“I’m at that awkward age where half my friends are engaged and having babies and the other half are too drunk to even find their phones.”
This pretty much sums up where I’m at in life currently. I’m bordering on needing to consider that squeamish idea that I’m actually an adult now (Ugh!) whilst still desperately trying to hold onto the ‘carefree, no responsibilities, party animal persona’ of my teenage years, where I can simply fluff around in life with the mental assurance that everything will sort itself out, because someone else (Eg. My parents) will fix it. What beautiful years they were.
But now, friends, girls I went to school with and even my younger sister are all pregnant or have recently given birth to their first child and I’m left so confused as to when we took the steps from adolescents to adults. Apparently it happened and no one thought to tell me, or I was busy doing other important things… Like eating.
It has nonetheless, all started to get me thinking, ‘Should I be considering having a baby?’ (I’m sure my boyfriend just started hyperventilating.)
But how do you even know if you’re ready to have a baby? Are there any distinguishable signs? Will I just have a feeling? When should you start planning to fall pregnant? Does anyone really know? Should I even be thinking about this yet?!
So I called on someone that might know. Introducing, ‘The Young Mummy.’ Sophie Shaw is 23 years old from Melbourne, a very good friend and former roomie. We lived with Sophie and Jaryd for what feels like forever but was actually about six months when we lived in Melbourne. One night after a football function, we were all sitting on the couch (If it was anything like our usual nights, we were probably eating a few blocks of Crunchie chocolate and watching either Suits or some horrific scary movie that they would all bully me into watching) and with the world’s biggest smiles on their faces they told us they were expecting.
Fast forward nine months and we were walking in to meet Soph and Jaryd’s baby for the very first time. I was being completely hyperemotional and ordering myself not to cry. As we entered the room my eyes were blurry and glassy and I was like a kid in a candy store… I was SO EXCITED for them and the adorable little human sleeping in the corner and we congratulated them and engaged in the kind of ‘You’ve just had a baby,’ small talk that friends do. Then about 10 minutes into our visit, shit got real (Pardon my expression). These two are friends you can count on to not sugarcoat a-single-thing and all of a sudden I was watching reenactments of Sophie’s epidural and the birthing process, listening to vivid explanations of the pain and looking at photos of Sophie’s placenta (Told you. No sugar coating.) Whatever we wanted to know, they told us quiet happily and very honestly. So I walked into the hospital on the verge of tears trying to tell myself not to cry with happiness, and I walked out a lovely shade of white, thinking I was never, ever going to do that.
Let it be known, I LOVE kids. I could spend hours on end with my partner’s nephews, but with Bobby it’s different. If I’m holding him I get incredibly nervous and I think it’s because it’s Sophie and Jaryd. This little being belongs to them and that makes it real. They’re about our age, they were the couple we used to drink and dance with until early hours of the morning and go out for Japanese with and eat Crunchie chocolate with and play stupid pranks on… And I think knowing that they were our age and basically in the same situation as us, it was quite confronting. This little cute ball of love could be ours just as it is theirs and to me, that made the possibility of pregnancy and being a parent seem like a possible reality.
Soph, what was your reaction when you found out you were pregnant?
It was exciting. Surreal. Probably not the reaction most 22 years olds have when they find out they’re expecting, but it was something I’d wanted for so long, I was in shock – but in a good way. Being told at 17 I was infertile due to an ovary condition… Well I’m like every woman, when they’re told they can’t have something they want it even more, and having a partner who was so paternal and wanted to be a young dad helped just a bit! People ask if we were trying, I wouldn’t say yes but we definitely weren’t doing anything to prevent it. Deep down we wanted it so bad but yes it’s still a nice big reality hit when it does happen.
Do you think at that moment, you and Jaryd were ready?
What I’ve learnt is that no matter how old you are, I don’t think anyone is really ready for their first child. You have have all your doctors appointments in check, nursery all ready, attend birthing classes, be as mentally prepared as possible… But to say you’re READY is a lie. Being a new mum is a huge learning curve and I’m adapting more and more everyday. We wanted kids so bad and knew it would be hard, but times it by 10 000 and that’s how hard it is. And I have a good baby!
Did you ever worry you weren’t ready?
Through out my pregnancy I battled a little bit (I blame hormones!) with how suddenly my life went on hold, yet Jaryd’s didn’t. The second I found out I was pregnant, my life basically stopped. I got SO sick, I stopped going to uni, stopped working, couldn’t play netball or hardly exercise, couldn’t bloody eat the food I wanted – Let alone the fact I couldn’t socialise with my friends like I used to. Yet nothing changed for Jaryd. It sounds funny but I did find that part really hard to get used to, that sometimes I just couldn’t do something and that was final. I wouldn’t say I stopped and thought “I’m not ready” cause I wanted the baby part so bad, just hated the pregnancy!
How has life changed since having a child?
How has life changed? I’ve found my purpose for living. I get told I’m nicer too. Having children opens up your eyes to a whole new world, and the way you look at things. The amount of times I see people having petty fights or getting so worked up over nothing, and I think ‘Shit I used to do that’ – Until you have a baby you can’t possibly understand how NOTHING else matters in the world but your child. You change. I’m a completely different person. To be honest, I just don’t give a fuck about anything anymore but Bobby & Jaryd. My family.
On a negative side… (And every mum out there will know what I mean here) people pick and choose when they want to see you. And it’s because they no longer want to see you, they just want to see your baby. I 100% expected that to happen, it’s just life, and I don’t be nasty about it. I just let it go because they will soon know what it feels like the day they have babies.
What’s your advice to anyone considering trying to become pregnant?
Do it! It’s the best f**king thing you’ll ever do. Jaryd and I say EVERYDAY “What the hell did we do before Bobby came along?”
When it comes to knowing when you are ready, as Soph said, I don’t think there ever is a time or a sign that you are ready and I don’t think anyone, regardless of age, will ever feel like they are ready. It sounds like it will be an incredible experience and an amazing journey, but I think if you want, be unapologetically selfish about finding contentment with yourself and your life first, before you dedicate your entire being to someone else. Maybe you want to travel, maybe you want to achieve certain career milestones or maybe your child will be what brings you contentment. We’re all different and we all want different things. But whatever it is, do it and trust that a combination of your actions and fate will work the rest out.
When this conversation ever pops up with my man he tells me, “We aren’t ready. We have shit to do,” (Pardon his expression) and I used to just roll my eyes at him and think ‘Sigh! Men and commitment.’ But he is so right, and I don’t admit that very often.
I have too many semi-selfish things I want to do and achieve, places I want to go and see and memories I want to create, either on my own, with my partner or with my friends. They may be things I could do whilst being a Mother, but I want to give my heart and soul and entire existence into completing everything I want to do and then maybe one day in the future, I will feel content and ready to dedicate myself, my heart and soul and entire existence to nurturing another life. Maybe becoming a parent will happen unexpectedly and I will surprise myself but for now, I’m happy to continue holding onto every single little piece of my youth for as long as I can. But to the superwomen (and men!) that have kids I salute you, and I’ll totally babysit anytime you want! Practice makes perfect right?
So you can calm that breathing down and relax, Laids. I don’t plan on singing any ‘my lovely baby bump’ song in our household anytime soon.
Special thanks to Soph, Jaryd and Bobby for being the inspiration behind this post (You look at this face and consider having a baby, right?)