I have never been a baby person. It’s fairly well known among family and friends that I “don’t like babies,” as I mentioned in our announcement post. I’ll never be the one offering to hold your baby, and I don’t even think all babies are that cute. I even had a pact with a dear (baby loving) friend in high school that she would take any of my future babies from ages 0-2 and I would take hers from 14-16.
Rather than a cold, cold heart, I think this stems from a general uncomfortableness with the littlest among us, since I was never much around babies growing up. I did babysit, but only for kids out of diapers! Babies just seemed very fragile, and they can’t use words to tell you what they need (and I like words).
Perhaps because of this, even coming up on our third anniversary, John and I were never on the receiving end of the stereotypical pressure to have kids. I’m sure I probably would have hated it if we had been, but at some point, I actually started to get paranoid – do people think we aren’t fit to be parents?? This obvious (to me) conversational hole was especially ironic, because that very topic was in almost constant rotation between the two of us and our closest friends.
Thinking back, we began having serious conversations about the future of our family at the beginning of 2014. This was my starting point: I can’t really vocalize why, and I’m certainly not convinced that I’m going to love the baby stage, but when I picture my life, there are treasured children in it. For me, that was enough to move forward. I also knew I wanted to be a younger mom, having my first child before 30.
My hunch is that John started from a similar position, but unlike me, he was not willing to move forward without being able to vocalize a more concrete and rational reason that we should do so. To gather ideas, we embarked on a yearlong quest to answer the question, “Why do people have children?”, hoping to find answers that would resonate with us. We posed this question to each other countless times. We did the same to friends with and without kids, those who knew they wanted them and those who were undecided. We researched online. We read books and blog posts. We listened to sermons and podcasts. We prayed.
The problem is this: all of the “negatives” about having children are very real and concrete: they cost a ton of money. They restrict your freedom. They can derail your financial progress and goals. They complicate your schedule. They complicate your travel. They’re messy. They’re needy. They keep you up at night. They don’t know how to use the bathroom.
On the other hand, the positives are generally intangible, and, almost by definition, unable to be understood or experienced before actually having children of your own.
While an interesting exercise and good conversation fodder, this seemingly unending quest was at times frustrating to me – it seemed like there was no possible answer that would convince John, and all I wanted was to move forward since I believed we were ultimately on the same page and kind of just wasting time. Just recently, though, I read something that really helped me understand why this wasn’t possible for him. It’s from his results from the scarily-accurate, Myers-Briggs based 16 Personalities quiz:
INTJs will strive to remain rational no matter how attractive the end goal may be, and every idea, whether generated internally or soaked in from the outside world, must pass the ruthless and ever-present “Is this going to work?” filter. This mechanism is applied at all times, to all things, and all people.
Apply it we did. We heard many perspectives from many people, and generated several ourselves, as to why people might have children. Ultimately, these were the most convincing to us:
Children will crack open a part of your heart that can’t be opened any other way. Not a new idea, but I would say the way Darren Whitehead in particular described this was extremely moving and heartfelt. I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to learn about love.
Your relationship with your children will teach you more than anything else can about your relationship with God the father. This totally makes sense to me. I know what being a child is like, but even just being pregnant, I can already tell that experiencing the parent half of the equation will be truly eyeopening. I’m so looking forward to this.
You get to rediscover the world as you teach and walk alongside your child. This is the most obviously fun one! Though the magnitude of shepherding a child is not lost on me, I’m also so excited for all of the people, places, things, and ideas I’ll get to introduce our little one to – and experience anew alongside him or her!
Having children is the greatest expression of hope humans can participate in. We believe the best is yet to come. We are not cynical people. Deciding to have children is tantamount to saying we believe the world they will grow up in will be bright and beautiful, and that’s a statement of faith we want to make.
One more reason on my list: my husband is so precious to me — truly one of the best people I know — that it’s hard for me to even imagine getting to parent someone who was made from him, alongside him. Just thinking about that kind of makes me feel like my heart might explode.
By the end of 2014, we were convinced that children were in our future. However, even armed with that knowledge, we still felt hesitant about jumping in! With our backgrounds, I don’t think either of us would ever have stated that we felt 100% prepared or ready (financially, emotionally, or otherwise) to have a baby. But that’s the beauty of the system – you don’t just decide one day that you’re ready to have a kid, and one arrives on your doorstep the next day.
Once we flipped the switch and actively started trying to get pregnant, it’s kind of crazy how quickly my feelings of hesitation turned to impatience and even anxiety – I wanted to be pregnant immediately! There are so many (really hard and sad) stories of infertility and miscarriage in my circles, and despite the fact that there was no indication in our families or my medical history that either would be a problem, my mind instantly went there. So when we did see PREGNANT show up on the test after just a couple of months, there was relief and joy. No tears :)
We waited a full five weeks to take it, and agreed to look at it together after waiting the obligatory three minutes — but he peeked and saw it first! I know many people find a clever way to share the news with their husbands, but I can’t imagine finding out without John by my side. That didn’t stop us, however, from coming up with creative ways to tell our families and friends – more on that in my next post!
To conclude, one of my biggest fears was that by lingering on The Question for so long, as well as all of the potential negatives of adding a baby to the family, we’d never get out from under them — that even once I was pregnant, John still wouldn’t be excited. However, I needn’t have worried, as that couldn’t be further from our reality now. He is SO excited — probably more excited than me — and clearly already loves this baby so much. (Another gem from 16 Personalities that helps explain this: INTJs trust their rationalism above all else, so when they come to a conclusion, they have no reason to doubt their findings.) People ask us if we’re nervous, and the answer is no – I think we thought through all of our nerves already, and now only joy and peace are left!
Friends, I’d love to hear: have you always felt clearly about having (or not having) children? If you have children or know you want to have them, why? Do any of the conclusions we came to resonate with you?