Unlike most moms I knew, deciding to have a baby didn't come naturally to me.
I always thought the feeling of wanting to be a mother would come to me after a few years of marriage or when I hit my late 20s. But my 29th birthday came, along with my 5th anniversary with my husband, but the maternal feeling is yet to rear its head.
My husband and I decided to have a baby because we both came to the point when we were in a stable and healthy place, physically and financially. Adding small member to the family seemed like the most rational decision at the time. However, deciding to have a child is only the beginning of a long journey of determining whether we are fully ready, because more than financial and physical readiness, my emotional readiness needed a lot of work.
The Big Decision
We finally decided to have a baby 6 years into our marriage. That was when my husband and I were finally debt-free, had our own house and were both in stable jobs. I felt secure in my job and was working from home 3 days out of 5 working days. It just made a lot of sense to start having a child at that point in our lives.
I always knew my husband would be a great father, however, I couldn't shake the feeling that maybe motherhood was not for me. After talking about this feeling to my husband, mother, and other friends who have children, I've concluded that this apprehension is just a matter of identifying and dealing with my fears and preparing myself mentally.
Mental Preparations I Made Before Having a Baby
Around the time we were trying to conceive and during the first few months of my pregnancy, I was dedicating myself to preparing for what was to come. Reading parenting and pregnancy books is one thing but these preparations are what got me to the point of complete preparedness (or as prepared as I could ever be), and most of these practices, I still do to this day:
- I lowered my standards.
As a perfectionist myself, the thought of having a baby is quite overwhelming, and the fear of what it entails is enough to make me change my mind. However, I've come to learn that there is no perfect mother, perfect partner, perfect timing, or perfect baby. There is no such thing! All parents, especially new mothers, make mistakes, and that's okay. I set the bar so high for myself that the thought of messing up scares me. When I lower my standards and manage my expectations, I feel a lot more relaxed about the idea. I also tell myself that the baby phase when I lose sleep, I neglect my work, and I don’t have time for myself is a temporary phase and life will not always be like that. I tell myself that I cannot control everything, but that’s what makes parenting more fun.
- I’ve changed my priorities.
From having late nights and drinking with the girls to having quiet nights at home and sleeping early; from taking on too much work to working less and less; from living a fast-paced lifestyle to slowing down and taking my time, I've changed so much of my habits and priorities since we decided to have a baby. I knew being a mom will drain me and take most of my energy, so prioritizing my tasks and changing my habits to fit motherhood gave me a good head start.
- We communicate constantly.
My husband and I consistently sit down and talk about how our lives would change and how we should tackle parenting together. We understand we are a team and we should not turn against each other, instead, we should support each other when the baby arrives. We would establish how chores would be divided, how we would raise our child, and decide which values are important to us.
- I’ve set up my support system.
My husband and I sought support from family and friends, and we even joined online groups, parenting communities, and prenatal classes in our neighborhood. We’ve expanded our network to have supportive parents around us when we need guidance.
- I made time for self-care.
I’ve always enjoyed my pamper time, which is why I made it a point to include my self-care routine in my daily plans since I got pregnant until after I had the baby. I made sure my husband understands that I need this time for myself so he would happily take over parenting duties while I pamper myself.
How Mental Preparation Helped Me During Pregnancy
Pregnancy and motherhood are unpredictable, but having some idea of what to expect has helped me weather the tough times during and after pregnancy. Mental and emotional preparation has made me more flexible, resilient, and understanding of myself and my husband. We've concluded that it's okay if we can't control everything, what’s important is we constantly try our best.
Despite the sleepless nights, the complete lifestyle change, the morning sickness, the painful back, and swollen breasts and limbs, my mind and body were fully ready to take on the challenge of parenthood. I was excited to feel the joy and love that comes with giving birth to my baby girl.
Not only has being mentally prepared helped solidify my relationship with my husband through the tough, sleep-deprived, and stressful times, but it also made my bond with my baby even more special. I admit that there are still times when I think I don't deserve my beautiful baby girl, but I never regretted my decision to have her. Every night when all tasks and chores are done, my baby is sound asleep, my tiredness fades and anxiety melts, I'm only left with gratitude, love, and joy inside my heart.