My husband has baby fever and I'm trying to catch it

April 30 2013 | Guest post by Kelly B
MaggieWinters-SilasandDad
Photo by Maggie.

It took me years to convince my husband to propose. The fact that I so shamelessly pushed him into it for so long makes me feel a bit embarrassed. We were young, having met at 19 and 21. Whatever hesitation or procrastination he ever clung to, we both relished wedding planning — we had a big, nontraditional fun-for-all shindig in a meadow with lawn games. Our marriage started five years into the relationship and has rocked our socks off. Considering that the love, sex, and daily life are phenomenal and he was so slow to warm up to settling down, I'm surprised that he wants to rock the boat by bringing in a third person — a baby.

I've been baby crazy for years, and we've always joked about my wanting 500 babies. We've had a few pregnancy "scares" over the years — some at worse times than others — and each time knowing that if this is it, then, well… this is it.

Of course people ask when we'll have kids, and we've pretty much stuck to the "a few years down the road" plan. As I've ranted at times, "I want to enjoy being married for a while! Why do people rush to become a moms and dads when they're just learning to be husbands and wives?!" So I was slightly overcome when, almost a year and a half into wedded bliss, my husband said that he wanted to have a baby.

The conversation was brief and surreal, and a variety of emotions have swept over me in the weeks since. We have a number of hurdles to get past, including school debt and long-term home plans, before I feel we'd be in a responsible position to start a family. Also, hello? My husband is the one bringing this up? Is he ready before I am? I thought I'd be the one talking him into it. I thought I'd hit thirty and my biological clock would start slamming on my uterus.

I'm also surprised by the amount of trepidation that I feel. I've been thinking about all the negative things I've heard about having kids — that you never feel rested again. That you only get to have sex on a planned basis, and even then it's not any fun. That you lose your whole life and all the fun things in it.

I worry hugely that my parents will both tell me how stupid we are for not waiting (they were 35 and 42 when I was born, and my brother followed a year later), and I work for my dad in a tiny company that will be affected by my absence. I think about my friends with kids, and what so many say: "WAIT TO HAVE KIDS. YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK." I think about the young teller at my bank who describes work as a welcome break from her life as a mom. All that can wait for when I'm a grown-up!

At the same time, thoughts of motherhood — as in, the hormone-fueled pregnancy and baby fantasies — consume me. The concept of my husband thinking about babies proves to be the biggest aphrodisiac for me ever, like nature is saying, "You know you want it…" I feel as a human like I'm just flesh wrapped around a hungry uterus. I obsess over my pregnant friends and those with new babies. I've never felt so aware of my own body — that I am suddenly at a time in my life where I could get pregnant and rejoice seems impossible and thrilling.

In my mind I want to feel like when we do go for it, we'll be gaining everything and losing nothing.

But the excitement about becoming a parent in the foreseeable future seems like almost enough for now, without actually taking the plunge. In my mind I want to feel like when we do go for it, we'll be gaining everything and losing nothing. (As if that feeling will eventually come.) Realistically I know that we'll be losing some things and gaining something even better.

As I look at "Where I am in my life and the world," I marvel at my husband's readiness. To most people, the idea that a 28-year-old married man with the dogs and the garden and the routine wants a baby with his wife would come as less than surprising. That I don't see him as a fatherhood-ready mature adult reflects more, I think, on my self-perception. I've been an adult since about 12 by all accounts, yet I can hardly grasp the reality of being degreed, married, settled, working a real professional job.

The fact may be that he feels the same way, and becoming a father is a means for changing the way he feels about himself. He'll probably be the one to stay home and raise our babies, and he is going to be amazing at it. Maybe he's as ready as he appears to be.

And maybe I'm (almost) ready to join him.

  1. I wish I knew what this felt like. We were both too shocked by pregnancy to ever get the baby making Jonesing. Honestly, it makes me sad knowing that my husband will never come to me with babies on his mind. I'll have to live vicariously through you 🙂

  2. Amazing article! How amazing to have your partner bring up having children, I know I was the one who talked my partner into having them. And once we decided it was a go all at once I felt scared out of my mind, "WE'RE NOT READY!! I have so much I want to do and I won't get to for a really long time if I get pregnant." I had a couple weeks where I would waffle back and forth until it drove my husband crazy 🙂 Then he was the one talking me into it 🙂

    I think what people mean when they say to 'wait, you can't go back,' is really wait until you are ready. Whether that is 25 or 35, if you are not ready then you add a whole bag of complications to what is one of the most fantastic journey's people can have.

    Also our sex life has never been better, 🙂 spontaneous or well planned seductions, parenthood has simply made my desire for my husband ten times what it was. We have sex more now than when we did when we were trying to become pregnant! We are both super surprised about that 🙂

    • Kelly B, thanks for sharing your story — it actually sounds really lovely, the suspense of it. People say there is never a perfect time to have children, and they're right. Baby-having is a profoundly irrational desire, and while we can build logical, sensible aspects into our lives before we try to get pregnant, fate may intervene anyway. For me, trying to get pregnant, the pregnancy itself, and having a baby were part of a humbling but beautiful experience of letting go of control — or acknowledging that I already didn't have control over many aspects of life.

