Yes, Baby?

Eons ago (it does seem like eons now), I had written this post about how there seemed to be certain default variables in our society, that determined whether a couple was ready to have a baby. Mind you, these are not variables that the couple uses to take a call as big as this – these are sensible reasons that are usually offered to them, free of charge, unasked for, by their well-wishers. Surprisingly, there seem to be no default variables to define if they are ‘not’ ready to have a baby. For that, being a married couple is enough, and the rest will fall in place, magically. Because isn’t it to procreate that a man and woman decide to get married in the first place?

Ahem. No would be the answer. No. Even if you are going aww at the sight of every baby stroller in sight, and all your friends are continuously sharing pictures of their ‘cute little ANGLE’ (true story, by the way). Even if your biological clock is ticking away and your mom and your husband’s mom and the neighbor’s mom and his cat’s mom are reminding you of it every day, no. Unless, you have thought through and discussed and solved and are able to counter all of the variables that say no, you’re not ready to have a baby.

Because dude, let me tell you this – babies are hard work, and responsibility, and they cost you time and money. Yes, money. Now the pro-baby brigade might go all – ‘How can having a baby be a financial decision, it’s an emotional decision, love is all that matters’. Yes, love is all that matters, but when you are in a financial rut and unable to provide the luxury that you once dreamt of for your child, trust me; it won’t be the best of feelings. So question one, are you in a position to maintain the sort of lifestyle you always hoped you would, after having the baby as well? If yes- great. If not, and you’re ok with it, great again. But if you haven’t thought of it, think.

Question two, what sort of a lifestyle do you have now? If you are the spontaneous, carefree sorts, you might want to remember that having a baby will change that. I’m not saying that you will stop partying, stop traveling, and stop the road trips, no. But will you be able to decide at midnight that you want to embark on a 12 hour drive at 4 AM? Probably, but you will need to consider things like – oh but by 4 baby wouldn’t have done her potty so should be leave at 5 when she would be done? Or, if we leave at 4, will we reach a place with food joints by 7, because baby needs food at 7. Or, have we packed enough diapers, and water, and milk and wipes? Small things, but you will need to plan them. If you have thought of it, perfect. If you think you need a few more impromptu pub-hopping nights before you get to the ‘Can we have one of the grandparents manage her on Saturday night, next week, so we can go have a drink?’, take your time.

Questions three and this is for women with jobs and careers that they want to continue with – What’s your plan for the baby once maternity leave is over? Because it gets over, in a blink, and you’re left with this tiny bundle that needs to be fed every 2 hours, and hormones that are all over the place and that will make you wonder if you’re being selfish thinking of anything other than the baby. So when the baby is 3 months old, or 6 (if you’re lucky), who is going to manage the baby while you are away?

In our Indian households, the first answer is ‘my parents or his’. And you’re lucky if you have that option. I did, and I went to work without a worry until my baby turned 10 months old, very peaceful, and aware that her grandmother was there with her. Because in my case, my mother-in-law was pretty clear that she would manage the baby until she was 10 months old, and was actually looking forward to it. The point here is, it’s ok to depend on your parents, but it is not ok to think they are obliged to manage your baby, because let’s face it, it’s your baby, you chose to have it. So do you have a back-up plan? Because honestly, our parents will never say no to taking care of their precious grandkids. But to hold them to it wouldn’t be the nicest thing to do. Also, I personally feel that our parents have every right to deny being full time baby sitters ‘cos they have done their duty with us, and it’s our turn now. I had a friend complain to me about how her friend’s ‘mean mother-in-law refused to take care of her kid and so her friend had to quit her job’. To which my only question is – who did you have the kid for? For your Mom-in-law? If yes, are you frigging kidding me? And did she say she will manage the baby full time and back out? If yes, hard luck girl, you should have planned better.

So again, do you have a plan? Are you ok with a full time nanny managing the kid alone at home? Are you confident she won’t have the TV running soaps the whole day ensuring your kids have an early addiction to the idiot box? Or are you ok with a day-care? And not worried that the children might catch infections and illnesses more often because of all the other kids? Or did you always know that you might have to quit work for the baby? As long as you have thought it through and are convinced, there’s nothing to worry about. The problem arises when you think things will automatically happen as they are supposed to. They don’t.

Which is why I admire folks who have 2 kids and are managing everything perfectly, happy with their decisions, just as much as I admire folks who are pretty damn clear that they aren’t having a baby because they are not cutout/ready for it. Atleast you have your priorities clear. Very often, I come across older relatives, family friends, who are depressed that their child has chosen to not have a child of their own, because it seems so wrong. And every time, I sit and explain to them that wrong would be when they have a child because they are supposed to, and not because they want to, and that would be a bigger wrong. No point in looking back and regretting a decision as big as bringing a whole new person to this world and not being able to handle the change.

I have even been asked, rather accusingly, how I could support these folks who are ‘denying themselves and their parents this natural phenomena of procreation’, when I myself chose to have a child at the “right” time. And the answer is, when we chose to have Zo, we were pretty damn clear about how it would change things, how we would manage things, and our back up plans. In fact, I was prepared for a baby much earlier, but I chose for ‘us’ to be prepared before we went ahead. We are lucky folks who have more ‘us’ time than most couples we know because of our parents’ support, but as I keep saying, that’s a luxury we enjoy for as long as we have it. And that we need to be prepared to handle everything sans the luxury, if the need arises. Yes, like boring old people, we make ‘if-then-else’ plans.

Thing is, babies are awesome, and babies are also responsibility for life. I personally believe (and I have said this before here I’m sure) that I did not know what responsibility meant until Zo was born. So if you want to have kids -2, 3, 4 a whole dozen, go ahead. But know what’s coming up, atleast to some extent. And if you think it is going to be tough for you to manage even one, ensure that you don’t succumb to pressure. If you think you need time to decide, take it – the biological clock doesn’t matter as much as the mental clock does.

