How do you know it's the right time for kids when baby fever clouds your mind?

Perfect Couple
By: seanhobsonCC BY 2.0
Okay, so baby fever is hitting me hard, and I don't know how to deal with that. The irrational jealousy I feel when a woman buys a pregnancy test at the pharmacy at work is really upsetting. I try to do a lot of babysitting for family to alleviate the baby cravings.

But since I was about 17, I've craved my own kids. I've been with my partner for three years now, we both have steady jobs, we get along great, and we have just began building our first home which will take 11 months. But what about after that?

How do you know it's the right time for kids when baby fever clouds your mind? -Jo

We've talked a lot about baby fever, usually on the topic of it hitting before you're ready. But what if you can't even see through the siren song of the baby crack to know that you're not ready?

How can you tell the difference between wanting a baby and being ready for a baby?

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  1. Doh.
    Couldn't wait to read all the awesome comments and then realised it's a new article 🙁
    Nice to see OBhome getting into some obfamily type articles! 🙂

    19 agree
  2. Having a kid is like jumping in to a cold swimming pool and baby fever (or at least its milder version, the desire to have a kid) is the heat. Are you wearing your bathing suit? Can you swim? Are you ok with being wet now, knowing that you won't be dry for at least 18 years? Is there a lifeguard, or at least someone swim with you? You aren't going to jump in unless it's hot, but it's almost never so hot that you would jump in to an unattended pool with your clothes on– you can trust that you really do know what's best for you and your family. Whenever you do it, there's going to be some shock and surprise, and some things that you weren't ready for, but if you have the desire and the other things seem ok, it's the right time.

    62 agree
    • oh.. oh my god. This is almost completely perfect.

      I would like to put out there that you also have to evaluate what you need for you versus all the different things.

      To extend the metaphor — are you ok if you don't have the swimsuit, but swim in undies/nothing at all?

      There is never, ever, ever a perfect time to have a child, but you can hit circumstances where you'd feel a child would be least disruptive to your life or that the disruption would be welcome/tolerable.

      3 agree
  3. As someone with a lot of anxiety about a lot of things, what's been helpful to me is realizing that there isn't an exact right time for anything. You will always wish you are more financially stable, that you've traveled more, that you're at a different place in your career — whatever it is that you're hoping to check off before having a baby. If you're waiting for the perfect moment, it may not come… or it may come, and then who knows what life will throw at you after that. Even if you say, "Okay, today is the day that we're ready to be parents," it's not like you can know with 100% confidence you'll get pregnant immediately or have a successful pregnancy. Much as we try, life can't be planned so easily.

    My partner and I aren't trying to have children yet, so I haven't been on both sides of this particular internal debate, but I know it was similar for me with marriage. I felt lots of doubt like, "What if we're too young? What if we haven't been together/lived together long enough? What if I am missing out on _____?" which I think are similar to the doubts surrounding becoming parents. For me, it was a recognition that I will always have some doubts on any side of any decision. I simply have to make the best decision I can make at a particular moment, and commit to doing that decision as best I can day after day. So for having a child, it would be about asking yourself (as an individual person and as a couple) if you can commit to the seriously hard work of caring for a little human every single day, not about whether it is some magical "right" moment.

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    • There is never a right time, but there are more right times than others!

      For me, I try to think about some planful things (living, working, relationally) and then I left it up to the Universe (aka, we didn't wear condoms). I recognize that there are other factors that can determine baby making, so that's not always the case.

      But, for me, it was important to not make the decision to have a kid when I was ovulating or had just smelled a new baby's head. Those would be emotional decisions. I had to make it during a non-hormonal time of the month to know, yeah, this is what I REALLY want. And not just 'ooh shiny thing.'

      1 agrees
      • Yes, very true re: emotional (and new baby smell-motivated decisions). I was having a hard time articulating this the other day, but for us there was a time where it would have been a huge financial hardship and tax on our relationship to get pregnant. We had a more solid birth control situation during that time. Then there was a time where it would have still been financially terrible but our relationship would have been in a better place to tolerate it.

        Now, we recognize that it wouldn't be easy and it wouldn't be part of our plan to become pregnant, but it wouldn't ruin us. Looking at a pregnancy this way is something my first OB-GYN taught me, and it has stuck with me as a useful way of looking at your options for birth control…. So kind of off-topic, but also very much around the same decision.

