And so you have taken the bold leap from being a swinging single to being joined in union to another person for life. Your Facebook status proudly states 'being married to ...' After all the thrills and exhilaration of your wedding ceremony, setting up and settling down in a new home, you are both inevitably faced with this question. When are you both planning to have a baby?
For some, (like myself) this question requires no answer. It is a natural progression from being wedded to being parents. It is natural for women to want to have kids.y'know, motherly instincts and all. It is a natural desire to want to set up and build a family. Well, not every couple or woman feels this way. For those who have no questions AT ALL, there are still plenty of considerations to be made before you decide that 1 + 1 = 3.
Your other half
What is the state of your relationship with your spouse? If you are already having marital issues, perhaps your plans to have a baby ought to be put on hold. Having a baby is a game changer in your marriage and one that requires certain lifestyle changes. If the foundations of your marriage is not strong, you need to work on building up your relationship and resolve your differences before thinking of starting a family. If your spouse is not ready, perhaps you'll like to put baby plans on hold. And if your spouse is keen to start a family, what is his perspective towards parenting? Is he ready to embrace his role as a father, to take on his share of babysitting and night feedings? What sort of religious and moral values do both of you wish to raise your child up with? If both you and your spouse come from different religious backgrounds, you'll need to sort this out. Babies are a joy to be with but parenthood is a lifelong journey as your baby will grow into a toddler, pre-schooler, pre-teen, teens and adults. Think about the sort of upbringing you wish your child to have. Moral values are caught, not taught. Remember, parents are the first moral beacons a child will encounter and they will mimic your behaviour.
Your bank account
Singapore is infamous for being the most expensive city to live in. Needless to say, having a baby, with visits to the gynae and hospitalisation during the delivery, all requires you to set aside some cold hard cash. It will be good to do your homework and 'shop' around to check out how much a delivery package will cost you. Even then, be prepared for emergencies. Both my pregnancies required me to take thrice weekly injections. A friend of mine started dilating when she was in her 24 weeks and had to be hospitalised throughout her entire pregnancy. All these added to a substantial amount. Although it is fun to set up a nursery room, don't be tempted to buy everything. Check out your baby really need
Have both you and your spouse done a medical check-up? It is hard to imagine that a young couple in their early thirties would not be in the pink of their health and be stricken with some form of illness. But it is better to err on the side of caution and get your check-ups done to rule out any pre-existing or undiagnosed medical conditions. What about your diet before your pregnancy? Research has shown that poor nutrition plays a part in affecting your chances of conception. Poor nutrition prior to pregnancy is also linked to poor foetal growth. You may also wish to consider taking folic acid before you are even pregnant. Right from the moment you decide to try to conceive, till 12 weeks into your pregnancy. Folic acid is known to help prevent neural tube defects which are birth defects to the brain and spine or spinal cord.
Cut down on saturated fats, sugars and processed food. Eat a variety of food to get the nutrients you need and try to go for natural foods such as lean meats, whole-grains, beans, fruits and leafy vegetables. Your gynae will be able to advise you further on the supplements that you need once you are pregnant.
Your child minding arrangements
Grandparents? Infant care? Domestic helper? Babysitter? SAHM? Whichever arrangements you have in mind, make sure it is do-able and sustainable. You can't be driving from the east to the west every day to drop off your baby at their gran's place. And if you need confinement nanny, babysitter or domestic helper, all these need some planning ahead and securing their services before baby comes along. Infant care takes in babies till 18-24 months. Whereas, childcare takes in toddlers from between 18-24 months right up to age 6 for either half-day or full-day. It is important to check the vacancies and enrol early in order to secure a placement. Some parents even register their baby for Nursery (aged 3) right from their birth!
Above all, children and ultimately, family, are God's blessings in our lives. Don't be daunted by all the initial considerations and decisions you need to make. Somehow, you will learn (sometimes through tears and heartbreaks) and adapt along the way. There is no course, diploma nor degree that you can take to prepare you for parenting. Thus, nobody can say they are experts in this field. Your journey is still at the beginning but take heart that you will grow as a parent...because love will compel you to desire the best for your child.
The writer is a mother to 2 teenage daughters. She writes to reminisce about those times when she could scoop up both her kids and placed them on her lap. She now wonders in amazement at how the passage of time passed by in the twinkling of an eye, that if she were to do the same now, she could potentially end up in hospital with both legs in a cast.