re vigorously supporting, but don’t look for a series… not here and now, at least.

      • Eat Broccoli

        As talking about if/when/how many kids with your spouse is an issue that APW recommends discussing premarriage/constantly during marriage. I feel it obviously impacts marriage. What about when you have different desires for kids or not for kids? The impact on a relationship is huge! You have editorial control, I am just adding my opinion.

        • meg

          Indeed. But this isn’t a parenting blog. Given some time and growth, we’ll get there. But till then, these will just pop up now and then.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    Hear, hear!

    Of course a baby is going to completely change your marriage. But that’s not a bad thing. Marriage completely changed your life (whether you realize it yet or not). Life is constant complete change. If you aren’t changing and growing then you are dying.

  • A-L

    For many years I’ve been on the fence about having kids (could go either way) but I fell in love with my husband, who was definitely on the let’s-have-kids side of the fence. So we’re planning to try and get pregnant (in a couple of years). But I share a lot of the concerns of others. My biggest fear is probably reverting back to family-of-origin patterns, but also the cost, and losing the intimacy (emotional & physical) of our marriage, and losing my own self.

    All that being said, though, I am beginning to feel more optimistic about bringing a little one into the world. I don’t know if it’s biology, or being faced with the fact that we’ll likely try having a little munchkin, or what. But I want to thank Liz for coming up with this stuff, and Meg for posting it here. I’m now off to read the rest of Liz’s series!

  • Becky

    As an on the fence person who knows she doesn’t want to be pregnant, I would love to hear from someone who made the choice to adopt. I imagine suddenly having a somewhat older child raises very different issues for a couple than having nine months and infancy to watch its growth and development. You can accidentally get pregnant and decide to become a parent at that point, but I think it’s a lot harder to accidentally adopt :0)

    • Marina

      This was mentioned before, but I’d recommend OffbeatMama.com for more of these parenting topics. They have some GREAT posts on adoption.

  • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

    Purely coincidental, but today I came across NPR’s Baby Project, and thought it might be appropriate to share with you guys, given the subject.

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  • charmcityvixen

    Great post! Congrats on your newest family addition :)

    My two cents about babies: The future hubby has two kids from a previous marriage. We both work full-time and we have the kids on the weekend (and this arrangement may change in the near future as we are going to fight for joint custody!). The kids are not mine, and it is an adjustment period. BUT. Our relationship is stronger because of the kids. We had to figure out communication, how to make things special (and not always in the take-her-out-and-woo-her way, but also in the yay-kids-are-asleep-woohoo-night-in kinda way).

    I’m excited to have kids of our own one day (hopefully not for several years), and I know we can do it because I have had the experience of helping to raise kids that are not mine, and they are still awesome, hilarious, fun, and sometimes stressful.

    The kids are school-aged, and I never knew my FH without his kids, but being involved in their life is better for our relationship, and also personally enriches my life too :) Any strong relationship will survive any type of adjustment — it’s a matter of prioritizing and making time for each other, combined with EVERY DAY communication.

  • Dori

    I think the most terrifying aspect of the baby decision is that it is irrevocable. With anything else (marriage, job, living situation), one can change one’s mind, even if doing so is extraordinarily difficult. But once you’re a parent, you will forever be a parent.

    • meg

      Indeed, indeed. Liz??? ;)

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        thanks, meg. i was trying to ignore this comment so it would go away.

        i know, right? you’re a parent forever. so what if you suck at it and hate it?

        i’m wondering about the “always” part of parenthood. i would imagine being a parent of a 6 mos old is different than that of a 6 yr old, 16 yr old, 26 yr old. right? it seems like each stage requires a different skillset. maybe you can suck at/hate one part, and still enjoy all the others. i don’t know.

        or maybe, just like your brothers and sisters and mom and dad- even though you’re essentially “stuck” with this person, you grow to love them. a little bit by choice, but mostly just out of being stuck with them. i didn’t choose to be a sister and will never be able to stop, but i’m doing okay in the role.

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

          As someone whose mother was excellent when I was 9 and it pretty crappy now that I’m 29? I think that is very, very true.

          • Remy

            Mine was the other way around — pretty crappy when I was 7 (actually, 7 through… 20ish). But I survived to be 27.