      That said, it is also good to consider that fertility starts tanking around age 35 for most people, though it starts to decrease much earlier than that. Sometimes we assume we can wait 'til we're 40 so we can travel the world, become a CEO, and make an Oscar-winning film before becoming a tired parent. Many people can't, though.

  3. I could have written this post. My husband excitedly shouts "Babies!" whenever he sees something remotely baby related. He wants kids like yesterday. I however am slow to the baby making train. At 28 I feel my clock ticking loud and clear, but I'm still in grad school and work in a research lab that entails a lot of chemicals that I can't handle while pregnant. I don't plan on leaving the field so it will always be an issue, I'm just not sure if it's an issue I want to face right now.

    My mom recently said "Hun you'll never have enough time or money. Your house will never be clean enough, and your job will never be accommodating enough. Just do it when you and he are ready." So I'm trying to figure out if I'm ready….or if I'm just accepting that he is?

    • I just want to pipe up here and say that lab stuff can be dealt with. With my first, I was able to trade programming and other tasks for chemical-intensive ones; with my second, I was writing my thesis during the early weeks, and now at 15 weeks and successfully defended, I'm back on the division-of-labor plan.

    • I'd like to add what AllisonC says to this, the lab stuff can be dealt with. I work in an industry lab and there are plenty of things I shouldn't work with. Workplaces are a lot better now about dealing with pregnancy. Keep yourself informed, you should be able to continue to do most lab work and get assisted for lab work that you shouldn't do.

      The only thing is you may have to "declare your intentions" so to speak of trying to conceive. I had to do that here (generally privately), and make people aware of my intent because some of the chemicals I used to work with were potentially dangerous from day 1. Be informed, but you should still be able to do research.

  4. That time where you'll gain everything and lose nothing will never come, because you'll lose your child free life. My husband and I can no longer sleep in on the weekend and then plan our adventures for the day. My son cannot fall asleep without nursing, so that means no going out at night at all for me right now. Because I am staying home we have very little money. For us it is so, so worth it. Our son is this amazing, joyful person and I am far happier now than before. Our family is better with him in it. And as he grows we will go on adventures with him. I think it's a matter of figuring out when the pros outweigh the cons. Good luck on your journey!

  5. Sex: Trying to get pregnant can be stressful for your sex life. We spent too much time worrying over babies to have fun. But now that our son is seven months old, while we may not have sex quite as much as we did as newlyweds and sex was always good, it's better.
    *ahem*
    noticeably better.

  6. Let me share with you my personal mantra. It's saved my life, and it is so true…

    They never said it would be easy…they said it would be worth it.

    And it is. Every minute of it. And this from someone who never wanted kids and accidentally got pregnant 1 month into my marriage (dated for 8 years!). Your life changes, absolutely. But it was so worth it.

  7. Thank you for writing this. My husband and I have been together for almost 8 years, and we're now starting to think about having a baby. But I am terrified of all the things I've heard, like you have, about lack of sleep, and people saying your life is over for the next 18 years.

  8. Yay this! I spent a bunch of time in this mental state – the more real it got, the more I thought about how new parenthood would be limiting. But we took the "long slow decline into birth-control negligence" road to parenting, so the decision was ultimately made for us by a broken basal body thermometer and our own carelessness. Which I'm really, really happy about in the end – if we hadn't been basically ready, I don't think we would have been so sloppy with birth control. It meant some major changes (moving out of our awesome communal warehouse) in the short term but I'm thrilled with how things turned out.

    Right now I'm totally digging the relatively-young (he was born just after 27th birthday) parenthood thing. I have a great community that's been really supportive, even though most of them don't have kids (and a lot of them don't plan to). We're staying in more now (with a six-month-old) but it's getting easier to go out, and we're planning to make it to burning man again this year (my mother in law is babysitting for a couple days).

    Plus I'll be forty-five when he finishes highschool. FORTY-FIVE. I can have an entire travelling-the-world madcap lifestyle after forty-five. It'll be great!

    • Ha. Your story about the "long slow decline into birth control negligence" totally reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about how both of us want babies in the near future, but we also both just want it to happen by accident so that the decision is effectively made for us. There's something about actually, actively MAKING such a life-changing decision that is absolutely terrifying and tends to make us put on the breaks. But if it "just happened," we're in a place where we'd be happy about it. Funny how our brains work.

      • That's basically exactly the method that led to our "accidental" pregnancy. I was so happy to be able to claim "unplanned!" to the oh-so-many people who asked. Somehow it relieved me of some of the responsibility and perceived judgment. Given that I submitted this post the day before our "accident" occurred, it's probably obvious that I was excited but ambivalent about the actual *decision*. *Deciding* to become parents was perhaps scarier to me than the idea of actually becoming. And don't get me wrong– that part's scary too!