        1 agrees
  4. I've had baby fever for years, but I finally feel like we're ready. I think a distinguishing factor is being able to plan for the practical challenges, like "how will we afford daycare?" and "how can we secure the fish tank to the wall so a toddler doesn't knock it over?" Now that my husband and I are having those conversations, I think it's a really good sign that we can take the parenting challenges as a team.

    9 agree
  5. People talk about financial security and baby-readiness all the time. It's probably boring info, but important. We had a baby when I was twenty-five, because my uterus was screaming every time my husband interacted with children. We weren't in the best position money-wise, and looking back I'm amazed the whole thing didn't fall apart (we survived on one part-time retail salary). I'm twenty-nine now, and while our finances are in much better shape, I can't see doing it again until we have stronger income stability.

    The other thing in terms of readiness is the support network. For the first eight months of our daughter's life we lived in a town where we had minimal support from friends and family. It was so unbelievably isolating and hard. We moved back to my hometown so we could have better support (and in turn offer the same to my parents) and to improve career opportunities. We now have a close family support, extended family support, and friends. We joined a church and gained a huge community. We're not ready for another child, but I feel so much more confident about the possibility of adding to our family due to our support system.

    8 agree
    • How did you get through those first 8 months? My husband and I live in a city where neither of our parents or families live and moving isn't an option really. My parents are a 4-5 hour flight away and his parents are a 3 hour drive away. There is some discussion about having one set come live with us to help us get through, but we aren't sure that is realistic.

      1 agrees
      • I did that; it worked for me. I live in the middle of the country, my folks are in Alaska and my in-laws are on the east coast, we have no family nearby and didn't have a great support network here. My mom came and lived with us for three months when the baby was born, arriving when the baby was 3 weeks old and I was going back to work. (I was fired and rehired at my job because they "don't need" a maternity leave policy…. and there was "no reason to keep me on contract" while I wasn't working…. which was absolutely fucking brutal)

        Having my mom live with me during a huge and stressful life transition wasn't ideal, but it was the only way to make things work for us. My sister-in-law had her parents (they're retired) both come to her city and rent a little apartment nearby for three months. Her solution was more comfortable for everyone involved, but is also obviously more expensive.

      • In my experience, the first 6 weeks are when you'll really need a lot of help – tiny babies take so long to eat that whoever is doing the feeding will basically have only enough time to feed the baby, pee, and then feed themselves before the baby is awake to eat again. So having someone to cook, do laundry, and hold the baby while mom/dad sleep is really important.

        After 6 weeks, live-in help was no longer critically important for us. Our parents are all far away, so we have focused on creating a support network in our town. It's not as good as local grandparents – no one cares as much about the minutia of our baby as the grandparents – but it's been pretty great so far. Critical in that is connecting with 3 other new parents whose babies are all within 6 weeks of our daughter's age. They get what is going on much more than our childless friends do. Also critical was that my husband and I both work part time from home. So almost always there are two adults around, and we can switch off child care while the other works.

        I desperately wish that my parents lived closer, but it's not in the cards right now for either of us to move, so we are pressing on and making do with what we've got.

      • We had a few survival techniques at our disposal in order to get through the time when we were on our own as parents:

        1. One of my sisters came to stay for the first two weeks. It was amazing to have someone there to help with the household stuff, help me with breastfeeding, and to deal with my in-laws when they got to be too much.

        2. We went back and forth about every month between the city where we were living, and my hometown. This was not always the cheapest thing to do (we lived about two hours apart) but it helped a great deal.

        3. We lived in a fantastic neighbourhood with easy access to shopping, transit, recreation, and libraries.

        4. I went to every baby/parenting group that I could. Story time, parent and tot swims, a waldorf group, a support group, park playdates, everything. Looking back we would have gone to Early Years Centres or Parent and Family Literacy Centres had I known about them at the time (I'm an Ontario resident, but other provinces/states might have similar programs).

        Other things: minimize the extras. If something isn't working out, then don't do it. I was originally going to cloth diaper full time, but we ended up doing it 50% of the time, and that's okay. I dropped out of a couple groups at church because I didn't have the extra energy. Also okay.