        • http://dearwedding.wordpress.com/ Andee

          Gosh darn it if you aren’t a friggin’ smart cookie Liz! I love your answers. You’re so down to earth and real.

  • Kess

    I just started rock climbing and have been searching out various blogs relating to that. I found one called ‘cragmama’ that deals partially with how she is still keeping her life after having a child. She basically states: you can do what you did before, it’s just going to take longer, you need to plan more, and you’re going to need a lot more gear.

    I’m not even engaged or married yet and kids are on the very, very distant horizon, but I think that’s an excellent thought. You can do everything you want, it just might take more planning, more time, and more gear.

    But seriously, if someone can go rock climbing 6 weeks after having a kid (and rock climb throughout her pregnancy – she seriously was climbing in the gym 2 days before she gave birth – she had a special harness) then I can manage to keep my relationship strong and do all I need to keep myself sane.

    • Anonymous

      I like this. It reminds me of my riding instructor, who continued to ride 3-5 horses a day up until she was 8 months pregnant!

      • Not Sarah

        My mom went golfing on her due date with me! And she walks the whole course, too. I still find that hilarious. My parents kept making tee times and just figured they wouldn’t show up at the golf course on the day I was born, which is exactly what happened. Granted, my mom didn’t start wearing maternity clothes until she was 5 months pregnant, but that’s still amazing.

  • http://www.koruwedding.blogspot.com/ Koru Kate

    Thank you, thank you a million times over for this post! My hubs & I are on the brink of leaping into the journey towards parenthood. We were on vacation last week & I kept thinking “is this our last adult-only vacation?” I want to enjoy our times of just us before we become a party of three. This post gives me hope that there will be “us” time with a little effort even as a party of three!

  • http://www.stephadamo.com Stephanie F

    I’m actually really curious about this—how does a baby change your sex life, exactly? Not just a newborn, but a toddler, small child, tween or even a teenager? How do you have sex when someone else is always around?

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      they sleep. and bedroom doors can lock.

      also, i feel really comfortable asking my mom/friends, “take him to the park for 2 hours? we need married-time.”

    • Maggie

      One example that sticks with me: “we are usually relegated to quickies in our pantry/coat closet during episodes of ‘Dora’ ”

      (rest of the essay is worth a read: It’s Hot, It’s Sexy, It’s… Marriage! http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2009/07/15/traister_marriage)

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        Holy tacos – that article was AMAZING. I particularly love this part:

        I’m not arguing that people shouldn’t get divorced. I’m all for it. What I’m sick and tired of is divorced people speaking as though they are oracles from the future who know how the rest of our unions will turn out. All the marriage bashing going on out there feels like a way of shedding a certain amount of personal responsibility. By telling the world the institution is flawed, or that we’ve somehow outgrown it, nobody has to own up and admit that it was their interpretation of it that was screwed up.

        Sigh. I just love people who make sense.

    • Fenn

      There are many reasons why your sex life may change. There are emotional reactions to how a woman’s body changes from either partner that can affect how they feel about having sex with the other. There are physical changes that can happen to a woman that can make it difficult or less enjoyable to have sex. These often fade postpartum but it’s possible to have long lasting changes. There are physical changes that can happen that affect the way a man or woman feels when having sex with the other. There is also a lot of emotional upheaval during and after the pregnancy, a lot of schedule changes, and even unexpected attitudes toward having sex while a child is in the house.

      Pregnancy is a big deal and can bring on a variety of changes in a variety of ways and can affect either partner in a marriage. Often times, children bring on unasked questions about lifestyle that demand immediate answers. There’s just a lot of LIFE that happens, and all of this can affect the sex.

      And then again, sometimes it’s not affected at all. It really just depends.

  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

    I think someone at Jezebel must read this site – this just popped up this afternoon.

    http://jezebel.com/5826937/isnt-having-a-baby-supposed-to-cramp-your-style

  • SpaceElephant

    Wow, babies really bring out the crazy in the comments don’t they? Not that the commenters themselves are crazy, but that the tone and pitch of all the comments are a little more… tense and strained. The transition from wedding blogs to mommy blogs is NOT going to be an easy one, and I am glad I am putting it off for at least a few years to possibly forever.