  9. Right here with you! I had baby crack several years ago, and still do. But now that my husband is all "BABIES!" I'm the one putting the breaks on. Good to know we're not alone.

  10. I'm 43 and my husband is 51. We were told we couldn't get pregnant. I thought I was going through menopause…. and that's when I found out we were pregnant, 4 years into our marriage. I'm happy that we had the time before without children, but I feel incredibly blessed with our little boy. There's a path for you and the most important thing is to enjoy every step of the moment.

  11. As a follow-up to this article, the stars aligned the very day after submitting this 5 months ago, and I got pregnant! So, unbelievably, we have a baby on the way in a few short months. My husband and I are both ecstatic, and it all feels completely surreal.

    • hey, congratulations! welcome to the wild ride. one thing people forget to mention: having kids is FUN. so you're not going to sleep for a few years. there will be stinky poops and feeding problems and stuff. you'll survive because there'll be so much awesomeness to inspire you…

  12. I love this post so much. Last night, my husband and I were talking about our upcoming wedding (we eloped but having a wedding in August). I told him I bet money on people asking when we would start having kids at the wedding reception. He replied, of course they will. We had a long and tearful (on my end) conversation about my fears on having kids. He wants to be a stay-at-home dad really bad but says he'll be supportive if I decide I don't want that. He wants me to make a decision by wedding time so we're on the same page when talking about kids to friends and family. But I really don't know if I want kids. Somedays I think yes, somedays I think no way. Having a kid is so permanent and that terrifies me…I wish my answer could just be "I don't know..we'll see what happens" but he's not happy with that answer. Sometimes I wonder if I should just say no kids and then if I decide one day that I want to then we can discuss it then. I cry all the time thinking about it.

    • kristin, that sounds so hard. when my fiance and i went through a version of this, we had the help of a couples counselor, which totally helped.

      for us, the issue exemplified what marriage is really about. love means compromising, and melding your life to someone else's means having to accept change as time passes. marriage is a way of saying, I trust our love, strength, communication skills, and our passion for each other's true inner being. marriage isn't a way of sewing up the future — we have no idea what the future holds, no matter how we plan for everything. we don't know how we might each change as individuals as the decades roll along. unexpected stuff happens, uncertainty is a reality.

      putting off a wedding isn't such a bad idea, either, if such huge issues are in the swing. the wedding sounds like it's making a fake deadline for making one of life's most enormous decisions (especially if it's mainly about what to tell the relatives! it's not their life, it's yours!). counseling. time. patience. compromise. find time for them before busting out with the cake and dress, maybe?

      in our case it worked out. we each tried really hard to sacrifice our own desires so that the other would be happy. for years, we didn't have kids. now we're both very happy with our child, even though only one of us originally wanted to try for a pregnancy.

  13. My man has been wanting kids since some of his siblings started having their own kids (about 16+ years ago). He discussed with me about his baby fever about 1 month into our relationship and of course I wasn't ready to think about it right then because I was still a teenager focused on graduating from high school.

    Then I turned 19 – during the second semester of my freshman year in college and a time when a couple of women I knew personally were expecting their first children. It was approximately around this time that the baby fever REALLY hit me hard. I will admit, it was slightly painful watching these women have their kids so soon and me still being in school at the time knowing that it would/will be a long while before I could/can be realistically and economically prepared enough to provide for any children.

    Sadly for me and my man, this longing pain has been growing more and more painful as we have watched and continue to watch more and more people we know personally have their little ones. The good news is that we're finally on the same page about this issue and the baby fever is one of several things that has made our relationship stronger.

  14. One thought about the wait-till-you're-older thing… On one hand, I totally agree with enjoying being a couple and waiting a few years for kids. I married at 21 and had a baby at 28, and I'm so glad we waited that long… and in retrospect, I only wish I'd done more crazy kid-impractical things before we had our daughter! At the same time, having kids is not a constant state, it's an ever-changing state… having a 1.5 yr old, now, is a totally different ballgame than an infant, and both are fun in their own way. We can easily do things now (like have fun at the beach or playground, take hours away from our daughter, work on a hobby while she is happily working on her own stuff next to her) that were unthinkable a year ago, and in another few years we'll be able to do all kinds of things as a family that are tough now. Having kids (or more precisely, being done having new babies) relatively young also means that you enjoy life-after-kids relatively young, with the added bonus of ha

  15. Baby fever for me is a transient, insidious thing that hits out of no where, absorbs my whole being for a time (varied and sometimes brief) and then just …. disappears. I m now 20 weeks into baby number 3 and I keep looking down going "Oh….where did you come from? O_o" as if my womb will explain how it managed this thing. I think making goals and achieving them is so good for you, your family, and the beginning of growing it … but I also have the intense urge to pop out with, there will never be the PERFECT time and that is ok. When it feels right for you, stress less on what you haven't accomplished yet and more on the fact that you are emotionally ready for a small human.

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