  6. Having 4 kids myself, I know what baby fever is like… I think once you get to the point where you are ready to make the commitment, then you will be alright, but you have to understand that it is a commitment and kids don't magically go away, they are yours for at least the next 18 years (or maybe longer, we have a special needs child that will probably be with us for a long time)… you have to ask yourselves if you are ready to give up date nights, time alone, a clean house, eating good, exercise routines, pets, your career…. pretty much anything that is a priority in your life right now will go on the backburner at some point to your kids – sometimes its only for a little while, but sometimes its permanent. You have to ask yourself if you are really ready for that – are you ready to give up what's important to you, even forever if that's what needs to happen? Kids take up a lot more time and attention than pretty much anything else so far in your life and sometimes we don't realize how long 6 months is to go without a date night until you start climbing the walls…. 🙂 But they are wonderful and will bring so much into your life… but yeah, you want to make sure you are ready for the commitment (knowledge ready, financially ready….. those things probably will never be really where you want them to be, but you do need to be committed)… so ask if there is anything in your life right now that you aren't willing to go without for at least 6 months to a year and then judge where you are at… you have time, you and your kids will be much happier if you start when you are ready to really be there…. 🙂

    4 agree
  7. Do you have any close friends/relatives with a very young baby that you could hang out with? Having an infant is really hard work, and while I think it's basically impossible to know what it's like until you do it yourself, spending time with new parents who will tell it like it is will give you an inkling of how much your life is going to change.

    We ended up buying a piece of property when I was 5 months pregnant, and I very much wish that the timing had worked out differently – I just don't have any time to spend over there working with my husband as he builds our house because someone always has to watch the baby (and he has the actual house-building skills…). So I'd recommend trying to time things so you only have one big project (house, then baby) going on at a time.

    In the mean time, have you done any thinking about what kind of pregnancy you'd want to have? If you're interested in stuff like nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, etc, and their effect on the fetus, you could totally start getting your body ready now.

    Also, someone else mentioned having all the baby conversations with your partner. Are you talking to him about your baby fever? Does he feel the same way? My husband was much more clear-eyed about how much our lives were going to change than I was, and so was a useful calming-down to my fever. Another thing you can do while you wait to decide if it's really the right time or not is get all those ducks in a row. Start a baby savings account; figure out what you would do for day care if you got pregnant right now; would you use cloth diapers?; do you guys want to attachment parent? how about cosleep?; go to your OB/midwife and ask how to best get your body ready; assess your support network and solidify your friendships with other parents; go through your house and throw out all the stuff you don't need any more to make room for baby stuff; figure out how much stuff you would really have to buy in the first year and how much it would cost (and maybe start sourcing or making some of it?); research child development; assess how well you do on little sleep and think about how you can improve that; get your career organized – what kind of maternity leave does your job offer? do you even want to go back to work after the baby comes? do you need to change anything to get more flexible hours? are you being the most stellar employee you can be so that your boss wants you to come back? etc, etc.

    I also second all the comments that say there is no ideal time. From your very brief note, other than the fact that your house isn't built yet, it sounds like this might be a pretty ok time for you guys!

    11 agree
    • Your comment is so insightful. It really made me step back and consider a lot of things. My baby fever isn't too bad since I'm getting married in October and have that to focus on. I know that it will kick in HARD after the wedding, though. You armed me with all of the right questions to ask myself and discuss with my future husband. Thank you and best of luck with house/baby!

      2 agree
    • This advice is so helpful betsyohs…so good I think you should submit an article to OffbeatHome!

  8. As someone who is on the other side of this descision (my baby is almost 3 months old), let me tell you: You will never make this decision with full confidence. I turned 30, which was my magical age for Babies. Having recently gotten married and having a husband with a good job and the right sort of mindset, we jumped and got pregnant immediately. And I had secretly been afraid it might take forever. What also helped was the fact that I was BORED, I felt I had experienced all the pleasures of single life before I met my husband and I felt like we were quite through with all the couple-y stuff. We never went out late at night, we had as many city trips as we could handle… I was even bored of my career. So I was not sad to see these freedoms go for a while. And they do go. I was also very open with my husband and we talked frankly of the financial burden but also the burden young children are for a relationship. You will be tired and annoyed and snap at each other. You might not hug and kiss properly in months, because one of you is always holding baby. If you are financially stable, a slight bit bored with couple-life and think your relationship can handle the worstcasebaby and the fact that you might only be "Daddy" and "Mommy" to each other for a while, you are ready for a baby.

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    • This sums it up so, so perfectly. We were in a similar early-30's stable and happy but sorta bored been-there-done-that scenario. Told ourselves we were "so ready" for kids, and even then we were pretty blown away by the extreme lifestyle change and sacrifice. Oh and we got 'worstcasebaby'….he essentially spent three months screaming or breastfeeding. Nobody is EVER 'ready' for that. But you know what? If you enter into it with good intentions and realistic expectations, you can and will get through almost anything.