    Meg, thank you for the consistent reassurance that this is not a parenting blog. It’s a wedding/marriage blog and so parenting comes up every once in a while. And this is that once. In a while.

    That being said, Liz, thanks so much for the series. As someone directly on the fence about kids for a number of different fears and concerns, I really appreciate the candid writing and the reassuring tone.

    • Anon

      I agree with the “tense and strained” bit; lately it seems like every time I read the comments it’s full of cattiness and tension! Wonder what the deal is? Maybe because it’s wedding season. ;)

      • meg

        I wouldn’t say everytime… we have some pretty rad commenters (and there were some amazing conversations today, amidst some tension. And big issues do cause tension). But if and when you do see a catty comment, that’s what the “report” button is for. Let me know and I’ll take it down. We don’t like cattiness around here!

  • http://downtomysoul.wordpress.com downtomysoul

    I love Liz’s blog.

    Life is what you make of it. I liked Marcela’s points on mindfulness. My son will be two in a month. He was an “unexpected” addition (albeit a much loved bundle of love and unbridled joy). Life CAN be tough, so can marriage and babies, how that experience works out for you depends on your outlook. It’s kind of the WHOLE point! My son is my teacher. Since his birth I have grown more as a person than I ever thought possible and I am nothing but grateful for that. Same goes for our marriage. I’m not sure when and if I would have learnt these lessons in life if not for our son. The thought that I could have gone through life as the person I was *before* just makes me even more thankful for who I am and what I have now.

    After a night of little sleep my son just brought me (assisted by my husband) toast and tea in bed and we just had a massive tickle fight, I can still hear him giggling downstairs. Overseas travel, expendable income, a clean house, new shoes, none of it competes, even comes close, to the happiness we have here, right now. Because this is how our life is and it’s how it’s meant to be.

    Life with or without kids isn’t better or worse it’s just DIFFERENT. But if you do want kids just jump in and do it, don’t agonise over the what ifs.

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  • L

    Thanks for this post! It’s nice to hear the antidote for all the doom and gloom we usually hear about babies and marriage.

  • Cassandra

    I come from a slightly different perspective, but with the same message. I have a daughter who is almost 8, and the Boy came into our lives well after she made her appearance. He’s never known me without my daughter, and our relationship has, since we decided to become serious, always been built on the principle of being a family together. I can’t say what our relationship would be without a child, but I think that having my daughter in our lives has really enriched and strengthened our relationship in many ways. She’s the light of my life, and it delights me to see the bond the Boy has developed with her; I feel more in love with him every minute I watch them together. There are difficulties and challenges in parenting, and in learning to co-parent after having been a single mother, but the difficult moments (her having a bit too much attitude, not enough time to get things done in the midst of taking care of her, not as much time alone as we might want) are far overshadowed by the realisation that we’re in this *together*.

    For those worried about the post-baby stage – it does get difficult (although for mine it wasn’t terrible twos but more the four/five age that was awful) but it is, for the most part, about knowing your child and learning how to parent them to the best of your abilities. Children are a reflection of how they’re raised, and love, respect, and reason go a long way toward raising a loving, respectful, and reasonable child (and adult, I hope). I never wanted children, and continue to this day to really dislike other people’s kids (as did my mother, who only ever liked her two kids until her granddaughter came along), but my daughter is my favourite person in the world. There are days where she exasperates me and where I am counting the minutes until bedtime, but the better days come more often, and they are filled with so much laughter and story-telling and reading and learning and love. I loved my daughter as a baby and a toddler (definitely the easiest years) but being the mother of this amazing, growing and changing, little girl is the best experience of my life, and one I never imagined having. Sharing the experience with the Boy is even more awesome.

  • april

    My husband and I are not planning to have children. We love and adore our nephews, friends’ kids, and I am particularly weak in the knees when babies are around; such darling creatures! But children and parenting were never part of our big plan…and we’re happy with that choice.

    But I read Liz’s post earlier today, and a bell went off inside me. It made me realize that being a parent AND having a smokin’ hot marriage is possible. That for all the sacrifice and exhausting moments, there are sweet moments for the couple; after all; “family” started with the two. Even if children are not what me and my hubs want, it’s great to know there are couples out there creating their families but still nurturing their own personal relationship together; babies aside.