Eventually, what matters is that you know what you are doing, and that you’re happy with it.


17 thoughts on “Yes, Baby?

  1. 🙂 hmmm ok right, points taken 🙂

    I find it weird when people have a say in everything , so now i have a way to get over it , each time someone says anything to me , I send the ma message saying I need some help, I need immediately 3-4 lakh rs. and i will return them soon.. surprisingly all these do gooders and my Well wishers are not seen that much 🙂

    hello How are you 🙂

  2. THIS.
    Thank you for being a parent and writing these reasonings. It doesn’t sink in deep enough for some when child-free people say it, it comes across as being defensive and making excuses. Some even blame us for being selfish (!) or lazy (!!!).

    Care-giving, lifestyle alterations, financial commitments, emotional availability are all perfectly valid grounds to arrive at a decision. I wish more people were as rational!

    1. When someone decides something big like this, you’d assume they have a reasoning behind it, being adults? But I have seen the most sensible folks say this – selfish. Really? Selfish is bringing in a child into the world and not being happy. I also have Grandparents say ‘ But we can take care of the child right!’ Yes, because the parents are baby production centres, right? Anyhow, I just hope and pray people stick to what they decide, because the biggest mistakes can be made under pressure 😦
      Thanks Divz! I’m just happy the point got across.

  3. Hi Di,
    Although these are valid points, people just dont seem to get the rationality behind them. People still think having baby as soon as they got married is the norm. My mother is hinting for a second one as my first one turns 2. I had her when ‘we’ were ready at 30. And ‘we’ have decided that one is enough. So I am deaf right now 😉
    I don’t think I owe it to anyone else to explain my decision to have or not to have child(ren). Even if that is our own parents. I feel that it is an extremely personal thing. I wonder if the forcing parents/relatives/neighbors understand that they are actually asking the couple to have more unprotected sex 😀

  4. I get what you are saying. The thing is, having a baby was a default repercussion of being married till sometime ago. The question was when. Now there being more and more folks for ‘never’, I think the elders have gotten a bit more open to the idea of a delayed baby, in place of no baby! 😀
    That being said, I agree, it is a ‘we’ decision, solely based on what you and the husband think. And it becomes SO tough to explain to the parents, and other unrelated members of society, why that is an absolutely valid proposition – to keep it between just the couple.

  5. Amen sister.

    I still haven’t let the baby (2.3 years.. lol) stay with anyone but my mother or my mother-in-law. If I didn’t have that option, I would never have had a baby. The husband and I don’t leave our 3 year old fur-baby with strangers, why would we trust anyone with our gullible human baby.

    And I completely get the financial aspect. We spend so much money on our lil guy and we always justify it as “we couldn’t have this, let him”.

    In general, procreation is such a personal topic and let’s be honest pregnancy & having a baby is not a pleasant journey either. Nobody should have an opinion except the couple planning to raise the baby.

    1. Exactly. It just makes so much sense to discuss and decide on things like this because accept it, they are life changers. It can’t be an impromptu let’s just do it everyone is by default anymore. And if someone has priorities other than raising the little attention seekers, who is anyone to question them?

  6. I am not married. I don’t have a baby. But I think about the future and try to imagine myself. From the looks of it, I don’t think I will ever feel ‘ready’ for a baby. What does ‘ready’ feel like? I sort of like cute babies, you know, like watching cute youtube videos and stuff 😛 and talking to my little niece (though she is annoying at times)… but the responsibility is daunting, and the whole pregnancy thing, let me not start on that.

    So I think I should have a baby some time, but not now. But what about the clock? I can’t stop it, right? And getting eggs frozen and stuff…..sounds too high technology.

    All this is so complicated. To have or not to have. And when to have.

    1. Fortunately for us, science has developed enough to render the clock ‘not-as-important’ – I know it’s high technology, but it exists! Makes life simpler for folks who want to sit back, think it through. Frozen eggs is a far away thing, I’m assuming it’s just more sensible to have a baby before we hit 50 😀 Not the coolest of ideas to have a toddler when retirement plans are looming! Also, it might not be everyone’s option, but what stops us from adoption for example?

      Anyhow, my point is, until you feel ready, and you do, trust me, it’s better to take time to decide 🙂

  7. I always thought and believed that having a baby depends upon a couple’s financial, emotional and physical fitness 🙂

    We had Chirpy after 6 years of our marriage, all because we wanted to be sure to take up the responsibility, and yes you guessed it right, we were asked so many stupid questions and were given so many unwanted advises, but we were deaf to it all 🙂

    And with the second one I was pretty sure from Chirpy’s time that I wanted another but the Husby wasn’t and hence we waited and waited and finally had Sibby after 4 years. Last year I had decided that if this time also Husby isn’t sure and ready for the second, I will give up on having a second altogether for my own reasons of my age, age difference between two siblings, my career marks etc.

    We like you have the luxury of having grandmother baby sitting for my kids, but then like you said, we don’t take advantage of this situation where in it feels like we just popped out babies for her, you know! As long as it is balanced, it is all beautiful and that’s how it should remain!

    So yes, it is totally personal choice and a choice that is of both the partners and not unilateral AND most importantly should be clearly thought through, 100 times or more before saying a big Yes 🙂

    1. Phew. I had to read through to confirm that you agree 😀 and I’m glad you do. In the whole “when are you planning on having a baby?” rut, we seem to have forgotten that there might be a “are you planning on having a baby at all?”, all the more relevant these days. All we need to understand is, the answer might be No, and that it might be a sensible, thought of answer.

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