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  9. I'll preface my comment with this: I don't have, have never had and likely never will have baby fever. Feel free to ignore me.

    I wouldn't go making any huge life decisions while you're having irrational reactions to complete strangers whose circumstances you know nothing about. That's not a healthy place to be making very serious decisions in my opinion. When you can see those people and think "I cant wait for that to be me" and not any permutation of "that's not fair, why her/them and not me?" I think that's when you've got a grip on your emotions and can make an informed decision

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    • I disagree that this is an irrational reaction. While I do agree about the unknown of other people's lives, I think it's a normal reaction for someone who's always desired a baby/child/children.

      Wanting something very strongly is a good reason to make a decision for it.

      We have a 4 and 19 month old. Life is very hard right. We're also thinking about trying for a third shortly. We want a big family and we also want to get out of the baby/toddler phase asap. This means that the next 5 years are going to be brutal!! They already are!! Lol!! We're on my husband's income, we just bought a house and are about to take out another loan to replace our recently damaged car. Rice and pasta are our staple foods.

      The point is, we value and prioritise these things far more than travel, a fulfilling career (though it's still enjoyable and stable), a nice car (just reliable please), a higher quality of life, etc.

      We make all sorts of emotional decisions and this is one of them 🙂

      8 agree
  10. My husband and I have been talking about kids, and all our friends with kids tell us that there never is a perfect time to have kids–something is always going to be off. You just do and make it work. When we first got together, we didn't want kids. Then right after our wedding, I had some health issues that could have prevented me from having kids at all, and that whole ordeal kind of changed our minds about the kid thing. I don't have baby fever, but I feel the pressure that my time is running out. My doctor keeps telling me that with my previous health problems and my age (34) sooner would be better. We live comfortable as two, but a child would put a strain on us financially. Plus, we've been saving for a house, and I don't know if that'd be possibility if we had a kid. So we're still feeling torn.

    1 agrees
  11. My best advice is to have a serious talk with your partner about when you want to have a baby. First, this will bring everything out in the open if you've been previously keeping your baby cravings private/secret. Second, you need another perspective on this – one who understands your situation intimately and will be living the reality with you. Your partner can listen to your feelings and concerns and say things like "I can work overtime for 6 months to give us a good nest egg," or "Maybe we should wait until you get your degree," or "Fuck it, we'll make it work." And you'll know that those things are coming from a place of understanding and love. Talk about the pros and cons. Talk about your feeeeelings. Talk about biology and hormones and IUDs and whatever else you need to. And then come to an agreement on roughly when you want to start Project Baby, whether that's in a year or a month or a decade. Then LIVE THE SHIT OUT OF YOUR LIFE until it's time to pull the trigger. Drink cocktails! Stay out late with friends! Do things that will be harder or more expensive or irresponsible when you have a squalling infant to care for.

    For my husband and I, the process went something like this. I talked with him about hormones and feelings, and he expressed some hesitation. We agreed to start trying after our 1-year anniversary. I prepped with reading and visiting the doctor and all that good stuff, and we took two awesome trips that would be completely impractical – nigh impossible – if we had a young'n. We started trying when we said we would, and now we're expecting a baby and super happy about it. So that's my advice – talk. Talk and talk and talk, about everything and nothing, and take the plunge together when you're ready enough to deal with whatever comes your way.

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  12. I am going to jump on the opposite of what everyone is saying. We got pregnant, on purpose when living in a share house and I was studying. Lots of people screamed about it being a bad time. We moved into our own house 6 days before bubs was due. My son is nearly 4 now and we are going stronger than ever. Me and my partner both took a year off working full time after he was born and picked up odd jobs to keep the bills paid. It was the greatest year of out lives and I wouldn't change a thing.

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  13. I'd just like to add to what a lot of people have mentioned about it not being just a "baby" thing, that this is a commitment for the next 18 years… no, it's actually a commitment for life. Your child will always be your child, no matter how old either of you are. When I became a mother I understood so much more about my own mother, and our relationship, and I am continuing to understand how parent/child relationships grow and evolve long past the formative years of living together (and today, that can oftentimes be well into young adulthood). I'm 36, happily married with 2 kids, our own house, and we're fairly independent… but I still rely on my parents for some things, and they can rely on me and my husband as well. There is no end to this relationship. And that's a good thing.

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    • Thank you for saying this. We can never know where the future may lead and I do believe parenting is a lifetime commitment. It's one of the things I clash with my dad about actually. He seems to think that parenting has an "end date", so when I graduated college and had to move home (thank you 2008 economic crash), he almost didn't let me come home. I get wanting your kids to be independent ONE DAY, but that one day is going to be different for different people and in different circumstances.