    What Liz shared was so beautifully written (as ALL her posts are ~ she’s a smart lady), and tonight, I read this out to my hubby this evening after dinner, and he was quiet for a minute or two, and then said, “I don’t even know them, but that’s ****ing AWESOME. Good for them.” :-) Indeed.

  • L

    Babies. We keep talking about how soon we can have one even though our wedding is still a month and a half away. I really want a kid, and it’s not in the sense that it “completes” me, but there is this nagging feeling of something going to waste if I don’t get around to it, maybe just on a biological level. To add to the stream of analogies begun yesterday, the way I’ve always described it is that sometimes my body feels like a really expensive piece of equipment that requires a lot of maintenance – like a really awesome power drill or something – that I’ve been making monthly payments on for almost twenty years now. And it would just be such a shame if that power drill just rusted away without ever building something really awesome. (Of course, other times, it feels like my body is an efficient machine built specifically for delivering maximum pleasure impulses to my brain, so I could just be misinterpreting the whole thing…)

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  • http://onabicyclebuiltfortwo@gmail.com A Bicycle Built For Two

    I think the scariest part of having a child is knowing that no matter how hard you try (and goodness I think everyone here does and will try hard) there is still a 99% chance that in 25 years your child is going to end up on APW commenting on something you said/did/didn’t say/didn’t do that negatively impacted their life.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      yeah, but look how awesome we all are DESPITE that thing our moms said.

  • http://emilyandmartin.us Emily Elizabeth

    For everyone wishing for more baby/mothering discussions, there are many, many other blogs out there that you might enjoy for that purpose. I’ve been reading some blogs that either sometimes discuss being a mom, or are focused on parenting, just because I enjoy reading about these things – I’m not planning on having a baby for a few years yet. Sometimes it’s just good to read, learn some things, and hear some good stories. There are many others out there, but here are some from my reader:

    http://www.girlsgonechild.net/
    http://www.sayyestohoboken.com/
    http://simplemom.net/
    http://www.rookiemoms.com/
    http://www.sweetfineday.com/
    http://www.unrulylittlethings.com/
    http://www.babble.com/ a lot of bloggers seem to post here as well.

    So keep reading APW for the amazing wedding and marriage discussions, and if you feel like reading and talking more about babies and being a mom, try reading some other blogs too!

  • Amber

    I’m going to have to take this post, from someone who has only had a baby for a few months, with a grain of salt. There’s 18 more years (at least) to go through with raising this child and how that impacts her marriage. That’s nice that she likes it so far, but let’s have her come back in, heck, even 5 years and see what she says then.

    • Marina

      My brother and I didn’t ruin my parent’s marriage, after 26 years of parenting and counting. Ta da. *dusts hands* Now we can all stop taking this post with a grain of salt.

    • Anna

      My parents had 5 children and their first pregnancy was a set of twins, while they were building a life far away from their family and friends. 30 years later they are still very much in love. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy and their relationship and love changed very much as our family grew. It wasn’t the same, but nothing in life is constant. Their relationship is a testatment to unconditional love. Love can last. So can passion and contentment.

      Liz I’m so happy you and your baby family are happy. I wish you all the best as your family continues to grow!

  • Fenn

    I was just going to say that I find a car seat under the table is a super great way to bring a baby along. It’s shaded, out of the way, and easy to rock with your foot. So nice, especially when new baby is sleeping as they often do for long periods of time.

    But then I caught a whiff of disagreement, and I just want to say that it’s kind of ridiculous to reply to this post with any negativity. This post was a direct response to the negative comments Liz heard about having a baby, so it seems silly to attempt to counter that with an off-topic reply. Secondly, every situation is different, and life does change, but kids don’t have to ruin your life and your marriage.

    I find that these fear-mongering statements and warnings are often myths perpetuated with baseless rumors and irrelevant advice. Why do we have to make people feel bad about the way life changes? Why can’t we embrace new life and make decisions based on how our lives change as life changes? Why can’t we spend more time spreading positivity and support? There are a million examples of how stuff doesn’t always work out and how hard life can be and how unprepared we can be and how unexpected things can be, but why do we have to continue to hand out fears? How hard is it to be nice and supportive?

    I don’t believe in fear-mongering. I think it’s useless, untrue, and prepares no one for anything. I prefer support and love and helpful, practical advice.

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