      I think it's also important before having children to realize that when they become adults, they may not want you in their lives. So while you commit "for life", they do not have to. We've discussed on this site many times how important it is to draw boundaries for parents and other relatives and one day our children will be those people who need to draw boundaries with us.

      6 agree
  14. Honestly I don't think there is ever a right time.
    I'm 25 and a Mum of two.

    We have been well off financially and also so poor we could barely afford to eat never mind much else, and then back to comfortably okay again. All over the last 6 years. And it's been onehell of a ride but worth every second. And every single time the kids have come first. No question.

    Being a parent is pretty much deciding to say 'i am not the most important now, neither is my other half, that little bundle of joy is the one thing in the world that we need to protect at all cost'

    Yes it's hard, have you ever met a kid?! They are feisty little things. Throw in unsuspected 'things' into the mix like our youngest multiple food allergies, and it gets harder. But by God it's worth it. Just one smile can make everything melt away.

    Children are the the best and most challenging thing you will ever do in your entire life. But waiting forever to be 'ready' is pointless. No one is ever completely ready for every momentous thing that comes from starting a family. No one is ever prepared for morning sickness, or being the size of a whale, or labour or sleepless nights, or the fact that their first smile will make you cry, every little thing they do to make you proud your heart feels like it is about to burst.
    Nothing is EVER GOING TO BE AS PERFECT as holding your newborn in your arms. Nothing at all.

    3 agree
  15. I am in the midst of a nasty divorce and all of a sudden my biological clock is ticking VERY loudly. Ugh.

    1 agrees
  16. Is anyone ever really "ready" to have a baby? I have years of experience working with children and families and I know when I decide to get pregnant that some of that experience will mean a whole lot of nothing. I am grateful for my experiences, but I don't know what its really like to be pregnant and have a baby in my life. I don't want to assume anything either. Because of my experience, when I go to baby showers and have to pick out gifts, I hate buying bottles for the future mom and baby because I've seen a lot of moms end up hating the bottles they originally picked out. That's just a silly, simple example. Obviously, bottles may be necessary if you aren't breastfeeding or even if you are.

    I think if you are in a relationship to talk to your partner about your wants. And if you really want a baby and you're single, then you really need to research about being a single parent to see if you're up for it. Also, looking into how much its going to cost overall is a great way to tell if you're ready. Babies need lots of stuff. Figuring out what "type" of parent and parenting skills you want to use is also good preparation.

    I am currently in baby fever mode. It sucks. I am recently engaged, so eventually we will be figuring out the whole wedding and honeymoon events. Also, I'd like to already live in a house. So I know I am not baby ready no matter how much I want one. And it blows.

    1 agrees
  17. Just thought I'd chip in with a perspective pretty much opposite to all of these. A couple years ago I went through about three months of baby fever and it was the weirdest most uncomfortable three months ever because I have never wanted children. Like really really. During that time I read pretty much the entire archive of home/families over a couple months then after digesting it all decided to tell my partner what I was going through saying that if he wanted to talk about that at any time we should do that.
    He'd been in no doubt the previous 5-6 years of how not up for debate me not having children was. I kind of expected him to jump on it but he didn't, so we never discussed it again and not long after I just stopped thinking about it which was a relief to me!

    What I took as a conclusion from that whole experience is that for me, the question came down to do I want to share my life with someone, like are we living the dream- any dream, and would it be cool to have someone join the team, to teach them what we know like how awesome lord of the rings is? And see them grow up etc. And I almost thought I would for a while there because we do have good lives I think. But then the reality of all the hard stuff set in and the other reasons I've never wanted to go there, which well outweighed it for me.
    And the other thing is good comms which others have already talked about. I needed time to figure out what was happening in my head but I may not have stewed and freaked out for so long if I'd discussed it earlier.
    Hopefully you're on the same page already but definitely if you have trouble bringing it up or discussing at this stage then making decisions together might be a challenge. Also do make sure you've got a plan for anything else you really want to do, before or not. I grew up being resented for getting in the way of my mother going travelling which sucks

    I think that we have a remarkable ability to step up and meet challenges we would never say we're ready for. As long as you have enough financial stability and enough support network as feels comfortable for you, then I would guess that's the main thing. After that it's just figuring out how you both want to share your life, what stages and all that because we change as we age. Find and understand your balance between 'doing parenting', and watching your person become a person and grow into their life.

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